HC Deb 16 April 1833 vol 17 cc198-200
Lord Althorp

, pursuant to the notice which he had given last night, moved for leave to bring in a Bill to enable persons to purchase small annuities through the means of the Savings' Banks, and to consolidate and amend the laws relative to savings' banks. The noble Lord said, that the object of the measure was to place it in the power of the labouring classes to purchase such annuities. The House was aware that the lowest sum which could be granted at present as a Government annuity was 30l. a-year. It was proposed by this measure to enable persons, through the means of the savings' banks, to purchase Government annuities so low as 20l. a-year. He did not apprehend that any danger of loss would arise to the parties paying the instalments, in consequence of the cessation of the payment of them; for it was provided by the Bill, when parties, either from necessity or choice, discontinued the payment of the instalments, they should receive back all the money which they had lodged in the savings' bank, without interest, however, which circumstance would distinguish such payment from the other monies paid into those establishments. It was proposed by this Bill, taking a person between the ages of twenty and thirty, that he should pay 6s. a month into the savings' bank as an instalment, and, on arriving at the age of sixty, be entitled to an annuity of 20l. a-year. From calculations which had been made it appeared that the Government would lose nothing by this arrangement, and it was one that might be attended with much advantage to the industrious classes. There were two clauses in this Bill also for amending the law regarding savings' banks—one was, to make it necessary to give a longer notice before money was drawn out than was required at present; and the other was, that if an individual should draw out all the money he had deposited, he could not re-invest it except as a new deposit.

Mr. Thomas Attwood

said, that he believed the Government was at this moment paying 60,000l. a-year out of the national purse for the maintenance of those establishments—a sum which they had cost the country for many years, and the aggregate of which exceeded all the money that had been lost by 1l. notes since the world began, and all that had been lost by the failure of country banks during the last ten years. These establishments, which had cost so much, instead of an advantage, were a nuisance. The original intention in instituting savings' banks was, that small sums should be deposited in them. They had a savings' bank in Birmingham, the amount of the deposits in which at present was 60,000l.; and in looking over the accounts the other day he found that 50,000l. of that consisted of deposits of sums of 20l. and upwards. Now he never knew a country bank in his life that would refuse to take deposits of that amount, and give interest upon them. Savings' banks were a sort of screw in the hands of the Government to fix down the working classes to its system.

Mr. Brotherton

did not agree with the hon. member for Birmingham, and conceived that savings' banks had been productive of great national advantage, by enabling the labouring classes to save their money.

Mr. Pease

said, that without wishing to disparage country banks, he could not help remarking, that when he knew, during his own experience, that the small county which he represented had been a loser to the extent of 600,000l. or 700,000l. by country banks, he thought it would be a bad principle to have the poor lodging their savings in them. The accounts of the savings* banks should be annually laid before the Government, for it was most necessary to maintain a superintending control over them.

Lord Althorp

said, that the accounts of all the savings' banks were annually laid before Government; and where any bank neglected to do so, the Commissioners exercised the power (one or two instances of which had occurred since he came into office) of closing such bank till its accounts were sent up.

Motion agreed to.

The noble Lord brought in the Bill, which was read a first time.