網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

with great delicacy lest it be defeated by prejudice, or by voluntary associations of the lower classes, from which the higher may be systematically excluded. It happens also that in England the increasing pressure of poor-rates is so generally complained of, that the indirect stimulus of interest will be felt, and will operate more strongly on the higher classes, in inducing them to lend their aid, thau in Scotland, where these rates have, indeed, a legal sanction, but where their actual existence is confined to a small district, and to a very moderate amount.

In the Dumfries Parish Bank there are two funds. The first, called the deposit fund, consists of the aggregate of the sums lodged. at interest for the benefit of the depositors, and may be withdrawn at pleasure. Any sum not less than one shilling is received, and the annual sum deposited must be less than 307. In the Edinburgh Bank not more than 10/. can be received. The reason for this limitation is to simplify, as much as posible, the transactions of the Friendly Bank, and to confine it to the mere supply of the desideratum arising from the circumstance of the public banks receiving no smaller deposits than ten pounds. The rule has been adopted by other Friendly Banks to enable them to avail themselves of the offer of 5 per cent. made by the Public Banks (while 4 per cent. is the ordinary rate of interest they allow,) on condition that the former should adopt this limitation. We regret this necessity, and think it would be better to give up the additional one per cent. than interfere so much with the habit of accumulation which it is the great design of these institutions to promote, and to reward. A simple expedient, however, has been suggested by Mr. Duncan for rendering this transference of cash from the Friendly to the Public Bank as little injurious as possible. Let the Treasurer of the Friendly Bank offer to retain in his own hands the Trading Bank's receipts, and give an acknowledgment signed by him to the individuals for whom they are held; or let the sum in the Trading Bank - be marked in the depositor's duplicate. This will preserve their connection with the Friendly Banks; they will be thankful thus to have an additional safeguard for their little treasure, and though at perfect liberty to withdraw it, will be unwilling to do so, except in cases of necessity. In the Friendly Banks, on the Ruthwell plan, though a deposit of one shilling may be made, no interest is allowed on any sum under one pound; and, after a pound has been lodged, none on any additional deposits, till they amount to another pound, and so on. It is also stipulated in some of these banks, that, to simplify the duty of the treasurer, no interest shall be calculated for any fractional parts of a week, or, in other instances, for any period less than a month. Now as the Trading Banks of Scotland allow 5 per cent. on the aggregate sums weekly deposited by the

Friendly

Friendly Banks, but under the condition above specified, and as the Friendly Banks do not allow 5 per cent. in all cases, it follows that there will be a surplus of interest, accruing to the Saving Banks, which will increase according to the number and regularity of its depositors, and may furnish means for defraying the expenses of management.

As the interest of 12s. 6d. per month at 4 per cent. is exactly one halfpenny, the Edinburgh Bank allows monthly interest for all deposits amounting to this sum, or to its successive multiples, i. e. 12s. 6d., ll. 5s., 1l. 17s. 6d., 2l. 10s., &c. On either of these plans, with the aid of accurate interest tables, the calculations are a matter of perfect ease. A circumstance common to the Edinburgh and Ruthwell Friendly Banks is, that at the close of every year all the accounts in the ledger are balanced. The interest is added to the capital and placed to the credit of the depositors. New duplicates, or bank receipts, are given to them, the former being called in and cancelled. These duplicates, on a half or quarter sheet of paper, are so contrived as to contain columns both for payments and receipts during all the months of the year, and each week of every month. By looking into his duplicate the peasant or mechanic is reminded, by the vacant spaces, of the use even of one or two superfluous shillings, and the expediency of making gradual provision for the future. The surplus interest needs little calculation. It is the natural result of the operation of the deposit account of the Friendly Bank with the Trading one, and appears at once in striking the balance, by subtracting the sum total of interest due to the depositors for the past year, from the sum total of interest due for the same period by the Trading, or Public Bank, to the Friendly Bank. The surplus interest, or Bank profit, thus appearing by this simplest of all processes, is carried by the Ruthwell Friendly Bank into a separate account under the distinct head of the Auxiliary Fund. This is raised from the donations or annual subscriptions of the benevolent, with the surplus interest or bank profit arising in the manner described. This fund is designed to defray the expense of articles of stationery, printing, and treasurer's salary. The latter of these is the chief article of expenditure; but the office should on no account be gratuitous.-The treasurer ought to be under strict responsibility and controul, as every thing depends on his fidelity; and should unquestionably receive a salary adequate to his trouble. If the annual proceeds of the auxiliary fund be found unequal to the demand, we doubt not that the depositors themselves would contribute to make up the deficiency.

To those who wish to go farther into the detail we would recommend Mr. Rose's Observations, the Summary Account of the

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Savings Bank, The Report of the Committee of the Highland Society, but especially Mr. Duncan's Essay, 2d edition. This last gives an account of the principles on which Saving Banks are founded, and contains the forms and details both of his own and other plans. The third part contains many excellent remarks on Friendly Societies, and on the propriety of uniting them with Saving Banks, so that one set of persons might manage both at the same meeting, though the funds of both should be kept separate. We really wish that Mr. Duncan would omit the title of this division of his Essay in future, and throw his remarks on Friendly Societies (in the promotion and improvement of which he has greatly exerted himself) into a separate section. At present we shall only observe, as an obvious objection to his proposal, that, as by his plan, the Managers of the Friendly Bank, and of the Friendly Society, are each to be appointed by, and responsible to, all the members and depositors, such a plan would exclude every one from the management of either society who should not be connected with both. Besides, simplicity, which may be called the first, second, and third requisite of this institution, is likely to be destroyed by the proposed union. We give Mr. Duncan great credit for pleading so ably the cause of Friendly Societies in opposition to those who wish to see them superseded by this new plan. He shews the two to be perfectly consistent, and calculated to promote the same important results. From his concluding remarks we shall make two short quotations.

'Every thing, however, must depend on the activity, the zeal, and the intelligence of those under whose management the system is conducted, and I cannot conclude without earnestly recommending it to the continued and increasing patronage of the public. Much may be done, with this view, in various ways, by persons in all the different stations of life. The rich may support it by benefactions, the poor by their example; the prudent may promote its prosperity by their advice, men of rank by their influence, the active and skilful by their judicious exertions. But, perhaps, it is in the power of no description of persons more essentially to advance the interests of the Institution, than heads of families, and men engaged in trades and manufactures which require them to employ a number of dependents. Were it possible to persuade such persons of the immense importance of the object in view, we might from this circumstance alone indulge the most flattering hopes.'-p. 61.

The other is from that part of the pamphlet which answers an objection that has sometimes been made to the moral tendency of Provident Institutions.

It has been alleged, that, in guarding against the idleness and profligacy of the lower orders, we are attempting to erect a system calculated to excite and to cherish the opposite vice of selfish niggardliness.

Were

Were this objection made to an institution, the tendency of which was to increase the parsimony of those who are already blessed with independent fortunes, or even with a competency, no person could be more ready than myself to admit its force; but it must not be forgotten that the Parish Bank is intended for the benefit of the lower orders, in whom industry and frugality are not only themselves moral virtues of the first class, but also the foundation of many kindred virtues. There is something noble and affecting in the struggle which a poor man makes to preserve his independence, and to rise superior to the difficulties and discouragements incidental to his situation. The end he has in view, and the privations he must undergo before he can attain that end, are such as must attract the applause and sympathy of every good man. When, from the scanty pittance which he has earned by his honest industry, and which, though it suffices to supply the common wants of nature, is inadequate to procure the conveniences or comforts of life,when, from that scanty pittance, he is able, by the exercise of a virtuous self denial, to lay up a provision for the exigencies of his family, he exhibits a pattern of prudence and manly resolution, which would do honour to the highest station. The sentiments which give rise to this conduct are nearly allied to the best feelings of the human heart, and the man who can, with such a becoming fortitude, deprive himself of present indulgence for the sake of future independence, will not readily stoop to the suppleness of duplicity, or the baseness of fraud.'P. 64.

To complete the plan which we proposed, we must make some observations on Mr. Rose's Bill, which was introduced on the 15th of May, but, after passing the House of Commons in an amended form, was, in the House of Lords, postponed for the session. This delay we consider as a circumstance by no means to be regretted. The discussion which it has undergone will render it much more perfect when it shall be passed into a law, and the marked attention which it has already received will in the meau time tend to extend the benefits of the plan to various parts of the kingdom. The few suggestions and amendments which we shall venture to offer are chiefly on the Bill as it was submitted to the House, as we have not yet received the copy sanctioned by the House of Commons, though we shall allude to some of the alterations which have come to our knowledge through the medium of the parliamentary reports.

Mr. Rose's Bill gives permission to any number of individuals to form Banks for the savings of industry, on the principle of mutual benefit, and in this, as well as in its other leading enactments, agrees with Mr. Duncan's plan. The original rules, and every alteration that may be made in them, are to be exhibited to the justices of the peace, at their quarter sessions, and a duplicate, written on parchment, is to be filed by the clerk with the rolls of the sessions, without any fee. This duplicate is to be referred to

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

in case of need, and is to be binding on all parties till such rules shall be legally altered. The 14th clause, requiring all such sums of money deposited, as may not be called for by the immediate exigencies of the Institution, to be invested in the government funds of the United Kingdom, has met with great and, as we apprehend, wellfounded opposition. By several Scottish members it was combated as equally impracticable and impolitic, and it was chiefly, we believe, in consequence of this clause, that the bill was prevented from extending to Scotland. The advantages to be gained by this mode of investing the money deposited with Friendly or Saving Banks, are set forth in the Report of the Bath Provident Institution. These are chiefly two: the first is, that the Funds afford the best possible security. This is undeniable; but then it is an advantage which may be too dearly purchased. The 3 per cents., which were some time ago considerably below par, have lately proportionally exceeded it, and by purchasing at 65 or 70 there is a probability of an eventual loss upon the capital. If the value of the stock purchased with the money of the depositors is to remain always exactly equal to the purchase, whatever may be the rise or fall in the market, the depositors who may withdraw their money will indeed have reason to be satisfied, should the price of stocks have fallen below their purchase: but should the price have risen above it, when they withdraw, they will be apt to consider themselves as not only deprived of their legitimate profit, but, if they have purchased above par, even robbed of part of their property. We do not observe any regulation as to this point in Mr. Rose's Bill; nor is it a proper subject for legislation. But to prevent as much as possible the feelings of irritation likely to arise in the minds of the lower classes from the fluctuation of the public funds, and the gambling propensity which such a fluctuation sometimes excites, we are inclined to advise, that all the deposits of individuals which may be vested in the stocks, should be entered at par in the Friendly Bank's books. In this way there will be no eventual loss to the concern: and any present defalcation may be made good from the subscriptions of the benevolent, and surplus interest.

[ocr errors]

The other advantage predicted as likely to attend the investment of the money of the Friendly Banks in the Funds, is, that it will create a new bond of union between the government and the people, and render the latter doubly interested in the good order and stability of the state. Hence submission to their share of those public burdens, which are the means of ensuring to them the regular fruits of their savings, may reasonably be anticipated. And in manufacturing districts, where a crowded population and high wages afford the best encouragement for Provident Banks, such a feeling of personal interest would be highly favourable to the public

peace.

« 上一頁繼續 »