This amendment was very exhaustively discussed last night. I do not think there is any necessity to discuss it at any greater length now, and I am not going to press the matter further beyond saying this, that compensation, whether by way of lump sum or by retention after redundancy is established, must be financed by the Exchequer unless the amalgamated company is to be put into bankruptcy. None of us want that. There are no funds available in the five Irish companies to provide fair compensation for redundant employees under the amalgamation scheme that is envisaged. I think the Minister ought to give us an undertaking now that when amalgamation has been put through, steps will be taken to establish by way of arbitration what members of the amalgamated staffs are in effect redundant, and that the Exchequer will thereupon undertake at least a share of whatever burdens the amalgamation will place upon the amalgamated company. If that is not done there is no use in the Minister talking about the compensation, because giving fair compensation to the staffs that are redundant would bankrupt the companies. None of us want that. I want to preserve the rights of the employees and at the same time to keep this insurance going. If you are to make the burden too heavy you will break the amalgamated company, and we all want to avoid that.
Insurance Bill, 1935—Second Recommittal.
Is the Deputy pressing the amendment?
I wonder would the Minister give us an assurance that in considering any scheme of amalgamation he would amend the Bill in such a way that sanction from this House to the amalgamation proposals would be required. In that way we might ascertain whether the proposals for amalgamation provided compensation for those employees rendered redundant. The House would then have an opportunity of seeing that the proposals, in fact, did embody compensation for the employees. If the Minister would do that, then we could discuss the subject of amalgamation close up to the scheme of amalgamation. If that were agreed to by the Minister some difficulties could be removed and the House could see whether it approved of the amalgamation having regard to the proposals for compensating the employees. At the moment all we are left with is the promise of the Minister that he will do his best to get reasonable treatment for the redundant employees. But Deputies must remember that the Minister cannot get reasonable treatment for the employees unless he is empowered by the Bill to do so. After the speech made by him last night, I am afraid very few companies will offer compensation of their own volition. Would the Minister now say that the amalgamation will be brought before the House, so that we can see whether the employees are being reasonably treated?
I do not agree that the amalgamation proposal should be brought before the House. The Minister has no desire in connection with any function he may perform about these amalgamation proposals, other than to see that the employees get fair play. At the same time the Deputy has to recognise that the business of amalgamation is a complicated and technical matter which may present very great difficulties.
I think the Deputy will recognise that the fact that the scheme had to be brought to the House to be discussed here would mean that you are placing further obstacles in the way of the companies coming together. If you bring up the amalgamation scheme to be discussed in one particular connection, I fail to see how you can prevent other matters in connection with the scheme from being discussed. Presumably when the amalgamation scheme is completed each company will be fairly well satisfied that under the circumstances it has done as well as possible. It may be that every company may not be absolutely satisfied but under the conditions at present obtaining they will feel perhaps that they have done as well as they could reasonably expect. The Deputy wants to bring the whole amalgamation scheme before the House and have all the details of the insurance business of the different companies discussed here. I am afraid I could not agree with that.
If the Deputy put up some more reasonable proposal it might be considered. I can assure the House that the intention is to see that a fair scheme for giving compensation to the employees will be a feature of any amalgamation scheme before it can receive the sanction of the Minister. I told the House last night that personally—and I believe that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is of the same opinion—having regard to all the circumstances, we should do our utmost to see that the new amalgamated company will keep on the existing employees. I have stated in that connection that there is great redundancy in the insurance business. But having regard to the fact that we all want to help the Irish companies and that we do not want the employees to have the feeling that they are left out in the cold, so to speak, or to feel that we are simply carrying out a rationalisation scheme merely for the reduction of expenses, I want the employees to feel that their interests will and must be considered in an amalgamation scheme.
The point has frequently been made that there may be some redundancy for the time being and though we may put a burden on the company at the start we have to look forward to increasing prosperity in the Irish insurance business. I am convinced that, no matter what the employees connected with the business feel, once this Bill becomes law the Irish companies will have got an opportunity that they had not before, and that they will go ahead steadily: that the companies will make progress and that they will have a prestige and security that they had not before. I think it should satisfy Deputies that I have assured them that fair treatment for the employees must be an essential feature of any scheme of which the Minister would approve. I cannot say what the basis of compensation might be. I know, for example, in Great Britain, that when amalgamation takes place between companies, the question of staff is generally satisfactorily dealt with. It has been found possible to maintain all the staffs of the companies amalgamating in the new company and I think in regard to some of our companies here, at any rate, that will be possible. I cannot say definitely that all the employees will, without qualification, be kept on but that would certainly be our aim as far as possible.
The Deputy will realise that it would not be reasonable to discuss the details of the amalgamation scheme in the House, and also that we cannot at this stage presume to lay down in the Bill, even if we thought it should be done, what the basis of compensation should be. Surely we ought to leave it to the companies in the first instance in the hammering out of the scheme to put up proposals. If they do not approach the Minister's desire in that regard, if they do not attain his standard, he will ask them to go back again and reconsider the matter. The Deputies will have ample opportunity, because they will know what is going on in the insurance business. They know already that a certain amount of progress has been made. They will know when matters come to a head, when the Minister's sanction is likely to be given, and when the amalgamation scheme is completed, and I think they will have opportunities to raise the matter if they so desire. For these reasons, and not through any lack of interest in the employees, or lack of feeling towards them, I feel that we cannot accept the amendment.
The suggestion of having the amalgamation scheme submitted to the House for approval is made because of the Minister's reluctance to accept this amendment. It is probably not the most desirable way of dealing with the matter, but the proposal at all events will provide more protection for the employees than the passage of this Bill containing no provision for compensating employees who will lose their employment. If the Minister could see his way to accept this amendment it would not be necessary to make any proposals whereby the amalgamation scheme should secure sanction from the House. It is only because of the Minister's unwillingness to accept the amendment that I make that suggestion.
The Minister now says that he desires to get fair compensation and fair treatment for these employees. But my complaint, and the complaint of other Deputies who have spoken, is that the Minister, when talking to the companies, will be handcuffed in the matter of trying to wring from them any compensation for any employee. He has no legislative power to insist that the companies must provide the compensation, and he is going into these negotiations handcuffed and unable, therefore, to fight for the employees in the way he would be able to fight if he had a section providing that, in case of redundancy or disemployment, the employees would secure proper compensation from the companies.
However, I will make another suggestion to the Minister on the matter. Will the Minister between now and the concluding stages of the Bill draft an amendment to provide that any employee who loses his employment, or whose position has been seriously worsened as a result of the passage of the Bill, will be enabled to submit to an arbitrator, to be appointed by the Minister or by the Chief Justice, a claim for compensation as a result of his dismissal or loss of emoluments? If the Minister will draft an amendment to provide that any person who loses his employment, or whose position has been seriously worsened, may seek compensation from an arbitrator to be appointed by the Minister or the Chief Justice, I am prepared to withdraw the amendment in the knowledge that at least there will be some provision in the Bill entitling a dismissed employee to sue for compensation if his position is worsened or if he loses his employment. In that way, an employee will have a statutory right to seek compensation, and that is much more valuable to the employee than any assurance by any Minister, no matter what the Minister's political complexion may be—an assurance which may never be possible of implementation. Will the Minister be prepared to agree to a proposal of that kind, the drafting to be in his own hands, subject to its being a reasonable amendment?
I do not wish to prolong the discussion further. The weakness in the Deputy's position is that he says, "As a result of the passage of the Bill." There is no compulsion on the companies to go ahead with amalgamation; that is a matter for themselves. Certain employees of the companies are bound to benefit; in fact I think a very large number of them are bound to benefit from the very fact that an amalgamated company is set up. The Deputy does not seem to pay any attention to these considerations. The Minister has not taken power of compulsion with regard to amalgamation. The matter has been left in the hands of the companies. They are being asked to prepare a scheme themselves. Their intention, I take it, is to come together and put up a scheme themselves. If they are going to be handicapped by the Minister's coming in with definitely statutory provisions saying that they must do this or they must do that in connection with their amalgamation scheme, I do not think it is going to help the cause of amalgamation. I have given to the House an assurance of the Government's policy in the matter. I am not prepared to go further than to say that, in connection with any amalgamation scheme which comes up, the Minister will go carefully into the matter of compensation or otherwise for employees, and satisfy himself that the employees are being treated as decently as can be done in the circumstances.
What about the policy of the next Government? Will that be the same?
- Beckett, James Walter.
- Bennett, George Cecil.
- Burke, James Michael.
- Byrne, Alfred.
- Corish, Richard.
- Cosgrave, William T.
- Costello, John Aloysius.
- Davin, William.
- Davitt, Robert Emmet.
- Desmond, William.
- Dillon, James M.
- Doyle, Peadar S.
- Everett, James.
- Finlay, John.
- Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
- Holohan, Richard.
- Keyes, Michael.
- McGilligan, Patrick.
- McGovern, Patrick.
- McGuire, James Ivan.
- Murphy, James Edward.
- Norton, William.
- O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
- O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
- Pattison, James P.
- Wall, Nicholas.
- Aiken, Frank.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Brady, Brian.
- Brady, Seán.
- Corkery, Daniel.
- Corry, Martin John.
- Crowley, Timothy.
- Derrig, Thomas.
- De Valera, Eamon.
- Doherty, Hugh.
- Flynn, Stephen.
- Fogarty, Andrew.
- Gibbons, Seán.
- Goulding, John.
- Houlihan, Patrick.
- Kelly, James Patrick.
- Kelly, Thomas.
- Kilroy, Michael
- Kissane, Eamonn.
- MacEntee, Seán.
- Maguire, Ben.
- O Briain, Donnchadh.
- O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
- O'Grady, Seán.
- O'Reilly, Matthew.
- Pearse, Margaret Mary.
- Rice, Edward.
- Ryan, James.
- Ryan, Martin.
- Ryan, Robert.
- Sheridan, Michael.
- Smith, Patrick.
- Traynor, Oscar.
- Walsh, Richard.
I move amendment No. 45:—
In page 21, Section 27 (2) (c), to delete all from the word "transmit" in line 19 to the word "and" in line 26 and substitute the words "give notice of such scheme by advertisement once inIrish Oifigiúil and once in each of two daily newspapers published in Saorstát Eireann and every such advertisement shall contain the following”.
Amendments 45 and 46 are being moved to carry out a promise that the Minister gave on the Recommittal Stage of the Bill. He promised to accept the principle of an amendment moved by Deputy Dillon, having for its object a simpler procedure for bringing to the notice of persons concerned particulars regarding an amalgamation scheme.
It appears to me that the procedure outlined in the amendment is going to put considerable expense on the companies concerned.
The amendment requires that an advertisement shall be inserted in theIris Oifigiúil and also in two newspapers. The subject matter of the advertisement would appear to be left the same as in the original section, namely, a statement of the nature of the proposed amalgamation, a summary of the material facts, and “a copy of every actuarial (including the independent actuarial) report and any other report furnished to the Minister with such scheme.” If reports of that kind have to be advertised in the Iris Oifigiúil and in two newspapers, I imagine the cost will be pretty considerable.
It is a thing that does not occur very often.
Well, even if it only occurs once, it is going to put a considerable amount of expense, and I think unnecessary expense, on the companies concerned.
As far as I can gather from the official report, the Minister in these two amendments is carrying out, almost exactly, what Deputy Dillon required.
The point is that he has carried it out up to a certain point. He is substituting for the original procedure of sending particulars to every policy holder the procedure of advertising in theIris Oifigiúil and in two newspapers. It is one thing to have to send to the persons concerned copies of every actuarial report, but if these have to be inserted in the Iris Oifigiúil and in two newspapers as an advertisement it is an entirely different matter and is, I suggest, going to be a very costly procedure.
I think that the point the Deputy is making is met in amendment No. 46.
It seems to take away the necessity for publishing copies of the actuarial reports.
I move amendment No. 46:—
In page 21, Section 27 (2) (c), to delete sub-paragraph (iii) and substitute a new sub-paragraph as follows:—
(iii) the place where and the times at which any report furnished to the Minister with such scheme may be inspected.
I move amendment No. 47:—
In page 21, lines 56 and 57, Section 28 (2), to delete the words "Joint Stock."
Amendment No. 48 is not quite a drafting amendment.
What is the difference between the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and the Registrar of Companies?
I would not like to instruct the Deputy on those points.
Are there two individuals?
I do not think so. Amendment No. 48 reads:—
In page 21, line 57, Section 28 (2), to delete the word "certified."
By deleting the word "certified" it simplifies the requirement placed on the company to furnish a copy of the scheme. Doubts have been expressed as to how or by whom a copy is to be certified and, since the word "copy" can only mean a true copy, it was not considered necessary to qualify it.
I pointed that out on the Committee Stage. Why not admit you made a mistake?
So what the Deputy mentioned has apparently borne fruit.
I move amendment No. 49:—
In page 22, before Section 29, to insert a new section as follows:—
Whenever any promoting companies have under this Part of this Act become an amalgamated company and all or any of such promoting companies on the 31st day of October, 1935, carried on life assurance business or industrial assurance business or both such businesses, such amalgamated company shall for the purposes of Part II of this Act be deemed to be a Saorstát Eireann company which on the said date carried on (as the case may require) either or both of such businesses.
This is a new section for the purpose of dealing with the fusion of two or more existing companies under this Part of the Bill.
I move amendment No. 50:—
In page 22, line 11, Section 30, after the word "shall" to insert the words "while the Minister for Finance holds any shares of such company", and in line 11 to delete the words "at any time".
This is to make it clear that the Minister for Finance can only interfere with regard to the share capital of the amalgamated company as long as he is the shareholder himself, which is desirable.
Why was it not desirable on the Committee Stage until I pointed it out?
It is agreed now that it is desirable.
I move amendment No. 51:—
In page 23, before Section 38, to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) In this section the expression "existing company" shall mean any existing Saorstát Eireann company doing industrial insurance business and life insurance business, which has, on its last valuation made prior to the passing of this Act, or which on a valuation made in accordance with the provisions of this Act, disclosed a surplus of assets over and above the actuarial liability on its policies.
(2) An existing company shall be entitled to serve notice on any amalgamated company that it desires to amalgamate with such amalgamated company and thereupon the amalgamated company shall be bound to amalgamate with the existing company and the provisions contained in the Seventh Schedule hereto shall have effect.
This amendment hangs together with a proposed schedule to the Bill, otherwise amendment No. 159. I suppose I may take it that these two may be discussed together and that the decision will govern both?
Certainly. The Schedule is dependent on this amendment?
Undoubtedly, Sir. This amendment raises the whole question of the form which the amalgamation of the companies is to take. We have progressed very rapidly, since this Bill came before the House, on this question of amalgamation. Recently it was announced that it was the policy of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to amalgamate all companies doing industrial assurance business in Saorstát Eireann. I am concerned primarily with the five companies doing this class of business in Saorstát Eireann, and I want to say now that unless the Minister gets some power under this or an amending Bill to effect amalgamation, satisfactory amalgamation will never come to pass.
This amendment is designed to remedy the position of a solvent Irish insurance company which finds itself in the position, after the amalgamation carried through by the Minister's assistance under this Bill, of having on its right hand the great English industrial assurance companies, like the Prudential, the Britannic and the Pearl, competing with it for business, and on its left hand an amalgamated company consisting of the Irish companies that have been insolvent but that were now amalgamated under the Minister's wing, which had in them a large sum of Government money put there for the purpose of rendering their funds solvent, and which were issuing policies in the ordinary course of business as an amalgamated company with a Government guarantee endorsed on every policy. In such a position no solvent independent Irish company could carry on for 12 months. It will be sufficiently difficult for any Irish industrial company to carry on under the onerous conditions imposed on them by the Bill but if, in addition to carrying the burden of these conditions, they have to meet the competition of a Government insurance company on the one hand, and of wealthy British competitors on the other hand, it would mean that the solvent Irish insurance company would go to the wall.
The reward for having preserved solvency during the last 15 years, for having denied themselves dividends while they were putting money into the funds in order to keep the company at the highest pitch of efficiency, the reward for directors who did without fees in order to ensure that every penny profit would go back to the insurance fund to preserve its solvency, is that they are going to be driven to the wall, their business is to be destroyed and no compensation of any kind will be available for them, while the insolvent company that pursued a much more reckless course and put their funds into jeopardy are going to be taken under the Minister's wing and set up as an independent company, and the great British companies that have consistently followed the policy of ferocious competition with the Irish institutions are going to be left masters of the situation.
I want a proviso to the effect that if the Minister approves the amalgamation scheme and establishes a solvent unit composed of what were hitherto insolvent companies, that an independent Irish company which has kept itself solvent shall be entitled as of right to claim admission to the amalgamation on terms at least as favourable as those enjoyed by any amalgamated company. I have described the solvent companies to which I have referred as an existing company, and the amalgamated company represents the unit formed by the insolvent companies which are brought together under the Minister's patronage. The terms under which the existing company would be entitled to enter the amalgamation are set out in the Seventh Schedule, which consists of six sections and calls for no explanation as most of it is routine except, perhaps, for paragraph (i) of subsection (6), which is there for the purpose of providing that if any external law refuses to take cognisance of the short-cut in company practice which the procedure I recommend would involve, the new amalgamated company would be entitled to use the seal and the name of any of the constituent companies in order to comply with the law of a foreign country which did not recognise the completeness of the amalgamation envisaged by this proposal.
I take it that the Minister does not want me to go through the Seventh Schedule and comment on the various paragraphs, although it does contain some new principles in amalgamation procedure. It would be tedious to deal with it at length, particularly in view of something which I desire to add. Having carefully considered that amendment, I am satisfied that it is the best suggestion which could be offered within the framework of the existing Bill, but I recommend it only subject to this reservation—that I am now satisfied, in the situation in which we now find ourselves, that no satisfactory amalgamation could be carried out under the terms of this Bill, and that what will have to be done is to secure either that the Minister will devise a scheme himself, fixing a common rule of compensation for each of the five constituent companies, or else that the five companies must come together and devise a scheme which will have to be incorporated in an amending Bill and be carried through all stages of amalgamation by statute.
If that course is not pursued it will be open—perhaps not to every shareholder, if a certain majority of the shareholders could be secured for the scheme—to each individual policy-holder to start an action against the amalgamated company to object to the scheme of amalgamation, If there were 250,000 policy-holders, it would be possible to start 250,000 separate actions in the High Court, by way of motion, to move the court to reject the scheme on 250,000 different grounds set out by the 250,000 applicants, when the amalgamated company came before the court to confirm the terms of the amalgamation. That would make the process of amalgamation virtually impossible, if you bear in mind that the five amalgamating companies are not allpari passu. One may be comparatively prosperous; the second may be reasonably prosperous; the third may be insolvent; the fourth may be almost insolvent, and the fifth may be a line-ball. The rights of each policy-holder must be considered by the court, so that substantial justice will be done to each one in the new amalgamated company which will emerge.
This is a question of desperate complexity, but I feel bound, in view of the fact that I sponsored this amendment, to submit to this House two schemes in broad outline, which I believe would be superior to this amendment. The first would be that the Minister for Industry and Commerce would approach the five companies and direct an actuarial valuation to be made of them. Let us assume that the first company with which he has to deal has an issued capital of £12,500, a premium income of £100,000, and a deficit on its funds of £250,000. The Minister wants to amalgamate that company with another company which has a premium income of £100,000 and which is solvent, but without a surplus. Let us assume that the capital of that second company is also £12,500. The third company has similar capital and a similar premium income, with a surplus on its fund of £10,000. I want the Minister to pay into the fund of No. 1 company the sum of £250,000, which will thereupon render its fund solvent, and to accept in exchange therefor 250,000 shares in the company which was, until he made his contribution, actuarially insolvent from the policy-holders' point of view.
He will then find himself in the position of having three companies to deal with, one of which is solvent from the actuarial point of view, but which has capital out of all proportion to its business; the second, which is actuarially solvent, and the third which is actuarially solvent with a surplus of £10,000 on its fund. I then want him to deal with the goodwill of those three businesses on a common basis. It does not make very much difference what basis is accepted, so long as it is the same for all three, but one accepted basis is that the value of an industrial insurance company's goodwill is the amount of one year's premium income if the company were solvent. That would mean that the value of the goodwill of each of those companies would be £100,000. I want him then to float a new company, and let that new company acquire from the three companies I have already described their entire business, giving each of them 100,000 shares in exchange for the business taken over; £100,000 in respect of their goodwill plus one share for every one pound surplus on the fund ascertained in the actuarial valuation. That would mean that No. 1 company would get 100,000 one pound shares; the second company would get 100,000 one pound shares, and the third company, which has a premium income of £100,000 and £10,000 surplus, would receive 110,000 shares. Those shares, having been paid over in exchange for the companies' business, would be distributed amongst the shareholders of those three companies. The Minister would have become the proprietor of 250,000 shares in the No. 1 company, and, therefore, when he came to distribute the 100,000 shares which the amalgamated company had given in exchange for the business of No. 1 company, the Minister would receive 2,500 shares in the amalgamated company for every 125 shares which the shareholders of No. 1 company would receive. Do I make myself clear in that regard?
The shareholders of No. 2 company would receive 100,000 shares divided amongst them in proportion to their holding in No. 2 company, and the shareholders in No. 3 company would receive 110,000 shares divided amongst them in the proportion of their original holdings. That done, the Minister would have an amalgamated company free from all liability under the Companies Act restricting it from paying dividends on its capital until the money paid in by the Minister in order to restore solvency had been redeemed, because it is to be noted that the Minister would put the money designed for the purpose of restoring solvency into a company which he there and then wound up and sold to a new company, thus ending its career, and the Companies Act—in so far as it restricted payment of dividends on capital while loans were outstanding—would not operate in regard to the new amalgamated company.
Therefore, the Minister could start off with a clear field before him, to carry on the insurance business and these shares in the amalgamated company would ordinarily be quoted on the Stock Exchange and the Minister would be free either to sell them in the open market or else to make some agreement with the amalgamated company that so much per annum would be set aside for the redemption of so many shares as he had in his possession, if some scheme of that kind could be devised. The all important thing, however, is that in that plan of amalgamation you could start off with a completely clean sheet in a new company. Now, in order to do that effectively, that scheme would have to be drafted, incorporated in an amending Bill, and passed through this House by Statute, thus overriding certain rights, and it would be desirable to get an assurance from actuarial experts that the legitimate interests of all interested parties in the constituent companies would be provided for. With that assurance the House would have to take a short cut, bearing in mind that desperate situations require desperate remedies and that, if something of the kind were not done, it would result in the collapse of companies with resultant disastrous loss to their employees and policy-holders.
The second plan which, I believe, the Minister may have in mind, is to amalgamate these three companies in their existing state and to offset the surplus of No. 3 company against the deficiency of No. 1 company in the amalgamation; then, having completed that offset, to ascertain the actuarial valuation of the three amalgamated businesses, and then for the Minister to put in sufficient money to render the amalgamated company solvent. If the Minister does that, the provisions of the Companies Act may be overcome by Statute, and it might be possible to carry on the business in the ordinary way as if the difficulties created by the Companies Act did not exist. This difficulty, however, arises: that it does not seem fair to bring the policy-holders of a company which is, not only solvent, but has a surplus, into an amalgamation with a company which has a large deficiency and to use the surplus belonging to No. 3 company in order partially to discharge the deficiency of No. 1 company. That could be partially met by allotting shares, in the process of amalgamation, of different classes to the different companies in accordance with their status prior to amalgamation. I could conceive of a scheme being devised whereby the interests of shareholders in these three companies might be adequately provided for—of shareholders, I say, but one has to keep constantly in mind, when dealing with amalgamation schemes of this character, that there are two classes of persons whose interests must be fairly considered. One is the shareholders who hold the capital of the company and the other is the policy-holders who are the creditors of the company. Very frequently their interests are entirely different, and, while you have completely safeguarded the interests of one, you may have done material injustice to the interests of the other. I do not propose to go into greater detail in regard to the second scheme to which I have just referred, because I am convinced that in the long run the Minister must come to recognise that the only satisfactory way of carrying his amalgamation scheme through is to establish solvency in all the constituent companies first; then to carry the scheme and to start on a new page.
Now, just this word in conclusion, Sir. Some people may say, "Why should the Minister take £250,000 and put it into a company which, in the ordinary trend of commerce, would go burst?" The answer is this: It was made perfectly clear here by Deputy McGilligan that the Executive Council learned, not to-day nor yesterday, of the very precarious condition in which many of the Irish insurance companies were, and having become seized of that fact they asked themselves this question: "Should we bring down the axe now and wind up these companies that are in an insolvent position, or should we rather carry on and hope for better things?" It was pointed out that to carry on and hope for better things meant that new persons would be induced to put their money into these companies by taking out policies, that new young people starting out on their careers would be induced to take jobs from these companies, and that if the Government knew these companies to be insolvent they should not leave them there to serve as a trap for new policy-holders or new employees. The Government, however, made up their minds to this fact, that, while they admitted that to be true, the disaster resultant on the winding-up of these companies would be very great and might result in substantial injustice, and also that it must be borne in mind that the great British companies were in just as bad a condition in their early days as these young companies now are in their beginnings. However, the law was much more lax in these days when the British companies were starting than it is now, and in the light of all these considerations the Executive Council of this State made up its mind that they would allow these companies to carry on, hoping that they would improve, but with the fixed determination that if, as a result of their determining to adopt that policy, there was a subsequent catastrophe in which an Irish insurance company, which owed Irish insurers £200,000 or £300,000 went bankrupt, the Government would feel a moral responsibility to step in and say: "Now that this has happened, we must throw our cloak about them, wind up the company, and give the policy-holders in that company 20/- for every pound they have invested." Now, when this Bill is on the stocks, the time has come when some such policy must be pursued. The alternative is for the Government to find from £300,000 to £400,000 immediately and meet the claims of the policy-holders of some of these companies, or to produce the requisite funds to make these companies solvent, and, in God's good time, they will get their money back, because, if industrial insurance is run upon reasonably conservative lines, and there is adequate finance to carry them over the initial stages, industrial insurance will pay in the long run. The Minister is now in a position to control competition and generally to fortify his own position. Therefore I say that, while at first glance it might seem to be asking too much to ask the Minister to put so formidable a sum as £250,000 into one of these companies in order to restore solvency, I say that in the long run it is, instead of being an extravagant demand, the only economical course open to him. If he does not do it, he is going to lose a very much larger sum irretrievably if he intends to honour, what is unquestioned, the bond—the spirit of the bond, if not its letter—of the Government's predecessors in office.
I feel that the scheme I outlined for the Minister now would save him all the money, would divert a very serious complication, and would be infinitely superior to the proposal I make here, but it would require amending legislation to carry it into effect. The proposal I make here is, I believe, the best proposal that can be made within the framework of this Bill, and it does provide this minimum justice, that it gives security to the solvent Irish company that is prepared to submit to any investigation the Minister wishes to make, at present or at any other time. Unless the security given by this amendment is provided under the terms of this Bill, the position of the solvent Irish company is hopeless and the reward for their prudence and foresight is destruction. I confidently ask the Minister to give them the protection I ask for in this amendment, even though he announces his intention now, by amending legislation, to carry into effect something on the lines of the amalgamation scheme I have described at some length in the course of my observations.
It might be interesting to follow Deputy Dillon in the two schemes he outlined as being the ideal schemes for dealing with the situation, but I do not think there would be anything to be gained at this stage of the Bill by discussing them. I think that if they were put up for discussion, and if we had some notice of the proposals, they would possibly be found to be defective in some respect or other, but, as I say, there is no profit to be derived from discussing them at the moment. The amendment is before us and we have to deal with the amendment.
Deputy Dillon evidently recognises that the proposal in the amendment is not the best that can be put forward, but that it is the best that could be done under the Bill. The amendment is defective in this way, that the assumption underlying it is that there is a fixed basis for actuarial valuation, which is not the case. No insurance company getting an actuarial valuation carried out is bound by any fixed basis. The decision as to what the basis is to be lies with the directors. Usually they take the advice of the actuary and decide to value on a certain basis. That is then adopted and published as the valuation of the company. Under this Bill the Minister need not accept the actuarial basis submitted.
Is the Minister referring to the percentage basis?
I am talking about actuarial bases in general. There is no such thing as a fixed actuarial basis, as is implied by the Deputy's amendment. The actuary can recommend to the directors any basis he likes—a particular life-table or rate per cent.—and the directors may adopt that, or they may say they want a more liberal table, or perhaps a higher percentage, in order to show a better result, and the actuary may agree to give that in his valuation. There is, however, no fixed basis.
Is there not a basis fixed in the Schedules to this Bill?
No, there is no fixed basis in this Bill, or in any of the insurance legislation up to the moment. There is in the 1909 Act in the case of winding up only, and in no other cases.
Can that not be the basis fixed for the purpose of our amendment?
As the Deputy says, we could fix the basis, but you may do an injustice as between one company and another. You may take a certain basis of valuation which will give A a surplus and B a deficiency, and if you had taken another basis, you might give A a deficiency and B a surplus.
How in the name of Providence could that be done?
It could be done.
I should like to hear the actuary or accountant who would explain it to me. Do I understand the Minister to say that if I take one basis, which I make the common basis for both companies, I can give A company a deficiency and B company a surplus, and, taking another basis as a common basis for both companies, I can reverse the process?
That might be.
Trot out the man who is prepared to say so.
It might happen, because the life tables and so on that are adopted may make a great change in the whole basis of valuation.
But it must make a change for both companies.
Not necessarily, and that is the point we have to keep in mind. That is why, I take it—I cannot say definitely—insurance legislation has avoided prescribing a certain basis. It has been left to the Minister, or the Board of Trade, or whoever it is, to be satisfied with the basis adopted, and that is all that can be done. Seeing that that is the position, the Deputy's amendment is impossible to carry out on that line of actuarial valuation.
With regard to sub-section (2) of the amendment, the Deputy seeks to give the solvent company, as he explained in his speech, an opportunity of coming in whenever that company wishes, and that appears to me to be unfair. If we get two companies here to amalgamate, and they become an amalgamated company, company C stands aside and says: "I can afford to stand aside. If they succeed I will join; if they fail, I will not join." I think it would be an unfair advantage to give to what the Deputy defines here as an existing company. I think they should either come in at the beginning or stay out. There is, of course, apart from this Bill, a provision for amalgamation under the former insurance law —I think, the 1909 Act and that is open to companies that stand out from amalgamation now. At any time, they can adopt that machinery and amalgamate. I do not know whether some of the points which Deputy Dillon has put forward will, in practice, be such formidable difficulties. For instance, he pointed out that every policy holder might object, but I do not think that, in practice, that is likely to prove a very serious obstacle to amalgamation.
I listened to the Minister's criticisms of Deputy Dillon's amendment and it seems to me that he was merely criticising the details. For instance, he said that there was no fixed basis of actuarial valuation, and that, by adopting one basis, Company A might have a surplus and Company B a deficiency, and that, taking another basis, the position might be reversed. I should not like to contradict the Minister, but I certainly share Deputy Dillon's scepticism as to the difference being very considerable. At the same time, it seems to me that this is one of the least difficulties or disadvantages involved in a scheme such as this. The Minister has admitted that the position with regard to difficulties occasioned by various tables could be got over by insisting on the scheme being carried through on one particular table. Turning to Deputy Dillon's amendment, I do not know that I am greatly in love with the whole of his suggestion. At the same time, it is a reasonable proposal, and although I have no power to speak for the insurance companies, in the end they will probably welcome a certain measure of compulsion.
There was an aspect that Deputy Dillon mentioned that I would like to enlarge on, namely, that if some suggestion on the lines of the amendment is not accepted, a difficulty to which I strongly object will be created. One sees it occurring from time to time in connection with new industries that have been started. It is a great hardship that a new company should be started and be helped largely by Government funds, to compete with a rival concern when the only thing that can be said against it is that it has conducted its business on a solvent basis and managed it on conservative lines. That is not confined to the insurance business. It is a terrible hardship. Sooner or later this country will reap the evil effects of rewarding people who launched out on speculative paths and got into difficulty. Their reward for getting into that position is to be helped out by Government money. When that feeling becomes really fixed in the mind of the business community, there will soon be no solvent companies in this country. That may seem a far-fetched statement, and one that will never come about, but I must certainly protest and add my voice to that of Deputy Dillon's, in suggesting that it is most unfair and most unreasonable to leave even one old-established company, which is in a solvent position to carry on its business, to face the competition of another company that had got into difficulties and got a large grant of Government money without having to pay interest on it. I do not see how the Government can proceed to help an insurance company in any other way. I stated on the Committee Stage that I did not see that it was going to help matters greatly to put a large sum of money into the cash box and then to invite an insurance company to embark on a fresh campaign and to turn over a new leaf. I wish to be taken as protesting against that situation. I suggest that in the long run probably some such scheme of amalgamation as Deputy Dillon put forward would be the easiest and cheapest solution. I can see that the Minister is obviously afraid at this stage to commit himself to saying whether Deputy Dillon's suggestion is sound or unsound. He confined himself to dealing with details of Deputy Dillon's suggestion that might be open to criticism. The Minister should give the Department time to consider the matter, to see whether a solution of the difficulty would not lie along such lines as were suggested, and to bring forward some proposal at a later date.
I was personally interested in Deputy Dillon's suggestions, and I am quite sure that the Minister for Industry and Commerce will take careful note of them. I would not like to say if they were acceptable or unacceptable.
That is what I felt.
The suggestions will get due consideration. In view of one remark of Deputy Dockrell, I should say that before any amalgamation scheme goes through, it may be taken that the Minister will be perfectly satisfied of the integrity of all the companies. It would be his business to see that justice was done between all.
The Minister does take cognisance of the dilemma into which there is danger of driving solvent Irish insurance companies?
I do not think a solvent company could be driven under this Bill.
What is going to happen? The Minister is going to say to an insolvent company that it must wind up or amalgamate, and he has the duty of winding up an insolvent company. The end will be that an insolvent company will amalgamate, and the Minister will have to make it solvent in order to make it possible to carry on. They will all be in one unit. As the Minister will be by far the largest shareholder, he will have to put in a very large sum of money to make the company solvent, and will have to carry on the business in order to get some of his money back. Therefore, you will have that amalgamated company and one or two Irish solvent companies carrying on. They are in a perfectly sound position. You will also have the Pearl, the Prudential, the Britannic and other big wealthy British corporations carrying on. Heretofore an Irish solvent company could always use as an argument that they were an Irish company, that they were as solvent as any other company, and, while they might not give as good terms as others in the way of bonus, the argument that they were an Irish company got business from the Prudential, from the Britannic and other companies. Now they have on their flank another Irish company, which says that it is Irish and just as solvent as the Pearl or the Prudential, and that while they might not give as good terms as these companies, they had a Government guarantee for every policy they issued. They could say that while another company was a decent company it had not got as much money as the Department of Industry and Commerce.
The other companies will say that they did not want Government help.
The amalgamated company is a completely new unit and is going out as a Government insurance company.
The other companies did not want help, which is better.
Does not the Minister know from his experience of insurance that between the competition of big companies offering better terms and an Irish company offering the additional security of a Government guarantee, independent Irish companies would be wiped out? I say that is an injustice. I recognise all the difficulties that the Minister has to confront in this complex problem. I do not want to press the amendment, but I feel that it is necessary we should make it clear that we are anxious to co-operate and to give any scheme that occurs to us into his hands so that he may make out of it something which might operate eventually to the benefit of all. We had the principle of this Bill decided on the Second Reading. There is no use going behind that. We opposed the principle in many particulars. Having put it on record that we opposed the principle, and having been defeated in our opposition, then I think there must be amalgamation by statute. That is the burden of the advice I have to offer the Minister.
I move amendment No. 52:—
In page 26, lines 56 and 57, Section 45 (1) (a) (ii) to delete the words "occupies the position of parent or guardian towards the said" and substitute the words "at the time when the policy is effected resides with the".
This amendment is designed to remove any difficulty which may arise in deciding the persons who were or were not within the definition of this paragraph.
I move amendment No. 53:—
In page 27, lines 2 and 3, Section 45 (1) (a) (iii), to delete the words "occupies the position of parent or guardian towards" and substitute the words "at the time when the policy is effected resides with".
This is a similar amendment.
I move amendment No. 54:—
In page 27, line 8, Section 45 (1) (b), before the word "sister" to insert the word "or", and in line 8, before the word "uncle" to insert the words "or the insuring of money to be paid on the duration for a specified period for the life of an", and in line 10, immediately before the word "either" to insert the words "who resides with such person or with whom such person resides, and in either case".
This amendment limits the persons who can take out endowment funeral expense policies to the same class of persons who can take out whole life funeral expense policies.
I move amendment No. 55:—
In page 27, line 13, Section 45 (2) to delete the words "or pay".
It is thought that the inclusion of the words "or pay" in the section as it stands might have the effect of limiting policies to indemnity policies. That is not intended, hence the amendment.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce, on the last stage of the Bill, agreed to look into the wording of this sub-section. As reported in column 2011 of the Debates on the 9th June, he said: "I have agreed to have the wording of sub-section (2) reviewed, because changes may be necessary to make clear what was intended." Has the Minister anything to say as to the reconsideration of sub-section (2), or is the amendment with which we are now dealing the result of the reconsideration?
I take it that it is the result of the section having been reconsidered.
If it is the result of the reconsideration it has nothing to do with the discussion that took place on the last stage.
I move amendment No. 56:—
In page 27, to delete Section 45 (3).
The limitation in sub-section (2) on policies of industrial assurance which was not in the 1923 Act rendered the sub-section unnecessary.
I move amendment No. 57:—
In page 27, at the end of Section 45 (4), to add the words "and no such policy shall be deemed to be an indemnity policy."
This is to remove ambiguity and to make it quite clear that this class of policy will be taken out of the category of indemnity policies.
I think this amendment is not necessary now, having regard to the amendments which the Minister is moving. We would prefer to have the matter dealt with on the lines indicated by our amendment, but as the Minister is moving other amendments I shall not move this.
I move amendment No. 59:—
In page 27, at the end of Section 45 to add a new sub-section as follows:—
(6) Whenever the sum assured under a policy of industrial assurance (issued for a purpose for which industrial assurance companies may issue policies of industrial assurance under this section) does not exceed the sum of twenty-five pounds such sum shall be presumed to be reasonable.
On the Recommittal Stage there was considerable discussion as to the meaning of the limitation in this section to reasonable expenses in connection with the death and funeral. In his memorandum to the Cohen Committee, the Industrial Assurance Commissioner was quite definite that the wording of the 1923 Act, "funeral expenses," required revision and he put forward four alternative wordings. He expressed no preference for any one. The first of the four alternatives was in the exact words in the Bill. Since it has not been considered necessary to fix an absolute limit, we think that the matter has been got over by the present provision and that the question of reasonableness will not be raised where the amount is not in excess of £25. That does not prevent amounts over £25 being considered reasonable but under £25 they will be definitely reasonable under the terms of this Bill.
I take it that it is the Minister's intention that sums of £25 and under will definitely be considered reasonable?
I suggest that he should look again into the wording of the last line of the amendment. I think it is open to some objection in that it does not fully carry out what the Minister intends. The wording in the last line is "shall be presumed." I suggest that the proper term is "shall be deemed to be reasonable." Where you presume something to be reasonable, that presumption is liable to be rebutted. If you deem it to be reasonable that cannot be interfered with in any way. I suggest to the Minister that if the intention is as he stated, that the sum of £25 and under should be definitely regarded as reasonable, he should alter the word "presume" to the word "deem" because then his intention would be properly carried out. If the word "presumed" is left in the sub-section, undoubtedly an effort will be made to rebut the presumption arising from the use of that expression.
I shall consider the question. It seems to me that the word "presumed" covers the intention satisfactorily.
I had expected the Minister to say that. Of course, it does not do anything of the sort. The presumption may be rebutted.
I move amendment No. 60a:—
In page 27, before Section 46 (1) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Life Assurance Act, 1774, it shall be lawful for an industrial assurance company to issue policies of industrial assurance on the life of a child under the age of ten years if, but only if, such policies are issued to a parent, grandparent, step-parent, brother, or sister of such child or to an uncle or aunt of such child if such child resides with such uncle or aunt at the time when the policy is effected."
This amendment gives express authority for insurance of the lives of children under the age of 10 years.
Has the Minister directed his attention to the use of the title of the Act mentioned in this amendment—"Notwithstanding anything contained in the Life Assurance Act, 1774, it shall be lawful, etc."? Has the Minister taken advice on the point that the Life Assurance Act, 1774, was a British statute, a pre-Union statute, and that it does not apply to this country at all?
It is no harm to make quite certain.
The Minister evidently prefers to make a fool of himself by stating in the Bill that notwithstanding an Act passed by the British Parliament, during the time that the Irish Parliament was operating here, something is permitted to be done. I suggest that the Act referred to never applied to this country at all. It would be far preferable to have an express enactment stating that "it shall be lawful notwithstanding the provisions of any Act, rule or law to the contrary," to effect the assurance mentioned, without reference to this particular Act. There is, to put it mildly, considerable doubt as to whether this pre-Union statute ever did apply to this country at all. To make the thing absolutely clear, I submit the phrase I have suggested to him would be better than the wording, "Notwithstanding anything contained in the Life Assurance Act, 1774." The phrase should be "Notwithstanding anything contained in any statute, rule or law to the contrary, it shall be lawful." Then we would not have appearing in one of our statutes a reference to a British statute which, so far as I have been able to ascertain, never applied to this country at all.
Is the amendment agreed to?
What is the Minister going to do about it?
I shall look into the matter.
I move amendment No. 61a:—
In page 28, Section 46 (3), to delete paragraph (b).
This amendment is consequential on amendment No. 60a.
I move amendment No. 62:—
In page 28, line 37, Section 46 (4) (d), after the word "certificate" to insert the words "or certificates", and in line 39, after the word "exceed" to insert the words "in the whole".
This is a drafting amendment, and it is introduced to make the requirement accord with the practice.
I move amendment No. 63:—
In page 29, before Section 46 (6) to insert three new sub-sections as follows:—
(6) For the purposes of this section a certificate of the death of a child dying under the age of ten years shall on application being made to a registrar of deaths in such form and manner as may be approved by the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, be issued by such registrar on payment of a sum not exceeding one shilling and such sum shall be in lieu of all other fees otherwise payable to or chargeable by such registrar in respect of such certificate.
(7) Whenever any application in the form and manner mentioned in the next preceding sub-section of this section is made for the purposes of this section to a registrar of deaths for more than one certified copy of the entry of the death of a child dying under the age of ten years every such certified copy (other than the first such copy) issued by such registrar in pursuance of such application shall be issued by such registrar on payment of a sum not exceeding six pence and such sum shall be in lieu of all other fees otherwise payable to or chargeable by such registrar in respect of every such copy other than the first such copy.
(8) Whenever a registrar of deaths is required by any person who applies to him for the purposes of this section for a certificate or certificates of the death of a child dying under the age of ten years to fill up the application mentioned in the next two preceding sub-sections of this section, such registrar may demand and take from such person a sum not exceeding threepence for so filling up such application.
This amendment is introduced to enable certificates to be issued in connection with policies of industrial assurance on the lives of children at the same reduced rate—that is to say, at a fee of 1/- —as are applicable to the case of friendly societies.
I move amendment No. 64:—
In page 29, line 11, section 46 (6), after the word "deaths" to add the words "and the expression ‘certificate of the death' means a certified copy of the entry of a death entered or registered in any register of deaths in the custody of a registrar of deaths."
This is a drafting amendment.
I move amendment No. 65:—
In page 32, line 11, Section 54, after the word "valuation" to insert the words "or any valuation relating to life assurance business carried on by such company".
The purpose of this amendment is to allow companies the same extension of time for lodgment of their ordinary branch valuations as is permitted in the case of industrial valuations.
I move amendment No. 66:—
In page 32, line 11, section 54, to delete the words "six months after", and in line 13 to delete the word "the" where it secondly occurs and substitute the word "that" and in lines 13 and 14 to delete the words "within which such valuation shall be deposited with him by such company".
This is a drafting amendment intended to make the meaning clear.
I move amendment No. 67:—
In page 32, lines 54 and 55, Section 56 (5), to delete the words "fraudulent statement in some material particular has been made" and substitute the words "misstatement which is not fraudulent has been made in some material particular," and on page 33, line 4, to delete the word "any" and in the same line to delete the word "statement" and substitute the word "misstatement", and in line 10 to delete the word "any" and in the same line to delete the word "statement" and substitute the word "misstatement".
This is intended to correct a drafting error.
Amendment No. 68, in my name, is as follows:—
In page 33, lines 25 and 26, Section 56 (7), after the word "assurance", line 25, to delete the words "which was effected before the commencement of this part of this Act"; and in lieu thereof to insert the words "effected either before or after the commencement of this Part of this Act", and in lines 33 and 34, after the word "policy" in line 33, to delete the words "issued before the commencement of this Part of this Act" and in lieu thereof to insert the words "issued either before or after the commencement of this Part of this Act."
Amendment No. 74 is: "In page 34, lines 25 to 36 inclusive, to delete Section 59 (1);" amendment No. 75 is: "In page 34, lines 37 to 44, to delete Section 59 (2)." Perhaps I could deal with amendment No. 68 on amendments Nos. 74 and 75, which raise the same point.
The Deputy can discuss amendments Nos. 74 and 75 on this amendment.
Then I move amendment No. 68. I do not wish to elaborate anything said on the last Stage. These three amendments raise the point as to whether or not the proper principle is that of adjustment of age or the principle introduced into this Bill of forcing the companies to verify the age stated by applicants for policies of assurance. We pressed on the Minister on the last occasion as strongly as in us lay that the more reasonable and more just principle was that of adjustment of age. We pointed out that the provisions of the Bill, as they then stood, forcing the companies to verify the age of applicants within a period of four months, would probably work hardship. Amendments have been put down for this stage to deal with that aspect of the question and the Minister has met the point, to some extent, in one of his own amendments. Before dealing with that matter, I should like to reiterate briefly what was said on a previous Stage of the Bill.
We think that the proposal contained in the Bill, forcing companies to undertake the task of verifying the age stated in the proposal for a policy of industrial assurance, is not merely a hardship on the companies but is likely to lead to the inducement and encouragement of fraud. We pressed that aspect of the question on the Minister on the last Stage of the Bill. We said that we had no desire to do anything which would encourage fraud. The principle of adjustment of age, we pointed out, was one that allowed the companies freedom and at the same time did substantial justice to the policy-holders. We did not plead for anything which would enable an industrial assurance company to repudiate their policy on the ground that the wrong age had been inserted in the proposal form. What we said was that the practice which exists in England should operate here—a practice provided for not merely by statute but which existed in the case of reputable insurance companies before any statutory provision came into operation. If a wrong age were inserted in the proposal form even deliberately and with fraudulent intent, these companies did not repudiate their policy but adjusted the amount payable on the policy to the correct age. We think that that is the proper principle. We think that it is a sound principle and just to both parties. We think that there is nothing to be said for the principle that is being forced on the companies and the policy-holders by this Bill. Even with the relaxation proposed to be given in a further amendment by the Minister, we think that substantial hardship and injustice may arise. We think that this is an inducement and an encouragement to fraud.
I pointed out during the debate on the last Stage that if the Minister looked at the criminal records of this country, he would find that certain people, without any inducement from the agents of industrial assurance companies, had given the age of relatives they were proposing to insure at 55 years when, in fact, they were in receipt of the old age pension. People of that type do not require the assistance of an agent of any assurance company to perpetrate a fraud. They did it, in fact, without the assistance of any agent. The case is within my experience because I directed prosecutions against them at the instance of the Department concerned—prosecutions not for returning a fraudulent age in the proposal form but for putting a wrong age in the death certificate in order to obtain money by false pretences and fraud from an assurance company. The Minister will find numerous cases of that class in the criminal records. I do not want that anything we do here should give encouragement to that class of person. The Minister's proposals amount to an encouragement to these people. As I said before, once the provisions of this Bill get known, once it is known that the burden of verifying the age given by the proposer in the proposal form is upon the assurance company, you will have a deluge of fraudulent statements in the hope that so much work will be thrown upon the companies that they will not be able, in the time laid down by the statute, to ascertain whether the stated age is correct or not. I protest against the inducement to fraud and fraudulent practice enshrined in this Bill. There is nothing to be said for this principle as against the principle of adjustment of age, which is fair to both parties and does no injustice to either. The principle put forward and supported by the Minister up to the present encourages fraud and allows the person to get the advantage of his fraud. It may do injustice to some of the companies who may not be in a position, within the statutory period, to ascertain whether the age given in the proposal form is the correct one or not. I want to make a protest against that principle. We in this House ought not to encourage fraud or allow people to get the fruits of their fraud. That is what the Minister is doing in this Bill.
The Deputy is seriously concerned about the companies in this matter. What about the policy-holders? Have we not had it stated from responsible Deputies in this House who have some acquaintance with the circumstances of insured persons that they have, after they had been paying premiums for a long term of years to insurance companies, found in certain instances that these insurance companies have sought to deprive them of the moneys to which they were entitled? I cannot believe that these people were altogether fraudulent or as fraudulent as the Deputy on the other side of the House makes out.
The principle of insurance legislation should be to protect the policy-holders at all costs. A great many of these unfortunate people do not realise the restrictions upon them, the restrictions which enable the insurance companies at certain stages to refuse to give them fair play. The insurance companies may quote their regulations but that is poor satisfaction for the poor person who has made an investment that, as he thinks, will give him a return at a certain date. He finds he is not able to realise that investment.
We all know that there are abuses with regard to age. The fact that it has been sought to defraud the old age pension authorities does not at all convince me that it would be possible to defraud the insurance companies so easily. A birth certificate for every person who lives in this country at the present time can, I think, be secured and thus the age of the person can be definitely established. There may be costs placed upon the company; but if there is any question that the policy-holders are not fully protected as appears to be the fairly general belief at present, if poor people have not been fairly considered by the insurance companies when they come to raise this question of age and try to deprive the poor person of what he might legitimately expect, then we should see that the responsibility is on the insurance company, that on the question of the age of the insured person they should secure evidence to satisfy them.
We are trying to meet the Deputy's point under amendment No. 76, if I may refer to it. There we are increasing the period from four months to 12 months. Then within a 12 months' period the company may have the right to adjust the terms of the policy so as to make such terms conform to the terms calculated on the true age of such person. For that reason we are substituting 12 months for four months. Our information is that on probably 70 per cent. of industrial assurance policies there are no claims, and that some 6) per cent. lapse within the first year. It will not, therefore, be the case that the companies will have to secure the evidence of age—presuming that they have to do it—in every individual case. They will only have to do it in a certain percentage of the cases. I think amendment No. 76 should meet the Deputy's point of view. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has stated specifically that this question of the age must be determined at the outset and not disputed later on. That cannot be questioned later. Everybody will have got fair warning of the position. I think amendment No. 76 will go a good way to meet the Deputy's point of view.
If I may say so without disrespect to the Minister there was not one single word, not even one sentence of his remarks that was relevant to the observations I made on the amendment I am proposing. Not one single word of his was relevant to what I have put before the House. The Minister completely missed the entire point in the amendment. He started off by suggesting that he could not believe that there was any substance in the charge I made that people were making fraudulent statements as to their age. If the Minister will look into the records of the Attorney-General's Department from 1926 to 1932, the years when I was there, he will find the very cases that I have referred to—cases of relatives giving the age of their people at 50 to 55 years —people who subsequently turned out to be in receipt of old age pensions. The Minister's sentimental mind may not like to think that these things happen. But if he will look up the criminal records of this country he will find that these things have happened in numerous instances. I have stated that and again repeat the fact that these statements as to age were not made with the connivance and assistance of the agents. They were not made in the innocence of their hearts by these people.
We will bring the Minister up again against the real issue in this amendment. The Minister says that the policy-holders must be protected. So must the general public. The Minister suggested that my interest in moving this amendment was entirely in favour of the companies. It is no such thing. The amendment is partly in favour of the companies, but the principal and the real objection that I have to the Minister's proposal, as I stated in the last stage of this Bill, is one affecting the public interest. The Minister thinks that the proposals contained in this Bill are for the benefit of the policy-holders; he thinks it is his duty to look after the policy-holders and to ignore the interests of the country. Be it so; let it be taken as a fact that the Minister's duty is to look after the interests of the policy-holders. Then I say that this proposal safeguards the interests of the policy-holders, and in addition safeguards the public interests against fraud. The Minister's proposal in this Bill allows people who are guilty of fraud and of fraudulent practice to get the fruits of their fraud. It looks after the interests of the fraudulent policy-holder as well as after the interests of the decent respectable person who fills up his proposal form in a proper way.
The Minister is putting the cloak of legality around the fraudulent proposal, and I object to that. I object to it in the public interest, and not merely in the interest of the company carrying on business here, whether that company be Irish, British or foreign. The Minister did not address his remarks to that point. He apparently did not appreciate that. He tried to ride off on the basis that I was advocating the interests of the companies. I make the Minister a present of the fact that I am advocating the interests of the companies as well, but I am doing so on this basis: that the proposals that I put forward not merely do justice to the company, but they safeguard the public interest and the interests of the policy-holders.
Therefore, three interests are looked after by this proposal: (1) the interests of the public, by reason of the fact that a fraudulent person is not to be allowed to reap the fruits of his fraud; (2) the interest of the policy-holders, by reason of the fact that this proposal will allow the policy-holder to get what he is entitled to get and no more, and (3) the companies are not entitled to repudiate their policies. They are bound to give such an amount as they would be bound to give if the correct age had been set out in the proposal. Is not that a principle of equity and justice? It is doing justice to the policy-holders and doing justice to the company.
That is the principle for which we are contending. But the Minister thinks he is looking after the interests of the policy-holders. He is ignoring the interests of justice and he is ignoring the interests of the companies. He is ignoring the interests of the dishonest policy-holders. By the proposals that he is pushing through this House he is throwing the cloak of legality around the fraudulent proposer and around the people who will thereby be entitled to gain the fruits of their fraud. We object to that on the general principles of equity. If the Minister would address himself to the real point of this amendment we would find that he would be forced to agree with the proposals that we are putting forward, because the logic of facts would force him to come to the conclusion that we are right.
In the course of his remarks here a few minutes ago the Minister addressed himself to every relevant issue, but he did not address one word to the real point in this amendment. It is our experience here in this House that any proposals that are put forward from this side of the House— proposals put forward in a constructive spirit—have been turned down. The proposals put forward by us have been turned down not on their merits; they have been turned down not on the facts; they have been turned down not because we did not make a case to justify them; they were turned down merely because they are our proposals. That has been our experience. We had a few moments ago, while the Minister was out, what was put forward as a drafting amendment. An amendment was calmly proposed by the Minister's colleague. It was of no very great consequence, I agree, but it was justified here as if the Minister's advisers had found it out. We had pointed out the error in the drafting and in the proposals and the flaws in the Bill to the Minister on the last occasion. He did not even acknowledge the fact that we had pointed them out, and gave a different reason from the real reason for introducing the amendment.
We are standing over the proposal on principles of justice and equity and as a constructive proposition. The principle of adjustment of age is the just principle; it is the principle that operates in England, and it is the principle that ought to operate here as against fraudulent proposals and in favour of policy-holders and in justice to the company. I have not the slightest doubt that this amendment will not even be considered and has not been considered. It is sufficient, as I said before, for any amendment to come from this side of the House to be turned down without any proper consideration being given to it.
This Bill will stop frauds by any party.
It will increase them.
The Minister gave as one of the reasons for refusing to accept this amendment that 60 per cent. of industrial policies lapsed before 12 months had passed. I am sorry he did not elaborate that point. Did he mean that the insurance companies were to wait until after 12 months when the cost of verifying the age would be reduced to 40 per cent. of what it is at present? If so, he is overlooking his own proposal of now giving insurance companies 12 months in which to look into it. There is only one point I have not seen touched upon in this discussion. I suppose it may be too expensive but, at the same time, it should not be overlooked. Is it not possible, where the insured person would have a birth certificate, to give facilities for getting the age admitted and endorsed on the policy, or pointing out in the proposal form that if a birth certificate is produced the insurance company would have to register that on the policy? I know the Minister will say that the amounts insured for in a great many cases are very small and that the cost would be prohibitive. But he ought to look at the reverse side of the picture. Deputy Costello said that he was considering the interests of the policy-holders. I suggest that I am also considering the interests of the policy-holders, because if there are dishonest people who make proposals they will see that their policy is not allowed to lapse in the first 12 months.
The next thing that occurs to me is that if the insurance companies find there is an unreasonably high cost in paying claims under certain heads they have this country and England to compare as regards results and there is an obvious remedy which none of us want to see employed, namely, to raise the rates. That will fall on the honest and dishonest policy-holder alike. I suggest that Deputy Costello's amendment is the proper way, namely, that the age given in the application can be adjusted afterwards. I should also like to ask the Minister if there is any way of giving additional facilities for having the age of the assured admitted. I think he ought to look into that and, possibly, in being very sympathetic as to the position of the policy-holders he may find that he may be doing the honest policy-holder a real injustice.
I move amendment No. 69:—
In page 33, lines 59 and 60, Section 57 (3), to delete the words "be liable to pay to the person who has paid the premiums due on foot of such policy" and substitute the words "either (at the election of the person who has paid the premiums due on foot of such policy) rectify such policy or pay to such person".
The purpose of this amendment and of amendment No. 70 is to ensure that the company is not to be under the double liability of returning the premiums and the sum assured. It also provides an option for the policy-holder, giving him the choice of either receiving back the amount of the premiums paid or continuing the policy. The question can only arise in the event of the company's own default.
I move amendment No. 71:—
In page 34, to delete lines 3 to 24, inclusive (Section 58).
In connection with this amendment it was intimated to me by the Ceann Comhairle that he thought in strictness it was out of order but that in the circumstances he would allow it to be discussed. Having regard to the Ceann Comhairle's forbearance in the matter, merely for the purpose of putting our views on record again, on the last stages of the Bill, I will deem myself to have repeated what I said on the Recommittal Stage and make no further remarks.
I move amendment No. 76:—
In page 34, line 41, Section 59 (2), to delete the word "four" and substitute the word "twelve".
In connection with this amendment we might consider my amendment No. 77. I have only one or two observations to make. This amendment by the Minister is one that he stated a short time ago ought to satisfy me in my desire to provide resonable facilities for the companies to carry out the obligation of ascertaining and verifying the age stated in the proposal form.
During the course of the discussion on the Committee Stage, I pointed out to the Minister that four months was quite an impossible period to prescribe in a statute. Apparently he has agreed to give 12 months. I suggest to him that the amendment that I have proposed would be the more reasonable proposal to be inserted. The only objection that I can see to my amendment is that I am moving it myself. That, possibly, is a very cogent reason for the Minister not accepting it. He has accepted portion of the amendment. My amendment reads "twelve months or such further period as the Minister may allow". The Minister's amendment is "twelve months". I want the Minister, in his own discretion, to allow a further period if a case is made out for it. I suggest that in every case where a period has been fixed for doing a certain act under a statute amending legislation became inevitable to increase that period. The Minister thought when he introduced this Bill and for a long time during the discussions on the Committee Stage, and he still continues to think, that four months is enough, but acting apparently on further consideration of the matter he has agreed by his amendment to increase that to 12 months. I cannot for the life of me see why he will not take the further power that I want to give him. I want to allow the Minister himself to extend the time on a proper case being put to him and in special circumstances. The only reason I can see that the Minister can urge for not accepting my amendment is, as I have said already, that it is being moved from this side of the House.
The trouble about accepting the Deputy's amendment is that the extension would probably be applied for in every case.
And it may be refused. A letter refusing it will finish the matter.
I do not know in what proportion of insurance policies this question would be likely to arise, but it seems to me that it would involve an undue tax on the Department if it were to be accepted generally. There would be no period to go on unless we were prepared to agree that the companies had the right to make an appeal to the Minister in every single case.
Undoubtedly they would have the right to appeal to the Minister, but they would learn very quickly that, unless they were able to put up a very cogent case backed by circumstantial evidence of a very strong character, they would not be listened to in the Department, and, therefore, the Minister would not be flooded, as he apparently suggests he would be, with applications from companies to extend the time. What I want to guard against is injustice. I have already made a protest against the injustice of the principle contained in this Bill. This is an effort on my part to allow the Minister to have power, in his own discretion, to remedy a possible injustice originated by the fraud of the proposer of the policy.
So that, although there would be a general understanding that 12 months would be the period, in actual fact the insured persons would have no guarantee whatever but that the question might be raised at any later time if the Minister happened to be sufficiently amenable. In that case, questions might be raised at any time without any limit whatever.
Not at all.
I am not prepared to accept the amendment.
I did not think that the Minister would, and for the reason that I have already stated.
No, it is not for that reason. I have no objection whatever to accepting an amendment from the Deputy if I think it is reasonable.
I move amendments Nos. 79, 80 and 81, which are drafting amendments:
In page 34, line 48, Section 59 (3), to delete the words "birth certificate" and substitute the words "certified copy of the entry of the birth of such person," and in line 50, to delete the word "certificate" and substitute the words "certified copy," and in line 55, to delete the word "certificate" and substitute the words "certified copy".
In page 35, lines 1 and 2, Section 59 (4) to delete the words "being requested so to do by an industrial assurance company" and substitute the words "an application being made to him by an industrial assurance company in such form and manner as may be approved by the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages".
In page 35, line 3, Section 59 (4), to delete the word "certificate" and substitute the words "certified copy", and in line 4, to delete the words "copy of the certificate" and substitute the words "certified copy of the entry".
I move amendment No. 82:—
In page 35, to add, at the end of Section 59, a new sub-section as follows:—
(5) Every registrar of marriages, every deputy registrar of marriages and every other person having the custody of a register of marriages shall, on an application being made to him by an industrial assurance company in such form and manner as may be approved by the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages and on being paid by such company a fee not exceeding one shilling for each certified copy, furnish to such company a certified copy of the entry of the marriage of any married woman or widow whose marriage is entered in such register and in respect of whom a proposal for a policy of industrial assurance has been received or a policy of industrial assurance has been received or a policy of industrial assurance has been issued by such company.
This is to enable cheap marriage certificates which are available under the National Health Insurance Acts for one shilling to be made available also in connection with this Bill when it becomes an Act.
I move amendment No. 83.
In page 35, lines 13 and 14, Section 60 (1), after the word "document", line 13, to delete the words "issued by such company in connection with such policy" and to insert the words "which is a document issued by any industrial assurance company in connection with a policy of industrial assurance".
This corresponds to an amendment which I had down and which was discussed on the Recommittal Stage of the Bill. After discussion on the amendment the Minister for Industry and Commerce said that we would like to consider the point in the amendment, and on that undertaking I withdrew it. The amendment was debated on the 9th of June, and the reference will be found in columns 208 and 210 in the Official Debates. The object of the amendment was to prevent poaching by the agent of a company on the preserves of another company. The Minister thought that the amendment went a little bit too far, and said that he would consider it.
The position, I think, is still as explained by the Minister for Industry and Commerce on the last occasion. We cannot quite see why we should place this limitation on insured persons and prevent them from giving the documents to persons other than the agent of the company with which they have taken out a policy. There seem to be fairly good reasons for applying a restriction in regard to time in the case of the retention of documents by the agent or the company, but we cannot quite understand if, of his own free will, an insured person for some purpose which may not be at all the purpose that the Deputy has in mind, gives documents to some other person, there should be a statutory obligation put on that other person to return them. We are not satisfied that the door should be opened so widely as that to ensure that poaching of the kind to which the Deputy has referred should be stopped.
I do not blame the Minister for not appreciating the point of this amendment, but I do think that the undertaking which was given by the Minister for Industry and Commerce for whom he is acting should be carried out, or some reason given for not doing so. I have referred the Minister to the very full discussion that took place on this amendment on the Recommittal Stage. Deputy Dillon, Deputy Dockrell and myself pointed out the purpose of the amendment. We pointed out that it was also designed to prevent fraudulent transfers. The Minister for Industry and Commerce was so impressed by the case that we put up that he promised to consider it. I cannot accept the explanation given by the Acting Minister as being anything in the nature of a consideration of the points that we proposed.
The matter has been considered.
There is no evidence of consideration.
Amendment No. 84 is out of order.
I move amendment No. 85:—
In page 35, lines 47 to 49, Section 61 (2), to delete the words "or other person having the duty of collecting the premiums payable in respect of such policy."
In view of the definition in Section 43 of the word "collector" the words proposed to be deleted by this amendment are unnecessary.
I move amendment No. 85:—
In page 35, line 60, Section 62 (1), to delete the figures "1936" and substitute the figures "1937."
I move amendment No. 87:—
In page 36, line 2, Section 62 (1), after the word "policy" to insert the words "-a notice that such policy has been converted into".
It is considered desirable to introduce this amendment to make it clear that the right of the policy-holder to the paid-up policy is inherent in the original contract.
I move amendment No. 88:—
In page 36, line 17, Section 62 (2) (a), before the word "or" to insert the words "for an original term of not less than 16 years."
This is a drafting amendment.
Would the Minister say what is the effect of putting in the words "for less than 16 years"?
It hardly can be described as a drafting amendment.
It is to make the terms of the section consistent. Paragraph (b) refers to "an original term of less than 16 years".
Amendment No. 92 should read:—
"In page 37, delete Section 63, and substitute a new section as follows".
It is a misprint.
I move amendment No. 92:—
In page 37, delete Section 63, and substitute a new section as follows:—
(1) Whenever an industrial assurance company (in this section called the first-mentioned company) receives from any person a proposal for a policy of industrial assurance which to the knowledge of such company is, and the premiums which will be payable under a policy of industrial assurance issued in pursuance of such proposal are, intended to replace and be in lieu of a policy of industrial assurance and the premiums payable thereunder issued by another industrial assurance company (in this section called the second-mentioned company) and in force at the date of the receipt by the first-mentioned company of such proposal, the first-mentioned company shall (unless it refuses to entertain such proposal) within seven days after the receipt of such proposal send to the second-mentioned company a notice in the prescribed form and containing the following particulars, that is to say—
(a) the terms of and the rights under the policy with the second-mentioned company, and
(b) the terms of such proposal, and
(c) the terms of and the rights under the intended policy with such first-mentioned company.
(2) Whenever any such first-mentioned company receives from any person any such proposal as is mentioned in the first sub-section of this section, such first-mentioned company shall not issue a policy of industrial assurance in pursuance of such proposal until the expiration of fourteen days after the receipt by such first-mentioned company of such proposal.
(3) Whenever any such first-mentioned company fails to comply with the provisions of this section, such first-mentioned company shall be deemed to have failed to comply with the provisions of this Act, and every collector or other officer of such first-mentioned company who takes part or is concerned in such failure shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding five pounds.
The Minister promised to introduce a section on the lines of the recommendation in the Cohen Report, and this is in the fulfilment of the promise.
There is just one matter in the proposed new section to which I wish to draw the Minister's attention. Under the proposal as it stands, the knowledge of the agent of a company is imputed to the company itself, whether or not the company has any cognisance of the fraud or the misconduct referred to in the proposal. I suggest that the Minister should consider putting in "actual" before the word "knowledge" in the fourth line of the first sub-section, so as to make it read: "actual knowledge of the company". Otherwise the knowledge of the agent would be imputed to the company, and I think that is neither intended nor desirable. In the third sub-section, there are the words "Whenever any such first-mentioned company fails to comply with the provisions of this section, such first-mentioned company shall be deemed to have failed to comply with the provisions of this Act." I suggest that before the word "fails" the word "knowingly" should be inserted. Actual knowledge ought to be provided for in the case of a criminal offence.
I accept the Deputy's amendment that the word "knowingly" be inserted before the word "fails".
The Chair is averse to accepting any amendments in the House in that fashion, for the reason that they may have reactions on other sections.
I do not think in this case there will be any reactions. The section as it stands would impute the knowledge of the agent to the company. Obviously where a criminal offence is created that is not desirable.
The suggestion is that the word "knowingly" be inserted after the word "company" and before the word "fails" in sub-section (3).
Amendment No. 94 is a drafting amendment:
In page 38, line 5, Section 64, before the word "office" to insert the words "or principal", and after the word "office" to insert the brackets and words "(as the case may be)".
Amendment No. 95 is also a drafting amendment:
In page 38, line 14, Section 65, before the word "surrender" to insert the word "cash", and in line 17, before the word "surrender" to insert the word "cash".
I move amendment No. 96:—
In page 39, line 5, Section 67 (2), to delete the word "validity" and substitute therefor the word "legality".
The Minister undertook to look into the difference between the words "validity" and "legality" and to consider whether the use of the word "validity" as in the Bill did not restrict the scope of the section in which the word occurs. Apparently he satisfied himself that the words "validity" and "legality" have the same meaning. It is a matter of complete indifference to me, and so perhaps the Minister might accept the amendment in that state of facts.
I am informed that the word "validity" has a wider meaning than "legality". If a policy is illegal it is necessarily invalid, but a policy may be quite legal and yet invalid.
The fact of the matter is that I objectin toto to the principle contained in this section and when the Minister refuses to accept my amendment he is really doing something that I want him to do. I merely put down the amendment to draw his attention to the fact that his proposals may restrict the class of cases he wants to bring within the ambit of the section. The more restricted they are from my point of view as a conservative lawyer the better, and when the Minister refuses my amendment it gives me great comfort.
The Minister promised to consider the point embodied in amendment No. 97:—
In page 39, line 25, Section 67 (5) (b), after the word "given" to insert the words "at least 14 days before the holding of such inquiry".
Amendment No. 98 enables cases to be taken to the Supreme Court:—
In page 39, Section 67 (6), to delete all from the word "and" in line 37 to the end of the sub-section.
I move amendment No. 99:—
In page 39, to insert before Section 67 (7) a new sub-section as follows:—
(7) Where an appeal from a decision of the High Court under the next preceding sub-section of this section is taken to the Supreme Court by an industrial assurance company, such company shall, whatever may be the result of such appeal or the determination of the Supreme Court thereon, be liable for and pay the costs of all parties to such appeal.
This amendment enshrines a principle against which I wish to make an objection. The Minister prohibited the taking of any appeals to the Supreme Court and was subsequently induced by some of the larger industrial assurance companies to permit an appeal to the Supreme Court in consideration of the industrial assurance company undertaking to pay the costs, no matter what way the verdict went. I strongly object to this prostitution of the legal procedure of this country for the convenience of the Pearl, the Prudential, the Britannic or any other foreign insurance companies. No foreign insurance company has a right to purchase, at the expense of depreciating the well-established rule of law in this country, access to our courts.
The courts should be open to everybody on equal terms, and if the Minister, for reasons of public policy, desires to deliver the insured persons from any possibility of being levied with costs, the proper course for him to adopt is to see that in the event of an insured person losing a case in the Supreme Court in which an industrial assurance company is the appellant, the State will bear such measured costs as the Supreme Court may direct. It is entirely wrong to provide that in this execptional class of case a litigant in this country shall be permitted to enter the Supreme Court only on the undertaking to pay costs of both parties no matter what the results of the case may be. It is a complete departure from the practice and it is done at the instance of foreign companies who do not give two hoots about the dignity or the principle underlying the administration of justice here. I object most strenuously to the principle enshrined in this amendment.
Is it not a safeguard for the companies that they can go to the Supreme Court? Who is going to pay the costs? In what way would the policy-holder be capable of meeting the expense of going to the Supreme Court?
The Minister's first proposal was that the company should not be allowed to go to the Supreme Court at all. Amendment No. 98 gives them access to it and there is then the condition that they pay the costs no matter what way the cause may go. There is no precedent for such an arrangement.
But what is the alternative?
The alternative is that the well-established rule of that court should be maintained; that, in the event of an appeal to the Supreme Court being taken for the purpose of settling a point of law, if that appellant be an industrial assurance company and the unsuccessful respondent be the insured party, and the Minister does not wish the insured party to be put to the expense of financing a test case in the Supreme Court, then the Minister should himself undertake to pay the measured costs of the court on the respondent's behalf, inasmuch as the appeal will have the effect of settling the law for the future in the country.
It is the principle to which I object, Sir, because there should be no penalty for appealing to the highest tribunal in the land. The big insurance companies do not give a straw about paying this penalty; they are enormously wealthy and they do not mind paying the cost, but it is a reflection on the judicial system of the country, which should not be permitted to creep in in order to convenience a wealthy insurance company. It would not be done for a citizen of the State, and it should not be done for a citizen of the State. Money should not be able to buy access to the Supreme Court of this country which would not be available to a person who could not afford to pay for it. This situation now means that if you have a poor Irish insurance company they may find themselves debarred from an appeal which is made available to a rich English company. I object to that. It involves a principle of equality in the eyes of the law that is entirely foreign to our legal system. It is a principle the introduction of which I strongly deplore, and which I apprehend may result in a course of action, founded on this as a precedent, which would be highly detrimental to the due administration of justice in the country.
The Minister asks what is the alternative. The alternative is to scrap this section altogether and allow the ordinary courts set up under our Constitution to operate in the ordinary way, instead of providing those bastard tribunals that would be held in a hole-and-corner way by non-lawyers and behind closed doors to determine the rights and liabilities as between industrial insurance companies and the policy-holders. That is the proper alternative—scrap the section.
I move amendment No. 100:—
In page 39, line 58, Section 67 (9), to delete the words "by the applicant", and in line 61, immediately before the word "and" to insert the words "and such fee shall be paid by (as the case may require) the industrial assurance company which or the applicant who refers such dispute to the Minister or, where such dispute is referred by the industrial assurance company and the applicant jointly to the Minister by both such company and the applicant in equal parts".
This is a drafting amendment.
A drafting amendment? It re-enacts the meaning of the sub-section.
It is necessary in view of the definition of "applicant" in sub-section (1).
I move amendment No. 101:—
In page 40 to delete Section 69 (2) and substitute the following sub-section:—
(2) No person (other than a director, a member of the committee of management, the secretary, an assistant secretary, treasurer, auditor, actuary, or a person employed in a professional capacity) employed by an industrial assurance company shall attend or be present at any meeting of such company.
The purpose of this amendment is to prevent the committee of management of collecting societies from stopping a meeting. It has been a common practice for those societies on the occasion of an annual meeting to fill the room with their clerical staff. They are not lawfully, I understand, entitled to permit the attendance of their agents. Other members who are entitled to be present are excluded because of this crowding. On some occasions the meeting is transacted solely or mainly in the presence of employees. This amendment seeks only to make it impossible for the clerical staffs to do a thing which at the moment it is not possible for agents to do. I think the Minister should not have any difficulty in accepting the amendment, because it aims at making more healthy the atmosphere in which the business of the society is transacted on the important occasion of those meetings. It has been known in the past that this practice became a grave scandal. I think that anything which would tend to make the operation of the companies more healthy ought to appeal to the Minister. No hardship is being inflicted.
I cannot see any reason for accepting the amendment. We are already excluding collectors and outdoor servants of the company from being present at meetings. It may conceivably happen that a particular indoor officer of the company may find that his presence is required for the transaction of business at the meeting. I think it would be unreasonable to exclude indoor officers of the company if they are required to be present.
The amendment says "no person (other than a director, a member of the committee of management, the secretary, an assistant secretary, treasurer, auditor, actuary or a person employed in a professional capacity)." Surely that is wide enough without making it possible for the company to mobilise their clerical staff to come and take possession of the meeting. There is ample room left in the amendment to give them all the necessary assistance.
There may be some particular abuses that the Deputy has in mind, but it seems to me a very unreasonable proposal.
I move amendment No. 102:—
In page 40, line 53, Section 71, after the word "person" (where that word firstly occurs) to insert the words "or left for such person at his last known place of abode."
This amendment permits the notice to be left with the insured person at his abode.
I move amendments Nos. 103 and 104:—
In page 43, line 28, Section 84, after the word "company" to insert the words "or syndicate," and in line 34 after the word "company" to insert the words and brackets "or syndicate (as the case may be)," and in line 38, after the word "company" to insert the words and brackets "or syndicate (as the case may be)."
In page 43, line 39, Section 84, to delete the words "the Company shall direct" and substitute the words "shall be satisfactory to the Company."
I move amendment No. 106:—
In page 43, to add at the end of Section 84 three new sub-sections as follows:—
(2) Every agreement entered into by an assurance company or a syndicate with the company in pursuance of the foregoing sub-section of this section shall provide that—
(a) whenever the amount of any risk undertaken by such assurance company or syndicate exceeds the amount which such assurance company or syndicate is required by such agreement to retain, the company shall thereupon and without more become and be liable for so much (whether the whole or a portion) of the balance of such risk as the company is bound by such agreement to accept, and
(b) the company may, within three days after receiving from an assurance company or a syndicate advice of the amount of any particular risk reinsured (in whole or in part) by such assurance company or syndicate with the company, give notice in writing to such assurance company or syndicate that the company desires to be relieved of the whole or of a part (as the case may be) of the re-insurance of such risk, and whenever any such notice is so given, the company shall, at the expiration of ten days from the receipt of such notice by such assurance company or syndicate, be relieved from liability for (as shall be specified in such notice) the whole or the said part of the re-insurance of such risk.
(3) When an assurance company or a syndicate which is required by this section to enter into an agreement with the company has duly entered into such agreement, nothing in this section shall operate to restrict or control the re-insurance by such assurance company or syndicate of its assurance business save in so far and in such respects as such re-insurance is restricted or controlled by such agreement.
(4) Nothing in this section shall operate to restrict or control the re-insurance by an assurance company or a syndicate of any part of its assurance business in respect of which such assurance company or syndicate is not required by this section to enter into an agreement with the company.
I move amendment No. 107a:—
In page 43, line 45, Section 85 (1), after the word "company" to insert the word "syndicate".
I move amendment No. 109:—
In page 44, line 44, Section 87 (1), to delete the words "shall not" and substitute the word "may", and in line 47 to delete the words "shall not" and substitute the word "may", and in line 50, immediately after the word "money" to insert the words "if, but only if, moneys so borrowed and secured are applied by the assurance company solely towards and for the purposes of the class of assurance business in respect of which such fund is required to be maintained."
This amendment is necessary to make it clear that borrowing on the security of the assets of an assurance fund is not to be prohibited if such borrowing is for the purposes of that fund.
That meets my amendment, No. 110, which I will not move.
I move amendment No. 109:—
In page 44, to delete Section 87 (2).
I move amendment No. 111:—
In page 45, line 2, Section 88, after the word "company" to insert the words "or a syndicate", and in line 5, after the word "company" to insert the words and brackets "or syndicate (as the case may be)".
I move amendment No. 112:—
In page 45, line 3, Section 88, after the word "shall" to insert the words "if such policy is issued by such company or syndicate in the course and as part of the carrying on in Saorstát Eireann of assurance business."
This is to make it clear that the section is not to apply to classes of insurance which are not included in the expression "assurance business" as defined in Section 3, or to any business other than business in Saorstát Eireann.
I move amendment No. 113a, which has been substituted for amendment No. 113:—
In page 45, before Section 89, to insert a new section as follows:—
Every policy, bond, certificate, or other instrument of insurance issued after the commencement of this Part of this Act to a person ordinarily resident in Saorstát Eireann shall, if such policy, bond, certificate or other instrument of insurance is issued in the course and as part of the carrying on in Saorstát Eireann of assurance business, be issued in Saorstát Eireann.
It is desirable that the policies issued by licensed companies and syndicates should be Saorstát Eireann contracts. The amendment is designed to cover that.
Would the Minister amplify his statement as to the meaning of this amendment? Is this purely a stamping provision or is it intended that every contract entered into with a company shall be deemed to have been entered into in the Irish Free State? I suggest to the Minister that there is a very serious ambiguity in this particular section as proposed in the amendment. There is no particular clarity about the meaning of the word "issue" of a policy, and very complicated questions as to the meaning of the word may arise if this section is passed. As a matter of fact, I hope they will arise. I do not know what the object of this proposal is. Is it intended merely to ensure that the policies will be stamped here as if they were Irish policies, or does it go further than that, as the Minister has rather suggested, and endeavour to provide that every contract of assurance entered into with a company by a person resident in Saorstát Eireann shall be deemed to have been made as a contract in the Irish Free State? I doubt very much if the section as drafted at the moment goes as far as the Minister suggests that it does, provided the contract is made. Certainly, the word "issue" is a word that is in common use in reference to dealings in connection with policies. The phrase "issue of a policy" as a matter of common use. I take it that the ordinary meaning of it would be the place from which the document originated?
But that is not clear. It is open to contention that it might mean the place where the document is delivered. Now, in the course of certain statutory definitions of the word "issue"—for instance, in reference to bills of exchange, copies of works under the Copyright Act and things of that kind—the word "issue" has a special meaning. In connection, however, with insurance policies, it is in common use, but there is no statutory or recognised meaning of the word "issue", and this section will undoubtedly give rise to litigation. Supposing the contract is posted or delivered to an agent, and delivered by him to the policy-holder; in either or both of those cases, is the policy issued? We could enumerate numerous other particular combinations of facts arising out of the issue of a policy which would give rise to problems which must be, or may have to be, solved by the courts. Now, if it be only a stamping provision, then all that can be got over merely by stamping the policy here.
I understand that most of the policies of assurance at the present moment are, in fact, stamped in this country, but if the only object of this section is to ensure that the Revenue will get the necessary stamp duties on policies, I think the section is going a bit too far for that purpose. If, on the other hand, the object is to ensure that contracts of assurance shall be deemed to be made in this country, then I think the section does not go far enough. I should like the Minister to consider whether or not this section does what he intends it to do, and I should certainly like to know what the Minister intends it to do.
We do not intend that it should be deemed to be issued in Saorstát Eireann if it is not, in fact, issued in Saorstát Eireann.
That is what the Minister does not intend it to do, but what we want to know is what the Minister intends it to do.
We want to have them issued in Saorstát Eireann.
For what purpose? Is it merely because it would look nice?
We think it is right that they should be issued here and not in London.
But the question of issue, surely, has some practical significance for the Minister? I take it that this section is not merely put in for sentimental reasons in order that there will be green ribbons tied around the policy in the Free State, or green, white and yellow ribbons, if the Minister prefers it. Has the Minister not got some practical reason for this? If he has, will he tell us what it is? If he has not, then let the courts construe it. I do not know what is intended to be brought about by this section unless it is merely a stamp duty provision. If that is so, it is a matter of some little significance to the Revenue, I admit, but not of very much significance. However, if that is all that is intended, I wish the Minister would say so.
I do not think there is anything more intended.
The Minister may not believe so, and I am quite sure he does not believe so, but if there were only a question of stamp duty involved, then this amendment, in my view, would be drafted differently, because it would have to be submitted to the Revenue Commissioners and they would draft it in their own peculiar fashion so as to ensure that revenue was attracted to this countryvia policies. Now, knowing the methods of the Revenue Commissioners as I do, I know that this section does not bear the stamp of the Revenue Commissioners' hand upon it, and I am not convinced—at least I am not convinced at the moment, and I did not think so when I read the amendment—that its object is merely to provide that stamp duty shall be paid on policies; and the Minister has not satisfied me yet that that is the real object of the section. If the Minister will not tell me what the real object of the section is, of course I cannot extract it from him, but I think we ought to know at least what this amendment is designed to do.
I think it is designed to get companies to issue contracts here and get them stamped here as far as possible.
Yes, "to have them stamped here as far as possible," as the Minister says. I have already directed the attention of the Minister to the ambiguity of the word "issue", and now he says that the object is to have them stamped here "as far as possible". Well, all I can say is that that is about as ambiguous a phrase as he could manufacture. We are dealing here with proposals to be inserted in a Bill which will become statutory law and we must see, so far as possible, that these proposals are drafted in such terms as the people who will be affected by this statute will understand. Now, at the moment it is not possible to understand what this amendment is designed to effect. The Minister has not said what he understands by the word "issue". I should like to hear him tell me what he or his officials think the phrase "issue of a policy" means, and, if their attention has been directed to the difficulties that will arise, or may arise, through the use of the ambiguous term "issue of a policy", I should like to know what is the meaning of "issue of a policy", or in what circumstances it will be issued. If the Minister cannot tell me the circumstances that might possibly be conceived by him or his officials, I shall supply them for him.
I think the object is to ensure that the policy should be a Saorstát Eireann document and, as far as possible, fully subject to our laws and not to any others.
Well, the amendment does not, in the remotest degree, achieve that object.
Well, a Chinn Comhairle, we can go into the matter further.
No, Sir, with all respect, the Minister cannot, because if you want to alter it now we shall have to introduce an amending Bill.
I take it, Sir, that in the ordinary course I would be entitled, on the completion of the recommittal, to take the Report Stage.
The usual procedure would be this: When this discussion is concluded, the amendments would be reported and the question then would be that the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration. The Minister might postpone taking a decision on that question.
If the Minister wants to look into certain points, we shall not raise any objection.
Technically, it should be taken to-day, but I see no radical objection to postponing it.
As usual, Sir, we are prepared to facilitate the Minister in any reasonable proposal.
It will be possible to introduce an amendment?
If the question is not taken, I presume there will be no objection to the Minister meeting points that have been raised.
The Minister is already feeling the want of the Seanad.
We are prepared to temper the wind to the shorn lamb.
Are we to get facilities to get the remaining stages of the Bill afterwards?
Do not pull off all your wool. We will give you as much of this as we can to-night and you must trust to our decency for the rest of it.
I move amendment No. 114:—
In page 45, before Section 89 to insert a new section as follows:—
"Form (A)—Form applicable to Life Assurance Business of the Fifth Schedule" to the Act of 1909 is hereby amended in the following respects, that is to say:—
(a) by the insertion after paragraph 4 thereof of a new paragraph as follows:—
"4A. The total amount assured under endowments, specifying sums assured and office premiums separately in respect of each year in which such assurances will mature for payment. The reversionary bonuses must also be separately specified, and the sums assured with immediate profits, with deferred profits, and without profits, separately returned," and
(b) by the deletion of paragraph 7 thereof,
and the said Fifth Schedule and also Section 6 of the Act of 1909 shall be construed and have effect accordingly.
This section proposes to extend a certain requirement in Form A of the Fifth Schedule of the 1909 Act for the furnishing of details respecting endowment assurance.
This actually makes the Fifth Schedule of our Act more stringent than the Fifth Schedule operating in Great Britain, or was this amendment introduced in the 1923 Act in Great Britain?
I cannot say. What I know is that endowment assurance is a substantial and important part of insurance here, and it seems to me that there is no reason why the Minister should not get the same information with regard to endowment assurance as with regard to other classes of insurance.
This is the form to be furnished to the Minister at the end of the period?
I think so, yes.
I move amendments Nos. 115 and 116:—
In page 45, line 11, Section 89 (1), before the word "Ninth" to insert the words "Eighth and" and in line 12 to delete the word "Schedule" and insert the word "Schedules".
In page 45, before Section 89 (2), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(2) The Minister may, after consultation with the Committee of Lloyd's, by order alter (by addition, omission, or variation) the Eighth Schedule to the Act of 1909.
These are consequential.
I move amendments Nos. 117 and 118:—
In page 45, line 40, Section 91, immediately after the word "business" to insert the words "other than life assurance business or industrial assurance business".
In page 45, to add at the end of Section 91 a new sub-section as follows:—
(2) Every assurance company which carries of life assurance business or industrial assurance business or both such business shall within six months after the end of every accounting year of such company furnish to the Minister in the prescribed form and manner a return showing in respect of each of the said classes of assurance business carried on by such company the amount of the sums debited and credited during such accounting year for reinsurance in respect of assurance business in Saorstát Eireann and such amounts shall be set out in such return to show the following items, that is to say:—
(a) premiums, and
(b) sums assured, and
(c) claims arising by death or maturity, and by surrender of policies.
These two amendments are for the purpose of indicating the items to be included in the return of reinsurance business which life assurance companies will be required to furnish under the section.
You have put in "other than life assurance business or industrial assurance business." You have excluded these two classes from the effect of Section 91. The effect of the amendment is to exclude these classes from the scope of Section 91. What you want to do is to take them from sub-section (1) and put them back again in sub-section (2)?
I move amendment No. 119a:—
In page 45, before Section 92, to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) In lieu of any account or statement which a syndicate or a member of a syndicate is required to furnish by the Act of 1909, every syndicate shall furnish to the Minister in such form and manner and at such times as the Minister shall direct accounts and statements in respect of each class of assurance business carried on in Saorstát Eireann by such syndicate during the year preceding the year in which such accounts and statements are furnished.
(2) A copy of every account and statement furnished to the Minister in pursuance of a direction under this section shall be laid by him before Dáil Eireann.
This is to enable the Minister to obtain information relating to the business of the syndicates, similar to what he requires in respect of a company.
I move amendment Nos. 120 and 121:—
In page 46, line 8, Section 92 (a) (ii), to delete the word "received" and substitute the word "credited", and in line 9 to delete the words "paid out" and substitute the words "debited", and in line 10 to delete the words "paid out" and substitute the word "debited", and in line 11 to delete the word "received" and substitute the word "credited".
In page 46, line 19, Section 92 (b), to delete the words "paid by" and substitute the word "of", and in line 20 to delete the word "and".
These are two necessary drafting amendments.
I move amendment No. 123:—
In page 46, line 25, Section 92 (c), after the word "unpaid" to insert the words "in respect of employers' liability insurance business and mechanically propelled vehicle insurance business in Saorstát Eireann".
I move amendment No. 124:—
In page 46, line 45, Section 92 (a) (ii), after the word "are" to insert the words "in the belief of such persons".
This is a drafting amendment.
I move amendment No. 125:—
In page 47, before Section 94 to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) Every foreign company which carries on in Saorstát Eireann life assurance business or industrial assurance business or both such businesses shall, in addition to the statements required to be prepared by such company under Section 6 of the Act of 1909, prepare separately under paragraphs 2 to 9 of Form A of the Fifth Schedule (as amended by this Act) to the Act of 1909 particulars relating to the assurance business of such company in Saorstát Eireann.
(2) Section 7 of the Act of 1909 shall apply to every statement which a foreign company is required by the next preceding sub-section of this section to prepare as if such statement were a statement required to be made by a provision of that Act prior to the said Section 7.
The purpose of this new section is to require that Form A particulars shall be given separately in respect of Saorstát Eireann business. It refers to the particulars to be supplied by non-Saorstát companies.
I move amendment No. 126:—
In page 47, line 32, Section 95 (b), to delete the word "a" and substitute the word "one".
This amendment is not moved because amendment No. 126 does what amendment No. 127 wanted to be done. For once the Minister and I are in agreement.
The following amendment was agreed to:—
128. In page 47, line 55, Section 96 (2), after the word "businesses" to insert the words "in Saorstát Eireann".—(Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála; John A. Costello.)
I move amendment No. 129:—
In page 47, line 57, Section 96 (2), before the word "keep" to insert the words "subject to the provisions of the next following sub-section of this section".
The object of this, I think, is to meet a point made by Deputy Costello. I think the Deputy has done very well.
I am doing grand now. The Minister got cold feet on the re-insurance part of the Bill and began to give things away.
I move amendment No. 132:—
In page 48, before Section 97, to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) The Minister, if and whenever he thinks proper so to do, may by order (in this section referred to as a re-insurance (prohibition) order) prohibit the re-insurance of any class of assurance business effected in Saorstát Eireann (other than life assurance business and industrial assurance business) with any assurance company or person other than an assurance company or syndicate which carries on in Saorstát Eireann assurance business of that class.
(2) Every re-insurance (prohibition) order shall come into operation on such day (not earlier than six months after the making of such order) as the Minister shall by such order appoint.
(3) Whenever a re-insurance (prohibition) order is in operation in respect of any class of assurance business, an assurance company or syndicate shall not, subject to the provisions of this section, re-insure any of such class of assurance business which has been effected in Saorstát Eireann with any assurance company or person other than an assurance company or syndicate which carries on in Saorstát Eireann assurance business of that class.
(4) Every assurance company or syndicate which re-insures any class of assurance business which has been effected by such company or syndicate in Saorstát Eireann in contravention of the next preceding sub-section of this section shall, subject to the provisions of the next following sub-section of this section, be deemed to have failed to comply with the provisions of this Act.
(5) Whenever, during the operation in respect of any class of assurance business of a re-insurance (prohibition) order, the Minister is satisfied that an assurance company or syndicate which carries on in Saorstát Eireann assurance business of that class, has entered into arrangements with one or more Saorstát Eireann companies which carry on in Saorstát Eireann assurance business of such class in relation to re-insurance business of such class, the Minister may grant to such assurance company or syndicate an exemption in writing exempting such assurance company or syndicate from the provisions of this section in relation to the re-insurance of its assurance business which has been effected in Saorstát Eireann.
(6) The Minister may, whenever he so thinks proper, by order, amend or revoke a re-insurance (prohibition) order.
This is in fulfilment of a promise by the Minister that if proposals were put forward and operated which would achieve the purpose aimed at in Part VI of the Bill without the necessity of bringing that Part into operation, he would be prepared to consider leaving Part VI inoperative. Although a scheme has not been put up, if it is put up, this will give the Minister the necessary power to deal with the situation.
Was there not a scheme put up?
A scheme was put up, I beg your pardon. It is actually being discussed, and will probably be put into operation. What I should have said is that there are certain insurers who have not come in under the scheme, and it may be necessary to deal with that situation.
Am I to understand that the Minister seeks power here to force an insurance company which does not want to enter into some scheme put up to him to enter that scheme against its will? Do I understand the amendment to mean that the Minister can prohibit an Irish insurance company from effecting re-insurance with persons other than those who have been doing re-insurance business in this country prior to the appointed day under this Bill?
Yes, that is the meaning I take out of it. The business must be done with licensed companies.
Including these Lloyd's syndicates?
I move amendment No. 138:—
In page 49, at the end of Section 99, to add a new sub-section as follows:—
(4) Whenever a syndicate contravenes or fails to comply with the provisions of this Act, or with any direction lawfully given by the Minister thereunder, every member of such syndicate who is knowingly a party to such contravention or failure shall himself be guilty of an offence under this section and shall on summary conviction thereof be liable to a fine not exceeding £25 together with, in the case of a continuing offence, a further fine not exceeding £50 for every day during which such offence is continued.
Is this possibly Lloyd's again?
Yes, but this provides penalties.
The magic syndicate turns up again for the 60th time.
I move amendment No. 139:—
In page 49, line 7, Section 100 (1), after the word "Act" (where that word secondly occurs) to insert the words "shall not be commenced more than six years after the commission of the offence but, subject to that limitation,".
This matter was fully discussed on the Committee Stage, and I do not intend to deal with it again. We urged then that there should be some limitation on the time within which prosecutions should be instituted. The period we suggested in an amendment was three years, but the Minister suggests six years. We think three years more than ample.
The reason for the six years is that usually the valuation is a quinquennial one. Obviously the question of the commission of an offence might arise after the valuation.
Why would it not be found out before that?
It is better than the proposal of the Minister for Finance, at any rate, as he wants to go back 15 years or to eternity.
Not under this Bill.
I move amendment No. 141:
In page 51, line 30, Third Schedule, Part I, paragraph 5, after the word "charges" to add the following words—"but where the risk so incurred has been increased after the issue of such policy the net premium shall be calculated as though such increased risk had attached to such policy at the date of the issue of such policy".
This is a clarifying amendment.
I move amendment No. 142:
In page 51, line 52, Third Schedule, Part II, paragraph 1, to delete the word "ten" and substitute the word "six."
What is the purpose of deleting "ten" and substituting "six"? It must do something.
It deals with the age of the children.
That is no insignificant matter.
In calculating the value of a free policy the first year of the policy's currency may be ignored where the age of entry is six years or upwards. The reason for that is to make some allowance for the heavy expenses inevitably incurred on the issue of the policy.
Does this tend to make the regulations comprised in Part II of the First Schedule more onerous or less onerous on insurance companies?
Less onerous. The period under the age of seven is ignored and a free policy given after three years, that is, at the age of ten. This follows the Cohen Committee's recommendation. The gist of it is that we are ignoring the period before that age of seven. It is not until after the age of seven that the policy begins to accumulate in value. The old procedure was that a free policy was only given five years afterwards, that is at the age of 17. Under this Bill the period under the age of seven is ignored and a free policy given after three years, at ten. The increase of the maximum sum from £10 to £15 increases the value of the policy.
Where does the substitution of "six" for "ten" come in? Do you get a free policy if the child is six?
Not until the age of seven. It is not taken into account till then. The first year is ignored, as being equal to the heavy initial expenses. It is only after the age of seven the period is counted.
The insertion of "six" instead of "ten" really makes this more onerous on the Irish companies than in the original draft. Is that correct?
I am inclined to agree with the Deputy.
It does. You have already put a burden on the Irish companies which would smash half the small companies in Great Britain, and if you are going to pile up the burden in a fever of righteous indignation, the effect will be that you will have the Prudential, the Pearl and the Britannic splitting their sides at the Nelson Pillar, while the Irish company is being whipped up to a standard of rectitude that is beyond their capacity to maintain in Great Britain.
What is the objection to the granting of a free policy?
The objection is that if you go on piling up the burden on the Irish industrial insurance companies, it simply means that you are handing them over to the others.
Why should not a free paid-up policy be granted? What is the objection to that?
During discussions at an earlier stage, on fixing the standard, we agreed that it was a desperately heavy standard for an Irish company to bear. If it is true that you are increasing the burden by this amendment, I warn you, you are trying to travel too fast. You are trying to bring small Irish companies up to the standard of solvency or extravagance which a number of similar insurance companies have attained, a standard which has, in fact, only been attained by companies of the magnitude of the Pearl, the Prudential and the Britannic. If you try to force small Irish companies up to that standard you will simply smash them.
I will look into the matter and find out definitely.
I move amendment No. 145:
In page 52, lines 3 and 4, Third Schedule, Part II, paragraph 1, to delete the words "for the purposes of this paragraph."
Are these all drafting amendments?
This is the heaviest drafting amendment I ever struck. Is this a genuine drafting amendment?
Yes. Why does the Deputy pick on this amendment?
For no particular reason, only that the Minister told us that he was substituting "six" for "ten." It is a drafting amendment which will cost the insurance companies in this country thousands of pounds.
I move amendment No. 148:
In page 52, line 37, Third Schedule, Part III, paragraph 1, to delete the word "actually" and substitute the words "assumed under the next preceding subparagraph of this paragraph to have been."
What is the meaning of this? Apparently the object is to bring sub-section (2) into line with sub-section (1). We will agree to that.
I move amendment No. 151:—
In page 53, Fourth Schedule, Part I, to delete in the first column the figures "1937", "1938", "1939", "1940", "1941", "1942", "1943", "1944", and substitute for the figures so deleted the figures "1938", "1939", "1940", "1941", "1942", "1943", "1944", "1945", respectively.
You postpone the whole of these limitations on the right to forfeiture for non-payment of premium by one year?
What do you want to do that for?
Because the Bill was introduced late last year.
I see. You are just a year late.
I move amendment No. 152:—
In page 53, Fourth Schedule, Part II, to delete in the first column the figures "1937", "1938", "1939", "1940", "1941", "1942", "1943", "1944", and substitute for the figures so deleted the figures "1938", "1939", "1940", "1941", "1942", "1943", "1944", "1945", respectively.
I move amendment No. 153:—
In page 54, Fourth Schedule, Part III, to delete in the first column the figures "1937", "1938", "1939", "1940", "1941", "1942", "1943", "1944", "1945", and substitute for the figures so deleted the figures "1938", "1939", "1940", "1941", "1942", "1943", "1944", "1945", "1946", respectively.
I move amendment No. 154:—
In page 54, line 15, Fifth Schedule, paragraph 2 (c), to delete the words "this Part" and substitute the word and numerals "Part VI", and in line 17 to delete the words "this Part" and substitute the word and numerals "Part VI".
I move amendment No. 156:—
At the bottom of page 55, Sixth Schedule, at the end of form "(a) Particulars as to claims arising and settled during the year of account", to insert the following:—
Notes: 1. All claims arising under one policy and out of a single occurrence shall be treated as one claim for the purposes of this Schedule.
2. Under the headings "By costs and expenses" (column (4) of the above form) and "Total of columns (3) and (4)" (column (5) of the above form) the amounts need not be segregated in each of the said headings in the said columns (4) and (5) as between—(i) third party claims, and (ii) all other claims.
I move amendment No. 157:—
In page 56, Sixth Schedule, at the end of form "(b) Particulars as to claims arising during and outstanding at the end of the year of account", to insert the following:—
Notes: 1. All claims arising under one policy and out of a single occurrence shall be treated as one claim for the purposes of this Schedule.
2. Under the headings "By costs and expenses" (columns (4) and (6) of the above form) and "Total of columns (3) to (6)" (column 7 of the above form) the amounts need not be segregated under each of the said headings in the said columns (4), (6) and (7) as between—(i) third party claims, and (ii) all other claims."
I move amendment No. 158:
In page 56, Sixth Schedule, to delete the word "Note" (which is under form "II. Outstanding claims arising during the first year preceding the year of account, ending ..... 19...") and substitute the following word and numeral "Notes, 1", and after and under the "Note" (which is now under the said form) to add the following:—
2. All claims arising under one policy and out of a single occurrence shall be treated as one claim for the purposes of this Schedule.
3. Under the headings "By costs and expenses" (columns (4), (7), (10), and (13) of the above form) and "Total of columns (6), (7), (9), (10), (12), and (13)" (column 14 of the above form) the amounts need not be segregated under each of the said headings in the said columns (4), (7), (10), and (13) as between— (i) third party claims, and (ii) all other claims.
It is clearly understood that for this stage, only Ministerial amendments will be accepted.
I do not think there will be any other amendments.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.15 p.m., until Wednesday, 12th August, at 3 p.m.