HC Deb 04 August 1904 vol 139 cc979-80

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will lay upon the Table of the House the exact terms of the arrangement come to between the Treasury officials and the Bank of Ireland before the passing of the Bank Act of 1892 (55 and 56 Vic. c. 48), under which, as a complement to that Act, the Bank of Ireland is enabled to hold for a period and to use, without payment of interest, all Government balances whether arising out of any Act of Parliament then in force or out of any other Act to be subsequently passed over the course of the twenty years during which the afore-mentioned Bank Act was to run; whether he will give a reference to any section of the Bank Act of 1892 covering such a Treasury arrangement or in any way bearing upon the same; whether he will also lay upon the Table of the House the terms of any arrangement made with the Provincial Bank of Ireland under which that bank collects, retains for a period without interest, and then remits to the Bank of Ireland all Inland Revenue moneys collected outside a radius of fifty miles from the city of Dublin; whether that arrangement is covered by any Act of Parliament; and whether he intends to allow this monopoly to be continued, instead of allowing the other joint stock banks to transact the business in question in turn as is the practice in Scotland.


I informed the hon. and gallant Gentleman, in reply to his Question on the 12th of May last,† that the arrangement by which the Government accounts in Dublin are kept by the Bank of Ireland is not embodied in any specific agreement. The Bank Act, 1892, reduced the rate of interest payable to the Bank of Ireland on the Government debt to the bank, and it reduced the remuneration payable to the bank for management of the National Debt. These reductions were arrived at after an inquiry which took account of the advantage derived by the bank from the † See (4) Debates, cxxxiv., 1158 custody of the Government balances; and it would be unfair to disturb those arrangements during the period (to 1912) for which the reduced rates of interest and remuneration were prescribed by the Act. I gave full particulars of the arrangement in force with the Provincial Bank of Ireland in reply to the hon. Member for North-East Cork, on the 8th of June.‡ I then said that I was not satisfied that the arrangement was the best possible, and I am having the subject inquired into.


But why not adopt in Ireland the system which obtains in England and Scotland?


Because the connection between the Government and the bank is not the same.


The present arrangement inflicts a gross injustice on the other Irish joint stock banks.