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Position Of Banks In United Kingdom

Volume 65: debated on Friday 7 August 1914

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Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 17th July, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."

I think the House would like to hear the latest returns from the banks all over the country. I am very glad to be able to state that they are perfectly satisfactory. That report comes not merely from the Bank of England, but from all the great banking institutions of the country, and I have only just heard this morning from Ireland that all is quiet at Dublin.

Scotland is so sensible that I never expected anything would happen there.

I have only heard from certain parts of Scotland, but I regard no news as being good news in this respect. I said something about the queue at the Bank of England, but that vanished in the course of the afternoon. The Bank has received to-day of gold, on foreign account, £5,611,000.

There are one or two typical messages from banks. One bank very largely resorted to by retail traders reports "Everything just as usual; total paid in exceeds payings out." Another reports "All is going well." I have said something about Manchester. There was temporary excitement earlier in the day, but I am very glad to say that, in the course of the afternoon, it passed away completely. One other considerable bank reports "Everything going wonderfully smoothly. We had converted many receiving cashiers into paying cashiers in anticipation of excitement, but money has been coming in so well that we have had to reconvert them." The railways are paying in large sums of money in coin. I have the same kind of reports from the Post Office Savings Bank, both in London and elsewhere. Another very considerable bank reports "Business over the counters is very satisfactory." In London everything is working quite smoothly. The Clearing House Bankers met this afternoon and recorded their very great satisfaction with the way in which things are going on all over the country.

I told the House earlier in the afternoon that I had communicated with the officers of Inland Revenue and Customs last night, with a view of ascertaining what the opinion of the traders is of the state of things, because I thought it would be well to have their point of view as well as that of the bankers. We have received telegrams from practically all over the country from our officers. I am summarising their reports, but I shall be able to give them in greater detail to-morrow, if necessary. They say there are no signs of the hoarding of gold anywhere. Trade everywhere is resuming normal conditions, and the traders are very satisfied with the arrangements made. They are also quite satisfied with the treatment accorded to them by private bankers. The Bank of England considered the position this afternoon, and in view of the very satisfactory state of things they feel that, in their judgment, business is so far re-established that it is no longer necessary to keep the bank rate at 6 per cent. They propose, therefore, to-morrow to reduce it to 5 per cent.

I hope the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer invited me to fill a place on his Committee does not debar me from offering him congratulations on the success of the measures taken by him and the heads of the Bank of England and other great interests with whom he has been conferring. I think these congratulations are due to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but, indeed, we may congratulate our countrymen generally. I ventured to say two days ago that if the public kept its head the public would be safe. The public has kept its head.