HC Deb 12 June 1845 vol 81 cc437-42

The Order of the Day for receiving the Report of the Banking (Ireland) Bill having been read, the Report was brought up.

Mr. Redington

moved the insertion of the following clause:— And whereas by an Act passed in the Parliament of Ireland in the 21st and 22nd years of His Majesty King George the Third, intituled, 'An Act for establishing a Bank by the name of the Governors and Company of the Bank of Ireland,' it was amongst other matters provided, 'that nothing therein contained should be construed to enable the said corporation, or any person or persons on their behalf, to lend or advance any sum or sums, to be secured by mortgage or sale of lands, tenements, or hereditaments redeemable, anything therein to the contrary notwithstanding;' and whereas such provision is not contained in any Act establishing or regulating other banks of issue in this realm, and it is expedient that the same should be repealed; be it therefore enacted, that the same shall be and is hereby fully repealed. His object was to place the Bank of Ireland, which was alone restricted by its charter from lending money on mortgage, on the same terms with the Bank of England and all other banks. On a late occasion, when the Board of Works in Ireland were desirous of procuring money under the Drainage Act, the Bank of Ireland, though willing to advance the money required, found that it was prohibited by its charter from doing so, although the sum was not to be permanently invested, but was to be repaid by instalments in a short period.

Clause brought up and read a first time.

On the question that it be read a second time,

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

was sorry that he was not able to agree to the clause proposed by the hon. Member. It was perfectly true, that by the original charter of the Bank of England, no limit was imposed with respect to lending money on mortgage. The Bank itself, however, made a by-law against so lending money, on the principle that a banker permanently putting his money out of his own trade, did that which, at a time of pressure, was calculated to involve himself in ruin, and all those who placed confidence in him. When the Irish Act, therefore, was framed, its provisions were based, not only upon the charter, but upon the by-laws of the Bank of England. He admitted, that on two recent occasions the Bank of England had been induced to depart from its by-law; but it would be recollected that, on these occasions, strong opposition had been given to any departure from the safe principle which the Bank itself had early adopted. The danger to be apprehended was, that if the Bank of Ireland received the power of lending money indiscriminately, it would be exposed to a pressure from without, which it would not have the same motive as the Bank of England for resisting, and the investment of its capital might lead to great inconvenience in a time of pressure.

Mr. Masterman

heard with great satisfaction the sentiments of the right hon. Gentleman. He, and others interested in banking, had, on the occasions alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman, expressed their regret that the Bank of England had assumed to itself the power of lending money on security not immediately available.

Sir R. Ferguson

thought it hard that the Bank of Ireland should not be allowed to lend money on the security of landed property.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

remarked, that as the Government deposited money in the Bank of Ireland for the purpose of paying a dividend on the public debt, it was but right to take care that the bank should be able to pay that dividend.

Mr. Roche

would not express any opinion on the abstract merits of the question, whether the Bank of Ireland should lend its money or lock it up; but he should certainly vote for the Motion of his hon, Friend.

Mr. Redington

, in reply, said he did not see why a restriction should be imposed on the Bank of Ireland, to which the provincial banks were not liable. He did not want the Bank of Ireland to be allowed to lend money for the purpose of draining lands; but to be allowed to exercise the same discretion which was left to every other bank in the kingdom. He should divide the House upon the clause.

The House divided on the Question, that the clause be now read a second time:—Ayes 12; Noes 51; Majority 39.

List of the AYES.
Bellew, R. M. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Blake, M. J. Trelawny, J. S.
Duncan, G. Wawn, J. T.
Hamilton, Lord C. Wyse, T.
Norreys, Sir D. J.
O'Brien, W. S. TELLERS.
O'Conor Don Redington, T. N.
Roche, E. B. Ferguson, Sir R.
List of the NOES.
Baird, W. Greene, T.
Barkly, H. Harris, hon. Capt.
Bernard, Visct. Hawes, B.
Boldero, H. G. Henley, J. W.
Borthwick, P. Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Bowles, Adm. Hope, G. W.
Boyd, J. James, Sir W. C.
Broadley, H. Jermyn, Earl
Brotherton, J. Lincoln, Earl of
Bruce, Lord E. Lockhart, W.
Bruce, C. L. C. Mackenzie, W. F.
Bruges, W. H. L. M'Neill, D.
Buckley, E. Masterman, J.
Cardwell, E. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Chute, W. L. W. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Pringle, A.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Rashleigh, W.
Cripps, W. Richards, R.
Darby, G. Scott, hon. F.
Evans, W. Smith, rt. hon. T. B. C.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Stuart, H.
Flower, Sir J. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T. Thesiger, Sir F.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Wellesley, Lord C.
Gordon, hon. Capt. TELLERS.
Goulbourn, rt. hn. H. Young, J.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Lennox, Lord A.
Sir W. Somerville

was understood to ask whether public companies might be allowed, as was the case in Scotland, to place large sums of money, ordered by Parliament, in any bank established in Ireland by Act of Parliament or Royal Charter?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, this was the first time he had heard any wish of the kind expressed; and would not, therefore, undertake to give an opinion on the subject. He should, however give the subject his consideration. On looking at the state of Ireland, it appeared to him, that Cork and Limerick were places where it would be necessary for the banks to retain specie. Londonderry and Belfast, he thought, might be under the same necessity. Of the four branches that were to retain specie, he was of opinion that two of them might be in any one province; but he did not think a greater number necessary.

Sir D. Norreys

considered, that those banks which had not the security of having a certain quantity of bullion in their coffers, would not have the same opportunity of extending their business as the banks which retained specie. He would rather see the banks deprived of the power of issuing notes beyond the bullion in their possession, than allow a few banks to enjoy such exclusive advantages.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

thought the plan proposed in the Bill would be of great convenience to bankers generally, while it would give the public sufficient security, that the bonâ fide amount of gold in possession of the banks would be equal to the amount of notes issued.

The O'Conor Don

did not regard as a concession the allowance of two banks of issue in one of the provinces, while the other three provinces would be limited to two more. If the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer would allow two banks where business was extensive, as in the south, for instance, and allow also a bank for each province, that would be going a step further than the hon. Member for Kildare, and might be looked upon as a concession.

Mr. W. S. O'Brien

said, he felt himself compelled to attend the House while the present measure was before it. Although he knew how ineffectual any remonstrance on his part would be, when directed against a Bill brought forward by the Government, still he could scarcely divest himself of the obligation which he felt, as an Irish Member, to resist bad measures. He had to complain that due notice of this measure had not been given to the people of Ireland. It was only last Saturday, that the Directors of the Bank of Ireland waited on him, and informed him that they had not seen the Bill since it had been reprinted with the Amendments. The measure was of great importance to a nation inhabited by 9,000,000 of people; and it was but just, that they should have at least a few days allowed them to make themselves acquainted with its provisions. He was not surprised that the right hon. Baronet should have proposed a Bill like the present. It was in exact conformity with the Bill of 1819. The principle of both was to make gold dear—to sacrifice the debtor for the benefit of the creditor. This Bill afforded no security to the public, for it allowed banks to issue to a certain amount without any security on their part against failure. The Bill was calculated to injure the Hibernian and Royal Banks by extending the monopoly of the Bank of Ireland. Every one who had read the opening statement of the right hon. Baronet must have been taken by suprise to find that the circulation of the banks was limited, not to the amount of gold in their coffers, but to the amount in the principal bank. He would make this proposition, that the banks should be allowed, to a limited amount, to issue notes on the deposit of Government stock. He begged pardon of the House for detaining them at this time, and he would now move, as a mode of putting on record his opposition to the measure, that it be recommitted.

Mr. Speaker

intimated that the hon. Gentleman was too late in making this Amendment.

Mr. W. S. O'Brien

regretted that he had been misled as to the proper time of making the Motion. He would then move that the debate be adjourned for a fortnight, to allow time for the Irish people to consider the measure.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

hoped, that the hon. Gentleman would content himself with recording his opinion, without impeding the business of the House. He should be sorry if it were supposed that the Government had proceeded with undue haste in this measure; and he need only remind the House that the Bill was printed so far back as the 7th of May, and every objection which could be urged had been fully considered by the Government.

Mr. E. B. Roche

said, that the Bill, as it stood, differed from the statement made on its introduction by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, and complained that, in the Amendments which had been proposed, the Irish Members were completely overwhelmed by English Members, who came in just before the division.

Viscount Bernard

protested against the statements of hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the feeling of Ireland was against the Bill. He had not received a single letter in opposition to the Bill, nor had he heard a single word against it. For him self he approved cordially of the principles of the Bill.

Mr. Borthwick

said, that he had voted with the Government on this Bill; but if he had done wrong, that was the fault of the hon. Member for Limerick and others, that they had not come to the House to enlighten him.

Amendment negatived. Report received. Bill to be read a third time.

The House adjourned at half-past one o'clock.