« AnteriorContinuar »
tered Banks of Scotland, represent- the degree of the proportionate vari ing the proportions which the quar- ations in each respectively ; but it is terly averages bear to each other, of to be observed, that those scales, bethe respective circulation of each ing constructed upon different data, Bank, at three corresponding periods; afford no means of comparing with the scales by which the circulation one another the actual amount of of these Banks is thus shown establish their respective issues.
1818. ..1,265 .8,179 .1,131
British Linen Company............... 1,400......
As a very large part of the cur- of Mr John Smith, a member of the rency of Scotland is furnished by house, Mr Samuel Gurney, and Mr those Banks, it must be inferred from Gilchrist. the preceding scales, that whatever Whatever may have been the diwas the amount at the close of 1813, minution in the amount of the circunot less than one-third had been with lation of Country Banks in 1816 an! drawn from circulation in 1816, since 1817, it was not in any degree caused which period an equal amount has by a diminution of the issues of the been re-issued.
Bank of England. The circulation A fluctuation, corresponding with of country paper is liable to be affectthis in point of time, and at least ed by want of confidence, generally equal in degree, appears to have ta- brought on by extensive failures in ken place in the paper issued by the some of those establishments; and Country Banks in England. The the result of which is, that other number of these establishments li- Country Banks, however solvent, parcensed in 1814 was 940, in 1817 was ticipate more or less in the general 752.
discredit, and are obliged to restrict Mr Lloyd stated, that the circula- their issues from a regard to their tion of the Country Banks was at its own security. In the opinion of Mr highest in 1813 and 1814, but was Tooke, “a like effect is sometimes considerably reduced in 1816, and produced, and in a much greater dethe beginning of 1817; and being gree, from the discredit of their cusasked as to the amount outstanding tomers, to whom they are in the baat the latter period, when compared bit of advancing money; most of with the former, he answered, “I their customers being holders of arcan hardly say; I should think it was ticles which are liable to be affected reduced nearly one-half,”
by a general depression of price." Your Committee were furnished Although there may be reason to by Mr Stuckey with the following infer from the opinion of the witnesscale of the circulation of a consi- ses most conversant with the manage derable Country Bank, for the last ment of Country Banks, and to whose four years :
evidence your Committee beg leave to refer, that a reduction in the a. mount of the notes issued by the
Bank of England would speedily and ........... 1819.............17 necessarily be followed by a propor. and further information on the same tionate reduction of the Country subject will be found in the evidence Bank paper; still it must be obvious,
that, independently of that cause, the Whether it may be practicable furlatter is liable to a sudden and high- ther to provide against inconvenience ly inconvenient contraction, under to the public and the loss to indivi. such circumstances of distrust and duals, which arise from the occasiondifficulty as occurred in 1816. The al insolvency of Country Banks, and effects of this contraction, unless ob- to make such provision, without an viated by a corresponding increase interference with the rights of proin the issues of the Bank of England, perty, and the transactions of the the credit of which is fortunately un- community founded on commercial assailable by the influence of similar credit, are questions of great difficulcircumstances, must have a tendency, ty, respecting which your Committee by diminishing the amount of the pa- could not, without further evidence per currency, to raise the value of the and considerable delay, have enabled whole.
themselves to submit an opinion to This, in the opinion of your Com. the House. mittee, was one of the effects produ. Your Committee have forborne ced by the rapid contraction of our from entering into any reasoning upcurrency in 1816 and 1817; and to on the effect produced upon the value it may be ascribed, in part, the fall of our currency, by variations in the in the price of gold, and the favour- numerical amount of the notes issued able state of the foreign exchanges by the Bank of England. So many during that interval.
circumstances contribute to affect that Such contraction is an evil to which value, such, for instance, as the varythe system of Country Banks, resting ing state of commercial credit and upon individual credit, may be occa. confidence-the fluctuations in the sionally liable; but your Committee amount of Country Bank paper-the are inclined to hope that it will not different degrees of rapidity with be likely either to prevail to the same which the same amount of currency extent, or to endure for so long a pe- circulates at different periods that riod, when the fluctuations to which your Committee are of opinion, that an inconvertible paper currency is no satisfactory conclusions can be exposed shall be checked by the o. drawn from a mere reference to the peration of the plan which they re- numerical amount of the issues of the commend for the gradual resumption Bank of England outstanding at any of cash payments.
given time. 6th May 1819.
REPORT ON THE CRIMINAL LAWS.
The Select Committee appointed to consider of so much of the Criminal
Laws as relates to Capital Punishment in felonies, and to report their observations and opinion of the same, from time to time, to the House ; and to whom the several petitions on the subject were referred; have, pursuant to the orders of the House, considered the matters to them referred, and have agreed upon the following Report :
Your Committee, in execution of On other parts of the subjects, the trust delegated to them by the for example, in the definition and arHouse, have endeavoured strictly to rangement of crimes they have reconfine themselves within the limits commended a consolidation of the prescribed to them by the terms of laws respecting only one class of oftheir appointment. In some cases fences, and have presumed only to they have laid down restrictions for express a general opinion of the themselves, which the letter of the utility of the like consolidation in resolution of the House did not im. some other cases. They wish expose. They have abstained from all pressly to disclaim all doubt of the consideration of those capital felo. right of the Legislature to inflict the nies which may be said to be of a po. punishment of death, wherever that litical nature, being directed against punishment, and that alone, seems the authority of Government and capable of protecting the communi the general peace of society. To ty from enormous and atrocious the nature and efficacy of the se. crimes. The object of the Commitcondary punishments of transporta- tee has been to ascertain, as far as tion and imprisonment, they have the nature of the case admitted by directed no part of their inquiries; evidence, whether, in the present because another committee had state of the sentiments of the people been appointed to investigate them, of England, capital punishment, in and because no part of the facts or most cases of offences unattended arguments to be stated in this report with violence, be a necessary or will be found to depend, either on even the most effectual security &the present state of these secondary gainst the prevalence of crimes. punishments, or on the degree of I. In the first place, they endea. improvement of which they may be voured to collect official accounts of found capable. With many exten. the state of crimes and the adminisive and important parts of the cri- stration of criminal law throughout minal law-such, for example, as the kingdom, from the earliest pethat which regulates the trial of of. riod to which authentic information fenders--they are entirely satisfied; reaches. The annual returns of and they should not have suggested commitments, convictions, and eseany changes in these departments, cutions, first procured by addresses even if they had been within the ap- from this House, and since required pointed province of this Committee. by statute, go no farther back than
1805. Accounts, though not per- for the same offence were 67, and the fectly satisfactory, of the same par- executions 57; and that in the third, ticulars from London and Middle the convictions were 54, and the exsex, from 1749 to the present time, ecutions 44. If the increase of the have been already laid before Par population during a prosperous peliament, which, with an official sum- riod of 130 years be taken into the mary of the returns of England and account, and if we bear in mind that Wales from 1805, will be inserted in within that time a considerable city the appendix of this report. has grown up on the southern bank
A full and authentic account of of the Thames, we shall be disposed convictions and executions for Lod- to consider it as no exaggeration to don and Middlesex, from 1699 to affirm, that in this district (not one 1804, obtained for the latter part of of the most favourably situated in that time from the Clerk of Arraigns this respect) murder has abated in at the Old Bailey, and for the for- the remarkable proportion of 3, if mer part from the officers of the city not 4, to l. of London, is inserted in the appen- In the thirty years from 1755 to dix. The Corporation of the city of 1784, the whole convictions for murLondon have shown, on this occa. der in London and Middlesex were sion, a liberal and public spirit wor- 71; and in the thirty years from thy of acknowledgment; and it is to 1784 to 1814 they were 66. In the be hoped that they will continue years 1815, 1816, and 1817, the their researches as far back as their whole convictions for murder in records extend, and thus complete London were nine, while in the returns probably unparalleled in the three preceding years they were 14. history of criminal law.
Most of the other returns relate to The Deputy Clerk of Assize for too short a period, or too narrow a the Home Circuit has laid before district, to afford materials for safe your Committee a return of commit- conclusion, with respect to the comments, convictions, and executions on parative frequency of crimes at difthat circuit, which comprehends the ferent periods. counties of Herts, Essex, Kent, Sus. In general, however, it appears sex, and Surrey, from 1689 to 1718, that murders and other crimes of from 1755 to 1784, and from 1784 violence and cruelty have either dito 1814. The returns of the inter- minished or not increased; and that mediate period from 1718 to 1755 the deplorable increase of criminals he will doubtless furnish very soon. is not of such a nature as to indicate From this important return it ap- any diminution in the humanity of pears, that, for the first thirty years the people. The practice of immewhich followed the revolution, the diately publishing the circumstances average proportion of convictions to of every atrocious crime, and of cir. executions was 38 to 20; that from culating in various forms an account 1755 to 1784 it was 46 to 13; and of every stage of the proceedings that from 1784 to 1814, it was 74 to which relate to it, is far more pre19. It is worthy of remark, that valent in England than in any other the whole number of convictions for country, and in our times than in murder on the home circuit, in the any former age. It is on the whole first period, was 123; that the exe- of great utility, not only as a concutions for the same period were 87; trol on courts of judicature, but althat in the second, the convictions so as a means of rendering it extremely difficult for odious criminals ced a permanent law. Where the pu. to escape. In this country no atro- nishment of death was evidently uncious crimes remain secret. With necessary at the time of its original these advantages, however, it can. establishment, and where, if it was not be denied, that by publishing originally justified by a temporary the circumstances of all crimes, our danger, or excused by a temporary modern practice tends to make our fear, it has long been acknowledged age and nation appear more criminal to be altogether disproportioned to than, in comparison with others, it the offence, your Committee con. really is.
ceive themselves warranted in confII. In considerịng the subject of dently recommending its abolition. our penal laws, your Committee will But they have also adverted to anofirst lay before the House their ob. ther consideration : If, in addition to servations on that part which is the the intrinsic evidence of unwarrantleast likely to give rise to difference able severity in a law, which arises of opinion. That many statutes de- from the comparison of the act fornouncing capital punishments might bidden with the punishment threatbe safely and wisely repealed, has ened, they find also that the law has long been a prevalent opinion. It is scarcely ever been executed since sanctioned by the authority of two its first enactment; or if it has fallen successive Committees of this House, into disuse as the nation became composed of the most eminent men more humane and generally enlightof their age, and in some measure ened, your Committee consider by the authority of the House itself, themselves as authorised to recomwhich passed several bills on the re. mend its repeal, by long experience, commendation of their Committees. and by the deliberate judgment of As a general position, the propriety the whole nation. In the applicaof repealing such statutes seems tion of this latter principle, they scarcely to have been disputed. Re- have been materially aided by the specting the number and choice of documents which have been menthem, different sentiments must al- tioned. Where a penal law has not ways be expected. Your Commit- been carried into effect in Middletee have not attempted a complete sex for more than a century, in the enumeration, which much time and counties round London for sixty considerable deliberation would be years, and in the extensive district required to accomplish. They se- which forms the Western Circuit for lected some capital felonies, for the fifty, it may be safely concluded that continuance of which they cannot the general opinion has pronounced anticipate any serious argument, it to be unfit or unnecessary to contiand which seem to them to serve no nue in force. The Committee are purpose but that of encumbering and aware that there are cases in which discrediting the statute-book. Va- it may be said, that the dread of the rious considerations have combined punishment has prevented the perto guide their choice; sometimes petration of the crime, and where
, mere levity and hurry have raised therefore, the law appears to be inan insignificant offence, or an almost efficacious only because it has comindifferent act, into a capital crime; pletely accomplished its purpose
. in other acts, the evil has been ma- Whatever speciousness may belong nifestly and indeed avowedly tempo- to this reasoning in the case of con: rary, though it unfortunately produ- spicuous crimes, and punishments