HC Deb 24 July 1834 vol 25 cc456-8

On the Motion of Mr. Ord to recommit the Friendly Societies' Bill. The House went into a Committee on that Bill.

Mr. Bernal

wished to propose a clause to empower the Friendly Societies to invest their funds in any manner they pleased, with the consent of three-fourths of the members. These Societies were of great national importance; and, therefore, the House ought to be cautious that they did not so legislate as to excite the suspicion of the Societies. If the Bill were left in its present shape, without the Amendment which he proposed, he feared there would be this tendency.

Mr. Ord

admitted, that the Friendly Societies were generally desirous of some such clause as that now proposed; but he feared, that the power would be any thing but useful to the Societies; that it would often expose them to bankruptcy and ruin. He regretted, that the Bill had been much, and, he feared, designedly misrepresented by interested parties. It did not seek to interfere with the investments of any Societies now existing; only those which sought enrolment under it. If the clause now proposed were adopted, the effect would be, that Societies, except those in the metropolis, might be tempted to engage in agricultural speculations. They would constitute so many little farming companies, and he apprehended they would become the victims of designing parties, if they were allowed to speculate with their funds. There were between 400 and 500 benefit Societies in the metropolis, and they had nearly a million invested in the Savings Banks, and where such extensive interests were concerned, it was not without the maturest consideration that he had undertaken in any way to interfere with them. He was anxious, that this Bill should be passed this Session, which he was afraid, if this clause were added, would be prevented. He hoped the hon. Member, therefore, would not press his clause, but would be satisfied with the opinion of the House that had been collected on the principle on a former occasion.

Sir Samuel Whalley

also feared, that the tendency of this clause would be most mischievous. It would lead these Societies to embark in gambling and speculative transactions, to prevent which had heretofore been the object of legislation. If that were allowed, and if one failure resulted from these speculations, let them remember how extensive would be the panic through all the Societies. In such case, the mischief would be irretrievable.

Mr. Hughes

also was of opinion, that if this clause were carried, the Societies would become the victims of designing characters. The principle of the clause had been protested against by the Societies. The House had formerly considered the proposition now made, and had negatived it; he, therefore, hoped that this clause would not be pressed now; and if it were pressed, he was quite sure, that it could not be carried.

Mr. Wilks

would resist the proposition. These institutions were in a different situation from that of private individuals; they might do as they pleased with their own; but the like liberty ought not to be extended to the institutions belonging to the invalid sick, the poor, widows, and orphans.

Mr. Thomas Attwood

said, he would be no party to continuing the delusions circulated by this Bill, as to the security of the Funds. An intelligent Member, in 1819, brought in a celebrated Bill, using the language now adopted, respecting jobbers, speculators, &c.; and yet that measure had put 372 millions of sovereigns into the pockets of the fundholders, and had robbed the landowners of 550 millions of sovereigns. And now they had this little scheme to put the small savings on board a sinking boat. That boat, by which he meant the National Debt, must sink, or the nation must sink. He repeated, he would be no party to delusion on this subject.

The Bill went through the Committee.

The House resumed, and the Report was presented.