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Resolutions respecting Money, Bullion, and Exchanges, moved by the Right Hon. N. Vansittart, in a Committee of the whole House of Commons, on the 13th of May, and agreed to by the House, on the 14th and 15th of May, 1811.
1. Resolved,-THAT the right of establishing and regulating the legal money of this kingdom, hath at all times been a royal prerogative, vested in the Sovereigns thereof, who have, from time to time, exercised the same as they have seen fit, in changing such legal money, or altering and varying the value and enforcing or restraining the circulation thereof by Proclamation, or in concurrence with the estates of the realm by Act of Parlia ment: and that such legal money cannot lawfully be defaced, melted down, or exported.
2. Resolved, That the promissory notes of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England are engagements to pay certain sums of money in the legal coin of this kingdom; and that for more than a century past, the said Governor and Company were at all times ready to discharge such promissory notes in legal coin of the realm, until restrained from so doing on the 25th of February, 1797, by an Order in Council, confirmed by Act of Parliament.
3. Resolved, That the promissory notes of the said Company have hitherto been, and are at this time, held in public estimation to be equivalent to the legal coin of the realm, and generally accepted as such in all pecuniary transactions to which such coin is lawfully applicable.
4. Resolved, That at various periods, as well before as since the said restriction, the exchanges between Great Britain and several other countries have been unfavorable to Great Britain; and that during such periods, the prices of gold and silver bullion, especially of such gold bullion as could be legally exported, have frequently risen above the Mint price; and the coinage of money at the Mint has been either wholly suspended or greatly diminished in amount; and that such circumstances have usually occurred, when expensive naval and military operations have been carried on abroad: and in times of public danger and alarm: or when large importations of grain from foreign parts have taken place.
5. Resolved, That such unfavorable changes, and rise in the price of bullion, occurred to a greater or less degree during the wars carried on by King William the Third, and Queen Anne; and also during part of the seven years' war and of the American war, and during the war and scarcity of grain in 1795 and 1796, when the difficulty of procuring cash or bullion increased to such a degree, that on the 25th of February, 1797, the Bank of England was restrained from making payments in cash by an Order of Council, confirmed and continued to the present time by divers Acts of Parliament: and the exchanges became still more unfavorable and the price of bullion higher, during the scarcity which prevailed for two years previous to the peace of Amiens.
6. Resolved, That the unfavorable state of the exchanges, and the high price of bullion, do not, in any of the instances above referred to, appear to have been produced by the restriction on cash payments at the Bank of England, or by any excess in the issue of Bank notes; inasmuch as all the said instances, except the last, occurred previously to any restriction on such cash payments; and because, so far as appears by such information as has been procured, the price of bullion has frequently been highest, and the exchanges most unfavorable, at periods when the issues of Bank notes have been considerably diminished, and they have been afterwards restored to their ordinary rates, although those issues have been increased.
7. Resolved,-That during the period of nearly seventy-eight years, ending with the 1st of January, 1796, and previous to the aforesaid restriction, of which period accounts are before the House; the price of standard gold in bars has been at or under the Mint price twenty-eight years and five months, and above the said Mint price forty-eight years and eleven months; and that the price of foreign gold coin has been at or under Sl. 18s. per ounce thirty-six years and seven months, and above the said price thirty-nine years and three months: and that during the remaining intervals no prices are stated.-And that during the same period of seventy-eight years, the price of standard silver appears to have been at or under the Mint price three years and two months only.
8. Resolved, That during the latter part, and for some time after the close of the American war, during the years 1781, 1782, and 1783, the exchange with Hamburgh fell from 34. 1, to 31. 5, being about eight per cent.; and the price of foreign gold rose from 21. 17s. 6d. to 4l. 2s. Sd. per ounce, and the price of dollars from 5s. 44d. per ounce, to 5s. 113d.; and that the Bank notes in circulation were reduced between March, 1782, and December, 1782, from 9,260,000l., to 5,995,000/.,being a diminution of above onethird, and continued (with occasional variations) at such reduced rate until December, 1784: and that the exchange with Hamburgh rose to 34. 6, and the price of gold fell to 31. 17s. 6d., and dollars to 5s. 14d. per ounce, before the 25th of February, 1787, the amount of Bank-notes being then increased to 8,688,000l.
9. Resolved, That the amount of Bank-notes in February, 1787, was 8,688,000/., and in February, 1791, 11,699,000l.; and that during the same period, the sum of 10,704,000l. was coined in gold; and that the exchange with Hamburgh rose about three per cent.
10. Resolved, That the average amount of Bank-notes, in the year 1795, was about 11,497,000l.; and, on the 25th of February, 1797, was reduced to 8,640,000l., during which time the exchange with Hamburgh fell from 36 to 35, being about three per cent. And the said amount was increased to 11,855,000l., exclusive of 1,542,000l. in notes of one pound and two pounds each, on the 1st of February, 1798, during which time the exchange rose to 38. 2, being about nine per cent.
11. Resolved, That the average price of wheat, per quarter, in England, in the year 1798, was 65s. 3d.; in 1799, 67s. 5d.; in 1800, 113s. 7d.; in 1801, 118s. 3d.; and in 1802, 67s. 5d.
The amount of Bank notes, of five pounds and upwards, was,
and under 51.
in 1801, 13,454,370l.
That the exchange with Hamburgh was, in January, 1798, 38. 2; January, 1799, 37. 7; January, 1800, 32.; January, 1801, 29. 8; being a fall of above 22 per cent. In January, 1802, 32. 2; and December, 1802, 34.; being in the whole a rise of about thirteen per cent.
12. Resolved,―That during all the periods above referred to, previous to the commencement of the war with France, in 1793, the principal states of Europe preserved their independence, and the trade and correspondence thereof were carried on conformably to the accustomed law of nations; and that although from the time of the invasion of Holland by the French, in 1795, the trade of Great Britain with the Continent was in part circumscribed and interrupted, it was carried on freely with several of the most considerable ports, and commercial correspondence was maintained at all times previous to the summer of 1807.
13. Resolved, That since the month of November, 1806, and especially since the summer of 1807,a system of exclusion has been established against the British trade on the continent of Europe, under the influence and terror of the French power, and enforced with a degree of violence and rigor never before attempted; whereby all trade and correspondence between Great Britain and the continent of Europe, (with some occasional exceptions, chiefly in London and in certain parts of Spain and Portugal) has been hazardous, precarious, and expensive, the trade being loaded with excessive freights to foreign shipping, and the other unusual charges: and that the trade of Great Britain with the United States of America has also been uncertain and interrupted; and that in addition to these circumstances, which have greatly affected the course of payinents between this country and other nations, the naval and military expenditure of the United Kingdom, in foreign parts, has for the three years past, been very great; and the price of grain, owing to a deficiency in the crops, higher than at any time whereof the accounts appear before Parliament, except during the scarcity of 1800 and 1801; and that large quantities thereof have been imported.
14. Resolved, That the amount of currency, necessary for carrying on the transactions of the country, must bear a proportion to the extent of its trade and its public revenue and expenditure; and that the annual amount of the exports and imports of Great Britain, on an average of three years, ending 5th January, 1797, was 48,732,651. official value: the average amount of revenue paid into the Exchequer, including monies raised by lottery, 18,759,165., and of loans, 18,409,8421.; making together 37,169,007l.; and the average amount of the total expenditure of Great Britain, 42,855, 1114.; and that the average amount of Bank-notes in circulation (all of which were for five pounds, or upwards) was about 10,782,780l.; and that 57,274,6177. had been coined in gold during His Majesty's reign, of which a large sum was then in circulation.
That the annual amount of the exports and imports of Great Britain, on an average of three years, ending 5th January, 1811, supposing the imports from the East Indies and China, in the year ending the 5th of January, 1811, to have been equal to their amount in the preceding year, was 77,971,318.; the average amount of revenue paid into the Exchequer, 62,763,7461.; and of loans 12,673,5481. making together 75,437,2941.; and the average amount of the total expenditure of Great Britain, 82,205,0661.; and that the average amount of Bank-notes, above five pounds, was about 14,265,840l., and of notes under five pounds about 5,283,330/.; and that the amount of gold coin in circulation was greatly diminished.
15. Resolved, That the situation of this kingdom, in respect of its political and commercial relations with foreign countries, as above stated, is sufficient, without any change in the internal value of its currency, to account
for the unfavorable state of the foreign exchanges, and for the high price of bullion.
16. Resolved,-That it is highly important that the restriction on the payments in cash, of the Bank of England, should be removed whenever the political and commercial regulations of the country shall render it compatible with the public interest.
17. Resolved, That under the circumstances affecting the political and commercial relations of this kingdom with foreign countries, it would be highly inexpedient and dangerous, now to fix a definite period for the removal of the restriction of cash payments at the Bank of England, prior to the term already fixed by the Act 44 Geo. III. c. 1. of six months after the conclusion of a definitive treaty of peace.
TENDENCY OF CERTAIN CLAUSES
A BILL NOW PENDING IN PARLIAMENT
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BY VICESIMUS KNOX, D. D.
Altered and corrected exclusively for the PAMPHLETEER.