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Mr. Tierney's Motion for a Committee on the State of the Circulating
Medium, and on the Continuance of the Bank Restriction. Lord Castlereagh's Motion for a Select Committee.
N the 2nd of February, Mr. upon that point. It had pressed
of a notice he had given, to pro- and was now looked to with pose to the House a resolution anxiety by all classes of society. for the appointment of a com- The first part of his motion mittee to inquire into the effects had been rather dictated by a produced on the exchanges with sense of fairness than by any foreign countries, and the state other consideration. For his of the circulating medium by the own part, he was ready frankly restriction on payments in cash to avow, that the principles laid by the Bank, and to report whe- down by the bullion committee, ther any and what reasons exist of which his late excellent friend, for continuing the same beyond Mr. Horner, had been chairman, the period now fixed by law for constituted his creed, and that its termination. It would be re- he had as yet heard or seen nocollected that, from time to time, thing to lead him to forsake it. ministers had promised that cash The question, indeed, had now payments should be resumed; become one of a totally different and from time to time the hopes nature : it was no longer one of of the country had been disap- exchanges on the transmission of pointed by renewed restrictions gold from one country to anowhich had now continued for ther, or on the dangers to which more than one and twenty years. the Bank might be exposed : the The preamble of the last bill only real point of decision was, stated that various unforeseen whether the old circulation ought circumstances rendered the con. or ought not to be restored to tinuance of the restriction neces- those limits to which legitimate sary, and the nation had been circulation was formerly confined within a few days informed that in this kingdom. The doctrine various other unforeseen circum- on this subject he had heard withstances made it expedient that out surprise, because it was a the issue of specie should be doctrine which had been foretold again postponed until the 20th not only by himself, but by of March 1820. Having already much wiser men : the House had spoken of the importance of the been warned, over and over question, he would not trouble again, not to proceed in such a the House with another word destructive system : it had been told, that if the restriction were to its legitimate state; but unfor. prolonged, it would be impos- tunately, that hour had been so sible, without great hazard, tolong postponed, that those who, return to the point whence it had a few years ago, were merely started : and it now turned out, contemptible, had grown bolder by the confession of all, that as they acquired wealth, and the habits of the patient had confident as they procured allies. been so vitiated, that he had not This introduced him to the perstrength to bear the only remedy son against whom their operations for his disorder. There existed had been carried on with too in this kingdom a strong money much success—the Chancellor of party, whose only object was, to the Exchequer. The right hon. avail themselves of their wealth
gentleman (he said) had not to continue the present system, acted voluntarily, but upon comand whose ultimate view was, to pulsion : he had merely been an control the deliberations of the instrument with which others had legislature, and the acts of the worked their ends, while his own Bank itself. This party was com- good understanding had been posed of persons of different de. cowed and subdued into subserscriptions. Some of them were viency. by their machinations. men of the largest fortune, and His whole course of finance-for of the most undoubted integrity, system it was not—had rested who lent themselves to this object solely upon paper.
What was most conscientiously, thinking the country to think of a finance they were doing what was right. minister, who, year after year, The others were men of a differ- had done nothing but resort to ent description, and who might contrivances to glide over from be considered as the tail of the session to session without inparty. It was against this tail quiry. His object had been conthat his present motion was di. stantly to hold out the expectarected; and he was this night tion that things would mend; declaring war with the whole that if the House would but wait body of gamblers, speculators in a little, it would find that the the funds, stock-jobbers, and all income and expenditure of the those who were living upon the country would balance each losses of the honest and indus- other: in the mean time, the trious. In what he was doing he nation was to take his word for could have no possible view but the promised improvement; and the public good. He had taken while the sinking fund was cutting upon himself a duty not less off one portion of debt at one laborious than painful, but it was end, he was adding to it in equal a duty which he was bound to proportion at the other by experform for his country.
chequer bills. This course had Alluding to the money specu- now been pursued for several latists, Mr. Tierney said, that years, in a way very pleasant to their hour of extinction would the chancellor of the exchequer, arrive at the moment the circu. but very fatal to the country. If, lating medium was brought back then, it was of importance that
the right hon. gentleman and his currency: even the directors of friends should be brought to their the Bank seemed to concur in senses ; if it was ever fit to look that opinion. In order to enable our situation in the face; could a the Bank to do so, the right hon. better time be chosen than a gentleman gave notice, that he period of profound peace? If, would pay off a certain amount after four years of peace, we were of exchequer bills. The Bank still blindly to proceed with this reduced its issues, and stocks paper system without inquiry, let began to fall in proportion. No any gentleman lay his hand upon sooner had this been done, than his heart, and consider how one of those mysterious deputadreadful would be the conse- tions waited upon the ministers, quences to the nation, if a war, and were told that the city was or even an armament, were to absolutely starving for want of intervene? What resource had money, and that ruin must ensue. we but paper; what means of Ministers still seemed desirous of supporting ourselves, but by one carrying their point; but being piece of paper piled upon ano- from day to day besieged with ther? Surely these were matters dismal deputations, a promise was well deserving the most delibe- extorted from their fears, that the rate consideration of the House. Bank restriction should be conWas it not high time to take some tinued for another year. steps that should put an end to a Mr. Tierney proceeded some system which secretly destroyed time longer in a similar strain. At the foundations of national pros- length he said, that the next perity? The most obvious and question to which he thought it rational course for overcoming necessary to advert was, what these difficulties was the appoint- sort of committee would be most ment of a committee; and he eligible for the purpose he had should be glad to know if any in view. Ought it to be a select, mode of reference could be more or a secret committee ? Now he distinct, or more likely to accom- would fairly state, that he should plish the object of gaining every feel very little anxiety upon this species of information, than that point, were it not for the cirhe was at present urging. He cumstance of the latter being did not wish to inquire merely chosen by ballot. His own mointo the state of the Bank, but tion had for its object to instiinto the effects produced by the tute a general inquiry; but if the operation of the various laws right hon. gentleman wished also passed during the last one-and- that the affairs of the Bank should twenty years, for continuing the be investigated, he had no obrestriction upon cash-payments. jection whatever to the appointWhen stocks were at 84, it was ment of a secret committee for asserted, that the right hon. gen. that purpose. If, on the other *tleman and the earl of Liverpool hand, his determination was, that were impressed with the notion, because there was a small inthat the good of the country did quiry which required secrecy, a require a return to a metallic great inquiry ought to be conducted in the same manner, and necessary ?" It was now on both ought to be chosen by ballot, he sides agreed, that it was. That should certainly persist in his had not been the impression of intention of taking the sense of his majesty's ministers on the the House upon such a propo- first day of the session, who then sition. He further said, that if thought that it would be expethe hon. members whom he now dient, without the institution of saw in the House for the first any inquiry, to propose a bill for time, were willing to discard the a short extension of the restricwords of his motion for the vague tion of cash-payments. Among ones proposed by the chancellor, the causes to which the right they would give the most conclu- hon. gentleman attributed the sive proof of their entire devot- want of money in England, were edness to the minister.
the amount and nature of the He concluded by moving the foreign loans, especially the prosame words in which his first traction of the French loan, notice had been given.
which being over-rated in France, The Chancellor of the Exche- and proving insufficient when quer regretted, that the right hon. brought to the test, recourse was gentleman had so soon laid aside had to other countries, and espeall the ideas of conciliation and eially to this, which naturally unanimity which a few days since produced a rate of exchange he had professed, to adopt the against us. In this
case, his language of mere vulgar party colleagues and himself had not feeling. He then made a com- thought it wise, or safe, to call parison between his own notice, on the Bank to resume its payand that of his antagonist, in ments in cash, but had proposed which he found his own much to continue the restriction till the more correct in its form, and dis- Ist of March 1820. This was on tinct in its object, than that of the 21st of last month ; but on the other. He then challenged the following day, lord Liverpool the right hon. mover to the proof and himself had received a comthat the financial system of the munication from the Bank direccountry had been unstable and tors stating an opinion different injudicious; and he showed that from that which he and his noble in no period equal in duration to friend had previously understood that which had elapsed since the them to entertain ; 'namely, that conclusion of the war, so much they wished for an inquiry, in had been done, either in dimi- preference to so short an extennishing taxation, or in reducing sion of the restriction. In conthe public debt. With respect to sequence of this application, he the proposed committee, he and his colleagues, without at all much wished, that gentlemen abandoning their own opinion, would go into it with unbiassed felt that an inquiry so demanded, feelings, and with minds unfet- could not with propriety be retered by any previously declared fused. The necessity of an inopinions. The real question be- quiry being therefore acknowfore the House was * Is inquiry ledged on all sides, the only
question that remained was as to therewith, and to report to the the manner in which it should be House such information relative conducted. After some pretty thereto as may be disclosed withsevere reflections on Mr. Tierney, out injury to the public interests, he submitted to the House an with their observations," instead amendment which he thought thereof. fully comprehensive, for it would Lord Castlereagh said, that call on the committee to consider though the grounds of difference every part of the question in all as to the object of the motion its bearings. In this inquiry between the right hon. gentleman would be examined, not only the and his right hon. friend, the rate of foreign exchanges, and Chancellor of the Exchequer, the state of the circulating me- were few, yet he should support dium, but the condition of the the proposition of the latter, Bank, with every collateral topic because his motion was more that had any relation to the sub- precise, and went more directly ject. It was clear, however, that to the purpose. After a speech a committee appointed for such of considerable length, his lordextensive and delicate purposes, ship declared, that he was not ought to be secret ; and, notwith- obstinately attached to his own standing the opinion of the right opinion; far from it: he would hon. gentleman, it should be ap- change it, and would avow that pointed by ballot, in conformity change, not with shame, but with to the ancient and uniform cus- an honest and manly pride, if tom, from which he had never reasons were produced, which, heard any sound reason for de would render such a change neparting. He thought it proper cessary. to observe, that to whatever Mr. Canning subsequently rose; period it might be advisable to and although he thought that all postpone the resumption of cash the general argument on the payments, it was desirable to great question connected with provide that it should take place the present motion might be ad. while parliament was sitting, in vantageously postponed till the order that if inconveniencies report of the committee, about to. should result from such resump- be appointed, should give a more tion, a legislative remedy might favourable opportunity of treatbe immediately applied to them. ing it, he should not deal fairly,
The right hon. gentleman then either by himself, or by the moved, as an amendment, to House, if he did not shortly. leave out from the word " ap- state the grounds, on which he pointed," to the end of the mo- should give his vote on the pretion, in order to add these words, sent motion. It would be super“ to consider of the state of the Auous for us to inquire on which Bank of England, with reference side of this motion his attachto the expediency of the resump- ment lay, for all his severity and tion of cash payments at the ridicule" were heaped without. period fixed by law, and into such mercy upon Mr. Tierney. other matters as are connected Mr. Manning said, that the