§ Lord Lauderdale
expected, considering the importance of the subject, that the noble lord would have stated his reasons for proposing this continuation of the measure. It was a subject of the very highest importance. By the law as it at present stood, the Bank, it was known, must resume payment, in cash, in six months from the signature of a definitive treaty of peace. Whatever were the options on the subject of the circulation of the country, whether gold had risen in value as some thought, or paper had fallen as others thought, he presumed all must agree, that as to this resumption of payment by the Bank, there most be some regulation. This would be a matter for very serious consideration, even if the paper of the Bank of England had been the only Bank paper in circulation, but when it was considered, that there were no less than 900 other establishments of this description, which in their issues of paper naturally looked solely to their own interest, the subject must appear of still more serious importance. When this restriction was first imposed, the matter had been investigated by parliamentary committees; and when, in six months after, its continuation was proposed, the subject was again submitted to the investigation of committees of parliament. He hoped, that before any specific measure should be proposed on the subject under the present circumstances, a similar investigation by a committee of one or both House of Parliament would take place. 544 He also expressed his hopes that the executive government would at an early period, bring the matter forward, and not delay it till a period at which it could not be considered with the attention that its importance demanded. Something it was obvious, must be done this session; and the sooner it was brought under consideration, the better. At the same time, it was a most delicate subject, and required to be touched with caution. This country was in a most extraordinary state in regard to its circulation. Other countries had nearly as long been engaged in war, and yet had continued to pay in cash. But he did not mean at this time to enter into the subject at length; and even if he were more inclined to do so than he was, he should almost have been deterred from doing so by the state of the attendance: he new merely wished to call the attention of ministers to the great importance of the subject, and to state his opinions as to the line of proceeding which they ought to adopt in relation to it. It must soon come before their lordships in a more extended shape; and till that opportuity, he should reserve what he had to say with respect to this very important question.
The Earl of Liverpool
stated, as his reason for not having made any observations on the subject now, that he understood it to be the opinion on all sides, that they must have such a Bill for a short time at least. With respect to the general question, he admitted that it was one of very great importance, and one which must be touched with great delicacy. The situation of the country with regard to its circulating medium was certainly one in which no country in the world perhaps had ever before been placed, but without these deviations from the ancient principle, the great exertions which had been made for some time past, and especially the exertions of last year, could not have been made. He admitted, however, that now it would be proper, as soon as it could conveniently be done, to revert to the ancient system, or rather to the principles of the ancient system, as nearly as circumstances would allow. The attention of ministers would, of course, be turned to the subject; and the result would be brought forward in the manner which might appear best calculated to answer the intended object. But in the mean time, he apprehended there could be no difference of opinion as to the necessity of the passing of this Bill, and of continuing the present arrangement, 545 till some other could be more maturely and deliberately examined and discussed.
§ The Bill was then read a third time and passed.