HC Deb 12 February 1844 vol 72 cc519-23
The Earl of Lincoln

moved the third reading of the Metropolitan Improvements Bill.

Mr. Hume

objected to the power which had been given in this bill to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to borrow from the Bank of England money on mortgage, for the purpose of carrying out these improvements, although he knew the same power had been given to the Commissioners under the provisions of a former similar act of Parliament. The consequence of the Bank of England being permitted thus to lock up its money in securities, which were not readily convertible into cash, might be that the Bank would find itself one day without a guinea to carry on the business of the public.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

thought this was a case to which the objection of the hon. Member for Montrose could not in fairness be applied. The money about to be advanced in this instance was not advanced in the same manner as money advanced upon mortgage. It was to lie out until it would be convenient to repay it by instalments whenever money came to hand as the old buildings were taken down and sold.

Mr. Hawes

said, he had papers in his hands complaining of the great injury done to a large body of individuals who lived or had shops in the immediate neighbourhoods where the various metropolitan improvements were taking place, in consequence of the extraordinary slow progress of the works. In many places, rows of houses had been pulled down for the last two years, and no progress made towards rebuilding them, evidently a great inconvenience and injury to the surrounding locality. He understood, too, that in the meantime, the Government was paying a large sum in ground rents for the places thus pulled down; so that the delay was in every way objectionable. The Government should not pull down any House before it was prepared to set about the rebuilding of it.

The Earl of Lincoln

assured the House that due diligence had been used by the board, and that they had been careful to collect the best possible advice upon the subject. There was good reason to apprehend that if the whole of the materials of the houses pulled down were to be too hastily pressed on the persons who dealt in those materials, the Commissioners would get nothing for them, and the expense of the improvements would be thereby considerably increased.

Bill read a third time. On the question that the Bill do pass,

Mr. Hume

with a view to exclude the Bank of England from engaging in lending money upon the security of these Improvements, for the reasons he had stated, moved as an amendment, that the words, "The Governor and Company of the Bank of England," in the 15th line of the second page of the bill, be omitted.

Mr. Masterman

thought the hon. Member perfectly justified in the objection he had taken to the clause empowering the borrowers of this money to take it from the Bank of England. A body like the Bank of England should not enter into a speculation of this nature, or lock up its money in securities from which the Bank could not withdraw it whenever it became necessary for the public convenience or protection.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that when a former act for Improving the Metropolis passed, two years ago, the right had been reserved to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to borrow money for the purposes of the Act, and it had accordingly happened that great competition took place between various capitalists. The terms offered by the Bank, however, were the more favourable terms. Doubts were suggested whether the Commissioners could legally borrow of the Bank; reference was made to counsel, who gave their opinion that they might. Although thus fortified in his previous opinion, he thought it better to introduce this clause, empowering the Commissioners to borrow the money of the Bank, which was an enactment merely confirmatory of the Act 4 and 5 of Victoria. This mode of investment had an attraction for the Bank of England, which it had not for private parties, who looked more to permanency when they advanced their money by way of mortgage. Hence the offers of the Bank had been more liberal, and had been accepted.

Mr. Hawes

could not view the question in the light the right hon. Gentleman saw it. The bill, if he read it aright, contemplated a clear right to invest the money with the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, without return, for five years, which was a principle he thought it would be injudicious on the part of the House to sanction, with respect to the Bank of England particularly, as they were, he believed, about to accept of assistance on these improvements, from other quarters, and especially from the source of the coal duties levied by the corporation of the city of London.

Mr. M. Philips

disapproved of the system of allowing the Bank of England to advance money on mortgage. He must say, as a commercial man, he would not open an account with any bank which dealt in securities that could not be realised immediately in cases of emergency. He hoped that the words objected to by his hon. Friend, the Member for Montrose would be omitted.

Mr. C. Wood

said, that there had been a strongly-expressed opinion on the part of the public against the Bank of England advancing money by way of mortgage; and in consequence of that expression of feeling, the practice had entirely ceased. He must, therefore, object to sanctioning by a parliamentary enactment a practice which had been condemned by the Bank itself. True it was, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated, this money was not permanently locked up as a mortgage would be; but the security on which the money was to be advanced was not a negotiable security, and the repayment of the money was made contingent upon circumstances. If he thought there was an impossibility of obtaining the money from other sources he should waive his objection; but there were Assurance Companies and other large bodies of whom money was to be had cheap enough, and there could be no difficulty in getting it from the Exchequer Bill Loan Commissioners, or from any bankers in the country.

Sir R. Peel

apprehended, that the course which the House had to pursue was, to prevent the sanctioning of a general principle, that the money of the Bank of England should be laid out on mortgages; there certainly was a great objection to placing funds in such securities as were not available at the shortest notice in case of necessity. But it was hardly possible to say, that this was a violation of that principle. The total amount which was wanted would not exceed 150,000l. or 200,000l., and it was merely permissive on the part of the Bank to advance this amount. It might be necessary to borrow various small sums of perhaps 5,000l., or 10,000l. at a time; but, on the other hand, it would be necessary to have a security to repay the sums which were wanted. The difficulty was to find Insurance Companies who would make those advances on such terms, that the parties should receive the amounts by small instalments; because if they borrowed more than was required it was a dead loss. Under all the circumstances, he hoped the House would not think this an objectionable arrangement.

Mr. Hume

did not object to the arrangement on the score of the amount which was required to be borrowed, but he objected to it on principle. His objection was, that the Bank of England should advance money on mortgage—for there was no doubt they would lend on that security. He objected to pledging the House to the adoption of a bad principle. He would, therefore, beg the right hon. Baronet to postpone the passing of this bill, to see whether there could be any modification made in the plan.

Mr. C. Wood

suggested to the right hon. Baronet, that as several small sums would be required, whether a limit should not be named, in reference to the amount to be borrowed from the Bank.

Mr. Stuart Wortley

objected also to the power to be given to the Bank of England to lend money on mortgage. He thought, however, this was an exception to the case. The right hon. Baronet had stated the difficulty in obtaining loans of this kind, and he thought, looking to the smallness of the sum wanted, this should be regarded as an exception to a general rule.

Dr. Bowring

said, this was a question of great importance, when the application was made the exception of a Parliamentary sanction. He thought his hon. Friend was quite right in persisting in dividing the House on this question.

Sir R. Peel

was willing to propose a clause limiting the amount to be borrowed of the Bank of England, by way of mortgage, to 250,000l. The right hon. Baronet moved the insertion of this limitation in the amount to show that the House did not recognize the principle generally.

The House divided on the question, that the words proposed by Mr. Hume to be left out stand part of the question:—Ayes 145; Noes 70: Majority 75.

List of the AYES.
Ackers, J. Divett, E.
Acland, T. D. Dodd, G.
Aldam, W. Douglas, Sir H.
Allix, J. P. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Archdall, Capt. M. Eaton, R. J.
Arkwright, G. Egerton, W. T.
Ashley, Lord Eliot, Lord
Baillie, H. J. Escott, B.
Baillie, Col. Ferrand, W. B.
Baird, W. Fitzmaurice, hon. W.
Baldwin, B. Flower, Sir J.
Bankes, G. Follett, Sir W. W.
Baring, hn. W. B. Ffolliott, J.
Beckett, W. Forester, hn. G. C. W.
Bell, M. Forster, M.
Bentinck, Lord G. Fox, S. L.
Boldero, H. G. Fuller, A. E.
Borthwick, P. Gardner, J. D.
Botfield, B. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Bramston, T. W. Gisborne, T.
Broadley, H. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Bruce, Lord E. Gladstone, Capt.
Buckley, E. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Buller, E. Gore, M.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Cardwell, E. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Charteris, hon. F. Greene, T.
Chetwode, Sir J. Gregory, W. H.
Cholmondeley, hn. H. Hamilton, W. J.
Chute, W. L. W. Hanmer, Sir J.
Clerk, Sir G. Harcourt G. G.
Clive, hon. R. H. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Cochrane, A. Hayes, Sir E.
Colborne, hn. W.N.R. Heathcote, Sir W.
Collett, W. R. Henley, J. W.
Compton, H. C. Hodgson, F.
Conolly, Col. Hodgson, R.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Hope, hon. C.
Cripps, W. H. Hope, G. W.
Davies, D. A. S. Hornby, J.
Denison, E. B. Howard, P. H.
Dickinson, F. H. Irving, J.
Jermyn, Earl Peel, J.
Jocelyn, Visct. Praed, W. T.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. SirE Pringle, A.
Leslie, C. P. Protheroe, E.
Lincoln, Earl of Ramsbottom, J.
Lindsay, H. H. Reid, Sir J. R.
Lockhart, W. Repton, G. W. J.
Lyall, G. Rushbrooke, Col.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
M'Geachy, F. A. Shelborne, Earl of
Mackenzie, W. F. Shirley, E. P.
Mac Neil, D. Sibthorp, Col.
Mahon, Visct. Smythe, hon. G.
Mangles, R. D. Somerset, Lord G.
Manners, Lord C. Stanley, Lord
Manners, Lord J. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Marton, G. Stewart, J.
Milnes, R. M. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Morgan, O. Tennent, J. E.
Morris, D. Thesiger, F.
Murray, A. Trench, Sir F. W.
Nevill, R. Turner, E.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Verner, Col.
Northland, Visct. Vivian, J. H.
O'Brien, A. S. Waddington, H S.
Oswald, A. Wood, Col. T.
Packe, C. W. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Paget, Col. Weightson, W. B.
Pakington, J. S. Young, J.
Patten, J. W. TELLERS.
Pattison, J. Fremantle, Sir T.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Heathcoat, J
Hill, Lord M.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Hindley, C.
Barnard, E. G. Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.
Berkeley, hon. C. Hollond, R.
Bowring, Dr. Howick, Visct.
Bright, J. Hutt, W.
Brotherton, J. James, Sir W. C.
Busfield, W. Labouchere, rt. hn. H.
Butler, hon. Col. Langston, J. H.
Butler, P. S. Lawson, A.
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.
Christie, W. D. Marsland, H.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Masterman, J.
Collett, J. Napier, Sir C.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Ord, W.
Curteis, H. B. Palmerston, Visct.
Dalrymple, Capt. Pechell, Capt.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Philips, M.
Dennistoun, J. Plumridge, Capt.
Duncan, G. Rawdon, Col.
Dundas, Adm. Russell, Lord J.
Easthope, Sir J. Scholefield, J.
Ebrington, Visct. Smith, B.
Esmonde, Sir T. Smith, rt. hn. R. V.
Ferguson, Col. Standish, C.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Strickland, Sir G.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Thorneley, T.
Fox, C. R. Townely, J.
Gibson, T. M. Trelawney, J. S.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Halyburton, Lord J. F. Tuffnell, H.
Hastie, A. Vane, Lord H.
Walker, R. Wyse, T.
Wawn, J. T. TELLERS.
Wilshire, W. Hume, J.
Wood, C. Hawes, B.
Mr. Hume

said, the proviso was a mere evasion; and he was extremely sorry that the right hon. Baronet, whose opinions must regulate the majority of that House for this Session at least,—in respect to bargains with the Bank of England, should in the present case have violated a sound principle. He objected to any limitation, but since the matter was decided against him so strongly, he would say no more.

Proviso moved by Sir It. Peel added.

Bill passed.