HC Deb 15 August 1833 vol 20 cc703-5

Mr. Bish moved, pursuant to notice, for a Committee to inquire into the number and amount of forged Bank of England notes; the proportion of such notes paid by the Bank; the prosecutions for forgery instituted by the Bank, with their result; the steps, if any, taken by the Bank to render forgery difficult, and to protect the public from the circulation of forged notes; also, to consider the most effectual mode of preventing forgeries, and ascertaining the genuineness of notes issued, or purporting to be issued by the Bank.

Mr. Hume

seconded the Motion. He could have wished it had been made at an earlier period. It was particularly important and desirable to obtain all the information possible upon the subject, now that Bank of England notes were to be made a legal tender, more especially as the Bank of England, unlike other banks, did not make good its forgeries.

Mr. Alderman Thompson

said, that it appeared, to him that what had been stated by the hon. member for Middlesex formed very good grounds why this Motion should not be agreed to. The information which the hon. Member sought for would do no good, would effect no practical object, and would only promote the wicked ends of those who had been for years practising forgeries on the Bank of England.

Mr. Warburton

said, that, perhaps, before the bank-note was made a legal tender, it would be found necessary to appoint a Secret Committee to see if a note less liable to imitation could be produced. The House was aware, that, in a former instance, a Committee was appointed for that purpose, of which Sir W. Congreve, Mr. Davies Gilbert, and Dr. Wollaston, were members. They, after much labour and inquiry, produced what they thought an inimitable note, and in two days only the Bank engraver produced an imitation of it that would be sufficient to deceive the public. It was, in fact, much easier to produce an imitation that would deceive, of the intricately worked notes of the private banks, than of the present apparently very plain note of the Bank of England. The public might be assured, that the present Bank-note was the most difficult of imitation that the Bank could produce; for after expending 200,000l. upon the subject, they were unable to produce a better one. Yet it was this piece of paper with which the country was to be satisfied as a legal tender. He was certain, that if no other reason operated to do so, the great number of forgeries to which the making that note a legal tender would expose the public, would put an end to that portion of the scheme of the Government.

Motion withdrawn.

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