HC Deb 04 April 1878 vol 239 cc519-20

asked the President of the Board of Trade, with reference to the late trial of Blake v. The Albion Life Assurance Society, Whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce a short amending Bill for the purpose of giving to the Board of Trade those further powers relating to the accounts of Insurance Companies which it has been shown the Board of Trade wished to exercise, but which the Law Officers of the Crown informed them in 1873 were not conferred by the Life Assurance Companies Act of 1870; and, whether he has any objection to lay before Parliament from time to time, in the form of a special Report, any completed correspondence which the Board of Trade may hold with Insurance Companies on the subject of their accounts, where such accounts appear, in the judgment of the Board, not to be such as the Act of 1870 requires, instead of merely publishing such correspondence in the annual Blue Books, thus avoiding any delay in calling the attention of Parliament to such unsatisfactory statements of accounts, inasmuch as it appears that the attention of the Board of Trade was first directed to the accounts of the Albion Assurance Society as far back as 1873, and they were published then, and for four years afterwards, in the annual Blue Book without note or comment?


Sir, the Government have no intention of introducing a Bill for the purpose of giving the further powers referred to in the Question. It appears to the Board of Trade to be more in accordance with the spirit of the Assurance Act of 1870, that correspondence with any companies which they determine to publish should be attached to the statements and accounts laid before Parliament annually, in accordance with the statute, rather than it should be specially laid before Parliament. It must be borne in mind that the Board of Trade have no information beyond the Returns prepared and deposited by the companies themselves, and no power whatever to call for any, and that the principle of the Assurance Act is simply to make the companies' own financial statements accessible to the public—the Board of Trade being merely responsible, as was fully explained in answer to the hon. Member's Question of the 19th of March last, for seeing that these statements are rendered as required by the Act.