§ 24. Mr. GINNELL
asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the 1971 charges against the directors of the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society of Australia, now under investigation, that they have been elected by the use of proxies thirty years old, that neither shareholders nor insured persons have any effective voice in their election or in the affairs of the society, that the directors have borrowed the money of the society and wasted it in speculation, and that the society does not now possess the property represented in its accounts and periodical statements; whether he is in a position to state that similar practices are now in practice in the London branch of this society; the amount paid in directors' salaries in the last twenty years; the names of the present chairman and directors; when and how appointed; the annual salary of each; the amount of the society's money borrowed by each, the rate of interest, and the security held; whether the society's heaviest losses have been on these transactions; whether shareholders or insured persons have any effective control; and whether he will institute an inquiry concurrently with that proceeding in Australia?
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Robertson)
I have read the reports in a Melbourne newspaper with which the hon. Member has furnished me, from which it appears that certain allegations were made against the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society, and I have also seen later newspaper reports with which he did not furnish me, showing that evidence has been given on behalf of the society contradicting those allegations. The Articles of Association of the society provide for the election of the directors by the policyholders, and for the appointment of local boards by the directors. I am causing a list of the present directors of the society to be sent to the hon. Member. The annual reports show that the amounts paid in the last two years for directors' fees were £2,768 6s. 4d., and £3.813 9s. 3d., respectively. The other information asked for is not disclosed in the society's returns, but I may add that the Board of Trade are informed by the society that one loan was made to a director on the security of, and within the surrender value of, his policy; that this loan was repaid some time ago, and that no money whatever is now owing to the society by any director.