HC Deb 27 June 1893 vol 14 cc143-4

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the Government undertakes all responsibility for the safety of the banks in Piccadilly, St. James's Street, Pall Mall, Charing Cross, and elsewhere in the West End of London, on the morning of the Royal Wedding, and notwithstanding that the Metropolitan Police will have their resources strained to the utmost in the regulation of traffic; and if he assures safe and free passage for the bank clerks compelled to carry cheques, bills of exchange, bonds payable to bearer, and other valuable securities from bank to bank in the Metropolis through the multitudes of people, in consequence of the refusal of the Government to issue an Order in Council empowering banks to close?


I have no reason to doubt that the Metropolitan Police will be able on the day in question to afford adequate protection to the property both of bankers and of all other classes of Her Majesty's subjects.


Will compensation be paid for any loss sustained?

[The question was not answered.]


I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Bank of England and the great majority of London banks have made representations to him on the subject of the refusal of the Government to issue an Order in Council empowering banks to close on the day of the Royal Wedding, either generally or locally, and representing on the part of the banking interest the grave inconvenience and danger of such official inaction; and if the Government still decline to accede to such representations on the part of the commercial community?


I do not know whether my hon. Friend is the authorised representative of the Bank of England and the London banks. I have received no official representation from the Bank of England, though I had a private letter from the Governor of the Bank. I have also had letters from some of the principal London bankers, who are favourable to the closing of London banks, but not of any other place of business in the country. No Provincial bank nor any Public Authority has desired that the Government should proclaim a Bank Holiday. A Bank Holiday, though not legally, is popularly identified with a general holiday. In respect to a general holiday, so far as the Government can learn, the wage-earning classes are opposed to it. And in respect to bankers, it seems impossible to confine the suspension of payments to London banks only, as a Provincial bank might be deprived of payments it counted on receiving in London on that particular day, while it continued liable to meet its obligations in the country. The Government, therefore, see no reason to alter the decision to which they have already come.


In consequence of the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, ignoring as it does the fact that a large number of the signatories to the Memorial which he received from the London bankers have branches in the country, I beg to give notice that on Thursday next I shall ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, in order to call attention to the inaction of the Government in this matter, and the grave danger to public property in consequence thereof.