HC Deb 06 March 1826 vol 14 cc1112-3
Mr. Hume

presented a Petition from William Martin, grocer, of Seven Oaks in Kent, complaining of the conduct of a Country Banker. The petitioner stated, that, a short time ago, he carried eighteen one pound, and two five pound notes, of the issue of the Bank in Seven Oaks, to the banking house of Beeching and Sons, and demanded payment. Instead, however, of receiving that payment in gold the banker handed him Bank of England notes; and, upon his complaining that he ought to be paid in gold, absolutely refused to do so. The petitioner then went to a justice of the peace, and requested him to summon the banker, and require him to make the payment in gold, or state the reasons for his refusal; but the magistrate declared he had no power to interfere. On the next day, the banker sent twenty-eight sovereigns to the petitioner's house, in payment of the said notes. Mr. Hume said, he had ascertained the truth of this statement, which the banker did not deny, but said it was an ill-natured proceeding on the part of the petitioner. This, however, had nothing to do with the question. The House ought to say whether his majesty's subjects were to be placed in a situation by the country bankers, in which they could not have the local notes convertible into gold when they pleased. The petitioner stated, that four years ago a bank at Tunbridge-wells stopped, by which great distress was occasioned in the neighbourhood, and the demands on which bank had not yet been paid in full. The petitioner therefore prayed that some security might be provided by the House against the recurrence of such accidents. He found, by a return on the table, that 150 banks had stopped payment since 1816, and he therefore thought that the prayer of the petitioner was an extremely reasonable one.

Mr. Baring

said, that if it were intended to continue the small notes of country bankers, something might be said to the petition; but as they were to be called in, he thought any measure upon the subject unnecessary.

Sir F. Burdett

said, that in this case it was not pretended by the petitioner that he had sustained any injury, but it was brought forward merely to try the question as to the bankers right to refuse gold in payment of his own notes, when demanded. He did not see the expediency of pressing an immediate return to a gold currency. To meddle at all with the currency was not an advisable measure at that moment; and the manner in which it would affect all classes of society, had not been sufficiently considered.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, it was quite impossible for the most active legislation to meet every possible case. The petitioner appeared to him to have, in reality, nothing to complain of. On presenting his notes at the banker's he was offered Bank of England notes, which were convertible in a moment into gold, and on the following day he was sent the gold itself. Now, he did not think that any summary process required to be introduced by the hon. member for Montrose would have given Martin the power of procuring the money quicker than within twenty-four hours after his demand.

Mr. W. Smith

said, that as the man gained all he required, it was evident his only object was to make a case for presenting a petition.

Ordered to lie on the table.

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