Trevelyan to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary)
Treasury Chambers
13 January 1859
Having laid before the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury your Letter of the 28th ultimo proposing certain amendments of the "Draft Charter for the Bank of British Columbia," I am commanded by My Lords to state for the information of Secretary Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, that They can hardly think that the full impact of the provisions regarding theManuscript imagethe revocation of the Charter were brought under his notice when he proposed that the issue of a Warrant of this Board for the purpose should be made legally subject to the concurrence of the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
I am to state that, in framing the Drafts of Charters for Colonial Banks, it was considered desirable by the counsel of this Board that some summary course should be provided for the Manuscript imagerevocation of the Grant, in case of breach of its provisions, in order to avoid the delay and expense of proceedings in Chancery; and that, for this object a power should be reserved to the Crown to revoke the Charter on proof of violation of its conditions, which power should be set in motion by a formal representation to the Queen by some Department of Her Majesty's Government.
It appeared to be obvious that this Board, as the Depart=Manuscript imageDepartment charged with financial business was the proper authority to be entrusted with the function, and the clause which is now proposed to be altered has been inserted in all the Colonial Bank Charters of recent years. The power conferred by it is not of an arbitrary nature. That power could only be exercised on proof that the corporation had so conducted its operations as to entail legal forfeiture of its privilegesManuscript imageprivileges; and it is not to be supposed that so serious a step as the revocation of a Charter would be taken except after mature consideration of all the facts of the case of which the Secretary of State for the Colonies would necessarily be cognisant, and under the advice of the Law Officers of the Crown.
My Lords are aware of no reasons which can be urged against the ministerial Act provided for being vested inManuscript imagein this Board; but if Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton is prepared to state any grounds why the course hitherto observed in the matter should be altered, My Lords will be ready to consider such suggestions as he may wish to offer on the subject, but They cannot consent that, under any circumstances, the ministerial duty of submitting Their Warrant to Her Majesty should be madeManuscript imagemade legally subject to the previous approval of a Secretary of State.
I am to observe that My Lords will consider the other suggestion contained in your Letter.
I remain etc.
C.E. Trevelyan
Minutes by CO staff
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VJ 14 Jan
HM Jan 15
Mr Merivale
I have been unable to find copies of any very recent Charters in the office, & am therefore unable to say how far the present statement of the Treasury is correct that the provision objected to by this dept by the letter of Oct 28/58 objected to by this dt by the letter of Oct 28/58 "has been inserted in all the Colonial Bank Charters of recent years." You will see that it was not inserted in the annexed printed Charter of the Bank of Australia which simply vests a power of revocation in the Crown, without the questionable addition practically placing the power in the hands of 2 Lords of the Treasury. I understand the Secy of State might claim the right of advising the Crown—or at least of jointly advising. I think the answer to this letter might be that Sir E.B. Lytton still thinks it objectionable in point of principle that the Lords of the Treasury should be empowered to address the Crown independently of this department, in a matter of such great importance to a Colony, as the revocation of a Charter, but as their Lordships object to an express provision for the concurrenceManuscript imageconcurrence of the Secy of State Sir E.B. Lytton wd suggest that the form of provision as to revocation, in the annexed Charter of the Bank of Australia, should be reverted to, under which the power of revocation should be simply vested in the Sovereign without any mention of a representation from 2 Lords of the Treasury.
On a recent occasion—vizt in the case of the Oriental Bank, the Treasury acting on a similar Charter power vested in 2 Lords of the Treasury—gave the Bank authority to issue notes in Mauritius with the concurrence of the Governor, in the month of June or July, and did not inform the Secretary of State that they had done so till September. There have been other instances in which the Manuscript imageTreasury have caused us much perplexity from not acquainting us sufficiently with their proceedings in regard to Colonial matters. It is certainly undesirable to raise a controversy between the departments and therefore if any allusion is made to our past experience of the use by the Treasury of powers vested in them independently of this department, it should be of a general & inoffensive character.
WS Jany 31/59
Lord Carnarvon
I have not myself considered this matter: follow Mr Strachey's advice?
HM Jan 31
I know nothing of this case.
C Feby 1
As Mr S advises.
EBL Feb 3
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Merivale to G.A. Hamilton, Treasury, 14 February 1859, further discussing possible alterations to the draft charter of the Bank of British Columbia with reference to previous colonial banking charters.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Merivale
Having now obtained a series of Charters from the Board of Trade—I find that 2 Charters of 1855 & 1856 omit the clause objected to by this dt. I have noticed them in this draft.