HC Deb 11 December 1946 vol 431 cc1288-90

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

Mr. Osbert Peake (Leeds, North)

Are we not to have an explanation of the Bill from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury?

9.34 p.m.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)

This Bill has been introduced at the request of the Trustee Savings Banks Association, a body which has been in existence since 1887, and which was formally recognised in the Savings Banks Act, 1929. The purpose of the Bill is to give these savings banks two powers. The first is to make provision for the improvement of the superannuation benefits of their staffs; and secondly, to empower the banks to make advances for the extension of existing, or the formation of additional, savings banks. The savings bank movement has grown steadily during the last 150 years There are now 87 such banks, with branches to talling something like 800. Their total deposits now exceed £600 million, and they have between them surplus funds amounting to approximately £16 million.

The first five Clauses of the Bill contain provisions to enable the savings banks, the Association itself and the Inspection Committee, to make better superannuation arrangements for those whom they employ. They will, if the Bill goes through, be able to set aside and build up superannuation reserve funds. They will also be empowered to set up contributory pension funds for new entrants, to provide, on the lines of the Superannuation Act of 1935, for death grants to dependants of members of their staffs who have died in service, and also to permit a superannuation beneficiary to make provision by allocation for his widow or other dependants. Clause 6, the remaining Clause, might be described as a development Clause. It enables banks with surplus funds to assist other banks not so fortunate, to expand, or to open new branches. That, quite briefly, covers the provisions of this Bill. It has been considered in another place, in our view it is not contentious, and I hope that the House will give it a Second Reading without much trouble.

9.37 p.m.

Mr. Osbert Peake (Leeds, North)

We are indebted to the Financial Secretary for his explanation of the Bill. The trustee savings bank movement is very valuable. It has rendered yeoman service in this country for over 150 years, and has deposits approximately half those of the Post Office Savings Bank, and some 4,250,000 depositors. Therefore, anything we can do to assist these institutions in their internal machinery for making provision for their employees as regards pensions, etc., will be welcomed in all parts of the House. The only Clause of the Bill about which I am a little puzzled is Clause 6, which enables these institutions not only to advance money to each other in order to enable extension of business to take place, but also enables the trustees of a savings bank to advance money to persons who are desirous of forming a new bank. As the Financial Secretary told us, there are some 89 trustee savings banks already, and they have innumerable branches. They are all perfectly free to open new branches whenever and wherever they please. I am, therefore, a little puzzled by the provisions of Clause 6, which enables these banks to lend money to enable new banks to be established. I daresay that it is a good thing. Certainly it does not seem as though it could do anybody any harm. At the same time, I am a little puzzled by the necessity for including this Clause in the Bill. Perhaps when we come to the Committee stage, the hon. Gentleman would give us a little fuller explanation of the necessity for this Clause.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Tomorrow.—[Mr. R. J. Taylor.]