HC Deb 10 February 1881 vol 258 cc497-8

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If his attention has been called to the fact that, in the Finance Accounts of the United Kingdom of March 1880, page 117, it appears that in 1867 we guaranteed a Canadian loan of £3,000,000"for making a Railway from Riviere du Loup Quebec, to Truro Nova Scotia," and that in 1873 we guaranteed another loan of £3,000,000"for the Pacific Railway and improvement of Canals, "and that both these amounts are stated to be outstanding at the 31st March 1880, though with a small amount of Canadian Bonds (£351,600 and £86,400 respectively) held as security; whether he has observed that Sir Alexander Gait, the Canadian Minister, has stated publicly that the first of these loans had been entirely paid off, he, himself, when Finance Minister, having partly carried it out; and, whether he will state how the matter really stands, and, in justice to Canada, have our Finance Accounts corrected if they are really wrong?


Sir, the statement made in the Finance Accounts of this country which is quoted by my hon. Friend is perfectly correct. But the impression conveyed is not perfectly accurate, because certain amounts are spoken of as securities for the payment of large sums. Those limited amounts are not properly described as securities, but are the product of a sinking fund provided by Parliament. The Finance Accounts are. however, quite correct, and I hope no impression will go abroad owing to the Question of my hon. Friend unfavourable to the Dominion Government of Canada, which has always been most honourable and careful in the fulfilment of its obligations with regard to the amounts guaranteed by this country. I have not seen the speech referred to by my hon. Friend as having been made by Sir Alexander Galt, the Canadian Minister; but I have no doubt that the statement alluded to has not reference to the loans mentioned in the Question, but to a loan of a much earlier date—I think as early as 1843. If that be so, the statement is perfectly correct; but I have no means of verifying the reference.