The Bank of England, 1891-1944 - Vol. 2

By R. S. Sayers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 22
AN ANATOMY OF THE BANK, 1894-1946

A. CHOOSING THE COURT

Throughout the period of this book the Bank of England remained, as it had been since its foundation in 1694, a joint-stock company operating under Royal Charter granted in accordance with the Bank of England Act 1694 and successive Acts of which the most important was the Bank Charter Act of 1844. These conditions were discussed in Sir John Clapham's volumes published soon after the Bank completed the first 250 years of its existence. They are not repeated here, but it is important to remember that until the formal status was transformed by the Act of 1946 the Bank remained in exclusively private ownership. By the time this book opens in the 1890s, this private ownership had become in most ways irrelevant to what the Bank was doing; the exceptions, not then insignificant, find some place in the first two chapters. Broadly, the Bank was conducting itself as a public institution, and from 1914 onwards this could be said without any qualification.a

Between 1890 and 1946 the formal constitutional arrangements of the Bank were modified only once, by a Supplemental Charter granted in 1896, though its duties, in relation for example to the issue of notes and payments in gold, were affected by twelve Acts of Parliament between 1913 and 1939,1 The Supplemental Charter of 1896 was granted under Section 7 of the Bank Act 1892 (55 & 56 Vic. c. 48). The main business of this Act was to give effect to the new and niggardly financial settlement negotiated between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Governor

____________________
1
The most important were
The Currency and Bank Notes Act 1914.
The Gold Standard Act 1925.
The Currency and Bank Notes Act 1928.
The Gold Standard (Amendment) Act 1931.
The Finance Act 1932.
The Currency and Bank Notes Act 1939.

All of these six are discussed in various chapters of this book.

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