HC Deb 30 May 1822 vol 7 cc760-1
Mr. Grenfell

rose to present a petition from several highly respectable individuals in the country of Berks, relative to a negotiation said to be pending between government and the Bank of England, for the renewal of the Bank charter. To the extension of that monopoly, which would expire in 1833, he had the strongest objection; and the petitioners were of the same way of thinking; but they objected more strongly to the relaxing of the restrictive law as to the number of partners engaged in country banks—to the relaxing of that law in places more than 65 miles form London, and continuing it in places within that limit. Now, whenever the measure for renewing the charter came before the House, he should feel it his duty to oppose it. Indeed, after the experience which the country had had of the conduct of the Bank during the last 20 years—after their immense profits, amounting in 25 years (after the payment of 7 per cent dividend) to more than 25,000,000l.—after their tyrannous conduct towards government and towards the public, exemplified by their letters to committees of the House of Commons in 1819—after these warnings, it was amazing that any ministers could be so unwise, upon any terms, as to propose a renewal of the Bank charter. He had heard, out of doors, that the negotiation was at an end. If it were not so, he should certainly oppose it in every stage.

Mr. Manning

defended the conduce of the Bank, and treated the charge of tyranny as invidious and unfounded. He also denied that the profits of the Bank were unreasonable, referring to the very large additions the Royal Exchange Insurance Company had made to their capital in consequence of their great profits during the war.

Mr. Dundas

supported the prayer of the petition, and remarked upon the loss which had been sustained by the failure of country banks in Berkshire.

The Marquis of Londonderry

said, the natural moment was not arrived for the discussion of the question, which was too large to be settled on the mere reception of a petition, to which there was no sort of objection.

Mr. Ricardo

did not complain of the Bank directors for making the concern as profitable as possible; but he complained of ministers for having made such improvident bargains with the Bank, as to enable that establishment to make those enormous profits. He should oppose to the utmost the renewal of the Bank charter, because he was satisfied that every farthing made by the Bank ought to belong to the public. Even if a paper currency were wanted, ministers could accomplish the object more advantageously for the public without, than with the assistance of the Bank of England.

Mr. Pearse

defended the Bank of England, and asserted that they had no monopoly, since it was in the power of any of the London bankers to issue notes if they thought fit to do so.

Mr. Monck

contended, that the Bank had a monopoly in effect, if not in fact, seeing that the private banks could not compete with the favoured Chartered companies. With regard to the bargains between government and the Bank, he thought they were just upon the terms of a spendthrift add it usurer—the former being obliged consent to anything that the latter required.

Ordered to lie watt the table.