HC Deb 27 May 1935 vol 302 cc751-3
27. Mr. THORNE

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can give the House any information in connection with the winding up of the London General Insurance Company, Limited; whether anyone will be allowed to represent the policy holders and those having a claim on the company; whether he is aware that a widow with two young children was awarded £3,000 and costs in November, 1934, as compensation for the death of her husband in a road accident, and that she will have to pay the costs of obtaining this judgment; and whether those having compensation claims on the assets of the company will be awarded a percentage by the court of arbitrators?


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it has been brought to his notice that the winding up of the London General Insurance Company, Limited, entailed the loss of .3,000 compensation and costs to a widow and two very young children, whose husband and father, a working man, was killed in a road accident in July, 1933; that, in addition, the widow has to pay the cost of obtaining the judgment; and whether he can now state what steps are being taken to ensure that all existing companies, as well as those to be formed, are financially sound, so as to avoid cases of this kind?


The case referred to by the hon. Members has been brought to my notice. An Order for the winding-up of the London General Insurance Company, Limited, was made on the 7th May, and I am not yet in a position to make any statement regarding the affairs of the company. I would, however, point out that it is the duty of the liquidator to consider every proof of debt lodged with him and that it is open to any creditor to be professionally represented at any stage of the liquidation. As regards the position arising from the failure of certain companies doing motor vehicle insurance business, I am unable at present to add to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) on the 30th April.


Has the hon. Gentleman seen the announcement of the tragic occurrence in Birmingham last week—the case in which a man had been awarded £800 odd. It preyed on his mind, and he murdered his wife and committed suicide?


I saw a newspaper report of the case to which my hon. Friend refers, but I am not aware that it has any reference to this insurance company.


In view of the great calamity that has befallen so many people in consequence of the failure of this company, do the Board of Trade intend to look into the problem to see whether such occurrences cannot be prevented in future?


Yes, Sir, certainly. On 30th April last, in response to a question to which I made reference in the original answer, it was announced that the question of legislation was under active consideration.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that disasters such as have overtaken these people will be repeated until the Board of Trade take steps to enforce annual examinations of accounts such as will reveal whether mushroom insurance companies have assets equal to the risks they underwrite?


I think the problem is a good deal wider than that. There is no short cut by legislation ordering accounts. The matter is rather wider.