HL Deb 24 March 1823 vol 8 cc649-51

On the order of the day for the third reading of this bill,

The Marquis of Lansdown

said, that agreeably to the intimation which he had given, and in order to make the bill what it professed to be, he should move, as an amendment, that the words "five mil- lions" be left out, and "three" be inserted instead.

The Earl of Darnley

believed there was a surplus revenue of five millions, but would vote for the amendment, in the hope, that two millions of it might be applied to the reduction of taxation.

The Earl of Liverpool

said, that unless the noble marquis meant to negative the arrangement with the Bank, it was impossible to say that there was not a disposable surplus of five millions. The arrangement might be wise or unwise, just or unjust; but nothing could be more futile than the attempt to represent it as something mysterious and fallacious, when, in fact, it was the plainest measure that possibly could be conceived. There was a sum of 4,800,000l. to be paid annually, which was as much a part of the national obligations as any other. If the persons to whom these pensions were paid could be collected in a room together, and such an arranegment could be made with them, what could be more fair? And, was it not precisely the same thing, if such an arrangement were made with a third party? But then it was said, this was unfair with respect to posterity. In what respect? If we imposed a greater burthen on posterity than we imposed on ourselves, there might be some colour for the charge: but, was it fair for those who had been calling loudly for relief, to object to the principle on which it was proposed to give it. If they were to wait the gradual falling in of the pensions, the relief from taxation that could be afforded in any one year would be imperceptible. The real objection to the measure was, the difficulty of knowing whether the annuities could be disposed of; but as that had been effected, as the measure was not unjust to posterity, and as it would be a great relief to the present generation, he trusted the House would adopt it.

Lord King

said, that the only reason given for adopting the sum of five millions was the resolution of the House of Commons; but, when it was recollected, that there had been a resolution of that. House, that paper and gold were equal in value, he thought some better reason should be given for adopting that precise sum.

Lord Bexley

said, the sinking fund now proposed, as compared with the whole debt, was greater than that which. Mr. Pitt had established. He could not see that any injustice would be done to pos- terity; for, at the end of 45 years, the burthen would be neither more nor less than if this transaction had not taken place.

The amendment was negatived, and the bill passed.