§ Resolutions [February 28] reported.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
was anxious to make an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in support of that of the right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) made a few days ago. He did not wish to occupy the time of the House; but would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the increase in the Expenditure of the country, coupled with the general uncertainty of affairs, that it was very desirable that he should make his Financial Statement as early as possible, so that the intentions of the Government might be made known. The right hon. Gentleman, on acceding 106 to Office, made an excellent speech upon the necessity of reducing the National Debt; but during the last two years he was sorry to see that there had been an increase in that Debt of no less than £6,000,000. The amount of the Floating Debt at that moment was only £4,000,000. But the whole of the transactions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the National Debt were of the most complex character. He not only borrowed money with one hand and paid it away with the other, but he borrowed money with one hand and paid it away with the same. He had diminished the most economical form of Debt with the effect of mystifying the country and preventing it from understanding the policy of Her Majesty's Government. A few evenings ago they had been told that it was intended to advance £2,000,000 without interest to India by way of loan. He confessed he was unable to understand what was meant by Her Majesty's Government, who really had not got £2,000,000 to lend, but were, on the contrary, themselves borrowing. It might be they were going to get somebody else to give the £2,000,000 on our guarantee. But it would not appear in our accounts as Expenditure, because it was invoiced. The consequence would be that it would not appear in the accounts of either of the two countries. He considered the arrangement contemplated of a very extraordinary character; and inquired why, on the other band, India should not lend this country £2,000,000 for the purpose of the Natal War? He was glad to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer had returned to his place, and would again urge upon him the desirability of making his Financial Statement as early as he possibly could do so. He trusted that he would allow the intentions of the Government to be known by the country; because the state of uncertainty then existing was very prejudicial to commerce, and would, he feared, lead to a considerable amount of speculation.
§ MR. DILLWYN
earnestly supported the appeal just made to the right hon. Gentleman—that he would let them have his Financial Statement at an early date. He had some knowledge of the financial position of some parts of the country, and could assure the House that there existed the greatest anxiety 107 and uneasiness to know what were the intentions of the Government. The conditions of trade being very depressed, he feared they would not have a very satisfactory Statement to make; but whether it was satisfactory or unsatisfactory, it had better be known at once, and he trusted that early information would be given on that important subject.
§ MR. WHITWELL
supported the observations of the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Dillwyn), because the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that some weeks would elapse before the Budget made its appearance. He (Mr. Whitwell) was continually addressed upon the importance of having that Statement made early, and in this nobody was more interested than the right hon. Gentleman himself. They were all aware of the great strain affecting the commerce of the country; and there was, besides, the natural feeling that taxation might be more or less affected. He trusted that the large commercial constituencies would receive some assurances as to the earlier introduction of the Budget.
§ MR. COURTNEY
rose for the purpose of inquiring of the right hon. Gentleman for what period it was intended to issue the Exchequer Bonds?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I rather think the terms of the Resolution carried an answer to the question of the hon. Member. At all events, the intention is only to issue the Bonds for 12 months, not for any longer term. With regard to the Financial Statement, I can say that I am as anxious as anyone can be to bring forward the Budget at an early period. On the other hand, I think there is a disadvantage in bringing it forward prematurely, and before we are able to say, with anything like confidence, what the upshot of the year really is; for it would be very difficult, under present circumstances, to estimate that with exactitude. I will consider the question as to when it can be brought forward, and for the present I take note of the observations of the hon. Members who have spoken on the subject, but cannot undertake now to fix the date.
§ MR. CHILDERS
thought the House had heard with satisfaction the words which had fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But he might remind 108 him of the very great mischief which had been done by the delay on the part of Finance Ministers to make important statements on questions deeply affecting the financial world. Nothing had recently shaken public confidence in France to a greater extent than such a delay. He considered that the postponement of the Budget at the present time would be a very serious matter indeed.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
desired to remind the House that it was forgotten that, with the exception of the year 1860, every one of the quoted deficits happened when the financial year came on the 5th of January.
Resolutions agreed to.
Ordered, That a Bill be brought in upon the First Three Resolutions; and that Mr. RAIKES, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, and Sir HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON do prepare and bring it in.
Ordered, That a Bill be brought in upon the Fourth Resolution; and that Mr. RAIKES, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, and Sir HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON do prepare and bring it in.