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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 81

Investment of Savings Bank Funds—

Investment of Savings Bank Funds

"That this congress earnestly invites His Majesty's Government to consider, at the earliest possible moment, whether it is not practicable to employ—as is done elsewhere, and most notably in France, Germany, and Belgium, admittedly with absolute safety and admirable results—part of the large sums collected from the poorer classes by means of the savings banks, by way of loans granted to suitable intermediaries furnishing adequate security, in the construction of working men's dwellings, in order that by such means one of the ackowlegded great needs of the hour may be met; the money withdrawn from fructifying use may be turned back into directly useful employment; working men's money may be made to satisfy working men's wants, and by means of a higher rate of interest for deposits maintained than will, after 1903, be possible under the retention of the rule of page 67 investment only in consols, effective encouragement may be given . . to the practice of thrift."

The italics are mine, in order to show that the importance to be attached to the Continental system of employing intermediary societies as agencies through which people's savings could be utilised for the people's benefit, did not escape the notice of British co-operators. The capital of the intermediaries offers better security to the Savings Banks and other investors in their bonds, and a better guarantee of more careful and more economical management, which the Government could much more safely recognise than by accepting the risks of making advances through comparatively irresponsible boards of State-appointed and State-paid commissioners, or State officialism of any kind beyond what may be necessary for the inspection of advances and securities in the interests of public safety. It is a sensible and scientific credit system, in which the Government can, and ought, to assist, perfectly free from a suspicion of State socialism, and, instead of weakening it, promotes the cultivation of a sound individualism.