HC Deb 08 July 1822 vol 7 cc1521-2
Mr. Bennet

presented a petition from Mr. James Ferguson, of Newman-street, stereotype printer, praying that parliament would not sanction the Small Notes' bill, until they had satisfied the House, that they had used the best means in their power to frame a note, which furnished a better security than their present one, against the attempts of forgers.

Mr. Hume

hoped that the House would pass the bill for circulating small notes exchangeable for specie. Along with this, however, it became the bank to consider, that as the new bill would enable them to issue small notes during the term of their charter, it was doubly incumbent upon them to issue such notes as were least likely to be imitated. He knew very well, that an inimitable note was unattainable; but he also knew that the Bank had the means in their power of lessening the danger from forgery, by improving their own notes, and imposing additional difficulties upon the attempts to imitate them.

Mr. Pearse

said, that the Bank could have no other desire than to issue the best note they could for the security of the public. The utmost care had been taken by the directors. Commissioners appointed to inquire into the subject had sat long, and the result of their investigation was, that it was impossible to find any other plan of note which was not more easily imitated than the present one. The Bank engraver had imitated all the plans submitted by the commissioners.

Mr. Lockhart

agreed, that an inimitable note was not to be expected; but it was a fact, that fewer forgeries were comparatively passed upon the country banks, owing to the better execution of the notes. The Bank of England, considering their very large profits, ought to have inspectors in London and the great towns and districts to give information respecting their notes.

Mr. Hudson Gurney

said, he must extremely doubt what had been said of the great facility of forging the notes of the Bank of England. If so, there would have been many forgers; but it was well known, that all the forged one pound notes came from one or two manufactories of them at Birmingham, in which considerable capital was employed, and that the Bank had never been able to come at the actual parties concerned in the fabrication—all the prosecutions having been of issuers, or of persons who dealt in the article. The country banks were protected, not by the excellence of their plates, but by the narrow limits within which their notes circulated.

Mr. Pearse

said, that the country bankers rarely prosecuted. They often paid the forgeries sooner than take any step which might affect the credit of their notes.

Mr. Ricardo

approved of the appointment of inspectors, particularly in the metropolis.

Mr. Hart Davis

said, that the Bank had lately received a million sterling of their notes from the country, without a single forgery.

Ordered to lie on the table.