HC Deb 11 February 1915 vol 69 cc735-6
29. Mr. TOUCHE

asked the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been directed to cases of the abuse of the word bank by undesirable persons and firms; is he aware that amongst the so-called banks recent failures include the Anglo-European Bank, the Atlas Banking Corporation, the Charing Cross Bank, the Civil Service Bank, the Economic Bank, Feltham's Bank, Grosvenor's Bank, the London Trading Bank, the London and Paris Exchange (Banking Department), the London and Suburban Bank, and the Mutual Service Bank; whether he is aware that nearly all these institutions were one-man enterprises, offering high rates of interest on deposits; that various suggestions for dealing with the evil have been made, including a compulsory deposit of a substantial sum of money with the Board of Trade, as in the case of insurance companies; an obligation to file accounts in an approved form, as is legally enacted in the case of insurance and railway companies; a provision that no bank shall in future be established in this country except in the form of a joint stock company; and that no such company shall commence business until the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies has been satisfied that a satisfactory sum of capital has been actually paid up in cash; and, in view of the losses imposed on thrifty members of the community, will he consider the desirability of introducing legislation enacting some of the foregoing or other considered measures so as to protect the public and genuine bankers from a repetition of recent incidents?


I am aware of the failures referred to in the hon. Member's question, which have taken place during the last twelve years. I may point out that banking companies registered under the Companies (Consolidation) Act, 1908, are already required by Section 108 of that Act to publish twice in every year a statement giving particulars of their assets and liabilities. Legislation of the nature suggested is surrounded by difficulties, and I do not think it advisable to introduce it at present.


May I ask whether, appreciating the importance of the subject, the right hon. Gentleman will take into consideration the question of legislation on the first favourable opportunity?


Yes; it is impossible to shut our eyes to the fact which, no doubt, carries great weight with hon. Gentlemen, and we are fully considering the matter, as time permits.