Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE BUDGET 19 June 1820 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence
THE BUDGET 19 June 1820 - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 1815-1823.
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First published by Cambridge University Press in 1951. Copyright 1951, 1952, 1955, 1973 by the Royal Economic Society. This edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., under license from the Royal Economic Society.
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19 June 1820
The Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced the budget. In the course of his speech he remarked that, as 12 millions were to be borrowed from the sinking fund, 5 millions would remain to be applied by the commissioners for the purchase of stock; these purchases had the effect of regulating the market during the whole year and of preventing sudden fluctuations from forced sales or from combinations of speculators.
Mr. Ricardo said, he could not clearly understand the alleged benefit which the money-market was to receive from the right hon. gentleman’s arrangement. It was certainly a subject of lamentation that, after five years of peace, we should still find our expenses increasing. According to the right hon. gentleman we had had effectually a sinking fund of but 1,000,000l. during the last year; but if this were correct, and the right hon. gentleman were to follow out the statements contained in the report of the finance committee, he would perceive from the expenditure that there had been an actual deficiency. He would here observe, that he found an item of 1,125,000l. perfectly unexplained. There was no account by which he could trace the manner in which it was proposed to provide for this item of 1,125,000l. The surplus of 1,000,000l., which had been mentioned by the right hon. gentleman, he had already taken into account; but he must contend that this sum of 1,125,000l. still appeared as against the accounts given in by the chancellor of the exchequer, whether he looked at this or at that paper . This sum of 1,125,000l. ought to appear, therefore, among other outstanding demands. He had a right to presume that the right hon. gentleman was bound to provide for this particular one, among the others. Next year it was anticipated by that right hon. gentleman that we were to have a sinking fund of between three and four millions. During the present year, he said, that he calculated, after deducting 9,000,000l. of unfunded debt to be paid off from 11,000,000l., that there would be a sinking fund of about 2,000,000l. But the right hon. gentleman seemed to forget, that this imaginary improvement of his was made to appear twice in the same statement. He first of all said, that we should have a sinking fund of such and such an amount; but, when he came to speak of the deficiencies upon the consolidated fund, and of the fund out of which they were to be supplied, he must have forgotten, when he was expatiating upon the sinking fund, that he was alluding to that out of which those very deficiencies were to be so supplied. And, throughout all these accounts, he had clearly forgotten that there was, in the quarter ending in January 1819, a deficiency of 8,000,000l. upon exchequer bills. He quite agreed in every word that had fallen from his hon. friend, the member for Penrhyn, respecting the alarming deficiency upon the consolidated fund. He quite concurred with him in saying, that that which was the growing produce of the consolidated fund used to be sufficient to pay all the demands upon it for the current quarter; whereas, instead of this, it was now found insufficient to pay even the arrears of the preceding quarter. During the last year, he considered the finance committee to have pursued a very good plan in letting them know what was the real state of the finances of the country. The committee had allowed them to see, in that, whether their amount was greater or less than it had been at that time twelve months. Now, he had endeavoured to apply the very same plan to the accounts of this year; and he found it to apply to them in a most remarkable manner. The committee last year estimated the unfunded debt at 53,133,000l. They took the amount of exchequer-bills in circulation, of Irish treasury bills, deficiency bills, &c.; and the result of their estimate was 53,133,000l. By the papers before the House, it appeared, that at the period to which they were made out, the unfunded debt was actually diminished in the sum of 2,000,000l. only, although the right hon. gentleman calculated that diminution at upwards of 10,000,000l. If, however, the papers before them were correct, he must contend, that the amount of actual diminution upon the unfunded debt, between the 5th of January 1819, and the 5th of January 1820, was only 2,000,000l. It was now necessary to see in what ratio the funded debt had increased; and by the returns that had been made to the House, they would find that the sum actually received by loan (which loans last year amounted to 24,000,000l.) was 18,736,000l. Deducting the sinking fund from this, the balance must necessarily be the actual amount to which the funded debt had been increased during the present year; and that increase was to the exact extent to which the unfunded debt had been this year paid off, namely, 2,000,000l.: so that, after all the complicated accounts that had been submitted to the House, the general result was this —that they had decreased the unfunded debt 2,000,000l. and had increased the funded debt 2,000,000l. It had been said that, in point of fact, there was no sinking fund whatever, for that the deficiencies upon the interest of exchequer-bills would amount to a sum about equal to that fund. And indeed it appeared to him, that these deficiencies had increased 1,370,000l. more than they amounted to last year. He had one observation more to make about the funding of 7,000,000l. of exchequer bills. The hon. member for Penryhn had paid some compliments to the chancellor of the exchequer, for having upon this occasion funded in the 5 per cents, rather than in any other stock. But, in order to contend that that was a judicious measure, he ought first to have shown that there was a sufficiency of capital to fund in the 5 per cents rather than in the three per cents. If they possessed a very large sinking fund and that sinking fund was likely to be operative, then undoubtedly it was proper to fund in a new stock and create one of 5 per cent in preference to funding in the 3 per cents; and, in that view of the question, he should have been disposed to have approved of the former of these measures. But, seeing that they possessed little or no sinking fund, he was very much disposed to doubt, whether the terms of such a loan would be of that advantageous character which his hon. friend seemed disposed to attribute to them.