expressed his determination to oppose the bill by every means in his power. He moved, as an amendment, the "order of the second reading of the Poddle River, Dublin, Bill." He thought he might appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, whether the House was now in the situation it ought to be, in order to discuss so important a question to the trade and commerce of Ireland. The House was now thin, and before going into committee, the dinner hour would have arrived, and he would appeal to hon. Members whether it would not then require all the influence that Ministers could exert to keep forty Members in the House. Nearly 600 of the Members had left town, and he would submit, therefore, that it was unjust to the people of Ireland to force the bill forward. No reason had been stated why the bill had not been brought forward sooner. The report on which it was 266 founded had been published twelve months, and full five before the commencement of the present Session; and, with all this information, the first intimation of proceeding with the bill was extorted from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by the hon. Member for Drogheda, on the 14th of July last. The impression had gone abroad in Ireland, that it was not intended to keep up the monopoly, and it was not until the time he had adverted to, that the least intimation had been given of the intention to continue it. Was it not important that the people of Ireland should have an opportunity of giving their opinions on this subject? Certainly it was; and yet here they were moving to go into committee on the bill when it was only ordered to be printed on the second of the present month, and was not circulated till the fourth. There was a practical delusion in the bill itself. It contained a clause by which it was enacted, that the bill was to be altered or even repealed by any bill to be introduced in the present Session. He would show the House that there was a strong delusion practised upon the people of Ireland. In the 13th section, page 9, there was a marginal note, stating, that "Banks issuing notesat places fifty miles from Dublin, may have houses of business within that limit for all purposes, except the issue or re-issue of such notes," while the text was quite at variance from it, only limiting such banks "to have another house or houses of business in Dublin, or within the said distance of Dublin, and to pay thereat their said bills or notes payable on demand, for the purpose of withdrawing them from circulation in Dublin." This was a very different thing, and might easily mislead a person looking over the Act with ordinary attention, for few people looked beyond the the margin, unless specially interested. His constituents complained also that this measure went to give a body of individuals greater power over the mercantile classes, which they used in the capacity of political partisans. [No, no !] He stated the fact on the authority of Mr. Staunton, the proprietor of the Morning Register in Dublin (than whom there was not a more trustworthy man alive), that the Bank of Ireland had refused to discount bills of the most unexceptionable nature, because the person who presented them had taken a part against this bill. [Name!] Mr. Staunton knew the fact, and was ready to state the name. This was the way the Bank used its immense power to crush political discussion in Dublin. There were 267 ten counties in Ireland affected by this bill, none of which had time to express their opinions upon it, and petition Parliament in support of their interest. They were taken by surprise. The great county West-meath had met on the subject only the day before yesterday, and the House could not know what the opinions of the people would be till to-morrow. It was convened by a most respectable requisition. The county Meath had also called a meeting to consider the bill, and a requisition had been addressed to the sheriffs of the county Dublin to get up a similar meeting to address Parliament not to pass such a bill at the end of an idle Session of nine months without notice or proper time to consider it. His constituents felt very strongly on the matter. They wrote to him to express their belief, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was bribed! He said that that was impossible. That he could not take a bribe in the first place, and that, in the second, no one could offer or give it to him. But they replied, How is it possible that the——"—he (Mr. O'Connell) would not use the epithet applied to the right hon. Gentleman—" can consent to give such a monopoly into the hands of fifteen individuals, unless he is bribed or mad? Why does he give 100,000l. into their hands for nothing?" He would get the men who would give this sum to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the privilege in question to-morrow. He believed, that many commercial bodies in England would have joined their appeal to the Irish, if time were permitted. But at this period of the Session he had little hope of an impartial hearing, for, as the House was now made up, the individuals who were, by their connection with Government, bound to vote with it, constituted the majority of the House—he might say two-thirds of it—at that moment.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, he had to give a positive contradiction to the statement made by the hon. and learned Member on the authority of Mr. Staunton. No such thing ever occurred. Never, since the commencement of the proceedings on this bill, or at any other time, had the Bank of Ireland refused good bills from political motives.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, he should resist the postponement of the bill. Hon. Gentlemen knew the facility at present of ready communication with Ireland; and when he stated that it was now upwards of one month since the bill was first Introduced, or rather since his statement on 268 which the bill was founded, it would not be said that the people of Ireland had not had time to make their sentiments known; and he must say, the application for delay came rather too late on the 14th of August. But there might have been some ground for what had fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, especially as regarded the monopoly, if the bill had been a permanent measure; but it was merely temporary, being to continue for four years only. Moreover, it only went to put the Bank of Ireland on the same footing with the Bank of England, and he was astonished, therefore, when he heard the hon. and learned Gentleman, who was ever demanding that the legislation for Ireland and England should be one and the same, exclaim so vehemently against this measure. With respect to the marginal note, there was, undoubtedly, a discrepancy between it and the text but for this the Government could hardly be held responsible; it was an inadvertency in drawing the bill, which could readily be rectified in committee. He hoped, therefore, that the House would allow the bill to go into committee, where they could discuss its provisions, and express that opinion which was necessary, with a view to the arrangements of the Bank for the current year; for it was absolutely necessary, at all events, to provide for the public debt due to the Bank of Ireland, which was subject at present to interest at the rate of 4l. 7s. 6d. per cent., instead of 3½ per cent,, as was proposed by the bill. On no ground, therefore, could the House refuse to go into committee.
§ Mr. Hume
said, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would state that only to be his intention, all opposition would be withdrawn. He never knew a proceeding of so much importance brought forward in the manner this had been. There was no precedent in the history of Parliamentary proceedings for the course which the right hon. Gentleman had taken. He was asked by the hon. Member for Dublin, why he did not bring it forward sooner, and could give no reason whatever. Within ten days of the meeting of Parliament, he put a question to the right hon. Gentleman, respecting joint stock banks, and he had repeated the question until it became a laughing matter whenever the subject was mentioned. On two occasions the right hon. Gentleman answered, within fourteen days." That being the case, he trusted that the House would not consent to discuss so important a matter at this late period of 269 the Session. He asked on what ground the right hon. Gentleman could not give sufficient time for considering the matter? Did he not know that several counties were meeting to-day, and that others would meet to-morrow on the subject? Although the right hon. Gentleman had said that he would do something, the bill had been postponed from time to time, until it was the general belief, that nothing would be done, and he really believed that the right hon. Gentleman at last entertained that opinion himself. If it had been his intention to bring in the bill, how could he have hesitated and vacillated in the manner he had done? He would appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to grant more time. Was he afraid the subject would not bear inquiry? If it was a measure which would tend to the interest of Ireland, advocates would not be wanting to support it; but it was a bad measure, and contained that which was injurious to Ireland, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman was anxious to press it forward. The present, no doubt, was a good bargain for the Bank of Ireland; but it was a most injurious one to the people of that country, whom he considered to have been most unjustly treated by this measure. The people of England, too, were left in the dark as to what they ought to know by it. Why, he would ask, should not an inquiry take place as to whether it would or not be proper to adopt the same system of banking in Ireland as at present existed in Scotland? All this might be taken into consideration if the right hon. Member would only postpone the measure to the next Session, and that would give the people of Ireland an opportunity of fairly and freely expressing their opinions. He thought the present discussion ought to have taken place upon the previous stage of the bill, and he could assure the House, that he would never have been persuaded, as his hon. Friend the Member for Dublin had been, to allow the Chancellor of the Exchequer to advance the bill a stage without opposition. On these grounds he concurred entirely with the amendment of the hon. Member for Dublin. He entreated the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw the bill for the Session, and not compel them to occupy the time of the House by further opposition. If the bill was postponed to tie next Session, all parties would be satisfied. Upwards of fifteen trivial measures had already been postponed, and he could not see why the same course should not be adopted with this important measure.
§ Sir W. Somerville
had been taken by surprise by the bill, and his constituents had been taken by surprise. He had been given to understand by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that this monopoly was not to be renewed in all its force. He was in a condition to prove, that he entertained that opinion, and that the right hon. Member knew that he entertained that opinion. His constituents were under that impression, and the right hon. Member knew it. As he knew nothing of the present bill till about three weeks ago, he asked, was it fair in this hurried manner to thrust a bill of this kind through the House before the people of Ireland had had the opportunity of considering it? As he knew he should appeal to the right hon. Gentleman in vain, he would appeal to Gentlemen of all parties around them to lay aside the merits of the question, and, on the grounds that he had stated, to refuse to go into committe.
§ Mr. Redington
expressed his surprise, that the right hon. Gentleman should bring forward such a bill at this period of the Session. It had gone on too fast already, and he should do all in his power to oppose it.
§ Mr. D. Browne
had been requested by his constituents to give his most stringent opposition to this bill. He did not think it right, at so late a period of the Session, to smuggle so important a measure through the House, before the people had had the opportunity of petitioning against it. Under all the circumstances, the bill had very much the appearance of being a job, and the supporters of it seemed ashamed of it.
§ Mr. T. Attwood
said, the fact was, the right hon. Gentleman was in debt to the Bank of Ireland two millions and a half, and there were, therefore, two millions and a half of reasons why he should proceed as he did in this singular and ill-timed way. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was not a free agent in this business, for he was dealing with his creditor. If the right hon. Gentleman would pay his debts to the Bank of England and to the Bank of Ireland, he would be able to his duty to the country and to his Sovereign; but now he was literally legislating in fetters. He should oppose this measure by all the means in his power.
§ The House divided on the original question:—Ayes 17 Noes 55: Majority 38.
§ Order of the Day for the Committee read. On the question that the Speaker do now leave the Chair,
felt it his duty to take 271 every means in his power to delay the bill, because five times had he taunted the Chancellor of the Exchequer with the delay in bringing in the bill; but five times had the right hon. Gentleman thought proper to slur it over and say not one word upon the subject, because common sense would not bear him out. There was no analogy between the Bank of Ireland, and the Bank of England—in fact, the former was an incubus upon the latter, for although he, in accordance with opinions of the Attorneys-general and Solicitors-general for England and Ireland, thought the notes of the Bank of England a legal tender in Ireland, the bill before the House declared those opinions wrong, and made them no legal tender. But supposing they were upon all fours, had the Bank of England power to issue one single one-pound note? The measure was totally indefensible, as was seen by the desertion of the Treasury benches, by all that were not obliged to be there. Why did the Chancellor of the Exchequer confine himself to Dublin—would he dare to make the same experiment in Edinburgh? In Scotland joint-stock banking and prosperity had been concomitant at least—he had a good right then to say, that the one was dependent on the other. What was the case in Ireland? A country with a climate infinitely superior to Scotland for agricultural purposes, was in poverty and distress, being without the benefits of joint-stock banking—Scotland enjoying that system, was in almost unexampled prosperity. Had he not a right to say the one was dependent upon the other? The Chancellor of the Exchequer defended himself by saying, the public had been defrauded to a great extent by over issuing. He did not deny that; but the monopoly of the Bank of Ireland was the cause of it, as their charter limited the partners of a bank to six only—so that in place of the public having the security of 200 bankers, they often only had that of two. When all those difficulties occurred, the Bank of Ireland was in possession of all its privileges and monopolies. They stood the storm—but how? Why, by giving fresh and newer promises to pay for those sent in for payment. It was a well known fact in history, that there was no deep injury—no moral stab ever aimed at poor Ireland, that was not proposed by an Irishman. It appeared, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer intended, that as far as he was concerned, it should always be so. He had 272 never objected to any, even the most stringent measure, nor would he object to any one that satisfied the Legislature, for compelling joint-stock banks to give the fullest security; but though the public ought to be secured, they ought not to set up the Bank of Ireland at the expense of the joint-stock-banks, as well as the public. He felt he had trespassed too long on the empty benches—but he had endeavoured to vindicate what he thought due to Ireland. It struck him that since the world began, there never was a more unfounded demand than that made by this bill. The subject ought to be brought forward, at a period of the Session when the House was thronged, and when the question might be discussed to the advantage of all parties. He should, therefore, move as an amendment, that the House resolve itself into Committee, that day three months.
§ Mr. Gisborne
could not understand why the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, should think this such a light matter as not to be worthy of discussion. The course of the right hon. Gentleman on this subject had been somewhat devious, and he should wish to pursue it through some of its windings. That right hon. Gentleman had been chairman of a committee appointed to inquire into this subject, and the report of that committee he should presume, had been drawn up by the chairman. In that report it was stated, that one of the subjects to be inquired into, was the expediency or inexpediency of the privileges of the bank being continued; that the committee were of opinion the 1st of Victoria Chap 39, should be renewed for one year, and that Parliament should be placed in such a situation as to be free to adopt in the next Session, such legislative measures as on deliberation might seem to be most expedient. That having been the recommendation of the committee, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the 16th of July, when the assizes were coming, and three-fifths of the Members had paired off and gone out of town, announced his intention of renewing the monopoly of the Bank of Ireland. Many Irish Members were absent, and out of the whole 105 Irish Members, there were only two in the House who supported the Chancellor of the Exchequer—the right hon. the learned Recorder for Dublin, and the hon. Member for Antrim, but who were not regular supporters of the Government. If the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in favour of the monopoly to be conferred by 273 this bill was good for Dublin, it would be also good for London. He opposed the motion for going into Committee, because he was sure the bill would not effect the objects in view, and also on account of the impossibility of the Chancellor of the Exchequer knowing what were the sentiments of the Irish representatives. And he opposed it also, because it would conclude the whole question. If the amendment of the hon. and learned Member should be rejected, he would move, as another amendment, that leave be given to bring in a bill to renew for one year, or further postpone until January 1841, the further payment of advances to the Bank of Ireland.
§ Mr. Clay
wished to take this opportunity of referring to some statements made by him on a former occasion on the subject of banking in America, because those statements had been impugned, and because he believed that the House at that time thought the arguments to be drawn from the experience of America were not so important as they really were. It would be in the recollection of the House, that in answer to the arguments of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, who asserted that there could be no over-issues with a free trade in banking, with banks issuing in competition one with another, all being liable to pay notes, at the will of the holder, in specie—it would be recollected, that in answer to that statement, he referred to the example of America, where the system of free banking existed. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton endeavoured to show that there was no analogy, because the currency laws of America were not similar to those of England. Now, if it were true, that there was any essential difference in the laws which regulated the currency of America and this country, then the argument which he drew from the analogy of the two countries would fall to the ground. But the statements of the two hon. Members were founded on complete misapprehension. If there was any difference, it was in the greater stringency of the law of America. The banks of America, neglecting to pay on demand, were chargeable with 24 per cent, interest. The mode in which the interest was enforced was this. An action of assumpsit was brought, and on judgment being obtained, execution issued not only against chattels, but against land. The result was, that in the United States, where joint-stock banks were conducted on the soundest principles, the most remarkable over-issue ever known in the commercial world did take 274 place during the years 1804–5–6, attended with a degree of excitement and overtrading, without parallel in the annals of the world, followed by a re-action as remarkable, and one operation of which was, that every one of these banks stopped payment. These results were certain to follow from joint-stock banks issuing in competition one with another. Competing banks, if they were all inclined to over-issue, could not check one another. It had been contended, that if there were no controlling central bank, over-issue would be checked by these banks watching the course of the foreign exchanges, and regulating their issues accordingly; but each bank would feel that its own individual operations could produce but very little effect on the course of foreign exchanges, and would ask why it should sacrifice itself and the interest of its proprietors, when others would not follow its example. The evidence of facts corroborated this assumption. If ever it was incumbent upon banks of every description to be backward in increasing their issues, it was during the course of the last season. Never had there been a period when it was more their duty to watch the course of the foreign exchanges, and to limit their issues. Now, what were the facts? In September, 1838, the circulation of the bank of England amounted to 19,360,000l., and the circulation of the private banks and the joint-stock banks amounted to 11,360,000l., and now, after a lapse of nine months, what was the state of the circulation? The circulation of the Bank of England amounted to 18,100,000l.; while the circulation of the private and the joint-stock banks amounted to 12,275,000l., thus, during a period of the greatest difficulty, when there had been a great importation of corn, and a great exportation of bullion, for the bullion in the coffers of the Bank had diminished nearly one-half, the Bank of England had diminished the circulation by 1,258,000l., whilst the private and joint-stock banks had increased theirs by 950,000l. What was the case with regard to the bill of his right hon. Friend? Why, he proposed, in the first place, to give certain advantages to the joint-stock banks of Ireland, which were most important, and which were entirely overlooked by Gentlemen opposed to the bill. He proposed to give them the power to sue and be sued by their Secretary, which was a great advantage, and one which the English joint-stock banks did not possess. He nod in vain endeavoured to obtain a similar privilege for the London 275 and Westminster Bank. But what was the common-sense view of the question? There was a general conviction throughout the country, that the whole monetary system must soon become the subject of searching inquiry. If that were the case, what better course could they pursue than to renew the charter for a short period—the parties would be aware, that they were entering merely into a contingent agreement, and must be prepared to accede to the terms proposed for the extension of the charter. If, on the other hand, they gave the joint-stock banks the power of issuing notes, they would create great difficulties in the way of any arrangement. It would be easy to deal with the Bank of Ireland, because at the end of four years its charter would expire; but it would not be so easy to deal with the- numerous joint-stock banks which had acquired the power of issuing notes. He did not say it would be right to perpetuate the Bank charter, and he would vote against any such measure. He observed that the advocates of the unrestrained power of issuing paper-money on the part of all banks, assumed on all occasions, that they were the advocates of free trade, and the enemies of monopoly, and that an unrestrained power of issue, was for the benefit of the people. There could not be a more gratuitous or unfounded assumption. It was essential, that the public should feel that their interests were not identical with those of the issues of paper-money, and that in many instances their interests were diametrically opposed. This was not a question of free trade, it was a question of giving permanently to unauthorized individuals, that power which was an imperial function. It was the duty of the Government to secure such a medium of exchange as should be free from abuse—and that was a power which no individual or association ought to possess. (Hear, Hear!) If he were advocating an indefinite extension of the charter, then he could understand that cheer, but he was doing nothing of the kind. What was the effect of an over issue?—it produced great excitement and a rise of prices, which from their uncertainty were a source of inconvenience to the comparatively affluent, but which were absolute ruin to the poorer class, because it was well known, that a rise in the necessaries of life was never followed by a corresponding rise in wages, and when the re-action came, it paralyzed the commerce and manufactures of the country for these 276 reasons he should vote forgoing into Committee, and he hoped the House would agree to the bill.
§ Mr. Shaw
would take that opportunity of alluding to a petition presented by the hon. and learned Gentleman, from certain parties, complaining that the Bank of Ireland had refused to reimburse them for certain notes which had been stolen and destroyed. The amount of notes stolen was 500l., principally in small notes, which it was difficult to trace. The Bank of Ireland, had, however, paid 280l. to these parties at one period, and 50l. at another, and had afforded every facility in their power; but, after all, this was no public ground for petitioning against the renewal of the charter. No private bank would have reimbursed them. He agreed with the hon. Member for Carlow, in blaming the Government for bringing forward this measure so late in the Session; but it was hardly fair of him to reflect on the circumstance of there only being fifty-five Members to support the measure, omitting to state, that there were only seventeen to oppose it; fifty-eight was not a large number certainly, but it was much larger than seventeen. He thought at the moment the hon. Gentleman made that observation, that the lights above were rather more powerful than the lights below. (This observation was an allusion to the circumstance of the illuminating powers of the Bude light being tried at the time Mr. Gisborne was speaking.)
§ Mr. Hume
thought this question should not be disposed of by paltry details of this kind. The argument of the hon. Member for Carlow was a good one, inasmuch as it went to show, that a question of this importance was discussed in a House of only seventy-two Members. What was wanted was no exclusion or monopoly, but the same privileges for the people of Ireland, that the people of Scotland possessed. They wanted the same facilities in the negotiation of bills, and to remove the gross injustice that at present existed. Why, he would ask, was Ireland for five years to have inflicted upon her that which was admitted to be an injustice, and one that must be remedied at the expiration of that period? The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets was altogether wrong in his facts with respect to the Bank of England, and he was equally so with respect to the Bank of Ireland. In Scotland, and every country where there was free and open banking, the variation of the 277 currency was never equal to that which it had been under the management of the Bank of England. The principle of banking was now understood by the majority of the banks, and they found to their cost, that if they issued more money than commerce required, runs instantly took place upon them, and they were obliged to find bullion. The Irish people so far from agreeing with the hon. Member, wished to have the system of Scotch banking established there. It appeared to him, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was acting roost improperly in introducing this bill, What were his arguments formerly, when he was anxious to establish joint-stock banks? Why, then he was for adopting the system of Scotch banking, but now he was of a contrary opinion. What was the cause of that? Had the joint-stock banking system failed? Clearly not; but the right hon. Gentleman had changed his opinions. He thought the right hon. Gentleman was treating Ireland most shamefully in introducing the measure, and he should therefore support his hon. and learned Friend's motion, and every other motion that had for its object the prevention of the bill passing in its present odious shape.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that although he did not mean to undervalue the arguments of the hon. Gentlemen who were opposed to this bill, he could not re-discuss a matter which had been so fully discussed on two previous occasions. Indeed, even if he were to do so, he could only repeat the arguments which he had already used. He must, however, say a few words with respect to the present measure, and he begged hon. Gentlemen to understand, that he supported this arrangement, not because it was the best possible arrangement which could be made—far from it; but what he wished to impress upon the House was, that if they did not accept the present measure, the probability was, that they would have a worse system of banking in Ireland than it provided. It had been said that this bill would operate injuriously to the joint-stock banks; but go far from this being the case, the only effect it could have, would be to relieve these banks from disabilities, and extend to them privileges which they did not now possess. This being the object of the measure, it might be asked why he did not carry that object further; but his reply was, because he did not think he could do so with safety. He had gone as far as he 278 could, considering that this was nothing more than a mere provisional arrangement. He had been charged with having brought down this measure without due deliberation, and it had been said that he wished to carry it by the weight of his official position. He denied that he had brought it forward without the consent and approbation of every member of Lord Melbourne's Government; and he brought it forward not only on their behalf, but in good faith, because it was thought that it would be for the interest of the country that it should be carried. It was, therefore, most unfair to suggest, that this bill was not the act of her Majesty's Government. It was stated that it would not be safe, as regarded the currency of either Ireland or England, to leave the matter as it now stood, and this it was that had induced the course which the Government had felt it their duty to take. The hon. Gentleman said, that the Bank of Ireland had not given to the other banking establishments of that country sufficient accommodation—that they kept too large an amount of their capital locked up in securities; but what was the evidence in reference to this point? Why, that in 1836, in defiance of sound banking principles, they had given too much accomodation. The arguments of the hon. Gentleman, therefore, were wholly inconsistent with the evidence. Now, in the first place, he intended by this provisional arrangement to obtain considerable economy for the public, and, in the next, to take out of the market nearly one million of Exchequer bills. Hon. Gentlemen seemed to think lightly of this, and they told him that the better way for him would be to borrow four millions to pay off the engagements with the Bank of Ireland. This, they said, would be an easy operation, and that nobody would be the worse for it; but all he could say was, that those who recommended such a course could have little real knowledge on the subject. He admitted there was some force in the objection that this measure had not been brought forward for discussion at an earlier period of the Session; but then these Gentlemen, who had raised this objection, had not adverted to the peculiar circumstances which had rendered the delay unavoidable. It should be recollected, that the business in the early-part of the Session had been interrupted by an impending change in the Government, and that the arrear of the public business and the demand for other measures, such as the Irish Municipal Corporation Bill, 279 had rendered it impossible for him to obtain an early day for submitting this bill to the consideration of the House. Under such circumstances, he thought it was rather hard to be reproached for a delay which he could not help. It was said that the people of Ireland had no notice of this measure until the 14th of July; but had not petitions on the subject been presented from Newry, Wexford, New Ross, and other parts of Ireland in the first week in that month? Undoubtedly they were petitions against the renewal of the charter; but did not the fact of such petitions being presented, prove that the people of Ireland had notice of the course which he meant to pursue? He could, were it necessary, show the circumstances under which the meetings which had taken place on the subject had been got up. He could expose the absurd and stupid fallacies indulged in at those meetings, and he could not only name the parties who had got these meetings up, but refute all that had been said at the meeting in Dublin. There was a joint-stock bank in Ireland called the Providence Bank—a bank so utterly absurd in its nature, that he was only astonished how in any country, men could be so deluded as to countenance it. This was a joint-stock bank founded by one individual, and having only another proprietor, namely, the party who engraved its notes. These two parties constituted a joint-stock bank, and issued their notes upon a capital of 500,000l. One of them had purchased bank stock to the amount of 10l., and the other to that of 30l, to enable them to express their opinions at the bank meetings; but surely these were apostles in whom the House would hesitate before they placed faith. He had been one of the originators of joint-stock banks in Ireland, and he felt proud of it, because he believed they had been productive of much good. Whilst, however, he was friendly to the principle, he was anxious to protect the public from the consequences which must follow, if the boon for which the opponents of this bill asked were conferred. He thought, that being the advocate of joint-stock banks, he was a better witness on this part of the subject, than the hon. Gentlemen who resisted the present motion. In 1836, when there was considerable distress, the Bank of Ireland had rendered important service to the Provincial, the National, the Commercial and Agricultural, and other joint-stock banks. Now, what would have become of these 280 banks at that period, if the bank of Ireland had not, out of its own resources, lent them 270,000l.? And yet these were the interests which had raised the present cry against the Bank of Ireland. There had not, however, been a single petition from those banks; and for his own part he should like to see the proprietors of them meeting in London, where the whole matter could be fairly and properly, and face to face, discussed. With respect to the circle of limitation, he should now say nothing, as that was a point which could be more fitly discussed in the committee. He must, however, be allowed to observe upon a fallacy into which the hon. and learned Member for Dublin had been betrayed. He said, that Dublin and the other towns within the circle were in a state of decay or non-improvement, while the other parts of Ireland were prospering; and in support of this statement he referred to the Post-office revenue. What was the fact? Why, that between the years 1830 and 1836, there was a falling off in the revenue of the Post-office of Dublin of 26,000l., inconsequence of anarrangement made at the Ordnance, and a further falling off to the amount of 10,000l., owing to the postages of the towns adjacent to Dublin, previously included in the Dublin account, being charged in a separate account. If the hon. and learned Gentleman had referred to other statistics, he would have found his statement completely contradicted. The customs revenue of Belfast in 1836 was 237,000l.; and in 1838, 315,000l. In Sligo there was a diminution between these periods, the amount in 1836 being 39,000l.: and in 1838, 32,000l. The amount in Cork, in 1836 was 185,000l.; and in 1838, 235,000l.; and during the same interval there had been an increase in the customs revenue of Dublin from 669,000l. to 846,000l. These facts went completely in refutation of the hon. and learned Member's assertion. There had been a diminution in the excise revenue in Cork, while in Drogheda it had increased, and this, too, although Drogheda was under the influence of the blighting system of bank monopoly. He thought it was for the interest of Ireland that they should go into committee on this bill. He had been charged with being wrong; but, although he could point out those who had inflicted wrongs upon his country, he would not reproach them, as it was not his wish to raise anything like a personal discussion. 281 He entreated hon. Gentlemen to discuss this measure as a matter of political science, the only point of view in which it ought to be discussed; and he hoped when he went back to Ireland, he would not find the walls placarded for the purpose of raising a barbarous, disgraceful, and degrading feeling against him. All he required was, that they should do by Ireland as they had done by England, and in making this demand he was justified by the opinion of such men as Mr. Jones Loyd, Mr. Palmer, Mr. Norman, and Mr. Tooke. True, the gentlemen whom he had named were connected with the Bank of England, but was it likely that they would prostitute their talents, or be dishonest enough to deliver any opinion upon a matter of mere science in opposition to the dictates of common sense? These gentlemen had stated, that if the power of issuing notes in London was unrestricted, it would be impossible to survive a crisis, and, therefore, the great question was, whether or not it was proper to have in Ireland, as in England, a central bank of issue? He must say, that he should consider the unrestricted issuing of paper money as one of the greatest calamities which could befal a country, and if they found that they could not, with safety, approach that point, let them depart from it as little as they could. His belief was, that the present measure was the most secure that could be adopted, and although he wished to have a free banking system, he still thought, that it was necessary for the protection of the public, that the issues of paper money should be kept under proper control.
in explanation, said, that although he had referred to the Post-office revenue in a former debate, he had not done so that night. He had, however, shown an increase of prosperity outside the circle and a diminution inside. In some instances this increase amounted to twenty-five per cent. The utmost increase at Drogheda was twelve per cent., while in other places within the circle there was a diminution of three per cent., so that the argument of the right hon. Gentleman was of very little value. He was not there as an individual connected with the National Bank, but he thought the right hon. Gentleman had no right to use his official information for the purpose, as he had done, of tarnishing the credit of any banking establishment. He said, that the National Bank would have failed in 1836, but for the assistance it obtained from the 282 Bank of Ireland; but a more unfounded assertion could not be made. The fact was, that the Bank of Ireland was the cause of the run for gold which occurred in 1836, and that it refused to discount the bills of the National Bank, even though they were indorsed by the Hibernian Bank. The extent of the accommodation which they afforded to the National Bank was 42,000l., although they had 400,000l. in gold in their coffers; and such being the facts, the right hon. Gentleman was not justified in the observations which he had made.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
in explanation, said he had made no such statement as that which the hon. and learned Member for Dublin had attributed to him. He had not alluded to any particular bank; but what he had said was, that the Bank of Ireland had, in 1836 given important assistance to the various joint-stock banks of that country. From the means of knowledge which he possessed, he said he believed, that if that assistance had not been afforded, these banks must have failed. He stated, that the whole accommodation given by the Bank of Ireland to the joint-stock banks was 270,000l., and it now appeared, that of this sum the National Bank had received only 42,000l. This showed, that he had not referred to any individual establishment; and he could only add, that he should be extremely sorry to say anything which, coming from one in his official situation, could injure in the remotest way any private bank. His observations were altogether of a general character.
§ Mr. Redington
said, that they had gained something from the right hon. Gentleman, and that was, that this measure was to be discussed merely as a matter of science. He believed that the people of Ireland were not aware of the nature of the right hon. Gentleman's proposition; and although petitions had been presented on the subject, they were against the renewal of the bank charter, and could not have had reference to this measure. The fact of but two partners being found to belong to the bank alluded to by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, showed that the people of Ireland were not inclined to enter wildly, or without deliberation, into those speculations. He was opposed to perpetuating a monopoly that had been anything but a service to Ireland. With respect to the assistance given to the joint-stock banks at the period of the crisis, it should be recol- 283 lected that a good deal of it came from London. The effect the Bank of Ireland had in producing that crisis should not be forgotten in alluding to the subject. It had been shown that the Bank of Ireland did not answer the purpose of a national bank.
claimed the indulgence of the House whilst he offered a few observations with respect to that bill. He complained of the late period of the Session at which it had been brought forward, and he did not think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's arguments sufficiently answered the objections, for they had seen that, upon several occasions, the Government had not made a House, when it was well known they might have done so if they pleased; and they should have done something towards bringing it forward at an earlier period of the Session. The right hon. Gentleman had stated, that the people of Ireland had received sufficient notice of the intention of the Government to bring forward this bill. They might, it is true, have had notice of that intention, but they had no information whatever as to the provisions and details of the bill. The right hon. Gentleman had stated, that the people of Ireland would be afforded the fullest opportunity of ascertaining what the provisions of the bill would be, and to-judge of their probable effects. Then he (Mr. Ellis) thought they ought not to proceed with it, until they should have ascertained what the opinions were in respect to it—to ascertain what the result of the meetings upon that subject, which were to be held in Ireland, would be. The Bank of Ireland possessed vast and exclusive privileges, and they had sometimes exercised them in a harsh and severe manner. He knew an instance where a gentleman presented a bill, upon one of the first houses in Scotland at the Bank of Ireland, and it was refused, because the person presenting it had been known to have taken an active part against the Bank of Ireland monopoly. The bill was afterwards discounted. The hon. Gentleman then went into a statement of the assets of the Bank of Ireland, and read several extracts of evidence, to show the difference between the practice of the Bank of England and that of the Bank of Ireland. The towns of Newry, Dundalk, and Drogheda, he continued, which were important towns, and were within the metropolitan circle, were subjected to peculiar injustice from that monopoly, for their commercial transactions were with England and Scot- 284 land; and, notwithstanding, they were obliged to transact their banking business in Dublin, with which they had no other concern. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated his opinion in favour of joint-stock banks, and yet that bill went against his own principle.
Sir W. Someville
said, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not stand alone in the bill, for Lord Melbourne had stated to a deputation, that the Government intended to bring forward such a bill. With respect to those who opposed it in Ireland, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman, that all parties in the town, which he had the honour to represent, were opposed to her Majesty's Government in their views on that subject.
§ The House divided on the original question: Ayes 57; Noes 19: Majority 38.
|List of the Ayes.|
|Adam, Admiral||Loch, J.|
|Baring, F. T.||Lockhart, A. M.|
|Bernal, R.||Lowther, J. H.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Broadley, H.||Mildmay, P. St. J.|
|Broadwood, H.||Morpeth, Lord|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Norreys, Lord|
|Clay, W.||O'Ferral, R. M.|
|Cochrane, Sir T. J.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Pechell, Captain|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Pigot, D. R.|
|Darby, G.||Pryme, G.|
|Dick, Q.||Rice, rt. hon. T. S.|
|Donkin, Sir R. S.||Rich, H.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Rickford, W.|
|Forester, hon. G.||Rolfe, Sir R. M.|
|Fremantle, Sir T.||Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Gordon, R.||Smith, J. A.|
|Grey, rt. hn. Sir G.||Smith, R. V.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Talfourd, Serjeant|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.|
|Hill, Lord A. M. C.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Hinde, J. H.||Townley, R. G.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Wood, C.|
|Holmes, W.||Wood, G. W.|
|Labouchere, rt. hn. H.||Parker, J.|
|Lincoln, Earl||Steuart, R.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Oswald, J.|
|Bryan, G.||Redington, T. N.|
|Callaghan, D.||Salwey, Colonel|
|Easthope, J.||Somerville, Sir W. M|
|Ellis, J.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Finch, F.||Warburton, H.|
|Gisborne, T.||Williams, W.|
|Jervis, S.||Yates, J. A.|
|Muskett, G. A.||TELLERS.|
|O'Connell, J.||O'Connell, D.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Hume, J.|
§ House in Committee.
§ Upon the motion that the bill be read a first time,
would take the sense of the House upon that question, for he felt that the people of Ireland had not been afforded a sufficient opportunity of discussing the provisions of the bill.
§ The committee divided: Ayes 49; Noes 20: Majority 29.
§ [After three more divisions, the first clause of the bill was adopted. Further proceedings were opposed; and after one additional division on the question that the Chairman report progress, which was lost by 15 to 39,]
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that it appeared useless any longer to oppose the question of reporting progress, and he would, therefore, consent to it; but at the same time he regretted exceedingly that such a precedent should be established.
rejoined, that under any circumstances, he would give every opposition to the progress of the bill in his power, that time might be gained for a still stronger expression of opinion against it.
§ House resumed.
§ [We have inserted the Lists of the second division only, as the most important.]