« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
fixed equivalent to this ? Besides, may not the word Parish, which seems superfluous, have a tendency to make the people apprehend something compulsory in the plan, and to place the depositors in a degrading point of view? We are inclined to prefer the name, Friendly Bank, with the place prefixed, to any we have hitherto heard, not only because it expresses the agreeable idea of mutual aid and advantage, but also because it calls to recollection those societies which the people have been long accustomed to regard with approbation and favour. While we are on this topic, we must notice an error into which Mr. Rose has inadvertently fallen, and which we know, from his own authority, he anxiously desires to correct.
* Those who have opened the way,' he observes,' for benefits to their country, almost incalculable, are entitled to the thanks of every person in it. To the gentlemen at Edinburgh and Bath, commendations are pre-eminently due; in other parts of Great Britain, however, the principle has been acted upon in a small scale, especially in Scotland, where the parochial institutions for savings are called Maneges; so full an account of which is given by Mr. Duncan, the early promoter of them, as to render it quite unnecessary to enter on any particulars respecting them here. But, however well intended they are, there are strong objections to them. In any event the extended establishments are infinitely more to be desired on account of the preferable management of them.'-Observations.
Now there is almost as little similarity between a Menage and a Parish Bank as between a billiard room and a counting house. The contrivance to which Mr. Rose alludes is a miserable expedient, long resorted to by the lowest of the people for supplying the want of such establishments as Parish or Friendly Banks. In Scotland it is not called Manege, but Menage, a French term, signifying frugality, or household economy, and which leads us to suppose that the thing, like the name, is of foreign growth. Any number of persons, say fifty-two, enter into an agreement by which they bind themselves to contribute regularly a certain sum, suppose a shilling, weekly, during as many weeks as there are members. The club assembles sometimes at the house of one of their own number, whom they remunerate for the accommodation; but more frequently at some low tavern, where they club for such cheer as they can afford to
for. Dice thrown by the company. He who throws highest gains the pool, that is, the whole of the fifty-two shillings, which we have supposed to be the contributions for the week. The winner is bound by the laws of plebeian honour to pay in one shilling a week during the other fifty-one weeks of the scheme, though he can gain no further advantage. The wheel thus goes round till every one has drawn his prize: the scheme is then closed and a new one perhaps engaged in.-Menages certainly are
the most harmless species of gambling that can well be imagined, aud, when placed under proper management, have sometimes been found useful:* but no interest is paid, no accumulation is admitted, no provision is made for futurity. Habits of waste and dissipation are often engendered. In all these respects, they are conducted on a different system from Parish Banks; and Mr. Duncan, so far from being the early promoter of them, has, in one of his publications on Parish Banks, warned the public against their dangerous tendency, and pointed out their evil consequences with eloquence and force. His object in mentioning them is to shew that they afford a fair opening for leading those who support them to a wiser and more profitable application of their savings, and his desire is to see them materially iniproved or altogether abolished.
We observe that the words ' Friendly Society' make a part of the title of the parent institution of Ruthwell, as well as those of Kelso, Dumfries, &c. This was to bring them within the scope of the Act 33 George III. for the protection of Friendly Societies, properly so called; and the regulations have accordingly been submitted to, and approved of by the Justices of the Peace of the districts. We applaud Mr. Duncan for his ingenuity in so framing the constitution of his little banks as to obtain for them the benefits which the law affords, and at the same time to place them under the inspection of the civil magistrate. We doubt whether the banks on the Edinburgh models can take advantage of this act, as the managers of them are a body altogether distinct from the depositors for whose benefit these banks are designed. The definition of a * Friendly Society' is a voluntary association of a number of persons for mutual benefit: and the act expressly recognizes and establishes this principle. Accordingly all the depositors, who have made payments for six months, and have not less than one pound in the bank, are entitled to attend General Meetings; and, therefore, such associations seem to be brought fairly within the spirit and scope of the act. In order, however, to check any abuse which might arise from the affairs of the Society being committed to the care of low and inexperienced persons, it is wisely provided that though all such depositors as have been described are entitled to attend and vote at General Meetings, the persons to whom the whole detail of management is coinmitted are to be chosen only out of those, whether they be depositors or not, who are donors
Clubs, similar in their principle to Menages, are frequently formed among the industrious poor, in which a certain sum of money is advanced weekly or monthly by the respective inembers, and each is provided, in the rotation of his fortune, with a watchi, clock, chest of drawers, or such other articles as may bave been previously agreed upon, and contracted for at a definite price.-Lord Selkirk is, at present, with admirable effect, actually applying this principle to the building of a village, in the neighbourhood of Kirkcudbright.
or annual benefactors to the Society. The higher classes are thus enabled to be at the head of the institution, while their contributions give them a claim of gratitude on the whole body.
This appears to be one of the advantages of the popular principle which enters into Mr. Duncan's plan; and there are others calculated to make us consider it, upon the whole, as preferable to the Edinburgh scheme, in which the depositors are excluded from all management. In the cominencement of an institution there often exists a degree of zeal which cannot be expected to continue; and it may be apprehended, that if the managers have no interest, and no responsibility, they will, in the course of a few years, leave the whole care of the concern to one or two pensioned officers, who may,
from heedlessness or design, bring the institution into disgrace, and blast the hopes of its supporters.
We have heard it alleged by some very acute persons, that the practice of our public banks, which daily transact business with their customers, but never admit them to any share in the administration, is savourable to the principle of excluding the depositors from any share of the management. The circumstances of the two cases, however, we apprehend, are by no means parallel, and, therefore, will not warrant the same conclusion. In the ordinary public bauks the managers are proprietors of Bank Stock, and are strictly accountable to a Board of Directors selected from the whole. Hence the powerful and ever wakeful principle of selfinterest pervades the whole economy of the establishments, and affords to the public a strong pledge of the prudence and regularity of their proceedings. Here too, as in other things, competition gives additional security. But in these Friendly Banks the stimulus of private interest can be felt only by the industrious depositors, who ought therefore to have some voice in the management. The observations which we formerly made on the influence of the wealthy, and the disposition of the members to avail themselves of their aid in Friendly Societies, will apply in the case of Friendly Banks with still greater force, inasmuch as the details connected with these are necessarily somewhat more difficult, and therefore peculiarly require the aid of men of intelligence. Mr. Duncan, however, though favourable, perhaps in too great a degree, to the popular system of which we have been speaking, very candidly acknowledges, that in large towns the mixed and incongruous mass that forins the chief part of the population seems to render it expedient to give them the benefits of the institution without hazarding its safety by allowing them a share in conducting it. To this country, where the lower classes, we fear, are less instructed, and certainly less under the controul of moral principles than in Scotland, this exception seems particularly applicable; but it must be applied
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 contined 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 30l. In the Edinburgh Bank not more than 101. 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 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., 1l. 5s., Il. 17s. 6d., 21. 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 farth into the detail we would recommend Mr. Rose's Observations, the Summary Account of the