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specifically instructs the courts not to grant incorporation to societies providing such old-age on invalidity pensions, for such pensions can not be given without a solid actuarial foundation, which the law, as will be shown, does not require.
The requirements for incorporation contained in the law are primarily constitutional. The constitution of the society applying for admission must define the following: The headquarters of the society; its objects and aims; conditions for admission and separation of members; their obligations and rights; the methods of expenditures and investment of the property and the guarantees required; conditions of a quorum; of validity of elections and resolutions adopted; the requirement of keeping minutes of the general meeting, of the executive committee, and of the auditors or supervisors' committee; the method of organization of these committees and their functions; the mode of representation of the society before the court and other outside parties; the condition for resolving the winding up of the affairs of the society, or for amending the constitution, with the proper consideration of the fixed requirements of the law. It is understood that the constitution may not contain anything contrary to the law. The actual contents of the constitution is thus left to the discretion of the society itself; but the law contains a few requirements which must govern the operations of the mutual benefit societies.
First, in addition to the main objects, the forms of mutual assistance enumerated above, the recognized societies may undertake only the following activities: Cooperative educational work among members and their families, assistance to members in acquiring tools of trade, and other functions of institutions for saving and social improvement. No expenditures may be made for any other purposes than those specified above, or to cover the cost of administration.
Second, if a society receives legacies or donations for a definite and permanent object, these legacies or donations must be kept separately and the revenue derived from them expended in accordance with the wishes of the donor.
Third, the executive officers of the societies must be selected from among the active members. They may be recalled at will, and need not furnish any bond unless the constitution so requires.
Application for incorporation under this law must be made to the local civil court, and attached to the application must be a copy of the constitution certified by a notary public. Societies already possessing the rights of legal persons at the time when the law went into effect, and wishing to obtain the additional privileges under this law, must also make the required application, adjusting their constitutions if necessary.
Societies in existence at the time when the law went into effect and having no such rights may be granted incorporation on application, if their constitutions conform to the demands of the law. Otherwise the constitution must be amended at a general meeting specially called for that purpose, and a certified copy of the amended constitution with a certified copy of the minutes of this special meeting must be attached to the application.
Societies organized after the law went into effect must furnish a certified copy of the constitution and of the procedure of the charter meeting of the society.
After examining these documents in order to see that they conform with the requirements of the law, the court orders that the name of the society be entered on the register of recognized societies. In case of desired change in the constitution the same method of procedure as in original incorporation is required.
The governmental control consists mainly in exacting reports and holding the officers of the society responsible for observing the requirements of the law and the provisions of the constitution. The officers of the society are individually and jointly responsible for the execution of their respective duties, for the correctness of all entries in the books and for strict compliance with all provisions of the constitution of the society.
On the other hand, an officer who formally records his dissent from a resolution in the minutes, and who gives immediate notice of such an illegal resolution to the supervising committee, thereby is relieved from such responsibility, as is also an officer who was absent from the meeting of the executive committee when the decision in question was taken.
Furthermore, an officer who knowingly makes false statements concerning the status of the society, or suppresses any actual facts in the accounts, or before the general meeting, or in court, is punishable by a fine of 100 lire ($19.30) in addition to the usual civil responsibility.
If suspicion arises concerning the existence of gross irregularities in the work of the officers or of the supervisory committee, this may
be brought to the attention of the court, provided at least 20 members so decide, and if the court should find these suspicions well grounded it may take the necessary legal measures.
If a mutual benefit society has failed to comply with the regulations limiting the legitimate expenditures to certain purposes, the court must, upon application either of a member or of the public authorities, make the demand upon the society to comply with the law within fourteen days, and upon failure to do so, must order the name of the society stricken from the register of incorporated societies.
The incorporated mutual benefit societies must transmit to the minister of agriculture, industry, and commerce, through the local authorities, copies of their constitutions and their annual reports, as well as all statistical information specifically asked for. In the annual report all expenditures for subsidiary beneficiary features and the sources from which the expenditures are met must be indicated.
The main rights acquired by the mutual benefit societies which have complied with all the requirements of the law are those of legal persons, and for this reason this “recognition” may be considered as equivalent to "incorporation.” In addition, the following privileges are extended to the recognized mutual benefit societies: Exemption from stamp taxes, registry taxes, the insurance tax, personal property tax, and from court fees, and freedom of the benefits granted to the members from seizure and cession.
The legal status of the mutual benefit societies has not changed to any extent during the twenty-three years which have elapsed since the law of April 15, 1886, went into effect. No more active measures have as yet been taken to encourage such mutual help in case of sickness than those contained in the law.
The extent and nature of the operations of these mutual benefit societies and the effect of the law of 1886 may best be studied from the statistical data available.
STATISTICS OF MUTUAL BENEFIT SOCIETIES.
Six statistical investigations of the mutual benefit societies were undertaken in Italy within the last half century, in 1862, 1873, 1878, 1885, 1894, and 1904.(a)
While they are not all elaborated exactly on the same plan, a great many comparisons are possible, and these six reports furnish considerable material for a study of the development of these institutions.
a (1) Statistica de Regno D’Italia, Società di Mutuo Soccorso. Anno 1862, per cura del Ministro d'Agricoltura, Industria, e Commercio. Turino, 1864.
(2) Ministero di Agricoltura, Industria, e Commercio, Statistica delle Società di Mutuo Soccorso, Roma, 1875.
(3) Ministero di Agricoltura, Industria, e Commercio, Direzione della Statistica Generale del Regno-Statistico delle Società di Mutuo Soccorso, anno 1878. Roma, 1880.
(4) Ministero di Agricoltura, Industria, e Commercio, Direzione Generale della Statistica. Statistica delle Società di Mutuo Soccorso e delle Instituzione Cooperative Annesse alle Medesime, anno 1885. Roma, 1888.
(5) Ministero di Agricoltura, Industria, e Commercio, Direzione Generale della Statistica. Elenco delle Società di Mutuo Soccorso. Roma, 1898.
(6) Ministero di Agricoltura, Industria, e Commercio. Ispettorato Generale del Credito e della Previdenza Le Società di Mutuo Soccorso in Italia al 31 decembre, 1904. Studio Statistico. Roma, 1906.
NUMBER OF SOCIETIES AND MEMBERS.
The number of societies of mutual benefit, their membership, and the proportion of the membership to the population is shown in the following table. In none of the six investigations was it possible to obtain the desired information from all societies, but it is believed that the number reporting is sufficient to make the data representative.
The number of societies and the membership increased rapidly up to 1894. During the period 1894 to 1904 a material decrease has taken place, and it seems certain that the growth of mutual benefit societies has been interrupted and the efficiency of the law of 1886 as a stimulus has greatly declined. In 1904 the average number of members per 1,000 of population was only 27.82; so that, even if women and children are excluded, only a small percentage of Italian citizens gainfully employed hold membership in mutual benefit societies.
In addition to the societies included in the next table there were four societies of railroad employees in 1885 and three in 1894; but as data for these could not be obtained for other years they have not been considered in this table.
NUMBER AND MEMBERSHIP OF MUTUAL BENEFIT SOCIETIES FOR VARIOUS YEARS,
1862 TO 1904.
[Source : Le Società di Mutuo Soccorso, 1878 and 1904, and Annuario Statistico, 1905 to 1907. Data are
exclusive of railroad societies.)
a Data for this year do not include the Province of Venetia and the city of Rome.
As the law for incorporation of mutual benefit societies was enacted after the investigation of 1885 was undertaken, only the last two investigations contain separate data for incorporated and unincorporated societies. By 1894, 1,156, or 17.2 per cent, of the societies had obtained incorporation or recognition under the law; and by December 31, 1904, the number had increased to 1,548, or 23.7 per cent. Thus even nearly twenty years after the law of 1886 went into effect, less than one-fourth of these societies availed themselves of the advantages offered by the law. The effect of the law upon the development of the mutual benefit movement must, therefore, be considered very limited. For 6,347 out of the 6,535 societies the membership has been ascertained. Of these societies 24 per cent were incorporated, and they claimed 31.2 per cent of the membership, the average membership of the incorporated societies being larger than that of the unincorporated ones; 189 as against 132. Incorporation is therefore found to be an evidence of strength.
COMPARISON OF INCORPORATED AND UNINCORPORATED MUTUAL BENEFIT
SOCIETIES AT END OF YEARS 1894 AND 1904.
(Source: Le Società di Mutuo Soccorso, 1904.)
The mutual benefit society movement is almost entirely limited to the male portion of the Italian population. As is shown in the following statement, at no period (data for 1894 not being available) have females constituted even one-tenth of the total membership of the societies. The interesting fact is also brought out that the proportion of females in incorporated societies was smaller than in the unincorporated societies in 1904. Of the male members 31.7 per cent belonged to incorporated societies and of the female members only 25.1 per cent.
MEMBERSHIP OF MUTUAL BENEFIT SOCIETIES FOR VARIOUS YEARS, 1862 TO 1904,
Source: Le Società di Mutuo Soccorso, 1862, 1878, 1885, and 1904.]
197, 719 a 299, 544
90. 86 90. 36 a 90.35
21, 103 a 28, 592
9.64 a 8. 62
111, 608 218, 822 0331, 548 566,900
a Not including 3,412 members, sex not reported.