§ Mr. J. P. FARRELL
asked the Chief Secretary whether he has received a petition on 16th February, 1914, signed by 3,044 subscribers to the Constabulary Force Fund, which is a large majority of the members interested in the fund, praying to have the fund wound up; what action the Government intend taking to give effect to the prayer in this petition; when he proposes making his promised statement in the House of Commons as to the future of the fund now that he is in possession of the actuary's report; whether there is any case on record where a majority of shareholders failed to have their company dissolved on petition showing sufficient cause; whether the £150,000 given by the Government as a Grant, per Treasury minute of 20th February, 1891, to make the fund solvent, has been invested separately and apart from the moneys of the subscribers and the interest on the said £150,000 added to the principal, making it now £154,000; and whether no portion of this sum or the interest thereon has ever been employed in the payment of claims of subscribers or in any other way discharging the liabilities of the fund?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I have received the petition referred to, but as I have frequently stated, both before and since the presentation to Parliament of the Actuary's Report on the Assets and Liabilities of the Constabulary Force Fund, the Government have no intention of diverting the 993W fund from its original purpose, and it is accordingly being wound up by the natural process of paying claims on it as they accrue. The suggestion made in the fourth part of the question is incorrectly founded, inasmuch as the payments of members are not investments made in the expectation of the eventual return of their capital with interest, but contributions intended to secure benefits to their families in the event of such families being left widowed or orphaned. These benefits are out of all proportion to the contributions, and it is obvious that they can only be paid on such a scale if the principle of insurance, under which they were established, is maintained, namely, that in any case where the contingency against which the insurance is effected does not arise the premiums are not refunded. The Grant of £150,000, which was represented at the 31st December, 1912, by Stock then valued at £212,942, and a cash balance of £1,789 13s. 8d. was provided on the express understanding, set out in the Treasury Minute referred to in the question, that any part thereof not required for the purpose of discharging the liabilities of the fund should eventually revert to the Exchequer, and a distinction has thus necessarily been maintained between it and the other asset. The annual income of the fund, derived from contributions, together with the securities which stood to its credit prior to the provision of the Parliamentary Grant, have so far proved adequate to meet the calls upon it; but the Actuary's Report leaves no doubt that a substantial portion of the Grant will require to be spent before the prospective liabilities have been discharged in full.