HC Deb 09 May 1856 vol 142 cc276-7

said, that the House would probably remember that on the 28th of February last, a discussion took place relative to the Bank Charter Act, and a Committee was then appointed to inquire into its operation. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted the importance of the subject, but thought it an inopportune period at which to, move for the appointment of a Committee, on account of the continuance of the war; and added, that if the Motion had been made at a later period of the Session, he would not have opposed it on the part of the Government. He (Mr. Malins) again called the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the subject, because the evils which were then alluded to had not diminished, but were in full operation at the present time. On that occasion the right hon. Baronet stated that the bullion in the Bank of England was £10,575,000; but since then it had dropped to little more than £9,500,000. The right hon. Gentleman thought there was no danger in the bullion in the Bank at that time being so low, because the reserve, or unemployed notes, amounted to £5,500,000; but since then they had dropped to £3,500,000. Recollecting that the country was exposed to great peril in 1847, when the balance had sunk so low as £8,000,000, he wished to know what the Government proposed to do on its getting down again so low as that, and whether they intended to allow this great commercial country to be again exposed to similar perils without attempting any remedy. He, then, would put the following question to the right hon. Gentleman:—Whether, seeing that the bullion in the Bank of England continues to diminish, it is the intention of the Government to allow the present Session of Parliament to expire without taking any measure to relax the strictness of the provisions of the Act of 1844, which regulates the issue of bank-notes?


said, he must answer the question with regard to the present state of things by a reference to the amount of bullion in the Bank on the week ending the 5th of January last, when it was £10,537,000; on the 26th of April it was £9,723,000, and on the 3rd of May £9,807,000, showing a deficit since the first week of the year of £730,000. That was the whole of the diminution of the amount of bullion in the Bank of England, compared with the first week of the year. It was to be observed that the drain of bullion on the Bank of England had been caused, to a certain extent, by the Turkish loan, the residue of which, now in the Bank of England, was £650,000. That drain would now cease, and the supplies required for the Commissariat chest, now the war was at an end, would be much less than it had been lately; so that, under these circumstances, it was more than likely that the amount of bullion in the Bank of England would increase rather than continue to diminish. The Government had no intention at present to propose any measure for altering the Bank Charter Act of 1844.