HC Deb 08 April 1818 vol 37 cc1223-4
General Thornton

rose, pursuant to the notice he had given, to move for an account of the nominal value of notes presented at the Bank of England and refused payment, in consequence of being forgeries. It was, he observed, a matter of melancholy consideration, to observe how rapidly the crime of forgery had increased within a few years. Indeed, so great had been the sacrifice of human life in consequence of convictions for forgeries of late, that several persons against whom there was sufficient evidence to convict capitally, had been suffered to escape with impunity. Compromises were frequently entered into with the accused parties, and the capital charge withdrawn in consequence of their consenting to plead guilty to the charge of uttering forged notes. He was well convinced, that if the directors of the Bank gave the proper encouragement to able artists, means might be devised of rendering forgery, if not impossible, at least extremely difficult. He was sorry that the plan proposed to the Bank about twenty years ago by Mr. Tilloch, had not been adopted. That gentleman had invented a particular kind of plate, which in the opinion of Mr. Bartolozzi, and all the eminent artists of that day, was considered as inimitable. They had declared it was impossible to imitate it with any chance of success. At that time, however, the Bank consulted Mr. Terry their engraver, and he produced what was called an imitation of it, but his imitation was declared by many celebrated artists to be so bad, that no person could be deceived by it. Since, then, the Bank had altogether neglected the plan, though its completion was still within their power. He trusted, however, that they would now, from motives of humanity, see the necessity of devising some method of preventing a crime which had risen to such a height. If the Bank directors should not come forward with a motion for a committee on the subject, he trusted the chancellor of the exchequer would. Indeed, he felt much more interested in this subject at present than before, in consequence of the motion of which the right hon. gentleman had given notice for a renewal of the Bank Restriction act. That circumstance imperatively called for some such measure as that to which he had alluded. He had heard, that the Bank had refrained from adopting the plan of Mr. Tilloch, in consequence of the expense attending it. He was not aware how great that expense was likely to be, but he was certain, that if the expense of the prosecutions for forgery incurred by the Bank was known, as he trusted it would, by the result of the motion on the subject which stood for Tuesday, they would be found not inferior to that which the Bank wished to avoid in refusing to adopt the plan of Mr. Tilloch. With the view of assisting in the object of bringing the matter more fully before the House, he should move, "That there be laid before this House an account of the total nominal value of Bank of England Notes presented at the Bank of England and refused payment on account of their being forged, for the last six years, to the latest period to which the same can be made up: specifying the total nominal value so presented and refused payment in each year respectively."

Mr. Grenfell

did not mean to oppose the motion, but he suggested to the hon. general whether it would not be better to withdraw it for the present, in consequence of a motion of an hon. and learned friend of his (sir J. Mackintosh) which stood for Tuesday, and which embraced the same object along with some others.

General Thornton

was not aware that the motion for Tuesday embraced the object which he had then in view; but as he now understood that that object would be included in the intended motion, he would, with the leave of the House, withdraw his.

The motion was accordingly withdrawn.