Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

demand? But was not the measure adopted by Ministers of at last paying off the advances of the Bank, a sufficient proof that they distrusted these theories? The Chancellor of the Exchequer formerly boasted of the facility with which money was raised, and the low rate of interest at which he borrowed; but was it more difficult to pay off the advances of the Bank when money could be borrowed at 41 per cent. than now when it is seven?

In neglecting the means of saving the Bank from the necessity of stopping payment, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been guilty of a most culpable breach of duty. Admitting even that the Bank was wrong in narrowing its discounts, was it not independent, and entitled to manage its own affairs? In not paying the advances which compelled them to such a conduct, the Minister, by whose fault it was occasioned, is res. ponsible for the consequences. Here then he submitted to the House the charge and the evidence on which it rested for their decision; though it was personally directed against the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he did not mean to select him alone from the rest of his colleagues, who were equally amenable to the justice of their country. However the talents of an individual might render hiin fitter to carry it into execution, yet the system was common. It was that system of unremitting malevolence which had commenced with his Majesty's reign, and which had pervaded every part of Public Administration which he attacked. To this system it was owing that we had lost America; to this system was the present war to be ascribed ; to this system was to be ascribed that determined hostility to the principles of freedom which every public measure had marked. Hence arose that rancour which enflamed with the prospect of gratifying its detestable hopes, and which had in the moment of success neglected every opportunity of concluding peace; to this fpirit, unchastised by misfortune, unenlightened by experience, was owing the desperate refusal to put an end to the war, which had brought us to a state of things when he could no longer be sanguine that any man could make peace; when, least of all, it could be exepected under the auspices of the present Ministers. That system which lost America, had Ministers carried into Ireland, and amidst all the distresses in which we were plunged, it was to be added that in the present moment there might be reason to apprehend that this invaluable jewel was lost to the British Crown. Oh, for some warning voice, to proclaim to Ministers the danger and the ruin with which their system is pregnant ! In every thing their mean and miserable policy had been disappointed. They had tried to divide the people of Ireland by their religious principles, and they were now united against common oppression. If Ministers thought that by granting a little to withhold a great deal, they would not succeed. Such pitiful evasions and shuffling policy could no longer be attended with success. These points he had introduced that the House might see the consequences of the want of good faith in public men. They had experienced the bad effects of pursuing a system contrary to good faith. Under the conduct of Ministers, it had brought us to the brink of ruin. The system would be complete, if the profligate system of an Administration was crowned with the fanction of Parliament. He concluded with moving the following resolutions.

were

1.' That the Governor and Deputy Governor of the Bank, did, at various times, and in the most forcible terms, represent 'to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the danger arising to the < Bank from the diminution of its Specie. .

2. ' That it appears that during this period the Directors of (the Bank frequently remonstrated with the Chancellor of the <Exchequer, on the magnitude of their advances to Government, canxiously requiring payment, or a considerable reduction of the (same; and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did again and

again, in the most explicit terms, promise that reduction should be made.

3. "That the Chancellor of the Exchequer, instead of per<forming the engagements did continually solicit further accommodation, in the most anxious and pressing terms ; declaring that it was impossible to avoid the most serious embarrassment to the public service, unless the Directors of the Bank afforded the assistance he required.

4. " That it appears, that although by these means the Directors of the Bank were induced to comply with his demands, they generally expressed their reluctance in strong language; (and that they at last, that is to say, on the 28th of July, 1796,

thought it necessary, for their own justification, to request the • Chancellor of the Exchequer to lay before his Majesty's Cabi'net their most serious and solemn remonstrance, in which they (declare that, “ sensible of the alarming and dangerous state of « public credit, nothing could induce them to comply with the « demand then made upon them, but the dread that their refusal « might be productive of a greater evil.”

5. "That it appears, that during the above period, a considerable portion of the Bank advances was occasioned by pay<ments of Bills of Exchange drawn on the Treasury from • abroad.

6. " That it appears, that it had seldom been the custom of the Bank of England to advance on the account of such Bills, - more than from 20,000l. to 30,000l. and that even during the

American

· American war such Bills never exceeded at any one time the « sum of 150,000l. The wildom of our ancestors having fore<scen and provided against the mischief of similar advances, by a

Clause in an Aet palied in the 5th year of William and Mary ; (by which the Governor and Company of the Bank of England were restrained from advancing money to Government on any other securities than those on which a credit is granted by Parliament.

7. • That it appears, that from and after the year 1793, at (which time an Act of Parliament passed, containing a Claule (by which the Directors of the Bank are indemnihed for

the advances they had made on Bills drawn troin abroad, and exempted in future from the penalties of the faid Act of (William and Mary, respecting such advances to Government, < the amount of Treasury Bills paid at the Bank continued progressively to increase, and that between the ist of January, 1795, and the 25th of February, 1797, luins to the amount of upwards of 15,000,000l. were at different periods advanced to Government upon this head.

8. "That it appears, that the Directors of the Bank did, at various times, during the years 1795, 1796, and 1797, apply to the Chancellor of tie Exchequer ior repayment of such ada vances, and represented to him the extreme inconvenience to themselves and to the public, of continuing the system of making · Treasury Bills payable at the Bank; and that they even declared

they conceived it to be “ an unconftitutional mode of raising “money, and what they were not warranted by their charter to « consent to.”

9. "That it appears, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did, at various times, during that period, promise to reduce the advances on that head within the sum of 500,00ol, and likewile so to arrange his payments as to put an end to the account; but that, nevertheless, the said promises were not adhered to

by him, and that the advances on Treasury Bills, during the "whole period from January 1795, to the 28th of February, "1797, amounted on an average to the sum of 1,320,000l. and upwards, and on the day last mentioned stood at 1,619,0491.

10. " That it appears to this House, that foreign remittances 'to a much larger amount than ever were known in a similar pe'riod of the moit expensive wars in which this country has been • involved, have taken place since the year 1793.

11. • That the extent of such remittances, occasioned at so early a period as the end of the vear 1794, and the beginning of the year 1795, great alarm in the minds of the Directors, ' which they at various periods communicated to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and that on the 3d of December, 1795, the

Court

· Court of Directors, under the apprehension that it was in

tended to grant a further Loan to the Emperor, came to a Re

folution by which they declared it their unanimous opinion, (that should such a Loan take place, it would be most fatal in its

consequences to the Bank of England. That they communi"cated inch Resolution to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who

atlured them he should lay afide all thoughts of it, unless the < situation of things relative to the Bank should so alter as to e render such a Loan of no importance or inconvenience to them.

12. "That on the 5th of February, 1796, the Chancellor of (the Exchequer, after itating, in conversation with the Governor < and Deputation from the Bank of England, his opinion of the ' necessity of further affifting the Emperor, promised however to (take no step in that busineis without previously communicating (to them his intention. · 13.That on the uth of February, 1796, the Directors of "the Bank pasied unanimously the following Resolutions:

“Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Court, founded upon “ the experience of the effeéts of the late Imperial Loan, that, if “ any further Loan or advance of money to the Emperor, or to « any other foreign State, should, in the present state of affairs, “ take place, it will in all probability prove fatal to the Bank « of England.

“ The Court of Directors, therefore, do most earnestly de“precate the adoption of any such measure, and they folemnly “ protest against any responsibility for the calamitous conti" quences that may follow thereupon.”

< To which Resolution, when communicated to him, the • Chancellor of the Exchequer returned for answer, « That, « after the repeated intimations which he had given to the Go“ vernor, &c. of the Bank, that no further Loan to the Empe“ror would be resolved on without previous communication « with the Bank, he did not see any realon for these Resolutions; u that he did suppose they were adopted in a moment of alarm, « and that he should consider them in that light.” . 14. ' That, both from the general tenor of the said answer

and from its particular reference to the substance and matter • of the Resolutions then communicated to him, he gave the . Governor, &c. of the Bank to understand that he was bound by promise to them to negotiate no Loan for the service of his

In.perial Majesty, nor to make any remittance either to his • said Imperial Majesty or any foreign prince, 'under any pre

tence whatsoever, without previously communicating such his (intention to the Bank of England; that the Directors to un. • derstood him, and that, in their opinion, unless his answer

to

(to this Resolution was meant to apply to the whole of its

contents, the conduct of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was disingenuous.

15. That nevertheless the Chancellor of the Exchequer for + some time prior to February Ji, 1796, clandestinely remitted, • and did for several months subsequent, clandestinely remit for

various foreign services, large suins of money, in defiance of (his repeated promises, and particularly in violation of the en'gagements which were implied in the allurances given by him

the Bank of England upon their Resolution of the nith Fe«bruary.

16. • That it appears that if the said advances of the Bank to «Government had been paid off when required, or confidera(bly reduced, the Bank would have been enabled to reduce, <if expedient, the amount of its outstanding notes; and that • such option would have been of essential service to its interests.

18. · That it appears from the evidence of the persons con"nected with the Bank, that if the said advances had been paid

off when required, or considerably reduced, the Bank would " have been enabled to give more extended aid to the mercantile (interest of Great Britain in the way of discount.

18. · That it appears that if the advances on Treasury Bills had been paid off when required, and as the Chancellor of (the Exchequer had promised, and the foreign remittances ab• stained from, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had like( wise promised, there would have existed no necessity for the « Order of Council.

19. · That it appears to this House upon the most attentive confideration of the circumstances above stated, that the Chan(cellor of the Exchequer has been guilty of a criminal inatten

tion to the public interest, and a high breach of duty, by which (the credit of the nation has been materially iinpaired.''

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, before entering upon the extensive subject which was embraced by the speech of the Honour. able Gentleman who had just sat down, thought proper to say a few words on the preliminary topic upon which he had touched. He had begun with stating his dissent from the opinion of the Secret Committee, and from what he supposed to be the almost unanimous opinion of the House, that Government were not justifiable, under all the circumstances of the case, in issuing the Order of the 26th of February, prohibiting the Bank from paying their notes in specie. The opinion of the Honourable Gen. tleman was, that it would have been better that the Bank should have been drained of their last guinea, than that this Order should have been interposed. As he (Mr. Pitt) found, however, that the Committee were unanimously of a different opinion, that the

House

« AnteriorContinuar »