§ MR. POULETT SCROPE
said, that, seeing his hon. Friend the Member for South Wiltshire in his place, he wished to ask him the question of which he had given notice, whether the Bill on Friendly Societies, which he had introduced, would have the effect which was apprehended in some parts of the country, of depriving all societies of the management of their own affairs, and of taking possession of their funds for the use of the Government? His object in asking the question was simply to allay a most unfounded and absurd alarm which prevailed among some of the members of friendly societies, and which he understood had already induced some of them to withdraw their funds from the savings banks in which they had been lodged.
§ MR. SOTHERON
said, he was very much obliged to his hon. Friend for putting the question, because he happened to know that a most groundless alarm existed in some parts of the country, to the effect that the Bill which he had introduced would tend to deprive these societies of the management of their own affairs. He had been told that because the actuary of the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt was mentioned in one of the clauses, it was supposed that the intention was to take away from the parties the management of their own money, in order to apply it to the reduction of the national debt. As he knew that the persons who conducted the affairs of these friendly societies in many parts of the country were uneducated, and very little accustomed to read Acts of Parliament, he was glad to have this opportunity of stating that the object of the Bill was to enable the members of friendly societies to ascertain for themselves their real condition, and if they 843 found that their funds were not in a satisfactory state, they could then have them investigated.