HC Deb 19 February 1824 vol 10 cc226-41
Mr. Grenfell,

in rising to move for the production of the papers which he had annually moved for, respecting the Bank of England, said, that before he proceeded to remark on the accounts which were the object of his motion, he would, with the permission of the House, state very shortly the reasons which induced him to forego calling on the Bank for the production of a part of the papers which had been originally comprehended in his notice, he meant, an account of the amount of Bank-notes and post-bills actually in circulation. At the time when he had first intended to move for those accounts, he did not anticipate that there would be any objection to the production of the accounts, which would bring the account of Bank-notes in circulation from March last, down to the present time. However, subsequently to the notice he had given, an hon. director had stated that the Bank had an objection to the production of the account of the amount of notes in circulation. His hon. friend had stated the objection of the Bank to the production of such an account to rest on this ground—that since the resumption of cash payments by the Bank, that body discharging all demands upon it according to the ordinary law, it was precisely the same as calling upon any individual merchant or banker to furnish the House with an account of the amount of his acceptances, as to call upon the Bank to produce an account of the actual amount of its circulation. He could not agree to the justness of this parallel. When he considered the great public trust reposed in the Bank—when he considered that thirty millions were entrusted to the Bank annually to pay the dividends to the national creditors—when he considered that the whole of the revenue of the country might be, according to law, paid by the different revenue departments into the Bank of England—and when he remembered all the other exclusive privileges which the Bank enjoyed, the like of which no private establishment could boast of; he could by no means admit, that it stood in the same situation as an ordinary mercantile establishment. On the contrary, he held it to be the duty of the House to call upon the Bank, from time to time, to render an account of its issues. But, as he thought it might not be expedient to press for the production of the account, he should not at present persevere in his motion. There was also as yet unrepealed the Stamp act, which directed that the Bank of England should yearly produce to the Stamp-office, the amount of its notes in circulation weekly for the preceding year, that the sum might be calculated which it should pay in lieu of stamp-duty. If that bill were not re- pealed, the Bank would be soon called upon to produce the amount of its circulation without any special order of the House; but in the same bill it was directed, that when cash payments should be resumed, some other principle of commutation would be established. As that subject would, of necessity, soon come under the consideration of the House, he should not now press for an account of the notes in circulation, but should confine himself to those annual accounts, to the production of which no objection would be made. These accounts were the statement of the balance of public money in the hands of the Bank, and of the charge made by the Bank for the management of the public debt. As to the balances of public money those who recollected the discussions in the House on the subject, would know that formerly they had fluctuated from ten to twelve millions, and that in the last four or five years, in consequence, as he believed, of what had been said in the House, they had been reduced to an average of about four millions. From this reduced amount of balance, however, the Bank, he was prepared to contend, derived a larger profit, than the service they rendered to the public deserved. The public, it would be remembered, were paying the Bank 3 per cent interest on fifteen millions, the whole original amount of the capital of that corporation. Calculating on this rate of interest, the profit of the Bank on the four millions was 120,000l. per annum. Now, if the sum were lodged in the hands of any private banker, he would think himself liberally paid by 20,000l. per annum. The public, therefore, lost on this account, and the Bank gained 100,000l a year.—Now, as to the charge for the management of the public debt, he would repeat, after the most attentive consideration, that on this head also a very considerable saving might be effected. In the last year, the charge for the management of the public debt was nearly 260,000l a-year. In speaking of this charge, he could never mention it without doing justice to the Bank, by saying, that no service could be performed with more advantage to the public, and credit to those who executed it. But, however perfectly it was performed, it might be overpaid, and instead of 260,000l., he had no doubt, that by 160,000l. a-year, the management of the debt would be very amply and liberally paid. Here, then, under proper regulations, would be another annual saving of 100,000l. It was, he knew, contended by the Bank, that under their charter, strengthened by the act of 1808, they had a right to the sum now paid for the management of the public debt, and that it would be a breach of faith to reduce it. A case had been some years ago laid before the Attorney and Solicitor-general on this subject, and their opinion was undoubtedly in favour of the interpretation of the Bank. He, however, need not say, that the opinions of legal gentlemen, very much depended on the mode in which cases were drawn up. There were two points connected with that case, which, if he had drawn it up, he would have stated in such a manner as would, he thought, have given those learned persons a different view of the subject. He did not pretend to speak from his own knowledge of the law; but he was fortified in his opinion on this matter by the concurrent opinion of a very high authority. The late Mr. Horner, when the act of 1808 was passed, had stated, that there was nothing in the act itself, or in the circumstances under which that act was passed, that prevented the public from revising the system, and reducing the sum paid to the Bank for managing the public debt.—The hon. gentleman concluded by moving, "That there be laid before this House; 1. An Account of the aggregate amount of all Balances of Public Money in the hands of the Bank, including the money taken from the Exchequer by the Bank in Exchange for Exchequer Bills deposited at the Exchequer; and including also, the balances of the Accountant General of the Court of Chancery, Unclaimed Dividends, and Lottery Prizes, and all other Public deposits, on the 1st and 15th days of each month, for the year 1823; stating the average amount of the whole, made up from the said days." 2. "An Account of money paid or payable at the Bank of England, for the management of the public debt in the year 1823; together with an Account of all Allowances made by the Public to the Bank, or charged by the Bank against the Public, for transacting any Public service in the year 1823, describing the nature of the services, and the amount charged thereon in the said year, and including the sum of 4000l., under the denomination of ' House Money,' or 'House Expenses,' and also the sum of 1,898l. 3s. 5d. under the denomination of 'Charges of Management on South Sea Stock;" and stating the aggregate amount of the whole.'

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that with respect to what had fallen from the hon. gentleman, as to the right of calling upon the Bank to furnish ah account of the Bank-notes issued, he confessed he thought it would be extremely hard upon the Bank to expect, under the circumstances in which they stood towards the public, that they should, as a matter of course, furnish such an account. He would not go so far as to say, that there might not be circumstances which would justify the House in calling for such an account; but he could not concur with the hon. gentleman, as to the justice or expediency of calling for it as a mere matter of course. With respect to the other topics which the hon. member had introduced, as he had no objection to his motion, he did not think it necessary to enter into them at any length. The subject was not before the House, and no practical result could follow from discussing it on the present occasion. The hon. gentleman had stated most accurately, that within the last few years, the balances in the hands of the Bank had been greatly diminished, and rendered available to the public service. The Bank had most readily acquiesced in the arrangements by which the amount of those balances had been diminished. With respect to the charge for the management of the public debt, he did not quite understand whether it was the intention of the hon. gentleman to call upon the House to express any specific opinion as to the expediency of reducing that charge. He would not pretend to offer any decided opinion upon a question of law, but it certainly did appear to him, that the grounds upon which the law officers of the Crown had given their opinion as to the right of the Bank to claim an adherence to the agreement made in the time of Mr. Perceval, were most solid and substantial. He could not think, therefore, that the House would be justified in calling upon the Bank, whether they would or not, to manage the public debt at a reduced charge. The House would recollect, that some years ago, the Bank consented to a reduction of charge with respect to all that portion of the public debt which exceeded a given amount, by way of general compromise. As long as the Bank charter lasted, he thought, that in fairness, that compromise ought to be binding on the public. Looking, as he did, to the fact, that the Bank had, under circumstances of great public difficulty, contributed most essentially to the welfare of the country, he thought they ought not to be looking out for every possible opportunity of straining the law to their prejudice. He felt, therefore, that it would be unjust in the public to call upon the Bank to accept, during the remainder of their charter, a less sum than they were entitled by their agreement, to receive for the management of the public debt, in the discharge of which duty they had so essentially contributed to the public service.

Mr. Hume

said, it was of very great importance, that his majesty's ministers should take immediate steps to free themselves from the trammels in which they had long been held by the Bank. As the interest of money was now nearly on a level with what it was when the Bank lent a large sum to government, he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not listen to any application for a renewal of the Bank charter, but would pay off every shilling that had been borrowed from the Bank. It would not be difficult to do that, as the 3 per cents were at par. Let the country gentlemen recollect, that the Bank were now acting as pawnbrokers on a large scale, and were lending money on estates—a system entirely contrary to the original intention of that institution. The intention was, that they should be ready, on any emergency, to discount for the public interest, for the benefit of trade and commerce. Now, I what did this body really do? They kept up discounts above the current rate of the day. They kept up the rate of discount at 4 per cent, when every where else it could be obtained at 3 per cent. He could not accede to the opinion of his hon. friend, that it was inexpedient to call for an account of the issues of Bank-notes. He thought the House ought to have before it a return of the amount of discounts effected by the Bank. He only wanted the amount of the discounts, he did not seek for the names of individuals. It was said, that this monopolizing company had given great assistance to the country, and that trade and commerce could not go on without them. But what assistance had they given? Circumstances were now changed; and, without any aid from them, trade and commerce were going on as well as they ever had done. Let government pay them off the fifteen million which the public owed them, and if they afterwards wanted loans, the Bank would advance them money enough for 2á or 3 per cent. The country gentlemen would thus receive effectual relief; for the Bank would not know what to do with their money, and must lend it at a very reduced interest. He hoped, before the expiration of the charter, that a regular inquiry would be instituted into the whole subject. He did not pretend to be a man of deep legal learning; but he would state a fact or two on the subject of the charges demanded by the Bank, for managing the public debt, which were worthy of notice. The bargain, which the chancellor of the exchequer now argued ought not to be broken, had taken place in 1800, and a bill had passed in 1808, creating a new bargain, in which it was declared, that as the amount of the public debt had very much increased since the year 1800, it was reasonable that the Bank should have an increased allowance for its management. The debt had increased one-third, that was from 600 to 800 million, and the terms of the bargain were therefore altered for the purpose of granting to the Bank a proportional increase of allowance for the charge of management. There was no ground, therefore, for the assertion, that the bargain between the Bank and the public could not be altered; and, as the allowance was increased in 1808, it was equally reasonable that it should be reduced now, when circumstances called for its reduction. He was satisfied, that by making such a reduction, 150,000l. might and ought to be saved, which now went out of the pockets of the people.

Sir H Parnell

said, that he thought the House should no longer delay to turn its attention to the expediency of renewing the charter of the Bank of England. Heretofore, it had been the regular custom to renew the charter several years before the existing charter had expired. The last renewal was made when the existing charter had eleven years to run: The present charter had nine years only to continue, and he felt very anxious to prevent the making of any agreement between the government and the Bank for a renewal, without a full examination of the policy of again conferring upon the Bank of England any exclusive privilege. The practice had been, for government to make a secret arrangement with the Bank; to submit it immediately to the proprietors of the Bank for their approbation; and to call upon the House the next day to confirm it; without affording any opportunity of fair deliberation. So much information had been obtained upon the banking trade, and upon the nature of currency in the last fifteen years, that it was particularly necessary to enter upon a full investigation of the policy of renewing the Bank charter, before any negotiation should be entered upon between the government and the Bank; and he trusted the government would not commence any such negotiation, until the sense of parliament had been taken on this important subject.

Mr. Manning

said, he did not mean to oppose the hon. member's motion. The Bank had ever shown the greatest readiness to lay its affairs before the public. He had no objection whatever to the account of the public balances in the hands of the Bank, nor to the amount of the charges for managing the public debt, being produced. With respect to the returns made to the Stamp-office, which had been alluded to by the hon. mover, they would undoubtedly be continued for public purposes. The hon. member for Aberdeen had thought it quite right that the amount of the issues of Bank-notes should be laid before the House: but, surely, it was rather novel to ask for a list of bills, or to inquire into any retail transactions of a banker. If they once entered into this minute examination, he saw no mode of preventing a constant recurrence to it. The hon. mover had spoken of the large sums that were made by the Bank for the management of the public debt; at the same time that he did not deny the accuracy and promptitude with which the public business was conducted. The management of the debt was not, however, overpaid; for it should be observed, that the Bank were obliged to run the risk of forgeries in the transfer of stock. The charge for managing the public debt was exactly 7d. in the hundred pounds, which was no very exorbitant sum. The hon. member for Aberdeen had censured the Bank for lending money to the landed interest, as being a practice opposed to the principles on which that establishment was founded. Now, the fact was otherwise. They were empowered by their charter, to purchase lands, manors, and hereditaments; and an act had been passed in the time of king William, for the express purpose of encouraging the Bank to lend money on land. After all the complaints of gentlemen in this House on the subject of agricultural distress—after the repeated statements that they could not get any relief from the country bankers, it was surely rather hard to blame the Bank for granting that accommodation which could not be obtained elsewhere.

Mr. Ellce

said, that the hon. director had totally misrepresented the argument of his hon. friend, the member for Aberdeen. His hon. friend had not made it a ground of charge against the Bank, that they had advanced money to the landed interest; on the contrary, he had contended, that if the government paid off the debt to the Bank, that corporation would be enabled to lend their money at a cheaper rate. With respect to the propriety of that House requiring from the Bank a statement of the amount of their notes in circulation, he admitted, that if the Bank were merely a corporate body, without any extraordinary privileges, like the Bank of Scotland, they would have no right to call upon them for such an account. But, the situation of the Bank of England was an exception to all general rules. It was a great monopolizing body, enjoying privileges which belonged to no other corporation, and to no other class of his majesty's subjects. Those privileges were granted for the benefit of commerce; but, instead of employing their capital for the advantage of trade, as was intended on its original establishment, the whole conduct of the Bank had been directly opposed to the commercial interests of the country. It was difficult, he knew, to find a set of men in that House to take this view of the subject; because the system of the Bank was in favour of the great capitalists. If a great capitalist went into the market, the conduct of the Bank did not affect him in borrowing; but it did affect the rate of discount between an individual and his banker, and it sensibly affected men of moderate capital. While others would be content to discount for 3½,the Bank kept up the rate to 4 per cent. As the Tariff of the Bank of England was a rule to all the other banks in the country, every person who went for discount to his banker, was obliged to pay 4l. per cent for it, because the Bank thought proper to charge that sum. He wished it to be seen, but, for himself, he did not believe, that of the legitimate security—commercial bills—in which the Bank ought properly to vest their money—he did not, he said, believe, that their security of that description amounted to half a million; and that only among the worst bills that came into the market. And yet it was said, that the House had not a right to ask the amount of the Bank paper in circulation. In his opinion, it was most necessary to ask that question, that the country might know whit it had to trust to. Suppose money to be suddenly wanted, how, under the present circumstances, must the Bank proceed to raise it? Why, either they must sell Exchequer bills, and so distress the government; or call upon the landed interest, and so distress the country gentlemen. There was really an aversion to disclosure about the Bank, which he did not know how to account for. The director who had spoken last had said—"Would you ask us the amount of our discounts?" And, why not? Was the Bank of France in a jot the less credit, because it stated annually, not only the amount of its discounts, and of its paper in circulation, but actually of the profits which it derived, and of the bullion it had in its coffers. He took, of the whole question, the same view with his hon. friend near him; and, if ever it was in the power of the country to repay the Bank advances, he trusted that the opportunity would not be lost, of making government independent of that body. Such an arrangement, as it seemed to him, was particularly desirable, before the question of the renewal of the Bank charter came on. He hoped that that exclusive charter would never again be granted; and that the conduct of the Bank during the last ten or twelve years would make government very cautious how they entertained any such proposition. The right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer had protested against the idea of straining any point to the prejudice of the Bank. He thought, however, that the Bank had very little to complain of, when their stock, after all their past profits, was at 238. Upon the question, however, of the in competency of the House to interfere with the management of the public debt, he differed entirely from the right hon. gentleman. With respect to the agreement between the Bank and the public as to the ma- nagement of the public debt, there was a part of the correspondence with Mr. Perceval, in 1808, which very much strengthened the view which his hon. friend, the member for Aberdeen, had taken of the case. Mr. Perceval's words were these:—"Under this disposition I am strongly inclined to give way to the suggestions of the Bank, as regards the manner of arranging that part of the public debt, so far as it applies to present circumstances, or to circumstances expected to occur within a short period." It was evident, from these words, that it was not the intention of the government to preclude the House from any future consideration of the subject, or any alteration in the terms of the agreement, which circumstances might subsequently render necessary. At a time when reductions had been made in every department of the public service—reductions which, in many cases, operated with great severity, as a tax upon the income of men who had served the public—the country had a right to expect a reduction in the inordinate allowance made to the Bank for the management of the public debt.

Mr. Pearse

contended, that the conduct of the Bank did not deserve the censure which had been passed upon it. The directors had not been induced to refuse the accounts, because they were afraid to produce them, but because they did not conceive it fair, or warranted by the occasion. With regard to the balances, four millions sounded high in a round sum: but the House was mistaken, if it supposed that the Bank derived such vast advantage from it. The total was made up of various small sums under sixty different heads of account; and therefore could not be productive of very great profits.

Mr. Baring

said, he thought it was premature to be discussing at the present moment the question of renewing, or not renewing, the Bank charter; but if any persons believed that the country would be able to get on without any such establishment as a Bank, or without an establishment a good deal like what the Bank was at present, he differed from such persons in opinion, and he thought that they would find themselves mistaken. With the management of the public debt he would not meddle, for it was a subject which had been already canvassed over and over again. The question of the balances, as it seemed to him, had always been most unfairly stated by the hon. member who had opened the debate. It did not appear to him, that the sum of 120,000l. was more than they were entitled to; for one of the items in the correspondence between the Bank and Mr. Perceval was, that the Bank should receive a compensation at that rate; so that the balances being now four millions instead of six, he thought that the sum of 120,000l. was not more than the Bank had a right to receive. Another part of the complaint against the Bank was, that they lent their capital at the rate of 4 per cent. It was undoubtedly true, that at present the public could receive no advantage on these terms; but the House were bound to remember the time when the Bank did lend at 3 per cent, and that, too, at a considerable advantage to the public. With respect to the loans of money by the Bank upon mortgage, there was no doubt that under existing circumstances, the country gentlemen had been greatly benefitted by the practice: but, at the same time that he fully admitted the extent of the present advantage, he was compelled to consider the principle as in the highest degree doubtful. And he thought it, indeed, a course the most likely that could be taken to carry the country, at some future period, back to the distress and evils of a paper system. If the country, while we were in a state of peace, was to be kept in readiness for a state of war, an efficient bank was just as necessary to us as an efficient army and navy. But, if the Bank should have twelve or thirteen millions of capital vested in mortgages, in addition to the burthen of the dead weight, they would be but ill-able to render the country any assistance, should we be compelled to enter into a war of any importance, where a great exertion would be required; so, that, although he was perfectly sensible of the partial advantages conferred by the system of loans on mortgages, yet he trusted that the House would not shut its eyes to the public danger that might arise from the practice. It was impossible for him to mention the subject of the naval and military pensions, without recalling to the attention of the House the constant and decided warnings which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had received, against entering on so extraordinary a project. From no man of sense, had he received the least encouragement; and he really believed the right hon. gentleman had been drawn into the scheme, merely from a desire to screen his predecessor from exposure. He could never believe that the right hon. gentleman could ever have originated such a proposition; particularly when he recollected the sound, and enlightened, and liberal opinions, which he had heard him, with so much satisfaction, deliver in that House. He conceived that the greatest possible sacrifice had been made by the public, when that bargain was made with the Bank. It was worth to the Bank nothing short of a million and a half. They might talk of 120,000l.: but, let any man only take the trouble of putting pen to paper, and he would find that there had, at least, been a sacrifice, on the part of the public, of a million and a half [hear, hear!]. At the time when the contract was made, the government undertook to get money from the Bank, for five years prospectively at 74. Thus we borrowed at 74 and paid at 90, and very possibly we might have to pay at par. It was a strange financial operation, by which the country was to borrow at 74 and possibly redeem at 100. He knew the answer that would be given to this statement, "the stocks have got up, it is true, but might they not, have fallen? and if so, would not this have been a good bargain on the part of the public?" But, let the question be considered in what manner it might, still he thought the measure most impolitic and injurious for, if the country had been drawn into a war then the bargain would have been good for nothing; inasmuch as the Bank would have been choaked with the burthen of it, and would have been unable to render the country assistance; and, if it was expected that we should remain at peace, then, he contended, the one million and a half had been completely thrown away. However, he must again repeat, that he completely exonerated the Chancellor of the Exchequer from any blame in the arrangement; and he sincerely trusted, that nothing would induce him again to renew a financial operation of that description. Let any gentleman only look to the balance-sheet of this year, and he would see how perplexing and unintelligible this operation was. He defied any gentleman in that House, not connected with the Treasury, to explain what was its precise meaning or tendency. If any country gentleman, wishing for information on that subject, and not acquainted with its technicalities, should take up that paper with a view to inform himself, he must throw it down in disgust, unable to discover its meaning. There was another circumstance to which he wished to call the attention of the House. It had been suggested as being desirable to pay off the debt due to the Bank. Now, it appeared to him quite useless to pay off the debt for the purpose that had been alleged, namely, that of rendering the government independent of the Bank. But in the present state of the money market, he saw no difficulty in accomplishing that object; for the government could render themselves independent of the Bank in five minutes, by borrowing the fifteen millions, which were due to it. On the subject of the sinking fund, it would perhaps be more convenient to remark after the chancellor of the Exchequer had made his expose of the finances of the country, but it appeared to him, that the best application of that surplus of the revenue would be to the payment of those claims on the country which must be paid in money; either to defray the sum which was due to the Bank (if that were considered necessary), or the payment of Exchequer Bills; but he protested altogether against its present application, namely, the repaying at 100 what we had borrowed at 50 or 60.

Mr. Hudson Gurney

said, that though the right of the House, now that the Bank paid in specie, to call on them for a return of their notes in circulation might perhaps, be questionable, he thought it matter of great public interest, that the amount should be periodically known; as, in point of fact, the Bank issues, payable in specie or not, had an immense influence on all money transactions: and he would put it to the Bank Directors themselves, whether, in continuing to give the public such information, they would not consult their own convenience, and indeed safety: as any alarm which at any time might arise, might bring the same sort of ruin on them, as took place in 1797, and be infinitely increased, by an exaggerated idea of the amount of their notes in circulation: the effect of concealment then having been, that Paine had estimated the notes of the Bank at sixty millions, when it was found they were only nine.

Mr. Maberly

said, he considered the profit which the Bank of England derived from the management of the public debt much more than they had a right to receive; and he thought it would be very adviseable that a committee should be appointed to examine the matter, and determine what profit the Bank should receive; and if, as had been stated, 100,000l. was sufficient for them, he could see no good reason why they should receive 200,000l. He was ready to give them a fair and liberal remuneration, but he was not prepared to give them any thing they might demand. They might talk as long as they pleased of the Bank lending money to the public at 3 per cent; but he believed, if a committee were appointed, it would be satisfactorily proved, that they received 5 or 6 per cent. He could not say positively that, according to their charter, they were not entitled to it; but if there was not an express stipulation to the contrary, he would not allow the Bank more than a fair and reasonable profit. He thought the chancellor of the Exchequer should take some legal opinion upon the subject; and, if no doubt was found to exist upon that point, the Bank should not be allowed to receive more than a fair remuneration and a liberal profit.—On the subject of the dead weight he could never speak without deprecating that contract with the Bank, as most impolitic and unwise; and as a measure by which an enormous gain was given to the Bank, and an enormous loss was sustained by the public. It was a most wanton bargain, by which the country had suffered considerably.

Mr. Monck

said, he did not conceive the Bank was enabled by its charter to lend money on mortgages. He knew the word "pledges" was introduced; but that referred to gold and silver, and merchandize belonging to merchants, and if mortgages had been contemplated, they would, no doubt, have been introduced. Nothing could be more dangerous to the public, than for the Bank to invest its capital in mortgages. What would be the situation of the country in case of a war, if the capital of the Bank was tied up in mortgages the Bank would be coming down to that House, having invested, perhaps, twelve or thirteen millions of capital, with a statement of their distresses; they would be obliged to stop payment in money: and then we should see renewed all the evils from which we were only now recovering. If any illustration were wanted of the state of things which he was endeavouring to describe, he might advert to the failure of the country banks in 1815. Many of those banks were solvent in effects; but for those effects they were unable to get money, and thereby desolation was spread around the entire country. They now found the Bank of England exactly fol- lowing in their footsteps. If the Bank themselves were to be the only sufferers, he should not complain; but their conduct would affect the country at large. The only security against the catastrophe which had occurred in 1797, would be, to institute a proper inquiry into the state; of the Bank. If that inquiry had been made at that unhappy period, the calamity to which he had alluded would never have occurred. The Bank of France had been most properly cited as an example, for they not only furnished a statement of their accounts, but a committee was actually appointed to sit in judgment on them, to ascertain their profits; and they were not allowed to divide more than their due. He could see no other means whereby the evils of 1797 could be avoided, than by compelling the Bank to publish an annual account of their issues. It had been stated, that it was desirable there should be some great company like the Bank to lend money to the public; but did we not know that there were many companies who would be glad to do it on more advantageous terms? It had also been asserted, that the Bank had maintained its credit for twenty years; but, in the year 1797, they were compelled to stop payment; and God forbid that such another twenty years should ever return! He hoped that, when the Bank charter came to be considered, its renewal would not be granted, as a matter of course; for he was quite persuaded that in the city of London, twelve merchants could be found whose security would be just as unquestionable as that of the Bank, and who would be glad to do the public business gratuitously. He therefore saw no reason whatever why we should make a compliment of 2 or 300,000l. a year to the Bank.

The motion was agreed to.