HC Deb 08 February 1967 vol 740 cc1652-4
61. Mr. Leadbitter

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many motor insurance companies have collapsed in the past 10 years: what were the names of these companies; and how many motorists each left uninsured.

Mr. Jay

Seven motor insurance companies have failed in the last ten years. I am circulating their names and approximate number of policy-holders in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Leadbitter

Has not this situation now become nothing less than a national scandal? Have not much frustration, anxiety, and certainly unnecessary risk, been imposed on motorists and public alike? Will my right hon. Friend therefore seek to protect the good name of reputable insurance companies, and, in addition, give to the general public a new era of confidence by setting up a national insurance motor scheme?

Mr. Jay

I agree that there is a great deal of concern about this matter. That is why we introduced, in the Companies Bill, very sweeping powers to control the action of such businesses in future. I should like to remind my hon. Friend that those powers operate, in some respects, from the date of the publication of the Bill last autumn. The best way to solve this problem is to get the Bill enacted as quickly as we can.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Will the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the very serious strength of feeling among the public about the collapse of the insurance companies, give instructions to his Board of Trade inspectors to hasten forward the cases which they have under consideration at the moment?

Mr. Jay

We shall certainly do all we can to hasten these cases.

Mr. Bellenger

The action proposed by my right hon. Friend rather smacks of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Does he not already have powers to deal with some of these defaulting companies? Will he bear in mind the remarks made by a representative of the Royal Insurance Company that the Board of Trade was warned for years in the case of one defaulter who has gone on merrily making money at the public expense?

Mr. Jay

Yes, but I remind my hon. Friend that we have been warned of certain companies in this way, and these companies have recovered and proceeded later on to be perfectly viable and reputable companies. Therefore we have to exercise some caution.

Following is the information:

Brandaris Insurance Co. Ltd. 80,000
American Military International Insurance Association Ltd. 42,000
First General Assurance and Guarantee Corporation Ltd. 30,000
Fire, Auto and Marine Insurance Co. Ltd. 260,000
Coventry Insurance Co. Ltd. 3,000
London and Midland Insurance Co. Ltd. 50,000
London and Cheshire Insurance Co. Ltd. 100,000