THE last Act of Parliament for regulating banks in Ireland is the 8 & 9 Vict. cap. 37, passed in the year 1845.
This Act recites that by the Act 21 & 22 Geo. III. an Act was passed for establishing a bank by the name of the Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland; and which prohibited any other company consisting of more than six persons to issue notes payable on demand or within any time less than six months. That by the Act 1 and 2 Geo. IV. cap. 72, other companies consisting of more than six partners might issue notes payable on demand, at a greater distance than fifty miles (Irish) from Dublin. And that by 6 Geo. IV. cap. 42, and 1 Wm. IV. cap. 32, such co-partnerships of bankers might transact certain matters of business by agents in Dublin, including the payment though not the issue of notes.
The Act farther recites that the Bank of Ireland had at various times advanced for the public service the several sums of £600,000, .£500,000, and £1,250,000, late Irish currency; and that by the 48 Geo. III. cap. 103, the charter of the Bank of Ireland was extended to the 1st day of January, 1837-upon twelve months' notice to be published in the "Dublin Gazette," and after the repayment of the above-mentioned sums. And that by the Act 1 and 2 Geo. IV. cap. 72, the Bank of Ireland had agreed to advance a further sum of £500,000, and the bank was empowered to enlarge its capital to £3,000,000; making the total advances £2,850,000, late Irish currency, equal to £2,630,769 4s. 8d. sterling money of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; on which by the Act 3 and 4 Vict. c. 75, the bank received an annuity from the Government of £115,384 12s. 4d. sterling, payable on the 5th of January and 5th of July in each year, redeemable upon six months' notice, to be given after January 1st, 1841, and after payment of the above-mentioned sums.
The Act farther recites that the above annuity of £'115,384 12s. Ad. has, with the consent of the said governor and company, been reduced to £92,076 18s. 5d., being at the rate of 3 1/2 per cent. per annum on the capital sum of £2,630,769 As. 8d., which capital sum shall not be repaid until the expiration of six months' notice, to be given after January 1st, 1855; and that, during such term, the said governor and company shall manage the public debt free of all charge. The company is to continue a corporation, for the purpose of carrying on the business of banking, but not to have any exclusive privileges. The charter to continue until the expiration of twelve months' notice to be given and published in the " Dublin Gazette," after January 1st, 1855, and upon repayment of the sums due from the Government to the bank.
The Act removes, from the 6th day of December, 1845, all restrictions upon banks having more than six partners issuing notes and carrying on business in Dublin and within fifty miles thereof. But no banker shall issue any larger amount of notes than the average amount he had in circulation during the year ending the 1st day of May, 1845 (which amount shall be certified by the Commissioners of Stamps), and the amount of gold and silver coin he may have in his hands, in the proportion of not more than one-fourth of silver to that of gold.
In case two bants should unite, the new hank to have the power of issue to the amount of both the united hanks. Any bank may arrange with the Bank of Ireland to give up its issue, and in that case the Bank of Ireland may increase its issue to that amount. But the bank that thus contracts shall not afterwards resume its issue. All notes for a fractional part of a pound are prohibited. Each bank issuing notes is required to send to the Stamp Office weekly returns, stating the amount of notes in circulation on each Saturday, distinguishing those below £5; and also the amount of gold and silver coin held at each of the head offices or four principal places of issue in Ireland. And from these returns the Commissioners of Stamps and Taxes shall make a monthly return, which shall be published in the "Dublin Gazette." This monthly average must not exceed the amount certified by the commissioners and the amount of gold and silver on hand.
All banks are required to send a list of their shareholders to the Stamp Office every year, between the 1st and the 15th of January, to be published in the "Dublin Gazette" before the 1st day of the succeeding March. All banks, whether they issue notes or not, are entitled to sue and be sued in the name of their public registered officer.
Upon the Act of 1845, for the regulation of banks in Ireland, we may observe:-
1. The authorized issue is, like that of the banks of Scotland, the average amount of the year ending on the 1st day of May, 1845.
2. If any two banks unite, the new bank may issue to the amount of the circulation of both the united banks. Here the law is the same as that of Scotland, but different from that of England.
3. If any bank gives up its issue, and agrees to issue
Bank of Ireland notes, the Bank of Ireland may increase her authorized issue to the full amount of the issue of the bank whose notes are withdrawn. In England, the Bank of England can, in a similar case, issue only to the extent of two-thirds of the issue of the bank whose notes are withdrawn. There is no similar provision in the Act referring to Scotland.
4. Another difference may be noticed between Ireland and Scotland. All the notes issued at the branch banks in Scotland are payable only at the head office of the bank that issued them. In Ireland, by the Act 9 Geo. IT. c. 81, all notes must bear to be payable at the place or places where they have been issued or reissued. Hence the banks in Ireland must keep some gold at every branch, while the banks in Scotland need not have any gold except at the head office. In both countries, the banks must hold a stock of gold equal to the amount of notes in circulation beyond the authorized issue; and, according to the Act, this gold must be at the head office, or chief places of issue. The gold held at the branches, however necessary for business purposes, is not taken into account in the returns to the Stamp Office. The banks, indeed, return the whole amount of the gold in their possession;. and it is this which is published in the newspapers. But the amount held against the excess of authorized issue must be held at the chief office, or at four chief places of issue. In the Provincial Bank of Ireland these places are Cork, Limerick, Dublin, and Belfast.