§ 51. Mr. WARDLE
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the South-Eastern and Chatham Railways Managing Committee has obtained exemption from an actual valuation of the staff pension fund; that this exemption was granted by the Registrar of Friendly Societies without the knowledge or consent of the members of the fund or of their representatives on the fund committee; that the chairman of the railways managing committee, Mr. Cosmo Bonsor, stated, in reply to a question at the last annual meeting of the members of the fund, that there had not been a valuation and never would be; and whether, in view of the fact that the Departmental Committee which was appointed by the Board of Trade in May, 1908, to inquire into the constitution, rules, administration, and financial position of the railway superannuation funds, after giving special consideration to the question of actuarial valuations and specifically considering the case of the 452 South-Eastern and Chatham Railways fund, stated that, having regard to the statutory nature of railway undertakings, and to the fact that membership (in these funds) is in many cases compulsory, and to the magnitude of the funds, and to the deficiencies which investigation has revealed, it was desirable that statements of accounts and balance sheets should be prepared annually, and quinquennial valuations obtained for all the funds, whether guaranteed or not, and that these should be laid before the members and furnished on application to all persons interested, and that, if steps were not taken to obtain such valuations, the Board of Trade should be empowered to take such such action as under the circumstances they might consider necessary, he will take such action as will result in the unanimous recommendations of the Departmental Committee with respect to-actuarial valuations being carried out?
As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the liabilities of the fund in question are a charge on the revenue of the joint undertaking of the South-Eastern and London Chatham and Dover Railways, having priority over the fixed charges of the undertaking. They are, therefore, fully covered, and from the point of view of the members of the fund actuarial valuations of the fund would not seem necessary. The question whether periodical valuations should or should not be made is, however, one for the Registrar of Friendly Societies, who, I understand, has not, in view of the consideration to which I have referred, considered it necessary to require the managing committee I of the railway company to have a periodical valuation of the fund.