asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has received any protests against the proposal to impose a fee of 10s. on each annual and valuation return sent to the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies; whether it is his intention to carry out the proposal; and, if so, whether he will take into consideration the fact that this fee would be in the nature of a penalty for carrying out a duty already imposed on those societies by the State?
Mr. ALFRED DAVIES (Clitheroe):51.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the fact that friendly societies are compelled by law to present annual returns to the chief registrar, and that the recommendation of the Committee on National Expenditure that a fee of 10s. should be charged for each return would impose a burden upon those societies for the promotion of thrift, he can give an assurance that the recommendation will not be put into operation?
I understand that one protest has been received by the chief registrar. As regards the second and third parts of the question, the imposition of a fee is at present under consideration. It is, however, not the case that such a fee would be in the nature of a penalty. It would merely be a contribution by the society or branch towards the expense of registering and otherwise dealing with the return as part of the administration of certain Acts of Parliament, under which very substantial advantages are conferred upon the body making the return.
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind, as a very important fact in this connection, that a large centralised society with a large membership would only be called upon to pay 10s., whereas a smaller society with