§ Mr. Clay
rose to move the third reading of this Bill. He had hoped, from the decided manner in which the House had expressed its opinion on this Bill at the second reading and from the decided failure of counsel before the Committee to make out any case for the Bank of England, that no further opposition to this Bill would have been offered. But as he understood, that it was intended to divide the House upon this stage of the Bill, he hoped he should be excused whilst, in half a dozen sentences, he stated the circumstances under which the present application was made to the House. It would be recollected, that doubts having arisen during the discussion of the Bank Charter last Session as to the true nature of its privileges, to clear up those doubts, a clause was inserted in the Act renewing the Charter of the Bank of England, declaring that any body, corporation, company, or partnership, although of more 1306 than six partners, might carry on the trade of banking in London, provided they did not take up money on promissory notes payable in less than six months' date. Now, upon the clear meaning of that clause, a banking company had been established, highly respectable both from the wealth, station, and numbers of the subscribers, and the large amount of capital subscribed. This company now came before the House, stating its wish to have an Act to enable them to sue and be sued by one of their own number. Why did they seek this privilege? Because they were many, because their name was Legion, and it would be a great inconvenience to the public, and some inconvenience to them, to have to carry on business without such a privilege. Indeed, such was the defective nature of the English Law of Partnership, that it was almost impossible for a large number of persons to carry on business together. The state of our law in this respect was in the highest degree disgraceful to our jurisprudence and he hoped the time was not distant when it would be assimilated to the French law of partnership. The London and Westminster Bank did not seek the privilege of suing and being sued by one of their own number, because they were a banking company. It would not be more useful or necessary to them as bankers than it would to every or any other business. If they proposed to build steam carriages, to manufacture soda water, to sell milk, as a company did some seven years back, or to wash dirty linen, as another company did, it would have been just as important for them to have had this privilege to be able to come into competition with the old ladies who sold milk and washed dirty linen, as it was for them to have it now that they wished to come into competition with the metaphorical old lady of Thread needle-street. All they wanted was, to be enabled to carry on their business, being a large body, with the same facility as they could if they had been a small body. But the Bank asserted, that this would be a violation of the bargain made with it by the Government; and it was joined in its opposition by another class who, although they did not participate in the monopoly, made common cause with the old lady, and cried out "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." The noble Lord had shown great generosity in coming in to the rescue, and he (Mr. Clay) understood that those potential notes of invitation, which were usually sent to a certain portion 1307 of the Members of that House, when the noble Lord had any thing in view in which they took a particular interest, had been fluttering about for the last twenty-four hours. But he would ask the noble Lord in what way was it a violation of the charter? The Bank acceded to the renewal of its charter, with that clause in the Bill which declared, that it was lawful for "corporate bodies and other societies" to carry on the business of banking in London. Now, was there any secret clause in the bargain with the Bank, as in the treaty of Leipsic? The noble Lord said, "No, no." What then? Could the Grocers' Company, or the Steam-Packet Company or any other established corporate body, carry on the business of banking in London; and was it against the bargain that associations expressly formed for carrying on the business of banking, should do the same? To him it seemed that the noble Lord was in the horns of a dilemma. The noble Lord must either maintain that any company might carry on banking in London under the Act—except one expressly formed for that purpose, or he must maintain that the Legislature passed a law to enable a company to be bankers, and entered into a further agreement with another party to prevent it. He hoped the Legislature would not stultify itself in this manner. If the noble Lord said, that the clause gave, as, in the fair interpretation of it, it would scent to give, that permission to any company or any society to form a banking establishment, why would he refuse to give such companies facilities for carrying on their business? The refusal of the present Bill would be a denial of justice to the people of England. The hon. Member concluded by moving the third reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. Hardy
seconded the Motion. After the division which had taken place on the principle of this Bill at the second reading, he was surprised that any opposition should be offered to its third reading. The 3rd and 4th of William 4th, explained the principle on which joint-stock-banks were founded. It declared them legal; and yet, when an application was made for the good of the public, it was to be met with opposition, though justice and law was in its favour. Within the last twenty-five years, no less than forty-six different companies had applied for and obtained the privilege which the London and Westminster Bank now sought, that of suing and being sued for the special convenience of 1308 the public. Was the London and Westminster Bank to be made the exception, now that the legality of the object which it sought had been particularly declared by Parliament, and were those facilities which had been granted to other banks all over the country to be refused to that? By 39 and 40 George 3rd, the Bank of England obtained a power of pulling down houses and opening new thoroughfares to the Bank on the plea of increase in its business, and under those powers it actually did remove several buildings in the heart of the city of London, and make a passage by St. Bartholomew's Church. Was it to be tolerated, after such power conferred on it, and the exercise of that power in such way, that the Bank of England should now come forward and oppose an establishment declared legal by the Bank Charter Renewal Bill, and which applied for an Act solely to accommodate the public? He hoped the House would mark its sense of the opposition offered this application in the way they did on the second reading, by a majority of four to one in its favour.
The Solicitor General
said, the 39th and 40th George 3rd, was precise on the subject of the present as well as all similar applications; and any hon. Member who would look at that Act would perceive that the bargain with the Bank was not affected by the subsequent Acts on the Subject. By this Act, a contract had been entered into with the Bank of England, of which this was the condition, "that no other bank should be erected, established, or allowed by Parliament; and that it should not be lawful for any body politic or corporate whatsover, erected or to be erected, or for any other persons, united or to be united, in covenants, or partnership, exceeding the number of six persons, in that part of Great Britain, called England, to borrow, owe, or take up any sum or sums of money on their bills or notes payable on demand, or at any less time than six months from the borrowing thereof, during the continuance of the said privilege to the said Governor and Company; who were thereby declared to be and remain a corporation, with the privilege of exclusive banking, as before recited, but subject, nevertheless, to redemption on the terms and conditions in the said Act specified." Those privileges existed still; that clause was unaltered by any subsequent Act; and Parliament was bound to abide by the contract involved in their continuance. The object of the Bill before the House was to 1309 give greater facilities to the London and Westminster Bank than were at present enjoyed by joint-stock-banking companies in London. This was really the object of the Bill, or why come to Parliament at all? It was vain to deny, that by the existing law, there were inconveniences in respect to partnerships in banking concerns, but this was one of the exclusive privileges conceded to the Bank of England. If, therefore, facilities were given to a joint-stock company to carry on the banking business in the way proposed, a gross violation of the 39th and 40th of George 3rd would be the consequence. The hon. and learned Gentleman who seconded the Motion for the third reading of this Bill said, that all that was wanted by this Bill was to give to the London and Westminster Bank the right of suing and being sued; but if this privilege were conceded, where was the reason for their withholding any other of the exclusive privileges conceded to the Bank of England? [Mr. Clay: Forty-six banks have obtained the privilege which the London and Westminster Bank now seeks.] He admitted that; but they were all country banks, and entirely out of the sphere of the Bank of England. Therefore, as they could not interfere in any possible way with its interests, it was no breach of contract to grant them the privilege now sought for. The Legislature had, however, contracted with the Bank to grant it particular privileges; he did not say whether wisely or not; but the contract having once been entered into, the Government and that House were bound to see that it was not violated. He would examine whether any of the Acts passed subsequent to the 39th and 40th of George 3rd took away the peculiar privileges conceded to the Bank by this Act. The 39th and 40th of George 3rd, had for their object to provide, that no other bank should be established to the injury of the Bank of England. The 7th of George 4th, authorised the establishment of banks in England; and it recited, that the Bank or England was willing to give up its exclusive privileges provided that no bank of, issue should be established within sixty-five miles of London. By this Act provision was made that country bankers might be sued both collectively and individually; but it was upon the ground that no bank of issue should be established within sixty-five miles of London, that the Bank of England gave up its exclusive privileges. The Act of the last Session did not in the 1310 least interfere with the Acts to which he had previously alluded. It recited the 39th and 40th of George 3rd, and the 7th or George 4th, and then, in the third section came the clause upon which the present Bill was founded. But taking into account the 39th and 40th of George 3rd in the way that he had placed them before the House, the 3rd section of the Act of last Session did not alter the law as it previously existed in the slightest degree. What was the object of the clause in question? Why, to remove the doubts. And what were the doubts? Why as to the exclusive privileges of the Bank of England in reference to the establishing of any other banking company; and this clause was merely declaratory, in order that these doubts might be removed. This clause merely said that "joint-stock companies for deposit shall and may be established"—thus removing the doubt which previously existed on this point. If by the 39th and 40th of George 3rd, it was contracted with the Bank of England, that no other bank should be established, it must be admitted that this section did not in the slightest interfere with the privileges enjoyed by the Bank. If it was contended, however, that the Bank did not enjoy those privileges to which he had before alluded, under the 39th and 40th of George 3rd, he could have nothing to say. That was his construction of the law, and he would be a bold lawyer who would put any other construction upon the part of the Act he had read to the House. He contended that to agree to the third reading of the Bill before the House, would be to give facilities to the London and Westminster Bank to carry on the business of banking in a manner not contemplated by the law; and if it had that effect, it would be a gross violation of the contract which had been entered into with the Bank of England. In opposing the third reading of this Bill, therefore, he felt that he was upholding the contract to which he had adverted.
said, it would not be upholding a contract to vote against this Bill, but it would be making a contract. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that by the terms of the 39th and 40th of George 3rd, a bargain had been made with the Bank of England, that no other bank should be established in London. No such bargain was to be found in the 39th and 40th of George 3rd, and so thought the Attorney and Solicitor-Generals last year, 1311 for such was the construction put upon these Acts by them last Session. The question before the House lay in a very narrow compass. What did this company seek? A facility of being sued. That was, if they were in debt, that the public would have an opportunity of being able to recover from them. This was a species of legal responsibility which Parliament ought to enforce, even if the company were unwilling to have it, for it was a protection, and security to the public which they ought to possess. The company asked also for the privilege of being able to sue. Surely they asked for nothing unfair or improper in this. A corporate body had such a privilege, because it sued in its corporate capacity. By the very section in the last Act referred to by the hon. and learned Solicitor-General, a bank was declared to be a Corporation, and, as such, was allowed to be created in London. Could any man deny, that a Corporation had the power which he ascribed to it? He contended, that this power was beyond doubt. Until it was deemed, that Parliament had not the power to create a Corporation, and that a Corporation had not the right of suing and being sued, he maintained, that the Bill before the House came within the intent and meaning of the clause, and ought to be agreed to by the House. That this bank would, in any event, continue, and had a right to continue, was not disputed. Was this privilege, then, essential to it? If it was essential, it was a delusion on the part of those who said, that the bank might continue, but should not have the facilities essential to its well-being. If, on the other hand, the privilege was not essential, but was only a convenience, how absurd was it to refuse that which was a mere convenience, when the principle was granted. And he was reminded of the fact, that the Goldsmiths' Company, which was a Corporation, and, therefore, had this privilege, might, if it pleased, carry on the business of banking. Then he would ask, why this opposition to this Bill on the part of the Bank of England? It was not creditable to the Bank to get up this opposition. The Bank of England had 9,000,000l. of deposits, and, if it paid 2l. per cent upon them, as this bank did, 180,000l. per annum would be drawn from its pockets. The transactions of the Bank of England seemed to be confined to borrowing—look, for instance, to its borrowing two and a-half millions from the East-India Company, the other day, and, no 1312 doubt, it was frightened at the idea of being obliged to act in the way the London and Westminster Company was acting. He knew, that the Bank of England required props to sustain it, crutches to keep it up. But he trusted that the House would not do an injustice to any other company to effect this. It seemed to him, then, that unless the House ruled, that a Corporation could not sue, and that the House had not the power to create a Corporation, that this Bill must pass. For these reasons, he should support the third reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. Herries
expressed his regret, that he had not been in the House upon the second reading of this Bill. Had he been present, he should have done that which he now intended to do, give it his most strenuous opposition. It was rather curious that when the clause in the last Act, which had given rise to the present discussion, was brought before the House, he expressed his doubts with respect to the construction that might he put upon it, but, in consequence of the answers which he received upon that occasion, he was induced to give up his opposition to the clause; and when he stated what took place upon that occasion, he was sure, that this House and the country would feel that they were pledged to the Bank in such a manner in respect to the establishment of another bank, that it would be impossible, with any regard to justice and fair dealing, to get away from it. The state of the case was this—when the Bill for renewing the Bank Charter was before the House in its last stage, a clause was introduced which gave rise to certain doubts in respect to the operation of the law relative to the establishing of banks in the city of London. For his own part he had always been of opinion, that the law enabled joint-stock banks of deposit to be established, provided they did not issue their own notes, but that Parliament could not create or allow any other corporate banking company to exist but the Bank of England. Doubts, however, existed upon this point; and it was to do away with these doubts that the noble Lord had introduced the clause to which he had before referred. When this clause was introduced, he put it distinctly to the noble Lord (Lord Althorp), whether this clause would give the power to joint-stock banking companies within sixty-five miles of London, of suing and being sued. The answers of the noble Lord, as well as those given to him, both privately and 1313 publicly, by the Attorney and Solicitor-General, were, that the words of the clause would not, by any possibility, convey such a meaning. If the right of suing and being sued were conceded to this bank, he saw no reason why the right of issuing their own paper might not follow; and, if so, the whole policy upon which the Government had acted in its arrangements with the Bank would be destroyed. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the speeches of the Attorney and Solicitor-General, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to show, that all that was intended by the insertion of the clause to which he had referred in the Act of last Session, was, to declare that to be law which was law before—secondly, that joint-stock banks for deposits might be established within sixty-five miles of the metropolis; but that they could not be incorporated, and could not be allowed to sue or be sued, and to issue their own notes. He next came to the most important part of the question, the equitable view of it. The King's Ministers, who framed these Acts, intended, that faith should be kept with the Bank. It was upon this equitable consideration that Parliament passed the Acts. He, therefore, held, that the House was bound by its engagement, and by that of the Government. The House, at the time of passing this Act of Parliament, must have had a full sense of this engagement, as it was clearly and distinctly stated to the House, and, having sanctioned this engagement, was bound to abide by it. It was not for the House to turn round and say to the Bank of England, "We have taken a valuable portion of your privileges from you, and, therefore, we will infringe the agreement we made with you on your giving up those privileges." The Bill before the House went to deprive the Bank of England of an essential portion of its privileges; and, therefore, the question was not one of legal construction, but of honour and good faith. It was not whether a word would bear such or such an interpretation after the lapse of a year, but what was the sense of the House at the time the Act conferring these privileges was passed? He contended that, if they passed this Bill, they would be guilty of a most gross and flagrant violation of honour and good faith. The value of this joint-stock banking company to the public was not a question which this House could entertain; they had nothing to do with the merits of the bank, or 1314 with its utility; what they had to consider was this—were they to annul a contract which had been made with the Bank of England in the face of the country, to which they were bound by every feeling of honour and good faith? He should move, as an Amendment, that this Bill be read a third time this day six months.
§ Mr. Patrick Stewart
had expected to find his right hon. friend, the member for Harwich, a friend to the establishment whose cause be (Mr. Stewart) had espoused; for it was that right hon. Gentleman who, in the discussion upon the second reading of the Bank Charter Renewal Bill, expressed his fears, that the monopoly was too extensive, and who contended, that banks ought to be allowed to be established in London, if they were not banks of issue. The right hon. Gentleman, after stating his opinion, that the sixty-five miles ought to be materially abridged, proceeded to express an opinion, that it was then legal to have banks with more than six partners, and to express a hope, that the law would be rendered explicit and clear on the subject. This was the opinion expressed by the right hon. Gentleman on the second reading of the Bank Charter Bill, under which the present company of the London and Westminster Bank were lured on to establish their bank; and now the right hon. Gentleman said, that they were not justified in coming to that House to seek for a privilege, which, in justice to the public, they ought to possess. But there was nothing in the Bill at all inconsistent with the bargain then made with the Bank. The dilemma in which the Government was now placed, was a collision between a private understanding and an Act of Parliament. But the House, he trusted, would be governed by the Act, and would not allow the Bank of England to possess for ever its exclusive privileges, and be the only corporation. The Government was bound in good faith to have stated, that they did not mean the privilege guaranteed by the Act of last Session ever to be used. There was nothing in the Bill to say, that it should not be used, and if it was intended not to be used, why was not the intention expressed? The Bank of England knew very well how to secure itself, as indeed appeared in this very Act. It had, in fact, stolen a march upon Government, and had obtained the insertion of a clause in the last Act, by which it sought to perpetuate the corporate Charter of the Bank even when its banking privi- 1315 leges ceased. It was said, that there was no case in point to favour such a right as that applied for by the London and Westminster Bank; but that was a mistake, for the Hibernian Bank in Dublin had the right granted to it which was now asked for by the London and Westminster Bank. If it was not the intention of Parliament to grant this right to sue and be sued, it ought to have been stated plainly and openly, instead of springing a mine upon them then. It was not kind or fair to act in this way to the Company bringing in this Bill. This was not the second reading of the Bill. It was the last stage of it, although an effort had been made to strangle it in Committee, and considering the nature of the Bill, the opposition given to it upon the third reading was most unfair. He should leave the Bill in the hands of the House, notwithstanding the whipping-in and spurring that had taken place to obtain votes. He was confident, that the result would be what he desired. The hon. Alderman opposite (Alderman Thompson) the shield-bearer to the great Goliath behind, no doubt despised the supporters of this Bill because they came armed with no weapon but a good cause. It was, however, for the House to decide whether the ponderous Philistine with his gold, his silver, and his brass, should be the victor, or whether a champion, who although only a stripling in strength, and whose only arms were those of truth and justice, should gain the vantage ground.
§ Mr. Pollock
said, that the persons who supported the Bill now before the House, had no right to complain of injustice. This Bill was one of a most important nature—one which, in fact, involved in it both the national faith and national honour. It was not a matter-of-course Bill, as the hon. Member who had just sat down called it; it was one which demanded the most important consideration. Could it be supposed that this Bill could pass in defiance of the unanswerable arguments of his right hon. friend—in defiance of a compact made by this House? It appeared to him that the question before the House was, in point of fact, whether by granting the privilege of suing and being sued, there should be a breach of the contract which had been entered into between the Government and the Bank, and which had been sanctioned by Parliament. Those who thought that the Bill was a breach of contract would vote against it, and, on the contrary, those who thought that such a Bill might be 1316 passed without a breach of national honour, would vote in favour of it. The last Statute extending the period of the Bank of England Charter expressly stated, that it should enjoy the exclusive privilege of banking in the metropolis, and that no other bank should be established within the circle of its limitation. Therefore any attempt, which the present application was, to establish any such bank as the Bill before the House purported to establish, was an infringement on the privileges of the Bank of England, and a positive breach of the specific contract which had been entered into with it. It was said, that all this private bank wanted was, the privilege of suing and being sued—that the bank only wanted to be allowed to pay its just debts, and that the public were deeply interested in the success of this application on the part of the London and Westminster Bank. This, he contended, was a fallacy, If this Bill were passed, a monopoly would be given to the bank in question, for the suing and being sued was not enjoyed by any other joint-stock bank in London. It would operate as a bounty to that company for its infraction of the Bank Charter, by inducing people to join the company on the strength of their not being liable, beyond the limit of their shares. He said that as a lawyer; but he also contended that after what had taken place on the occasion of the Bank Charter Bill being before the House, if this Bill passed that House, the honour of the country, which had been pledged to the Bank of England, would be grossly violated. If the Bill, therefore, were to go into the other House of Parliament, the Judges would be bound to say, that it could not pass without a violation of the faith of the Legislature. That was his settled opinion as a lawyer—but as a Gentleman and a Member of Parliament he must say, that that House could not with honour give the privileges which the Bill would confer upon the new bank.
Sir Thomas Freemantle
said, that although he was much interested in the success of the Bill before the House, he yet would not vote for it if he thought that, by doing so, he violated any contract which had been made with the Bank of England. It appeared to him, that the House was losing sight of the real question before it—namely, that the right of suing and being sued should be given to the London and Westminster Bank. Was this creating a monopoly to give this power? Why it was given to every other banking- 1317 company in the kingdom. The House was to recollect, that the London and Westminster Bank was already in existence, and that, for the last two months, it was transacting the usual business of a banking establishment, and it was so under the Act of last Session. The evil to be prevented was, the erection of a bank of issue, and it was only to prevent the establishment of such a bank, that the Act of last Session was passed. The Attorney-General formerly stated, in respect to the Bank Charter Act, that Parliament was not to legalize any bank not lawfully established. Now, was not the London and Westminster Bank a legal body? The noble Lord (Lord Althorp), by his clause in the last Act, legalized it, and the Attorney-General said, that all Parliament was restricted to do was, not to legalize a bank not lawfully established. He believed it was generally understood, that all acts giving a corporation exclusive privileges, should be construed strictly against the corporation, and as much in favour of the public as possible; and yet they found the Crown lawyers straining every nerve to-day in favour of the monopoly, and against the public. If it was intended, that only banks for deposits should be established by the clause in question, why was not the thing fully stated? Where were the prohibitory words? He contended, that the absence of all such words showed, that it was never intended to restrict joint-stock banking in anything but in respect to issuing notes.
§ Sir James Scarlett
contended, that the Act of William 3rd, first establishing the Bank of England, was still in force, and that that Act expressly enacted, that, as long as the corporation of the Bank existed, no other company in the nature of a bank should be established, sanctioned, or countenanced by Parliament. He thought the word "allow" called upon them to put down any bank, if established with more than six partners, in London. The clause in the last Bill gave no power to create a new Bank, and the Act of William was clear upon the point—so clear, that no legal quibble, however ingeniously put, could mystify it. If Parliament incorporated any banking establishment, it would violate the contract made with the Bank of England, of which the condition was, that no other bank but it, was to be allowed by Parliament. In opposing this Bill, he had no private or political end to serve. He was only anxious, that Parliament should not violate its own engagements. 1318 If they passed this Bill, they would, in doing so, strike a severe blow at the security of the public credit of this country.
§ Mr. Clay
, thought, that the hon. Alderman (Mr. Alderman Thompson), who rose to speak, might be content with the support which he had received, for he had no less than three lawyers to speak in his favour, and one of them even appeared in his wig and gown (Sir James Scarlett), to give, if possible, additional weight to his argument. He contended, that the London and Westminster Bank was a corporate body, and that all which it wanted was, the privilege of doing that which every corporate body in London had, namely, the right of suing and being sued. The Goldsmiths' Company, or any other company in London, could commence the banking business to-morrow, and would be entitled to sue and be sued; and all that this company, which had been instituted for banking purposes, wanted was, that it should have a privilege which every corporate body in London had.
§ Lord Althorp
was anxious to state to the House what was the understanding between the Government and the Bank of England, in respect to the establishment of any other Bank in the metropolis. It was understood, that no additional privileges beyond that which the law allowed, should be given to any other bank. That was the understanding with the Bank, and that understanding was stated in that House, when the subject was under discussion. The hon. member for the Tower Hamlets taunted him with making exertions to oppose this Bill. He owned, that he had. He felt, that he was bound to maintain the bargain which he had entered into with the Bank. He felt, that he was justified in making every exertion to oppose this Bill; and if he did not, and if the Parliament did not reject it, he thought neither he nor the Parliament would do what was proper. It did appear to him, that if the bargain which he had made with the Bank of England were broken, the national faith would be violated; and, he contended that the terms of that bargain were advantageous to the country. If the House agreed to the third reading of the Bill, they would give to the London and Westminster Bank exclusive privileges which he thought it ought not to possess. He hoped, therefore, that the House would not pass the Bill, for their doing so would form a dangerous precedent hereafter. 1319 Both the parties interested in the Bill before the House seemed to interfere with the bargain made between the Government and the Bank of England; and this being the case, he thought that it was a strong reason for the House to oppose this Bill.
Mr. Alderman Thompson
agreed with the hon. member for the Tower Hamlets, that the question had been fully argued; but he would just remind the House of the situation in which they were placed. They were told by the noble Lord, that this Bill was an infraction of the terms of an Act of Parliament passed last Session. Were they, then, to pass this Bill in opposition to such a declaration? Would it not be the same as if they violated the principle upon which the noble Lord contracted a loan by the consent of that House? The Bank of England paid 120,000l. a-year in consideration of certain privileges. This money was now in the course of payment. Was it, therefore right, when a bargain was made of this sort, that the rights and privileges for which the Bank of England paid so large a sum of money should be taken away, as they would be, if the Bill before the House passed? ["Question?"] If he were interrupted, he should not feel that he was bound to restrict himself within the limits to which he had at first intended. His hon. friend (Sir Thomas Freemantle) said, that the London and Westminster Bank was established. He admitted that it was; but the company was not satisfied with the mere establishment of the bank, but called upon the House to give them the power to sue and to be sued. Such a power would be in direct violation of the engagement entered into between the Bank of England and the Government—an engagement that was as public as possible, being fully stated in the printed correspondence which took place on the occasion of the bargain having been made. Under all these circumstances, he felt that he should forego his duty in that House, if he did not oppose this Bill; for he contended, that it would be such an infraction to existing engagements, that it would strike at the very root of public credit.
§ Mr. Cobbett
rose amidst cries of "Question:" Hon. Members might cry "Oh!" but still he would state to the House what were his opinions upon this subject. He was firmly convinced, that of all the scourges God had ever inflicted upon man, the banking system was the greatest of all. In the hope, that the proposed bank 1320 would injure the old one, he was disposed at first to vote for it; but, on further consideration, he was led to believe, that the safest course which he could pursue for the public interest was to vote for neither, and, accordingly, he should remain neuter on the question.
§ The House divided on the Question, "That the Bill be read a third time:" Ayes 137; Noes 76—Majority 61.
§ The Bill was read a third time, and passed.