HC Deb 14 January 1913 vol 46 cc1867-8
32. Mr. FELL

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will entertain a proposal for the 500,000 deposit contributors under the National Insurance Act to be united in the form of an insurance society with reduced fixed benefits, or with benefits contingent on the claims made, so that these persons who cannot obtain the ordinary benefits of an approved society may still have the benefits arising from the assurance of large numbers of persons in similar circumstances to themselves?


No such scheme would be possible under the present provisions of the Act. Section 42, which deals with the position of deposit contributors, does not remain in force after 1st January, 1915, and before that date I shall be happy to receive suggestions as to the best method of providing for this class of contributors. Further information as to the actual character and extent of the class and experience of the working of the present scheme of benefits will certainly be necessary before it can be stated what change will be desirable. I would point out, however, that a very large proportion of the present deposit contributors can at once transfer to approved societies, and so secure, if they desire to do so, a better form of insurance than would be possible under the scheme suggested by the hon. Member; and a considerable proportion have indeed become deposit contributors because they have deliberately chosen that form of insurance. May I add that although we estimated that there would be about 1,000,000 deposit contributors compulsorily, there are only half a million, and our estimate is that fully half of them become deposit contributors from choice.


Would it be possible to make some arrangement with one of the large societies so that these unfortunate people who are obliged to become deposit contributors—I am not referring to those who become deposit contributors voluntarily—could obtain some means of insurance through such a society?


I have not the faintest doubt that the large societies would be glad to take them over, because, as a rule, they are about the healthiest people in the country. But I think we had better wait a short time in order to see whether that is the best method of dealing with the problem.