§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton)
I beg to ask the Chancellor o f the Exchequer whether any steps have been taken to reduce the interest on the portion of the National Debt, amounting to £13,615,000, due to the Banks of England and Ireland?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Under the Act of 1844 the debt to the Bank of England (£11,015,100) forms parts of the securities against which the Bank issues notes, and the share of the profits payable to the Government was based on the assumption that these securities would yield 3 per cent. Accordingly, so long as the present agreement is in force, it is as broad as it is long, whether the Bank receive 3 per cent interest on the debt in question and pays into the Exchequer somewhat more in respect of profits, or whether the Bank receives a lower rate of interest on the debt and pays into the Exchequer somewhat less in respect of profits. But the remuneration payable to the Bank of England as the bankers of the Government is being examined by a small Committee; and the question of the profits derived by the Bank from its issues, and accordingly of the rate of interest payable on the securities held against the issues, will naturally be in- 738 cluded. The debt to the Bank of Ireland (£2,630,769) is not on the same footing, and must be separately considered afterwards.
§ MR. SEXTON
Will the question be separately considered immediately, or left to an indefinite period?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
It will not be left to an indefinite period, but some time will probably be necessary.