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notes unless the banks had previously opened an account with them, and made a lodgment to meet their notes.
The branches are all subordinate to the parent esta. blishment. They carry on the ordinary business of local banking, and of London banking as well, in addition to issuing bank notes and bills. Cash for their notes can be demanded only at the particular branch which has issued them, or in London. The accounts are balanced every night, and the balance transmitted to town daily, together with particulars of all the transactions of the day. One of the most important public services performed by the branches is the remittance of the revenue, which is paid into them by the collectors, and credit is then at once given to the exchequer account in London.
The bank has branches at Birmingham, Bristol, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Plymouth, Portsmouth, and one in London, called the West-end Branch.
It had originally branches at Exeter, Gloucester, Norwich, Swansea, and Leicester.
The branch at Exeter was closed May 1, 1834; the Gloucester branch on the 28th February, 1849; the Norwich branch, May 31, 1852; the Swansea branch on 28th February, 1859; and the Leicester branch February, 1872. The reasons assigned for withdrawing these branches do not appear very satisfactory. The Exeter branch was closed because another branch was opened on the same day at Plymouth, and the branch was said to be removed to Plymouth. The opening of a new branch at Plymouth seems to have no necessary connection with the closing of that at Exeter. The Gloucester branch was closed because a railway had been opened to Bristol, and the people of Gloucester might, if so disposed, transact their business with the Bristol branch. The distance be
tween Gloucester and Bristol is about the same as that between Manchester and Liverpool; but the directors have never announced any intention of closing their branch at Manchester, upon the ground that there is a railway to Liverpool. The true reason we believe to be, that the business at these branches had not realized the anticipations of the directors. The active opposition of the private bank of Messrs. Sparkes & Co. (afterwards merged in the Devon and Cornwall Bank), prevented the Exeter branch obtaining much business. At one time the Gloucester Banking Company issued only the notes of the Gloucester branch, but afterwards they resumed the issue of their own notes, and hence, in 1843 and subsequent years, the circulation of this branch declined. The Norwich branch not only obtained but small business, but made large losses. It appears from parliamentary returns that so early as the year 1831, the bad debts at this branch amounted to £32,000. It may be remarked that three of the branches withdrawn were located in the centre of agricultural districts, and the most prosperous branches have been located in manufacturing and commercial towns, as Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Newcastle.
Here is another anomaly of the Act of 1844. The Bank of England is placed in a position in which it is its interest to withdraw some of its branches. At the same time, the banks of issue in the neighbourhood of those branches are not allowed to extend their issues so as to fill up the vacuum which is thus occasioned in the amount of the local circulation.
In addition to the management of the Government Funded Debt, which has always been conducted by the Bank of England, that corporation has of late years undertaken the management of the Government Unfunded Debt, formerly managed by the Exchequer Office, of the Indian Debt, and of the Funded Debt of the Metropolitan Board of Works.
Pari passu with this increase of business, additional facilities have been afforded to the recipients of dividends of the various stocks by giving them the option of receiving their dividend warrants, by post, or at any of the branches of the Bank of England. The bank has also waived the charge of 1s. 6d. which it formerly made for preparing powers of attorney for the receipt of dividends.
In the Bullion Office an important modification has been made in the assay by which gold is bought and sold. Formerly, what was called the Trade Report was used, and the fineness of the gold was quoted to the of a carat grain, equal to 75 grains Troy, or the 768th part of the whole. This left a small profit to the bank on gold bullion imported by them into the Mint for the purposes of the coinage, since the Mint assayed much closer; whereas the assay now used at the bank determines to the į of a millième, equivalent to the doo part of the whole, and leaves no appreciable difference between the bank and the Mint assay.
The price at which light gold coin is bought by the bank has also been raised from £3 178. 6d. per ounce to £3 178. 9d., the authorities of the Mint receiving this coin from the bank at £3 178. 10d., instead of requiring it to be remelted and reassayed, as was the practice previously. It is to be hoped that this change, which decreases the loss on light coins, will tend to induce bankers to withdraw them from circulation, and thus lend their aid to purge the gold currency, which is at present in a very unsatisfactory condition.
Under the Stock Certificates Act, 1863 (26 Vict. c. 28),
the bank issues stock certificates for consols, new 3 per cents., and reduced 3 per cent. annuities. These certifi. cates are transferable by delivery; but the transfer may be restricted by the holder filling in his name, address, and quality, in a space provided for the purpose. These certificates are of the denominations of £50, £100, £200, £500, and £1000, and coupons are attached, payable to bearer, for the two half-yearly dividends due next after the date of issue.
The stockholder, when he desires to obtain certificates, transfers the stock in the Transfer Office in which the business of that particular stock is transacted, where he receives a certificate of the transfer, and this he exchanges in the Chief Cashier's Office for the stock certificate he requires.
When a holder of stock certificates wishes to have the stock they represent reinscribed, he delivers them up in the Chief Cashier's Office, and receives a certificate entitling him to have a corresponding amount of stock inscribed in his name in the Transfer Office of the stock.
The Government makes a charge of 28. per cent. for the issue of certificates, and ls. per certificate for reinscription.
Stock certificates for Metropolitan Consolidated 3 per cent. stock are issued in exactly the same terms as certificates for the Government Funds, and for corresponding amounts, with the exception that there are no certificates of £200.
Stock certificates for India 4 per cent. and 5 per cent. stock are issued for £100, £500, and £1000; but the transfer of these certificates cannot be restricted, and the charges are slightly different from those for the Government funds.
The Laws of the Currency with Reference to the Bank of England.-In March, 1841, I was, at the request of the joint-stock banks, examined as a witness before a Select Committee of the House of Commons, “appointed to inquire into the effects produced on the circulation of the country by the various banking establishments issuing notes payable on demand." The charge advanced at the time against the issuing joint-stock banks, and generally against all banks of issue, was, that they did not make the amount of their circulation correspond with the amount of the circulation of the Bank of England. With reference to this accusation, I laid before the committee a variety of tables, designed to show the laws which regulated the circulation of the Bank of England, of the country banks, and of the Banks of Ireland and of Scotland respectively. The inference was designed to show that no correspondence could exist between the circulation of these several banks. These tables cannot be introduced here. But the following is a summary of my evidence on this subject, taken from an article on “ The Laws of the Currency,” which I published in the “ Foreign and Colonial Review of April, 1844:
“We have before us two reports from the Committee on Banks of Issue, laid before the House of Commons in the years 1840 and 1841. The committee report the evidence, and abstain from giving any opinion upon the great questions involved in the inquiry. They, however, recommended the passing of the Act 4 & 5 Vict. c. 50, requiring a monthly registry of the circulation of the Bank of Eng. land, and of the other banks of issue, with the amount of bullion, to be published in the Royal Gazette.' It may therefore be expected that, in a course of years, a sufficient number of facts will be recorded to enable future generations to form well-grounded opinions' on this important subject.