NAVAL AND MILITARY PENSIONS 24 May 1822 - 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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NAVAL AND MILITARY PENSIONS
24 May 1822
No contractors having come forward for the pensions plan approved by Parliament [see above, p. 160] the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced a modified form of that plan. He proposed that the fixed annuity should be paid to trustees accountable to Parliament; that the trustees should undertake to pay the pensions; and that they should be empowered in each year to sell as much of the annuity (or otherwise borrow from the public) as was necessary to make up the deficiency. He announced that the sums released would be used for reducing the duties on salt (from 15s. to 2s. per bushel) and on leather, and for repealing the Irish window tax and the tonnage duty on ships. Mr. Hume moved as an amendment to the financial measures that the sums required be taken from the Commissioners of the National Debt instead of being raised by loan or annuities [cp. above p. 161].
Mr. Ricardo said, he was most ready to commend the conduct of ministers where he found it prudent and proper; and in the proposed remission of taxes he thought they had acted judiciously in listening to the general prayer of the people. But, when he offered this commendation, he must decline concurring in any terms of excessive gratitude. He confessed, that he owed no gratitude to ministers for giving the people what was, in fact, their own money. If, indeed, the ministers had framed any plan for giving the people any portion of money which did not really belong to them, then would be the time to offer them fervent gratitude. But he thought that ministers, in coming down with all that earnestness to announce the remission of taxes, had not dealt quite fairly with the House. It looked as if they wished to induce the House to assent to those parts of their proposition which were bad, under the cover of those parts which were good. Now, he thought it was the duty of that House to separate the bad from the good, and by its vote to get rid of the former altogether. Under that view, he should support the amendment. He regretted much that any portion of the salt tax was continued, he did not wish that any nucleus should remain, because they well knew with what vigour, under the management of the exchequer, it would spread. [Hear, hear.] As to the present plan for meeting the dead expenditure, it was nothing more or less than an annual loan, in the contracting for which either a profit or a loss, as in all other loans, must follow. To the public, then, at last they must go for that loan; and as there was no ascertained stock in which it was to be funded, it would be of course less marketable, and consequently a greater profit must be held out to the contractor. Why then not keep that advantage to the country? There was another fallacy: for as the period of 45 years approached to a termination, what was to prevent the chancellor of the exchequer of the day, from converting these annuities into a perpetuity? He did expect the vote of the hon. member for London. That hon. member had qualified his support to the former plan, by hoping that the chancellor of the exchequer would take advantage of the present high price of the funds, in making his bargain for the public. Now, by the proposed scheme, the sale of the annuities was to be annual, and of course the purchases. Being thus made from year to year, such sales and purchases must be subjected to the contingency of war, and the depreciation of the price of stocks. Besides, if the market failed the right hon. gentleman, he must issue Exchequer bills, and add to the unfunded debt. If war subsequently occurred, he would then have to fund at a greater expense.
Mr. Hume’s amendment was lost on a division and the resolutions were agreed to.
[See further p. 193 below.]