It will be remembered that in 1926, arising out of the desire of the local bodies in the country expressed through the General Council of County Councils, an Act was introduced here which subsequently became the Local Authorities (Mutual Assurance) Act, 1926 and which enabled local bodies to be members of an insurance company of a particular kind for the purpose of dealing with their fire insurance and insurance arising out of employers' liability. In view of the fact that this was not the formation of an insurance company for ordinary profit and that only members of local bodies were to be members—only members of the local bodies who were themselves insurers in the company would be the company—arrangements were made that the deposit of £20,000 required under the Insurance Companies Act of 1909 would not be required. The purpose of the company was for the mutual insurance of its members as set out in Clause 2. A law case has arisen in which a decision has been given that the present company does not carry out mutual insurance within the terms of the Insurance Companies Act of 1909 and the present Bill purports to make clear the definition of mutual insurance for the purpose of this particular Act, and to legalise the position of the Irish Public Bodies Mutual Insurance Company from the time it was founded and for the future and to see that the intention of the original Act will be legally secured.
The public bodies are the biggest organised insurance class in the country. They have to insure a very big amount of property on which there is a very low rate and they should be in a position to get a more satisfactory rate of insurance than they were getting up to the time of the formation of this company. In spite of the fact that a large number of local bodies had commitments to continue their insurance for a period of years with the companies with which they were dealing before this company was formed, nevertheless up to the present fourteen county councils, eighteen boards of health, eleven mental hospital committees, twenty-three urban district councils and town commissioners, and a number of other miscellaneous public bodies are members of the company. They have been enabled through this company to reduce substantially the insurance rates they pay and we have had evidence that they have been effective in creating a situation by which other insurance companies have reduced the rate which they quote to other public bodies with a view to holding this very satisfactory type of insurance. As I say, the rates that public bodies pay for fire insurance should be much lower than they have been because of the valuable type of property insured and the low rate of loss that characterises that particular type of property. This company has been formed in order that the members may at the present moment pay a lower rate than they have been paying and to see that by degrees they arrive at building up their own company so that they will not have to re-insure and, as well, that they will arrive at a lower and more just rate of insurance than has been obtained up to the present from outside companies or that they are even able to give themselves under the present system when they have not sufficient experience to know what further reduction they can make in the rates and still adequately cover their insurance. A large amount of ratepayers' money is involved in this matter and it is the desire of the Government that as much as possible of that money should be saved to the ratepayers.