§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 15 (Representation in the United Kingdom to constitute the title to assets therein situate).
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause 16 agreed to.
§ Clause 17 (Reduction of interest on investments on friendly societies with the National Debt Commissioners).
§ MR. WARTON
proposed, in page 8, line 28, to leave out "two and a-half per centum," and insert "sevenpence in the pound." He said he was extremely anxious to know on what ground the Bill was really to proceed. The first question was, whether it was really advisable to bring the measure forward at all? Men of all classes and parties were convinced of the advisableness of thrift; and, therefore, he was surprised to find that through this Bill the Treasury should come forward and do all they could to discourage thrift amongst the poor. He thought that at a time when the Government were willing to lend a speculative Company £8,000,000 at 3½ per cent. they might be willing to give a fair and decent interest upon the savings of the poor people of the country. It was a strange thing that the Secretary to the Treasury could not say what the loss was upon the savings of Friendly Societies; but he (Mr. Warton) thought it was a hard and cruel thing, unless there was an overwhelming necessity for it, to reduce the interest by 586 one-half per cent upon the savings of the thrifty poor, and he had the utmost confidence in moving the Amendment which stood in his name.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 28, to leave out "two and a-half per centum," and insert "sevenpence in the pound."—(Mr. Warton.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, that at that time of the night (20 minutes past 2), and at that period of the Session, it would not be expected that he should enter at any length into this question. The rate of interest allowed to these Friendly Societies was originally 3d. per diem. It was then reduced to 2½d., and again to 2d., so that this was the fourth reduction which had been proposed. He thought he should be trifling with the Committee if he now re-opened the question, which had been settled by both Parties in the State. As to the actual loss, they had had for the last four or five years, year after year, to vote £50,000 to make up the difference. The proposed reduction was a very limited matter, and it proceeded on a strict respect for what might be called vested interests. All deposits made by Societies when members had joined them on the basis of existing rates would receive 2d. per £100 per diem, and the new rate would only affect new deposits; so that the reduction was not on the vast scale imagined by the hon. and learned Member. Moreover, the deposits they were concerned with were only part of the deposits of the great Societies, who not only invested with the National Debt Commissioners, but invested large sums in the Post Office Savings Banks, Municipal Bonds, and many other investments. This was simply a suggestion to reduce the rate of interest allowed by the National Debt Commissioners to the same rate as, under the Act of 1875, Societies were entitled to receive. He would point out another point. The 2d per £100 per day was only allowed under the Act of 1875; and although new Societies might be started, they could not get that rate unless they were certified by the Treasury as able to receive that rate. The matter was one of very limited scope; it paid the strictest regard to vested inte- 587 rests; it would not disturb existing Societies, and it was absolutely necessary to the Treasury.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
said, the Government were quite right to economize; but in saving this money in this way he thought they were economizing in the wrong way. If there was any case in which the Government would be justified in bearing loss it would be when the loss was caused to the working classes; but he did not admit that by adopting his Resolution the Government would sustain a loss, and on that point he would quote a high authority, the President of the Board of Trade.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members not being present,
§ Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair:—House counted, and 40 Members not being present,
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Three o'clock.