HC Deb 09 May 1834 vol 23 cc802-5
Lord Althorp

said, he should not have to address the House at any great length in proposing the Resolutions which it was his duty to bring before them. The amount of the Four per Cent Annuities did not exceed 11,600,000l., and, in proposing their reduction, he might say, that the operation could be effected much easier, and the Government would be less inconvenienced in making the arrangement than on former occasions. This being the case, he should not consider himself justified in offering any great bonus to induce the holders of the stock to accept his terms. In point of fact, he meant to offer no bonus at all. There would, however, be some advantages derived from placing the amount in question in a larger fund: it would be more negociable and more valuable on that account; another advantage, which he admitted would not be very considerable, was, that by transferring the amount to the Three-and-a-half per Cents, it could not be paid off till the year 1840. The saving to the public that would result from this arrangement would be more than 53,000l. a-year. His offer was this—to holders of Four per Cents, for every 100l. of Four per Cents, 100l. of what were called New Three-and-a-half per Cents; the New Three-and-a-half per Cents to be added to and consolidated with the existing New Three-and-a-half per Cents, and not to be liable to redemption till the 5th January, 1840; the holders of Four per Cents to receive the half-year's dividend on the 10th of October next, and the first payment on the Three-and-a-half per Cents in January next. He thought it impossible to make a better offer than this. His Lordship moved the following Resolutions:

"That all holders of Four per Cents, commonly called Four per Cent Annuities, 1826, who shall not signify their dissent, shall have for every 100l. of the said Four per Cents. 100l. of New Three-and-a-half per Cent Annuities, the dividend upon which shall be payable 5th January and 5th July in each year.

"The said New Three-and-a-half per Cent Annuities shall be added to, and consolidated with, the existing New Three-and-a-Half per Cent Annuities, and shall not be liable to redemption until 5th January, 1840.

"The holders of Four per Cent. Annuities, 1826, to receive the half-year's dividend, which will be due thereon on the 10th of October, 1834; and the first dividend—namely, one quarter of a year's dividend, to be payable upon the said New Three-and-a-half per Cent Annuities, on the 5th of January, 1835.

"Books will be opened at the Bank of England on Thursday, 8th May, to Wednesday, 28th May, both days inclusive, for receiving notices, by themselves or their agents, of those persons who may be desirous of dissenting.

"Persons who shall be out of the United Kingdom during the whole of such period, shall, in such case, be permitted to express their dissent at any time before the 6th July, 1834; and any person who may be in any other part of the world except Europe, to be permitted to express such dissent at any time before the 1st of March, 1835.

"Persons not signifying their dissent within the periods before mentioned will be deemed to have assented. Persons signifying their dissent within these periods will be paid off in such order, at such time, and in such manner, as Parliament may direct."

Mr. Baring

did not rise to oppose the proposition, which he thought was perfectly fair and equitable; but he wished to ask one or two questions of the noble Lord. In the first place, he desired to know whether it was the intention of the noble Lord in the course of the present year to enter into any negotiation respecting the loan for the advance to the West-India planters? He took it for granted that no such intention existed, inasmuch as such a course would hardly be fair to the new holders of this stock. He also would beg the noble Lord to state what measures his Majesty's Government had taken to stop what were considered unfavourable conversions of Three per Cents into Life Annuities.

Lord Althorp

was understood to say, that it was not the intention of Government to propose a negotiation for a loan for the West-India planters. It would certainly be necessary to make an arrangement with the Bank to pay 3,500,000l. due to it in August. As regarded the other question, it was true, that it had been supposed (it was not proved), that in granting life annuities on ages above eighty, the parties who got the annuities gained an advantage. As far as the experiment had gone, and had been proved, the country had rather, if any thing, been gainer; but this had been on lives not so old. As far as he could judge, he should say, that if the lives were selected in the usual manner, the older lives as well as the younger, the bargain would be a very fair one for the public. He was informed, that, in some cases, parties who wanted to convert their stock into Life Annuities, examined the church-yards of the different parishes, to find out those families, the members of which had died at the greatest age, and they then selected some living member of such families. There was no proof, however, that these lives were longer than others. The first step which he took, on being informed of the effect as regarded the older lives, was, to order that in no more instances should annuities be granted on lives above sixty-five years of age, unless the party seeking the annuity were himself older.

Mr. Baring

said, that the differences between the picked lives and the ordinary lives, gave a result that was astonishing. He did not see why the same experiment, should not be made with lives of sixty-five as had been made with lives of eighty.

The Resolutions were agreed to, the House resumed, and the Report was brought up.