HC Deb 14 March 1826 vol 14 cc1358-60
Lord A. Hamilton

presented a petition from Lanark. He said, he thought it singular, after the government had so often lauded the system of banking in Scotland, and held it up for the imitation of the English bankers, that they should propose to effect a total alteration in it.

Mr. Abercromby

said, he did not believe that the real feeling of the people of Scotland was opposed to the alteration in the currency of Scotland. On the contrary, he had reason to believe that the opposition came from persons interested in keeping up the present system. He was happy to find the whole of the press in Scotland advocating the cause of truth, and arguing in favour of the intended alteration, and acquainted as he was with the character of his countrymen, he could not refrain from expressing his surprise at the unblushing effrontery with which it was stated that the paper currency was universally believed to be intimately connected with the interests of Scotland.

Mr. W. Dundas

thought the learned gentleman's statement proved him to be little acquainted with the present condition of his countrymen. His habits necessarily withdrew him from Scotland; and he appeared to have formed the opinions he had just now expressed from the press, which, whatever might be its other merits, was not an unquestionable authority on this subject. It was most natural that the great majority of the Scotch should be, as they were, averse to the alteration of a system under which their country had risen, in the course of a hun- dred years, to a degree of prosperity unparalleled in history. All they called for now was fair inquiry; and with the result of that, be it what it might, they would be satisfied.

Mr. Ellice

believed it would appear that the Scotch banks, the sound principle of which had been so much vaunted, had very materially tended to produce the mischiefs that were now felt so generally in Scotland.

Mr. J. Smith

was enabled to state, from his knowledge of the several banks of Scotland, that they enjoyed the highest credit throughout that country.

Mr. Maberly

believed that the Scotch nation were, from habit, so attached to the paper system, that they would refuse gold, if it was offered to them in lieu of it; but still he thought that the system ought to be altered, as a period of panic and pressure might arise in Scotland, when the mischief of such a currency would entail ruin upon that country.

Mr. Home Drummond

had no objection to the appointment of a committee on the subject. He was quite satisfied that the petition expressed the general opinion throughout Scotland, and that there had never been a question on which that country had been so unanimous.

Mr. Hudson Gurney

thought that nothing was more injurious than keeping a country in the state of uneasiness and uncertainty which discussions of this nature must necessarily create. If he might venture to offer his advice to the chancellor of the Exchequer, it would be to leave Scotland in the state in which it now was, until he had seen how the proposed alterations of system had worked in England, where, he conceived, the right hon. gentleman had already full enough on his hands, without extending the surface of his operations, and thereby greatly increasing his own embarrassments.

Colonel Johnson

said, be should be glad to have the real opinion of the people of Scotland, on this subject. When he was in that country, he believed they had no option; for he had never seen any gold at all. If the petitions spoke the sense of the people of Scotland, he was very much mistaken. He was rather inclined to attribute them to persons who were interested in keeping up the present state of things.

Mr. Baring

said, he should be sorry to have a notion go abroad that the committee was to be appointed to inquire into the solvency of the Scotch bankers. To do so would be inconsistent with prudence and common sense. At the same time, he had no doubt that such an inquiry might be made without any detriment to those bankers, of whose credit he had the highest opinion. The appointment of a committee on the subject might, however, be judicious; and, seeing the unanimous opposition which appeared to be made, he thought it would not be right to adopt the proposed measure without an investigation into the grounds of that opposition. The difficulty of returning to a metallic currency within the prescribed time even in England, would, in his mind, be much greater than many gentlemen imagined. It was, however, his decided opinion, that the measure would be good for nothing if it were not, sooner or later, extended to Scotland.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, it had never been his intention to submit to the House any question as to the solvency of the banks in Scotland. He was assured that they were all solvent; and if they were not, an inquiry of that nature would be as unprofitable as it would be ungracious. His only object was, to ascertain whether it would be politic to leave the small notes in circulation in Scotland, when they were abolished in England; and that he considered to be a very proper question for investigation by a committee.

Ordered to lie on the table.

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