§ Resolutions [March 9] reported.
§ SIR CHARLES LEWIS (Antrim, N.)
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated amount of the bonuses to be given to the holders of Consols and Reduced Threes; what is the estimated amount involved in the fee of 1s. 6d. in respect of agency; whether he is in a position, before the second reading, to state the number of each class of holders in each class of Stock of £1,000, £2,000, and £3,000 respectively; and, whether, having re- 883 gard to the fact that this is the largest conversion that has ever taken place of Government Stock, and the enormous number of persons who are interested in it, the Government think that Friday is not rather too soon for the second reading?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
In regard to the estimated amount of bonus and agents' commission, it is, of course, utterly impossible to say to what extent the holders of Consols and Seduced Threes are likely to come in. There is one standard which, if he likes, the hon. Member can apply in order to get at the maximum, by assuming that the whole of the holders of Consols and Reduced Threes will be likely to come in. Of course, on the large amount of Stock; held by Government Departments, no agents' commission will be paid. With regard to the number of holders, if the hon. Member will repeat the Question, I will try to get the information. It will, I believe, be absolutely indispensable, and according to precedent, that the dissents should be required within a reasonable time. Indeed, the whole operation might be jeopardized by too extended an interval being given. I did not allude to it in my speech on Friday last, because I preferred to rely entirely on our own precedents; but in the case of a very large conversion recently undertaken in France, only 10 days was given to the dissentients to express their dissent. I shall hope to be supported by the House in pushing the Bill through as rapidly as possible, and, of course, every possible opportunity will be given to ventilate the conditions in the country.
§ Resolutions agreed to.
§ Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 164.]
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be read a second time upon Friday, at Two of the clock."
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
said, that this practically meant the settling of a Morning Sitting on which the Government might take any other Business besides the National Debt Bill. With a view to the scheme being considered on its merits last Friday, there was an absolute cessation of hostilities relating to the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Ireland, and the Government took advantage of that state of affairs to press on other Business. He, therefore, wanted to know whether it was intended next Friday to break up the truce by putting down controversial matters after the National Debt Bill?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the only question was, whether the second reading of the Bill should be set down for 2 o'clock on Friday, and it was not competent to enter into any other question.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
submitted that the fixing of the National Debt Bill would afford the Government the opportunity of putting other Business down.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
said, he would endeavour so to arrange the Business for the early Sitting on Friday as not to provoke opposition.
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (London)
said, he thought the hon. and learned Member might make himself quite easy, for the Government were not likely to have an opportunity of proceeding with other Business.
§ Question put, and agreed to.