HL Deb 30 May 1853 vol 127 cc761-2

wished to know from the Lord Chancellor what the operation of the recent Act for the Conversion of Stock was likely to be upon the interests of the suitors in Chancery?


said, he was glad that his noble and learned Friend had given him an opportunity of explaining this matter. By the Act of Parliament the Accountant General might signify his assent to take any one of the three species of stock, or, not signifying any such assent, he would have the money paid on the 5th of January as to some sort of stock, I and on the 5th of April as to the other. The Act received the Royal assent upon the 9th of the present month; and the time for signifying assent was to be the 3rd of June. This might appear to be a short interval, but it became perfectly obvious that the Act would have received the Royal assent some days before it did, and he therefore turned his attention to the consideration of what he had better do with reference to those suitors who had funds in that species of stock in the Court of Chancery. The sum involved was a large one, amounting to between 400,000l. and 500000l. His own impression was that it was not the business of the Chancellor to be entering into any speculations on the subject, but rather to be passive, and receive the money when it became payable. He had thought it right, however, to consult with the other Judges of the Court, and several of them were of opinion that he ought to assent at once to take the lowest denomination of stock, because it was the principle of the Court to invest in the lowest description of stock. As, however, their opinions were pretty equally divided, he had thought it best to see what had been done in similar cases of the con- version of higher stock into lower stock; and he had found, that in all those cases, whether the new stock was to be taken by, assenting, or only if no dissent was signified, in every one of such cases his predecessors, from Lord Eldon downwards, had always elected to take the new stock. He had thought it, therefore, best to make an order directing the Accountant General to take the 2½ per cent stock, unless any one came forward to state that it would be more to his interest to take either of the other rates. He had yielded rather to precedent, and the opinions of the other Judges, than to conviction; but he had reserved three days for parties to apply for any alteration in their particular cases, and he had signified that no application should be made later than the 31st of this month, meaning to reserve from that time until the 3rd of June, to alter the course of the Accountant General in cases where it might not be thought beneficial. The Accountant General had his instructions not to signify his assent until he heard further from him. He should see what the state of the market was, and should endeavour to do the best he could in the matter; and if he thought it would be at all imprudent, he should desire the Accountant General not to signify any assent at all.


was understood to say that he should revert to the subject again on another day.