HL Deb 17 July 1912 vol 12 cc562-4

THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH rose to ask His Majesty's Government "if, in spite of the alleged simplicity of the Insurance Act, a County Association of the Territorial Force, either through ignorance or intention, fails to act or acts improperly under that Act, against whom and in what way will the Act be enforced?"

The noble Earl said: There seems to be considerable doubt in the minds of those responsible for the carrying on of County Associations as to what is to happen in certain events. I do not myself think that any County Association will deliberately act contrary to the Act. As far as I personally am concerned, I can endorse what has been said by other noble Lords, that I shall do all I can to see that those whom I employ get the full benefits of the Act. But there is considerable doubt as to the position of County Associations. As far as I remember, the penal clauses of the Act were passed without any discussion at all, and we have had from the Chancellor of the Exchequer certain threats of putting the penal clauses into force if anybody acts contrary to the Act. The position with regard to County Associations is this, that they have not really mastered what is incumbent upon them under the Act; and what I have been asked to find out from the Government is, in the event of action being taken by County Associations contrary to the Act or in the event of no action being taken, against whom will proceedings be instituted and in what way will the Act be enforced? I own that I have some personal interest in the matter as I am both President and Chairman of a County Association, and I am not quite sure that I shall not be the one against whom action might be taken.


I think I can answer the Question to the noble Earl's satisfaction. If the members of the Territorial Force are insured their contributions will continue to be payable during the period of training, the men's share being deducted from their pay and the Crown paying the employer's share. As regards persons employed by County Associations as clerks, caretakers, and such like, the Associations are responsible in the same manner as are ordinary employers. If County Associations find any difficulty in carrying out their duties under the Act, the Insurance Commissioners will assist them. That is to say, the Commissioners do not wish to fine County Associations or their chairmen for any small inaccuracies through misapprehension, but will assist the Associations to rectify matters. On the other hand, if an Association wilfully refuses to pay what is required by the Act it will, like any other corporate body, be liable to prosecution.


But who will be liable to be prosecuted? That is my point.


Corporate bodies are liable to be proceeded against if they wilfully neglect to carry out the requirements of the Act, and County Associations will come under the same conditions.


That does not answer my noble friend's question. What he wishes to know is, which of the officers of the Territorial Association would be responsible in this case. Will it be the chairman, or the secretary, or some other officer?


The noble Lord can take it from me that it will not be the President of the Association, who will naturally have done his best; but it will be the guilty person whoever he is. Of course, considerable discretion will have to be used as to the person who is marked out for proceedings.