HC Deb 11 February 1861 vol 161 cc283-5

Resolution reportedThat it is expedient to charge upon the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland the deficiency, if any such should arise, in the sums which may be held on account of Post Office Savings Banks, to meet the lawful demands of depositors in such Banks, in the event of their being established by Law.


said, that though this stage of the proceeding with reference to the proposed scheme was rather formal, he thought it well to remind the House that they had no knowledge of the Bill which it was intended to found on the Resolution. They were, in fact, voting that they would go into the discussion of a matter on which up to that time, they were perfectly ignorant. It was a signal instance of the necessity that existed for an examination of some of their forms by the Committee which had been appointed on the business of the House. It was perfectly true that what they were about to do in this case was formal; but on the Resolution, which for the second time they were about to pass, a substantive proposition, in the shape of a Bill, would be founded. No one, who had heard the statement of the right hon. Gentleman could doubt that if that Bill passed, it would be pregnant with important results. Under its provisions the Government would be founding banks of deposit on a gigantic scale, and thus a risk would be encountered which many might think dangerous; and another important result of the measure would be its effect on the present savings-banks. He did not wish to be understood as throwing any obstacle in the way of any proposition which might be useful to the working classes. He merely wished to draw attention to the fact that by a merely formal proceeding they were laying the foundation for very important consequences. The merits of the right hon. Gentleman's (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) scheme was another question, and one that was not then under discussion, for the House were, in fact, ignorant of it.


said, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman must have made his remarks without having heard the precise terms of the Resolution, the reception of which was the question now before the House. Undoubtedly it had sometimes happened that the House was called on, in the case of money Bills, to assent to preliminary Resolutions for very large propositions, which appeared to assert, and positively did assert, certain positions of great importance, before the House knew the manner in which they were to be carried out; but in the present case the House was not called on to do anything of the kind. The Resolution now before it was a hypothetical one. It did not involve in any degree the sanction of the House to the Bill which he intended to propose. All it asserted was this, that if these Post Office Savings Banks were to be established, the charge should be made one on the Consolidated Fund; but the question whether there were to be Post-office savings-banks—which was one of great importance—was in no way whatever decided by the Resolution.

Resolution agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. MASSEY, Mr. CHANCELLOR, of the EXCHEQUER, and Mr. PEEL.