HC Deb 13 March 1871 vol 204 c1873

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he made a statement on March the 7th, that nineteen millions were added to the National Debt by the Abyssinian War; whether in point of fact any addition to the permanent debt of the Country was made by that war; whether the cost of that war was not below nine millions; and, whether the debt temporarily incurred for a portion of such cost has not been entirely provided for out of Taxes, and extinguished?


Sir, I did not say that £19,000,000 were added to the National Debt by the Abyssinian War. The Abyssinian War cost less than £9,000,000. In defraying that charge there were borrowed, I think, £2,000,000 from the Bank of England, which were repaid out of the balances, and therefore did not add to the Debt of the country, and there were Exchequer Bonds for £1,000,000 which have since been paid off, and therefore formed no addition to the public Debt. I was entirely in error when I said that they had. But the error was more technical than real. The fact was that by great exertions in raising more Revenue the cost of the Abyssinian War was prevented from becoming public debt, and was paid off instead. I am happy to acknowledge that for that result the country is indebted to the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not think that in making the statement I wished to cast any reflection on him.