The Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers can trace its origins back to the 1740s. During this period Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland, once bitter rivals, decided to join forces to protect their interests against the up and coming private banks. Representatives from the two public banks held informal meetings whenever they needed to take joint action against a common threat.
Initially their main concern was the issuing of notes. In the mid 18th century there was a note-issuing 'mania' in Scotland. Practically all the private banks, and even some traders, shopkeepers and private individuals, issued their own notes, often with scant security. The two established banks viewed this not only as a menace to their own development but also as an inflationary danger to the Scottish economy. Eventually, following an initiative by the Royal Bank, a memorial was prepared in 1764, on behalf of Bank of Scotland and the Royal, concerning the 'paper money used in Scotland' and soliciting 'An Act of Parliament against the illegal banking companies in Scotland'. This resulted in the Banknote (Scotland) Act of 1765, which helped to regularise note issues. Thereafter, the 'Committee of Both Banks' continued to meet on an as needs basis for the remainder of the 18th century.
During the 19th century, the scope and membership of the Committee gradually widened. The advent of large-scale joint-stock banks and branch networks made it necessary to establish note exchange and clearing rules. Other areas for negotiated agreement included the distribution of revenue remittance business, interest rates, customer poaching and loans to municipal authorities. It was also useful, from the point of view of the banks, to present a common front to government when banking legislation was under discussion.
The name of the Committee appears to have been fairly fluid in the early part of the 19th century, sometimes the Committee of Scotch Banks, and sometimes just the Committee of Banks. Later on, it was most regularly referred to as the Committee of Bank Managers.
By the end of 1863 the Committee comprised Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank, the British Linen Company, the Commercial Bank of Scotland, the National Bank of Scotland, the Union Bank of Scotland, the Clydesdale Bank and the City of Glasgow Bank. Meetings were always convened by, and held in, the Bank of Scotland. By 1875 the Committee had expanded again to include the Aberdeen Town and County Bank, the North of Scotland Banking Company and the Caledonian Banking Company.
The main outcome of the Committee's meetings at this stage were the 'Agreements and Understandings among the Scottish Banks', a formally documented set of rules which governed most aspects of banking business. The first of these appeared in June 1876 and they continued until 1971.
The Committee underwent two further name changes during the course of 1946, first to 'Committee of General Managers', then to 'Committee of Scottish Bank General Managers'. Membership of the Committee also started to decline, due to a series of amalgamations and mergers amongst the banks. By the early 1970s, there were only three Scottish banks left: Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and the Clydesdale Bank.
In 1970, the current name - the Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers - was adopted, to reflect the fact that the title 'General Manager' was no longer common to all banks. From this point on, the business of the Committee also began to be affected by government and European legislation on restrictive practices. From 1971, no further formal Agreements were issued.
Today the Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers acts as the representative body of the remaining Scottish clearing banks. It provides an authoritative voice on Scottish banking matters to ensure that they are adequately recognised and safeguarded, and also provides a forum through which member organisations can discuss and debate non-competitive matters of mutual interest or concern.