Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/203

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189
POST, AND POSTAL SERVICE


Women and children of all ranks are believed to be 60.59 of the total number of depositors.

The accounts open at the end of 1895 showed the following division of deposits:—

Per cent.
Balances not exceeding £50 36.1
Exceeding £50 and not exceeding 100  24.5
 „ 100 150 17.3
 „ 150 200 14.8
 „ 200 7.3
100.0

The division according to number of accounts, in the same groups, was 90.8, 5.3, 2.2, 1.3 and 0.4 respectively.

Investments in Government Stock.-In September 1888 the minimum amount of government stock which mi ht be purchased or sold through the post office savings bank was reduced from £10 to IS., and it was also provided that any person who had purchased stock through the savings bank could, if he so desired, ave it transferred to his own name in the books of the Bank of England. The act of 1893 raised the limit of stock to £200 in one year, and £500 in all; but any depositor might purchase stock, to replace stock previously sold, in one entire sum during that year. If a depositor exceeds the authorized limits of deposit in the post office savings bank, the excess is invested in stock by the post office on his behalf. The investments of depositors in government stock, however, have a tendency to decrease, and the sales, on the other hand, to increase, as will be seen from the following table:—

Year. Investments. Sales. Average
price of
Consols.
No. of
Depostors.
Total
holding of
Stock.
No. Amount. No. Amount.
£ £ £
1901 46,550 3,192,154 13,574 761,629 941/4 109,509 12,786,190
1902 40,893 2,694,447 17,221 1,054,193 943/8 118,696 14,285,617
1903 47,726 3,131,172 17,742 1,085,578 903/4 131,343 16,165,548
1904 39,633 2,507,546 18,848 1,131,543 881/4 138,582 17,357,950
1905 32,301 2,212,285 22,824 1,507,219 897/8 139,992 17,877,644

Annuities and Life Insurances.—The act of 1882, which came into operation on the 3rd of June 1884, utilized the machinery of the post office savings bank for annuities and life insurances, which had been effected through the post office at selected towns in England and Wales since the 17th of April 1865. Under the act of 1882 all payments were to be made by means of money deposited in the savings bank, and an order could be given by a depositor that any sum-even to Id. a week-should be devoted to the purchase of an annuity or insurance so long as he retained a balance in the savings bank. In February 1896 new life insurance tables came into operation, with reduced annual rates, and with provision for payment of sums insured at various ages as desired. The following table shows the business done from 1901 to 1905:-

Year Annuities. Life Insurances.
Immediate. Deferred.
Contracts
entered into.
Receipts. Payments. Contracts
entered into.
Receipts. Payments. Contracts
entered into.
Receipts. Payments.
No. Amount
of
Annuities.
Amount. No. Amount. No. Amount
of
Annuities.
No. Amount. No. Amount. No. Amount
of
Annuities.
No. Amount. No. Amount of
claims on
death and
surrender.
£ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £
1901 1,764 42,268 562,159 33,269 527,371 142 3,066 1,365 23,630 1,075 14,175 920 44,296 21,972 22,647 380 12,992
1902 1,679 42,791 558,770 34,375 548,251 139 2,973 1,353 21,764 1,164 17,172 722 34,646 22,553 23,045 389 14,646
1903 1,763 43,973 557,981 35,463 571,904 157 3,424 1,366 24,489 1,210 14,689 592 31,413 22,672 23,063 387 13,126
1904 1,768 41,000 520,538 36,607 594,502 128 2,492 1,366 21,011 1,297 16,167 517 28,629 22,323 23,031 465 16,878
1905 1,840 45,488 573,205 37,686 614,406 158 3,204 1,386 24,287 1,347 16,965 741 37,011 21,836 23,36 449 15,593

Telegraph and Telephones.

The history of the development of telegraphy and the early proposals for the transference to the state of the telegraph Telegraphs monopoly will be found in the article Telegraphy. On the 5th of February 1870 the Telegraph Act of the previous year took effect. The post office assumed control of telegraphic communication within the United Kingdom, and it became possible to send telegrams throughout the country at a uniform charge irrespective of locality or distance. In 1885 sixpenny telegrams were introduced. The charge for a. written telegram which came into force in 1870 was one shilling for the first twenty words, and threepence for every additional five words, the addresses of sender and receiver being sent free. In 1885 the charge was reduced to a halfpenny a word throughout, including addresses (a system of abbreviated addresses, which could be registered on payment of a guinea a year, being introduced), with a minimum charge of Sixpence. To obviate the damage and interruption resulting from storms large numbers of wires have been laid underground. In 1891 the terms under which a new telegraph office was opened, on the request of a person or persons who undertook to guarantee the post office against loss, were reduced. In 1892 rural sanitary authorities were empowered to give such guarantees out of the rates. In 1897, as part of the Jubilee concessions, the government undertook to pay one-half of any deficiency under guarantees. During the six years ended in 1891 the average number of telegraph offices guaranteed each year was 77. From 1892 to 1897 the average rose to 167. In 1905 and 1906 it amounted to 152. The number of telegraph offices opened without guarantee has increased apace, and there are now 12,993 telegraph offices in all. As part of the Jubilee scheme the charges for porterage were reduced as follows: Up to 3 miles free; beyond 3 m., 3d. per m., reckoned from the post office; and arrangements were made for the free delivery at all hours of the day or night of any telegram within the metropolitan postal district. The cost of free delivery up to 3 m. was estimated at £52,000 a year.

Foreign Telegrams.—The sixth international telegraph conference, held at Berlin in 1884, effected a reduction in the charges to many countries. E.g. the rate per was reduced for Russia from 9d. to 61/2d., Spain 6d. to 41/2d., Italy 5d. to 41/2d., and India 4s. 7d. to 4s. The cost of repeating a message was reduced from one-half to one-fourth of the original charge for transmission. At the next conference (1890) held at Paris, further considerable reductions were effected. The rates to Austria-Hungary and Italy were reduced from 41/2d. to 3d., Russia 61/2d. to 51/2 d., Portugal 51/2d. to 41/2d., Sweden 5d. to 4d., Spain 41/2d. to 4d., Canary Islands 1s. 71/2d. to 1s. &c. The minimum charge for any foreign (European) telegram was fixed at 10d. The eighth conference (Budapest, 1896) succeeded in making the following reductions, among others, from the United Kingdom: China 7s to 5s. 6d., Java 6s. to 5s., Japan 8s to 6s. 2d., Mauritius 8s od. to 5s., Persia zs. 5d. to 1s. 9d. At this conference it was made incumbent upon every state adhering to the union to fix in its currency an equivalent approaching as nearly as possible the standard rate in gold, and to correct and declare the equivalent in case of any important fluctuation.

The limit of letters in one word of plain language was raised from 10 to 15, and the number of figures from 3 to 5. The International Telegraph Bureau was also ordered to compile an enlarged official vocabulary of code words, which it is proposed to recognize as the sole authority for words which may be used in cypher telegrams sent by the public. (See Appendix to Postmaster-General’s Report, 1897.) See further Telegraph.

Ten years of state administration of the telegraphs had not passed before the postmaster-general was threatened with a formidable rival in the form of the telephone, which, assumed a practical shape about the year 1878, the first exchange in the United Kingdom being established in