"Be so good as to explain to the committee what steps were taken by the Provincial Bank of Ireland in the selection or their various paid officers at the branches?-I believe that is detailed in this said report. The selection of officers in particular was a matter of paramount importance, both on account of the great number required to fill the intended situations in Ireland, and the necessity there was to scrutinize their qualifications as to character and ability. Communications were made on this subject with various gentlemen in different parts of the country, from whom it was expected the best information could be obtained. The prospectus of the society having set out with the resolution that the business should be conducted on the principles which had been so long and so successfully acted upon in Scotland, it seemed desirable to obtain from that country persons trained up in banks there, provided their qualifications in other respects were such as to recommend them. "With this view, the secretary (that was not myself at the time) was sent down to Edinburgh in February, for the purpose of making inquiries; and notice having been given in the public papers that persons were wanted to fill situations in the projected establishments in Ireland, a gentleman in the above city was employed to receive applications and to institute the most minute and scrupulous inquiries regarding the character and qualification of those who should apply. Another gentleman from the same city was also engaged to proceed to London, to assist the directors in the formation and prosecution of a plan for conducting the business, when they should be ready to commence it in Ireland (that alludes to myself). The extensive correspondence which the applications and inquiries, produced by the measures above mentioned, necessarily occasioned, occupied the attention of the directors very closely, and for a considerable length of time, and the result has been that the services of a number of most valuable officers have been secured to the society.
"But at that period was there a greater facility in procuring the services of gentlemen more particularly who had experience in the Scotch banking than there would be subsequently, when there was a more active competition in the establishment of banks?-No doubt of it.
"What description of security were these officers required to give?-Unexceptionable personal security; two persons, at least, generally were joined in a bond for the fidelity of the officer.
"Was there any fixed proportion between the amount of the security required and of the salary paid, or the duties to be performed?-The amount had respect to the duties to be performed rather than to the salary.
"What was the general security that was taken by bond for the fidelity of these officers?-The lowest clerk was £1,000; the highest £10,000, for a manager at the largest branch.
"And that has been enforced by the Provincial Bank with respect to its officers?-The amount of £10,000 has not been required, as we have practically found £5,000 to be a more commandable sum; I would say, within the reach of the description of parties who are aspirants to these offices.
"Now, with respect to the local directors, how were they selected?-It is mentioned here that there should be selected three, four, or five gentlemen of the first respectability in the place, of commercial knowledge, whenever those could be obtained; if having had that commercial knowledge, and being disengaged from business, they were considered as so much the more eligible.
"But in the selection of local directors, so far from excluding persons by reason of their having commercial or banking knowledge, are the committee to understand that such parties were preferred?-Where they had it, and were not understood to be in a situation to require banking accommodation for themselves.
"You have stated that the local directors were required to take ten shares each, at the least?-Yes.
"Will you have the goodness to state what the reason was that they were required to take those shares?-In order that they might have a greater interest in the establishment; feel a personal interest. I must say we have not, in every instance, been able to get gentlemen of that description. We have, in some instances, appointed gentlemen who, from various causes, declined to become shareholders; at least, we have elected gentlemen to be local directors without requiring the fulfilment of that condition. There are some instances at present of gentlemen who are so; but no doubts regarding the solvency of the bank ever deterred any of them."