HC Deb 01 April 1846 vol 85 cc381-3

moved the Second Reading of the Railway Deposits Bill. By the law as it at present stood, the subscribers to an undertaking were compelled to make a transfer of money, and money only, to the Accountant General of the Court of Chancery; and they were also compelled to do so only under the Speaker's warrant, obtained on each occasion. Great inconvenience had been experienced from the adoption of this course; and during the present year large losses had been sustain- ed by these proceedings. In many undertakings the deposits had been invested in the funds at a time when the funds were high, and had been obliged to sell out when funds were low, to procure money to be paid to the Accountant General; and then, if they reinvested, great loss was experienced. He believed that the loss on the operations of the last three or four months had been as much as 2, 3, and 4 per cent, and the inconvenience had also been great. The remedy proposed by the Bill was to permit the transfer of funds or other Government securities or Exchequer Bills in lieu of money to be made to the Accountant General. The Bill also abolished the necessity for having a Speaker's order for paying the money in. His proposal had met with the general approbation of the parties most interested; it would lead to a great simplification of business, and would afford quite as large a security to the Parliament and to the country.


said, that the hon. Gentleman having consented to make those Amendments in the Bill when it went into Committee which he thought necessary, he had no objection to the second reading. The hon. Member had at first proposed that instead of the money or funds being paid to the Accountant General, they should be paid into the Bank of England. The consequence would be, that if any dispute should arise between the parties as to their interest, or as to any lien, it would be necessary to institute a Chancery suit to determine the rights; and whether he considered the interests of the parties concerned, or of the innocent Bank of England, he thought it would be unjust to subject that body to the expense and burden of these Chancery suits. As the Bill would be amended, the money would be paid to the Accountant General as before, and in cases where the House should sanction the transfer of stock or Exchequer Bills, the Accountant General would hold for the parties.


asked whether the House or the Speaker was to provide for accepting stock or Exchequer Bills instead of money, and what was to be done if the House was not sitting?


replied, that the parties would deposit with the Clerk of the Private Bill-office the particulars of the mode in which they proposed to make the deposit, and his signature would be the authority for the Accountant General to accept it.


was glad to find the Chancellor of the Exchequer had seen that an amendment of the law was necessary. He did not understand what the alterations to be made in the Bill were; he believed the Bill as it stood to be a good Bill, and till he saw the proposed amendments he could give no opinion upon them. A more concise Bill, or one better adapted to its purpose, had never been introduced into the House. He thought the absolute loss to the parties who had invested and had then sold out and reinvested, had been much underrated by the hon. Gentleman; he believed that there had been a loss of several hundred thousand pounds without any benefit. The old machinery had been awkward and very ill-adapted to its purpose; and in the present Bill the country and the railway proprietors would find a great boon.

Bill read a second time.