§ The Duke of Wellington,
objected to the legal-tender clause. He expressed his opinion, that it would have the effect of improperly increasing the amount of country bank notes in circulation. He did not understand why the country banks had required such a boon at the hands of the Bank of England. He thought, that the result of this measure would be to establish an agio that would be anything but beneficial to this country. He thought that the words "ten pounds" should be inserted instead of "five pounds" in the clause.
§ The Earl of Ripon
did not apprehend the danger from the establishment of an agio which seemed to alarm the noble Duke. This clause had not been asked for as a boon, nor was it given with that intent. It was thought, that it would be for the advantage of country banks, and likewise for the accommodation of the Bank of England itself. If he (the Earl of Ripon) could think, that it would unduly increase the amount of paper in circulation, he should be opposed to it. He said unduly increase, because if the amount in circulation was not increased in such a manner as to bring down the exchanges, the fuller it was, the better. Up to the point of affecting the exchanges, a large circulation was more convenient than a small one, but it must not go beyond that point. He, therefore, thought it better to retain the sum of 5l. than to insert 10l., as proposed by the noble Duke.
§ The Duke of Wellington
believed, that as the clause now stood it would have the effect of reducing the exchanges, and he should, therefore, put his opinion on record by moving that 10l. be inserted for 5l.
§ The Amendment negatived, and the Bill read a third time and passed.877
§ Against the third reading of this Bill, the following Protest was entered.
1st. Because no subject who is in possession of a valuable privilege ought to be deprived of it, except by the judgment of a Court of; Justice, after a patient hearing of his case, and by an impartial decision upon it, uninfluenced by party or popular feeling. The taking from any one a right or privilege by a declaratory law, supported only by an opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown (which opinion has never been laid before this House), and without the authority of the sanction of the Judges, I is an arbitrary and oppressive proceeding, and contrary to the uniform practice of Parliament.
2. Because the clause which it was proposed to substitute for the declaratory clause contained in this Bill would have afforded all the protection to the public which they have ever had, and have prevented the Bank from enjoying any exclusive privilege which it does not at present legally possess. The clause in the Bill takes from the Bank a privilege it has always enjoyed, and which privilege, with a full knowledge of all the circumstances of the case, it was agreed by the promoters of the Bill, and the Governor and Directors to continue to the Bank. The altering of this bargain exposes the proceedings of the Legislature to the imputation of a breach of faith.
3. Because, although the preamble of the declaratory clause itself expressly states, that it is the intention of the Legislature that the Governor and Company of the Bank of England shall continue to hold and enjoy all the exclusive privileges of banking given them by any Act of Parliament, and although by the letter and spirit of all the statutes relating to that Corporation, the exclusive privilege of banking, which includes the receiving of deposits as well as the issuing of bills or notes, is secured to the Governor and Company, so that no Corporation or Company consisting of more than six partners can carry on a bank of deposit or issue in London, or within sixty-five miles thereof, this clause, under the pretence of removing doubts as to the construction of these Acts, enables Corporations and Companies composed of an unlimited number of partners to open banks of deposit in any part of England. It has been repeatedly judicially declared by the late Lord KENYON, Mr. Justice GROSE, and other eminent Judges, that, if doubts arise as to the true construction of an Act of Parliament, such doubts may be removed by contemporaneous usage. There has been an uniform usage in favour of this exclusive privilege from the passing of the first statute relating to the Bank down to the present time.
4th. Because, by giving a right to open banks of deposit to Corporations and Companies with an unlimited number of partners, a spirit of speculation will be encouraged, which will endanger our commercial interests.
If banks possessing the immense capitals which the proposed new banks will possess, succeed, they will destroy the long-established and highly beneficial system of banking now existing in the metropolis. If they fail, their failure will ruin many unwary persons who may become partners, or who may have dealings with them. The great capital which they will hold will enable them to embarrass the Bank of England in the discharge of its most important duties. The banks which this Bill directly sanctions must produce injury to great numbers of individuals, and must endanger the public interest; and on these accounts it was not long since declared by the highest legal authority in this House, with reference to the statute of the 6th of Geo. 1st c. 18, that the establishment of such companies was contrary to the common law.
5th. Because the provision which makes the promissory notes of the Bank of England a legal tender in all cases except when they shall be presented for payment at the Bank, or one of its branches, has a tendency to introduce, without any alleged necessity, and in time of profound peace, the dangerous principle of a compulsory paper currency.
CARRINGTON (for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th reasons)