The rise of financial accountability in British joint stock banks: 1825 to 1845
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© European Association for Banking and Financial History e.V. 2020
This study explores parliamentary reforms related to the financial accountability of banks following the 1825–6 and 1836–7 financial crises in England. An appraisal of nineteenth-century parliamentary Hansard transcripts reveals early banking legislative pursuits. The study observes the laissez-faire and interventionist approaches towards the banking enactments of 1826, 1833 and 1844 that underpin the transformation of financial accountability during this era. The Bank Notes Act 1826 imposed financial accountability on the Bank of England by requiring the mandatory disclosure of notes issued. The Bank Notes Act 1833 extended this requirement to all other banks. The Bank Charter Act 1833 increased the financial accountability of the Bank of England by requiring it to provide an account of bullion and securities belonging to the governor and company, as well as deposits held by the bank. Thereafter, the Joint Stock Banks Act 1844 pioneered the regular publication of assets and liabilities and communication of the balance sheet and profit and loss account to shareholders. State intervention in the financial accountability of banks during the period from 1825 to 1845 appears to have been cumulative.
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