Economic Annals of the Nineteenth Century

By William Smart | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
1811. DEBATES ON THE BULLION COMMITTEE REPORT

ON 6th May, the House resolved itself into a Committee to consider the Bullion Report, and Horner, after a long and closely reasoned speech, moved the sixteen Resolutions.1 His object, he said, was to impress the House with "the propriety of reverting to the doctrines and opinions of the ablest and most practical statesmen of this country previous to the period of the Bank Restriction." The principle of these doctrines was, that the circulation of paper was in itself beneficial and sufficiently guarded against possible excess when constantly liable to conversion into gold. Since the publication of the Report, the evil had greatly increased. The price of gold was now as high as £4 14/- (20 per cent. above the mint price), which meant that the, real quantity of precious metal which a one pound note would purchase was 15/10. But it was not alone from the extraordinary rise in the market price of the precious metals in this country that the depreciation of the currency was demonstrable. The equally extraordihary rise in the prices of the necessaries of life, not as compared with the precious metals, but as compared with the actual circulation, afforded a clear and convincing proof of its depreciation. The great and paramount standard of all value was corn. Now, from 1771 to 1785 inclusive, the average price of wheat was 46/- per quarter. From 1786 to 1797 inclusive, it was 52/-. From 1797 to 1808 inclusive, omitting altogether the two years of scarcity 1800 and 1801, the average price was 71/-. What could better prove the depreciation of the currency? Or, again; in 1791, the price of 54/- was fixed as that under which no grain should be imported: in 1804, it became necessary to

Horner's Resolutions.

____________________
1
Hansard, xix. 799.

-292-

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