§ Mr. Stuart Wortley
rose to present a petition from the principal merchants and manufacturers of Leeds, praying that the Bank might not be called upon to resume its cash payments at the present crisis. He was advised that there were several other petitions of the same tenor now preparing in that quarter of the 189 country, and which would be shortly laid before parliament.
§ The Petition was then brought up and read. It sat forth,
§ "That the petitioners feel the deepest interest in the deliberation of the house on the resumption of cash payments by the Bank; that while the petitioners admit the importance of the Bank returning to payments in specie as soon as circumstances render it practicable, the petitioners humbly beg to represent, that in their opinion the present period is most unfavourable to that change, and that the attempt, if now made, would, as they conceive, be unsuccessful, and attended with the most injurious consequences; that our commerce and manufactures, extended by the facilities of peace, and by new and important channels having been laid open, require the full resources of the country; and at the present period loans of unprecedented magnitude, in operation throughout Europe, have turned the exchanges greatly against this country, and drained it of its specie; that if the Bank were to return to cash payments, at this juncture, our gold coin, the petitioners submit, would inevitably continue to be exported as fast as issued; and as the petitioners believe so great a diminution of the circulating medium would be caused by the necessary restrictive measures of the Bank of England, and of private bankers, as must occasion stagnation in trade and manufactures, depreciation of property and general distress, throwing a considerable portion of the population out of employment, injuring the revenue, and hazarding the prosperity of the empire; the petitioners therefore, trusting in the wisdom of the House, humbly pray that the change of this system of cash restriction may be postponed to a more favourable period, when the country may have free command of its resources, and may reap the permanent advantages of the measure unattended by any of the evils now contemplated."
§ Mr. Tierney
said, it was material to trace the origin of this petition. He begged, therefore, to ask, the hon. member, whether the petition was the result of any public meeting of the bodies in whose names it was drawn out? Was, there, in fact, any public meeting at all? He put this question because he had heard that certain active persons, well known in the metropolis, had prepared petitions here, and sent them down to 190 different parts of the country, to have signatures surreptitiously obtained. Bankers had been the principal agents in procuring them; and every body knew how reluctant a country gentleman indebted to his banker would be to refuse his name to a petition of this nature, when asked to give it by this accommodating banker. One very strange circumstance in this petition was, that the very first name at the foot of it was Beckett, the name of the principal bankers at Leeds.
Mr. S. Worthy
observed, that the bankers had not signed it. The Messrs. Beckett who had signed it, were not the bankers, but another firm, sons of the bankers of that name.
§ Mr. Tierney
observed, that he did not know the bankers had been so artful. He only wished that all the petitions which they were to have, had been presented that day, that they might see whether they all came from the same shop. Meantime he wished to ask, was this petition the result of any meeting.
Mr. S. Worthy
said, it came to him accompanied by a letter from a respectable merchant, desiring him to present it. He was not informed whether any public meeting had taken place.
§ Mr. Tierney
said, he had received a letter from Leeds, complaining that such a petition was to come up, that it had been privately circulated, and that no public meeting had been held.
§ The petition was ordered to be printed.