HC Deb 06 November 1934 vol 293 cc833-5
58. Major PROCTER

asked the Secretary for Mines the number and amount of unused balances subscribed. for the relief of miners' dependants; whether he will institute an actuarial investigation of such funds; and, in the event of there being no beneficiaries, whether he will take such action as may be necessary so that these dormant balances may be used for the relief of dependants of miners killed in recent mining disasters?


The inquiry made and the return issued by my Department in 1925 covered 73 funds. Of these, 19 were found to have exhausted their resources, two had already transferred their surplus to other funds, 39 expected to have no surplus, while six which still had dependants and five which had not were assisting other funds. Of the remaining two, one has since, at the suggestion of the Mines Department, transferred its surplus to the Central Association of Miners' Permanent Relief Societies, and the other is being administered by a per manent provident society.

The total balances in hand in 1925 were about £430,000, and, unfortunately, an impression has been conveyed in the Press that this money is all surplus. Actually the total surpluses among all these funds were not then expected to be more than £30,000. Recent inquiries do not indicate any material change in this position, and only one fund expects to be left with a definite substantial surplus. I understand that the trustees of that fund have had the disposal of this ultimate surplus under consideration.

I have no power to institute an actuarial investigation. The unification of the funds would require legislation, and I am not sure that it is desirable. There are certain advantages in local funds as against a single national fund. In any event, legislation would presumably need to be of a general character, and not confined to colliery disaster funds.


Has not the time come for the Minister of Mines to gather all these fragments together and establish one central fund Is my hon. Friend aware that in my division 51 years ago to-day a disaster occurred, and there is still an accumulated balance?


The hon. Member cannot debate this subject at Question Time.


In view of the fact that there are 17 widows in Conisborough left after the Cadeby disaster, for whom no funds are available, will the Minister try to obtain some of the surplus money from other funds for the purpose of assisting them?


I shall be happy to discuss that question with my hon. Friend, but, of course, I can only make suggestions to the trustees of funds.


Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to bring that information more up to date, seeing that the figures relate to the year 1925, and various changes have taken place since then?


I am afraid my hon. Friend did not follow the whole of my answer, which was a very long one. I would point out that this return, which is very complete, was only obtained by me with the voluntary co-operation of the trustees concerned. We have made an examination quite recently, within the last four years, of some of the principal funds, and sufficient change is not shown to warrant a general investigation being undertaken again.


Arising out of the Minister's reply—


I cannot allow any more supplementaries on this question.

63. Mr. C. EDWARDS

asked the Secretary for Mines what information he has as to the number of public funds that have been initiated in connection with the various colliery and other disasters in Wales during the past 60 years, giving the amounts subscribed, distributed, and the balance, if any; also the liability in each case; and will he state what is proposed to be done with the dormant balances?


The return issued by my Department in 1925 showed that of 13 funds raised in Wales since 1874, 11 did not expect to have any surplus; one had already handed over a surplus of £5,383 in 1905, to the Monmouth and South Wales Miners' Permanent Provident Society, and the other, which expected ultimately to have a surplus of £2,500, was already being administered by the same Society. The total balances in hand amounted at that time to £90,320, practically all of which, as I have indicated, was needed to meet commitments, and no surpluses are anticipated. I have no further information as to the amounts subscribed or distributed, or as to liabilities; nor have I any information regarding relief funds raised in respect of disasters other than those at collieries.


Is it not the case that the Charity Commissioners have power to authorise the transfer of unexpended funds from one purpose to another, and that therefore there is no difficulty?


I could not answer for the Charity Commissioners.


Is it not a fact that application has been made to the Charity Commissioners and they have refused?


In some cases transfers have been made.

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