HC Deb 01 February 1821 vol 4 cc286-7
Mr. Grenfell

begged leave to ask the chancellor of the Exchequer, when the country might expect the issue of the Bank Notes on the new plan to prevent imitation? The convictions which had taken place within the last six months for the crime of forgery, and the still increasing practice of the falsification of bank notes, made it quite necessary, that the public should be informed when they were to expect relief from so enormous an evil. He wished, therefore, to ascertain what was the precise time fixed, after so many delays, for satisfying, upon this point, the expectation of the country.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he was aware of the great importance of adopting, as speedily as possible, some plan for diminishing the facility with which bank notes were at present forged. The House would, at the same time see, that it was equally important to avoid any premature or inefficient measure, the introduction of which could only serve to aggravate the existing evils. Although the plan was certainly not brought to a completion, he had the satisfaction to state, that considerable progress had been made—a progress, however, which did not enable him to answer the hon. gentleman's question as to the exact period when the new notes would be ready for circulation.

Mr. Grenfell

said, he certainly did un- derstand, that the plan had been finally settled last February, but now it appeared, that no period was fixed when they were to expect the removal of so great an evil as that which the public suffered from the extensive practice of forgery.

Mr. Davies Gilbert

declared, that every facility and encouragement had been afforded to the most able artists; but it ought not to be forgotten, that what one artist could execute another might at least imitate. It was nevertheless hoped, that with the aid of powerful machinery and a succession of varied improvements, a great degree of success might be attained. He had never been so sanguine as to calculate on complete success; but one plan which promised to be very efficacious was now under consideration, although it had not, perhaps, reached the last stage of improvement. He concurred in thinking, that the evil of some further delay must be less than that of taking any step prematurely.

Mr. Bennet

admitted the impossibility of obtaining from one artist, that which another could not imitate. He was willing to allow, that a note might be made more difficult to imitate than the present one, which indeed afforded peculiar facilities to the forger. But he would caution the House against entertaining the erroneous idea, that any note could be made, which it was impossible to imitate. He implored the House to remember, that as long as the present notes remained in circulation, the bank held the power of life and death in their hands.

Mr. D. Gilbert

agreed, that it was not possible to make a bank note which should be absolutely inimitable, but trusted, that from the ingenuity of the plan now adopting, from the powerful machinery which it would require, and the other resources not within the means of ordinary forgers, it would be as difficult to imitate the notes thus manufactured, as it would be to imitate the coin of the realm, when executed in the most able style.

Mr. Curwen

said, he had lately seen the model of a note intended for the use of a country bank, which he did not believe could be forged by any degree of art, and was of opinion, that the bank deserved much blame for not having encouraged the framer of it.