HC Deb 14 April 1856 vol 141 cc1044-6

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he must express his regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not, in moving the second reading of this Bill, taken the opportunity of stating to the House the course which Her Majesty's Government intended to pursue in regard to the Bank Act of 1814, of which this was a pendant. He was anxious to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question upon the Treasury Minute of the 18th of March, 1856, respecting the payment to the public of the net profit arising from the issuing of bank notes. He wished for an explanation with regard to the item in the account for deduction to the amount of £1,422, being compensation now paid by the Bank to bankers for a discontinuance of their circulation.


said, he had stated at the beginning of the Session that the Government would make no objection to an inquiry by a Committee into the operation of the Act of 1844, if any gentleman should think it desirable to propose it at the end of the Session. He did not know whether it would be the wish of the House, at this period of the Session, to institute such an inquiry; but if it were, no objection would be made by the Government. At the same time, he was not aware that, during this latter period of the Session, it would be possible to make any great progress in an inquiry of that sort. He did not see how it would be consistent with the duty of the Government to make any proposition for the alteration of a solemn act of the Legislature embodying a compact, between Parliament and the Bank of England, without a preliminary inquiry, and without facts having been ascertained and opinions heard bearing upon the operation of this Act during the twelve years which had elapsed since its passing—that Act having for the first time introduced the important principle of a fixed legislative limit on the issues of the Bank. With regard to the hon. Gentleman's second question, he could only say that the arrangement had been carefully considered in concert with the Governor and Deputy-Governor of the Bank before the Minute was drawn; but he could not at that moment explain the precise item referred to by his hon. Friend. If he would repeat the question on another occasion, he would take the opportunity of reading the Minute again, and he should then be able to give his hon. Friend tin explanation which he desired.


said that, when an inquiry into our monetary system was proposed a short time ago, both the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty stated that, though they were not opposed to an inquiry, yet that that was not the proper time. Now, the right hon. Gentleman said it was too late. If that were so, why had all this time been wasted?

Bill read 2°.

The House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock.