§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can state why, as the Savings Banks Act of 1901 gave effect to the recommendation of the Select Committee of 1902 that publication of the balance sheets of the savings banks should be discontinued, effect has not been given to the recommendation of the same Committee that the rate of interest to depositors should be reduced, with the object of relieving the general taxpayer from the burden of making good the annual loss in the income accounts of the savings banks.
§ MR. ASQUITH
Before the late Chancellor of the Exchequer brought in his Bill for giving effect to the recommendations of the Select Committee, the question of reducing the rates of interest was discussed in Committee of Supply, on the l5th March, 1904.… The right hon. Gentleman then expressed his concurrence in the Committee's view that Parliament should not be called upon permanently to vote money for the purpose of paying to savings bank depositor's a higher rate of interest than could be earned on the investments. But he pointed out that financial conditions had changed since the date of the Committee's inquiry so as to justify the hope that, without any reduction of the rate of interest payable, the annual deficiency might be reduced and possibly be extinguished. I understand that his decision not to alter the rate of interest was generally approved. Owing partly†See(4) Debates, cxxxi, 1153 ct seg.918 to the increased earning power on new investments and partly to certain changes effected by the Act of 1904, the total deficiency on the income of the two savings banks funds, which in 1903 was £183,690, had been reduced in 1900 to £129,361. And the reduction would have been greater, but for the inclusion last year of a special non-recurrent charge of about,£21,000. I see no reason at present for departing from the policy of the last Government.