HC Deb 25 June 1861 vol 163 cc1583-4

said, he rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill to amend and extend the Act for co-operative and provident societies. The House had just been discussing improvements connected with the art of war, and he hoped it would not now refuse its attention to a subject connected with the arts of peace and the improvement of the condition of the working and humbler classes. Of late years the population of the towns had increased three times as much as that in the country, and the intelligent classes in those towns were now exceedingly numerous. That increase gave them a claim upon the consideration of the House, and among the discoveries of the present age none had been more valuable to the poorer classes than that of combination and co-operation in trading societies. For a length of time this large class of persons had no means of investing their money except in savings' banks. A few years ago an Act had been passed for that purpose, but it was faulty in this, that it was found the constitution of the bodies so formed made each member a partner, and by that means brought them into Chancery. Advantage had been taken of the Act, however, and in many of the large towns societies were in active operation in which the members purchased provisions at wholesale prices, sold them for ready money, and divided any profit that might accrue among themselves. Mills also had been started, and various other operations were set on foot, the advantages of which were in the highest degree satisfactory. Amongst others who supported these societies were the hon. Member for Rochdale, and Mr. Bill, the Recorder of Birmingham. The object of the Bill he wished to introduce provided that the principle of limited liability, which was applicable to all commercial undertakings, should apply to these co-operative societies. There were other slight extensions of the present law which would be of great value to the working classes. He should propose to introduce the Bill, and have it printed, when, if there were not time suf- ficient in the present Session to carry it through Parliament, an opportunity would be afforded to Members of considering its provisions.

Leave given.

Bill to consolidate and amend the Laws relating to Industrial and Provident Societies, ordered to brought in by Mr. SLANET, Mr. COBDEN, and Mr. WILLIAM EWART.

Bill presented, and read 1°, to be read 2° on Thursday, 4th July, and to be printed [Bill 206].