HC Deb 31 March 1860 vol 157 cc1708-10

THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER Moved for leave to bring in a Bill to repeal the Act 7 Geo. II., c. 8, commonly called Sir John Barnard's Act, and the Act 10 Geo. II., c. 8, which made the former Act perpetual.


said, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was bound to have made some statement to the House with respect to his object in introducing this Bill. Sir John Barnard's Act was passed for the purpose of preventing "stock-jobbing." That Act had been found to work so well that it had been made perpetual, and he doubted the policy of repealing it. There could be no objection urged against the buying and selling of stock and public and other securities; but "stock-jobbing" was a thing which he hoped every hon. Gentleman in the House would endeavour to do all in his power to prevent. He was anxious to have an assurance from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the effect of repealing this Act would not be to promote the injurious practice of "stock-jobbing."


said, that those who had drawn up this Bill had appeared to have totally overlooked the existence of the Act of the 8 & 9 Vict., which was directed against all kinds of "gaming and wagering," and therefore applied to stock-jobbing and wagering in time bargains. The statute 8 &, 9 Vict., c. 109, was passed to prevent qui tam actions in cases of betting under an old statute of Charles, which was supposed to have become obsolete, but under the provisions of which numerous actions were brought against Lord George Bentinck and others. He was counsel in that case for the informer who had brought the actions, and anything more absurd could not be conceived than the proceedings which were necessary to be taken in those actions. The principal witness in the case swore that he had burned his books, and he could not state anything whatever as to his transactions with Lord George Bentinck. The House had consequently agreed to pass an Act which would relieve the defendant from penalties accruing under an Act which referred to a state of things that had become entirely obsolete. He believed that the Government were wholly ignorant of this Act of 8 & 9 Vict., when they decided upon repealing this Act of Sir John Barnard, because that Act equally applied to wagering. The Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to state whether it was his intention to derive a revenue from wagering transactions on the Stock Exchange. These dealings in the funds no doubt took place at the present time to a very large amount, but it was a very different thing to license and sanction them, as would be the case if this Bill were to pass. If the principle of allowing these wagerings were to be applied to the Stock Exchange, it should be made equally applicable to transactions at Tattersall's. What took place at the "Corner" was perfectly patent and known to the world. Everybody knew the nature of the betting that was going on there. There was nothing to prevent any person at Tattersall's offering or taking, for instance, 40 to 1 on the double event of Lord Palmerston's horse winning the Derby and the passing of the Reform Bill in the present Session. If it was the intention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to obtain a revenue from contracts entered into for wagering transactions on the Stock Exchange, he could not do so under the provisions of the present Bill, for the Act of the 8 & 9 Vict, would prevent him, and it would be necessary to repeal that Act as well as Sir John Barnard's,


said, that, in the presence of his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, he should be slow to offer an opinion of his own on any legal point. But Sir John Barnard's Act, considered along with other legislation, placed members of the Stock Exchange under a peculiar law, exclusively applicable to them. In the opinion of those gentlemen the effect of the Act was to proscribe and render penal, not only what were called and understood to be wagering transactions, but likewise the regular and ordinary form under which the whole of that vast and beneficial business of dealing in the funds was conducted. He, therefore, now intended to repeal the Act treating in an exceptional manner this particular class of pecuniary transactions, leaving them subject to the general provisions of the law as determined by the Wagering Act; and, in laying on the table what he hoped would be merely a repealing measure, care should be taken not to interfere in any manner with the operation of the Wagering Act.

Leave given. Bill to repeal the Act of the seventh year of King George the Second, chapter eight, commonly called 'Sir John Barnard's Act,' and the Act of the tenth year of King George the Second, chapter eighth, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Chancellor of the EXCHEQUER, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL, and Mr. LAING.

Bill presented, and read 1°.


said, he wished to state that as some attention had been drawn to the matters proposed to be dealt with by the Bill, he would not fix its second reading until the 19th of April.

House adjourned at a quarter-after One o'clock.