HC Deb 18 May 1824 vol 11 cc786-8
Mr. Dawson

rose to move for leave to bring in a bill "to repeal the Act 29 Geo. 2. c. 16, for the regulation of Banking Establishments in Ireland." The object of the bill was, to repeal those acts which impeded the formation of banking companies in Ireland. The great want under which Ireland laboured at present was the absence of capital, to call into activity the energies of the people. The introduction and employment of capital would be greatly facilitated, in his judgment, by the adoption of the measure which he was about to propose. In carrying on the common concerns of the country generally, the Bank of Ireland was inefficient; for to bills drawn in the country and made payable in Dublin, they gave no encouragement. Indeed, there was a regulation at the Bank, not to countenance any bills but those drawn on residents of the city. It would, therefore, be seen that country paper was not negociable, unless the country trader had some resident agent in Dublin, Now, within the present month the Bank of Ireland had discounted bills of three months at 3 per cent; but country traders were obliged to pay ¼ per cent to their agents; consequently they transacted their business at a considerable disadvantage. When the Bank obtained their charter in 1782, a clause was introduced preventing more than six partners in any banking concern. Various acts were subsequently passed, containing the same restriction; until, in the second year of the present king, an act was passed, the object of which was, to encourage the diffusion of capital; and in that act a clause was introduced, allowing persons in partnership to borrow any sum of money, provided it was not within 50 miles of Dublin. Now, he had a right to presume, that in that measure the Bank acquiesced. He should not, therefore, by his measure interfere in any way with the charter of the Bank.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

assured the House, that the subject had not escaped the notice of government, but had for some time been under its serious consideration. He had received, some time ago, a request from the merchants of Belfast to allow the formation of a joint-stock banking company in their town. He had referred it to the law-officers of the Crown, to determine how far any alteration in the existing state of the law respecting banking establishments in Ireland would affect the contract which existed between the public and the Bank of Ireland. He was not prepared to assert that many of the objects recommended were not attainable without a breach of that contract; but as he could not yet tell what the opinion of the law-officers might be, he could not give more than a limited consent to the proposition. If the law-officers should report that, to accede to it would be against the public faith pledged to the Bank of Ireland, he should give it his decided opposition.

Mr. V. Fitzgerald

did not think the population of Ireland to be so concurrent and unanimous in favour of this measure, as his hon. friend had represented it to be. In many parts of Ireland there were great objections to establishments of this nature, in consequence of the results which had followed from establishments somewhat similar. In the south and west of Ireland, these establishments, instead of being either able or willing to advance capital upon new speculations, had swallowed up the greater part of the capital which had been acquired by old and successful commercial speculators.

Colonel Trench

expressed himself friendly to the object of this bill. Though it was a little irregular, he would take that opportunity of correcting a misrepresentation which had gone abroad, respecting what had fallen from him on a former night. A right hon. gentleman had quoted a Mr. Strickland, whom he stated to be an Irish landholder, as an example worthy the imitation of the other landholders of Ireland. He had risen to communicate to the House a point of which he was himself aware, namely, that Mr. Strickland was not an Irish country gentleman, but an agent appointed to superintend the embarrassed estate of a nobleman, who, from motives honourable to himself, had absented himself from the mansion of his ancestors. That nobleman had had the good fortune, and he would add the good sense, to place in the situation of his agent a gentleman whose example could not fail to produce a good effect. The nobleman to whom he alluded, as well as another nobleman to whom Ireland must always feel indebted-he meant the duke of Devonshire—had conferred a blessing upon their country, by substituting for their own presence, which they could not give, the presence, of such gentlemen as they had selected for their agents.

Mr. Dawson

said, he was quite satisfied to leave the subject in the hands of the chancellor of the Exchequer, and would withdraw his motion.