§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether Treasury Bills for £2,486,000 were sold on the 9th instant, at a time when the Government balances at the Bank of England amounted to about £7,000,000; and, whether a considerable saving to the Exchequer (of several thousand pounds annually) would accrue, if, when the Government balances arc large, the floating debt were reduced by the repayment of Treasury Bills falling due?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
I am not surprised that the hon. Gentleman has called attention to the facts which are stated in the Question. My attention has been previously called to the same matter. The explanation of the transaction is this—that it is a principle of English finance that the Executive Government—that is, the Chancellor of the Exchequer—may not increase the debt permanently in any year without the special sanction of Parliament. The powers under which he can obtain temporary loans, such as Deficiency and Ways and Means advances, are strictly limited, as those advances must be repaid within a very limited time. In accordance with this principle the Chancellor is only permitted by law to re-issue Treasury Bills or Exchequer Bills in the same financial year as that in which they have been paid off—that is to say, he is not allowed to increase his Ways and Means in any year by the issue of fresh Exchequer Bills or Treasury Bills without the special assent of Parliament, previously obtained.