§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Question [25th April], "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the Resolution, 'That it is expedient to authorise the continuance of the payment of the terminable annuity payable under Section 1 of the Savings Banks Act, 1880, in each year up to the end of the half-year ending on 20th May, 1917, in pursuance of any Act of the present session to amend the Savings Ranks Acts.'"
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
expressed his pleasure that this matter had been brought on at an hour when information could be asked for concerning the proposals of the Government. It was the duty of private Members to see that such Motions as this were not passed without an opportunity for discussion having been afforded. This Resolution was connected with a Bill which had been almost completely changed in character since it left this House. Why did not the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when the Bill was under discussion, consider it his duty to state—
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN,) (intervening) Worcestershire, E.
said that when the Bill was discussed he announced his intention of moving certain Amendments, and he understood both sides of the House to approve of the course he proposed.
§ MR. DALZIEL
was fully aware that a statement was made, but no explanation had been offered in justification of the extended proposals the right hon. Gentleman had made upstairs. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would even now explain fully why he was asking for this Resolution.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said he had moved the Resolution in pursuance of a pledge given on the Second 1366 Reading of the Bill that in Committee he would propose certain Amendments to bring the Bill into harmony with the recommendations of the Select Committee on Savings Banks, presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol two years ago, with the single exception that under the altered circumstances of the case he would not propose to reduce the rate of interest paid to depositors. In order to avoid the necessity of reducing the rate of interest it was necessary to carry out the recommendation of the Committee that the interest on the deficiency annuity should no longer be accumulated, but should be treated as part of the income of the trustee banks. That could have been carried out without such a Resolution as that under discussion. But, the interest on the invested funds of the deficiency annuity being handed over to the income account of the banks, it became necessary that the annuity itself should be prolonged, in order to find for the banks the amount of capital it was originally intended to produce, and such a prolongation could not be effected without a Resolution. The sole object was to enable the Committee to insert in the Bill a clause prolonging the annuity a certain number of years so that it would produce the sum originally intended for the benefit of the banks.
§ * MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
said he had no desire to hinder the progress of any Bill of a really satisfactory character, but he felt very keenly that the right hon. Gentleman should have attempted to get this Resolution without giving any explanation of its purport. Even now he had not given the pith of the matter. For the next ten years there was to be provided a sum of £80,000 over the amount arranged for by Mr. Gladstone in 1880. Why was not that explained? The House ought to know what they were discussing, and he strongly objected to measures of this kind being rushed through without explanation.
And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the debate stood adjourned till this Evening's Sitting.