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establishing one bank of issue for the United Kingdom. The following evidence on this subject was given by Mr. Kennedy, the manager of the Ayrshire Bank, before the Committee on Banks of Issue, in 1841 :*Do
you think the establishment of a single bank of issue for the United Kingdom would be advantageous or otherwise to Scotland ? " ...“I conceive that it must be very
destructive to Scotland.” “In what way?”.... “It is perfectly clear that it would overturn the present system of banking in Scotland. Our system of banking is based upon
that our currency gives us to allow a high rate of deposit interest. If you take from us the profit that our currency yields, we must make our profit from some other source; we must increase the charges to the community, and allow less interest, or probably no interest at all, and our system will be totally changed."
Another favourite notion has been the abolition of all notes under £5. A Committee of the House of Lords and a Committee of the House of Commons made reports on this subject in the year 1826. The evidence produced by the Scotch bankers was so overwhelming, that both the committees recommended the postponement of the mea
Robert Paul, Esq., Secretary to the Commercial Bank of Scotland, stated to the Committee of the House of Lords that the following would be the effects of the abolition of the small notes:-
“ We should diminish the number of our branches, because we should be involved in an expense in the transmission of gold, which the profits arising out of our branches could never compensate ; they are not the most profitable part of our business; they are attended with a great many hazards and disadvantages.
· Lords' Report, p. 204.
are generally employed there in the fishing. The fishermen every morning sell their fish to the curers on shore, receive their money, and set out in quest of more. The value of each boat's fishing for a night sometimes exceeds £5, but generally is under it; and there are, in this fishing station alone, a thousand boats to be paid off every morning, of whom most probably two-thirds have to receive less than £5 each. It will be impossible to provide gold and silver sufficient for such a purpose; and in the remote parts of the North Highlands, where the fishery is much more extensive, and banks at a greater distance, the difficulty is insuperable.
“At present the business of the Highlands is transacted by means of bank notes of £1, with some larger notes on occasions, and that with the greatest facility. Cattle dealers, and all others having to pay away money to any amount in small sums to a number of people, as in the instances mentioned, prepare themselves by a mixture of notes, some large and some small, accompanied by a few pounds of silver, and everything goes on well. These notes are preferred by the country people before gold, both because they are unable to distinguish between the genuine and base metal, and because coins are more liable to be lost from their pockets than notes; and they have no reason to repent their confidence in the stability of those banks whose notes they have been accustomed to receive for so many years in their transactions. But if small notes are superseded, and gold substituted, it is not easy to see how the supply of gold is to be kept up to carry on the business and transactions of this country. Should a quantity of it be received into the circulation, it would not remain long, but find its way into the banks, who will not again give it out in bills as they do their notes, and it will immediately become a scarce article in the country. A
person, then, having to pay in small sums, will on every such occasion be obliged to send his large notes to the bank that issued them, perhaps a hundred miles off, to receive gold and silver in their place, to answer his purpose. The conveyance of it to him is next to be provided for. The weight may be too much for the post. There are no mail coaches; and he must either employ a carrier, moving too slowly for his occasions, or be at the expense of sending a trusty person for the treasure.
“In transmitting money from one part of the country to another, the same difficulty will often present itself. Suppose a person in the Western Isles has to pay £19 to one on the Continent. At present this may be conveniently done by three notes of £5 and four of £l enclosed by post; but when there shall be no £1 notes, the odd £4 must be sent in gold or silver, not conveniently carried in a post letter, and requiring that a person be employed for the purpose,
and at some expense. Many other such difficulties and inconveniences will
These presented themselves to me, and I stated them hastily, without regard to order. If you find any. thing in them useful for the purpose, I shall be pleased. But it appears extremely hard that the Scotch system should be disturbed, and that we should be obliged to adopt one not only unsuitable to our purposes, but ruinous to the business of our country.”
IV. Those Operations of the Scotch Banks that refer to
Cash Credits, Deposits, and the Settlement of the Exchanges.
Cash Credits. A cash credit is an undertaking on the part of the bank to advance to an individual such sums of money as he may from time to time require, not exceeding in the whole a certain definite amount; the individual to
whom the credit is given entering into a bond with secu. rities, generally two in number, for the repayment on demand of the sums actually advanced, with interest upon each issue from the day upon which it is made.
Cash credits are rarely given for sums below £100; they generally range from £200 to £500, sometimes reaching £1,000, and occasionally a larger sum.
A cash credit is, in fact, the same thing as an overdrawn current account, except that in a current account the party overdraws on his own individual security, and in the cash credit he finds two sureties who are responsible for him. Another difference is, that a person cannot overdraw his current account, without requesting permission each time from the bank; whereas the overdrawing of a cash credit is a regular matter of business—it is, in fact, the very thing for which the cash credit has been granted. The following advantages have been ascribed to the cash credit system :
1. Cash credits enable young men of good character to acquire wealth and respectability.
“I have known many instances of young men who were starting in the world from low situations-of servants, who have conducted themselves well during the time they were apprentices—of farm-servants even, who were able to procure an account from a bank by means of some friends or acquaintances becoming their securities—that in the course of their business have raised themselves by becoming farmers of considerable extent, or manufacturers in a way highly 'creditable to themselves and beneficial to their country."
This and the following quotations are taken from the evidence given by the witnesses from Scotland, before the Committees of Lords and Commons, appointed to consider the expediency of abolishing the notes ander £5 in 1826.
“ Without cash credits, sober, attentive, and industrious people would not have the means at all of following up what they very deservedly might be encouraged to follow up. They begin the world, in all probability, with a mere trifle, which trifle they have been known to make by their own industry. Having made that, it recommends their character to persons of, perhaps, a little more fortune, who, to encourage them, become sureties for their cash accounts.
“ The classes of persons who have cash credits are very various; but they are generally the industrious classes of persons—merchants, and traders, and farmers.
“ The accommodation is more readily given to a small than to a large amount—the bank preferring to grant ten credits for £100, than one for £1,000, thereby demonstrating that their accounts are quite as much for the assistance of the poor as for the accommodation of the rich.”
2. Cash credits furnish great facility to tradesmen and others in carrying on their business, either in the way of raising money, in making purchases, or in employing at particular seasons their surplus capital.
“ Is the advantage to the party borrowing greater under the system of cash credit than under the system of lending in the ordinary mode ?-Infinitely.
“Why ?-As to the question of actual pounds, shillings, or pence, paid in the shape of interest, there is, in the first place, this difference, that when he discounts a bill, he pays the interest on the sum for three months, if that be the currency of it. Should any accidental mercantile transactions throw into this individual's hands, on the next day, the same amount which he had received thus from the banker, he has lost the benefit of the transaction, because he must keep this : if he has a deposit account with the banker he must keep it at banker's interest, while