HC Deb 05 August 1890 vol 347 cc1924-7

I wish to ask what the intention of the Government is with regard to the Savings Banks Bill in view of the opposition which has developed against it?


As the First Lord of the Treasury appeared to complain of my action with reference to this Bill, I may say that I have received communications from several large Savings Banks suggesting a series of Amendments. One of my correspondents says— You are accused of obstruction in this matter, but the Bill requires careful consideration in Committee. I am acting in conformity with the view thus expressed.

MR. LENG (Dundee)

May I ask whether the First Lord of the Treasury is aware that the unexpected withdrawal by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Clause 11, as it appeared in the original draft of the Bill, has caused the greatest dissatisfaction among the best class of Savings Banks, and that there is a strong desire among them that the Bill should be maturely considered in another Session of Parliament?

MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)

Was this Bill introduced for the purpose of dealing with the actuaries, secretaries, and officers of the banks, and to safeguard the interests of depositors?

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

I believe that the great majority of Members on this side of the House are sincerely anxious to pass the Bill into law this Session.

MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)

May I ask whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not received communications from large Savings Banks in Edinburgh and Glasgow which are opposed to some details of the measure, but which are, on the whole, satisfied with the Amendments which the Government have introduced?


Do the Government propose to deal differently with Ireland in respect of Savings Banks?


I do not know whether any other hon. Gentleman wishes to put a question to me. The hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) appears to complain of the tone which I have used in making some observations on a previous occasion with reference to this Bill. If I used stronger language than was just in the circumstances, I am sorry for it. The Government really thought that this was a Bill which might have been received by the House with favour, as it was intended to secure and safeguard the interests of depositors. In securing the interests of depositors, they were also securing the interests of the officers of the banks, who were identified with the depositors, because it is obvious that if the bank were unsuccessful the officers associated with it must share in the failure also. Communications have reached the Government from Scotland, and I have now before me a letter from a Glasgow Savings Bank which states that, with the slight alterations which the Government propose, the Bill would satisfy the Trustees, and they hope that it will pass the House.


What is the date?


The 2nd of August. I do not doubt that there is a considerable opposition to the measure on the part of some hon. Members, and the Government are aware of it. Those hon. Members believe that the interests of the banks are affected by the measure. I stated last week that the Government could not force the measure through against a serious and protracted opposition at this period of the Session. If hon. Members who oppose the measure are still of opinion that they must protract the discussion and debate the measure in Committee, then the Government cannot ask the House to prolong its sitting. I regret this, but I still entertain the hope that hon. Members may, on re-considering the subject, find it to be possible to withdraw their opposition. The Government did intend to extend the benefit of the Bill to Ireland, but it was stated the other day that if it was objected to by the Irish Members it would not be so extended. It is a matter for the Irish Members themselves; if they desire to have the Bill, it will be extended to Ireland. I think that three or four months' delay in passing the measure would do harm, but if hon. Members feel it to be their duty to persist in opposing the Bill the Government have no alternative but to withdraw it for the present Session.


If there is to be one law for England and another for Ireland the Irish Members will oppose it.


May I explain that I have received a letter from a Glasgow Savings Bank, urging that Clause 11 should be struck out, and other letters from different parts of the country pressing for Amendments in all directions.


I do not think the answer of the First Lord of the Treasury on the subject of the Savings Banks Bill was quite conclusive. It appeared to leave open the possibility of the Bill being proceeded with. I have, with an hon. Friend on this side of the House, taken pains to ascertain the facts, and I have found that from the Opposition side of the House there is practically only one gentleman who has put Amendments on the Paper, the greater part of the opposition to the Bill coming from hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side, who are more or less within reach of persuasion, and in these circumstances I ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider his decision, the Bill being one of the very greatest importance. The other Amendments which come from this side, save those of the single Member to whom I have referred, are only two in all, involve no principle, and could be disposed of in 10 minutes.


It is an extraordinary proceeding on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to assume that because Amendments stand in the name of one gentleman therefore the opposition is by one gentleman. There are a number of——


Order, order! This is becoming a Debate. There is no question before the House.


I would ask whether it would be possible to have the Amendments considered by the Standing Committee?


In answer to the question addressed to me by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I can assure him that the Government are most anxious to see the Bill passed into land. I am afraid, however, the opposition to the measure is more extensive than he appears to imagine. As far as my hon. Friends behind me are concerned, I am quite prepared to say on their behalf that they will withdraw their Amendments if it will in the slightest degree insure the passing of the Bill. I will make one further attempt this evening in order to ascertain whether, without protracted Debate, it will be possible to carry the Bill. If I am unsuccessful I shall deeply regret it, but the only course then will be to withdraw the Bill for the present Session.