MR. SWIFT MACNIELL
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will state what, on the 31st December, 1906, was the total value, taken at the market prices of the day, of the securities held against the deposits in the Post Office Savings Bank; whether, having regard to the opinion constantly ex pressed by competent authorities that the stock of gold held by the Bank of' England and other banks is insufficient, he will confer with the banks as to the taking of measures to increase the amount; and will he, as a preliminary step to instituting such a conference, or otherwise, establish a gold reserve to be held against the sums due to depositors in the Post Office Savings Bank.
§ MR. ASQUITH
The Select Committee of 1902 on the Savings Banks Funds recommended the discontinuance of the practice of publishing a valuation of the assets of these funds at the current market price, on the ground that the results of such a valuation were misleading. Effect was given to that recommendation by the Savings Banks Act, 1904, which directed that, instead of the market-price valuation, there should be published every year a statement of the nature and amount of the securities held by the National Debt Commissioners. This course has since been followed, and I fear that I should be defeating the intention of the Act if I were now to make a valuation of the securities at market price. The question of banking reserves has engaged my attention, and it has also, as I understand, been the subject of considerable discussion among bankers. I do not think that such a conference as my hon. friend suggests would be a desirable step at present; nor can I admit that the Post Office Savings Bank is at all on the same footing as the commercial banks in regard to a gold reserve.