§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Donald Somervell)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
When an individual falls from a certain level of financial circumstances to a lower level, one of the matters of concern, and in certain cases, it may be, of growing concern, is the question of any life or endow merit policy which he may have, and his anxiety is directed to the question whether he will be able to keep that policy in existence owing to his reduced financial resources. The purpose of this Bill is to deal with part of that problem. Right hen. and hon. Members who have interested themselves in this question will have noted an answer which I gave recently, on 18th January, with regard to this point. I set out in that answer the main lines of arrangements that have been come to with insurance companies which do business other than industrial insurance business. The actual terms of that scheme are, of course, not relevant to this Bill. At the time that I gave that answer, I also said that, in the case of industrial assurance policies and assurances with registered friendly societies, discussions had taken place, and it was proposed to introduce legislation in the near future.
This Bill is the legislation which I then anticipated. It makes, as the House will have seen, special provision for, and gives special protection to, the industrial policies and certain similar policies which, as is very well known, are usually taken out to cover funeral expenses—not always though, but that is the bulk of industrial insurance business; and, as the House will no doubt know, the broad definition of industrial assurance is life policies, endowment policies, the premiums of which are collected from door to door. It is felt that, with regard to that class of policies, industrial policies with a limit of under £50 it is desirable to give special protection. I am well aware, from a number of Questions that have been addressed to me since the war broke out, 1174 of the interest taken in this subject by Members in all parts of the House, and of their anxiety that the matter should be cleared up and the Government's decision taken on it. I think they at times suggested that there was some delay. I hope the answer which I gave, and to which I have referred in passing, in regard to insurance policies generally, and the introduction of this Bill, will satisfy—