« EdellinenJatka »
ought not to be enforced, until the re-union of the two countries fever, which at present afflicted under'one sceptre. Mr. Brougham the mercantile world, had subsided; expressed his hope that it never for the country was now in that would be ratified, but for a different state in which it rather required reason. The treaty contained an additional facilities, than that article by which the parties to it those already in existence, should mutually bound themselves to give be limited. Another measure of up each to the other, all subjects great importance to the object in of either taking refuge in the terview would be, to compel the coun- ritory of the other, who might be try banks to make returns of the accused of high treason. This arnumbers of their notes in circula- ticle Mr. Brougham denounced as tion at stated intervals. It might an infamous provision, and “as a be objectionable to require returns revival and extension of our own of their whole assets; for the worst law on the Statute-book, the banker might complain that such Alien bill," and he sincerely trusted a proceeding would injure his that it would not receive the sanccredit. But to a mere statement tion of the government of this of the amount of notes which he country. Mr. Canning said, that had in circulation, there could be he entirely agreed with Mr. no well-founded objection; while, Brougham as to the character of from such returns, parliament the stipulation to which he had would know with certainty the alluded, and that there were other facts upon which they were legis- stipulations which were equally lating, instead of being confined to objectionable. Without imputing the loose data with which they blame to those who negociated it, were now obliged to remain con he would only say that it had been tented.
negociated without instructions The mention made in the Speech from the government at home, and of the conclusion of a treaty with was contrary to their views. For the republic of Columbia, called that reason it had not been ratified, forth, in the course of the dis nor would it be ratified. cussion, many expressions of ad Although it was not till the 10th miration at the masterly and cau that the propositions for proscribing tious policy by which Mr. Can- the smalīnotes, and enlarging bankning had solved the difficult prob- ing partnerships, were formally lem of connecting ourselves with brought forward, they were, in the the new governments of South interval, incidentally the subject of America as independent states. frequent discussion. Government, The treaty, however, which had having resolved to prohibit the been concluded, under our medi- issue of small notes stamped after ation, between Portugaland Brazil, a certain period, and apprehensive and which secured the independence that, in the interim, they might of the latter, and its separation be stamped to any extent, had from the crown of the former, did given orders immediately to put not meet with equally unmixed an end to the stamping of such approbation. Mr. Baring regarded notes. On the 8th, Mr. Calcraft it as only making this country a inquired whether this was the fact; party to any future contingency and being answered by the Secrewhich might arise, tending to a tary of the Treasury in the affirm
ative, he declared it to be a most measure, they did not follow it up. unconstitutional exercise of power, What they had done in taking and brought it again before the this step, might perhaps require an House on the following day. It act of indemnity; and if it did, he was a step, he said, which not trusted the House would have no only added to the panic already difficulty in acceding to such a bill. produced by the contemplated Mr. Ellice said, that he held the measure of government, but was measure in question to have been likewise a most illegal act, and a illegal; but he held it likewise to gross violation of justice. Minis« have been prudent and necessary. ters ought either to have passed a He was at a loss, however, to ima short bill through parliament au- gine, how, after government had thorizing the step which they had intimated their intention of putting taken, or, at least, ought to have an end to these notes, the putting informed parliament that it had an end to them on Monday, or on been taken. The individuals, whose Tuesday, could occasion any serious interests had thus been sacrificed, alarm. He could easily imagine had licenses from government, for how the intimation of an intention which they had paid, and which to put an end to the notes at all permitted them to issue their notes might produce alarm, but not how till the 10th of October. They an act, the only effect of which had proceeded under the solemn was, to put an end to them a day guarantee of an act of parliament; sooner, or a day later, could proand yet government, by prohibiting duce that effect. the stamping of the notes, had de On the same evening, the marliberately violated that statutory quis of Lansdown called the atguarantee. Mr. Gordon expressed tention of the House of Lords to the same sentiments, and depre- this prohibitory measure; and said, cated the plan of withdrawing the that, favourable as he was to the notes from circulation.
plans which government had in The Chancellor of the Exche view, he felt it his duty to reprobate quer defended himself by the plain such an exercise of the dispensing prudence and absolute necessity of power, and that, too, at a time the measure. In the discussion when parliament was sitting, as a upon the Address, the plan of go- most dangerous precedent to the vernment had been opened suffi- constitutional liberties of England. ciently in detail to enable the coun Lord Liverpool answered that gotry bankers to see its object, and vernment had not taken the step understand its bearings. There in question, until a day was fixed was thus every reason to appre- for the introduction of a bill into hend, that they would take advan- the other House of parliament tage of the interval to stamp their upon the subject; nor had it even notes to an indefinite amount; and then been resorted to, until his it was, therefore, impossible for majesty's government had reason ministers to allow the stamping of to believe, that, if they had not reof such notes to go on, without ren sorted to it, there were individuals dering their intended measure alto- who would have left no means ungether nugatory: they would have tried to defeat the measure then been guilty of absurdity and inconin progress; and this was done not sistency, if, having resolved upon the upon light grounds, þut upon the
strongest' evidence that there ex- the chancellor of the Exchequer, isted a design to obstruct the in- and his friends, if they persisted in tentions of parliament. If it were their rash and unadvised opinion, asked, why a short act of parliament ought to state the facts from which was not introduced with reference their sweeping conclusion was deto this prohibition, he would reply, rived; for there was no policy in that there did not remain time for blinding the public to the true it; as even the short delay necessary causes of the distress, and no for such a purpose would have honesty in unfairly directing the given an undue advantage to banka weight of its odium against the ers residing near the metropolis. country bankers.in
Mr. Hume moved, on the 9th, The cause of the country banks for returns of the number of was likewise steadfastly maintained country banks issuing notes which by Mr. Calcraft, Mr. Gurney, and have become bankrupt from January Mr. Robertson. So far, they said, 1816 to the present time, stating the from the assertion being true, that place where such banks were kept, these banks had encouraged wild the names and number of partners speculation, they had either effected in each, the amount of debts proved, positive good, or were, at least, and the rate of dividends paid in unable to effect mischief. It was every instance, as far as these par- impossible to suppose for a moment, ticulars can be ascertained." The that speculations to the amount of only opposition made to the mo seventeen millions, existing in the tion proceeded on the ground of heart of the metropolis, could have its being an attempt to investigate been produced, or supported, by private affairs, and to bring before the issues of country banks ; for the House matters, of which the the moment a country note arrived House could take no cognizance. in London, it was converted into The motion was agreed to; but it cash, or Bank of England notes, brought on a discussion regarding otherwise the issues would instantly the character of the country banks, fall in credit. It was utterly imand the share which they had borne possible for the country bankers to in producing the late embarrass- force into circulation' a sufficient ments. Mr. Smith, adverting to quantity to aid speculation to that the opinions contained in the com- extentin which government seemed munication from the Treasury to to believe. Any spirit of speculathe Bank directors, on 13th Jan- tion which the country banks uary, that these embarrassments might ever have encouraged, was had found their source in a rash not one of recklessnes and wildness, spirit of speculation, and that this but an animating and advantageous spirit had been supported, and en- spirit, which had long operated couraged by the country banks, most beneficially in promoting our begged leave, in his own name, commercial prosperity. The counand in the names of the country try bankers stood in no need of a bankers, whether in or out of the vindication either of their prudence, House, to give to that assertion a or their integrity. Undoubtedly most distinct and unqualified con- in a body of seven hundred persons, tradiction. He described them as a there might be some fools, and some class of men of the highest pru- knaves ; but, for their number, dence, honour, and integrity; and they were equal to any class of the
community; and, as a body, were ing the circulation of small notes. tainted with no blemishes which Although he allowed that fluctuadid not attach in the same degree tions were inseparable from trade, to all commercial men."
in defiance of any précautions The Chancellor of the Exchequer which ingenuity could invent, yet expressed himself anxious, that the their effects, if not always caused, opinions, 'which he might have ut were often aggravated, by a state tered in relation to the country of currency, and a facility of specubankers, should not be misunder- lation like those produced by the stood. - In the communication with issues of paper which now existed. the Bank, neither he, nor the The small notes, in particular, first lord of the Treasury had en- carried the consequences of these tertained the most distant intention changes among those on whom of throwing out imputations on in- they pressed most severely, They dividuals. Their statements were were principally in the hands of directed against the system of coun- the labouring classes, and, to a try banks, as it at present existed, person of that rank, a few of them not against the persons by whom constituted a fortune. But when they were conducted'; and when a panic took place, the poor man he said that a rash spirit of specula- was the first who hastened to save tion had been encouraged by these his little store by withdrawing it banks, he meant by the banking from the banker ; as the alarm system, not by individual bankers. spread, the more wealthy imitated Even if the language used in the the growing example; and a sudcommunications
with the Bank had den run brought with it the downbeen much more particular than it fall of the bank. To replace such was, it could have conveyed no notes, therefore, by a metallic cur personal imputation ; for every rency, would at once tend to the secommercial man of capital or credit, curity of the banks themselves, and is, to a certain extent, a fosterer of would limit the misfortune which speculation, in no culpable sense of their failures would otherwise prothe word, and without any pre- duce. In fact the proposed meajudice to the integrity of his cha sure was not a novelty, but had racter. But while he was well been the regular policy of the aware, that the majority of the country; and its opponents alone country bankers were above all were the true innovators. An act imputation, and while, therefore, of parliament had been passed in he would feel ashamed of himself 1775, prohibiting the issue of bank if he could intend to attach blame notes : in 1777, another act had to their individual conduct, yet, it prohibited the issuing of notes under was his right and his duty to ania 5l.,. and, so far from its being madvert on their system of banking, suspected that such restrictions and the effect of the laws under would cramp the commerce of the which it was carried on.
country, the Bank had, on that On the 10th of February, the occasion, declared, that the issuing whole House having resolved itself of such notes, besides being a into a committee on the Bank political evil, was not necessary
for Charter bill, the Chancellor of the the maintenance of our manufacExchequer formally brought for- tures, or the prosperity of our trade. ward the proposition for prohibits The latter statute was made per
petual in 1787, and continued un by the Bank, and was, in fact, the touched till 1797, when its opera« creation of a new basis for a tion was suspended until two years metallic circulation : but all that after the restriction on the Bank could be rendered necessary by from paying in gold should have withdrawing the small notes was, expired. This suspension was to superinduce a small circulation not the result of any belief that of gold upon the large basis which the small notes were closely con- already existed. It was difficult nected with the prosperity of to ascertain the amount of country manufactures, of agriculture, or of bank paper in circulation at any commerce, and that their circula- given time; but an approximation ought not to be interrupted. tion to it might be made through On the contrary, all parties at that the number of stamps issued. time agreed that they should be Taking this foundation, and look withdrawn as soon as possible ; and ing at the average of the last three no one had contemplated their con years, it might be estimated that tinued circulation, after the Bank something more than six millions should have resumed cash pay was the amount of the country ments. And yet, during the whole small paper current in 1825. But of that period, from 1777, both it was not possible that such could manufactures and commerce had be its amount at the present mogrown and prospered, notwith-ment; for, in consequence of the withstanding the absence of the necessity of paying immediately in small notes.
gold, the country bankers had been The righthon. gentleman argued, unwilling to send forth a larger that any apprehensions of the amount of paper than they were likelihood of injury to agriculture able to take up, and a considerable or commerce from the proposed proportion of gold coin had thus measure must be founded upon found its way into country cireuthis--that the prohibition of small lation. The present amount of notes would diminish the circula- country paper could not be estition by the amount of these notes, mated at more than four milthat their absence could not be lions ; and the practicability, supplied by gold, and, that, there, therefore, of filling up, in the fore, manufactures and trade would, course of three years, the vacuum to this extent, be left without produced by withdrawing that their necessary and legitimate amount from circulation, was the facilities. Such apprehensions utmost extent of the question were entirely visionary. During which the proposed measure could 1820, 1821, and 1822, twenty-five raise. Thus any notion of the immillions of gold sovereigns had possibility, or even difficulty of supbeen coined, and of these 7,209,000l. plying the place of the small paper, were exported. During the last was groundless. Some difficulty half
year, the amount of a million and inconvenience might be exhad been imported; so that the perienced in certain places, and amount in the country might be under certain circumstances; but taken at nineteen millions. This they could not be general, or such had been effected in consequence as ought to deter parliament from of the necessity of preparing for applying a decided remedy to the the resumption of cash payments evils which we had suffered. The