HC Deb 30 September 1841 vol 59 cc1044-6

On the motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the House should resolve itself into Committee on the Exchequer Bills Funding Bill,

Mr. Williams

said, that, in reading over this bill, he found that it would add five millions to the permanent funded debt of the country, and on looking through the cumbrous machinery of the bill, he had come to the conviction that a more straightforward course might have been pursued. If the right hon. Gentleman had gone into the market with the proposition of a loan, he was impressed with a belief that a better bargain might have been made for the country, at the same time that the right hon. Gentleman would have secured his own object more effectually. He might have funded two millions and a half of Exchequer bills, and have issued an equal amount of new Exchequer bills to replace them; and, though he did not now expect the right hon. Gentleman to adopt such a course, he felt assured that if it had been adopted, it would have been found a much easier course than that now proposed. The present amount of outstanding Exchequer Bills was twenty-one millions, which was less than the average for many years past. Too large a floating debt, no doubt, was dangerous to the public service, but on turning back to the experience of former years, it did not appear to him that the present amount of twenty-one millions of outstanding Exchequer bills could be deemed too large.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that he wished to impress it upon the attention of the House, that what he proposed to do was not to create a new debt, but rather to convert one kind of debt into another. The House had determined that certain expenses should be incurred, and the natural consequence was, that the House must make good the means by which those expenses were to be provided for. The only question, therefore, that remained, was, whether those means should be raised by an augmentation of the funded or the unfunded debt. The hon. Member for Coventry said he would have preferred a loan; but the hon. Gentleman was probably not in the House a few evenings ago, when the right hon. Gentleman who preceded him (Mr. Goulburn) in his present office admitted that nothing could be more impolitic, under the existing circumstances of the country, than to advertise for a loan. In no instance had a loan been obtained for the country on better terms than those on which these Exchequer bills had been funded, and, therefore, he certainly could not admit that the course which he had adopted was an impolitic one. The hon. Gentleman had made a comparison of the amount of Exchequer bills now outstanding, with the amount that had been outstanding in former years; but he must contend that it was not merely the numerical amount of Exchequer bills that constituted their pressure upon the money-market. Under some circumstances, a floating debt of 20,000,000l. might be felt to be a greater burden than 30,000,000l. would be at another time. If, then, he referred to the ordinary tests by which this question was usually judged, namely the demand for money and the premium on Exchequer bills, he certainly found that there were at the present moment great indications that there was too great an amount of Exchequer bills in circulation, as compared with former times.

Sir Charles Napier

said, he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Baronet to the fact, that the trial of Mr. M'Leod was to come on on the l27th of the month, and it was, therefore, to be hoped that Parliament would not be prorogued before means had been taken to protect Mr. M'Leod, who might else be exposed to the danger of Lynch-law.

Sir Robert Peel

said, he was unable to give the hon. and gallant Member any assurance on the subject.

Mr. Yorke

trusted Parliament would not be prorogued till a question so important to the peace of the country had been placed on a safe footing. He himself would rather have seen the House remain together for the purpose of taking the public distress into consideration; but if they could not be induced to postpone the prorogation by a motive of charity, if they could not be influenced by a feeling of abstract benevolence, he would appeal to their patriotism, and implore them not to prorogue Parliament while a question of so much difficulty remained undecided.

House in Committee. Bill went through Committee.

The House resumed. Report to be brought up.