HC Deb 06 August 1866 vol 184 cc2097-8

said, he had given notice of a Question that he intended to put to Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer upon a subject of great importance. It referred to the letter addressed by the Government on the 11th of May to the Directors of the Bank of England. That letter was issued under special circumstances, by which the Bank of England was desired and empowered to part with a portion of their reserves for the benefit of the public at large; but in that letter was a restriction which had been very much commented on. It was to this effect, "that in the event of such recommendation being afforded, no discount or advance should be granted at a less rate than 10 per cent, and that Her Majesty's Government reserved to themselves to recommend the imposition of even a higher rate." The question of that limitation had been much discussed, and in many quarters it had been considered as a restriction of a very objectionable kind. The question he wished to bring before the House was, Whether Her Majesty's Government would have any objection to renew the letter to the Bank of England, omitting therefrom the condition affixed, of a minimum rate of 10 per cent interest?


Sir, the Question of the hon. Gentleman really involves two inquiries. The first is, whether I should be prepared to recommend an infringement of the law; and the second, what are the conditions on which I should be prepared to make that recommendation, if I thought it proper. Now, Sir, if persons of great authority in the City of London, in consequence of the present state of our monetary affairs, are of opinion that such a change as the worthy Alderman has submitted should take place, and they would make a representation to that effect to Her Majesty's Government, Her Majesty's Government will give to such a representation a patient and candid attention; and after due consideration they would recommend the course which they would deem most advantageous to the public interest. But I cannot help thinking that the hon. Gentleman, on reflection, will see that that should rather be the course that should be pursued than that I should endeavour to give a brief reply to a mere casual Question on a matter of such importance, which requires such precise information to be placed before me, and also opportunity for the most mature consideration.