Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

of attending to the interests of the gold rising in price, were they precommunity belonged to the Govern. pared to show that it had risen in inment; and, because they had trans- trinsic value? Let them not talk of ferred it in a great measure to the its price in paper, but in any other Bank, let them not defer a moment commodity of a real and fixed value. longer to resume it. It was on that Did a given quantity of gold at preaccount that he recommended the sent command any more coin, or any repayment of L. 10,000,000 by the more silver, than it would have done Government. Now, why should it fifty years ago ? Of corn, indeed, it be supposed that such a repayment might command a greater quantity, by Government would lead to a con- because it was a commodity that traction of the circulation? Why fluctuated in value ; but of things might not the managers of the Bank which had a fixed and permanent spend one-half of the sum repaid in value, it would actually command a buying bullion, and employ the other smaller quantity than it would have half in extending their trade ? A done in England fifty years ago. We contraction of the issues of the Bank talked of the price of gold being was not a necessary consequence of raised by taxation, but this he could this plan ; but, on the contrary, the prove to be a fallacy; for if we lookcarrying of these resolutions into ed at the prices of gold during difeffect would be attended with an in- ferent periods of our history, we crease of its issues. The supporters should find that the price had been of this measure were told, that their low when the amount of taxation had object was to make the Bank con- been high; and, vice versa, that the form its issues to the price of gold. price had been high when the aBut the mere obligation of the Bank mount of taxation had been low. to pay their notes in ingots or bars Again, it was said, that the amount of gold, let them be called by what. of the revenue bad increased, and ever name you please, made no dif- that that increase rendered a greater ference. What did the Bank do amount of the circulating medium from 1794 to 1797? They did dur. necessary; but that position he aling that period just what they now so denied. It not only did not fol. objected to do, and then gold was low, that the amount of the circulatnever aỊ a higher price than ing medium varied in direct proporL. 3:17:6. The Bank' were then tion with the amount of taxation: expressly under the same obligation but he would show that they had to deliver bullion, as they would be varied in an inverse ratio : and for under the present plan; and yet the this purpose he would compare the price of gold was not affected by that two periods of 1792 and 1809. The regulation : the holder of their notes latter period was the year preceding had a right to demand in exchange the appointment of the Bullion Comfor that amount of notes 5 pounds or mittee, when our trade was unusu60 ounces of stamped gold; and the ally extensive; and he chose the House knew that, notwithstanding former period because the circulatthe prohibitory laws, the gold went ing medium was then very great. out of the country. It was said the Did it not follow, then, according to price of gold fluctuated, but he ap- the theory which he was combating, prehended that the argument found. that the circulating medium ought ed on that assumed fact was a mere to have been greater in 1809 than fallacy. When people talked of it was in 1792? And if it could be shown that was not the case, was which had been advanced on the subnot that theory contradicted by fact? ject, was one which at first appeared The late Lord Liverpool said, that very plausible, and was made by those in 1792 there were L. 30,000,000 of who admitted the advantage of regold in circulation; but he (Mr verting to a metallic standard of vaPeel) should be contented to take lue. The argument they used was, the amount at L. 5,000,000 less. that a variable standard exposed the Then there were L. 11,000,000 of country to great danger ; but, at the Bank notes in circulation, and con- same time, as we had now been twensequently the whole circulating ty-two years without a metallic cirmedium that year amounted to culation, it would be extremely difL. 36,000,000. In 1792, the interest ficult and hazardous to revert to the of the national debt was L.9,000,000.; ancient system. These persons mainthe number of ships employed in tained that we ought to regulate the commerce was 10,000; and the value of gold by the market price; amount of official exports was and their plan amounted to neither L. 19,000,000. In 1808, the in- more nor less than this—we ought to terest of the national debt was extricate ourselves from our present L. 31,000,000; the number of ships difficulties, by depreciating the preamounted to 15,000; and the of- cious metals.' This, however, would ficial exports had increased one-half. only be practising a fraud on indiviAccording to this theory, then, duals; it would have no effect on the there should in the latter year have price of gold, or in regulating the been a corresponding increase of cir. exchanges with foreign countries. culating medium. But gold did not The foreigner would detect the alloy remain in the market when it had in our coin when thus depreciated, risen to.L.4, 18., and the amount of nor would the plan afford any securithe circulating medium in 1809 was ty against the exportation of gold. A only L. 19,000,000; yet we had con- contrary system had been long estatrived to perform with that circula. blished in this country, and a deviation all the transactions that had been tion from that salutary system would performed in 1792, and even traps. only give an advantage to be obtainactions to a much greater amount. ed at any time by fraud. Those who In 1792 the average number of days would take the trouble to look back that the L. 1,000 note remained in to the history of our coin, would find circulation, was 22; in 1818 only 13. that it had been reformed at three In 1792, the L.10 note remained 236 different eras. The periods to which days in circulation; and in 1818 only he referred were the reigns of Ed. 147 days. In 1792, the total amount ward I., of Elizabeth, and of William of notes of every denomination issued III. These were periods of as great by the Bank was L.74,817,000 ; and difficulty as any that we had encounin 1818 L.236,084,933. The infer- tered, and yet these difficulties bad ence to be drawn from this compara- been overcome, Edward found his tive statement was, that a much less coin debased, and although engaged circulation was necessary, and would in the conquest of Wales, and in the perform transactions to a greater a- war with Scotland, he turned his atmount, at one time than at another; tention to the reformation of the coin and, therefore, the doctrine against of his realm-a circumstance dwelt which he was arguing was absurd. on with pleasure by historians, as Amongst the various propositions presenting a noble instance of publie spirit and wisdom. The next period in value as silver in bullion. It was was in the reign of Elizabeth, the perfectly true, he said, that an ounce coin having been debased by Henry of silver, which the Mint regulations VIII. and Edward VI. nearly 400 per determined to be only 5s. Zd. in vacent. In the second year of her reign lue, had risen to 6s. 3d.; but that was she directed her attention to the re- only because the silver coin had been formation of the coin. Those who clipped or reduced in value, by the were hostile to such a measure re- difference between 5s. 2d. and 6s. 3d. presented to her that the Courts of Give me, said he, 5s. of standard Rome, of France, and of Spain, were weight and fineness, as originally all leagued against her, and asked her coined, together with 2d., and I will if that was the proper time to exe- with that sum purchase for you an cute such a plan; but she was ad- ounce of silver for which you now vised by Lord Burleigh that these pay 6s. 3d. He could frame no conwere the very reasons why she should ception of an abstract standard of vado it, and that by attending to the lue, without reference to an existing welfare of her own subjects, she would substance; and was therefore obliged increase their attachment and com

to put up with the vulgar idea, that a mand the respect even of her ene- pound was a certain quantity of memies. At a time when William III. tal of a given weight and fineness. was engaged in war, did he undertake At the time of the new coinage at the reformation of the silver curren- the period to which he alluded, precy; at a time, too, when parties ran judices in theory, and misconceptions

a so high, that the Chancellor of the in reasoning, were not only to be enExchequer could not propose such countered, but the greatest financial a measure without anticipating the and political difficulties were to be most formidable opposition. He found overcome. At a time when the futhe silver currency clipped and de. ture revenue was to be mortgaged for based in the same manner as it had current charges, L.3,000,000 were to been in the time of Elizabeth, and he be raised for the expences of a new heard the same arguments on the coinage. The important duty of subject that had been used to her. If carrying the measure into effect de. the House would look at the argu- volved on Mr Montague, the then ments on both sides,-at those advan. Chancellor of the Exchequer. The ced by Lowndes on the one side, and reasons against calling in the detethose by Locke on the other,—they riorated currency for the purpose of would see how analogous they were a re-coinage, were, that at that time to those that were advanced at pre- a war raged, which required the up. sent. Lowndes complained that the divided exertions of the country; that value of silver was enhanced, and the public resources should not at wished for the return of the good old such a time be wasted on an unnetimes when silver was at 5s. 3d. per cessary object, or a doubtful experiounce, while then it was at 6s. 2d.; ment; that the expences incurred and also contended, that the shilling would be more than the nation at such was the real standard of value. Locke, a period could bear, and its disconon the other hand, maintained, that tents might be excited by fresh grie. the pound weight of silver was the vances to acts of rebellion. The enestandard of value, and that the coin mies of this expedient moreover arwas depreciated, and not the bullion gued, that should the silver coin be raised.' Silver in coin was the same called in, it would be impossible to carry on the war abroad, or to prose- culation ? Let us recolect, that if cute foreign trade, inasmuch as the we differed from other nations in merchant could not pay his bills of having a paper currency, we likewise exchange, nor the soldier receive his differed from them in another resubsistence. What, in reply to this spect--the stability of our public reasoning, were the arguments of faith; and that we ought to cherish Mr Montague and the friends of the the latter as much as we praised the measure? They argued, that the former. Let us recollect, that from mischief must be fatal, if a present a regard to that good faith, we had remedy were not found out and ap- respected, even in war, the properplied ; that by reason of the ill state ties of foreigners invested in our of the coin, the change abroad was funds; and that by the confidence infinitely to the nation's prejudice; it inspired, we had been carried that the disease would every day take through our difficulties. Let us deeper root, infect the very vitals of not, now that we have attained the the State, and if not remedied would objects for which we contended, soon become incurable; that the ene- weathered the storm which threaten. mies of the nation must be mightily ed to overwhelm us, and arrived in intimidated by so great an action, safety and triumph at the destined and would sooner be induced to a- shore, discard the guide by which gree to honourable terms of peace, we were led and protected. Let us in case they saw us able to surmount recollect, that the fluctuations of this difficulty, by the retrieving of the price which an inconvertible paper ill state of the coin, on which their currency occasioned, were injurious hopes of the nation's speedy ruin so to the labourer, who found no commuch depended; and that it would pensation in the rise of his wages at partly create a mighty esteem abroad one time for the evils inflicted by a of the greatness and wisdom of the depression at another. He had thus Parliament of England, which was discharged his duty in bringing the able to conquer such an obstinate resolutions recommended by the and almost insuperable evil in such Committee of which he was a mema juncture of affairs. These argu- ber before the House. There were, ments happily prevailed, and not. however, still two topics on which withstanding the expence, the project he wished to say a few words, though of the new coinage was carried into it was not very necessary to his ob. execution. Considering, then, that ject to advert to them. A noble such an object had been accomplish- friend of his in the other house,(Lord ed at such a period, and in the midst Lauderdale,) whose acquaintance of such difficulties, he would ask, with the subject all were ready to was there any thing in the state or acknowledge, entertained an opinion, prospects of the country at present that our Mint regulations would into deter us from the great work of terfere with the return to a standard improving our currency? Were we of gold, which it was the object of not a great nation before 1797 ? the Committee to recommend. It Were not our resources great and would be the less necessary for flourishing, our commerce extensive him (Mr Peel) to enter on a detailand prosperous, and our military and ed examination of this question, as naval glory raised to the highest pin- it had not come before the Commit. nacle of fame, before we were bless- tee of this House. It appeared to ed with an inconvertible paper cir. him, after the most mature delibera

tion that he could give to the sub- giving all his attention to a subject ject, that the Mint regulations had in which the interests of the country no connexion with the question, were so deeply involved, and having By these regulations there were not considered the evidence, not of theo{wo standards of value. Silver was retical men, but of men acquainted merely a money of convenience for with business, he was led to believe small sums, not coined like gold at in the principles which were laid the pleasure of individuals who down in the report before the House. brought it to the Mint, and without He felt himself bound to declare that loss, but coined by order of the Go- he had changed his opinions, and vernment. Its depreciation there, that he was a convert to the docfore could not affect the price of trines regarding our currency which gold, or drive it from circulation. he had once opposed. When he recollected that from the The Chairman then proceeded to year 1773 to 1797, a deteriorated read the resolutions, which, with the silver currency existed, and that this exception of that relative to the excurrency was then a legal tender for pediency of repealing the laws against L.25 instead of 40s. as now, without ihe melting and exportation of coin, at all affecting the price of gold, he were as follow: “ That it is expedient thought he might quote experience to continue the restriction on payin support of his argument against ments in cash by the Bank of Engthe theory of the noble peer. The land beyond the time to which it is other topic to which he alluded, was at present limited by law :” “ That a project which, he understood, would it is expedient that a definite period be brought forward to facilitate a re- should be fixed for the termination turn to cash payments, or as a sub- of the restriction on cash payments; stitute for them. That project con- and that preparatory measures should sisted in requiring the Bank to pay be taken, with a view to facilitate and their dotes in gold at the market price ensure, on the arrival of that period, of that metal. Such a plan could not, the payment of the promissory-notes he thought, be entertained for a mo. of the Bank of England in the legal ment; it would postpone indefinitely coin of the realm :" " That in order the return to our former circulation; to give to the Bank a greater conit would take from Parliament the trol over the issues of their notes right of regulating our currency, and than they at present possess, provi. place it at the discretion of a body of sion ought to be made for the graindividuals to whom such a power dual repayment to the Bank of the ought not to belong; it would have sum of L.10,000,000; being part of the effect of making gold conform to the sum due to the Bank, on ac. the value of paper, and not paper to count of advances made by them for that of gold, and would not, in fact, the public service, and on account afford any of that security that was of the purchase of Exchequer-bills contemplated by the establishment under the authority of acts of the of a metallic standard. The House Legislature: That it is expedient to would see that he had to encounter provide, by law, that from the 1st of the opposition of one to whose opi- February 1820, the Bank should be nion, whenever he could conscien- liable to deliver, on demand, gold of tiously, he would always bow with standard fineness, having been asthe utmost respect. But having the sayed and stamped at his Majesty's solemn duty imposed upon him, of Mint (a quantity of not less than 60 YOL. XII. PART 1.

K

« AnteriorContinuar »