Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/202

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188
POST, AND POSTAL SERVICE


government of the day desired that advantage should be taken of the opportunity to inculcate upon parents and children alike a lesson of thrift-that they should save the school pence which they were no longer bound to pay. The Education Department and the postmaster-general worked in concert to realize this end. School managers were urged to press the matter upon all concerned, special stamp slips were prepared and issued, managers were supplied on credit with stocks of stamps to be sold to the children, and clerks from the nearest post offices attended at schools to open accounts and receive deposits. The arrangement began in January 1892; about 1400 schools adopted the scheme at once, and three years later this number had risen to 3000. A sum of nearly £14,000 was estimated to have been deposited in schools in 5 months, and about £40,000 in the first year. C0currently with the spread of the stamp-slip system in the schools, the extension of School Penny Banks, connected intimately with the Savings Bank, was a conspicuous result of the effort to turn into profitable channels the pence which no longer paid school fees.

“In December 1893 another Act of Parliament extended the annual limits of deposits from £30 to £50. The maximum of £200 remained unchanged, but it was provided that any accumulations accruing after that amount had been reached should be invested in government stock unless the depositor gave instructions to the contrary.

“In December 1893 arrangements were made for the use of the telegraph for the withdrawal of money from the savings bank. Postmasters-general had hesitated long before sanctioning this new departure. It was known that the system was in force a road, and it was recognized that there might be, and doubtless were, cases in the United Kingdom where the possibility of withdrawing money without delay might be all-important, and might save a depositor from debt and distress. But, on the other hand, it was strongly held that the cause of thrift was sometimes served by interposing a delay between a sudden desire to spend and its realization; and it was also held to be essential to maintain a marked distinction between a bank of deposit for savings and a bank for keeping current accounts."

On the whole, the balance of opinion was in favour of the change, and two new methods of withdrawal were provided. A depositor might telegraph for his money and have his warrant sent to him by return of post, or he might telegraph for his money and have it paid to him in an hour or two on the authority of a telegram from the savings bank to the postmaster. The first method cost the depositor about 9d., the second cost him about 1s 3d. for the transaction. On the 3rd of July 1905 a new system of withdrawal was instituted, under which a depositor, on presentation of his book at any post office open for savings bank business, can withdraw immediately any sum not exceeding £1. Depositors have availed themselves extensively of this system. During 1906, 4,758,440 withdrawals, considerably more than one-half of the total number of withdrawals, were made "on demand, ” and as a consequence the number of Withdrawals made by telegraph fell to 122,802, against 168,036 in the previous year (during only half of which the “ on demand ” system was in force).

By an act which came into force on the 1st of January 1895 building societies, duly incorporated, were enabled to deposit at any one time a sum not exceeding £300, and to buy government stock up to £500 through the savings bank. Savings Bank Finance.-The increase in the deposits lodged in the post office savings bank must be ascribed to a variety of causes. Numbers of trustee banks have been closed, and have transferred their accounts to the post office bank; greater facilities have been offered by the bank; the limits of deposit in one year, and of total deposit, have been raised; and, since October 1892, deposits may be made by cheque; while the long-continued fall in the rate of interest made the assured 2% % of the post office savings bank an increasing temptation to a class of investors previously accustomed to look elsewhere. The high price of consols, due in part to the magnitude of purchases on savings bank account, proved a serious embarrassment to the profitable working of the bank, which had shown a balance of earnings on each year's working until 1896, after paying its expenses and 2%% interest to its depositors. Economical working minimized, but did not remove the difficulty. The average cost of each transaction, originally nearly 7d., has been brought down to 5§ d. Down to the year 1896, £1,598,767 was paid into the exchequer under § 14 of the Act 40 Vict. c. 13, being the excess of interest which had accrued year by year. But since 1895 there have been deficits in each year, and in 1905, owing principally tc the reduced rate on consols, the expenditure exceeded the income by £88,094 The central savings bank having outgrown its accommodation in Queen, Victoria Street, London, a new site was purchased in 1898 for £45,000 at West Kensington, and the foundation-stone of a new building, costing £300,000, was laid by the prince of Wales on the 24th of June 1899. The entire removal of the business was carried out in 1903. Under the Workrnen's Compensation Act of 1897, sums awarded as compensation might be invested in the post office savings bank. This arrangement proved so convenient that an act of 1900 authorized a similar investment of money paid into an English county court in ordinary actions at common law, and ordered to be invested for the benefit of an infant or lunatic. In 1906 a committee was appointed to go into the question as to Whether the post office should provide facilities for the insurance of employers in respect of liabilities under the Workmen's Compensation Acts, but no scheme was recommended involving post office action either as principal or agent. Post offices, however, exhibit notices drawing attention to the liabilities imposed by the act of 1906, and sub-postmasters are encouraged to accept agencies in their private capacity for insurance companies undertaking this class of insurance. Inducemenis to Thrift.—By arrangement with the war office in July 1893, the deferred pay of soldiers leaving the army was invested on their behalf in the post office savings bank, but it was found that the majority of the soldiers draw out practically the whole amount at once, and the experiment was discontinued in 1901. At the request of large employers of labour, an officer of the savings bank attends at industrial establishments on days when wages are paid, and large numbers of workmen have thus been induced to become depositors. The advantages of the savings bank appear to be now thoroughly appreciated throughout the United Kingdom, as shown by the following table:—

On the 31st of December 1900.
Number of
Depositors.
Total. Amount
to Credit of
Depositors.
Average
Amount
to Credit
of each
Depositor.
Proportion of
Depositors to
Population.
   £  £.  s.  d.
England and Wales . 7,685,317 122,365,193 15 18  5 1 in 4
Scotland.. . 372,801 5,126,299 13 15  0 1 in 12
Ireland.. . 381,865 8,058,153 21  2  1 1 in 12
Totals . 8,439,983 135,549,645 16  1  3 1 in 5
On the 31st of December 1905
   £  £.  s.  d.
England and Wales . 9,027,112 135,668,450 15  0  7 1 in 3.8
Scotland. .. . 451,627 6,205,339 13 14 10 1 in 10.4
Ireland.. . 484,310 10,237,351 21  2  9 1 in 9.1
Totals. . 9,963,049 152,111,140 15  5  4 1 in 4.3

Between the foundation of the bank and the end of 1899, upwards

of £648,000,000, inclusive of interest, was credited to depositors, of which £474,000,000 was'withdrawn. There were 232,634,596 deposits, 81,804,509 withdrawals, 27,071,556 accounts opened, and 18,631,573 accounts closed. The cross-entries, or instances where the account is operated upon at a different office from that at which it was opened, amounted to 33 %. It is chiefly in respect of this facility that the post office savings bank enjoys its advantage over the trustee savings bank. In 1905, 16,320,204 deposits were made, amounting to £42,300,617. In the same year the withdrawals numbered 7,155,283, the total sum withdrawn being £42,096,037. The interest credited to depositors was £3,567,206, and the total sum standing to their credit on the 31st of December 1900 was £152,111,140.

A classification of accounts opened for 3 months in 1896, and assumed to be fairly typical, showed the following results:- Occupation as stated by Depositors . Percentage in opening Account. to Total

Professional .... . 1.55

Official . . . . . . 2.81

Educational . . . . 1.01

Commercial . . . 3.88

Agricultural and fishing 1.83

Industrial ...... 18.43

Railway, shipping and transport 2.96

Tradesmen and their assistants 8.14

Domestic service . .... 8.61

Miscellaneous .. .. . 0.37

Married women, spinsters and children 50.41