HC Deb 16 May 1817 vol 36 cc680-3

On the motion for the recommittal of this bill,

General Thornton

was of opinion, that the bill should proceed no farther in the present session, but that in the next something might be done. The difference in the actual state of interest upon exchequer bills, which was fixed by the present bill, amounted to 10s. and 5d. per. cent, and must fall upon the public. He hoped the right hon. gentleman would accede to the prayer of the petitions against the bill, and consent to its being withdrawn for the present session.

Mr. Rose

said, the sense of the country was not against the bill. Petitions had been presented from three places only against it, Norwich, St. Paul's Covent-garden, and Hertford, and he believed the majority of the petitioners were now satisfied upon the subject of the bill.

The bill was then recommitted. On the clause which obliges the trustees of these institutions to vest all monies received by them in the funds of Great Britain, some conversation arose.

Sir C. Monck

thought that the clause, if it passed into a law, would put the gentlemen who undertook the guidance of these institutions in a degraded condition, as they were thus declared not trustworthy, but were compelled to vest the money in a manner marked out for them, which might be less advantageous to those whose money they were entrusted with.

Sir J. Newport

approved of the clause on tin's very ground, as it took away responsibility as to the disposal of the money, from the gentleman connected with saving banks.

Mr. Preston and Mr. Dickinson objected to the clause, as it would tend to throw into the funds, money which might be lent on mortgage, to the relief of the agricultural interest. The clause was finally agreed to. On the clause which allows persons who have money in saving banks to receive parish relief,

Mr. Rose

observed, that this clause had excited more discussion than any other in the bill. Though many persons connected with the saving banks were persuaded that it was essential to the prosperity of the institutions, he should not have been disposed to press it, if a decided opinion appeared against it. The objections to it were much obviated by a limitation introduced, forbidding parish relief to be given to any person who had more than 30l. in one of these institutions.

Mr. Brand

objected to the clause. The object of saving banks, was to induce the people to look to other sources than the poor-rates; and if the poor man was subject to lose his hard-earned savings, from illness, he had rather induce him to apply to the rich for their charitable assistance, for thus a feeling of benevolence on the one hand, and gratitude on the other, would be kept up.

Mr. Barclay

thought, the parish funds would be so benefited by the introduction of saving banks, that the protection afforded those institutions would rather tend to benefit those funds than to press on them.

Mr. Huskisson

said, that in considering this question, in the committee, it had been agreed that the effect of the poor laws was, to give the improvident a right over the industry and property of others: the natural effect of this was, to increase dependence and mendicity; but while it was desirable to obviate the ill effect of these laws, it was necessary to encourage by every means a desire to do without their assistance. If the poor man thought that his small savings were to be swallowed up by the first fit of sickness, he would be entirely disheartened from saving at all. The ease might be different if the poor laws had never existed: but after having given a bounty en improvidence to the amount of tea millions a year, the general feeling of the poorer classes could not at once be brought to relinquish all thoughts of the supports it had been accustomed to. In order to produce future good effects, it was necessary to incur a present charge by way of encouragement; he was, therefore, in favour of the clause. With respect to the charge thrown on the parish by the rate of interest to be secured to the contributors, no saving bank could be instituted according to this bill till two-thirds of the parish consented.

Mr. Philips

objected to the clause, as likely to destroy every hope of exciting a spirit of independence. It would be less degrading than ever to receive parish relief, if it was once generally extended to and accepted by those who had property of their own. Besides, the contributors to benefit societies hitherto had never been deterred from contributing by the fear that they should therefore lose all claim to parish relief; that idea had rather stimulated than slackened their exertions to save.

Mr. C. Grant

jun. supported the clause. In his opinion it would have a material tendency to create a spirit of independence in the breast of the poor man; and that was an object of the greatest importance to the interests of the man himself, as well as to the country.

Mr. Lockhart

thought the clause could not pass in its present state. As the law now stood, it was never imperative on the overseer to grant parish relief without an order from two justices. By the clause before the House, it was made imperative, in the case of persons having money in saving banks, unless two justices made an order to the contrary. He was not aware that justices were in the habit of making negative orders.

Mr. Sturges Bourne,

in reply to an objection that this bill might interfere with other benefit societies, said, that in other societies the sole object was relief in sickness and distress; in this it was the accumulation of principal; there could, therefore, be no interference.

Mr. Preston

was in favour of the clause, because the measure was not more for the encouragement of the industrious than for the reformation of the dissolute and thoughtless, with whom the motive here held forth might operate.

Mr. Western

objected to the innovation attempted to be introduced by giving parish relief to persons not absolutely in- capable of supporting themselves. The only ground of relief was absolutely pauperism. Suspicion would also be created by such a bounty on saving banks, that they were intended to relieve the rich from the support of the poor, and not to rescue the poor from distress.

Mr. Brougham

wished well to the bill, but felt much difficulty with respect to the two clauses under consideration. The first, however, he would pass over; but his objection to the second was invincible. It was an application, or rather a misapplication of the poor-rates, not to support the poor, but to give premiums for certain savings. The practical evil was, he admitted, small, but the principle was inadmissible. When a person had contributed for three years, he was to be entitled to a premium of 6s or 7s and 6d, according to the rate at which he had contributed. He could not approve of such a mode of coaxing and cajoling persons into industry and economy. Besides, it was in fact a premium upon previous conduct, rather than an incitement to future good conduct.

Mr. Wilberforce

approved of the clause before the House, but as to the clause giving premiums, he had considerable doubts.

Lord Milton

was inclined on the whole to approve of the clause before the House. As property in many shapes might be concealed from the overseers of the poor, and as money deposited in saving banks would be always known to them, it was not fair to lay persons thus depositing money under a disadvantage. As to the clause giving premiums out of the parish funds, he should object to it.

The clause before the House was agreed to; after which, the clause giving premiums to contributors was rejected. The other clauses were agreed to.