§ MR. S. MONTAGU
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether his attention has been called to the condition of the coinage; whether he is aware that about sixty millions, or in other words sixty out of every hundred, of the gold coins in circulation have ceased to be legal tender, in consequence of their worn condition; and that, in consequence, many millions in gold lie idle in the hands of bankers and others; whether it is a fact that the silver currency, originally issued at a premium of less than ten per cent., is now, owing to the diminished value of the metal, circulating at a fictitious value of forty per cent, when of full weight, and fifty per cent, when worn, above its market price; whether he has reason to fear 1517 illegal coinage in consequence; whether he has directed any inquiry into the practice of importing French one and two sous pieces and putting them into circulation, at a profit of about five per cent; and, whether he has any reason to fear that the ultimate loss arising out of this importation may fall upon the poorer classes?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT)
As to the first two parts of the Question, the actual figures and the whole circumstances of the matter wore brought before the House by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary two years ago. As to the next two parts on the subject of the silver coinage, it is true that the premium at which our silver coin circulates is nearly as stated; but I learn, from the Mint Authorities, that there is no apprehension of illegal coinage, and, indeed, that there is no such thing as forged silver coin. With regard to the copper coinage, we all know there is a certain number of small copper or bronze coins imported from. France; but there is no reason, however, to think it is done for purposes of profit, and in any case no inconvenience has been proved to exist.
§ MR. BRODRICK
Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether he intends to re-introduce the Bill for the debasing of the gold coinage, or otherwise dealing with it, that was introduced by his Predecessor?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I do not think that is a Question which ought to be put to me. It does not arise out of my reply, and I do not recognize a Bill by that description; therefore I am not prepared to answer it.