§ On the question that the forged Exchequer Bills Bill be read a third time,
§ Mr. W. Williams
expressed his dissatisfaction with the principle upon which this bill was founded, and protested against the taxing of the people to the extent of 262,000l., for the purpose of affording compensation for these forgeries. He called upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to state in explicit terms how he would deal with any future Exchequer bills that might be forged. There were no provisions in the present bill that afforded a security to the public against the repetition of similar forgeries. He did not wish to comment upon the manner in which the different claimants had been classified, but he could not help observing that the case of Mr. Inglis, to whom compensation was refused, appeared to be an extremely hard one. He knew nothing of that Gentleman, but looking at the evidence that had been given in his case, he could not understand why his claim was rejected.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
in reply to the question which the hon. Gentleman had put to him, as to what course he would take in the event of future forgeries of Exchequer bills, could only ask the hon. Gentleman another question—if, four years ago, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) could have supposed that a fraud of this kind would have been committed, and had asked the hon. Gentleman what course he would take with respect to it, would the hon. Gentleman have been able to give him any definite answer. The fact was, that the whole case was a very extraordinary one. A number 1150 of circumstances had, in this one instance, combined to facilitate the fraud, which were never again likely to combine together. For 150 years previous no instance had been known of a forgery of Exchequer bills: nor did he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) believe that the forgery could have been effected in this instance but for the corruption of the particular officer who was guilty of the fraud. When the hon. Gentleman said that the measures now adopted, afforded no protection against the repetition of the fraud, he must be allowed to differ from the hon. Member. The precautions taken were such as, he believed, would place it beyond the skill of the most ingenious person to repeat the forgery. The regulations now adopted with respect to Exchequer bills were such, as in his opinion, to render a forgery of them impossible, even though the same combination of individuals and of circumstances, that had existed in the recent case, should again occur. He admitted that there was some apparent hardship in the case of Mr. Inglis, but contended that the claim of thatgentleman was against Mr. Morgan, with whom the bills were deposited, and not against the Government.
, speaking alike from a knowledge of Mr. Inglis, and of the circumstances under which his loss had been incurred, pressed upon the Government the very great hardship of his case. No one who had looked into the evidence of the case could question that Mr. Inglis was an innocent sufferer from the fraud of a public servant. Upon what possible ground then, was his claim rejected? He trusted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, convinced as he must necessarily be, of the great hardship of this case, and of the perfect justice of Mr. Inglis's claim, would consent to reconsider the case, and to place Mr. Inglis's name upon the list of those who were to receive compensation.
§ Mr. M. Attwood
confirmed the statement of the hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice), as to the great hardship of Mr. Inglis's case, and expressed a decided opinion that it would only be fair and just that that gentleman should be compensated. If he were not, he thought that Mr. Inglis would have reason to complain of having been treated with great injustice.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
felt that if (he claim of Mr. Inglis were ad 1151 mitted, it would in fact, amount to the granting of so much of the public money, not to Mr. Inglis, but to Mr. Morgan, whose claims were rejected.
§ Bill read a third time and passed.
§ Adjourned at half-past six o'clock.