HC Deb 05 February 1856 vol 140 cc222-3

said, he begged to inquire of the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any steps had been taken for giving statutory notice, under the provisions of the Act 7 & 8 Vict., c. 32, to the Governor and Company of the Bank of England, preparatory to the revision of their charter; and whether it was the intention of Government to institute any inquiry before a Committee of that House, or otherwise, into the working and effect of the said Act?


said, in reply, that the exclusive privileges of the Bank of England were given to it by the Act of 1844, and by other Acts, subject to redemption upon two conditions. One of these was, that a notice of not less than twelve months should be given to the Bank at some time subsequent to the month of August, 1855; and the other was, that the sum of £11,150,000, representing the debt due by the nation to the Bank, with some arrears of interest, amounting to about £100,000, together with all Exchequer bills and other Government securities which the Bank might then hold, should be repaid by Parliament. Those were the two conditions which must be fulfilled in order to extinguish the exclusive privileges of the Bank of England. It was also provided that a Vote or Resolution of the House of Commons, signified under the hand of the Speaker in writing, and delivered at the Bank of England, should be deemed a good and sufficient notice. It was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government for the present to take any steps for putting' an end to the exclusive privileges of the Bank of England. With respect to the second question, if there should appear to be a general wish on the part of that House that there should be at present, or early in the Session, a Parliamentary inquiry into the position of the Bank of England, and into the operation of the existing Bank Act, Her Majesty's Government would not feel themselves justified in opposing such general wish. At the same time, it was their decided opinion, that in the present state of the country, in the peculiar relations of the Bank of England and of the currency, which were created by a state of war, and by the necessity of making large remittances of bullion to foreign countries, and the extraordinary and exceptional state of things so created, the present would not be a favourable moment for an examination of the affairs of the Bank. It was, therefore, the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that the present period of the Session was unsuited to a Parliamentary inquiry, and it was not their intention to propose to the House any Motion for the appointment of such a Committee.