HC Deb 18 March 1818 vol 37 cc1177-9

The House resolved itself into a Committee on this bill. The several clauses were agreed to. On the report being brought up,

General Thornton

objected to the high interest paid upon deposits. It would, he said, be the means of money being deposited by persons whom these banks were not intended to benefit; and as government could now borrow money at about one-half the rate of interest proposed, the other half was taken out of the pocket of the public. Besides that, in the event of a war, the depositors would claim their money and cause a still farther loss to the public.

Alderman Atkins

wished to know to what particular sums individuals would be limited.

The Chancellor of the. Exchequer

said, that when the bill came again before the House, he should move the recommittal for the purpose of receiving any amendment that might be suggested; but at present, from the inquiries he had made, and from all the circumstances upon which he was enabled to form a judgment, ha thought it inexpedient to check the object of the bill. The privilege allowed had certainly, in some cases, been abused, and perhaps it would be as well to reduce the amount: 100l. for the first deposit, and 50l. a year afterwards, might be thought too much to be contributed by the class of persons to whom Saving Banks were particularly intended to apply. It was with extreme caution, however, that any alteration in this respect should be made, as by checking a partial abuse the House would run the risk of injuring the whole of the measure: 4½ per cent, was the interest allowed, but after the deduction for the management, it could not be said to exceed 4 per cent, which was a rate of interest as moderate as could be allowed to be an inducement for persons of small property to invest their money. Five per cent, could readily be had upon private security; but the House must be well aware of the many lamentable scenes of distress and despondency, and of the destruction of the best hopes of many of those who had so employed their money, and who, instead of making the expected benefit of the investment, had been consigned to ruin by the failure of those whom they trusted. Many, if not most of these evils had arisen from the want of persons knowing where to avail themselves of a secure deposit at a moderate interest. To a certain extent this plan might be inconvenient to the public, and might take from the public purse from one to one and a half per cent., but he was certain that the House would not think the amount of from 6 to 10,000l a year too much, in aid of a plan which tended so much to the industry and morality of the people in general. He confidently hoped, that the benefits to be derived would not be threefold or even tenfold, but would extend to a hundred-fold. The system had succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectations of its promoters; and if it was to a certain degree liable to abuse, it was amply compensated by the general good it occasioned.

The report was ordered to be taken into farther consideration on the 13th of April.