Front Page Titles (by Subject) BANKS OF ENGLAND, AND OF IRELAND 8 March 1822 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence
BANKS OF ENGLAND, AND OF IRELAND 8 March 1822 - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 1815-1823.
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First published by Cambridge University Press in 1951. Copyright 1951, 1952, 1955, 1973 by the Royal Economic Society. This edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., under license from the Royal Economic Society.
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BANKS OF ENGLAND, AND OF IRELAND
8 March 1822
Mr. Maberley’s motion for an account of the interest paid to the Bank of Ireland having given rise to some discussion on the comparative charges made by the Banks of Ireland, and of England, Mr. Pearse (a Bank director) rebutted ‘the insinuations thrown out against the Bank of England’ and said: ‘The hon. member for Portarlington had, upon a former occasion, asserted, that the directors had scarcely ability enough to perform the duties with which they were intrusted: but he (Mr. P.) preferred the opinions of the proprietors of Bank-stock, who elected them annually, to all the theories of modern philosophers on the subject.’
Mr. Ricardo said, that whenever the conduct of the Bank was brought before the notice of the House, he should think it his duty to speak of it as he thought and felt. With regard to the directors, he was willing, at all times, to give them full credit for honesty of intention; but he could not help thinking, that they had at different times involved the country in considerable difficulties. He persisted in saying, that the Bank restriction act which was passed in 1797, might have been unattended with detriment to the country, had the directors known how to manage their own concerns. But, not knowing how to manage them upon true principles, they had issued a quantity of paper so large as to depreciate its own value; and to recover from that depreciation, the country had found it necessary to undergo a painful process, which had been the cause of a great part of the present distress. Ever since the year 1819, the Bank had committed a great error in its eagerness to provide gold. That error they confessed themselves, when they offered to lend government 4,000,000l. Such an offer he took to be a specific confession of error, inasmuch as it was a declaration that they had amassed more gold than was necessary, and by so doing had aggravated the evils under which the country suffered. As to the plan of the Bank lending 4,000,000l. to the government, he viewed it with some degree of fear, because the directors had convinced him by their conduct that they did not know what they were about. If they thought they could issue either 4,000,000l. of gold coin, or even of paper, without withdrawing the gold coin from circulation, they were mightily mistaken. He was quite sure that the currency could not absorb it, and therefore it must go abroad.