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Curious way to treat friendlies

In his article on Frank Field&#39s book on welfare reform (Money Marketing, , Patrick Collinson says he finds Mr Field&#39s call for a revival in the friendly society movement as a key player in future welfare provision to be curious (Money Marketing, October 30).

I find Mr Collinson&#39s comment curious or, more specifically, his apparent ignorance regarding the history of the societies.

If he had any inkling of their involvement in the provision of welfare before the National Health Service was introduced, he would have been unlikely to have begun his sentence with the word curiously.

Frank Field, on the other hand, is well aware of the background of the friendly society movement and his reasons for a revival call will be almost certainly based on several facts.

First, that friendly societies exist solely for the benefit of their membership, with no shareholders, all surpluses being passed on to the membership by way of bonuses or improved benefits.

Second, their past experience (gained over a period longer than that of the existence of the NHS) surely qualifies them for serious consideration. Last and perhaps most important of all, they treat their members as individuals and not profit centres.

Perhaps Patrick Collinson can explain why he used the word curiously instead of, perhaps, logically.

C A Freeman

Marketing manager,

National Deposit

Friendly Society,

Clifton,

Bristol

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