HC Deb 11 February 1818 vol 37 cc331-2
Mr. Babington

begged leave to address a few observations to the chancellor of the exchequer upon the subject of Bank Tokens. He differed from the right hon. gentleman in what he had said last night, that government was under no obligation to facilitate the calling in of the Bank tokens, as they formed no part of the legal coin of the country. But according to his view, those tokens having been issued by the Bank with the sanction of government, in order to supply the want of legal coin, it was the duty of government, as well as of the Bank, to provide that the holders of those tokens should suffer no inconvenience from them; and that agents should be appointed in every great town throughout the country to call them in, as was the case some time ago with respect to the old Mint silver. Unless some such arrangement were made, considerable inconvenience would result to the poorer classes. In the district with which he was connected as well as in others of which he had heard, those tokens formed more than one-third of the circulation.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

observed, that the hon. member had overlooked the most material part of the statement which he had yesterday submitted to the House, namely, that the Bank was bound to receive those tokens for two years, from the 1st of March next. How, then, could any inconvenience be apprehended? Those tokens might be taken by gentlemen for rent, and thus, as well as by many other obvious means, the whole were likely to find their way to the Bank, long before the period alluded to should expire. With regard to means for facilitating the transport of these tokens from the country to London, he felt that neither government nor the Bank was bound to provide such means, but he was happy to say that such arrangements had been made by the Post-office as were likely to afford every necessary facility upon this subject.

Mr. Curwen

hoped that the directors would feel themselves called upon to take measures to prevent loss to the public from the issue of tokens. He had a letter from Scotland, stating that at Selkirk many poor persons were kept in want of the necessaries of life from the difficulty of getting the old silver coinage exchanged at the time the new coinage was issued. The Bank ought surely to provide that similar distress should not be occasioned by the withdrawing of their tokens, especially as they must have made great profit by the issue of them.

Mr. Manning

said, that the Bank directors had actually sustained loss by standing between the public and the executive government, when silver was extremely scarce in the country. He had no doubt that, by the end of the two years allowed for the circulation of tokens, they would be all withdrawn without inconvenience.