HC Deb 09 February 1961 vol 634 cc608-9
23. Mr. Jay

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made in discussions on the start of a cheque service by the Trustee Savings Banks.

Mr. Barber

I have nothing to add to the reply given to the right hon. Gentleman by my right hon. and noble Friend on 24th May, 1960; we are still awaiting a further approach from the Trustee Savings Banks Association on the basis of the investigations which it has been pursuing in the meantime.

Mr. Jay

Is the Economic Secretary aware that, as the Government have delayed the introduction of this very desirable public service for over a year, suspicions are bound to grow that they are giving way to pressure from the commercial banks? As we have been extremely patient about asking Questions on this subject, will the hon. Gentleman now undertake to make a definite statement very soon?

Mr. Barber

The delay has not been caused in the way suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. The fact is that the initiative has been with the Trustee Savings Bank Association for the last eight months. Prior to that, I saw the chairman and other members of the Association, and I shall be only too happy to see them again as soon as they feel that it will be useful to bring anything to my notice.

Mr. W. R. Williams

Will the Economic Secretary ask his right hon. and learned Friend to call his right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General into these consultations and inquiries to see how far he can introduce postal cheques as well?

Mr. Barber

I think that that is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend.

Mr. Hoy

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that it is not altogether true to say that the initiative lies with the Trustee Savings Banks Association? Those banks are, in fact, dependent on what co-operation they can get from the clearance houses, represented by the joint stock banks. Is it not the fact that the joint stock banks are putting many difficulties in the way of the trustee savings banks, because they do not want trustee savings bank depositors to have a cheque scheme at all?

Mr. Barber

The fact is that I met representatives of the Association on 28th April last. It was then agreed that the Association would have to examine certain aspects, and the arrangement was that they would come back to me when they thought it would be useful to have further discussion. I am quite ready to see the chairman and other members of the Association as soon as they like.