HC Deb 04 July 1881 vol 262 cc1953-4

said, he would, at the request of the Prime Minister, delay the Question which he had proposed—namely, To ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether any engagement has been made by the Government, or any authority conferred on the British representative at the Silver Conference in Paris, which goes beyond the use of silver as at present permitted by Law for purposes of currency; whether the Treasury have made any communication to the Directors of the Bank of England requiring or requesting them to hold in silver any part of their reserve for the due payment of notes; and, if so, what; whether the Government have authorised or concurred in any engagement by the Secretary of State for India, by which the free action of the Government of India, in dealing with silver for currency purposes, would be restrained; whether he will state if there is any intention on the part of the Government to alter in any degree whatever the standard upon which our present system of currency depends; whether, having regard to the fact that speculation in silver, by which much temporary disarrangement would be imported into operations of trade, is likely to arise during the sitting of the Conference, he will instruct the British Commissioner to hasten the decision as much as possible, so as to put an end to the intermediate state of uncertainty; and, whether he can lay upon the Table any Papers bearing upon the question?


, in reply, said, he was much obliged to his hon. Friend for postponing this Question; but as it had been fully pointed out that it was desirable that the public should be informed of the position of matters, he might as well state in regard to the important point in the Question that there was not, and never had been, any intention on the part of the Government, or any proposal on the part of the Government, to alter in any degree whatever the standard upon which our present system of currency depended. The only question raised in the Indian correspondence going forward had been with regard to the particular provision in the Bank Act of 1844 as to the holding of a certain portion of silver bullion against notes.


asked whether it would be possible to lay on the Table a copy of the speech of Sir Louis Mallet at the Silver Conference.


said, that the Treasury had not interfered with respect to the representation of the Indian Department. He thought his noble Friend the Secretary of State for India (the Marquess of Hartington) was of the same opinion as himself upon the point; but he had no doubt his noble Friend would consider the question.