§ 65. Mr. C. BATHURST
asked why circular A. S. 124, published by the Insurance Commission, informing insured persons that after the 12th January, 1914, they could pay off all arrears at a reduced rate, was not issued for effective circulation until late in December, 1913; whether, in the absence of any such information or instruction from the Commission, most approved societies urged their members to pay off their arrears at the full rate during the months of September, October, and November; whether several hundred thousand insured persons thus paid their arrears in full during these months in ignorance of the effect of the National Insurance Act, 1913; and whether the Government propose to take steps to repay 1126 these thrifty persons the amount paid by them in excess of the reduced rate current after the 12th January, 1914?
Circular A.S. 124 informed societies of action to be taken by them on and after 12th January, 1914, and was issued a convenient time before that date. The particular statement to which the hon. Member refers was as to the actual effect of the new Act, and it was made as soon as practicable after the Commissioners were aware that any societies were in doubt on the point. The answer to the second and third parts of the question is in the negative. I am not aware that the number suggested, or, indeed, any considerable number, of arrears were paid before 12th January, though I have no doubt that a number of persons who were ill and in receipt of sickness benefit wisely paid contributions towards the qualifying number for disablement benefit. The Commissioners have no power to refund contributions properly paid.