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Report of the Select Committee appointed to consider and report on Friendly Societies online

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CAPE OF GOOD HOPE



PARLIAMENT



A

A





9
5
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2
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HOUSE

SELECT COM/VIITTEE ON
FRIENDLY SOCIETIES



=1 REPORT



[/''



CAPE OF GOOD HOPE.



REPORT



OF THE



SELECT COMMITTTEE



APPOINTED TO CONSIDER AND EEPOPvT ON



rRIENDLT SOCIETIES.



Ordered hy the House of Assembly to he printed.

1881.



IjAPE TOWN:
SAUL SOLOMON & CO., STEAM PRINTING OFFICE.

1881.

A. C-'FRIENDLY SOCIETIES.






REPORT



OP THE



SELECT COMMITTEE on the subject of FRIENDLY
SOCIETIES, appointed by Orders of the House,
dated the 30th March and the 58th April, 1881,
with power to take evidence and call for papers,
and to report thereon, according to the Resolution
of the House adopted last session ; consisting of
Messrs. Stigant, Walker, Mackay, .Hockley,
J. Ayliff, and Dr. Matthews.

Your Committee beg to report that, acting upon the
authority given to them by your honourable House,
they entered upon their duties during the session of
last year, and then obtained the vwa voce, evidence of
several competent witnesses, which has thrown much
light upon the constitution and working of the associa-
tions popularly known as Friendly Societies. It was
felt, however, that, inasmuch as the testimony thus
obtained referred onl}^ to those societies which have
been conducted in or near to Cape Town, it was
desirable that information should be obtained from other
parts of the Colony.

2. Accordingly, with the permission and on the
authority of your honourable House, the Government
were requested to circulate through the several districts
of the Colony a series of questions bearing upon the
subject under inquiry, which the Colonial Secretary
promptly forwarded to such j)ersons as would be likely
to answer them, and your Committee have now to
acknowledge that, by the agency of these circulars, the
evidence in their possession has been considerably
supplemented.

3. On their re-appointment during the present session,
your Committee carefully considered the evidence that



/57A<^yA



It" REPORT OF COMMITTEE.



liad been placed before them, and, after deliberation,
they have arrived at the following conclusions, viz.: —

i. That there are in existence within the Colony a
large number of well-organized societies, having



ir5



for their object the relief of members suffering
from sickness, and assistance to families <^f
deceased members, and these societies havo
produced satisfectory results,
ii. Many of these societies are affiliated and in close
alliance with certain great and influential
societies established in the mother country, from
whence they have obtained their charters and
the excellent general rules by which they are
managed. There is, therefore, close relationship
between the parent societies and these colonial
branches ; but it is clear — and in the view of
some it is considered to be unfortunate — that the
provisions of the Imperial Friendly Societies, Act
have no legal effect within the boundaries of the
Colony,
iii. It has been represented somewhat lU'gently to
your Committee that the work accomplished by
these societies in fosterine; and encourafrin^^
provident habits, as well as in mitigating the
evils of sickness and privation among the work-
ing classes, has been of great public benefit, and
entitles them to the very favourable consideration
of the Government and the Legislature, and it has
been urged that there should be legislation here
on the lines of the existing laws of England,
which several intelligent and experienced ineii
insist should be compulsorily applied to all
colonial .societies. It is impossible to den}^ that
there is much force in these claims, and, while
your Committee cannot recommend any arbitrary
interference with their free action, and the rules
now obtaining for their self-govonmieiit, it does
appear exjDedient and proper that the Legislature
should place at the dis])osal of the several Colonial
Friendly Societies such provisions corresponding



REPORT OF COMMITTEE.



to those of the Imperial Act as the circumstances
of this country would appear to require.

4. Your Committee, therefore, now recommends that
Parhament should pass a measure providing an effective
but economical system for the registration of Friendly
and Benefit Societies, additional audit of their accounts,
complete periodical returns of their assets, liabilities, and
general condition ; also for the uninterrupted tenure and
protection of their property : and that these advantages
should be available to all proper!}'' constituted societies
that elect to take the benefit thereof.



J. AYLIFF, Chairman.



Committee-rooms, House of Assembly,
12th May, 1881.



VII



PEOCEEDINGS OF COMMITTEE.



Proceedings of the Select Committee on the subject of
Friendly Societies, appointed by Orders of the House
of Assembly, dated 30th March and 28th April, 1881, with
power to take evidence, call for papers, and to report there-
on, according^ to the Resolution of last session ; the Com-
mittee consisting of Messrs. Stigant, Walker, Mackay,
Hockley, J. Aylifp, and Dr. Matthews.



Wednesday, 5tli April, 1881.



PRESENT :

Mr. Walker, I Mr. Ayliff.

„ Mackay, [

Resolved, — That Mr. Ayliff be the Chairman of this Com-
mittee.

Read Order of the House, dated 30th March, 1881, appoint-
ing this Committee.

Read report of the Select Committee on Friendly and Benevo-
lent Societies, dated 23rd July, 1880.

Read resolution of the House of Assembly, dated 28tli July,
1880, " That the report be forwarded to Government, with the
recommendation that steps be taken during the recess to elicit
the opinions of persons interested in Friendly Societies on the
points stated in the proposed circular attached to the report."

The replies received from various persons to the questions
submitted in accordance with the resolution of the 28th July,
1880, were laid on the table. ( Vide A. )

Mr. Walker moved that the questions, schedule of replies, and
replies be printed.

Agreed to.

Adjourned till Tuesday, the 12th April, at 10 a.m.



Tuesday, 12th April, 1881.

present :

Mr. J. Ayliff (Chairman),

Mr. Walker, | Mr. Mackay.

Clerk reported that the questions, replies, &c., contained in
Annexure A would not be printed for two days.

Adjourned till Wednesday, 20th April, at 10-30 a.nu



Vlll PROCEEDINGS OF COMMITTEE.



Wednesday, 20th April, 1881.
PRESENT :

Mr. J. Ayliff (Cliairman),

Mr. Hockley, | Mr. Mackay.

Clerk reported that the Annexiire A had not yet been printed.
Committee adjourned to Wednesday, the 27th April, at 9*30
a;.m.



Wednesday, 27th April, 1881.

present:

Mr. J. Ayliff (Chairman),

Mr. Hockley, Mr. Mackay.

„ Walker,

Resolved, — To request Dr. Matthews to attend at next meet-
inof to give evidence.

Adjourned till to-morrow at 10 a.m.



Thursday, 28th Apr?!, 1881.



PRESENT :
Mr. J. Ayliff (Chairman),
Mr. Hockley, I Mr. Mackay.



„ Walker,

Resolved, — To examine Dr. Matthews, M.L.A.

Dr. Matthews, M.L.A. , examined.

The Committee deliberated.

Adjourned till Thursday, the 5th May, at 10 n.m.



Thursday, 5th May, 1881.



PRESENT :

Mr. J. Ayliff (Chairman),
Mr. Stij^ant, \ :Mr. Hockley,



Mackay, j Dr. Matthews.

Read order of the House, dated the 28tli Aj)ril, appointino;
Dr. MatthcAvs to be a member of the Committee.
Tiie Committee deliberated.
Adjourned till Thursday, the 12th May, at 10 a.m.



PROCEEDINGS OF COMMITTEE. IX

Thursday, I2th May, 1881,

PRESENT :
Mr. J. Ayliff (Chairman),



Mr. Stigant,
„ Mackay,



Mr. Hockley.



Clerk laid upon the table : —

Letter from the Colonial Secretary, dated the 9th May, for-
warding a letter from the Civil Commissioner of the Cape, dated
the 6th instant, forwarding further replies to Circular.

Resolved, — That the enclosures to the Civil Commissioner's
letter be returned as requested.

The Committee deliberated.

The Chairman moved : That, in the opinion of this Committee,
the several associations now being conducted in this Colony,
popularly known as "' Friendly Societies," deserve the consider-
ation and assistance of the Government and the Legislature.

Agreed to.

The Chairman then moved : This Committee is further of
opinion that Parliament should pass a measure providing an
effective but economical system for the registration of such
societies, additional audit of their accounts, complete periodical
returns of their assets, liabilities, and general condition ; also for
the uninterrupted tenure of their property ; and that these
advantages should be available to all properly constituted
Friendly Societies that elect to take the benefit thereof.

Discussion ensued.

Mr. Stigant moved as an amendment : To insert the word
" compulsory " before the Avord " registration," and to omit all
the words after the word " property " to the end, upon which the
Committee divided : —

Ayes, 1. — Mr. Stigant.

Noes, 3.— Messsr. Mackay, Hockley, T. Ayliff.

The amendment accordingly negatived.

The motion was then put, and the Committee divided: —

Ayes, 3. — Messrs. Mackay, Hockley, and T. Ayliff.

Noes, 1. — Mr, Stigant.

The motion accordingly agreed to.

The Chairman then submitted the following draft report : —

Your Committee beg to report that, acting upon the authoiitv
given to them by your honourable House, they entered i:pon
their duties during the session of last year, and then obtained the
viva voce evidence of several competent witnesses, which has thrown
much light upon the constitution and working of the associations
l^ropularly known as Friendly Societies. It was felt, hoAvever,
A. G— 'SI. FEIENDLY SOCIETIES. 2



PROCEEDINGS OF COMMITTEE.



that, inasmuch as the testimony then obtained referred only to those
societies Avhich have been conducted in or near to Cayje Town,
it was desirable that information should be obtained from other
parts of the Colony.

2. Accordingly, with the permission and on the authority of
your honourable House, the Government were requested to circu-
late through the several districts of the Colony a series of ques-
tions bearing upon the subject under inquiry, which the Colonial
Secretary promptly forwarded to such ])ersons as would be likely
to answer them, and your (Committee have now to acknowledge
that, by the agency of those circulars, the evidence in their posses-
sion has been considerably supplemented.

3. On their re-appointment during the present session, your
Committee carefully considered the evidence that had been
placed before them, and, after deliberation, they have arrived
at the following conclusions, viz. : —

i. That there are in existence within the Colony a Jarge
number of well-organized societies having for their object
the relief of members suffering from sickness and assistance
to families of deceased members, and these societies have
produced satisfactory results.

ii. Many of these societies are affiliated and in close alhanca
with certain great and influential societies established in
tlie mother country, from whence they have obtained their
charters and the excellent general rules by which they
are managed. There is, therefore, close relationsliip
between the parent societies and these colonial branches ;
but it is clear — and in the view of some it is considered
to be unfortunate — that the provisions of the Imperial
Friendly Societies' Act have no legal effect within the
boundaries of the Colony.

iii. It has been represented somcAvhat urgently to your Com-
mittee that the Avork accomplished by these societies, in
fostering and encouraging provident habits, as well as in
mitigating the evils of sickness and privation among the
working classes, has been of great public benefit, and
entitles them to the very favourable consideration of the
Government and the Legislature, and it has been urged
that there should be legislation here on the lines of the
existing laws of England, which several intelligent and
experienced men insist should be compulsorily applied
to all colonial societies. It is impossible to deny that
there is much force in these claims, and, while your Com-
mittee cannot recommend any arbitrary interference Avith
their free action, and the rules now obtaining for their
self-government, it does appear expedient and proper tiiat
the Legislature should place at the disposal of the several



PROCEEDINGS OF COMMITTEE. XI



Colonial Friendly Societies such provisions corresponding
to those of the Imperial Act as the circumstances of this
country would appear to require.

4. Your Committee, therefore, now recommends that Parlia-
ment should pass a measure providing an effective but economical
system for the registration of Friendly and Benefit Societies,
additional audit of their accounts, complete periodical returns
of their assets, liabilities, and general condition; also for the
uninterrupted tenure and protection of their property ; and that
these advantages should be available to all properly constituted
societies that elect to have the benefit thereof.

After discussion.

The Draft Eeport was adopted, and the Chairman instructed
to report accordingly.



MINUTES m EVIDENCE.



COMMITTEE ON FRIENDLY SOCIETIES.
Thursdmj, 2Sth April, 1881.

PRESENT :

Mr. J. Ayliff (Chairman),



Mr. Hockley,
,, Walker,



Mr. Mackay.



Dr. Matthews, M.L.A., examined,

1. Chairman.] You are a member of the House of ■y^J;^^.,
Assembly for Kimberley ? — Yes. ' m.l.a. '

2. You are also a medical practitioner in Griqualand ^p^.j7"^g^;i.
West? — Yes ; I am a doctor of medicine, and have been
practising in Kimberley for the last ten years.

3. Has your practice and occupation brought you
into connection in any way with friendly societies ? — It
has.

4. Will you kindly tell the Committee how ? — I am
medical officer to two lodges of Odd-Fellows, two lodges
of Foresters, two lodges of the coloured population, and
to the Roman Catholic Society of St. IMary's.

5. And do these several societies appear to be in a fair
degree of prosperity ? — They are very prosperous indeed.

6. You mentioned the Foresters and the Odd-Fellows.
I suppose these are conducted in connection with the
parent societies in England ? — Yes ; with the Manchester
Unity, and the Odd-Fellows and Foresters with the
orders as estabhshed in England.

A. 6— '81. FRIENDLY SOCIETIES. B



2 MINUTES OF EVIDENCE TAKEN HEFOKE THE

Dr. 7. You understand those societies to be affiliated with

m.l!a.'' the societies in Enghind ? — Certainl}'. The}- appeal
AprulTlssi .^loii^e in any difficult matter.

8. Can you say whether the societies you refer to
have had mmiy opportunities of assisting men while in
sickness and distress? — AVell, as regards the lodges at
the Diamond Fields, the population being a young
jDopulation, composed to a great extent of men in the
prime of life, there has been ver}'- little sickness indeed.

9. So that we are entitled to assume that their funds
are accumulating '? — Yes. It is only a period of five
years since they were established at the Fields, — in
1875, I think.

10. Have j^ou had any opportunities of going into the
details of the working of these societies, so as to enable
you to tell the Committee whether they are generally
conducted in the same way as the societies here in the
Colony ? — I have looked into the working of ihe societies
there, but only in connection with their affiliation to
English societies. I have been led, however, to undei -
statid that they are conductel at the Fields on the
same principles as in this Colony, and the officers
there are all men who have originally come from this
Colony.

11. And I suppose the probability is that the accounts
are kept, audited, and reported from time to time in the
same way as they are in this Colony ? — Yes ; I should
think so.

12. Have you had any opportunities of ascertaining
how their capital fund is invested ? — Yes. The oldest
lodge of Odd-Fellows, the Pioneer Lodge, has funds in
the bank, and I think it has also invested its surplus
funds in building a hall, which is remunerative, as it is
let out when not wanted by the lodge.

13. Would you from your experience say that you
consider that to be a sufiiciently secure investment for
the funds ? — That is a point upon which I should like
further information from the Fields, first as to whether
this hall was built out of the funds of the lodire, or
whether it was an extra building fund ; but I know it
was paid for purely out of the funds of the lodge, aad
was not u limited liability company of the members.



^;ELEOT COMMITTEE ON FRIENDLY SOCIETIES. 6

14. Mr. Walhcr.'] Is the amount of the fund deposited ^j^^l^^,.^
in the bank upon fixed deposit ? — Partly fixed and m.l.a. '
parti J" not. ^ April 28, issi.

15. Chairman.'] Have you ascertained whether the
members of these societies are at all desirous for any
sort of legislation by the Parliament? — Yes. I may
say that, previous to my coming down here, the subject
was discussed, and they all seemed to agree that
Government supervision would be a good thing.

16. Did you ascertain whether they were in favour
of the passing of an Act of Parliament here on the lines
of the Friendly Societies' Act of England? — The
majority would like that. >

17. Are you able to say wdiether they would wish
that an Act of that kind should be made applicable to
the societies here compulsoril}-, or wdiether it should
be optional with them to come under its operations or
not,? — The majority would rather it were compulsory,
and I am certainly in favour of a compulsorj^ Act
myself, on the ground that otherwise many men would .
be liable to loss who join societies on the strength of
the character of officers who they know to be honest,
but who, unfortunately, sometimes turn out rogues.

18. Mr. Hockley.] Should that Act, do you think, have
a retrospective effect? Would all existing societies have
to come under it ? — I think so.

19. Chairman.'] But don't you think it should be left
to the discretion of the societies to decide whether they
will be- governed by such an Act or not ? Is it not rather
an interference with their freedom to say that they
must necessarily be brought under it? — No ; because
these societies are generally formed for the benefit of
men who trust in the officers very implicitly, and con-
sequently their interests want looking after.

20. Would you still hold that view even if you were
shown that compulsory application does not obtain "in
England ? — Yes ; I should in this country, especially in
Griqualand West, where the population is termisd by

some people rather migratory.

21. Suppose it were provided that there should Ik- a
Government audit by some outsider, and suppose furthei'
that the arrano-oment were made thnt the societies



4 MINUTES OF EVIDENCE TAKEN BEFORE THE

i>i - slioTild bo bound to publish yeavl}'^ or half-yearly state-
Mi!!. ' ments ol their financial condition, don't you think that
Apriil^lssi. ^^'Cfuld meet the requirements of the case ? —No. I think
that the societies ought to be registered, and that a
Government officer should examine the books and
accounts half-yearly or yearly to see that the funds
correspond with the entries in the books.

22. And I suppose you would go further, and say that
you would like to see all their property secured by good
investments ? — Yes ; that ought to be done.

23. And it is your opinion that the members would
not look upon such an arrangement as an undue inter-
ference with their liberty ?— I should not think so ni}^-
self, and the members with whom I conversed previous
to my leaving did not think so. Of course they would
still have their own laws and their own bye-laws, which
would not be interfered with ; it would be merely to see
that they could not possibly be robbed by careless or
fraudulent officers.

24. Do you consider that the funds of these societies
are adequate to meet the demands of members under
ordinary contingencies of sickness and want? — They are
based upon calculations and actuaries' tables which have
been found to work well, and so far as Griqualand West
is concerned, as I have said before, the sickness, on
account of nearly all the members being young men, is
so small that the funds are very rapidly increasing.

25. Do 3^ou think that the societies should make
arrangements contemplating a possible emergency, such
as the existence of an epidemic ? Would that be fairly
within their range ? — I don't think so. At any rate it
would not be applicable in Griqualand West, for I think
with one or two of the lodges there, if half the members
were to die in one year the funds could pay for them.

26. Have you observed that the case often arises
that one man is a member of several societies ? — Yes,

27. Do you consider that this is at all open to
objection ? — I should think it objectionable in some places
where a man might malinger and make more out of the
different societies by being sick than he could earn if he
were well.

28. Such an evil as has been pointed out to this



SELECT COMMITTEE ON FRIENDLY SOCIETIES. 5

Committee as beino' very probable to occur in the pr.
Colony ? — Yes ; but it does not pertain to (jriqualancl m.l.a.
West, because I believe the sick pay is something like Apiii28,i8si.
30s. a week, and the men who are members of these
societies are, many of them, most of them in fact,
mechanics who are earning from £7 to £9 a week, and
consequently it would not pay them.* If a man were a
member of live societies it would not pay him to feign
sickness. As medical officer I hnd that in at least one-
third of all the cases that I see in connection with these
benefit societies, the men do not accept the benefit of
the societies further than in getting the medical attend-
ance ; that is to say, at least from one-third to one-half-
will make the society a present of the sick pay, and
that of course tends to improve the funds. Only the
other day I attended a man whose sickpa}^ came to £32,
and he made a present of it to the society.

29. Mr. Hockley.'] From different societies ? — No •,
from one society.

30. Clittirman?^ 1 understand you to say that, being
medical officer, you are also a member of these societies,
and you are entitled to attend the meetings ? — Yes ;
with the Odd-Fellows and Foresters the doctor of the
lodge must be a member.

31. Have you had opportunities of examining the
system according to which their accounts are kept ? — I
have had no particular op]3ortunity, but I know that
some members will pay up three or four months in ad-
vance. There are men making £1,500 a year who will
belong to these societies. The majorit}^ of them join
in order to avoid the possibility of a medical account,
which may easily come to from 40 to 100 guineas.

32. You said something just now about the coloared
population in Griqualand West. Did I understand you to
say that the coloured population also joined together in
these friendly societies ? — Yes. There is one lodge, called
the St. Cyprian's Society, which has about thirty-eight
members, and there is another society, called the
Mechanics, which has about thirty members, and they
carry on business with their lodges in the most admirable

. manner.

33. Mr. Walker.] These are all coloured people ?— Yes.



b MINUTES OF EVIDENCE TAKEN BEFORE THE

, Dr. 34. What class of coloured people ? — They are of all

M.L.A. colours.
April 28, 1881. ^^* -^^i"' Machay.'] Does that include what are termed

native strangers, besides Kafirs. Fingoes, Sec. ? — No •,

they are colonial coloured peoj^le,

36. Chairman.''^ Are these societies of coloured people
conducted independently, or are thej?" associated with
any cliurch or other organization? — They are not joined
with any church, but they have corresponding branches
in -the Cape Colony.

37. Mr. Walker.'] There is a St. Cyprian's Lodge at
Port Elizabeth ? — Yes ; I believe so.

38. Chairman.] And a Mechanic's Lodge also ? — Yes.

39. Mr. Walker.] Do you find that any of the abori-
gines come into these societies ? — No ; they are ton
shifting in their habits, and while settled they live on
their masters' compounds.

40. Mr. Macluay.] So far as you are aware, have there
been any malversations of accounts or moneys? — I have
heard of onlj/^ one such case.

4L Are you aware what system is adopted for re-
ceiving money and accounting for it? — I have some-
times gone to a lodge on lodge-nights and have seen
money paid in. This money is afterwards paid into the


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Online LibraryCape of Good Hope (South Africa). Parliament. HousReport of the Select Committee appointed to consider and report on Friendly Societies → online text (page 1 of 6)