HC Deb 16 February 1858 vol 148 cc1544-5

said, he rose to move that it be an instruction to the Committee on the Bank Acts to inquire into the operation of all the laws affecting the currency in Great Britain and Ireland, and what amendments, if any, they might consider desirable. One point, not sent before the Committee, but which he wished inquired into, was the question of limited liability. Another was the subject of small notes. He wished bankers and other persons connected with the commerce of Ireland and Scotland to be examined before the Committee to prove that the circulation of small notes was beneficial to commerce and might be introduced with great advantage into England. Then looking to the increase in the supply of gold consequent upon the gold discoveries, it would be a great mistake on the part of the House to shut its eyes to that fact. It would be in the power of the Committee to collect evidence in reference to that subject and its bearing upon the trade and currency of the country. There wag another point to which they ought also to direct their attention—namely, the fact that when a gold currency became depreciated it required a larger amount of the circulating medium to carry on the same amount of traffic. He thought their experience of the crises of 1847 and 1857 proved to demonstration that the Act of 1844 was not sufficient to provide for the wants of the country during such emergencies. If that Act bad not been a failure those who supported its principle were bound to point out in what way the Bank could have supplied a sufficient quantity of gold to meet the demand on such occasions of pressure. For himself he believed the truth was, that those emergencies came so rapidly, and required to be met so speedily, that the gold could not be brought in to meet the necessities of the country from day to day. He hold, too, that the fluctuation caused by the Act of 1844 had proved exceedingly mischievous, by continually varying the value of the money used from day to day as the standard of value.


seconded the Motion.

Motion made and Question proposed,— That it be an Instruction to the Select Committee on Bank Acts, to inquire into the operation of all the Laws affecting the Currency in Great Britain and Ireland, and report what amendments, if any, they may consider desirable.


said, the House would excuse him if he declined, at that late hour and under the circumstances, to follow the hon. Gentleman in his disquisitions on the currency. He might, however, state that the Committee that had been appointed was now engaged in inquiring into the two subjects to which the hon. Member had alluded, namely, the operation of the Bank Act and the recent commercial distress. When that Committee was appointed a very general feeling was expressed by the House of apprehension that the order of reference might be too large, consequently that the proceedings of the Committee might be too extended, and that there would be no practical result. Now the Committee were just about to enter upon the topics connected with country and joint-stock banks, and the House might be perfectly certain that, constituted as the Committee was, they would not be guilty of the injustice of entertaining one or more topics to the exclusion of others bearing pertinently upon it. Then' with regard to the large question raised by the hon. Gentleman, of changing the money standard of this country, he could not say whether that might or not be a subject of inquiry, but the House would see that the Committee, as appointed, had really ample occupation, and that if they were to render a useful result before the close of the Session they had much better not encumber themselves with the inquiry.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.