HC Deb 09 August 1842 vol 65 cc1187-8
Mr. C. Buller

wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer what course the Government intended to take with respect to the different classes of owners of Exchequer-bills, whose cases had been stated in the report of the commissioners appointed to investigate the subject.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that since the hon. Gentleman had last asked him this question, he had devoted the few hours which he had been enabled to spare from his duties in that House, and from his official duties, to a cursory perusal of that report, and of the evidence upon which it was founded. The result of that cursory perusal was to produce upon his mind a general impression; in fact, ha felt, on the consideration of the circumstances stated in that report, that undoubtedly there existed an equitable claim on the part of some of the holders of these Exchequer-bills, on the consideration of the Government; and it would be the duty of the responsible advisers of the Crown to submit to the House such measures as they might think necessary to afford relief to such persons as might be entitled to their consideration. There were other parties to whose cases further consideration must be given, and it was evident that there was a considerable difference between the several cases which had been investigated by the committee. He felt that the Government was not, at the present moment, in a situation to give the House a definite idea of the course which it might be requisite to pursue. He was the only Member of the Government who had read the report. It had only been placed in the hands of the Members of the House that day, and he doubted, in fact he felt assured, that no Member of that House could have considered the subject with a sufficient degree of attention to be enabled to form a correct judgment with regard to its contents. The question was of considerable importance, and could not be decided without the House being fully masters of the report and the evidence, although he should hare been glad if the report had been presented in time for the House to have made a final settlement of the question this Session. Yet, considering the present state of public business, considering the situation in which they then stood, the Committee of Supply having closed, he had to regret that during the present Session it was impossible the House could take that report into its consideration with the prospect of any beneficial result to the parties concerned, or with justice to the public interest. He begged leave, however, to say that he did not mean to cast any blame on the commissioners, who had conducted their inquiry with the utmost diligence, and investigated the transaction in the way best calculated to throw light upon it. It was not his intention in any arrangement that might be made to stand upon any technical point, in order to avoid giving the subject a fair consideration; but, on the other hand, the Government would require that any claim should be strictly investigated.

Mr. C. Buller

said, that the answer of the right hon. Gentleman was certainly explicit; but at the same time it would be very unsatisfactory to those whose fortunes depended on the course the Government might take upon the subject. He did not know on whom the blame of the delay which had occurred should be cast. But he knew that the sufferers were deeply interested in the matter, and he therefore would avail himself of any opportunity which might arise in the course of the evening of submitting the question to the House.