Page images
[blocks in formation]



AVING proved beyond contradiction, in a late Essay on the Public Revenue, the resources of the Country to be exceeding great, and having shown how its revenue may be considerably augmented, without the imposition of additional burthens, I cannot withhold my sentiments on Mr. Vansittart's plan of Finance.'

Mr. Vansittart, in the introductory part of his plan, has stated, "the depressed state of the public credit and of the revenue, at the close of the American war, impressed on the vigorous mind of Mr. Pitt the necessity of adopting a more provident system, of which he laid the basis in the Sinking Fund Acts of 1786 and 1792."

"In the year 1797, Mr. Pitt was induced, from the increased expenses of the Revolutionary War, to aim at the most efficacious system, that of equalizing the income with the expenditure of the country."

In a further part he says, "When the Sinking Fund was proposed by Mr. Pitt in 1786, the National Debt amounted to £240,000,000., and by the original Sinking Fund Act of 1786, its accumulation at compound interest was limited to four millions."

I See this Plan in No. I. of this work.

The foregoing extracts from the printed proposal, appear to me the basis of Mr. Vansittart's proposal for breaking in upon the Sinking Fund. With the basis it is not my intention to quarrel, but I shall prove his theory most dangerous in practice, and condemned by the very authority he quotes.

tart says,

The printed outline of Mr. V.'s plan is very contradictory in its reasoning; for in one part, Mr. Vansit"equalizing the income of the Country with its expenditure is the only safe system; he then averages and states the expenditure of Great Britain for the three last years to exceed its receipts by £14,500,000 per annum, and to raise which by new taxes would be considered a heavy burden; to avoid that necessity for four years," (or in other words, to get rid of the difficult task of equalizing our receipts and expenditure) "he proposes to break in upon the sinking fund," at the end of which period, it appears by his Table R. 2, our resources (for the sinking fund is a part of our resources) will be 7 millions per annum less by the effect of his system than it would be by the continuation of the old.

He temporizes with the health of the country, while he tells us amputation is the only safe system; and perhaps at the end of four years, amputation, which is safe at this time, may then be death to the constitution.

We know, by experience, how many persons lose their lives from anxious wishes to save a limb. I believe he is wholly indebted for the majority with which he carried his plan, to the outcry of no taxes for four years; but I could have wished the Honorable Gentleman had calculated and set forth our probable situation in the year 1817. Had he so done, I believe he would never have ventured to try his speculative system, to the danger of undermining the wise and approved plans of Mr. Pitt.

Before the subject is entered upon farther, it may be proper to notice Mr. Vansittart's statement of an important fact, that in the year 1786, when the country was at peace, the National Debt amounted to £240,000,000.; and by the Sinking Fund Act of that year, its accumulation was limited to £4,000,000. per ann., or in other words, when about one hundred millions of the debt was redeemed, the reduction of the residue of the debt was to be limited. For what purpose does Mr. Vansittart state this fact? He will not surely say that the act of 1786 is an authority for his curtailing the Sinking Fund, because the amount of the debt redeemed in proportion to the national debt at this time, is as 4 to 15, and by the limitation of the Act of 1786 it ought to be as 5 to 12;-neither will he assert that the Country being at war, is a better opportunity for reducing the Sinking Fund, than in a time of peace; these cannot be his reasons; then why has he quoted the Sinking Fund of 1786 as an authority for his Proposal?

Having proved by the Act of 1786 that the Sinking Fund should amount almost to as much again as it is at present, before Mr. Vansittart could cite it as an authority, I now beg leave to call your attention to the recorded prophetical opinion of Mr. Pitt upon so important a subject.

In the year 1786, when Mr. Pitt brought forward his Plan for the reduction of the national debt, the annual receipts of the Country ending the 5th of Jan. 1786 exceeded the annual expenditure by £900,000 per annum; it was also a period of peace, when the Committee of the House of Commons reported the revenues of the country to be in a florishing condition, and to which they added satisfactory reasons for supposing the then florishing condition of the revenue would continue.

It is reported, when Mr. Pitt brought forward his motion, that one million be annually granted to certain

Commissioners towards discharging the public debt, he expressed a hope that the Plan he then proposed to be adopted might be the mean, and he did flatter himself would inscribe his name on that firm column then about to be raised to national faith and national prosperity. Before he concluded his speech on that memorable occasion, impressed with an idea that the time might come, when a minister of public affairs would attempt to break in upon that System, which he had then the honor to bring forward, he added, " care must be taken that this fund be not broken in upon this has hitherto been the BANE of this Country, for if the original Sinking Fund had been properly preserved, it is easy to be proved that the national debt at this moment would not have been burdensome: this has hitherto been in vain endeavoured to be prevented: the minister has uniformly, when it suited his CONVENIENCE, gotten hold of this Sum, which ought to have been regarded as most SACRED.”



Here I cannot but mention a singular occurrence. this very period, when Mr. Pitt's Statue is erected, and his name inscribed for raising that firm column to National Faith and National Prosperity; the Minister has attempted to break in upon that System, which Mr. Pitt held to be most sacred, and forewarned the House of Commons, if broken in upon, would be the BANE of the Country.

In the year 1792, peace continuing, the amount of the receipts considerably exceeded the amount of the expenditure six years had elapsed since Mr. Pitt brought forward his first plan for the reduction of the National Debt, during which period, he had opportunity to digest and improve all he had formerly proposed; and such assistance had he received from the various calculations and reasonings, and the repeated discussions which had taken place in the House of Commons on questions of Finance, that on the memor

« PreviousContinue »