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In our next we have something to say of lectures and degrees. Some say we shut good members out from office because they have not possessed themselves of a lot of these absurd secrets. How are they good members ? and the secrets absurd? A good member will devote himself to office, and take his honours which entitle him to be put in nomination for higher places, and why should those who will not follow his example be in a position at any time it pleases them, to stand against him, taking the place he ought to occupy, and which he has prepared himself for by his previous work.
Really to be consistent, some of our take-it-easy members should offer at once to surrender the Unity, its funds, and its honours, into the keeping of the honorary members. Against a policy of this kind our general laws have carefully guarded. Thoughi feeling at all times happy to see them and receive their advice and friendly assistance we are obliged to say,“We can hear you speak, we shall probably do as you say, but we cannot let you vote, we cannot let you take office; because we should be no longer independent. Become one of us as a subscribing member and you may do anything you ! please.” These lectures and degrees, which bring together members in cordial meetings on other than lodge nights, which contain sound moral instruction, exercise the intellect, have taught many a man humility, how best to act for the general good, and which impel members onward to the topmost height in the Order-are to be sneered at !! I question whether our motto is not forgotten when such things happen. To “Friendship, Love, and Truth” we will devote another chapter.
WIDOW AND ORPHAN FUNDS.
Sccu of our readers as refer to the old Magazine will find in 1835, and the following years, many pages upon Widow and Orphan Funds. Originating as benevolent aids to the then usual sick and funeral benefits, we see in vol. 5, p. 233, the matter thus reasoned :-"How happy would an odd-fellow, extended on a bed of sickness, say within himself— well, if I die, I shall at all events leave the wife of my bosom, and the children of my love, above the reach of want. The Widow and Orphan Fund will render them quite comfortable as long as any of them require the aid, and I can die contented.” Practically the object was to secure a small sum weekly to a widow as long as she remained uimarried, or required such relief; and the orphan until he was enabled to maintain himself. The seed was sown, and soon spread throughout the Unity; and there are not now many districts who cannot boast of a Widow and Orphan Fund.
In the Leeds District, we observe, vol. 4, p. 239, the benefit provided was a fixed sum as an assurance at the death of members; and this kind of benefit principally prevails now, being called a bonus. In some districts--as remarked in the last number of the present Magazine-gifts are made in the discretion of the district or managing committee, according to the circumstances in each case. In others, annuities are paid to the widows for life, or widowhood, and during good behaviour, and to orphans until attaining a certain age; and in some cases the annuities to widows are as it were purchased by the payment of a bonus at once. In a few districts the peculiar provision is made to give to widows an annuity for just so long a time after the member's death as he, in his life time, had subscribed to the fund. Of the last plan the least that can be said is that it is not sourd, and must work very unequally. As to the
assurance fands, there ought not to be any difficulty in adopting a safe scale of payments, seeing that CS. Ratcliffe's published" Tables (observations and appendix) contain the necessary figures. With regard to the funds for providing annuities to widows and orphans, either for life or temporarily, much yet remains to be done in their improvement before they can be pronounced capable of properly meeting the liabilities. Those members who take an interest in examining these funds will doubtless be aware that in the Quarterly Report for April, 1851, ai e inserted some valuable remarks and tables for consideration; the only fault in the latter being that they represent the full valnes of annuities, without reference to probable secessions or the remarriages of widows, or otber matters warranting their reduction.
The time has now come when there is every reason to suppose a collecting of past experience will be generally made, to ascertain the true position of Widow and Orphan Funds, and whether they have accomplished, and are likely to do so in future, the objects for which they were established. On some occasions, when this step has been taken, violent feelings have been aroused, and the fund swept away altogether in some districts; and probably it was well this should be the result, rather than continue an unsafe scheme likely to prove delusive to the members subscribing.
The history and experience of the fund attached to each district would not only be interesting but of more service than members generally suppose, in assisting the proper formation of new funds, and engrafting improvements on those now wanting them; and we feel sure our readers will be glad to have some information as to the largest Widow and Orphan Fund-that of the North London District. It has been found necessary, in consequence of a general meeting being called, to engage the services of Mr. A. G. Finlaison, the government actuary, to advise upon its present position, and make tables for future use; and we cannot now do better than quote from the instructions given by that gentleman:
“This auxiliary society originated at a meeting of the St. Thomas's Lodge members, on the 13th December, 1837. It was established by a special district committee, held at that lodge house on 26th November, 1835. Each member paid an entrance fee of ls. For a time the subscription was d. weekly, but afterwards ld. per week; and members paying the latter sum were entitled to a copy of the Odd Fellows' Quarterly Magazine, valne 6d.; others, not receiving the Magazine, paid 81d quarterly. From the 1st February, 1839, members were to be considered 'free,' after contributing 12 months, except clearance members, who became so at once. Benefits were given to widows only, in gifts of not more than £5. at one time to each, and in the discretion of the committee. The rules were originally certified on the 9th of November, 1839.”.
“From April, 1842, fixed benefits were allowed to widows, at the rate of 12s. per calendar month, for life, or widowhood, and during good behaviour. Altered rules, of the 28th March, 1843, provided that when the surplus funds amounted to £150, 8s. monthly should be given ; to £200., 10s. ; 'and to £300., 12s. The next rules, 3rd October, 1844, fixed each member's contribution at ld. weekly, without Magazine, and a scale of entrance fees, increasing after age 29. The widows and orphans of members joining the fund on and after 1st January, 1815, were not entitled to benefits until after two years from entry. Members were not to be admitted over 40 years of age. Subsequent rules, passed 10th December, 1846, provided another scale of entrance fees for members; and also, that from 1st February, 1847, register books should be kept for children, a fee of ld. being paid on each child's entry. The benefit for each child to be Is. per lunar month, uniil attaining 14.”
“ On the 23rd December, 1850, the rules were again altered; the scale of entrance fees remained, but the contribution of members was increased to 14d.
weekly, and the children's registration fee to 1s. The next alteration, which came into force on the 1st January, 1854, reduced the widow's allowance
125. to 8s. Id per month, without reference to amount of funds in hand, or a bonus of £15., if applied for within three months from husband's death. Widows then receiving the annuity were permitted to claim the bonus, and many did so."
Lengthy tables accompany the instructions, of which the general reader will perhaps thank us to state the substance; and those who want the whole paper can, we believe, obtain it for a small charge.
The monetary experience of the fund, from the commencement, has been as follows: RECEIPTS.
PAYMENTS. Entrance Fees and
widows Contributions } 24,994 7 94
and their children } 15,148 2 2 Interest
2,866 11 10
Children's annuities * 207 16 0 Registration of children 202 7 3 in past 4 years Gifts
470 12 72 Parentless children 871 10 5 Excursions and benefits 1,088 13 111 Bonuses to widows 3,121 12 6 Incidental expense levies 1,234 1 2 Incidental expenses
1,997 4 7 £30,856 14 8
£21,346 5 8
Deducting £716. ls. 7d., “lost by frauds," the present capital of the fund is £8,794.78. 41d., invested mostly in Consols and with the National Debt Commissioners. The payments for incidental expenses were made from the same fund as the benefits until 1$46, but have since been raised by levies.
The contribution paid by members, at all ages, is 6s. 6d. per year, payable quarterly.
The benefits at present allowed are, to each widow, within three months from member's death, £15., in discharge of all claims on the fund, or an annuity of £4. 178., payable 8s. 1d., per month, during life, or widowhood, and good behaviour, and to each child an annuity of 125., also payable monthly, until attaining 14; to parentless children an allowance in the discretion of the committee. The numbers receiving benefits at the end of last year were 299 widows and 463 children, and 23 parentless children receiving special allowances.
From the tables referred to we extract the following, which will best show the steady increase of positive liabilities.
TABLE OF NORTH LONDON EXPERIENCE. Column 1 shows the number of members subscribing to the fund at the close of each year; 2, the number of widows then in receipt of benefits; 3, the proportion of such widows to members ; 4, the number of children receiving benefits ; 5, the proportion of such children to members ; 6, the widows admitted as claimants in the years stated ; 7, the numbers declared off from all causes ; 8, distinguishes the number dying ; 9, those remarried; and 10, those expelled for misconduct. All others received a bonus. Columns 11 and 12 show the children claiming, and declared off, in the years opposite.
* Similar payments in previous years are included in " Annuities to Widows," &c.
Other information is then referred to in the instructions and explanation given, why it is not in some respects so complete as it should be. The committee, who have been at work in the matter, then proceed :-“It may be said, from the best examination that can be made, that the average age of the members, at the close of 1858, and indeed throughout the society's experience, may be assumed at 35 years—that three-fourths of the members are married-and that the ages of members and wives are about equal."
"There is no law to compel members to join this fund; but it has gained considerably by young members who have died unmarried, or have seceded. The mean rate of secession may be safely taken as at least three per cent. Another source of gain has been by members taking clearances, that is, removing from this to another district of the parent society, and after the lapse of a year ceasing to contribute or have any claim on the fund : this may have happened, on the mean of the 21 years' period, to the extent of one per cent. If a member's wife has died, he has generally continued paying until his own death ; in some cases marrying again, and probably a younger wife, but no new fee or increased contribution is required on these remarriages, under the present rules.”
"An abstract of new rules, and of proposed alterations of those now in force, as also a copy of the present rules, accompany these instructions."
It will be seen that the proposed alterations of present rules are to effect some slight changes, but that the main features of the present financial laws are to be preserved.”
“The new rules are put forward with a different purpose. They are proposed to fit a new scale of paymeots, self-supporting, to take effect from the commencement of next year, and to be kept in a separate and distinct account from what would then be called the old fund, which would necessarily be left to work itself out, and all future proceeds of excursions and benefits, with gifts, &c., would be thrown into it as heretofore.”
* 143 received £15 bonus.
Mr. Finlaison's opinion and advice were then requested upon these questions. “l. Whether, in the present state of the society, considering the number of subscribers (5,579), the amount of surplus funds (£8,794. 7s. 4d.), the numbers now receiving benefits (299 widows and 486 children), the estimated value of assets from all sources, and the probable amount of future certain liabilities, the society can safely continue working as at present, or if an immediate change is necessary in its financial rules.” "2. Whether you recommend the proposed alterations--mentioned in the abstract-of present financial laws, or what if any amendments you consider should be made therein, to properly regulate the amount of survivorship annuity from the present fund, or the sum certain (bonus) that can be allowed, as an assurance, at death of members, to widows only, if then living." "3. Whether you recommend, or not, the proposed annuity tables No. 1 and 2 in the abstract, sent with the new rules, and with what alterations and conditions, if any, they may in principle be adopted.”.
" You will be good enough to make tables, which you will be prepared to certify, under the Friendly Societies' Act, if agreed to by the general meeting." “And you will greatly oblige by advising generally and plainly what steps the society should take, in its present state, to ensure future success and stability.”
Upon these instructions Mr. Fiulaison, after giving the matter full consideration, forwarded the following opinion :
1. I am of opinion that the Society cannot with safety continue on its present footing; for, on comparing the assets with liabilities, the result is a considerable deficiency. That the real state of the case may be manifest to the members, it is placed before them in a shape with which they are no doubt familiar. Statement of the Assets and Liabilities of the North London District Widow and Orphan Fund :Dr. LIABILITIES.
£ To present value of contingent Pensions to Widows .38,626 18 7 Ditto of ditto to Orphans.........
2,921 18 0 Future contingent Pensions.. .£41,548 16 7 “ Present value of Pensions to ) Widows £13,880 4 7 present Incumbents....... 1 Orphans 1,380 117 Present Incumbents
.£15,260 16 2
Liabilities ...........£56,809 12 9
£ By present value of the Contributions from 28,636 36
5579 members........ “ Ditto of £120 of Annuity arising from
0 gifts and other sources......
1,8600 "Society's Capital in hand
8,794 7 4 Assets......... .£39,290 10 10