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societies.” And in 1876, when the “act to consolidate and amend the laws* relating to industrial and provident societies” was passed, the restriction upo: banking, which had hitherto applied to them, was removed, subject only to such conditions as attach to the conduct of this business by joint stock companies and are required for the security of those who are invited to entrust their money to the keeping of others than themselves.
A synopsis of this and the supplementary acts of 1880 and 1883 is given below. This is followed by the co-operative laws in full, in force in those of our States where such have been enacted. That has been done in only ten, and most of these are not very comprehensive. The first State to pass such a measure seems to have been New York, in 1867, when the "An act for the incorporation of cooperative and industrial unions” became law. The next year (1868), Pennsylvania followed with “An act relating to the organization of cooperative associations for the purpose of carrying on any mechanical, manufacturing, or trading business,” but this was supplanted, in 1887, by the law which is reproduced below. The other States in which similar statutes were enacted, are Massachusetts (1870); Minnesota (1870); Connecticut (1975); New Jersey (1881); Tennessee (1882); Ohio (1884); Kansas (1887); and Wisconsin (1887). In Ohio, under the Revised Statutes of 1879, distributive co-operative associations were authorized to do business, and as the commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (1886) observed, "Many industrial co-operative societies were organized, but as the law was totally at variance with every principle of co-operation, the idea of conducting them as such was soon abandoned.
No co-operative society could live under the provisions (Rev. Stat., p. 3245), that each shareholder was entitled to a vote for every share held by him."
The following is a summary of the English acts authorizing the co-operative societies, or, as they are called, industrial and provident societies, namely: "An act to consolidate and amend the laws relating to industrial and provident societies,” of August 11, 1876; and the supplementary enactments of 1880 (customs and inland revenue act), and of 1882 (Provident nominations and small intestacies act.) :
• Those of 1852, 1862, 1867 and 1870 being the principal acts. + See ** The Industrial and Provident Societies Act, 1876, *' published by the Central Corporation Board, Manchester, England. 1876.
1. Application for the formation of a society must be made to the Registrar of Friendly. Societies, in London, Edinburg or Dublin, according to the case, on forms supplied by the office, signed by seven persons and the secretary, accompanied by two copies of the rules signed by the same persons.
2. It becomes a body corporate, which can, by the corporate name, sue and be sued, and hold and deal with property of any kind, including shares in other societies or companies, and land to any amount.
3. Its rules are binding upon its members, though they may have signed no assent to them; but may be altered by amendments duly made as the rules provide and registered, for which a fee of 10 s. is charged. The application for registration must be made on a form supplied by the Registrar's office.
4. It can sue its own members, and can make contracts either transferable or withdrawable, and may carry on any trade, includ. ing the buying and selling of land, and banking under certain conditions, and may apply the profits of the business to any lawful purpose ; and, if authorized by its rules, may receive money on loan, either from its members or others, to any amount so authorized.
5. If it has any withdrawable share capital it may not carry on banking, but may take deposits, within any limit fixed by its rules, in sums not exceeding 5 s. in any one payment, or £20 for any one depositor, pay at not less than two clear days notice—that is, it may establish "penny banks," as they are called in England.
6. It may make loans to its members on real or personal security : and may invest on the security of other societies or companies, or in any except those where liability is unlimited.
As published by the central co-operative board.
7. If the number of its shares is not limited either by its rules or its practice, it is not chargeable with income tax on the profits of its business.
8. It can, in the way provided for by the act, amalgamate with or take over the business of any other society, or convert itself into a company.
9. It can determine the way in which disputes between the society and its officers or members shall be settled.
10. It can dissove itself, either by an instrument of dissolution, signed by three-fourths of its members, or by a resolution passed by a three-fourths vote at any special general meeting, of which there are two forms,-(a), purely voluntary, when the resolution requires confirmation at a second meeting ; (6), on account of debts, when one meeting is sufficient. In such a winding up hostile proceedings to seize the property can be stayed.
11. Members cannot be sued individually for the debts of the society, nor compelled to pay more towards them than the sum remaining unpaid on any shares which they have either expressly agreed to take or treated as their property, or which the rules authorize to be so treated.
12. If they transter or withdraw their shares, they cannot be made liable for any debts contracted subsequently, nor for those subsisting at the time of the transfer or withdrawal, unless the other assets are insufficient to pay them.
13. Persons not under the age of 16 years may become members, and legally do any acts which they could do if of full age, except holding any office.
14. An individual or company may hold any number of shares allowed by the rules not exceeding the nominal value of £200, and any amount so allowed as a loan. A society may hold any number of shares.
15. A member who holds at his death not more than £100 in the society as shares, loans, or deposits, may, by a writing recorded by it, nominate, or vary, or revoke the nomination of any person to take this investment at his death; and if he dies intestate, without having made one subsisting nomination, the committee of management of the society are charged with the administration of the fund; subject in either case to a notice to be given to the Commissioners of Internal Revenue whenever the sum so dealt with exceeds £80.
16. The members may obtain an inquiry into the position of the society by application to the Registrar.
17. A registered society must have a registered office, and keep its name painted or engraved outside and give due notice of any change to the Registrar.
18. It must have a seal on which its name is engraved.
19. It must have its accounts audited at least once a year and keep a copy of its last balance sheet and the auditor's report constantly hung up in its registered office.
20. It must make to the Registrar, before the first of June in every year, a return of its business during the year ending the 31st of December previous, and supply a copy of last returns gratis to every member or person interested in its funds on application.
21. It must allow any member or person interested in its funds to inspect its books other than the loan or deposit account of any other member.
22. It must supply a copy of its rules to every person on demand, at a price not exceeding one shilling.
23. It it carries on banking, it must make out in February and August in every year, and keep hung up in its registered office, a. return, in a form prescribed by the act; and it has also to make a return every February to the stamp-office under the Banking Act.
The non-observance by a society of these duties exposes it and its officers to penalties varying from £i to £50, which are in some cases cumulative for every week during which the neglect lasts.