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Ways And Means

Volume 66: debated on Wednesday 26 August 1914

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Considered in Committee.

[Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair.]

I beg to move, "That, for the purpose of raising the Supply granted to His Majesty for the service of the year ending on the thirty-first day of March nineteen hundred and fifteen, the Treasury may borrow in such manner as they think fit on the security of the Consolidated Fund, and may charge any expenses incurred in connection therewith on the Consolidated Fund."

That Resolution, if adopted by the Committee, will be the basis of a War Loan Bill. It differs from all other War Loan Bills in two respects. The first is that the actual amount is not inserted in the Bill for this reason—the amount is conditioned by the Bill. It is to meet the sum of money which has been voted already by the House, but it is quite impossible for us to state at the present moment what the actual amount will be, because it will mean not merely the £100,000,000 credit, but also the sum by which the Revenue will be conditioned in consequence of the draft that always follows in the event of war. The second point in which it differs from other Bills is that it does not indicate the special method which we propose to adopt to raise the money, and I think the Committee will realise that is for the very good reason that at the present moment we are not in a position to come to a decision as to the best method of raising the money. Owing to the dislocation of the Money Market, we cannot judge at the time what will be the best way of raising the money. We might raise it in two ways until we are in a position to judge how the money could best be raised. The House might not be sitting at that moment, and we might lose lour market. Therefore, we propose to ask the House to give us power to decide for the time being, according to the condition of the market for the time being, what would be the best method of raising the money. We cannot at present raise a permanent loan. It would not be desirable. We have financed the war for the time being by means of Treasury Bills, but the time will come when we must come to a decision to raise the money by some more permanent method. That time has not yet arrived, and we hope that the House will allow us for the time being to get full power to raise this money by the means which we are advised for the time being are the best means of raising it.

The proposal of the right hon. Gentleman to leave open the manner in which the money is to be raised is most excellent. It could not be done in any other way, as it might be necessary to postpone for the moment deciding the method to be adopted, and, therefore, I shall have very much pleasure in supporting this proposal. I would like, however, to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it would not be possible to put in the amount dealt with. I do not press this in the least, but I think that it would be in accordance with the precedents.

When the hon. Baronet sees the Bill he will find that the amount is determined by the amount of money which has been voted by the House. The actual figure we could not possibly at the present moment determine, because we are not in a position to say what it is.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution reported, and, pursuant to the Order of the House this day, considered, and agreed to.

Bill to provide for raising Money for the present War ordered to be brought in by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Attorney-General and Mr. Montagu. Presented accordingly; read the first time; to be read a second time To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 391.]