HC Deb 03 March 1856 vol 140 cc1712-3

then said, while he was addressing the House he might, perhaps, be forgiven if he adverted to a subject foreign to the matter under discussion, in order that he might repair an injustice which he had unintentionally committed in a late debate with respect to a very distinguished gentleman from whose writings he had quoted—he meant Mr. Tooke, the author of a pamphlet upon the Bank Act of 1844. He had received a letter from Mr. Tooke explaining the meaning of a passage to which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had occasion to refer, and the meaning of which he had quite unintentionally misrepresented. He had before quoted the pamphlet from memory, but, with the permission of the House, he would now read the passages to which he had referred. Mr. Tooke said in the pamphlet— It is now upwards of eighteen years ago that I called attention to the inadequateness of the stock of bullion which had, in the few years immediately preceding, been held by the Bank of England; and recommended that it should be the endeavour of the directors to maintain an average amount of treasure of not less than £10,000,000. He then went on to say— In the evidence which I gave before the Committee on Banks of Issue in 1840, I stated it as my opinion that, considering the great extension of trade and of the general transactions of the country, and of the consequent greatly-extended circulation of paper credit, it was desirable that the metallic basis should be wider than that which I had before suggested of £10,000,000, and that it ought not to be less than £12,000,000. In citing those passages from memory he had stated that Mr. Tooke proposed a minimum fixed limit of £12,000,000 as the reserved bullion of the Bank of England. He understood from Mr. Tooke's explanation that he did not mean an absolute fixed limit, but a fluctuating limit extending over a certain period of time, so that, if at one time the bullion were to exceed that limit by £9,000,000, at another time it might fall short of it by £9,000,000. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was not inclined to examine into the question whether or no such a limit would be effectual for the purpose, but he could only repeat his regret that he had unintentionally misrepresented Mr. Tooke's opinions.