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tion called upon the-bank not to! The commons received a melpay in fpecie, until parliament shall sage from the lords on the 3d of make further provision. An order, March, informing them, that their said they, is issued from the council, lordships had passed the bill for not legally binding on the bank, removing doubts, with respect to to issue paper instead of cash. In the bank issuing bank-bills under the interim parliament is about to the sum of five pounds, without give the sanction of its authority any amendment; and the bill reto the bank to issue bills payable ceived the royal aslent by commif. on demand; and this before the fion the same day. bill for confirming the order of Mr. Bramstone, on the 3d of council could be paded. The in- March, brought up the first report dividual thinks he has the faith of of the committee appointed to inthe bank, and gets the bill; the quire into the state of the bank, the bank refuses to pay in specie, he substance of which was as follows. brings his action, and he must ne- The committee ftated, that they cefTarily succeed at law, unless the had examined the outstanding parliament makes a retrospective claims against the bank with the act to cover the bank.
corresponding allers, and found The house resolved itself into a that on the 25th of February, the committee, in which it was decided, day to which the accounts could that the bill was to commence on be made up with accuracy, the tothe 21 of March 1797. It was then tal. read a second time and reported.
Amount of demands on the bank was
manent debt due by government, amounted to
So that there was a surplus of
3,826,890 Since the 25th of February, con Mr. Sheridan, on the oth of fiderable issues had been made, both March, previous to the reading of in bank-notes and government the order of the day, begged leave paper; but as these were upon cor to make a few observations upon refponding securities, the balance the reports of the committee of lein favour of the bank was not at crecy, as they were connected with all diminished by them.
the business of the day. Accord. Dr. Bramstone, on the 7th of ing to the report of that committee, March, brought up the second re the government was reprefented as port of the committee on the state a debtor to the bank in various of the bank, in which the com- sums, iisdependent of eleven mil. mittee stated it to be their opinion, lions, which the committee reckonthat it was necessary to provide for ed as forming so much of the cathe continuance and confirmation, , pital stock of the bank, when in for a limited time, of the order in fact that eleven millions was no council, and they submitted to the debt at all, and a declaration of wisdom parliament to det such a nature was calcula:ed to mine the time for which such or mislead. Instead of being includ, der fbould be continued.
ed in the capital stock of the banks 1797
as a debt, it Nould have been standing engagements of the bank. reckoned, what it really was, as an They consisted of course of cash in annuity of 330,00ol. per annum, hand, of other disposeable securithat sum being the stipulated in- ties, and of bills which the bank terest for the other, during a cer- had discounted. He next exaniatain term of years. If the elevened the lituation of the bank in re. millions actually belonged to the spect to government. It appeared effcets of the bank, and was avail by the paper on the table, that go. able at any time, and for any pur- vernment owed 9,964,000 to the pose, that sum might be made ap. bank, which remained as part of plicable, in any exigency, to dir- their assets and the permanent fe charge any demand that might oc curities towards defraying the cur; but that could not be called 13,770,000l. of outitanding dea debt, where there were no mealis niands upon it. He contended of claiming the sum so reckoned. that the directors of the bank, upGovernment might pay off that on the present occalion, mould suim if it were to inclined, it was have said to government “ Why true; but it was improbable that it do you not pay us the money you Mould do so, nor was it then very owe us, before you demand a state likely, that government would pay of our finances? -and then we shall it off in 1814, that being the expi- be able to satisfy every demand ration of the 18 years for which it without your interference.” A. was obtained, when it could retain bout four years before, the bank in. the use of it for so small an interest creased their dividends to 7 per as 3 per cent. There was cent, which indicated a growing power in the bank to compel the prosperity. In 1796, the bank uns payment of this money at any pe- dertook to subsc ibe one million riod, and the payment of it rested towards the loyalty loan of eighteen solely on the option of govern- millions. If government perceived ment. The bank, as a corporation, that the bank was suffering a gradu. was merely a vehicle for managing al decrease, they ought to have take the national debt; and so long as en some nieafure to have paid the the national debt exiited, the bank debt, or some part of it, which it would exist also. It would be a owed to the bank, to prevent the corporation to the end of time. inconveniencies which had fince So far then it was evident, that the arise:1. It appeared as if governeleven millions did not form a part ment had entertained some defire of the capital stock of the bank, to reduce the bank to such a fitu. but only gave it an annuity; and ation; because, instead of paying this was
an instance, he would what they owed, they took another not fay of inaccuracy or design to million from it. If the present difmisrepresent in the committee, but ficultits were foreseen, why did of a statement in consequence of the government Nut the door, when which a sort of impression had the books for the subscription to gone a brood, as if that money were the loyalty loan of eighteen milimmediately applicable to any oh. lions were open, and when people ject of relief. The inquiry would from every part of the kingdom then be of what effects the seven. came forward with their money teen millions were composed, and were disappointed? Why, in which were to defray the out- stead of clofing the account at
sighteen millions, did they not ex. dence in its security. He had never tend it to thirty millions, when heard until that day, in the speech they found they could raise the of an honourable gentleman (Mr. money with so little trouble ? By Sheridan), any thing stated that in adopting such a mode, they would the smallest degree questioned the have been able to pay the bank truth of the account contained in twelve millions of the debt which the report of the committee, that they owed, which might have pre. the affets in the bank greatly exvented the present difficulties it la ceeded all the demands against it. boured under. The bank-truftees It had been stated, that the sums where bound to do justice to their due from the public to the bank of creditors, to their truft, and to England were neither equivalent themselves; and it was extraordi- to, nor were to be considered in nary to see wife and just men like the same point of view as, the capithem brought to such a situation. tal of any other corporation or He concluded by saying, that he company that embarked in trade. should move the next day, that im- In answer to that, he observed, mediate fteps be taken to pay the that the security of a certain nummoney advanced by the bank to ber of traders, whether a corpora. government.
tion or not, confifted not only of The two reports were taken into the original sum embarked, but al. congderation by a committee of so of whatever profit had been prothe whole house, on the 9th of duced in the course of time; and March. The chancellor of the to deny that such original property exchequer rose on that occasion, embarked, if still unimpaired, whéand made several observations upon ther it were secured as part of their the two reports. With respect to outstanding debt or not, was not the first report, which related to part of their capital, was to deny the finances of the bank; he af- every principle upon which every serted that fuch had been the effect mercantile account was ever conof it upon the public mind, that structed. The question was not there did not exist a question of the whether the bank contained actual general sufficiency and Solidity of fpecie for all the demands which their funds: from the moment that might be made upon them, but report had been made public, there whether they had good debts due did appear an almost general per to them, or property of any other fuafion of their ultimate solidity description, which might be finally and fufficiency
But there was available to them in the liquidation another source from which he drew of the debts owing to the public. his own convi&tion of the prospe. It appeared upon the report that rous state of the funds of the bank, the bank was rich, was poslesed of which was the opinion of those substance far exceeding the dewho were the moit interested in mands of the public, and that the subjects of a pecuniary nature-he individuals composing the corpomeant the merchants and bankers ration would have a far greater of the city of London, who had fum to divide, if a division of proclearly and unequivocally mani. perty were to take place, than they fested to the world the folidity of lad originally embarked; and therethe bank, by adopting a line of fore their security was ultimately conduct which evinced their confi, good. He contended that the re
port ought to confirm the opinion useful and important consequence, of the complete and entire fufficic if it had induced the minister to aency of the bank; and he thought bandon the intention which he anhe had, the satisfaction of every nounced of guaranteeing the notes gentleman in the house concurring of the bank with the fanction of in that opinion, till he heard the government. He was convinced honourable gentleman ftate what from the fullest reflection, that the he had that day. The committee more the bank was identified with had reported in diftinét terms, that the government, the more it would the neceflity existed for the order of be dependent upon the measures of council; he should therefore feel it administration. . Mr. Fox extended his duty to propose the continuance his observations to a considerable of the measure recommended by the length, in which he followed princommittee. It was his intention to cipally the arguments made use refer to the committee powers to en- of by Mr. Sheridan. able them to enter into the exa Lord Hawkesbury and the folimination and discussion of every citor-general defended the position circumstance which they might of the chancellor of the exchequer; have the least reason to suppose in to whom Nir. Sheridan replied in a any respect deranged the ordinary speech of great energy, defending channel through which the finan- his former observations upon the ces and resources of the country report of the committee. flowed, and to ascertain not merely The motion was then put for what related to the bank, but what leave to bring in the bill, which was the real and undisguised situa was carried without a division. tion of the country. He had the The chancellor of the exchequer satisfaction to declare, that the fun- then moved, that the secret comdamental and radical resources of mittee for inquiring into the affairs the country were great and flatter- of the bank, &c. be revived; which ing. He concluded with inoving was carried by 174 votes against “ for leave to bring in a bill to 65. The secret committee was confirm and continue, for a limited therefore revived. Mr. Sheridan time, the restriction against the if- then renewed the motion which he suing of money in fpecie by the had made before, that the right bank of England."
honourable Charles James Fox be Mr. Fox thought the observa- added to the commitiee. This mo tions which Mr. Sheridan had made tion was negatived by 157 votes upon the report of the committee against 60. were strictly rignit. No man could For the accommodation of manube fo ignorant as to consider the facturers and others, during the fum of eleven millions due from scarcity of cali!, the legislature partgovernment to the bank as a sumed " An act to fufpend, for a limitof money available to its utmost ed time, the operation of two acts extent, or as afiets which in case of of the 15th and 17th of the reign neceility the bank could employ. of his present majetty, for restrainIt was in fact an annuity of 330,000l. ing the negotiation of promillory which government might, or might notes and inland bills of exchange, not, as it thought proper, redeem. under a limited fum.” A fimilar He thould consider the report as bill was also palled for Scotland. prociuctive of, at least, one very The former of thçse bills was
introduced into the commons on been attended with so little alarm, the ist of March by Mr. Wilber- One cause was, that the commerforce Bird. He proposed, that the cial part of the country derived adbill should not extend to the cities ditional accommodation from the of London and Westminster, nor liberality of the bank in discounts. to the borough of Southwark, on If, previous to this order, the counaccount of small notes issuing from try was impoverished by the war to the bank.
a degree that was not fully known, Mr. Sheridan deplored the neces- the prevalence of certain opinions. sity of the measure; but for the ac- upon this subject tended to conceal commodation of the manufacturer the reality of our situation. The he agreed to the bringing in of the minister felt himself in such a fitubill.
ation, that if he insisted on the bank The chancellor of the exchequer doing its duty of discharging the thought the effects of the Yufpenfion just claims of their creditors, and might be beneficial to the metropo- of limiting their discounts, from lis as well as other places, and the pressure they felt for cash,'nutherefore moved " that the excep merous and important failures must tion thould be left out."
have taken place throughout the Leave w.s granted to bring in country, and produced a general the o:ll.
indisposition to the continuance of Mr. Wilberforce Bird, on the the war. On the other hand, he 3d of March, moved the order of was aware that if he made no effort the day upon the said bill, when he to enable the bank to keep its faith begged leave to bring up a clause with its creditors, but allowed the which he was defirous should be in- circunstances on which the order ferred in the bill. The purport of was founded, to come to extremi. tiis claufe was, that if any person ties, he might find a facility in afthould fail in the payment of a note fording a great temporary relief to three days after it became due, it the difficulties which were expethould be lawful for the justices to rienced. He presumed, that it was proceed by fummons, diitress, &c. for the purposes of government, not to enforce payment, Mr. Bryan
Mr. Bryan from the deficiency of the bank, Edwards expreiled himself directly that the order was issued. The against the bill, because it went to house was called upon by legislative muitiply the quantity of paper in authority to declare that they precirculation. The bill however was ferred the accommodation of
gos finally passed on this day, and it was vernment to the just claims of the agreed, after some discussion, that public creditor. The sentiment of it should continue in operation till Demosthenes, so often quoted, was the ist of May then ensuing; it one which was particularly applicareceived the royal afsent on the 10th ble to our present circumstances, of March.
If we were reduced to our present. Mr. Sheridan, on the roth of distress without error or misconMarch, role to make his promised duct, the state of the country was motion relative to the bank. He desperate, and there was no chance endeavoured to account for that re of retrieving our affairs. He concent political phenomenon, why tended, that it would be found upthe order for prohibiting the bank on inquiry, that the embarrassments from paying in specie should have of the bank had arisen from a dea,