페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

"can spare from his earnings to lay up as a fund for future use; and even "should a little be carefully laid up, three or four months' sickness may sweep "away the savings of as many years, and leave him more destitute than be"fore. It is here, then, that the benefit of Friendly Societies comes to be "practically felt, for twenty can join with ease in making a comfortable pro"vision during sickness for one, and as none of the twenty can know who that "one may be, they are all thereby equally insured from want." Savings Banks have no doubt been strongly recommended in preference to Friendly Societies; but it must be evident that the former institutions can bear no comparison with the latter. On both of these, an anonymous writer has lately observed: "I admit of no comparison ; they are not for the same pur"poses; they do not produce the same results, and all who have recom"mended a Savings Bank to him who required the objects of a Friendly "Society, have recommended a stone to him who wanted bread, and a serpent "to him who wanted a fish. Will the advocates for Savings Banks be easily "persuaded to save their annual premiums instead of insuring their houses "against fire? certainly not; yet they recommend the mechanic to place "his money in the bank to provide against sickness and old age, whilst they "know that sickness, like fire, though somewhat slower in its operations, "may, in a short time, exhaust the savings of fifty years, and like fire, too, "may come suddenly before the first year expires.

"The best friends of the working classes will always entreat them to pro"vide against the manifold wants of sickness and old age, by means of re"spectable and well conducted Benefit Societies, the payments to which "ought to form a part of their current and positive expences. To those "who have any thing to spare after this, a Savings Bank may be useful; "the necessities of sickness and old age being first secured by these So"cieties, the mechanic and labourer, through the medium of the bank, may "add to their comfort; but no individual either befriends his neighbour or "his country, by enjoining a reliance upon individual savings, as a security "against casualties which may overtake a man in an hour, and in a few "months sweep away the savings of a whole life." In short, Friendly Societies, when properly conducted, can alone- afford the means of providing for the vicissitudes of infirmities and disease; while they at the same time encourage those careful and provident habits, which are the only sure sources of happiness and independence.

In 1773 and 1780, Friendly Societies first attracted the notice of the Legislature; and since 1792 several Acts of Parliament have been passed for their regulation and encouragement. Such institutions are declared to be lawful, upon their Regulations being exhibited to the Justices of the Peace, and . confirmed by them at a Quarter Sessions. They are authorised to prosecute their Treasurers, for any defalcation in their funds, in the Supreme Courts of England, Scotland, and Wales, free of expence; and if any Office-bearer entrusted with their funds die, or become bankrupt, the claim of the Society is preferable to all other debts. All disputes between Societies and their members are determinable by the Justices, without appeal; but if their regulations appoint these matters to be settled by arbitration, the decision of the Arbiters is declared to be finai By these acts it is also declared, that the usual Committee of Management must not consist of less than eleven in number, and that the books be at all times open for the inspection of members,—that no rule or regulation once confirmed can be afterwards altered, nor any new regulations adopted, but at a General Meeting of the members of such Society, convened by letters addressed to them individually,— that the proposed alterations or additions shall have been read at the two usual Meetings of the Society previous to calling the said General Meeting, —that three-fourths of the Members then present shall have agreed to the measure,—and that such new alterations and additions be finally submitted to the Justices for their approval as before. Lastly, it is declared, that no Society can be dissolved without the concurrence of fivesixtlis of its whole Members, as well as with the consent of all those who may then be receiving aid from the funds. The last statute, in 1819, does not extend to Scotland.

From numerous documents relative to Friendly Societies, as well as from several interesting Reports in the Transactions of the Philanthropic Society of Paris, it appears that these Societies are but comparatively late institutions in France. They are stated to have there originated with religious bodies, upon whose dissolution by political events, the box and funds for the support of the sick and aged were preserved and supported, by such of the members as continued to reside near to each other. Upon these Societies becoming thus independent of the Church, entrants of various occupations came to be afterwards admitted; and several new Societies were formed upon the same principles. Their progress, however, seems to have been for a long time extremelyslow;—the first of which there is any account having been instituted in 1694, and only other three from that date till 1789, when three more were established at Paris. In 1805, they only amounted to 26; in the beginning of which year the Philanthropic Society of Paris directed their attention to these institutions. This body appointed a committee to inquire into the origin, number, and regulations of those then in that city, as also to ascertain what measures should be adopted for their more general encouragement. Upon their Report 100 francs (a franc is about lOd. Sterling) were awarded to one of the Societies established in 1789; and premiums of from 100 to 200 francs were offered to every Society which should be afterwards instituted, so soon as they had obtained sixty members. It was at the same time intimated in all the public Journals, that copies of Laws, considered well adapted for Friendly Societies in general, would be furnished gratis to all those who might choose to apply for them. This laudable example of the Philanthropic Society was soon followed by a similar Society in Marseilles, and through their exertions no less than Forty Friendly Societies were, in the course of three years, established in that city. To such Societies Government have now also extended their protection and encouragement; and, in May 1821, on the occasion of the baptism of the Duke of Bourdeaux, 50,000 francs were distributed among those in Paris. In June 1824, there were 164 Friendly Societies in Paris alone ; but they seem all to be upon a very limited scale, the whole only comprising 14,700 members, and a total capital of 821,198 francs, (L. 34,216 Sterling, or about L. 2 : 6 : 9 of individual stock per member).—There are no legislative enactments regarding them, but their laws must be at first submitted to and approved of by the Prefect of Police; and notice thereafter given to him some days previous to each meeting.—To the Philanthropic Society, then, as well as to the indefatigable exertions of M. Everat, printer in Paris, one of their Committee, is chiefly to be ascribed the general establishment of Friendly Societies in France. „ But it is still to be regretted that they have all been founded upon the same erroneous principles as those hitherto established in this country, and that many are therefore already going rapidly to ie* cay. The errors, however, of Friendly Societies being now pretty well ascertained, it is to be hoped that these institutions will soon be placed upon such a footing as to secure their permanence and utility in every country.

As the Funds of Friendly Societies principally arise from a certain sum paid by Members at entry, and an annual contribution so long as they remain in the Society, while the disbursements consist of allowances for sickness or inability to work, and for the funerals of Members, their Wives, or Widows,—and, as no Society can be permanent, unless the contributions, with the accruing interest, be equal to meet these allowances, both being taken on an average, the proportion which these should bear to each other became a question which bafHed all inquiry, so long as the annual rate of sickness remained unknown. In order to determine this intricate problem, Dr Price was requested, about 1789, by a Committee of the House of Commons, to make computations on the subject; but these being confessedly founded on suppositions, and given in a work of an abstruse nature, they were not productive of the benefits expected. Several attempts have since been made to obtain the requisite information from Societies themselves; all of which proved ineffectual, till, upon the motion of Charles Oxiphant, Esq. W. S., the Highland Society, in 1820, offered two premiums of Twenty Guineas each, for the two best lieturns from Friendly Societies in Scotland; and thereafter received communications from 79 of them, situated in 16 different counties, and embracing various periods of from three to seventy years. A most interesting Report * has since been drawn up and published; and from the returns it appears, that the average annual individual sickness of Society Members, above 20 years of age, is as follows:

[table]

This is the average annual sickness of an individual in these several decades, or periods of 10 years, as experienced by Societies on the whole; but when exhibited for each particular year of age, it is somewhat less in the first, and somewhat more in the concluding, years of the decade. Thus, the average sickness in the 60th year of age, is only 2 weeks 2 days, but in the 70th it is 10 weeks 5 days. The rate of sickness varies also very materially in different Societies, being greatly above this average in some, and below

* Report on Benefit or Friendly Societies, drawn up by a Committee of the Highland Society of Scotland. A. Constable & Co. Edinburgh, and Hurst, Robinson & Co. London. 1824. 6s.— This work every person ought to possess who takes any interest or concern in the affirin of Friendly Societies.

it in others'; but such discrepancies have seldom been found, except in cases where the number of members was too small to afford a range for a fair average. Something, however, must have depended upon the occupations in which the members were engaged, and whether situated in the country or in towns.

To ascertain, too, the rate of Mortality, the computations had to be founded upon the average rate among mankind in general, as stated in the most accurate Tables in use; the Returns being confined to age and sickness only. Mortality Tables, it is well known, are formed from observations made on the proportion between the number of the living and the number of the deaths in the same year of age. Dr Price's Northampton Table was formerly regarded as the best for England; but as it has been usually considered too high, and as the Carlisle and Swedish Tables give the mortality much less, the computations in the Highland Society's Report have been founded on an average of the three. The following is the result of this average, omitting decimal parts.

Between 20 and 30 1 dies out of 95 annually.

[ocr errors]

Prom the above general views of Sickness and Mortality, it appears, that if 95 men were to enter a Society at 21 years of age, the Sickness experienced by the whole during the following nine years, would be the same in amount as if each had suffered exactly 4 days 3 hours annually; from 30 to 40,4 days 19 hours; and from 40 to 50, 7 days 4 hours annually; while again, from 50 to above 70, it would rapidly increase till it averaged more than 16 weeks annually to each individual. Now, if the annual contribution to such a Society were 10s., and the weekly sick allowance the same sum, the Report shews, that, after deducting the whole sick allowances paid from the whole contributions received, and adding to the balance the accumulated interest of 4 per cent., with the stock left by the nine deceased members, there would remain, at the end of the ninth year of the Society, or when all the remaining members had entered the 30th year of their age, an individual stock of L. 2 : 6 : 0J. From 30 to 40, the annual sickness averages 16 hours more to each individual; and, consequently, the yearly balance would be the value of 1C hours' allowances less; but the interest of the former stock, and the sums left by those who had died, would more than cover this increased sickness, making the individual stock amount, at 40 years of age, to the sum of L. 5: 19 : 9J. In this way the fund would go on accumulating till, at 64 years of age, it amounted to L. 15 : 7 : 5 4 to each individual then alive. From the great increase of sickness, however, during the next six years, it being altogether on an average no less than 44 weeks to each individual, the above stock and intervening contributions would all be expended by the end of that time, or when the remaining members had completed their 70th year. This is the farthest age that the Tables in the Re. port are calculated from actual experience of sickness, the returns of Societies above that age being too limited to be the^sis of any calculation that could be relied on with safety; but it is estimated from the returns, so far as they go, that the average annual sickness above 70 years of age would be about 164 weeks to each individual.

In like manner it is calculated, that an annual contribution of 3s. 4d., from 21 years of age, would be required for an allowance of L. 10 at the death of each member,—the contributions being payable till 70, or till death, if that event should happen earlier; and, like the sickness scheme, the individual stock would also continue to increase till the death of the last member, when it would again all be exhausted. Thus, at the end of the ninth year of the Society, or the beginning of the 30th year of age of the surviving members, there would be a balance to each individual of 14s. 7 4d;— at their 40th year, L. 1 : 15 : 9J;—at their 60th, L. 4 : 19 : 74 ;—and at the 95th year of age, when the last member is supposed to die, L. 9 :19 : lOf, or say L. 10—If the funeral of a wife of the same age as her husband were to be provided for to the same extent, the contribution would of course require to be doubled.

There are other two Schemes in the Report, one for Annuities to such members as survive 70, when the Sickness Scheme terminates, and another for Widows' Annuities ; but it seems only necessary here to refer to them.

These general observations will perhaps so far tend to illustrate the nature of Friendly Societies, as to shew, that, with the advance of age, there is a great increase of sickness, and that, unless a sufficient capital be always accumulated, in proportion to the number and ages of the members, such Societies cannot fulfil their engagements when their members come to be advanced in life. Let it be particularly remembered, that if a Society's weekly sick allowance were the same sum as the annual contribution, the amount that would be annually required by all the sick members between 50 and 60 years of age, would be the same as if each member in the Society between those ages had received nearly double the amount of his yearly contribution; from 60 to 70 it would be the same as if each had received almost five times the amount; and above 70 it would be the same as if each of the members of that class had received nearly sixteen times the amount of his annual contribution. This will shew the fallacy of the opinion always hitherto held, that as one member became old another young one would enter, and in this way the allowances to the former would be defrayed by the contributions of the latter. But it will be seen from the above averages, that neither five nor ten members of the classes below 40 years of age, can support one member of each of the classes from 50 to above 70 years of age; for, as the average annual sickness of the whole members between 20 and 30 years of age is equal to 4 days 3 hours to each, and the average annual sickness of those between 30 and 40 years of age is equal to 4 days 19 hours to each, there can only remain a balance of the yearly contributions of each of the former class equal to 2 days 21 hours' sick money, and a balance of the contributions of each of the latter class equal to 2 days' 5 hours' sick allowance. How, then, can these small balances defray the sick allowances of one week, five weeks, and sixteen weeks, required by each of the members in the three

« 이전계속 »