These are very great changes to have occurred in less than a lifetime. Yet the basic principle of the “new” services—public organisation of thrift so as to save people from having to ask for public or private charity— is not new at all. Demands that the State should organise a voluntary system of insurance for sickness, pensions and burial money are very ancient. From 1773 to 1818 Parliament discussed many such plans, but rejected tham all, including William Pitt’s scheme in 1796 to start parish-administered voluntary contributory pension schemes for widows, orphans, old people and the incapacitated, and the proposal in 1807 for a national “Poor’s Assurance Office.” The same idea inspired Gladstone’s Post Office annuities (1864–1926) which were explicitly intended to give better value for money than the industrial assurance business, the abuses of which Gladstone was denouncing 80 years ago. The first modern advocate of compulsory State insurance appears to have been Daniel Defoe. In his Essay on Projects (1697) he suggested a “Pensions Office” which would compel “labouring people” to insure for medical and surgical treatment and for pensions or institutional care during old age, disablement or permanent ill-health (“the pox excepted”), so that “no creature so miserable or so poor but should claim subsistence as their due, and not ask it for charity.” He was followed by John Acland, Rector of Broad Clyst in Devonshire, who in 1786 proposed a “national Club” for pensions, sick pay and apothecary’s medicines and attendance. Membership was to be compulsory for some classes—including all men and women aged 21–30 who were neither disabled nor burdened with children—and optional for the rest of the population. A Bill was actually based upon his proposals but failed to get through Parliament. *