HC Deb 27 April 1849 vol 104 cc957-64

said, that he had two changes to make in the names of the Select Committee on Savings Banks, namely, to substitute Mr. Keogh for Mr. H. Herbert, and Mr. F. Mackenzie for Mr. Forbes. As he understood the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had some objections to make to the names, he would, with the permission of the House, reserve what he had to say on the subject until the right hon. Gentleman had stated his objections.


said, he was sorry to be obliged to take the course of objecting to the Committee proposed by the hon. Member; but he was obliged by his sense of public duty to do so, in order to avoid the consequence which would follow, of disagreeable personal recriminations. He considered that he had made a very fair proposal upon this subject to the hon. Member; but as he found it impossible to come to terms with him, the best way of avoiding all difficulty was, in his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) opinion, to reappoint the Committee which had sat last year on the same subject. That Committee had very diligently performed its duties up to the end of the Session, without a single disagreement or division, until the hon. Member for Kerry had dissented from the opinions of the other Members. Therefore, under all circumstances, he thought a fairer Committee could not be named than those hon. Members who had already carried on an inquiry into the subject of savings banks. No report had been made by that Committee, but if it was reappointed, this result might now be looked for. He had, been told that this was an Irish question, I and therefore ought to be a preponderance of Irish Members on the Committee; but it had been sought to establish a claim, with respect to this subject, on the Consolidated Fund, and that therefore deprived the question of any exclusively Irish character. It was obvious, that if the Committee now proposed should report that the depositors of any one of the savings banks had a claim on the Consolidated Fund, that would establish a similar claim, not only for the whole four banks in question, but for all the savings banks in the kingdom placed under similar circumstances. Now, in England, Scotland, and Wales, whenever loss had occurred to the depositors in savings banks, the loss had been made good by the trustees; and he had not heard of a single exception to that rule until the last discussion on the subject. At all events, he was not aware that any English or Scotch savings banks had made a claim upon the Consolidated Fund; and, as the number of savings banks in England and Scotland greatly exceeded those in Ireland, it became more a question for English and Scotch than Irish Members. He thought that the Committee which he had originally nominated was a perfectly fair Committee, much fairer than that now recommended by the hon. Gentleman.


thought, in the whole of that transaction, and in his endeavours to get the matter sifted by a Committee of the House, he had reason to complain of the manner in which he had been treated by the Government. Every possible obstacle had been originally thrown in the way of the appointment of that Committee. The hon. Member for Dublin had been appealed to frequently to postpone its nomination. At the end of the Session, however, feeling the necessity of such an inquiry, in order to satisfy persons that justice might be done to them, he had felt it to be his duty to put a notice of a Motion for a supply night on the Paper, and he had announced his determination to divide the House upon it. His right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had, however, asked to appoint the Committee, and he (Mr. Herbert)—in his innocence he admitted—had consented to it. Only three Irish Members, however, had been nominated on a Committee of fifteen, which was to inquire into a question mainly affecting Irish banks. He would appeal to English and Scotch Members whether that would be considered a fair arrangement with respect to any matter affecting their countries. His right hon. Friend had said at the time that the question was one of general interest. The case was now altered. It was now proposed only to inquire into three Irish savings hanks. On the former occasion, however, he thought an unfair advantage had been taken of their forbearance in the nomination of the Committee. He would only say a word about the course which he had taken in that Committee. His right hon. Friend had proposed a short report to the effect that it was the opinion of that Committee that it was desirable that any further inquiry into that subject should take place in the recess or the next Session of Parliament. He had been accused of obstinacy because he had moved the omission of the words "during the recess." But now, when they asked for an inquiry into a matter concerning Irish business, the nomination of the Committee was opposed. The amount of money invested was such as to render it indispensable that some inquiry should take place. Though they were loft under the impression that the Government intended to bring in some measure on that subject, no measure had been introduced. When the proposition had been first made for a Committee, it had been met by a direct negative on the part of the Government. His right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was proposed to make a claim on the Consolidated Fund. For his part, he thought those who lost by the savings banks' defalcations had as good a claim on the Consolidated Fund as those who had suffered by the Exchequer frauds. But he denied that any hon. Member who Toted for that inquiry had made up his mind on the subject of the responsibility of the Consolidated Fund, although he was free to admit that he thought there were good grounds for such a claim.


concurred in the Motion before the House, and thought it was a very advisable thing to appoint an Irish lawyer, like the hon. and learned Member for Athlone, on that Committee.


observed, that this was a most unpleasant discussion. The question at issue was, whether the Committee of last year had discharged their duty fairly, or whether there was any imputation against thorn. He had not heard that there was any such imputation; and he was inclined to agree, therefore, with the right hon. Gentleman opposite in the reappointment of the Committee of last year.


was prepared to support the hon. Member for Kerry in maintaining that for the consideration of this question another Committee should be appointed. It was said that this was a national question, and, in one sense, it was a national question. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that, when proposing a new Committee, he thought it fair and reasonable there should be six Members from Ireland; and yet he now proposed his Amendment that a Committee should be appointed in which were the names of only three Irish Members. The hon. Member for Dublin proposed a Committee of fifteen, with seven representatives from Ireland. Upon the selection of Committees in the House, the representatives for Ireland were not fairly treated. Nineteen Committees had been appointed this Session. One was on the Scotch marriage question, consisting of fifteen Members, every one of whom was a Scotchman. In the Army and Navy Committee, amongst fifteen Members, there was no Irishman. On the Divorce Bill Committee—divorce being a matter in which some persons said that Irishmen had something to do with the initiative—there was no Irishman. There was no representative for Ireland on the Real and Personal Property Committee. In the Committee on the School of Design, the English Members were fourteen to one Irishman. There was not a single Irishman on the Committee on Fees in Courts of Law. There was one Committee from which Irish Members were excluded, and on which he made no complaint, and that was the Insolvent Members Committee. This showed that Irish Members were carefully passed over; and in the Committee before the House, he said, they were entitled to a larger representation. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that if the Committee reported that the savings banks had a claim upon the national exchequer, it would, therefore, become a national concern. He (Mr. Keogh) thought it an imperial concern, that no portion of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland should remain under the impression that when they asked for an inquiry it had been denied to them by the House.


having been a Member of the Committee last year, must say, that most unpleasant disclosures had taken place, and, for one, he concurred in the resolution that further inquiry was requisite. There ought to he a just proportion of Members for England, Scotland, and Ireland. This was a question of great importance. It affected the whole of the savings banks in the united kingdom; and whatever principle might be adopted in the Committee, ought to he applied to all savings banks. As to the Committee on Scotch marriages, that was as much a local question as the buildings of a bridge at Drogheda. Would the hon. Member for Athlone point out an instance where a Committee had proceeded to an inquiry, had reported progress, and recommended further inquiry; and yet, where a new Committee had been appointed, and the original Committee had not been reappointed to continue the inquiry? To act in that manner would be to cast reflections on the Committee.


said, that in 1844 a deputation from all the savings banks in the kingdom met in this metropolis: they did him the honour to make him their chairman; and he happened to know from that circumstance what was their opinion as to the changes of the law in 1844. In spite of all the remonstrances on the part of this deputation, that trustees and managers should not be free from the responsibility which should arise from the consequences of any wilful neglect, those who were in power in this House at the time made the change. Mr. Tidd Pratt was at that time the organ of the Government. At that very time, he knew this bank in Dublin was insolvent, and yet they were left to evade the law. Therefore, if ever there was a case where an impartial Committee should be appointed to inquire into an important question, this was one of those cases. It was a question which went to the security of the whole system of savings banks in the country. He considered the Committee appointed by the hon. Member for Dublin to be a fair Committee.


observed that his name had been placed on the Committee nominated by the hon. Member for Dublin, and he would be most happy, if appointed, to give his services; but he protested against the statement that this was an Irish question. The question in reality was, whether the Government was to be held responsible for the deposits in the savings banks before they were paid into the national exchequer; and he maintained that that was a point in which the English people were as much concerned as the Irish. He could not conceive what possible objection there was to the Committee of last year, named by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Members of that Committee were, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. H. Herbert, Mr. Goulburn, Sir J. Graham, Mr. Villiers, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Herries, Mr. Gibson Craig, Mr. P. Scrope, Sir J. Buller, Mr. Hume, Mr. K. Seymer, Mr. W. Fagan, Mr. J. A. Smith, Mr. S. Adair, and Mr. Bramston. He was sure it was impossible to find Gentlemen that could better discharge the important duties required of them than those whose names he had read.


thought, that if those Gentlemen who now crowded the Ministerial benches had but heard the speech of the hon. Member for Kerry when he brought this subject of the savings banks before the House, they would not have shown the impatience which they now displayed, but would have seen the necessity for inquiry into a subject that trenched on the interests of a class which more than any other required their protection. The Committee of last year was not appointed to take into consideration the whole question of the savings banks, but to inquire into, and report on, the laws relating to savings banks in Ireland only; and, therefore, the reference to that Committee was not at all in point. All that was wanted, was a Committee, the Members of which would be able to devote the requisite amount of time to the investigation. He hoped that official and technical objections would not be allowed to stand in the way of such an inquiry.


rejoiced that he had very little to answer in the shape of objection. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had steered very wide of the real question, which was, whether he (Mr. Reynolds) should enjoy the courtesy usually extended to those who succeeded in getting a Committee appointed. The sole ground of objections to him was, that the report of the Committee on which he had previously sat, was lame and impotent; but it had not been stated that he had sought to have its labours continued, and that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had himself defeated that object, by interposing Government business on the night when he (Mr. Reynolds) was about to make a Motion on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman now sought to reappoint the Committee of last year—a most immaculate Committee, no doubt; but still one only appointed to inquire generally into the state of the law as affecting savings banks. What he wanted was, a Committee to inquire specially into the affairs of St. Peter's savings bank in Dublin, those of Tralee bank, and of that of Auchterarder, in Scotland. This was an Irish case, and one of no common importance. It was the case of 1,700 pauperised artisans of the city of Dublin who had lodged 50,000l. in the savings bank on the faith of England's honour. The Committee of last year contained twelve English and three Irish names, and what he proposed was, eight English and seven Irish names. He was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should object to his Committee, and wished to know the reason. He appealed to the House of Commons to see justice done to his poor countrymen, and, he might add, countrywomen. It was a question which interested the people of England and Scotland as well as the people of Ireland. They were all under the impression that they had national security for their money. National security! National moonshine. They had the security of the managers, over whom there was no control, and whom Mr. Tidd Pratt by his Act released from all responsibility. He believed that the poor people might be reimbursed without any loss to the nation, as there was a surplus of about 300,000l. to the credit of the general savings bank account. The right hon. Gentleman surely could not be serious, or entertain the notion of dividing the House upon the question. If such a Committee were forced upon him (Mr. Reynolds), the inference that would be drawn by the Irish people, from the Giants' Causeway to Cape Clear, would be, that the House of Commons refused to nominate an impartial jury to try the cause between those unfortunate people and the Government.


denied that he had any desire to refuse an impartial inquiry into the circumstances connected with these savings banks. Referring to the list of names constituting the Committee of last year, he defied any man to say that it was possible to put fifteen gentlemen on a Committee of higher character than those who were on that list. What he proposed to do was this: he would assent to the appointment of the first four names on the hon. Gentleman's list, because they were Members of the Committee of last year; but when they came to the fifth name, that of Mr. Napier, he should divide the House against the nomination of that Gentleman, solely on the ground that he was not a Member of the Committee of last year. Should the House support his proposition, he did not then intend to proceed further with the nomination of the Committee, but would defer the consideration of it to a future day, that he might in the mean time determine what changes might be made in the names of the Members that should constitute it.

Mr. Reynolds, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Henry Herbert, Mr. Goulburn, nominated Members of the Committee.

On the name of Mr. Napier being proposed,



Motion made and Question put, "That Mr. Napier be one other Member of the said Committee."

The House divided:—Ayes 74, Noes 111: Majority 37.

List of the AYES.
Archdall, Capt. M. Keogh, W.
Bateson, T. Kershaw, J.
Blackall, S. W. Macnaghten, Sir E.
Blake, M. J. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Bourke, R. S. Monsell, W.
Bremridge, R. Mullings, J. R.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Butler, P. S. Nugent, Sir P.
Carew, W. H. P. O'Brien, J.
Caulfeild, J. M. O'Connell, J.
Chichester, Lord J. L. O'Flaherty, A.
Christy, S. Pearson, C.
Cocks, T. S. Pechell, Capt.
Cole, hon. H. A. Pilkington, J.
Coles, H. B. Rawdon, Col.
Conolly, T. Renton, J. C.
Cowan, C. Sadleir, J.
Crawford, W. S. Scully, F.
Devereux, J. T. Sheridan, R. B.
Dunne, F. P. Smyth, J. G.
Edwards, H. Somerset, Capt.
Fagan, W. Spooner, R.
Farrer, J. Stafford, A.
Followes, E. Sullivan, M.
Floyer, J. Taylor, T. E.
Fox, R. M. Tonison, E. K.
Grattan, H. Tennent, R. J.
Greene, J. Thompson, Col.
Grogan, E. Urquhart, D.
Gwyn, H. Verner, Sir W.
Hamilton, G. A. Wawn, J. T.
Hamilton, Lord C. Williams, J.
Heald, J. Willoughby, Sir H.
Henley, J. W. Wodehouse, E.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Worcester, Marq. of
Hodgson, W. N.
Hood, Sir A. TELLERS.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Reynolds, J.
Keating, R. Herbert, H.
List of the NOES.
Anson, hon. Col. King, hon. P. J. L.
Armstrong, R. B. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Langston, J. H.
Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Baines, M. T. Lemon, Sir C.
Baring, H. B. Lewis, G. C.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Littleton, hon. E. R.
Barrington, Visct. Mackinnon, W. A.
Bass, M. T. Maitland, T.
Bellew, R. M. Mangles, R. D.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Marshall, W.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Matheson, A.
Birch, Sir T. B. Matheson, J.
Boyle, hon. Col. Matheson, Col.
Brand, T. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Brockman, E. D. Milner, W. M. E.
Brotherton, J. Mitchell, T. A.
Brown, W. Morris, D.
Bruce, Lord E. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Bunbury, E. H. Mulgrave, Earl of
Carter, J. B. Paget, Lord A.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Paget, Lord C.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Paget, Lord G.
Cavendish, W. G. Palmerston, Visct.
Childers, J. W. Parker, J.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Patten, J. W.
Cobden, R. Price, Sir R.
Coke, hon. E. K. Ricardo, O.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Rich, H.
Craig, W. G. Romilly, Sir J.
Crowder, R. B. Russell, hon. E. S.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Rutherfurd, A.
Duncan, G. Seymour, Lord
Dundas, Adm. Simeon, J.
Dundas, Sir D. Smith, J. A.
Ebrington, Visct. Smith, J. B.
Evans, W. Somers, J. P.
Foley, J. H. H. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.
Forster, M. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Fortescue, hon. J. W. Stanton, W. H.
Freestun, Col. Strickland, Sir G.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Talbot, C. R. M.
Glyn, G. C. Thicknesse, R. A.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Thornely, T.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Grey, R. W. Vane, Lord H.
Hardcastle, J. A. Watkins, Col. L.
Hawes, B. Wellesley, Lord C.
Heathcoat, J. Willyams, H.
Herbert, rt, hon. S. Williamson, Sir II.
Heywood, J. Wilson, J.
Hindley, C. Wilson, M.
Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Howard, Lord E. Young, Sir J.
Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Jervis, Sir J. Hill, Lord M.
Keppel, hon. G. T. Tufnell, H.

Further proceedings adjourned till Monday next.