§ SIR FREDERICK W. HEYGATE
asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether his attention has been directed to the imperfect nature of the Returns made by Life Assurance Offices under the provisions of the Act of 1870, particularly in regard to the Fifth Schedule of the Act; and, whether it is not possible to enforce a more strict compliance with the Act?
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
Sir. I should demur to the phrase that the Returns made under the Act are imperfect. From the Returns made, it is possible, without difficulty, for any person conversant with the principles of life assurance to form a sound judgment as to the conditions of the offices. It is hopeless by any compilation of figures to do more than this, or to enable per- 658 sons unacquainted with the science of accounts and life assurance to form such a judgment. It is very possible that the form of Return might be improved in some respects; but I believe the present forms were settled after having been discussed by the Institute of Actuaries, the highest authority in such matters in the kingdom. As to enforcing a more strict compliance with the Act, that is again begging the question. The Companies are only required by the Act to make Returns in forms prescribed, and the Board of Trade has used to the utmost such powers as it has, of enforcing a strict compliance with the forms prescribed, and has endeavoured by every means in its power to secure uniformity. I am aware that the Schedules would, in some respects, admit of improvement, especially the fifth Schedule, in respect to the valuation of the "Office premium" and the net premiums—the present form not suiting the case of every Company. But, on the whole, the Act has worked well, although it may be expedient hereafter to see whether it cannot be improved. We have, as yet, only had the experience of two years' Returns.