§ The Order of the Day for the third reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a third time."
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, that the effect of this Bill would be to make an alteration in the currency law of the kingdom for the space of nearly three months, by giving the Bank of England power to issue paper to an unlimited extent for that period, upon securities, so long as the rate of discount is kept up at 10 per cent. That was rather an important change in the law. and he could not help thinking that the Bill had been passed upon insufficient evidence, and that Parliament ought to have more distinct information of the causes that had led to the necessity of the suspension of the Bank Act than it had hitherto had. On the second reading of the Bill he asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he was aware of any undue strain or pressure that had been brought upon the resources of the Bank of England to produce this state of 432 things, and it was very satisfactory to him to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that he was not aware of any such pressure. But there might, after all, have been such a pressure, and yet the right hon. Gentleman might be the very last person to hear of it, and he thought, therefore, this important matter should not be made to rest upon the statement of any Minister, however high in office. He contended then, and he still contended, that it was the duty of the House itself to make itself acquainted with the causes that had led to the late suspension, and to know what was the precise action brought to bear upon the Bank of England before they came to the right hon. Gentleman to ask for a suspension. He must remind the House of what was stated in evidence by Mr. Chapman, than whom no man was more likely to know, that such was the position of our currency law that it was in the power of any great capitalist to act upon it in a manner the most prejudicial to the public interests. He stated that it was in the power of any great capitalist so to deal with £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 of Consols that he might get hold of bank-notes for them and withdraw them from circulation. If that were done when the Bank resources were otherwise in a low state, it would be productive of most serious consequences to the country. He knew a case where at a time when the usual rate of discount was 6 per cent, a gentleman on the Stock Exchange borrowed £50,000 at 6½ per cent, another £50.000 at 7 per cent, and £100,000 at 8 per cent. At first no one could understand the meaning, but it turned out that in consequence of the action that had been produced upon the reserves this gentleman fancied he saw a storm coming, and wished to secure himself by borrowing money at these rates. Now, he would ask, was that a safe state in which to leave the currency? Would they give facilities to parties to act in that way? What he wanted was a Committee, not to plunge into the general question of banking, but to inquire into all the facts that had taken place in the City within the last six weeks, and then to leave the House to draw its own inferences and to apply a remedy, if a remedy were required. Some very curious facts had come out in the course of last week. There had been distinct allegations of unfair play contained in the City article 433 of The Times of the 17th November. When that statement was coupled with the evidence given before the House of Commons' Committee that such things were possible, it became very desirable that all that had taken place should be known and put on record. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether any facts had come to his knowledge to the effect that at a time when the Bank reserves were very low, say on the 13th of November, one great bill-discounter had gone to the Bank of England and asked for nearly a million of money. If that were true it showed the critical state of our finances, for it was also said that because the demands were not satisfied at the moment a rumour arose that the bill-discounter had been refused. That, no doubt, would greatly aggravate the pressure till the appearance of the Government letter advising the Bank Directors to break the law. He did not complain of that, but he thought the responsibility ought not to be thrown upon the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer; the letter ought to be issued by authority of the Queen in Council. There was another question to which he wished for a moment to advert. He understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer to deny the other evening the correctness of the proposition that the issue of bank-notes on securities had in any way debased the currency, and altered the value of all contracts. Now it might be very true that all that had been done had a very slight effect on the currency; but he submitted to the House that if only £ 14,500,000 of notes could be issued upon securities by law, and if other parties could induce the Government to issue £2,000,000 more, there was pro tanto a cheapening of the currency; and that was all that was contended for by those gentlemen to whose views the Chancellor of the Exchequer objected. If the amount had been £10,000,000 instead of £2,000,000, then, he apprehended, there would be no dispute about the effects of the alteration, that the currency would have been cheapened, and the relations of all contracts altered. He had no doubt, therefore, that the relaxation, slight as it had been, must have had some effect in cheapening the paper currency of the country, and he thought the House could not be too cautious in any step that made the slightest approach to that state of things. 434 On the whole, therefore, he thought things were in a very unsatisfactory position. The Government certainly had the precedent of the letter of 1847 to rely upon; but the state of vacillation and uncertainty in which the Government of that day were in before the issuing of that letter was most singular, and ought of itself to point out the necessity for devising a remedy for the present system. On the 20th of October, 1847, a deputation of Liverpool merchants waited upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day—the present First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir C. Wood)—asking for a relaxation of the Act of 1844, but they were told by the right hon. Gentleman that such a relaxation was entirely uncalled for, and would not be sanctioned by the Government. And yet on the 25th of the same month—five days after—appeared the letter of the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, authorising the Bank to break the law. Surely that was not a fair way of treating the productive interests of the country. It might be difficult to devise a remedy, but it was the duty of the Government and of Parliament to make the attempt, and the collecting together of all the events which had taken place during the last six weeks in the city of London would be of the greatest assistance in that endeavour.
§ MR. VANCE
said, that as he represented the city that was the centre of banking operations in Ireland, and having had the honour of a seat on the Bank Committee of last Session, he was anxious to make a few observations on this subject. He believed it was as impossible for them to provide against alternate seasons of prosperity and adversity in commerce as it was in agriculture; but still it was their duty, if possible, to alleviate the distress by proper regulation of our banking and currency laws. The present crisis, he thought, bore a stronger resemblance to that of 1837 than to any other. He was engaged in business in 1837, as he was now, and he remembered that there was then a great temptation to certain capitalists to raise money upon bills drawn upon American houses here, and send it to America, where it produced a higher rate of interest than was given in England, and those bills swelling to an enormous proportion deranged the currency of the country. In 1837 a great 435 American house came to the Bank requiring assistance in consequence of having made lavish advances upon American bills. On the present occasion another great American firm had to do the same thing, and that assistance was granted not on principle, but because of the tremendous consequences that a refusal would have involved. The crisis of 1825, he believed, was owing to the over-issue of notes. There was then no restriction, and every bank issued as many as it pleased. But as that was now prohibited by law, a crisis arising out of such a course was not likely to happen again. The crisis of 1847, again, was chiefly caused by the Irish famine, and the gold that was sent abroad to secure the purchase of food. On the present occasion he certainly thought the House did right in passing a Bill of Indemnity; and he would go further—he would have indemnified the Bank though they had paid away their last sovereign in order to save the country from the worst disaster that could have occurred—the impossibility of obtaining discount for fair and honest mercantile paper. If the last sovereign had been paid away, he believed the disaster would not have been so great as was generally imagined. The notes of the American banks that had stopped payment, with a fair prospect of resumption, were now only one per cent less in value than the silver dollar, and he believed the Bank paper would never have fallen to so low a discount as that. The only practical suggestion that had been thrown out on this question was by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. He proposed that there should be a sort of double currency, one convertible, the other inconvertible. He (Mr. Vance) was afraid the effect of this would be that the one would always be at a large discount as compared with the other; it would be totally inapplicable for foreign purposes, and he thought the existence of the two would cause great confusion. He, in his turn, would throw out a suggestion—to which, however, he was not wedded—but which he thought deserved the consideration of the House. It might be thought to be a virtual repeal of the Act of 1844, but still it kept up the chief provisions of it. He would insist in the first place that the Bank should publish its accounts more in detail than they were at present—that, for instance, they should explain what the "other securities" 436 meant, whether bills discounted or advances made. He would then place the relaxing power wholly in the hands of the Bank itself. It was stated by the Governor of the Bank in his evidence that whether Peel's Bill had been in existence or not, the conduct of the Bank in raising the rate of discount and checking the flow of gold out of the country would have been exactly the same as it had been. The chief object of his plan would be to remove that painful break in commercial operations between the time when the relaxation of the law was seen to be inevitable and its actual coming—that period when the difference of a day made a house solvent or insolvent. It now happened that firms which were in difficulties before the Act was suspended went down, while those that just managed to tide over the critical time carried their heads as high as ever, though they might not be a whit more solvent. He would allow the Bank to act upon its own responsibility—and a very serious responsibility it was—the responsibility of stopping payment if it did not secure its reserves. He was aware that the Bank did not want that power. One great reason why they wished to retain the present Act was, that they might avoid that responsibility, and that in case they should be brought to stop payment, they might be able to throw the blame on the Government, who had authorised the transgression of the limit. But they were entitled to no such protection, and he would lay it entirely upon them. He was surprised to hear one of the Irish Members, who was generally well informed, talking the other night of the Irish banks being allowed an unlimited issue of paper, and that it was only their good sense which prevented an over-issue. The fact was quite the reverse. By the Act of 1845, as it was applicable to Ireland, an average of the Irish issues was taken, and all the paper they issued beyond that average must be on a deposit of gold. That had answered perfectly well in Ireland, where he must say it was to the credit of the country that sent him there that there had been no over speculation; no bills in circulation without value received, on that side, but on the solid basis of cash payments or short credit. The same hon. Gentleman had suggested that the drawing of bills without value received should be made a penal offence. But such a law 437 would prevent the Bank of Ireland drawing upon the Bank of England for £5000 unless it had funds to that amount standing to its credit in the Bank of England, and it would prevent bankers drawing on their correspondents under similar circumstances. He was surprised the good sense of the hon. Member did not show him the absurdity of such a proposition. Some dark hints had been thrown out respecting some changes that were contemplated in the Irish currency; and, among other things, it was said to be in contemplation to make the Bank of England notes a legal tender in Ireland. There was no necessity for such a step. He was fully aware of the inconvenience of having to bring over a quantity of sovereigns from the Bank of England to meet a run on the Irish banks; but the whole difficulty would be avoided by making the notes of the Bank of Ireland a legal tender in the hands of the other banks. It had been stated last night that it was quite impossible to get the circulation of the Bank down as far as £18,000,000; but seeing the rate at which the gold currency had increased—one-third in the last six years—and that it amounted now to at least £50,000,000, he thought it was quite possible to reduce the circulation within that limit. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had stated the other evening that the members of the Bank Committee had gone there to teach and not to learn. He had gone into the Bank Committee, not to teach but to learn. He had learnt in that Committee the necessity of the convertibility of paper; he had learnt that there would be great danger in changing the standard of value; and he had been convinced by what he had heard there that for many years past the Directors of the Bank of England had managed it with the greatest integrity and prudence, and with as much regard for the interest of the public as for the advantage of their proprietary.
§ MR. HUDSON
said, his constituents were very grateful for the manner in which the Act of 1844 had been virtually repealed by the letter of the right hon. Gentleman. They had waited with considerable anxiety for that letter, for they knew it must come. He was not prepared to say that the letter was not too long delayed, he rather believed it was; he thought it ought to have been out in August last, and every morning for some 438 time before it appeared he had looked anxiously for it in the newspapers. But no one voted more cordially for the indemnity than he did, though he felt, with the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham, that it left the matter in a very unsatisfactory state. He was glad to say that the town which he represented had foreseen the storm, and had drawn in their sails, and the consequence was, that there was hardly any town in the country that had suffered less. But he now wished the House and the Government to propose some measure which would prevent those shameful recurrences of breaches of the law. In the course of his chequered life no man had dealt more with money than he had-—no man had had a greater command of it—no man had had more to do with it, and he had now the satisfaction of seeing that there was no enterprise on which he spent money that was not productive to the shareholders and beneficial to the public. In 1817 the crisis that then occurred was attributed to the railways; but he was on the Committee that sat in the following year, and he recollected then having a conversation with the late Sir Robert Peel on the subject; he attributed the crisis to the railways and asked him where the money that made the railways came from? He (Mr. Hudson) said, out of the pockets of industrious men, who, if they had not the railways to invest in, would, in all probability, have invested it in some foreign securities. But he said to him, "Where does it go? Does it not go into the pocket of the English' landowner, the English ironmaster, and other persons in this country?" And Sir Robert was obliged to admit that it did. He was not sure, however, but that the drain of the precious metals for the East Indian railways, together with the money sent abroad for the purchase of food for the people, would have produced the crisis. The Government had been blamed in some quarters for standing by the law. But what Government would have dared to stand still and let the people starve in order to carry out a theory? In 1847, before the Government letter was issued, a deputation of Liverpool merchants waited on the Government to ask for a relaxation of the Act; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day, the present First Lord of the Admiralty, said he could give none. Some gentlemen 439 from the north had waited on the right hon. Gentleman in the August previous to tell him that they foresaw that there would be a scarcity of money, and to ask the Government to take steps to meet such a crisis; but the right hon. Gentleman, with his usual pleasant way of putting off matters, only said to them, "Oh, there's plenty of discount to be got on good paper and good security." He himself (Mr. Hudson) on the Saturday before the issuing of the letter had occasion to pay some £60,000 or £70,000. He had £100,000 of Exchequer bills, and though he tried all the money dealers in the City to get an advance on them, he could not succeed. He was told that he must sell them, and that even then he must submit to a heavy loss. He then took them to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and asked him whether his own Exchequer bills were not good securities, and yet it was impossible to raise money upon them. The right hon. Gentleman said there was plenty of money if the public would only pay it out. He (Mr. Hudson) admitted that; but then nobody would part with it. They buttoned up their breeches pockets. He believed the whole effect of the limit that was now placed upon the circulation had been to lock up in Lombard Street £8,000,000 of notes. As soon as the letter was issued the notes were brought out of the safe, and money was once more abundant. The noble Lord the Member for London charged all who differed from him with a desire to do away with the convertibility of the notes. He (Mr. Hudson) did not want to repeal the 'Act, but he wanted to give the power of relaxation to the Directors of the Bank of England, to be used at their own discretion, and leaving the responsibility with them. Look at the state of the deposits in the Bank of England. Did they suppose that there would have been £14,000,000 deposited there when money was at 10 per cent if the public had had confidence in the state of affairs? Two-thirds of it would have been out at discount, but a man said, "I know not how matters may go, and I want money, not for a week or a fortnight, but for months to come;" the chief anxiety of every man was to make himself secure with regard to his out-payments. No man of business pretended to be able to conduct his operations upon fixed and unalterable principles: new circumstances continually al- 440 tered his position, and he acted according to the circumstances that arose. The public wished the Government to legislate on the subject, and were of opinion that the information before them was sufficient to enable them to do so. It was the duty of the Government to provide for an admitted evil, and to let the mercantile world know the position in which they were placed. When the Committee of 1848 was sitting public opinion at the time was that the operation of the Act of 1844 was not understood. The same alarm would, however, occur again so soon as the reserve decreased. It was not his business to suggest what alterations should be made. All that he knew was that public opinion almost unanimously condemned the Act. The Act might suit money-lenders; it might suit a nation of usurers, but not a nation of merchants. What absurdity to expect that a man should employ his money in ordinary commercial transactions if he could get 9 or 10 per cent by lending it. In fact, the system had been concocted as a means of raising the value of money, and hence it was injurious to, and depressive of, the trade of the country. The gentleman who had concocted it did not get his money under a system which curtailed credit; on the contrary, his career commenced when credit was extended to its utmost extent. If it were attempted to carry on the transactions of the country by means of the metallic reserve alone barter must be the result. He had thought a great deal upon the subject, and he would suggest that power should be given to the Bank of England to issue notes upon bills under discount to the extent of one-third their value,—for surely bankers' bills and the bills of first-class mercantile houses were worth 6s. 8d. in the pound. Whatever proposition was made, he wished to impress upon the Government that it would give the greatest dissatisfaction and cause the greatest disappointment if they were not prepared to deal with the question themselves instead of referring it to a Committee. A Committee might be very well upon other matters, but upon this the Government ought to be prepared to say either that they would abide by the Act and not have these shameful violations of it, or that they would alter the law so far as to secure an elasticity which should relieve pressure when alarm took possession of the public mind". There 441 was great difference of opinion as to whether the letter came too soon or too late; but if the letter had not come and the banks had not behaved in his district in the most liberal and kind manner, thousands upon thousands would have been out of work, and the most fearful consequences would have resulted. It was impossible to maintain the Act in its entirety, and he hoped Her Majesty's Government would prepare a Bill during the approaching Christmas recess to get rid of that obnoxious and injurious part of it which limited the issue of notes under all circumstances to the amount of bullion in the Bank.
§ MR. J. H. PHILIPS
approved of the proposal to grant an indemnity, for he did not think that the Government could have acted otherwise than they had done. As to the cause of the recent embarrassments, he could not think that the currency had anything to do with them, because the same state of things had occurred in America, where there was virtually a paper currency; in Hamburg, where the currency was virtually metallic; and in this country, where the currency was a mixed one of paper and gold. He believed that the cause was a natural one, and was one over which the Government had little or no control—namely, an excess of improper speculation. Of late years a great change had taken place in the public mind as to the subject of banks. Formerly if the banker kept his customer's money and honoured his cheques, he was entitled to the profits of the balance in his hands; but of late depositors looked to receive large interest from their bankers. He knew of persons not properly connected with commerce who had received as much as 9 or 10 per cent interest on money at call in their bankers' hands. He could never believe that bill-brokers or bankers could pay such interest on money without discounting bills of a dangerous nature. It might be said that the practice of allowing interest brought money into commerce which would otherwise be hoarded. He admitted that hoarding or keeping money perfectly inactive was not desirable, and that activity was preferable; but there was a difference between activity within the bounds of prudence, and a feverish activity leading to spasmodic convulsions, and ending in perfect exhaustion. There was no cure, which he could see, for the latter state of things, except the logical one of letting every one suffer 442 for his own imprudence. But when such a crisis as the present arose, so widespread was the evil that the Government had felt unequal to resist the pressure put upon them to interfere. He was afraid that the same thing would continue to go on in a vicious circle; that individuals would go on in their career of speculative transactions in the hope that the Government would again step in to relieve them; and that in the long run neither the Government nor the Bank would be able to come forward to their relief. But, as a corrective, he hoped the conviction would become more widely diffused among the community of the truth of the principle which was never more tersely expressed than by the late Duke of Wellington, "that high interest means bad security."
§ MR. BAGWELL
thought, that any interference with the banking system of Ireland would be fraught with great mischief and produce great uneasiness. The circulation of Ireland was very little more than £6,500,000. In the south and west a sovereign was very rare, and the people scarcely knew what it was. The issue of the Bank of Ireland was £'3,509,850; the issue of the Provincial and National Banks of Ireland, which afforded the almost entire circulation of the south and west, was £"2,109,085. Any interference with the Provincial or National Bank by restricting the issue of their notes or the issue of £1 notes, would have a very bad effect upon the agricultural transactions of the country. There were three or four joint-stock banks in the north of Ireland, issuing their own notes, and their circulation amounted to about the same as either of the southern banks. Irishmen were not often content with their lot, but in this particular they were. They looked upon banking as a banking system, and not as a jobbing system. They were satisfied with getting 3 per cent on deposits for three months; and if they wanted to speculate they had only to draw out that money and bring it over to England, where they could get 8 per cent. He thought, however, that the giving 8 per cent on money which was only left for a month showed, not bonâ fide banking, but jobbing. He desired to restrict any propensity for jobbing, but not to restrict legitimate trade, which was the lifeblood of a country. Whatever arrangements were made by the Government, he hoped that, as the Irish were content, they 443 would be left alone with their joint-stock banks and their £1 notes, and that they would not be forced to circulate only Bank of England or Bank of Ireland paper. The Tipperary Bank was carried on by means of Bank of Ireland paper; if they had issued their own paper they never could have perpetrated one of the most gigantic swindles ever known, he cause no man in Ireland would have trusted them without the Bank of Ireland paper. He hoped that under the circumstances the Government would not interfere with the Irish banks.
§ MR. KIRK
, in reply to some observations from Mr. Vance, explained that what he had said on a former occasion was, that, there had been no over-issue in Ireland, and with regard to fraudulent bills of exchange, that he had no intention of including in the description of bills of exchange drafts of the Bank of Ireland on the Bank of England, which he considered more as bank orders or bank post bills.
§ MR. ADAMS
thought there was a defect in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement, inasmuch as it contained no indication of the nature of the pressure put upon the Government to induce them to relax the Act of 1844. He concurred in all the expressions of thanks which had been tendered to the Government for the relaxation, but he deemed it a question whether the relaxation should not have taken place at an earlier period. All he wished to know from the right hon. Gentleman was some general indication of the nature of the representations made to him to induce him to make the relaxation. He did not agree with the hon. Member for Eve-sham (Sir H. Willoughby), who recommended the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the present crisis, because until transactions now current were matter of history, it would be unsafe and unfair to make inquiries into the position of firms of high standing, which might entail serious consequences. They were all agreed that if the Act of 1844 were to be maintained there must be a relaxing power somewhere, and that unless there was some such safety valve the chances were the whole machine would burst. It was therefore highly necessary to ascertain the nature of the pressure and the representations which were made to induce the Government to issue the letter at a particular time. He had the highest possible respect for the members 444 of the existing Government, but, with the vague feeling which prevailed out of doors against anything like irresponsible power or improper and indirect influences, he hoped the Government would give a distinct and positive assurance, not indicating the persons from whom they received it, but that they did receive strong representations from many persons to induce them to advise the Bank to violate the Act. An impression prevailed that the representations to the Government came only from a few, and were based upon entire misrepresentation. It was said to have been plainly and broadly stated to the Government to induce them to do what they did, that the Bank had refused to make any further advances. The rumour had been repeated with so much circumstantiality that he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give a general contradiction to it.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I am sorry to have to trouble the House again upon this question, but I think it would be disrespectful to the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down if I did not answer the question which he has put to me in so pointed a manner. If the hon. Member had been in his place on the night when I made a previous statement, he would have heard that which does, in fact, answer, by anticipation, the question; because I then stated in the most distinct manner that it was not in consequence of any representation addressed to the Government by the Bank Directors, or of any pressure applied to them by deputations, or of any representations by mercantile houses, that the Government were induced to issue their letter. What I stated was that the Government acted exclusively upon their own view of the facts, and upon their own responsibility, knowing that if they advised an infringement of the law it would be their duty to ask for an indemnity. The grounds upon which, as I have previously stated, the Government acted were these:—We looked at the authentic accounts of the Bank of England, and we obtained from the Governors of that Bank a statement, day by day, of their financial position. Upon those facts and our own anticipation of what would be the consequences if we did not address such a letter to the Bank we decided; and I state again, as I stated before, that no pressure whatever was placed upon the Government which they 445 could not with the utmost facility have resisted. I do not rest the decision of the Government in the smallest degree upon the impossibility of our having acted otherwise. I state distinctly that if we had chosen to withhold that letter, and if we had thought there was not such urgency in the position of the Bank as rendered it expedient and even more than expedient that the letter should he issued, it would have been as easy to have withheld the letter as to have issued it. I do not know that I can add anything to that language to explain to the House that it was not in consequence of any representations of individuals that we came to that conclusion; hut lest it should be thought that my answer is any way defective, I will state to the hon. Gentleman and to the House that, as far as I can recollect, no person complained to me that the Bank had refused discounts. It was represented that there was great difficulty in obtaining discounts otherwise than through the Bank. It was represented that discounts had virtually ceased in London except at the Bank. But I did not hear, either from the Bank Directors or any individual, a complaint that the Bank had refused discounts. Of course, it must he conceived that the Bank could not discount indiscriminately, and, although I have no detailed knowledge of the operations of the Bank, I conclude that they will at a time of crisis, as at any other, exercise discretion in the choice of bills they will discount. I can only repeat that I have no recollection of having heard from any individual any complaint of withholding of discount by the Bank, and that I do not rest the case of Government interference upon anything else than the state of the Bank as exhibited in the papers now before the House. If you refer to the state of the Bank reserve you will see the notes were £958,000 on the 11th of November, and on the 12th £131,000. The letter issued from the Treasury was not signed until after three o'clock on the day of the 12th, and could not have reached the City time enough to influence the operations of the Bank on that day. I leave it to the House to judge whether that was not a state of things which at any rate would create some apprehension on the part of the Government, which must be considered as exercising at such times great responsibility. Be- 446 fore I sit down I may perhaps be allowed to refer, though it is not a matter of any great importance, to a statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley). I am sorry to have to make the correction in his absence, as he is a very fair and accurate critic. He said he thought the Government might have been accelerated in their movements by the knowledge that certain deputations were coming from Liverpool; that although they were not formally announced, there were indirect means of knowing; that coming events sometimes cast their shadows before, and that very likely the Government were stimulated by the knowledge of these coming deputations. I can only say I have no recollection of having heard of any intention of sending such deputations to London, and I do not think my noble Friend at the head of the Government received any such intimation. Certainly he did not communicate any such intimation to me; and I can most sincerely state to the House that I am quite confident the Government were not in the smallest degree influenced in coming to a decision by the anticipation of deputations from Liverpool or elsewhere.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 3°.
§ Upon Question that the Bill do pass,
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that he had to move a verbal amendment in the first clause in consequence of an objection taken to it by his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford. The words of the first clause were intended to be so comprehensive as to prevent any technical legal objection to the bank issues, seeing that a certain number of notes had been issued in violation of the law which could not be distinguished from the great body of issues. It was important that the words should be sufficiently comprehensive; but his right hon. Friend, jealous of the Bank, thought that the Directors might be indemnified without making the words so wide. He would therefore propose to insert, instead of the words "all acts done by them in relation to such issues," the words "all acts necessary to the making of such issues."
§ Verbal Amendments made, and Bill passed.
§ House adjourned at Three o'clock.