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Correspondence between
Neville Chamberlain and J P Hilton:
November 1919 to February 1920
 
Summary of
Correspondence
 

November 24th, 1919 - from J P Hilton to Neville Chamberlain

Dear Mr Chamberlain,

I have been looking into the figures showing the Bank's progress for the first two months. They are very interesting, and in accordance with your wish to be posted on the work of the Bank, I am sending you some information which you will doubtless be interested in perusing.

The total increase in deposits for October as against September is 11,024, and every Branch shows an increase except Hay Mills, which is down to the extent of 82. Head Office accounts for 4,098 of the increase, while Small Heath comes next with 1,504, the greater portion of which increase occurs after the public notice as to change of premises. On a percentage basis I find the total increase to be 23, varying from 137% at Erdington down to 1% at Northfield and Harborne. Small Heath again shows well, giving a 90% increase.

The total increase in repayments amounts to 2,590 for the month, Sparkbrook showing the highest figure, viz., 962, while Head Office comes next with 902. Eight Branches show a decrease in repayments. This, however, scarcely represents a correct position on repayments, because a fair proportion of the repayments during September and October have been on behalf of the old Bank, where the accounts had been temporarily transferred pending the Draw.

When one examines the transactions, which in my opinion is the truest test of the Bank's usefulness, I find that every Branch shows an increase over September, the total increase in numbers being 4,260. Of this total Head Office accounts for 566, while Sparkbrook comes next with 394. The percentage on the whole is 33, varying from 71% at Duddeston and Hay Mills to 14 at Sparkbrook.

A still further pleasing feature is the number of new accounts opened. Up to October the total is 5,743. Head Office accounts for 793, while Sparkbrook has the abnormally high figure of 1,508. This is explained by the fact that at Sparkbrook a large number of children have been enrolled, being encouraged to do so, I understand, by some of the school teachers.

The whole position demonstrates the wisdom in deciding to adopt cash transactions instead of coupons, and in opening the various offices in the evenings of Mondays and Saturdays instead of Wednesdays and Fridays as in the old Bank. Saturday shows the highest receipts, viz., 42,000 being followed by Monday 33,300, Friday 19,500, Tuesday 12,100, Wednesday 11,800, and Thursday 9,100.

In all cases Saturday heads the list except at Balsall Heath, Selly Oak and Acock's Green, where Friday appears more popular. Of course, it will take some little time to discover the real state of affairs, and in six months' time we shall be in a better position to review the working.

By the end of October I had been able to deal with 7,175 transfers amounting to 174,667, while since that date I have transferred a further value of 71,343. I think 280,000 will be secured out of the old bank funds, which in my opinion is satisfactory. You will remember that I estimated we should secure 210,000, which represents (in rough figures) two-thirds of the sum standing to the credit of depositors in the old bank. I am not yet through with the transfers - there are the clearings up and dealing with dilatory depositors. The work has been very arduous, and even when the transfers are through there is the balancing of the old Bank's books, which is a heavy task in normal times.

The Housing Department is taking on well. The total applications sent in at the end of October were 49, of which I authorised advances in 40 cases, representing 10,660. The completion procedure is rather protracted. The examination of title deeds and the preparation of mortgage deeds depend upon so many different professional men, that much time is taken up by this requirement; but I have no doubt this will be expedited as the routine gets more into a swing. As illustrating how this side of our work is being taken up, I may say the applications now total over 80.

Your obedient Servant,

J P Hilton

Manager.

 

January 31st 1920 - from J P Hilton to Neville Chamberlain

My dear Mr Chamberlain,

The information I send you herewith will be appreciated at its proper value I am confident. It indicates to me that a bold policy should be pursued now - if not, I fear our past efforts will not reap their just reward.

Premises govern our success as witnessed at Small Heath and Aston, and we must buy where we can't lease. At Sparkbrook I predict a decline of 1,000 a week unless we provide more accommodation. I know money is leaving us now because of the lack of room.

I should like to spend -hour with you before you take up your duties in London to discuss the position all around at the Branches. Our action now in my opinion will be vital and if the watchword is "go slow" there will only be one result and that not a pleasing one.

It is purely a financial proposition and being able to see from the 4 months working how things are going one ought to concentrate heartily at the most favourable spots which I have set out in my statement of progress. The ground has been tested and it only wants developing but nothing can be done while we are in Institutes, etc, and while our facilities are so poor at certain branches.

On Monday we shall be viewing about 100 designs by School of Art students and a recommendation will go to full committee. I hope you can attend as it is a most important matter.

I shall be glad if you would take appropriate steps to deal with my salary. When you know, as I do, that I am not receiving One-Third of colleagues elsewhere I think there is reason to complain. The Treasury have supplied me with information re Manchester, Liverpool and elsewhere, which I gave to Coun. Appleby some time ago. Manchester 1,760, Liverpool 1,600, Aberdeen 2,000 etc etc and all plus Civil Service bonus. Mine is 550. Is this reasonable?

Believe me

Yours very sincerely

J P Hilton

 

February 2nd 1920 - from Neville Chamberlain to J P Hilton

Dear Mr Hilton,

I am very sorry I could not attend the meeting today, I had already made an engagement before I was aware that the Bank meeting was at 12.

With regard to premises it appeared to me from what I heard at the Sub-Committee that the Chairman and others fully appreciated the importance of being housed in premises suitable for our purpose. I quite agree that we have got to go forward rapidly if we are  to take full advantage of the opportunities before us.

With regard to your salary I will speak to the Chairman about this but I really think you must exercise some little patience. After all our Bank is not of the standing and has not had the length of service behind it which would make it comparable with those you mention. It really has only sprung into its present position in the course of a few months and it seems to me a little unreasonable to expect that you should be jumped up three or four times your salary before the Committee has had to time to turn round and make certain that the present prosperity is permanent.

Yours very truly,

N Chamberlain

 

February 3rd 1920 - from J P Hilton to Neville Chamberlain

Dear Mr Chamberlain.

I am in receipt of your letter of the 2nd February and regret that you were unable to be present at the meeting on Monday.

I was unaware when I wrote you respecting my salary that the Chairman had himself decided to raise the question at the meeting. He did so, and expresses himself disappointed he was unable to do better. I understand the Committee agreed to increase the amount to 750 including bonus.

I am sorry indeed you appear offended at my writing you. I would not on any account have incurred your displeasure had I thought you would take that view. I would rather struggle as I have had to do. I certainly do not wish to be unreasonable and never for one moment expected to be remunerated after the rate of Manchester and others. I know, the position at those Banks, and our own position, and realize the need for constant effort until the funds are an assured thing.

I have worked hard to please you by working up a Bank of which you might be proud. I shall continue to do so but I am, indeed, very sorry that I should, on a matter so vital to me, have apparently given you offence. This is the first occasion, during three years of close working for the institution you have done so much for, that there has been the resemblance of your displeasure, and I feel too much upset to do justice to this letter.

Believe me

Your obedient servant

J P Hilton

 

February 4th 1920 - from Neville Chamberlain to J P Hilton

 

Dear  Mr Hilton

 

I do not know whether you kept a copy of your previous letter but if so I think that on reading it over you will see that it was somewhat unfortunately worded. However, the incident is ended and I am very glad that the Committee have raised your salary to 750 a year.

 

I wish you continued success in the Bank which I consider is now beginning to do itself justice.

 

Yours very truly,