HC Deb 19 December 1929 vol 233 cc1628-9

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that certain insurance companies and societies are serving notices of forfeiture or lapse on their policyholders, and in default of payment of arrears of premiums they will forfeit all interest in or benefit under their policies; and whether he will take steps to advertise the rights of policy-holders under the Industrial Assurance Act, 1929, in the post offices?


As to the first part of the question, the notices of forfeiture to which the hon. Member refers should follow the terms of Section 23 of the Industrial Assurance Act, 1923. The issue of such notices and the lapse of the policies in accordance with them does not affect any rights of the policy-owners to free policies or surrender values under the Act of 1923 or the Industrial Assurance and Friendly Societies Act, 1929, or under their contracts. As to the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 17th December last.


In view of the right hon. Gentleman's answer, is it not clear that it is very necessary that these same notices should bear a brief statement of the rights of policy-holders to a new policy or to a surrender value on their old policy, and that this should be as clear as are those other statements which only mislead them as to their rights?


The hon. Member will appreciate that I have no power to compel any private company to take any steps except those which I am empowered to take by Statute, but he will notice that I have treated his question sympathetically, and, if I can find any practical steps which will achieve the purpose which he has in mind, I am willing to do it; but the difficulty is to find a course that is practicable.


Will the hon. Gentleman remember that there is only from now until the 9th May for these people to have a chance of getting something back out of the enormous amount of money which the insurance companies have taken from them?


Is this not a very excellent argument for the nationalisation of insurance?


Would it not be a practicable step to allow the Post Office to develop life insurance business? That might go to the root of the trouble.