Moneylenders (Restrictions).

– in the House of Commons on 2nd July 1924.

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Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Assheton Pownall Lieut-Colonel Sir Assheton Pownall , Lewisham East

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to prohibit advertising and circularising by registered moneylenders. My reason for adapting this method instead of the more simple one of presenting the Bill at the Table of the House is that I may just give a few reasons why this Bill should not only receive a First Reading, but that it should also in the very near future receive a Second and the Third Reading. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] It is very pleasant to hear that it receives such general approval. We are all of us swamped with circulars from moneylenders. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] I see that the House is in general agreement with the Bill, and I will therefore only quote from one such circular. The circular is entitled: Why go to your hanker and suffer the indignity of a refusal? It goes on to say that the firm in question acts as a link between banker and money-lender. It further goes on to speak of the low rate of interest charged. This very firm within the last few weeks summoned a client for a rate of interest which worked out at over 1900 per cent. That shows how misleading these circulars are Unfortunately, many members of the public are not so wise in these matters as hon. Members opposite, who are agreed, and I do say that it is important that this measure of protection should be given to the public by the prohibition of moneylenders' circulars and their advertisements in the Press.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Leicester West

I rise to oppose the Bill. I am only going to make two or three very short observations in opposition to it. My reason for opposing it is not any tender, solicitude towards moneylenders as a class, but because, as I understand the Bill, it proposes to use the Post Office in order to deal partially with certain correspondence. I feel most strongly that the Post Office, as a national institution, ought not to show partial favours between correspondents, but ought to mete out its services equally to the just and the unjust. I may remind the House that in the United States there is a provision which enables the Postmaster to discriminate between different kinds of correspondence. That has led to very serious difficulties in the United States, because that power, given originally for some such purpose as this, has been used for quasi-political ends. It would be out of place for me here to comment adversely upon what has been done in the United States. It is sufficient to say that a very serious controversy has arisen from time to time in the United States owing to the powers which the Postmaster-General has used there. The present power of the Postmaster-General to open and interfere with correspondence is already too large, as I believe many Members will agree, and it would be a very serious thing to increase them in the way that this Bill proposes. For those reasons, I venture to oppose the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Lieutenant-Colonel Pownall, Sir George McCrae, Mr. George Spencer, and, Lieutenant-Colonel Guinness.