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dition as even assignats or mandats. It of the bank, but into that of the property was the duty of the House not to rely also. He had learnt from the chancellor upon the assurances that the bank was of the exchequer, that it was the intention capable of fulfilling its engagements, but of government that the notes of the bank to investigate the causes of its inefficiency of England should be received from indito supply the demands upon it, before viduals by the public: from which circum. it undertook to guarantee its payments. stance, if the notes should fall in credit, At present its causes were enveloped in the revenue must be diminished. The darkness, and they had scarcely any bet- next point was, whether bank notes were ter idea of the necessity of the measure, to be considered as a legal tender from than that the people were in dread of an the public to the individual ? Unless this invasion, and had buried their
in were enacted pinto a law; it would be the earth. He suspected, however, that impossible to carry on public affairs, for more money had been buried in Germany there was not specie enough in the country than in the ground, and believed that to to pay all the public creditors. The next be the principal cause of the embarrass- point to be settled was, whether bank ment. The appointment of a committee notes should be considered as a legal would answer no good purpose without a tender from one individual to another. full inquiry into all the circumstances that Unless they were so, he was persuaded had led 10 this dreadful situation.
that one-half of the public might be sent Mr. Martin said, that the chancellor of to gaol for debt, and that the other half the exchequer had proposed an inquiry, would become bankrupts. But, the most which in its nature must be a partial one. important light in which these things Now, a partial inquiry into a question of should be considered was, the effect accounts, appeared to him to be an ab- which the whole would have on foreigners. surdity, and therefore he could not vote it would alter the price of every article for it. He was ready, however, to agree purchased from foreigners abroad: it to any measure that had a rational ten- would affect the value of every article exdency to support public credit.
ported to foreigners from home. It would Sir John Sinclair said, that the only shake the credit of Great Britain in the farrational way of judging what ought to thest parts of Russia, and be felt in the be done, was to look at what had been remotest corners of the earth. He ladone in former times, for which purpose mented that earlier measures had not he should desire an entry on the Journals. been taken to prevent what had happened, The case which he referred to, was the especially as the danger had been long plan adopted by parliament for restoring foreseen. But he had done his duty. He public credit in 1696, when the bank held in his hand a copy of a letter which struggled under similar einbarrassments. he had written to the directors of the bank, Mr. Montague was the chancellor of the so long ago as the 15th Sept. 1795, wherein exchequer at that period and author of such measures were proposed as probably the plan of relief; and under his vigorous would have prevented the sad necessity to direction, the affairs of the bank quickly which they were now reduced. This letter regained their former stability. A com- suggested the propriety of issuing bankmittee was appointed to inspect the ac- notes of 21. and 3l. value, as well as notes counts of the bank, the number and ex- of larger sums, that should not be imme. tent of its outstanding engagements, the diately converted into specie. Since, amount and value of its securities, the however, the directors had not chosen to causes of its embarrassments, and the adopt any preventive measures of that most speedy and effectual measures to kind, he trusted that if a committee should surmount them. By the report of the be appointed, it would consist of able and committee it was evident that the bank independent men, and not of persons, was in possession of more than sufficient who, from their prejudices, babits, or property to justify every demand, pro- connexions, would wish either to support vided the temporary pressure for cash or oppose the present administration. could be obviated. În consequence of the Mr. W. Smith could not conceive the good effects of this precedent, he could justice of government in first making the not help thinking that it would be proper bank a corporation of bankers, and afterto pursue the steps of that committee of wards exonerating them from paying the 1696, by inquiring not only into the money deposited in their hands. The amount of the outstanding.engagements partnership between the government and the bank was compulsory and unjust, as Mr. Pitt said, it was his intention bebeing a partnership of an insolvent go-fore the House separated, to move for vernment, which required a solvent com- | leave to bring in a bill, which might be pany to bolster up its ruined finances. carried through very quickly, to enable With regard to the utility of a secret the Bank to issue notes below 5l. value. committee, he would much rather take Sir W. Pulteney said, that the order of the word of the directors of the Bank, as council had given rise to just alarm. He to the solidity and responsibility of their gave ministers credit for having so speedily funds, than the report of the secret com- laid before the House a measure of this mittee, who had only the power of making importance. He considered the state of a partial inquiry.
the country as no worse in consequence The Earl of Wycombe said, that if the of the present step, provided wise measuspension of payment required by the sures were taken upon it. The stoppage privy council, was intended to remove a of payment in cash was not to be held public pressure at home, he should have as a permanent system, but merely as the no objection to accede to it; but as he alternative adopted under the pressure thought all this was intended merely to of the moment. The motives, however, cover a design of sending money to the assigned by the chancellor of the exchecontinent, to carry on the war, he was quer, did not satisfy him that it was to bound in duty to give it his negative. be only for a limited time. Indeed, it was The House should reflect on the evils impossible to think of it as a measure to which such a measure as this could not be continued. There was a great differfail to produce. It would lessen the ence between the measure itself, and the value of the paper currency of the king- continuance of it. In 1793 the Newcastle dom. He had seen the misery which banks had declared as now, that they that had produced in other parts of the must stop the payment of their notes in world, by raising the price of all provi- cash, under the pressure of a temporary sions, and bringing on a train of evils with scarcity; but they soon obtained the newhich that House was unacquainted. cessary supply, and went on again as be
Mr. Pollen was of opinion that the in- fore. Such was the case of the Bank. quiry which ought to be entered into The Bank had not always beside them should be of the most extensive nature. the cash for all the notes they issued ; If, upon inquiry, it should appear that for if they had, why issue notes at all ? ministers were undeserving of his confi. The Bank merely kept what was condence, he should withdraw it from them. ceived to be necessary. They had value, He should vote for a full inquiry into the however, in good bills, or otherwise for circumstances which had led to the pre- all the notes they issued, and money was sent situation of the country.
within their reach. They would, doubtMr. C. Yorke said, that an unlimited less, be able to answer all demands. inquiry must in its nature be tedious, and Such a measure as that adopted by mie delay might be attended with the most nisters might do no harm for once; but fatal cu sequences. He would therefore if it again occurred, it would be no joke. refrain from any opposition that might It was therefore highly necessary to inobstruct a speedy report.
quire into the causes, that in future they Mr. Wilberforce Bird said, he was in might be prevented. The plan proposed structed by his constituents to inquire was not enough. Partial reports from what method would be recommended to the committee would not be sufficient. enable them to carry on their business, To prevent the same dilemma from reand to answer the many demands to which curring was the great point. No misit exposed them. He did not intend to chief could arise from a full investigation. put any unnecessary question, with a view the measure of refusing payments in to embarrass ministers, but in the desire cash must be for a short time, or the conto obviate the difficulties in which manu- sequences would be fatal. In France, facturers must be involved. A rumour on account of an occasional pressure, the had gone abroad, that it was the intention bankers joined in application with the of the Bank to issue notes of one and two caisse d'escomple, that ihey might not be guineas each. Such an expedient would obliged to pay their notes in cash, which quiet the alarm, and enable the nanu. gave a blow to their paper money, which facturers to answer the many claims that it never recovered. This measure was were continually made on them.
merely calculated for the emergency of
the occasion. The country could not cumstances which could infer either the stand if the credit of the Bank was deficiency of the Bank, or the unprosshaken ; it was therefore necessary to perous situation of the country. The protect its stability, and by a full inquiry rate of foreign exchanges never were into the causes which had led to this si- more flourishing than at this moment. tuation, to guard against the danger of The necessity of the measure originated its recurring. With regard to the cause, in a sudden demand beyond the usual lie thought he knew where it lay. The average. The short question for the existence of paper money made the ex. House was, to prove the reality of the siportation of specie necessary. What was tuation which had produced the order of thus put out of circulation must go some- council. The causes would be so differwhere. It was impossible to prevent the ently viewed according to the political exportation of specie and bullion. Spain and commercial opinions of men, that and Portugal were instances; and if the they more properly belonged to future prohibition were complied with, we should discussion. The inquiry was called for in feel its bad effects. Industry, agriculture, the first instance by every consideration manufactures, were the true riches of a of public interest and public duty:
With country, and would always command a regard to the observation of the hon. sufficient supply of the precious metals. gentleman, “pay the Bank what they
Mr. Hussey said, that the chancellor of have advanced, and all will be well,” it the exchequer, and not the Bank, had was founded entirely on mistake. occasioned the measure of stopping their the hon. gentleman imagine that the payments in cash. It was he who had Bank advanced their specie to governimposed upon them this fatal order. Let ment; or that he, with rapacious hand, him pay to them all the money they had had seized upon so much money as he advanced, and then the difficulty would had mentioned ? By far the greater part cease. The minister had laid his rapa- of that sum was floating advances, not cious hands on the sums destined for the now made for the first time : payment of the public creditor. The there more now outstanding than had public creditors had been refused their been upon many occasions before he just demands. He had been told that in came into office. The advances were payment of a sum of 23l., three pounds in commonly made in notes, and paid in the cash had been offered, and the rest only same manner; unless the Bank had no in notes. Such a melancholy day as this other advances but those to government; for England he had hoped never to have and unless these occasioned an issue of lived to see. It was deluding the people their paper, inferring a demand for specie to talk of a committee such as that pro- which otherwise would not have taken posed. Instead of such idle stuff as this, place, the advances to government could let the minister pay off the ten millions not in any view produce the difficulties due to the Bank, and every thing would of the Bank for cash. It was not imposgo on smoothly.
sible that, upon some future occasion, a Mr. Pitt said, that the hon. baronet loan might be required for the purpose was alarmed at the proposal, as it im- of taking up these floating advances; but, plied that the measure was to be perma- did the hon. gentleman conceive that such nent. Nothing, however, could be far- a loan could be in specie? The hon. genther from his intention. He had not the tleman supposed that taxes were paid in smallest objection that a limited time specie, and that the public creditor, on should be fixed; nay, the words from the other hand, was not to be paid at all. which the conclusion of its continuation The public creditor, however, often rewas inferred, had been introduced solely ceived notes instead of cash. Loans were in this view. The measure was one often advanced without any expectation which, while it continued, ought to have of being paid in specie, nor could the the sanction of legislative authority. He Bank ever have it in contemplation, that was ready to say, that the Austrian loan, every quarterly dividend was to be paid though one of the causes which might in cash. All the receipt of the revenue influence the great events which operated paper was taken in the same manner.
another cause to which the necessity was to be rash endeavour to delude the country. ascribed. The sudden drain upon the | The arguments of the minister were a metropolis was unconnected with any cir- mockery of their understandings. He said that paper was, in common usage they could, since they were about to taken by the public creditor. But, good issue a greater quantity of paper, and God! was not the case now widely dif. their cash was seized on for the public serferent, when paper could no longer be vice? He reprobated the transaction as converted into cash at pleasure? The a step to associate the bankrupt governHouse ought to step in to rescue the ment with the solvent bank; a partnernation from ruin. Not the downfall of a ship which, if the bank directors knew minister, but the safety of the country the interest of the concern under their was at stake. Unless the House made direction they ought to spurn at, and to a decided stand, the country would be force the right hon. gentleman to with ruined.
draw his indorsements from their bills. Mr. Bastard said, that a partial inquiry But it was urged, that the bank had temwould do more harm than good. It was porary difficulties to encounter, and that his opinion that the Bank needed no sup- it behoved the House to adopt some mode port; but if the state of the Bank was to of granting relief to that important public be investigated, was it not of much body. The House, however, knew nogreater importance to know the state of thing of this. No application had been the country? The House ought to com- made to them by the Bank, nor did it bine to apply a powerful remedy. They appear even that application had been ought to cut off that prodigality which made for the order in council ; on the had prevailed! They ought to see that contrary, it appeared that this facetious the money raised for the public service council, instead of examining the directors was fairly applied. They must retrench; of the bank, acted entirely upon the authey must regulate; they must controul. thority of the chancellor of the exchequer. Without fairly examining into our situa- Nay, what added to his surprise was, that tion, there was no chance of salvation. not one of the bank directors who had
Mr. Dent thought that inquiry, so far seats in that House, had come forward from being attended with good, would do and expressed an opinion upon the subinfinite harm. The Bank was equal to ject. Some information was certainly neevery fair demand upon it, though not cessary before the House sanctioned so prepared to answer an extraordinary novel and dangerous a measure. They exigency, whether arising from the pres- had heard of the bank lending two millions sure of the war, or other occasions-a to government, and they had also heard war not entered into by this country from of the dividends on bank stock increasing. choice, but wantonly made against us by Was it not material to be informed how a people who had denied the existence of they came to stop payment at a time a supreme being.
when their affairs seemed to be going on Mr. Sheridan denied that the value of so prosperously? He called upon the bank notes was the same now, as it was be- directors to say, whether it was at their fore the order in council. Was not the desire that the order in council had been question always put to the creditor whether issued He did not approve of appointing he would take his dividend in paper or in a committee to inquire into the affairs of cash? The measure had inflicted upon the bank, as he had the firmest confidence the bank a very severe stroke, and he saw in its solidity ; but he deemed it highly only one way in which it could possibly expedient that a committee should be aprecover it, which was by coming forward, pointed to inquire into the grounds upon and showing the country that they had which the order in council had been adopted the measure from compulsion. issued. There was but one hope, and one An hon. baronet had observed, that if opinion that the Bank would be found to the measure was repeated, it would make be perfectly secure, Why, then, should but a bad joke. If it was a joke, it cer- the public guarantee their notes? As tainly was one at which the country was well might the master of the Mint indorse not much disposed to laugh ; but if it was a guinea. But what was the nature of tolerated in this instance, he was afraid this guarantee which government so these facetious measures would frequently generously offered to the bank ? Govern
He conceived that it was by no ment first lays hands on the cash of the means a temporary expedient, and foresaw bank. Next day government say, You wards to defray its outstanding engage- bank, because you have taken away our ments in cash. For how was it possible cash. Very well, then, say government,
shell you must stop payment till we examine till the state of the nation, in every par. into your affairs, form a partnership, and ticular, could have been ascertained. indorse your bills. The bank might very The Attorney General said, the case justly answer; Give us back our cash, and was shortly this: an order of council, we neither want your partnership nor without any legal validity, had been sent your guarantee. Had such a man as sir to the first monied company in the kingJohn hard presided at the barik, he dom, and this order had been complied would have taken the order of council, with. It was universally agreed, that such and thrown it in the face of the mes- an order should not have been issued, senger ; for in either case it was an affront unless it was warranted by necessity, and upon that body. If they had cash, what that it should continue in force no longer right had the chancellor of the exchequer than the necessity continued. The ques. to seize upon it: if they had none, it was tion therefore was, whether the House an insult to pretend to prohibit them from should not immediately proceed to discuss issuing it. And what was the value of the circumstances under which it had this guarantee, which government was so issued, with a view to determine whether generous as to offer to the bank? Had it ought any longer to be acted under ? not government broken its faith with all As he saw the necessity of an immediate its creditors, with the bank, wirh the em determination on a business of such conperor of Germany, and with every indi- sequence, he should vote against the vidual who were in possession of its ac- amendment. ceplances? The solidity of the bank Mr. For considered the questions of would be infinitely stronger, if it remained the measures to be adopted and of the entirely unconnected with so discreditable cause of the present situation, as insea partner. In his opinion, bank notes parable. Till the House were apprized ought to be made a legal tender to go. of what had produced the order, they vernment, and government ought to be could not well know how to apply the compelled to make every payment in remedy. bank notes, except the dividends on the Mr. Pitt considered the motion and public stock, which ought to be paid in amendment as comprising three distinct cash. He was unfriendly to a committee inquiries. Though they were all retained to inquire into the situation of the bank, in the amended motion, yet Mr. Sheridan but, instead of opposing it, he would had objected to that part of the motion move an amendment, by inserting after which pressed an inquiry into the state of the word “ House," these words : “ And the bank. This inquiry, he wished, howalso to inquire into the causes which have ever, to be made, with a view to show that produced the order of council, of the 26th its ultimate resources were solid. He instant."
considered this as the more necessary, Mr. S. Thornton, as one of the directors because, while Mr. Fox had said, that he of the bank, would only observe, that if was convinced of the fact, and stood in need the House should institute a committee of nothing to confirm him in his belief, of inquiry, there was no investigation he stated their late conduct as an act of which the directors would not most bankruptcy not to be remedied. When cheerfully meet, as they were conscious gentlemen cried up the solidity of a corit must tend to their honour, and to the porate body in one breath, and in the credit and reputation of the bank of next imputed bankruptcy to it, an inquiry England.
became necessary: Mr. Secretary Dundas said, that the Mr. Fox said,' he had not applied the amendment proposed negatived the ori- word bankruptcy to the state of the bank, ginal motion. While the hon. gentleman but to the government, to which it had professed himself adverse to an inquiry, been long applicable. he proposed to enlarge it by adding a The question being put, That the words question respecting the causes of the proposed by Mr. Sheridan be there inembargo ; and these were alleged to be a serted, the House divided : total mismanagement in every depart
Tellers. ment of finance. Thus an inquiry into every circumstance of the war would be
:} set on foot: and the great object of
Mr. Whitbread satisfying the public with respect to the SMr. Douglas
214 solvency of the bank, would be delayed