MR. DICKSON (for Mr. WHITWORTH)
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, owing to the long continued cheapness of money in this Country he should determine upon the reduction of the Interest on Consols, could the holders demand more than par for the portion to be paid off?
I do not like, Sir, to answer this Question in a manner that would give any reason to suppose that there is any immediate prospect of a reduction of the interest on Consols. I may say that an opportunity will be afforded, when the Resolution comes on with respect to the conversion of Stock into Annuities, to make any needful remarks on the subject. I may, perhaps, take this opportunity of mentioning to the House that we have recently got into a state of things in the Money Market in which, just as the 3 per Cent Metropolitan Stocks have come to bear a far better price relatively than the 3½ so the 2½ Public Stocks have come to bear a better price relatively than the 3 per Cent. Under those circumstances, we have been making some sales of 2½ per Cent Stock to the public, which have been advantageous to the Public Debt Commissioners. With respect to the immediate Question, as to the power of 1210 the holders to demand more than par, there is no doubt that due notice must be given before any operations of the kind can take place. The obligation of the State to the public is strictly limited to one of two things—either to pay a perpetual annuity of £3, or, in deviating from that course, to pay a sum of £100.