HC Deb 02 June 1837 vol 38 cc1159-61

Lord J. Russell moved that the House at its rising do adjourn till Monday next.

Sir G. Sinclair

could not help expressing his surprise that no day had as yet been fixed for the discussion of the Budget. He regretted this, certainly, in the first place, because every man at this moment was extremely desirous of ascertaining, and very justly so, what were the prospects of the country, and what were the financial plans of the Ministry for the current year; and secondly, because a discussion on that subject would afford those Members who were connected with the manufacturing and commercial interests of the country an opportunity of submitting to the House their opinion as to the causes of the distress that was at present prevailing in the manufacturing districts, and of pointing out the extent to which that distress had gone, and the remedies it might be neces- sary to have recourse to in order to prevent its extending still further. He did not pretend to possess any peculiar sources of information, but from all he could learn, he thought that there was never a period in the history of this country when embarrassment, discontent, and a dread of the consequences more universally prevailed among all classes of the Legislature. Large houses were continually failing, and merchants were unable to dispose of their stocks. He had every reason to expect that most serious calamities would ensue. He believed that there never was a period when the country was more dissatisfied with the conduct of that House, and for his own part he was convinced that unless vigorous measures were adopted by the country and by Parliament, it would be impossible to foresee to what extent the evils which now afflicted us might be carried. He felt sure, that if they continued in a state of lethargy and supineness, before many months were over we should be in danger of a national bankruptcy. We must have recourse to another Bank Restriction Act, or the issuing of 1l. notes, or the making silver a legal tender to the amount of 201l. or 301l., or some other measures, or the national credit would be overwhelmed. He therefore respectfully, but firmly, called on his Majesty's Ministers to fix some early day for the Budget, in order that these subjects might be fully and fairly discussed.

Lord J. Russell

was prepared to contend, whenever the question was regularly brought forward, and when notice of such a discussion, had been given, which it seemed was no longer to be the practice of that House, that his right hon. Friend had exercised a sound discretion in postponing the consideration of the Budget for the present. He should be prepared also to contend, that if any Member influenced by motives less pure and patriotic than those by which the hon. Gentleman was known to be actuated had wished to excite alarm and increase the present embarrassment by throwing out hints of future misfortunes and discontents, he would take the same course which the hon. Gentleman, with perfectly innocent motives, had adopted. His opinion certainly was, that the questions to which the hon. Gentleman had alluded were questions of very great importance; at the same time he must say, that the embarrassments at present prevailing were not to be compared with those which existed in the country in 1826. He protested against hon. Gentlemen coming down to the House to throw out expectations and hints that the country was going to suffer some very great calamity, to sow distrust, to sow dissatisfaction, and to take the chance that something might arise to promote views which he would not characterise by throwing out those hints.

Mr. Richards

with the greatest possible deference to the noble Lord, must say, that the public was most earnestly anxious that the House should institute an inquiry into the state of the country. Night after night, and day after day, they went on discussing questions of no moment at all, and if the House would not attend to matters of pressing interests and real importance, they had better vacate their functions at once. When the merchants and manufacturers of this country were in a state of the greatest distress, when the present was full of difficulty and danger, and the future of alarm, he must say, that it was too much for the noble Lord to get up and rebuke the hon. Baronet for having expressed a wish that the budget should be brought forward on an early day, although his question might imply that the Government had not acted as it ought to have done. For his own part, he felt that the Government had not done its duty.

Mr. Robinson

did not participate in the apprehensions entertained by his hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Richards), but at the same time he must say, that unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer had some reason for deferring his budget, it was desirable that they should have as early an exposition as possible of the intentions of the Government with respect to the public revenue and the public expenditure. He quite agreed with his hon. Friend in thinking that they wasted a great deal of time in the most useless and unprofitable manner, and he thought that if the noble Lord and the Government could give a more lofty tone and a better direction to the feelings of the House with respect to the business brought under its consideration, it would tend to raise the character of the House, not, he was afraid, standing very high at the present moment.

The conversation dropped, and the motion to adjourn at rising to Monday was agreed to.

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