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CON TEN TS
(Part II. will contain a complete list of societies, showing which have or have not returned
ending 31st December 1881, pursuant to 38 & 39 Vict. c. 60; 39 & 40
I.-BUSINESS OF THE CENTRAL OFFICE in 1881.
The total number of new societies and branches registered or certified was 1,094, as against 1,027 last year, an increase of 67 ; but including conversions of Friendly Societies into branches and incorporations of certified Building Societies, the total number registered or certified falls from 2,589 to 2,182, a decrease of 507*. This decrease mainly arises from the gradual slackening in the process of conversion of societies into branches, the conversions falling from 1,522 to 1,044.
The following is a Tabular Statement of the business of the Central Office during the year :
Comparing these figures with those of the previous year, there will appear to be a decrease under most of the principal heads, those of partial amendments, appointments of trustees, removals of office, dissolutions by instrument, and hearings and awards in disputes excepted. Although, however, the number of Friendly Societies proper and their branches is somewhat below last year (168 societies and 547 branches, as against 173 and 558), the total number of new registries under the Friendly Societies Acts, owing to the large comparative increase in Working Men's Clubs and specially authorised societies, remains the same (762). The most remarkable feature is, however, the rise in the number of new Building Societies, from 163 to 237, or 45 per cent. ; a figure which for the first time exceeds (and indeed largely) that of new Friendly Societies, if branches are not taken into account. The number of new Co-operative Societies being slightly under that of the previous year (51 against 53), it follows that the Building Society has been, during the year 1881, the most favourite form of investment for the savings of the working and lower middle class. *
Another feature worthy of notice is the increase in the number of partial amendments of Friendly Societies (from 467 to 555), of their appointments of new trustees (from 1,267 to 1,423), and of their removals of office (from 375 to 474). Since the number of Friendly Societies is still decreasing by conversion at the rate of 1,000 a-year, this increase may tend to confirm the surmise expressed by the Chief Registrar in his Report for 1880, that the marked decrease of that year under these heads was owing to the unsettlement produced by the general elections, the effects of which would now seem to have passed away. The increase in the partial amendments of Building Societies rules (119 as against 92), and in the amendments of rules of Savings Banks (128 as against 111), should also be noticed. The large number of the latter is, as it was last year, a result of the Savings Bank Act, 1880, but the process of adjustment to the new law must be considered as substantially complete, since the amendments of Savings Bank rules during the latter half of the year only amounted to 13 out of the total of 128.
The registries of Friendly Societies comprise 43 dividing societies (the same number as last year), 25 juvenile societies (six fewer than last year), eight medical societies (two more), and a society for mutual insurance against damage to boats. No less than six collecting societies under Section 30 of the Act were registered, being three more than last year, but only one society capable of having branches, instead of seven. Five societies were confined to females; six (including two of the collecting ones) were for burial purposes only, and one was confined to members of the Jewish faith. The total number of registries of isolated societies with permanent funds of the ordinary type, did not cover the dissolutions by instrument, irrespectively of all irregular ones, or of those by award.
A pig club was the only Cattle Insurance Society registered. Not a single Benevolent Society was registered. Of the 18 specially authorised societies, no less than 16 were loan societies registered under the authority of 16th May 1876, one was registered under that of 5th July 1878, for the promotion of literature, science, and the fine arts, and one under that of 3rd October 1879, for the
promotion of a knowledge of music.
The fees received during the financial year ending April 1882 amounted to 785 l. 2 s. 3d., a figure exceeding that of any year except the last.
The Postmaster General's Report shows the weight of correspondence carried for the office in the year ending 31st March 1882, to have been 168,428 oz., of which 152,967 for England and Wales, 10,467 for Scotland, and 4,994 for Ireland. This places the office 26th out of 60 on the list, with about 36,000 oz. more than the Office of Works; more than double the figure of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, and nearly five times that of the National Debt Commissioners.
• The Chief Registrar is however informed that the comparatively slight increase which now takes place from year to year in the number of Co-operative Societies, is mainly owing to the growth of a practice of forming branches of the larger Societies instead of separate societies wherever this can be done. Such