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assurance funds, 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 provid ing 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, are inserted some valuable remarks and tables for consideration; the only fault in the latter being that they represent the full values of annuities, without reference to probable secessions or the remarriages of widows, or other 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 1s. For a time the subscription was jd. weekly, but afterwards 1d. per week; and members paying the latter sum were entitled to a copy of the Odd-Fellows' Quarterly Magazine, value 6d.; others, not receiving the Magazine, paid 8d. 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 Id. 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, 1845, were not entitled to benefits until after two years from entry. Members were not to be admitted over 40 years 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 1d. being paid on each child's entry. The benefit for each child to be 1s. per lunar month, until 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 1d.
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 from 12s. 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:
Deducting £716. 1s. 7d., "lost by frauds," the present capital of the fund is £8,794. 78. 4 d., 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 1846, 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. 17s., payable Ss. 1d., per month, during life, or widowhood, and good behaviour, and to each child an annuity of 12s., 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.
* Similar payments in previous years are included in "Annuities to Widows," &c.
Columns 11 and 12 show the children claiming, and declared off, in the years opposite.
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 payments, 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.
"1. Whether, in the present state of the society, considering the number of subscribers (5,579), the amount of surplus funds (£8,794. 7s. 44d.), 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. Finlaison, 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 the 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 :
To present value of contingent Pensions to Widows
Future contingent Pensions..
"Present value of Pensions to Widows £13,880 4 7
£ S. D.
.38,626 18 7
2,921 18 0
.241,548 16 7
.£15,260 16 2
An inspection of the foregoing balance sheet will render it obvious that an immediate change in the financial rules of the Society is necessary. The nature of that change will be suggested by my answers to the other two questions and general remarks.
2. I cannot recommend the proposed alterations referred to, which I assume to mean those of the St. John's and Jolly Bucks' members. As to the St. John's, the reduction of the widow's annuity by ls. is much too small to relieve the fund. The allowance of a bonus for children, provided it does not exceed £5, and the offer of £15 bonus to each widow, are fair matters for consideration. With regard to the Jolly Bucks' propositions for entrance fees and contributions, they are too low to be safe.
On the best consideration I can give the subject, I recommend to the consideration of the general meeting the propriety of allowing a bonus not exceeding £20 to widows, and £2 for each child not exceeding 12 years of age, and to apply such an alteration of laws to all possible claimants under the present rules. This may appear to be somewhat sweeping, but on the whole I think it fair. It is necessary that the members should agree to yield somewhat of their strict right, as it is plain that unless some change is made either to increase the contributions for the present benefits, or to reduce the pension, or to commute it in the manner just suggested, the Society must unavoidably descend to a much worse position.
I think that any children who may be registered should be registered within three months after birth.
The other matters in the propositions referred to are wholly for the consideration of the meeting.
3. The proposed Tables 1 and 2 are in principle correct; but I would have the present probation of two years from the time of entry before being entitled to benefits, maintained, instead of reducing the probation to one year only as proposed.
To meet the objects held in view by the Society, I have prepared tables, into which the experience of the Society enters, to provide for the benefits proposed in Tables 1 and 2. The tables are subjoined, and if the general meeting considers it desirable to slightly reduce the benefits, for which these tables are framed, so as to lower them to the same amount as those at present guaranteed, the proportionate reduction in the contribution can soon be determined. Should the tables in question be adopted, I shall be prepared to certify them under the Friendly Societies' Act, provided the meeting takes steps to effect a revision of the rules necessary to fit the tables, which rules I must be permitted to consider and approve.
Having thus succinctly answered in a direct manner the questions put to me, I may state that the following considerations have entered into the construction of the tables which I have prepared.
A suitable law of mortality. A rate of interest such as the fund has been accustomed to realise. The law of secession as obtained from the experience of members of Friendly Societies. The per centage of claims relinquished by the re-marriage of widows, and other causes. The proportion of claims commuted by the acceptance of a bonus in lieu of the annuity, and the charge entailed on the fund by the payment of that bonus. The probable gain by members taking clearances, and ceasing to contribute after the lapse of a year; and, on the other hand, the probability of a mem ber re-marrying after the death of his first wife, and entailing additional and heavier charges on the fund by union with a younger wife. The proportion into which the aggregate body of members was found on actual observation to divide itself at each quinquennial group of ages between 18 and 62. The proportion of unmarried but contributing members, to the married contributors. The parity of age between husband and wife; and