Abbildungen der Seite

measures were taken upon it. 'The Let him pay them all the money stoppage of payment in cash was they had advanced, and then the not to be held as a permanent sys difficulty would cease. It was not tem, though the motives assigned that the bank was unable to satisfy did not satisfy him that it was to be its creditors, but it was the conlimited. In 1793 the Newcastle tinued demand of money to feed banks had declared, as now, that the expences of this runious and they must stop the payment of their disastrous war which rendered it notes in cash, under the pressure of unjust to those who depended upon temporary scarcity; but they soon it. It was idle in the extreme, it obtained the necessary supply, and was deluding the people, to talk went on again as before. It was of a committee such as that propose notorious to every body, that the ed. Let the chancellor of the exchebank had not always beside them quer pay the ten millions due to the cash for all the notes they issued; bank, and every thing would resume for if they had, why issue notes at its usual course. all? However, he was of opinion, The chancellor of the exchequer that the causes which had contri- said, that he had been called upon buted to place the bank in this situ- so immediately by the honourable ation ought to be known; though baronet and the honourable gensuch a measure as that adopted by tleman who had just sat down, that administration might do no harm he hoped for the indulger.ce of the for once, yet it was necessary to house, while he made a reply. The prevent it in future. He did not honourable baronet was alarmed at approve of the pian proposed by the way in which the proposal was the chancellor of the exchequer; as conceived, as it implied that the partial reports from the committee measure was to be permanent. He would not be sufficient. It was assured the house that nothing coula certain, however, that the country be farther from his intention ; so could not stand if the credit of the much the contrary, that he had no bank was shaken; it was therefore objection to a limited time being pecessary to protect its stability by a fixed. However, while it continufull investigation into the causes ed, it ought to have the sanction of wbich bad led to this situation. It legislative authority. With respect was impossible, however, to prevent to the causes which produced the the exportation of specie and bul. necessity of the measure, opiuions lion: Spain and Portugal were in- would be different, as the general stances of it; and if the prohibition sentiments of individuals were dif. were complied with, they would feel ferent on political topics. He howits bad effects.

ever was ready to say, that the AusMr. Hussey said, the honourable trian loan,' though one of the baronet bad made several observa- causes, was not the immediate cause tions concerning the cash kept by to which the necessity was to be asthe bank; but would he say, that cribed. The necessity of the mea. the advances made to the emperor sure originated in a sudden demand would return in two months to sup-. of specie beyond the usual average; ply the demand of cash which might and with respect to the quantities come upon the bank. It was the of money exported, and the remitchancellor of the exchequer who tances received, it was a point imposed upon them the fatal order. which the house could ascertain by

a motion a motion of their own, better than fairly examining into our situation, by any question to him. With re- there was no chance of salvation. gard to the observation of the ho- Mr. Dent, with his usual judg. nourable gentleman, “ Pay the bank ment and eloquence, thought a what they had advanced, and they committee of inquiry could do no will be able to answer all demands, good but a great deal of barm. He it was founded entirely on mistake; was confident that the bank was for by far the greater part of that equal to every demand upon it. It sum was floating advances not now was the enormous expense of the made for the first time; nor was war which caused the precent failure there more now outstanding than a war not entered into by this had been before on many occasions country by choice, but a war wan, prior to bis coming into office. The tonly made against us by a people bonourable gentleman supposed who had denied the existence of a the taxes were paid in specie, and Being !!! that the public creditor, on the other Mr. Sheridan rose, and, after hand, was not paid at all. He adverting to the eloquent speech of should repeat, therefore, that the Mr. Cent, and particularly the lato inquiry which was pecessary to be ter part of it, in a straid of plea. entered, upon at present, was com- santry, said, there certainly was prebended in bis original motion; no moment in which the British whatever went beyond that object house of commons had been more might be referred to a future oppor- powerfully called upon to renounce tupity.

all dependence on the ministers, and Mr. Curwen said, that this was to repose confidence in theinselves. another rash endeavour on the part On the last speech of the chancellor of the minister to delude the coun. of the exchequer he meant to make try. His arguments at this time of a few remarks. In one part of his the day were a mockery of their argument, he advanced the absurd feelings and understanding. He position, tbat, were government to said, that paper was in common discharge all the debts they owey usage taken by the public creditor: to the bank, as the payment would but, good God! was not the case be made good in paper, it would now widely different, when paper rot relieve that public body from could no longer be converted into the difficulties produced by their cash! After making several re- want of cash. Was any man, bow. marks on the conduct of the mini- ever, so ignorant as not to know ster, he concluded by saying, unless that the deficiency arose, not merely the house made a decided stand, the from the positive want of cash, counuy was ruined.

but from the comparative surplus Mr. Brandling spoke in favour of of paper which they had issued a full inqairy. --And

After commenting at considerable Mr. Bastard also said, that a par- length upon this subject, Mr. She: tial inquiry would do much harm, ridan said be did not conceive a the rather than produce good. How. measure as a temporary expedient; ever, he was of opinion, that the but he foresaw that the bank never bank needed no support; but if would be able afterwards to defray the state of the bank was to be in its outstanding engagements in cash, vestigated, was it not of much for how was it possible that they greater importance to know the could; since they were about to iso state of the country; for without sue a greater quantity of paper, ana

[ocr errors]

their cash was seized upon for the and continuance of the measure public service ?

contained in the order." He said, they had heard of the Mr. S. Thornton said, as Mr, bank a short time ago lending two Sheridan, and several gentlemen millions to government; and they who had spoken before, had apo had also heard of dividends on the pealed to him and also to other di. bank stock increasing: how came rectors of the bank, he desired to they then to stop payment at a acquaint them he was restrained time when their affairs seemed from satisfying their curiosity, by to be going on so prosperously? a sense of the duty which he owed The chancellor of the exchequer to the public welfare. But if the had said it was the wish of the house would appoint a committee bank that the measure should be of inquiry, there was no investiga. adopted; he therefore called upon tion which the directors would not some of the directors of the bank most cheerfully meet. to come forward and say whether it Mr. Secretary Dundas said a was, or was not, at their desire that few words in answer to Mr. Shethe order in council had been is- ridan. The amendment proposed sued. For his part he did not ap- negatived the original motion. The prove of appointing a committee honourable gentleman professed to inquire into the affairs of the bimself 'adverse to an inquiry, and bank, as he had the firmest con- yet wanted to enlarge it, by adding fidence in its solidity ; but he deem- a question respecting the causes of ed it highly expedient that a com- the embargo, and these were alleg. mittee should be appointed to in- ed to be a total mismanagement in quire into the grounds upon which every department of finance. Thus the order had been issued.' How- an inquiry into every circumstance ever, there was but one hope, and of the war would be set on foot; one opinion, viz. that the bank and this first and great object of sa. would be found to be perfectly se tisfying the public relative to the care. Wby then should the public solvency of the bank would be deguarantee their notes? As well layed till the state of the nation in might the master of the mint in- every particular could have been dorse a guinea. Mr. Sheridan ascertained. The reason why he then suggested the steps which, in (Mr. Dundas) wished to go into a his opinion, ought to be taken. secret committee was, that it might Bank-notes ought to be made a le- be necessary to put questions to the gal tender to government, and go- bank-directors, which it might not vernment ought to be compelled be proper to make public. to make every payment in bank- Mr. Grey rose to explain the notes, except the dividends 'on amendment, and correct Mr. Dunpablic stock, which ought to be das when he said his honourable paid in cash. He said he would friend was adverse to an inquiry. pot oppose the measure, ' but would It was not because an inquiry was move an amendment in the original not necessary, that it had been obmotion, after this house," " and jected to, but because it was thought also to inquire into the causes inconvenient. which have produced this order of The attorney-general said, he council dated the 26th of Febru• 'should. Fote against the amendary, providing for the confirmation ment.


Mr. Fox considered the two General Walpole seconded the questions of the measures to be motion, and expressed it as his opi. adopied, and the cause of the pre- nion, that the best way to restore sent situation, as inseparable. Till public credit was to give confithe house were apprized of what dence to the people, wbich could produced the order, they could not only be done by a removal of those possibly know how to apply the ministers whose ruinous and illsemedy.

concerted schemes had been the The chancellor of the exchequer, cause of the present embarrassments. in reply, said, that he considered The order of council was said to the motion and amendment as have been issued upon the exigencomprizing three distinct inquiries, cies created by an unfounded de though they were all retained in larm. He contended that the athe amended motion; yet Mr. laran had been created by ministers Sheridan bad objected to that part themselves. When the chancellor of the motion which pressed the in- of the exchequer came to the house quiry into the state of the bank, demanding additional aid to the emwhich the honourable gentleman peror, he sounded the alarm by as

(Mr. Fox) said he was convinced serting that he had positive infor. was solid. When' gentlemen ex- mation that the French meditated tolled the solidity of the bank; and, an invasion of some part of his ma. next, imputed bankruptcy to it, an jesty's dominions. What was still inquiry was rendered necessary to more strange,, the proclamation establish its reputation.

issued upon an occasion to which Ms. Fox explained. He had not alarm had given rise, was signed by made use of the word bankruptcy the greatest alarmists in the king. applicable to the state of the bank, dom the lord chancellor, the se. but to government,' to which, he cretary of state, and the first lord said, that word had been long ap- of the admiralty; but was not signplicable. On the division, the ed by lord Fitzwilliam, who alone votes were,

had acted consistently with his Ayes, for the amendınent, 86 principles. There was one arguNoes, against it,

244 ment for the motion which appear.

ed to be unaswerable; it was that Majority, 158 in the transaction there were two After the division, Mr. Fox parties, the bank and administra. moved the following resolution, tion. It was agreed on all hands, which was agreed to, “ That it is that no blame attached to the bank ; the duty of this house to inquire it followed of course, therefore, into all the causes that have pro- that it must be with the ministers. duced this extraordinary measure." It was upon this ground that bo He then gave notice, that he should seconded the motion. move the next day for the appoint- Mr. Pitt opposed the appointment of a committee to that effect. ment of a separate committee, up

Accordingly, on the next day, on the ground that the committee March the Ist, Mr. Fox moved, already appointed was competent “ That a committee be appointed to every purpose of inquiry. to inquire into the causes which Mr. Sheridan, on the contrary, have produced the order of coupe spoke in favour of the motion, and

adverted to what had fallen from


[ocr errors]

Mr. Pitt, who had treated the pro- the committee already appointed position of naming a committee, at were not yet known, and therefore that time, as preposterous. But no person could yet say how far a gentlemen would recollect, that trustought, or ought not, to be reposthere was a time, when, in conse- ed. Was the right honourable gentlequence of the unfortunate situation mansure the names were not known? of affairs (alluding to the time of What would he say if the name of introducing the regency.bill), the every person should be read before right honourable gentleman himself the report was made? So notoriproposed a committee of inquiry, ous was the fact that government by nomination; for which he pro- had previously chosen every memposed that one member should be ber, that treasury lists had been named by himself, and another mem- shewn in the lobby, and people had ber by another on the opposite side of turned away with disgust from the the house, alternately, until the whole proceedings. If the practice were committee should be nominated; such, the publicity of it ought to and in consequence of a difference induce the house, not only to reof opinion upon that mode of pro- form itself altogether," but to adopt ceeding, a division took place, some other mode of proceeding, which, to the best of his recollec- which might at least assume the tion, was either 76 or 98 in the appearance of impartiality. He support of it. Why, said Mr. She next proceeded to support what he ridan, did the minister adopt this had stated, by reading the list of mode of proceeding at that time, names appointed for this commitand refuse it now? The reason tee by ballot; and if the report for the change was nice in the ex- should eventually shew, that all, or treme, because it was convenient the greater part, of the persons to prejudice and party feeling. therein named, were actually apThe appointment of a committee pointed, he hoped the house would by ballot had grown into disrepute, give him some credit for asserting on account of the known fact that the necessity of another mode. The the minister named all the memnames which Mr. Sheridan read bers, and the notoriety of this jug- were as follow :gle at that awful crisis rendered it Sir John Scott-a very respectaexpedient to accommodate the ap- ble name. pearance of affairs to public preju. Isaac Hawkins Browne, dice. On a great question of re- very proper person. venue, when a committee by ballot' C. Bragge, esq. He will enter was appointed, he (Mr. Sheridan) tain the committee with critical reproduced a list of names influenced marks. by government; and it afterwards John W. Anderson, esq. appeared that the fifteen naines John Fane, esq. '. wbich he produced were actually Thomas Grenville, esq. chosen. After such a notorious William Wilberforce Bird, esq. demonstration of collusion, he sub William Wilberforce, esq. mitted to the house, whether any Charles Grey, esq.-very proper, person there, or out of doors, could indeed. for a moment believe the appoint Sir John Mitford. ment of a committee by ballot William Hussey, esq. equitable and impartial ? But the William Plumer, esq. minister had said, that the names of Thomas Powis, esq.


« ZurückWeiter »