Front Page Titles (by Subject) NOTE ON THE EVIDENCE ON THE USURY LAWS - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence
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NOTE ON THE EVIDENCE ON THE USURY LAWS - 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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NOTE ON THE EVIDENCE ON THE USURY LAWS
The Committee took evidence from twenty-one witnesses representing the commercial and landed interests; the first to be heard was Ricardo. Almost every one of the witnesses declared that the Laws were either injurious, particularly to the landed interest, or inoperative. The Report of the Committee was presented on 28 May 1818 in the form of three Resolutions as follows:
1. That the laws regulating or restraining the rate of interest have been extensively evaded, and have failed of the effect of imposing a maximum on such rate; and that of late years, from the constant excess of the market rate of interest above the rate limited by law, they have added to the expense incurred by borrowers on real security, and that such borrowers have been compelled to resort to the mode of granting annuities on lives, a mode which has been made a cover for obtaining higher interest than the rate limited by law, and has farther subjected the borrowers to enormous charges, or forced them to make very disadvantageous sales of their estates.
2. That the construction of such laws, as applicable to the transactions of commerce as at present carried on, have been attended with much uncertainty as to the legality of many transactions of frequent occurrence, and consequently been productive of much embarrassment and litigation.
The repeal of the Usury Laws took place by stages over a period of years from 1833 to 1854. It began with a clause in the Bank Charter Act of 1833 (3 & 4 Wm. IV c. 98) which exempted bills of exchange, not having more than three months to run, from the operation of the Usury Laws. An Act of 1837 (7 Wm. IV & 1 Vict. c. 80) also exempted bills of exchange of not more than twelve months’ currency; this measure, which was a temporary one, was prolonged by an Act of 1839 (2 & 3 Vict. c. 37) which also exempted loans of more than £10. These measures were further prolonged by Acts of 1843 (6 & 7 Vict. c. 45), 1845 (8 & 9 Vict. c. 102), and 1850 (13 & 14 Vict. c. 56). The Usury Laws were finally repealed by an Act of 1854 (17 & 18 Vict. c. 90).