Page images

allowed. Mr. Fox appealed to the good sense and information of the House, whether, in the present situation of afers, and aster the great and general alarm which this meat-chad occasioned, it ought to induce the majority of the House to wish, at any rate, for more time before they aliped the bill to pass? It never had received the consent of any patty interested in its operation; on the contrary, it was forced upon them all against their will, and in its nature unjust as in its consequences destructive. There were, inkd, particular times, when such measures might be hazardsi with less danger than at others, and perhaps unfavourable u the situation of the country was some months ago, it sight be more lo now ; but we ought not to pursue measures fought with injustice to the people, and deceit upon the p«Mic, either at any period, or in any situation what'.oev{r.

Mr. Chancellor Pitt conceived that the point at issue was Mr. Pitt, '-aply, whether it was or was not necessary to have the confat of every individual proprietor and stockholder; and he lad no hesitation in declaring that it was not necessary— Tlieproprietors of the public funds were of two forts; those •lohad unclaimed dividends in the Bank, and those who 'ere merely stockholders, and had no unclaimed dividends. Thcsirstwere allowed, by the provisions of the bill, three sonths to withdraw their money, and re-invest it in the knk, if they preferred that security to the public security, wnnected and depending upon the whole revenue of the ;5ontry; and the second having no arrears of dividends, had •'■ in their power to draw their money whenever it became •*t an! place it where they pleased; and therefore, they UVi'd not be affected by the operation of the bill. Mr. Dundas insisted that those gentlemen on the opposite 'Mr.

of the House, who contended that the security of the Dundas. ?»Mic creditor was insured, and that more time was necessary to obtain the consent of persons interested, had not so good a foundation for their arguments as they pretended to possess. Hi thought, w ith both his right honourable friends, that the

allowed by the bill was perfectly sufficient for the public ^itor to determine which security he would prefer, the ■Wic, or that of the Bank. He replied to what had been 'jrged during the course of the discussion concerning the Bank *,ng as trustees for minors, or others, whose property was ■•'t by will in the Bank to accumulate for their use; and he ,fl<iSnt it more reasonable to suppose, that persons leaving "^y in that way, wishing it to accumulate, would rather 'ftased to have the interest drawn regularly, and approved to some particular purpose, than to let it go into the tt^rj] aggregate fund of the Bank of England, liable to be, at the same time, in case of certain emergencies, brought the use of the Bank; a circumstance which, of itself, wo deter some people from appointing the Bank to be the cuf dees of their property, and induce them to prefer the put security, in which was involved the whole, revenue and c dit of the nation. Mr. Dundas affirmed that no injury v attempted against the public creditor, and that every opp tunity was allowed him to make choice of his security. j introduced the Consolidation Act, and other measures, precedents for varying public security; and he remarked, tl the clamour which had attended this measure, was needle and of no service whatever. The right honourable gent man had, in his usual way, when he was at a loss for beti argument, appealed to the knowledge and the common set of gentlemen upon the absurdity ot a measure; but he c not suppose that this would have much effect; on the cc trary, he was inclined to hope, that he might succeed in I appeal to the wisdom and good sense of the House, and trusted that they would consider the measure, in favour which he ineant to vote, as not deficient in either proprie or justice.

Mr.Grey. Mr. Grey said, that it was impossible to avoid adverting 1 the mode in which the right honourable gentleman had chi fen to reflect upon his rig'it honourable friend, for appealir to the common fense and feelings of the House, witbout ac miring the justice of the rejection, by the readiness wit which the right honourable gentleman had followed the fair plan, no doubt conceiving that it would be much better an fairer, as coming from him, changing the security of th public creditor, not only without his consent, but absolute! against his will, declared in the most express terms, as th petitions on the table proved, was a measure on which litti argument was necessary to convince any man of commo fense, who would take the trouble of judging for himsell of its impropriety, injustice, and injurious consequences t the public credit of the nation; and this, he contended, wa the avowed and notorious tendency of the present violent am destructive measure. Mr. Grey considered the implied con sent talked of by some people as ridiculous in the extreme when it was evident, as far as it could be carried, if the pre sent clause were refuted, that the power of dissent must become totally and completely withholden from the creditoi by the del tor, as well as the choice of security. In conclusion, Mr. Grey observed, that the country had, upon many occasions of emergency, resorted to the Bank for loans, which were readily granted; yet, notwithstanding that he did not entertain the least doubt but that the fame disposition to , come forward with assistance, would sliew itself during any

future fotnre exigency of our affairs, he anxiously hoped that the psicd of national distress, granting that it were to come at 4 iris far distant.

.Mr. Stanley, jun. spoke against the clause, and totally irproved of the bill.

SirWilliam Yaung expressed his determination to vote against S'rr VV. thecbufe, and insinuated an opinion, that there might be Young, motives not qnite so disinterested as was generally thought for the opposition given to the bill. He alluded likewise to :hs disavowal of the Bank Directors, first, that the advantage derived from floating balances was any object with them, and afterwards, as to they and their friends stating the right nhich ihey had to that profit.

Sir J. Si. Clair Erjkint conceived, that all parties interest- Sir Tame* ei in the operation of the bill, were entitled to give either St. Clair liseir consent or dissent; and he thought that all stockholders, Erfkine. :swe!l as those who now were proprietors cf unclaimed dividends, came under this description. As to the thrre months notice in the bill, he deemed it perfectly inadequate lo the purpose, and inconvenient and troublesome to the proprietors, who must withdraw their dividends regularly, snd whether they wistied to do it or not; cr if by absence, niglect, or any mistake, they allowed the three months to staple, then their property was seized on without their contot, ind the security of the Bank, which they had preferred 10 any other, was varied and transferred to the Public, without their having any power to distent at the time, or alter af*irds, without much trouble or expence. A person in the country might have no friend in town whom he wished to trait with a power of attorney, or the management of his ir.oney; in that cafe, it was a common and safe way to 1st ^'remain in the Bank till he came to town, or wished to taw; but if this bill passed, that could not be done. In c-nclu!jon, Sir James complained that several honourable gir.tlemen on the other side of the House had, during the course of the debate, and in every stage cf the bill, changed '"•tit ground, and avoided, as much as possible, a fair discussion of the subject.

Mr. Mhjcrd expressed his astonishment that the hill had Mr. ■Mt so much opposition: he could not see the difficulties and Mitford. uxonveniencies attending its operation, and thought it a ^ easy matter for a person in the country, who disliked tr*Hll, and was possessed of unclaimed dividends, to desire taajtnt to transfer his property frem the Public security to jbeBank stock. Much had been urged concerning the meanm5«fthe words frivolous and vexatious; words, under the aPp!;cation of which, the complainants against the bill most certainly did not deserve to fall.

back any part of it, whatever balance might be left by th< persons in the Banker's hands. Such was the situation of" t Bank between the Public and the public creditor; but we this statement of the law of the cafe erroneous, then it w absurd in the Public to call for money by an act of Par/i ment, which the Exchequer might call in by a legal process The report of this clause was agreed to. Mr. Foa. Mr. tax observed, that he had an amendment to sugge on the preamble. Gentlemen would recollect, that when h argued that the whole sum 10 be taken from the Bank coul not be repaid at once, were it to be so demanded, a right ho nourable gentleman felt it necessary to clear himself, wit! some warmth, from the imputation of having ever said tha it could be repaid immediately, in the strict sense of th< word, and to explain that he meant only, that it would bt repaid so speedily as never to pass beyond the day on which it was demanded. If the right honourable gentleman was so jealous of his honour, the House ought to be equally jealous of theirs, and not hold out to the Public, in the preamble ot the bill, what they knew to be false in fact. He should therefore move to leave out the word '* immediate" in the preamble, aud insert the word "speedy." Mr. Mr. Chancellor Pitt answered, that the word immediate was used only in its general fense, and was meant only to imply, that payment would be made within the day on which it was demanded ; but as he had as unavoidably as reluctantly entered into such a multitude of disputes on the bill with the right honourable gentleman, and as the purport and effect of it were not to be collected merely from the preamble, but the clauses, he should, by not opposing the amendment, avoid any farther altercation.

The word " immediate" was stricken out, and the word "speedy" inserted.

The bill was ordered to be engrossed, and read a third time
■Upon the ensuing Tuesday.
The House adjourned.

Monday, March.

Mr. Chancellor Pitt brought up the following Messtge from His Majesty, which was read by the Speaker, the Members being uncovered:


His Majesty thinks it necessary to acquaint the House of Commons, that the endeavours which His Majesty has used, in conjunction -with his allies, to effeel a pacification between Raffia and the Pcrte, having hitherto been unsuccessful, and the consequences which may arise from the farther progress of the war, being b-gbif iisptrtant to the interests of His Afajesty and his allies^ miu tkfe :f Europe in general, His Majesty judges it requisite, mir ts add weight to vis representations, to make some Jarther li-Tser.'.axhn if his naval force; and His Majesty relies on the as' and affeflion of the Hou/e of Commons, that they will be radt it make good such additional expence as may be incurred by mpreparations, for the purpose of supporting the interests of Hi Majefif s kingdom, and of contributing to the restoration of literal iranqudiity on a secure and lajting foundation.

Mr. Pitt then moved, "That this message be taken into '■ consideration upon the morrow."

Mr.fsjr having declared that a subject of such particular Mr. Fox, .nportance deserved the most serious attention of that House, liJed, that he could not reflect, without the deepest concern, :ponthe circumstance of their having fallen into a situation ct misfortune so sudden and so unexpected, aster what had t"Bed in other countries, as well as at home. Reserving bimfelf for the approaching consideration of the message, he foould, for the present, only beg leave to ask, whether the t'fht honourable gentleman meant to do more the next day, th;n merely to move an address of thanks to His Majesty, in itwertohis message? If that were all, he saw nothing exnptbnable to such a motion, either the next day, or even at tat moment; but if, in the address, the right honourable patleman meant to include any thing like approbation, or twpromising to support the expences which His Majesty isibren advised to incur, surely the next da v would be much taoearly. He trusted, that whatever confidence the House ffl^tbive in the Minister, they had not yet proceeded upon caiidenceso far, as to profess themselves ready to support ^King's expences, without having before them any sort of jroand of information whatever, to enable the House to :^ge whether the measures leading to the necessity of incurr:ig such expences had been justifiable, or whether the sums "anted were likely to be wisely and properly laid out. He before wiflied to know, if the business of the next day to carry them farther than a mere address of thanks to nil Majesty for his communication; and whether it was not •* intention of Administration to communicate to the House c=re information respecting so serious and alarming a point, lsn that of which they .were already in possession?

Mr.Chancellor Pitt answered, that if the right honour-Mr. Pitt. r,k gentleman would please to recollect, he must be sensible t"»t it had not, upon any occasion, been usual to delay the ^deration of a message from His Majesty longer than the a-ttdiy; and he well knew there were, in the present case, o^r reasons why they sliould seize the earliest opportunity Vol. XXIX. D of

« PreviousContinue »