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The Bank of England – Part IV

 

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Part IV of our series on the origins of the Bank of England – its from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery.

Read other posts in this series on the Bank of England

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The Bank of England – Part IV

The restriction on cash payments, authorized by the privy council in 1797, and confirmed by an act of parliament, though intended as a temporary measure, was continued by various legislative acts until the month of September, [1817], when the Bank issued a notice that cash would be given for all their notes of £1 and £2 value, dated previous to the 1st of January, [1816]: so great, however, was the demand for cash, that in the course of two years, from the 1st of January, [1817], to the 1st of January, [1819], the gold coin issued amounted to £1,596,356 in guineas and half guineas, and £4,459,725 in sovereigns. Had this sum been withdrawn merely for the purpose of superseding paper money in internal circulation, it would have occasioned no uneasiness; but it was found that it was exported to France at a premium, and that in such quantities, that out of a new coinage of £5,000,000. made by the French government, nearly four millions of it was out of the coin of this country.

In order, therefore, to prevent such a drain of the precious metals, it was determined once more to interdict cash payments. After this measure was adopted, two parliamentary committees were appointed to investigate the affairs of the Bank; In the report of the secret committee of the House of Commons, dated May 6, [1819], we have a clear and decisive proof of the flourishing state of the Bank of England, fully justifying that ample confidence which the public have reposed in the stability of its resources. It appears by this parliamentary document, that the sum which the Bank was liable to be called on to pay, in fulfilment of its engagements, on the 1st of January, [1819], was £33,894,580. and that it was then in possession of government securities, and other credits, to the amount of £39,096,900. leaving a surplus in favour of the Bank of England, of £5,202,320. exclusive of the permanent debt due from government to the Company, of £14,686,800 repayable on the expiration of the charter. Thus the total capital of the Bank exceeds twenty millions sterling.

The proposal again to restrict the Bank from payments in cash, met with considerable opposition in both houses of parliament, though the usual orders of the house were suspended, that the bill might pass through all its stages in one day; and it passed through the commons on the 5th of April, [1819], and through the lords on the following day. This act, which is known by the name of Mr. Peel’s Bill, limited the restriction to the 1st May, [1822], on which day cash payments were resumed, and have continued uninterrupted, and unlimited to the present time.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

The Bank of England on Wikipedia 

The Bank of England Archives

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A Diary of Two Parliaments – 14 May 1874

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Over the coming weeks and months we are publishing excerpts from the book ‘A Diary of Two Parliaments’ by Henry W Lucy, published in 1885. A popular book in our library, it covers the parliament of the Disraeli government during the years 1874-1880.

Catch-up with other posts in this series here, or search our library here.

The Disraeli Parliament 1874-1880

 Thursday 14 May 1874

GERMS OF OBSTRUCTION
How Acts of Parliament are Drafted

Gladstone, on his way to the Royal banquet at Windsor, looked in and remained for an hour on the front Opposition bench, the centre of a continually changing group of old colleagues and friends.

Disraeli was not present during the evening, and the House generally was unusually empty, there being but little attraction in a list of orders of the day. The House gave up the greater portion of the night to consideration of the Juries Bill. In the course of the debate a curious instance occurred of the lax manner in which Acts of Parliament are drafted. Clause 5 of the Bill provides for the total exemption from service on juries of (amongst other persons) “all peers, members of Parliament, and judges, all serjeants, barristers-at-law’ etc.”

In the scrutiny which the Bill had undergone at the hands of private members, the closeness of which was testified to by eight pages of amendments, it apparently had not occurred to any one that the term “all serjeants” included certain policemen, soldiers, marines, and others, whom it certainly was not the intention of the Legislature to exempt from service on juries. At the last moment, just as the clause was after long discussion being put to the vote, Thompson pointed out the error, and, amid some laughter, the phrase was amended by the addition of the words “at law.”

 

Excerpt from A Diary of Two Parliaments by Henry W Lucy published in 1885

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Further Reading and External Links

The Author – Henry W Lucy on Wikipedia

Benjamin Disraeli on Wikipedia

A Diary of Two Parliaments – 13 May 1874

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Over the coming weeks and months we are publishing excerpts from the book ‘A Diary of Two Parliaments’ by Henry W Lucy, published in 1885. A popular book in our library, it covers the parliament of the Disraeli government during the years 1874-1880.

Catch-up with other posts in this series here, or search our library here.

The Disraeli Parliament 1874-1880

 Wednesday 13 May 1874

GERMS OF OBSTRUCTION
The County Franchise Bill

The second reading of the Household Franchise (Counties) Bill moved by Trevelyan in a clever speech, a considerable portion of which was addressed personally to Disraeli, who, unfortunately, was not present to hear it. Salt moved the rejection of the Bill, not so much on the ground of actual hostility to its principle, as because he believed the time was not opportune for the suggested reform. Burt supported the motion in an able maiden speech, brief, but weighty in argument, delivered with a considerable degree of natural grace, and losing nothing by the curiously broad dialect in which it was spoken. Newdegate was unusually moved by the proposal further to amend the representative system, and declared in sad, slow tones, that Trevelyan was one of those who think “The Constitution was intended For nothing else but to be mended.”

Forster congratulated Trevelyan upon the fact that the extension of the franchise in counties was now reduced to a mere question of time. For his own part, he believed it had become a pressing question, and it was high time it was settled. In an eloquent and warmly spoken passage, he declared that the reason why England had advanced by means of reform instead of revolution was because new social powers as they rose were taken within the precincts of the Constitution, and made a portion of it. Such a new power was the agricultural labourer, who had been deaf and dumb, but who, thanks to a cheap press, and to extended means of education, could now hear and speak. Murmurs from the Ministerial benches had formed a running commentary upon this declaration; but when Forster referred to Arch as “that eminent man,” and expressed a desire, in the interests of the Legislature and the country, that he were sitting in the House of Commons, Conservative indignation burst forth in derisive laughter and emphatic shouts of “No, no!”

Disraeli, who had entered the House whilst Salt was speaking, rose at four o’clock, the House being densely crowded, and was received with loud cheers. He spoke in his quietest manner, till he came to refer in sarcastic terms to the “passionate fervour” with which Forster had addressed the House, and to the “look of severe scrutiny” with which he had regarded him (the Premier) when he touched on the question of land tenure. Roused by the cheers and laughter these personal thrusts elicited from Conservatives, Disraeli proceeded with increased animation to “look at the question in a more business-like way.” His “great objection,” disclosed in the course of his remarks, was that it was not possible, or at least not desirable, to en franchise large bodies of the people without at the same time revising the distribution of political power. A deep silence fell over the Conservative benches when the Premier declared that in all such revisions the country had been approaching the system of electoral districts, and that in all future changes of a similar character further approaches must be made in the same direction. But the cheering recommenced when the right hon. gentleman, whilst acknowledging the inevitableness of the consequence, declared, though in comparatively mild terms, his personal objection to be an agent in hastening its approach, and cited figures to show that it would, when it came, strike a fatal blow at the system of borough representation.

After some words from Trevelyan the House divided, and the Bill was rejected by 287 votes against 173, the announcement of the majority being hailed by loud cheering from the Conservative side.

Excerpt from A Diary of Two Parliaments by Henry W Lucy published in 1885

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Further Reading and External Links

The Author – Henry W Lucy on Wikipedia

Benjamin Disraeli on Wikipedia

A Diary of Two Parliaments – Sunday Closing – 1874

Over the coming weeks and months we are publishing excerpts from the book ‘A Diary of Two Parliaments’ by Henry W Lucy, published in 1885. A popular book in our library, it covers the parliament of the Disraeli government during the years 1874-1880.

Catch-up with other posts in this series here, or search our library here.

Catch-up with posts in Lord Charles Beresford series here or search our library here.

The Disraeli Parliament 1874-1880

 Friday 8 May 1874

GERMS OF OBSTRUCTION

Major O’Gorman on Sunday Closing

Mr. Richard Smyth, endeavouring to obtain the prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquors in Ireland on the Sunday, led to the disclosure of a wide difference of opinion on the subject amongst the Irish members.

Lord Charles Beresford was specially emphatic in his opposition to the proposal. Hicks Beach declined to adopt the motion on the part of the Government, and an attempt further to carry the discussion was met by cries of “Divide.” On Major O’Gorman presenting himself, however, he was received with loud cheers, and was listened to with profound attention, as beginning by addressing the Speaker as “Mr. Chairman,” and occasionally lapsing into use of the word “gentlemen!” he warmly opposed the motion.

“For ever let the Heavens fall,” said the Major, with hand solemnly uplifted, but “never let it be said that you introduced into Ireland an Act which prevented a poor man going out for a walk on a Sunday  – perhaps a hot Sunday, may be a wet Sunday – with his family, and that he could not get a drop of beer, or porter, or whisky. It is creating one law for the rich and another for the poor, and that” he added, sinking back into his seat, “is a thing I never will stand.”

When the cheers and laughter which this oration evoked had subsided, the House divided, and the motion was rejected by 201 votes against 110.

Excerpt from A Diary of Two Parliaments by Henry W Lucy published in 1885

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Further Reading and External Links

The Author – Henry W Lucy on Wikipedia

Benjamin Disraeli on Wikipedia

A Diary of Two Parliaments – 29 April 1874

 

Search the library for more like this

 

Over the coming weeks and months we are publishing excerpts from the book ‘A Diary of Two Parliaments’ by Henry W Lucy, published in 1885. A popular book in our library, it covers the parliament of the Disraeli government during the years 1874-1880.

Catch-up with other posts in this series here, or search our library here.

The Disraeli Parliament 1874-1880

 Wednesday 29 April 1874

GERMS OF OBSTRUCTION
First Appearance of Major O Gorman,

House discussing question of purchase of Irish railways. 

When it was believed the debate had finished, it being close on midnight, Major O’Gorman, newly elected for Waterford, rose from a back seat below the gangway. The Major, who is of gigantic stature and burly to boot, stood a few minutes speechless in full view of the House. A titter rose from the Ministerial benches, which broke forth into a roar of laughter when Major O’Gorman suddenly and angrily cried, “Mr. Speaker!”

When the outburst had partially subsided, the hon. member said he was about to vote against the motion, and could not do it without a word of explanation; the word was that if the English Government got hold of the railways there would not at the end of three weeks be an Irishman in the service of any of the lines. The House laughing again at this hot utterance, he repeated and emphasised his observation by declaring that in three weeks all the Irishmen on the line would be “sent to hell or Connaught.” This brought up the Speaker, and Major O’Gorman having, with considerable difficulty, been made to understand that he must temporarily sit down, the right hon. gentleman reminded him that he had “exceeded the usual licence of Parliamentary debate.” Major O’Gorman showed a disposition to argue the matter with the Speaker, affirming, amid shouts of laughter, that the expression he had made use of was “perfectly well known.” Finally, he “offered his sincere regret” if he had said what he should not have said, though, he added, “it is perfectly historical.”

He then proceeded to observe that he “was not a Hellenist, and need not change his sex and become a Cassandra in order to be able to prophesy that with three weeks of English management the Irish railways would be ruined.” Next he volunteered an anecdote. “It’s not a bad story,” said he; but all the House could make out was a reference to a horse which a Lord Lieutenant was riding with a distinguished man, and was “thrown over his ears.” In conclusion, the Major, whilst declaring “his sincerest respect for that most talented young gentleman who had introduced the motion,” repeated that he would not be able to vote with him, his maxim being, “On all occasions vote against the introduction of Englishmen to Ireland.” Major O’Gorman’s remarks brought the debate to a close, and upon a division the motion was negatived by 241 votes against 56.

Excerpt from A Diary of Two Parliaments by Henry W Lucy published in 1885

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Further Reading and External Links

The Author – Henry W Lucy on Wikipedia

Benjamin Disraeli on Wikipedia

A Diary of Two Parliaments – 24 April 1874

 

Over the coming weeks and months we are publishing excerpts from the book ‘A Diary of Two Parliaments’ by Henry W Lucy, published in 1885. A popular book in our library, it covers the parliament of the Disraeli government during the years 1874-1880.

Catch-up with other posts in this series here, or search our library here.

The Disraeli Parliament 1874-1880

Mr Smollett attacks the Late Premier

Friday 24th April 1874

Houses of ParliamentWhen at five o’clock Smollett rose, in accordance with notice to call the attention  of the House of Commons to “the abrupt dissolution of the late Parliament,” and to move a resolution, there was present only such a House as is customary on Friday evenings, when a private member is availing himself of the privilege of airing a grievance on going into Committee of Supply. A quarter of an hour earlier Gregory had, by a speech on probate in England, Scotland, and Ireland, driven the bulk of the members away. But they came flocking back as the news spread through the lobbies that Smollett really was moving his resolution, and that Gladstone was on the Treasury bench taking notes, with the obvious intention of replying.

Smollett set out with the declaration that he was not working in conjunction with any party, nor was he expecting sympathy from either Ministers or the Opposition. The former were, he declared, too well satisfied with the position in which the dissolution had landed them to interpose, and the other too fully impressed with the wisdom of not crying over spilt milk, to complain of “the political madness of Mr. Gladstone,” or to bewail their own “condition of political disorganisation.”

This way of speaking, the plainness of which was considerably augmented by a certain brusqueness of manner, raised a laugh on the Conservative benches. Thus encouraged, Smollett proceeded to indulge in “a short historical retrospect of the Session,” the dramatic interest of which he somewhat damaged by declaring at the outset that it was designed to prove that Gladstone had “organised a dissolution in secret, and sprung it upon the House.” It was not, he was careful to state, for the sake of the late House of Commons that he was moved to protest. He had not himself belonged to that House, had “never thought much of it,” and had even seen it referred to as “an assembly of soap boilers.” But the facts did not lessen his indignation against Gladstone and his colleagues, whom, in the course of his speech, he accused of “having, by unworthy, improper, and unconstitutional methods, tried to seize power of having “acted in a manner that was ungenerous to their friends, insolent to their enemies, and to the country at large barely honest;” whose conduct he variously described as “indecent,” as “utter wantonness,” as a “device,” an “artifice” a “plot,” a “pious fraud,” as “sharp practice more likely to have come from a sharp attorney’s office than from a Cabinet of English gentlemen.” To account for all of which the most charitable suggestion that offered itself was that “the late Ministry had lost their wits, and were not responsible agents.”

To this, members on the Conservative side listened with appreciative laughter and applauding cheers, and only once when Smollett declared, speaking of Gladstone, that “the stratagem had recoiled on the head of the trickster” did indignant cries of  “Order!”  from the Liberal benches interrupt the speaker.

When Smollett sat down, Gladstone half rose from his place, but there appeared a prospect of his speech remaining unspoken. No one had seconded the resolution, and no response came in reply to the Speaker‘s demand for the name of the seconder. At the second appeal from the chair, however, Whalley came forward, hat in hand, from the obscurity of a corner under the Strangers’ Gallery, and said,

“I beg to second it.”

A great roar of laughter and cheers followed upon this unexpected apparition. It was some moments before silence was restored, and the Speaker found an opportunity for putting the motion from the chair. Then Gladstone appeared at the table, and was greeted by long and loud cheering from the benches behind him and below the gangway. In tones of grave mockery he declared that, as the motion had been supported by “two such distinguished members” as the proposer and seconder, he felt it his duty to lose no time in replying to it. In the same tone of grave banter, hugely relished by both sides of the House, Gladstone, whilst admitting that Smollett had the support of a name that stood high in historical literature, took exception to the date of the “historical retrospect” which they had listened to. “What he calls history I call romance,” said he, and, with a half apology for treating the matter seriously, he proceeded at some length to contradict and disprove the serious allegations “which appeared amid the jokes and the invective of the hon. member. “The main statement, to the effect that the Ministry had early in January determined upon the dissolution announced in the last week of the month, and had secretly informed their supporters of their intention, with the view to their obtaining advantages at the hustings, Gladstone denounced as “not only untrue, but absurd; not only absurd, but impossible.” Coming to the passage in which Smollett had stigmatised her Majesty’s late Ministers as “tricksters,” he, pointing over to the place where Smollett sat, called out, in a loud voice,

“Let the hon. member rise in his place and say whether he still holds to the utterance of the word ‘trickster.'”

He paused a moment, and Smollett, standing on his feet, said hurriedly,

“I shall not rise again from my seat.” The House laughed at the “bull” but it became hushed as Gladstone protested his scorn for a man who, when challenged, had “not the decency, had not the manliness, to reply, but took refuge in ignoble silence from the consequence of his act.” A prolonged cheer from the Liberal benches followed, and when Gladstone spoke again it was in a quiet, subdued manner. Thenceforward his speech resolved itself into an elaborate defence of the course taken by the Cabinet in dissolving Parliament, and comprised an historically interesting statement of his personal views and feelings in the last critical moments of his Premiership.

When Gladstone had finished, he, amid loud cheers, walked out of the House, and Whalley presented himself, this time from a seat behind the front
Opposition bench. His naive confession, that he had “scarcely read the resolution he had seconded,” caused great laughter, which became quite boisterous when he said he was very glad to have the opportunity of commenting upon the inconvenience occasioned to candidates for election and re-election by the suddenness of the dissolution, adding, “It found me in prison”  When, finally, Whalley sat down, there was a pause, and all eyes were turned towards the Treasury bench, where Disraeli sat with folded arms and downcast eyes. Showing no signs of intention to interfere in the matter, Sir George Bowyer rose amid deprecatory cries. It transpired that he wanted Smollett to withdraw his resolution, but the Liberals opposing to his suggestion a determined shout of “No!” the question was formally put from the Chair and negatived.

Excerpt from A Diary of Two Parliaments by Henry W Lucy published in 1885

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Further Reading and External Links

The Author – Henry W Lucy on Wikipedia

Benjamin Disraeli on Wikipedia

 

A Diary of Two Parliaments – 23 April 1874

We are publishing excerpts from the book ‘A Diary of Two Parliaments’ by Henry W Lucy, published in 1885. A popular book in our library, it covers the parliament of the Disraeli government during the years 1874-1880.

Catch-up with other posts in this series here, or search our library here.

The Disraeli Parliament 1874-1880

Mr Gladstone Criticises the Budget

Thursday 23rd April 1874

Houses of ParliamentThe appearance of the House of Commons at half-past four betokened a condition of high expectancy. Every seat in the body of the House was appropriated, and members overflowed into the galleries, a double row facing the Opposition benches indicating that the speaker looked for would rise from that side. The gallery over the clock was densely crowded, amongst the numerous peers present being Earl Granville. Both the front Opposition bench and the Treasury bench were filled, a notable addition to the occupants of the former being Gladstone, who has not of late been very constant in his attendance upon the debates.

As has been his custom this Session, he sat several seats below the one usually filled by the leader of the Opposition, having Bright on his right hand and Childers on his left. The questions disposed of, Raikes, the Chairman of Committees, brought up the Report of the Budget; whereupon Gladstone rose, and was greeted by loud and prolonged cheering from the Liberal benches.

He commenced by observing that he was not about to enter upon a course of hostile criticism, and this pledge was, throughout a speech extending over three-quarters of an hour, kept, not alone in the general scope of his remarks, but in the manner of making them. He was studiously courteous to “my right hon. friend” Stafford Northcote, and most gentle in the utterance even of the strongest of his criticisms upon the financial policy of a Conservative Government.

Stafford Northcote, who followed, observed that, after such a speech, he felt scarcely called upon for an answer; and forthwith proceeded at great length, and in somewhat wearisome detail, to reply.

Excerpt from A Diary of Two Parliaments by Henry W Lucy published in 1885

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Further Reading and External Links

The Author – Henry W Lucy on Wikipedia

Benjamin Disraeli on Wikipedia