MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the present First Lord of the Admiralty, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, stated, on 21st April 716 1887, that he had made a calculation that if the fixed charge of £26,000,000 per year for the National Debt as then proposed were steadily persevered with, we should redeem £600,000,000 at par in about 52 years, and £700,000,000 in 56 years, so that by the year 1943 the whole of the then present National Debt would be extinguished; and whether he has now made any similar calculation to show the effect, which will be attained in this respect if the fixed charge as now proposed of £23,000,000 per year be persevered with, and to show at what date under this diminished charge the present National Debt would be extinguished?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The high premium at which Consols now stand and the increased uncertainty as to their value in the future would make any such calculation as that to which the honourable Member refers so purely hypothetical at the present time as to be valueless. I believe that if matters remained as at present a fixed Debt charge of £23,000,000 a year would discharge the Debt in about 60 years—a term which Parliament has sanctioned in the case of municipalities. But I attach no importance to hypothetical calculations.