(1) Subject as hereinafter provided, the Minister may, on the application of any society approved under the National Insurance Act, 1911, or any other association of employed persons (other than industrial assurance companies and collecting societies, or their separate sections, or societies organised by them either solely or jointly with other bodies), being a society or other association the rules of which provide for payments to its members, or any class thereof, while unemployed, make an arrangement with the society or other association that, in lieu of paying unemployment benefit under this Act to persons who prove that they are members of the society or other association; there shall be repaid periodically to the society or other association out of the unemployment fund such sum as appears to be, as nearly as may be, equivalent to the aggregate amount which those persons would have received during that period by way of unemployment benefit under this Act if no such arrangement had been made:
(a) Unless he is of opinion that the payments authorised by the rules of the society or other association to be made to its members when unemployed (inclusive of any payments in respect of which a refund may be made to the society or other association under this Section) represent a provision for unemployment as respects such of its members as are employed persons which during the period between the commencement of this Act and the thirty-first day of July, nineteen hundred and twenty-one, exceeds the provision represented by unemployment benefit at the rate payable under this Act by an amount which is equal to at least one-third of the provision represented by unemployment benefit at the rate payable before the commencement of the National Insurance (Unemployment) Act, 1919, and which thereafter is at least one-third greater than the provision represented by unemployment benefit at the rate payable under this Act:
(2) The council or other governing body of any society or other association of employed persons which has made such an arrangement as aforesaid shall be entitled to treat the contributions due from any of its members to the unemployment fund under this Act or any part thereof, as if such contributions formed part of the subscriptions payable by those members to the society or other association, and, notwithstanding anything in the rules of the society or other association to the contrary, may reduce the rates of subscription of those members accordingly.
(5) The fact that persons other than employed persons can be members of a society or other association shall not prevent the society or other association being treated as an association for the purposes of this Section, if the society or other association is substantially a society or other association of employed persons.
(6) The Minister may, with the consent of the Treasury and subject to such conditions and otherwise as the Minister may prescribe, pay to any society or other association with which an arrangement under this Section is in force by way of contribution towards the administrative expenses of the society or other association in connection with the arrangement, such sum, not exceeding in any year an amount calculated at the rate of one shilling for each week of the aggregate number of weeks of unemployment in respect of which a repayment is made to the society or other association under this Section, as he thinks fit, and any sum so paid shall be treated as part of the expenses Incurred by the Minister in carrying this Act into effect.
I have not the slightest intention of reflecting upon the work done by friendly societies. On the contrary, I recognise that the friendly societies have done splendid work. I should like to preface what I have to say by removing an impression from the mind of the hon. Member for Edmonton (Sir A. Warren), who referred to me recently at a meeting of a society, and quoted a sentence from the proceedings of the Committee upstairs to show that I had cast a reflection on friendly societies by classing them with the big industrial societies in the inception of the National Health Insurance Act. I want to assure him that it was never my intention, however the words may appear, to class the friendly societies in the same category as the large industrial societies. I shall content myself by quoting passages from the hon. Member's own speech on the introduction of his Amendment. He said:
May I remind the House that in the compilation of that Act it was the intention of the Government of the day that the approved societies of the country should administer unemployment insurance benefit so far as it was then anticipated, because in the main structure of the 1911 Act the provisions for unemployment insurance were contained; but in the passage of that measure through this House it was thought well to separate that portion of unemployment insurance, and it was relegated to Part II. of the 1911 Act."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, Cols. 962-3, Vol. 131.]
If it were intended that friendly societies should participate in the administration of unemployment benefit and the finding of employment, why was the Act separated, and why was provision made in the Schedule excluding the operations of friendly societies? The hon. Member also told us, but I am open to dispute his statement, that there are at least 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 of members of friendly societies, working men and women who are not trade unionists. We have no data for that. The mere statement of the hon. Member may or may not be true. I doubt it. Suppose, we admit the correctness of the statement. On the next page he makes the following statement:
May I tell the House that the great friendly societies are busily engaged in formulating and perfecting a scheme which I believe will meet with the entire approval of the Ministry of Labour.
May I remind the hon. Member that if that scheme is approved by the Minister
of Labour it will in his own words cater for 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 members of friendly societies of the working classes who are not trade unionists. I want to be brutally frank over this job. I am a trade unionist and speaking in the interests of trade unionism, and if the scheme is accepted by the Minister of Labour the hon. Member for Edmonton and his friends will set up an organisation that is going to compete with trade unionism. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Let me complete my argument. Trade unionism to-day is created for the purpose of protecting its interests rightly or wrongly, rightly in my opinion, against an economic system that has compelled the creation of trade unionism. To protect its interests effectively it must be watertight. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If we have the friendly societies setting up machinery to compete with trade unionism, what is going to happen?
It is said that it would set up a trade union. It would not be a trade union within the actual meaning of the word, but would be a trade union to which employers can go—[HON. MEMBERS "Hear, hear."]—and there are employers who will go. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I do not say this of all employers, far from it, but there are employers who, so long as they can escape any of what they consider the penalties of trade unionism, will go for the point of least resistance and get cheap labour which is non-unionist. I do not say that the hon. Member deliberately or consciously subscribes to a policy of that kind, but to go back to the salient fact that if the hon. Member and his friends can only find employment for the 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 members in places where trade unionists have control what is going to happen then? It may be regrettable, but it is a startling fact that the very moment a non-unionist shows his head in that trade union shop, up goes the apple cart, and you are going to have nothing but trouble all over the country where this pernicious system, from my point of view, is introduced. The hon. Member assumes that this is only going to be the open door. Does not that apply to every shop and every factory and every place where trade unionists are employed? We have heard a lot of the open door and I am going to confess frankly that, in our interests, it is necessary to shut the door and bar it pretty tightly too. We are going to find our interests in the direction of protecting the interests of trade unionists. Trade unionism may or may not be a necessary evil, but it is the outcome of economic conditions that have compelled the working man to set up an organisation to protect himself.
There is only one way for the hon. Member to qualify for this Bill. That is that the machinery he sets up will be of such a character in every locality that he can segregate or sectionalise all the members of friendly societies in the particular industries which they follow. Otherwise they could not qualify. I will put a case to the hon. Member. It may be rather absurd, but I want to reduce it to absurdity. Suppose the manager of an engineering shop wanted a considerable number of engineers. Except there was some machinery to get into close contact with the friendly societies where he could get his men all in a lot, it would be no use going there. In existing conditions with that machinery it would not be possible for that employer to get sufficient men in any one of the friendly societies, and he would have to roam over the whole gamut of the friendly societies to get sufficient men. It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. I want the House to fancy for a moment the idea of a brewer or distiller going to the Ancient Order of Rechabites to man his brewery. Just fancy for a moment a shipowner going to the Ancient Order of the Sons of Harmony to supply a gang of coalies!
The hon. Member sat with me on the Consultative Committee of the National Health Insurance, and there was a society there which had not the exact title of the Ancient Sons of Harmony, but something very nearly related to it. He called my attention, when outside, to the fact that these people were applying for qualification under the National Health Insurance Act with this title. Let me put another case. I may be a little mixed in my titles, because there is such a multitude of friendly societies. I want him to imagine the Master Builders' Association going to the Antedeluvian Order of Buffaloes. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is not a friendly society.] It is something like it in the title. Let us imagine the Master Builders' Association asking the Order of Buffaloes to supply them with a gang of builders' labourers. It is not possible for the friendly societies to comply with the provisions of this Act except by providing machinery that is competitive with the trade unions. If that happens, what becomes of the twin brothers when they fall out? They will fall out over this. The very moment you attempt to exercise the legal and proper functions of a trade union you come up against your twin brother in a very uncomfortable manner, and when twin brothers fall out employers generally get their own.
I come to the suggested Amendment of the Minister of Labour. I fail to see how that Amendment is going to help us out of the difficulty. The last time we discussed the Bill the Minister of Labour made a very important suggestion. May I express my sincere gratitude to him for the very able and impartial way he put the whole case? There is no doubt about the intention of the Government originally. They were opposed to the inclusion of friendly societies; but the right hon. Gentleman found himself in this difficulty: He had to say to himself, "The Committee has accepted the Amendment. I do not like it, but if I have to swallow it, then I must qualify it by putting in provisions that will safeguard me against any other element coming in." The right hon. Gentleman said in the debate on 2nd July that an Amendment had been put in, the object of which was to lay it down that if a friendly society sought this work it would be empowered
unless the society or association has such a system of obtaining from employers notification of vacancies for employment and giving notice thereof to its members when unemployed as is in the opinion of the Minister reasonably effective for that purpose."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1920, Vol. 131, Col. 969.]
Further on he said that he wished to leave out the words "that purpose," and to insert instead the words
securing that unemployed persons competent to undertake the particular class of work required, shall with all practicable speed be brought into communication with employers having vacancies to fill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1920, Vol. 131, Col. 970.]
Is that not the function of the trade unions? Is not that what happens to-
day to the employer? The only organisation in the country, outside the Labour Exchanges, which can effectively get in touch with employers is that of the trade union. Without any reflection on friendly societies, I say that if they provide machinery to enable them to do that, it is setting up the principle of the old Free Labour Association that we fought against so vigorously for ten or fifteen years. Take the case of the Shipping Federation. They set up an organisation similar to that suggested by the hon. Member for Edmonton (Sir A. Warren) and there was not a man who could put his foot on a ship or get a job on a ship unless he joined the Shipping Federation Labour Bureau.
Before 1911. For at least ten or twelve years, no man could go on board a ship or get a job on board a ship unless he had the Shipping Federation tickets. I make that statement with the full knowledge of what I am saying. Yet we are condemned for using compulsion to make men join trade unions! There is something in it too, and I am not going to disguise it. We have to protect ourselves, and that is the method we have to adopt. I repeat that if such machinery is created by the friendly societies we are getting back to the days of the old Free Labour Associations. Whether they mean it or not that is going to be the effect of a society which never before exercised a function of this character doing the legitimate work of trade unionists. Therefore, I appeal to the hon. Member in the best possible spirit to reconsider his decision for the sake of the relations that have existed in the past between friendly societies and trade unions. They have not the machinery. Their fear of losing members is not well founded. Under the 1911 Act there are three million trade unionists in the unemployment section, I assume that 50 per cent. were also members of friendly societies and I ask have they lost any of them. We have no proof of it. I want to see the friendly societies and the trade unions working together.
I prophecy if they are determined to set up machinery which is in opposition to trade unions, the relations which existed in the past are going to be severely strained. We have the promise that if a friendly society member joined a trade union they would make it easy for him to transfer. Hon. Members know that in 50 per cent. of the cases where men are in a particular society they will not take the trouble to bother about transfers. That is my experience and the experience of my colleagues. I would therefore again appeal to him to reconsider his decision. The case for the friendly societies was championed by the hon. Member for Maldon (Sir F. Flannery). He spoke as a trade unionist of long standing. May I respectfully remind him that he joined the trade union to which he yet belongs to protect his economic interests as an artisan and a craftsman. I have no doubt and in fact I know, as all who know him do, that as a craftsman at the bench he was very able and efficient, but the necessity for that no longer exists in his case and he has not to earn his living by it. His honorary membership is a credit to him, but it appears to me to be a case of
I desire to support the friendly societies who want to administer the unemployment benefit in their own way. The hon. Member (Mr. Sexton) said that he was going to be brutally frank. I do not know that he has been brutal, but he has been excessively frank. It is perfectly plain what is the object of the trade unions, and that is to get a monopoly of the whole of this administration. I am not in the least hostile to trade unions, but I believe if we go back on the Amendment passed upstairs we shall deal an irreparable blow to the whole friendly society movement. If the trade unions get a monopoly of the administration of unemployment benefit—
Then they are absolutely certain to get a monopoly of the administration of sick insurance. Very few people will take the trouble to belong to two societies. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"]
You have the juvenile members coming along, and I do not believe they are going to take the trouble to join two societies, one for unemployment insurance and the other for sick insurance. Is it fair to deal this covert but deadly blow at the friendly societies? Already some of the trade unions—I do not say all or even the majority—are doing their best to have a monopoly of sick insurance. They are trying to force their members to pay sick insurance through the trade union approved society. I have got here the book of rules of the Ship Constructors' and Shipwrights' Association. I find that they are offering those who have been members for over five years and who take sick insurance with the trade union 3s. 6d. extra for the first week of unemployment benefit, and under five years they are offering 3s. 6d. extra for the first week of unemployment benefit. In the apprenticeship Clauses, members who agree to take sick insurance through the trade union will have 3s. extra for the first week. There are other provisions showing that the society are offering higher benefits to their members. There is a direct incentive to persons who already belong to friendly societies to leave the friendly society. A Committee has been appointed by the Government and is now sitting to inquire whether Labour Exchanges are to go or not. Under the Bill a person is able to obtain his unemployment benefit through a Labour Exchange. If that Committee agree that in the interests of the State Labour Exchanges had better be abolished, and if you also do not allow friendly societies to administer unemployment benefit, then trade unions will be the sole persons to administer unemployment benefit in the country. The whole of the employed population will have to take their unemployment benefit, unless they happen to contract out, through the trade unions, and through the trade unions alone. The argument that friendly societies have not got machinery really cannot hold water. Hon. Members of the Labour party talk as though all the trade unions who are, going to administer unemployment benefit have the machinery, but there are several very large trade unions, who comprise members belonging to all sorts of occupations, and who have not got machinery, while some of them do not give unemployment benefit to-day, and in order to come under this Bill they will have to start unemployment benefit. Surely it is just as difficult for them to start the machinery for unemployment benefit as it is for the friendly societies. You have got the Federation of General Workers, and you have got the Workers' Union, both trade unions with members belonging to all sorts of different industrial classes, and it is just as difficult for that kind of trade union to set up the machinery as it is for the friendly societies.
Then what about the rural districts. Everybody knows that in the rural districts the trade unions have got practically no machinery at all, and that every single hamlet and village in the country has got a friendly society branch or lodge. Hon. Members may say that agriculture is not in this Bill, but under one of its provisions my right hon. Friend by his simple fiat can bring the whole of the agricultural population under the Bill within a few months. In that case I venture to say that the friendly societies have far greater facilities to work the Bill than the trade unions. But the chief argument in favour of what was done upstairs is this, that under the Bill the friendly societies have got to prove that they have got sufficient machinery for the whole purpose, and my right hon. Friend is not going to give any friendly society powers under the Bill unless he is absolutely assured that they have got machinery for the purpose. Therefore, I hope the House will not go back upon what was done upstairs and that they will support the friendly societies in this matter. It would be a very bad return for all the good work they have done in the past to scrap this great friendly society movement.
I have been wondering what is the real object of the desire to bring the friendly societies into this Bill. I remember hearing the hon. Member who has just sat down attempt to make out a good case for industrial insurance societies being allowed to administer the benefits provided by this Bill, and in some of his arguments to-day, notably the one dealing with rural workers, if he had been arguing that because insurance societies had agents in every rural district they were in the best position to administer the benefits I could have understood him, but if rural workers are brought in surely trade unions cover rural districts just in the same way as friendly societies do. I do not know of any rural district in the country that trade unions do not cover, and I do know of rural districts where friendly societies are scarcely known. But I want to argue from a different point of view altogether. The question of importance under this Bill is not whether the provisions of the Bill are going to benefit trade unions or friendly societies, and I am very much afraid that those who are advocating that friendly societies should be brought in are not desirous of administering the benefits merely to present members of friendly societies, but that they are desirous of increasing the membership of friendly societies through the administration of the benefits provided by this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] If that is the motive behind it, I think the advocates might be candid enough to say so.
In administering the benefits of this Bill, this House ought to keep before its mind, not the benefit of the friendly societies or of the trade unions, but of the workers themselves, and I have always heard it argued, and am prepared to argue it myself, that one of the reasons for the alleged failure of the employment exchanges is the lack of co-operation between them and the trade unions representing the great masses of the workers of the country, so that I am very desirous that the State Department which is going to administer this Bill shall be left in a position of being able to co-operate with the organisations of the workpeople themselves, in which direction there is more to be hoped from the trade unions than from any other direction. What we want is efficient administration, and when we are talking about employers notifying societies of vacancies as they occur, I want the employing interests represented in this House to ask themselves the question as to whether it is going to lead to efficient administration if we are going to require an employer to notify a dozen or a score of societies that he has vacancies, or if he has merely to notify the employment exchange and the trade unions who administer the benefits for their own members and who cover the particular trade for which the worker is required. I have some knowledge of the cotton trade. Supposing an employer wanted a weaver or a winder, who is the employer going to notify his vacancy to? Will it be to the friendly societies or to the trade union official who knows the exact type of worker that is wanted? Because there is a great deal of difference in these trades, and a winder will not do for all kinds of winding, nor will a weaver do for all kinds of weaving, and the employer wants the best workman when he has a vacancy. I do not believe that friendly societies can supply the right type of worker when an employer wants one, and, in the interests of the employers themselves, it is very dangerous to allow societies to come in and administer benefits under a Bill which is not going to work in the interests of the employers themselves. I have no fear that if the employers with whom I deal wanted a workman for which my union caters, the employers, knowing their business, would never notify a friendly society if they wanted a workman, but would go to the trade society who knew the right kind of worker they required, because they would expect—and rightly expect—to get the right type of worker for a particular vacancy.
When we are told, as we have been told, that friendly societies only desire to administer the benefits to those workpeople who are not members of a trade union. I think they give their whole case away, because if that is all they desire, I can see a number of situations arising. I am certain that in that case they are only going to cater for that class of workpeople who are less efficient in our industries, and who are least alive to their own interests, so that in that direction I do not think we have a great deal to fear, because I know employers want efficiency, and they will go to the organisations which supply the most efficient work-people. It is not in the interests of the employers, it is not in the interests of the workers, and it is not in the interests of the friendly societies themselves. If friendly societies desire to enter into competition with trade unions, it will not be to the interest of friendly societies if trade unions reverse the position and begin to provide friendly society benefits. When it is said that some trade unions do not now pay unemployment benefits, and that, because they do not, friendly societies can do it as well as the trade unions, I would point out that trade unions now have the machinery for paying benefits to their members. It may not be unemployment benefit, but, even so, the trade unions have the knowledge of what is required in the different industries of the country.
My last word will be in this direction. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide."] As this interruption has driven a thought out of my head, I think that I shall be justified in going on talking until the thought comes back. We who know something about the business know that the greatest benefit which is going to be provided under this Bill is not, after all, the payment of the unemployed benefit. Friendly Societies may be able to provide that particular benefit. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide."] I shall not give over speaking any sooner because of cries of "Divide." Friendly societies, I say, may be able to pay the unemployment benefit, but the greatest benefit under this Bill will be to provide work for the unemployed worker as soon as it is possible, and when a complaint is brought to a trade union, as it will be, that somebody has been thrown out of work, and it is not their turn to pay the trade union officials will be the people they will appeal to, and I have an idea that if the friendly societies are administering the unemployment benefit, the trade union will not be so much concerned about filling the vacancy with a member of a friendly society as they will be to fill the vacancy from the membership of their own particular society, and I do not blame them. So that you will get competition between the two societies, and I do not think it is going to lend itself to the efficient working of this Bill. When it is a question of payment of benefit whilst unemployed, or filling vacancies, then I think all the arguments are on the side of the trade unions, who know something about industry, and who are in a far better position to find the right kind of work. [Interruption.] I am being driven to the conclusion by these interruptions that there is a large section of this House who do not desire to hear anything said in favour of trade unions, and it it is to go to the country that the reason for this Bill is that the members of this House desire to strike a blow at trade unions, we are not going to quarrel with them; but it is because we want to do something of benefit to the workers, and make this Bill so that it will be in the interests of the workers, rather than in the interests of trade unions and friendly societies, that we desire to see this Amendment passed.
I am bound to take the exactly opposite view from that put forward by the last speaker, and I am going to support the proposal that friendly societies should be permitted to administer this Bill in the same way as trade union organisations. I do not approach this question simply because I am a trade unionist or simply because I am a member of a friendly society organisation. The thing that appeals to me is this. We have had a great deal of control. We are clamouring for a great deal of that control to be taken off on the one hand, and, on the other hand, we have hon. Members who are endeavouring to tighten still more restriction and control on the neck of the individual. Really the time has come when we ought to have a large degree of toleration, when we ought to have fewer restrictions, when the individual ought to have full freedom of choice in deciding the organisation from which he shall obtain his benefits. As soon as you bring into operation compulsory organised industry—the moment that comes about—you have organised tyranny. What does the Amendment of my hon. Friend mean? It means that none of the friendly societies can administer this benefit. My own friendly society has paid out unemployed benefit. We have had a system by which, through the local Labour Exchange, we have put our unemployed men into employment as soon as possible. But if you are going to set up the idea that because a man is in a trade union it must of necessity bind him to join the system that it is desired to set up, you are simply robbing the man of his liberty. I will never be a party to that kind of system. It was stated last week by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, in dealing with the Act of 1911, that it seemed common-sense procedure that the friendly societies should pay the health benefit and the trade unions deal with the employment business. My right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Mr. G. Roberts) stated that he recognised there was much to be said for that, but that when the Bill of 1911 was before the House the trade unions forced the issue, and entered a sphere which was the prerogative of the friendly societies. My right hon. Friend the Member for Miles Platting (Mr. Clynes) stated that he would ask the House honestly to face the issue as one of principle. Really, if it is one of principle to-day, was it not one of principle in relation to the Act of 1911? My right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich agreed that the trade union movement to-day was going outside its sphere in demanding and claiming that they should administer the Act of 1911. if it was wrong then, why has it not been suggested that the trade unions should give up what was acknowledged to be wrong in 1911? The principle should be to allow an individual the right to choose. As a trade union official, I would advise the whole of my members to take their benefits through the trade unions. I would advise them so, but I am not going a step further than that. I am not going to say to them, "You must do as I tell you." Having given the advice, I am going to leave it to a man's own judgment, for, surely, we are not to treat men as if they were boys! You put upon a man some responsibility. A man does not want taking about by the hand all the days of his life. Men are surely intelligent and capable of thinking what is best for themselves. If a man decides in his own interests to take his benefits through the trade unions or the friendly societies, what does it matter to anyone else?
The Minister of Labour endeavoured to show that there would be considerable difficulty in filling the position and discharging the duties required under the provisions of this Act. He said the work would be onerous, and extremely complex in its character. It would require men of skill, practical knowledge; and even an apprenticeship to it. If my right hon. Friend will excuse me saying so that argument is very thin indeed. Just imagine! Does it require practical knowledge, skill, and apprenticeship to advise a man where to go if he is out of work and wants work? The same thing applies to the trade union movement. You do not bring in these men simply because of their practical knowledge of one industry. Take the trade union of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Miles Platting. In that organisation there is involved over 100 different trades. Do hon. Members mean to say that you are to have a man for every industry in his capacity as official for the union? If you are going to lay that down, that each official has to fit his particular job exactly, it follows that you must have 100 men especially in the machinery of the organisation. The expense of that I leave hon. Members to judge. Therefore, I hope in the interests of freedom of the individual, that this House will not look at this matter from the trade-union point of view or from the selfish point of view, but from that of giving freedom and liberty to the individual, so that he can determine for himself whether he will obtain the benefits from the trade unions or through the friendly societies.
I desire—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide."]—I am rather surprised that the House should be in such a hurry to come to a Division on this important matter, because you could not have a more important matter to discuss than that contained in the proposals now before the House. I am one of those who agree with the last speaker that we should not look at this question as much from the point of view of the trade union or the friendly societies as from the point of view of efficiency, and the point of view of the interests of the industries of our country. Some hon. Members when they rise to address this House give as a reason for their intervention in the discussion that they do not desire to give a silent vote. It is not that reason that makes me rise to-day. It is because I wish to say publicly what I have been saying in regard to a very large number of letters which I have received from friendly societies, not only in my own constituency but throughout the country. My reply to these communications has been that I could not support the inclusion of friendly societies in an Act for the purpose of administering unemployment benefit, because it is not in the interests of the unemployed man himself. In saying so I do not impugn in any way the excellent work that has been done by the friendly societies in days gone by. I myself am a member of a friendly society, and have been so for thirty years. Many of the Members who sit on these benches are members of friendly societies. [An HON. MEMBER: "All."] They are particularly anxious, I assume, not only to safeguard the interests of these organisations to which they belong, but to do the best for their respective members in both organisations. But we cannot look at this proposal to-day without in some way casting our minds back to the introduction of the Act of 1911.
That Act was discussed in friendly societies and trade unions, and I expressed my views in the Amalgamated Society of Engineers' Journal in relation to the matter. I argued in those days that it would be a good thing if we could confine the unemployment benefit to the trade unions, and let the friendly societies deal with the health section alone. I did so because I believed that the trade unions' main function is industrial, and its main object is not so much to pay friendly society benefits as to secure satisfactory economic conditions for its members. Therefore, for that reason I hope the day will come when trade unions will not pay out sick benefit or unemployment benefit or superannuation benefit, because it ought to be the duty of the State to see that legitimate sickness is provided for, unemployment paid for, and old age safeguarded. If it was the intention of the 1911 Act when it was introduced to confine the payment of sickness benefit to friendly societies and confine trade unions to the unemployment benefit, there are obvious reasons why such a thing could not operate at the time.
The hon. Member for Edmonton (Sir A. Warren) said that at that time the great friendly societies of the country claimed that this was also part of their job, and that if the argument was good in 1911 it is equally good to-day in regard to unemployment insurance benefit. But is it? What was the position of trade unions in 1911? They were not merely trade unions, but also friendly societies. Friendly societies in 1911 paid sick benefit, and they had a large experience of that; in fact, the majority of the trade unions, if not a majority of trade unionists, were receiving sick benefit from their respective trade unions. Therefore, in the 1911 Act there was no difficulty in making arrangements for trade unions to administer the health side, but it is not so with unemployment. That is undoubtedly the special work of trade unions. It is concerned with it from day to day and week to week. That is not the special work of friendly societies, and it never was. Trade unions paid unemployment benefit because it enabled them to accomplish the main object of their being and enabled them to keep their members together when out of employment for the main purpose of securing the organisation for economic purposes. They had all the machinery to work the Unemployment Act. At the time the friendly societies had no machinery for the work and the State availed itself of the machinery of the trade unions.
The State said: "Here is machinery to our hand; the unemployment benefit must be paid, and we must utilise whatever machinery is possible." The only machinery that was possible was that which was worked by the trade unions. The object of a trade union is not merely to pay out unemployment benefit. Surely unemployment insurance is not merely a paying out of unemployment benefit. Trade unions were in the position to provide work for their members and to expedite the securing of employment for, those who are unfortunately unemployed. The employers used them for getting the men they required. Employers, through their managers or foremen, usually apply to the trade unionists inside the workshop through the secretary in order to get the kind of men they required, and if they could not get them in that way they would apply to the district secretary to find them the particular kind of men they required to fill their vacancies.
The State wisely took advantage of the machinery, but one difficulty presented itself which made labour exchanges absolutely necessary. It was that the trade unions, in contradiction of the statement which an hon. Member has made, did not desire to secure a monopoly of distributing unemployment benefit. They said, "We will use our machinery for our members to make our financial position better, but we will not use our machinery for the purpose of paying unemployment benefit to non-union members." The result was that the labour exchanges were absolutely necessary to look after the portion of the industrial worker who up to the time were not inside a trade union. If hon. Members below the Gangway are anxious to do away with labour exchanges they will probably find the best means of doing it is to introduce Australian legislation which would make every man who is a worker indentify himself with some organisation connected with his industry. Friendly societies have no such machinery. The multiplication of unemployment agencies under different authorities must be expensive, and not only that, it would be confusing to employers and employed. I am astonished to hear, especially from these eloquent Members of the Coalition Party who are continually calling upon the Government to abolish Government departments, that they desire to create a new agency to deal with such an important matter as unemployment. The real thing to do is to co-ordinate and to consolidate so as to make it easy for unemployed men speedily to find employment. We are creating an agency which will seek to secure employment and to pay Unemployment Benefit to trade unionists through their Trade Unions. By introducing the Friendly Societies you will set up an agency for paying Unemployment Benefit to non-trade unionists and friendly society members, but they will fail to find them employment. Thirdly, you have the employment exchanges who will cater for men who are neither trade unionists nor friendly society members. You will have confusion and dissipation of energy at a time when it is absolutely necessary that any vacancy should be filled by the right man.
The Friendly Societies are asking for a share in the real work of the Employment Exchanges, but they have no machinery for the purpose, and, if they set it up, it will not be effective. All kinds of trades are represented in each branch of a Friendly Society. It is otherwise to a large extent with the Trade Unions. Many of them are specialised craft societies. In the new form of trade unionism, the organisation is still confined to an industry, and it is only in the unions of the unskilled that, as a rule, you find a mixture of men working at different occupations. In every branch of a Friendly Society you have skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled men belonging to various industries. There is and there can be no specialisation whatever. Therefore, the work of the Employment Exchanges will not be in the least lessened by their administration of the Unemployment Benefit. It will only add to the expense of administering the benefit. The original intention of confining the payment of Unemployment Benefit to Trade Unions was undoubtedly best in the interests of the unemployed, the State, and the employer. The main function of insurance is not the paying out of benefits, but the securing of work for the unemployed. We insure ourselves against fire, but we make sure that there are agencies to prevent fire. We insure ourselves against burglary, but we expect the policeman to see that no burglary takes place. The Trade Unions provide the most effective machinery to get men into employment.
I have another reason to urge. Industrial disturbance may arise, and we have to safeguard ourselves against it. What will a Friendly Society know about industrial disputes when they take place? How will they be informed when an industrial dispute does take place and where it takes place? What will their secretaries know about trade conditions, district rates of wages, and things of that kind, a knowledge of which is absolutely necessary to fill up vacancies? What information will they be able to give their members in relation to stoppages? How will they prevent their members going to a certain place and getting employment and thus upsetting the whole industry by a breach of the Act. I can see appeals to the Referee or Umpire, but, bad as all that may be, a dead-lock between employers and employed would be a much more serious thing. The employers in the main will ignore the organisation which cannot provide them with suitable men. It has been pointed out that by extending this opportunity to Friendly Societies you will create new Trade Unions. You must of necessity do so. They cannot use their funds on the health side for unemployment purposes, and they will have to create an unemployment fund. They will have to give increased benefits to
operate the Act, and, as a result, new Trade Unions will be created and will come into competition with the present Trade Unions, thus creating disturbance and ill-feeling. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] I do not intend to sit down under these conditions. I do not rise very often, but I intend to express my opinion on this matter. There was an attempt to silence the previous speaker on this side, but when a speaker on the other side rose, he received infinite courtesy both from hon. Members and from these benches. Now that we express the opinions which we hold as the result of years and years of experience in our trade unions, hon. Members say "Divide," and call upon us to sit down. I am not going to sit down until I have finished my remarks, unless, Sir, you order me to do so. I shall not take my orders from anybody else. I want to say a word in relation to the speech made by my hon. Friend below the Gangway (Sir Fortescue Flannery). No one appreciates more than I do the excellent service that in days gone by he rendered to the trade union to which he and I belonged. I would not decry or in the least belittle what he has done. He drew our attention to a letter which has been issued by a trade union secretary. I want also to refer to that letter. It says:
Dear Sir and Brother,—I find upon going through our books that you are not a member of our approved society, and, as we are desirous that all members of the trade union should be insured through us, I am sending you the necessary forms of application for transfer, which I hope you will fill up and return to me.
His own comment on that was:
That is to say, will you come out of the friendly society? Will you join the Amalgamated Society of Watermen and Lighter-men, because they believe that they and they alone should have the right of administering this benefit under the new Unemployment Insurance Act.
What is wrong with that letter? He says he believes in competition. This trade union is pointing out to its member that he can have these benefits under trade union supervision. This has nothing whatever to do with the Bill before the House. It deals with machinery already in operation. It is a request that instead of having two sick visitors, visiting a man each week, one sick visitor dealing with health matters is sufficient to pay out the
benefits and safeguard the interests of the man. It has no reference to unemployment. It only has reference to sick benefit. It has been said that the real question here is, are the friendly societies to have a share in the administration of these Acts and are they to continue to exist. There are many excellent institutions which ultimately become moribund. As one who believes that this work can be done by two organisations better than by three, I would gladly as a member of a friendly society allow an institution which I thought was played out come to an end. Nobody has stated the real facts which underlie that question. The Government, rightly or wrongly, in 1911, insured young persons at 16 years of age and when they joined their trade unions they naturally joined them also for unemployment and sick benefit. As a result of that young life is not going into the friendly societies as it did before that time. Surely that is no reason for introducing inefficient methods into the machinery regulating the employment of men. I am one of those who do not desire to enter into any heated discussion either here or anywhere else, with members of friendly societies on this matter. I believe it is in the interests of the unemployed man himself, and in the interests of the State as a whole, as well as in the interests of industrial peace that there should be machinery whereby one can go direct to the organisation that can supply at the earliest possible moment the man capable to do the work that is needed to be done. That is not the case with friendly societies. They will have to build up new machinery, they will have to create new or separate trade unions, and as a result there will be friction between men in the industry and greater friction and greater trouble between organised labour on the one hand and organised employers on the other. Therefore I submit that the Amendment moved by my right hon. friend below me is one that should be carried in the interests of industrial peace.
|Division No. 197.]||AYES.||[1.40 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Galbraith, Samuel||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Camb'dge)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Atkey, A. R.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Pearce, Sir William|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Gilbert, James Daniel||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Glyn, Major Ralph||Perring, William George|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Barrand, A. R.||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Lon'derry, N.)||Greig, Colonel James William||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Gretton, Colonel John||Purchase, H. G.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. Gr'nw'h)||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor-(Barnstaple)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Remnant, Sir James|
|Billing, Noel Pemberton-||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Royden, Sir Thomas|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Blair, Reginald||Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.||Hinds, John||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Sanders, Colonel Sir H. Robert A.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hood, Joseph||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Briant, Frank||Howard, Major S. G.||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hunter-Weston, Lieut-Gen. Sir A. G.||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Hurd, Percy A.||Stanley, Major H. G. (Preston)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Stevens, Marshall|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Johnstone, Joseph||Stewart, Gershom|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydv11)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Casey, T. W.||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord E. (Chich'st'r)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Kiley, James D.||Taylor, J.|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Vickers, Douglas|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Wallace, J.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Lorden, John William||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Lort-Williams, J.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Mallalieu, F. W.||Wigan, Brig.-General John Tyson|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Manville, Edward||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Matthews, David||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Mitchell, William Lane||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Edwards, John H. (Glam., Neath)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Morrison, Hugh||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Mosley Oswald||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Mount, William Arthur||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Murchison, C. K.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Fildes, Henry||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Neal, Arthur||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Foreman, Henry||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Forrest, Walter||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Sir A. Warren and Sir J. Fortescue Flannery.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W||Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Bromfield, William||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)|
|Donald, Thompson||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Simm, M. T.|
|Edge, Captain William||M'Guffin, Samuel||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Mills, John Edmund||Spoor, B. G.|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Swan, J. E.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Myers, Thomas||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Hayday, Arthur||O'Grady, Captain James||Wedgwood, Colonel J. C.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Parker, James||Wignall, James|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Irving, Dan||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Jesson, C.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Seddon, J. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Sexton, James||Mr. Tyson Wilson and Mr. T. Griffiths.|
|Lawson, John J.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after "1911" ["approved under the National Insurance Act, 1911"], to insert the words "or bodies ancillary thereto."
The object of this Amendment is merely to meet a technical difficulty. It is purely supplementary to the decision to which the House has just come, and I rather think the Government will accept it.
I certainly cannot accept the interpretation which the hon. Member has given of the effect of these words if they were included in this Clause. I regard them as extremely dangerous. The House had before it a definite matter for decision, and has decided it in a definite manner, and I do not think that either of the organisations, that is to say, either the friendly societies or the trade unions or the State, should be exposed to the difficulties which would be created by the addition to the Clause of such words as these. How do we know that what are called the great collecting societies would not claim that they come within these words? Surely, the House and the Government ought to content themselves with the definite decision which has been reached, without exposing the whole set of organisations to the dangers that lie behind these words.
I think my right hon. Friend is over-estimating the importance of the words. As regards the industrial insurance companies, they are specifically out, and I think my right hon. Friend will see that these words cannot bring
them in. There is very little more in them than the making perfectly clear, now that the main position has been admitted by the House, of a point which was a little obscure. There are at the present time three classes of approved societies. Under the Insurance Act of 1911 there are the societies and other bodies which were established before the Act came into operation, and which were approved at that time, whether they were trade unions or friendly societies; and there is the friendly society which, while not approved as a whole, has a separate section approved for the purpose of dealing specially with insurance. Then there is the entirely new class of society set up by the Health Insurance Act. There is certainly no doubt with regard to the first two, and I think that, as regards the third, namely, the class set up under the Health Insurance Act, there would not be much difficulty about them, provided that they satisfy the conditions of the Clause—this is very important, and I hope my hon. Friend has not overlooked it—in regard to their qualifications for the exercise of the powers which the House has now decided to give them. These words are really not dangerous. My right hon. Friend knows, of course, that these societies have to pay unemployed benefit out of their own funds, to the extent of one-third of the State benefit, and they have to be societies of employed persons. They must satisfy all the conditions precedent which the approved society has to satisfy. I confess I do not see why, the main position having been admitted by the House, these words should not be added.
|Division No. 198.]||AYES.||[1.55 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.|
|Amery, Lieut.-Cel. Leopold C. M. S.||Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Barnston, Major Harry|
|Atkey, A. R.||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Beckett, Hon. Gervase|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart.(Gr'nw'h)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Perring, William George|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Hinds, John||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Hood, Joseph||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hopkins, John W. W.||Royden, Sir Thomas|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Howard, Major S. G.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hunter-Weston, Lieut-Gen. Sir A. G.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Hurd, Percy A.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Campbell, J. D. C.||Johnstone, Joseph||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Casey, T. W.||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Stanley, Major H. G. (Preston)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Stevens, Marshall|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Sugden, W. H.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Lorden, John William||Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord E. (Chich'st'r)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lort-Williams, J.||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Taylor, J.|
|Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Edwards, John H. (Glam., Neath)||Mallalieu, F. W.||Vickers, Douglas|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Manville, Edward||Wallace, J.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Matthews, David||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Fildes, Henry||Mitchell, William Lane||Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Molson, Major John Elsdale||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Foreman, Henry||Murchison, C. K.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Forrest, Walter||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Neal, Arthur||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Camb'dge)||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Pearce, Sir William||Mr. G. Locker-Lampson and Sir A. Warren.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Simm, M. T.|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Kenyon, Barnet||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bromfield, William||Lawson, John J.||Spoor, B. G.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Swan, J. E.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Mills, John Edmund||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Dawes, Commander||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wedgwood, Colonel J. C.|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Myers, Thomas||Wignall, James|
|Grundy, T. W.||O'Grady, Captain James||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Parker, James||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Royce, William Stapleton||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Seddon, J. A.|
|Irving, Dan||Sexton, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Jesson, C.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Mr. Tyson Wilson and Mr. T. Griffiths.|
I beg to move, in Subsection (1, b) after the word "of" ["has such a system of"], to insert the words "ascertaining the wages and conditions prevailing in every employment within the meaning of this Act in which its members are engaged and of."
This will have the effect of requiring the friendly societies, in order to carry out the purpose they have in view in administering the Act, to provide what might be termed machinery to ascertain the wages and conditions prevailing in different em- ployments throughout the country. This would apply not merely to friendly societies but to all the organisations wishful to administer the provisions of the Act. I doubt whether any serious opposition can be offered to the Amendment by all those who have claimed so strongly the right of the friendly societies to undertake these new and I think very serious duties. The decision we have just reached has definitely turned the friendly societies of the country into organisations which must now undertake new and definitely industrial duties. The friendly societies were never created for that purpose. The trade unions existed definitely for that purpose. They undertook as trade unions to pay benefits not because they wished to but because until quite recent years the State showed no inclination to undertake that duty. We do not want a monopoly in respect of this work of administration. We would prefer as trade unions to have nothing whatever to do with the payment of unemployment benefit. We want to throw upon the State and upon industry and, therefore, in no sense to maintain a monopoly of this great task of administering unemployment benefit. It has been alleged against us that we want a monopoly. The purpose of this Amendment is not to get for the trade unions any monopoly but to establish a state of equality as between the friendly societies and the trade unions in respect of the necessary apparatus and provision for administering unemployment benefit.
We do not fear the competition of any other organisation so long as the associations or organisations have to admin-such a benefit and discharge such duties. Indeed it is certain that a great disservice has been done to the friendly societies. It is certain that in a year or two in the opportunities of conflict that will be set up between the friendly societies and the trade unions, the trade unions will numerically benefit very largely. What will happen in the wrokshops and in the meeting rooms of these associations will be that the very process of industrial conflict will drive into the trade union organisations persons who might otherwise remain outside. Whatever views we may entertain on these aspects of the question, I hope the House now that they have given the right to undertake these duties to certain organisations will also require those organisations to provide themselves with the necessary means fos ascertaining conditions as to rates of wages and matters generally covering the question of employment, which interest and concern a workman whenever he has been asked to undertake a particular job. The friendly societies declare that they can take steps to find work for a man. In view of the trouble which so often arises on questions of wages and conditions of employment it is essential in order to avoid conflict that the workman should have some knowledge of the kind of job and the conditions of service and the rates of pay before he approaches any employer in order to enter into an arrangement with him. Accordingly, I move this Amendment to bring about the necessary conditions.
The object as far as friendly societies are concerned, is that they should be made effective for the purpose of distributing unemployment benefit to their members. Therefore, to anyone who supports the friendly societies, the wording of this Amendment appears to go far beyond the necessities of the case. It says, in substance, that a friendly society before they can be approved by the Minister for the administration of this part of the Act should have the means of ascertaining the wages and conditions of labour prevailing in every employment within the meaning of the Act in which their members are engaged. Does the right hon. Gentleman really mean that a friendly society in the South of England for the purpose of administering benefit there must know the conditions of employment on the Clyde or throughout Scotland, or that they should know the conditions of employment in Belfast or Cork, or in other places to which their members never go or never want to go? The House has carried by an immense majority this provision for enabling friendly societies to administer unemployment benefits to their members. I am sure there is no desire, at any rate I hope not, on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to nullify the decision of the House and make it impossible for the friendly societies to carry out the duty which the House has just thrown upon them. I am sure the Minister of Labour has no such intention. What he wants is to make the friendly societies reasonably effective for carrying out the duties which they have undertaken. If these words in their present width and vagueness are put in, you would throw upon friendly societies duties which even the trade unions themselves could not carry out, and which it would be perfectly unreasonable to expect them to perform. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that it would be necessary for a friendly society operating in a rural district in southern England with members in the area looking for employment suitable to that in which they have been engaged, to know all the conditions of employment and wages on the Clyde and in Ireland? It is not necessary or reasonable. No doubt some members of the large friendly societies such as the Manchester Unity might be engaged on the Clyde, but in order to obtain employment for rural members in the South of England it seems to me absurd that the society should have full knowledge of conditions and wages in Cork, or on the Clyde. I take it that the Minister in the interests of carrying out the duties which the House of Commons by this enormous majority has decided to put upon friendly societies will, if he does insert words, introduce them to such a reasonable extent that they can be carried out.
Does the hon. and learned Member (Sir J. Butcher) seriously suggest that the right hon. Gentleman wishes to impose an obligation upon friendly societies which you could not impose upon trade unions? The obligation here is common to anybody who becomes our agent under this Act. It does not matter to me, now that the House has taken its decision, whether a trade union or a friendly society or bodies ancillary thereto are concerned. If they are to be effective instruments they must be able to get the man in want of a job into touch with the job for which he is wanted. This provision is not directed against friendly societies. It is made in the hope that we shall not start with a defective Act and five or ten years hence find that the whole structure has to be revised. The first object of the Bill is not the paying of unemployment benefit, but to see that there is effective touch between the agency and the man in want of a job. The right hon. Gentleman in this Amendment makes it a condition precedent to becoming our agent under Clause 17, that the society or organisation must be in a position to ascertain the wages and conditions prevailing in every employment in which its members are engaged. That means that they must not only be an instrument for paying benefit, which is, after all, a simple thing, but they must be in a position to find employment. I propose to accept this Amendment. I propose to strengthen it later on by additions of my own at the end of this Subsection. If we are going to get this to work properly, is it unreasonable to say that they must have from the employer the sort of thing that you have in the Fair Wages Resolution? Otherwise they do not know whether they are sending a man to a post for which he is qualified or to a post in which there will be proper conditions. I admit that it is not easy for them, but it is equally difficult for any other organisation.
I do not think that it is unreasonable, and, at any rate, it is imposed on both. If we are going to make this an effective instrument we must make it efficient for finding a job for the man out of work, and this is one of the things that are required.
From what has been said my hon. and learned Friend (Sir J. Butcher) will get an idea of the difficulties which will confront friendly societies. This imposes no more liability in principle on friendly societies than on trade unions, but there is this distinction. A trade union deals mainly with one class of labour. A friendly society will have to deal with every class of labour in the community. This means that a trade union will require simply to have the information respecting one trade in all parts of the country. A printer in the south of England will require to know whether there is a vacancy in Belfast or anywhere else, because it is not our purpose to pay society benefit, but to find work for a man who is out of work, and we claim the right to remove him to any part of the country where work will be found. A friendly society has got to deal with every class of labour, and this means that the Ancient Order of Foresters and the Manchester Unity will have to, set up machinery com- parable to that now possessed by the Ministry of Labour. It means duplication throughout the whole of the country. Sometimes complaint is made against the Ministry of Labour that the Labour Exchange system has become swollen and extravagant. I am afraid that hon. Members have not yet realised the enormous extravagance involved in the determination which has just been taken. We have got to keep in mind that this is not merely a question of dispersing benefit, but a question of taking part in the national organisation of trade, to be able to increase the fluidity of labour, and to move men from districts where there is no employment to districts where work is provided. We have got to have regard not merely to friendly societies or trade unions, but to the efficient administration of out-of-work benefit, and, while it is not competent for me to discuss a decision which has just been reached, I am sure that my friends of the friendly societies will find that the attitude which I took last week was the correct one, because this involves them in such detailed and complex administration that they will find themselves incapable of carrying it out.
Mr. J. W. WILSON:
While agreeing with a great deal of what my right hoe. Friend has said, I would point out that we are not putting any burden on friendly societies, as they are not obliged to undertake this work. We are concerned simply with preventing an absolute monopoly in the disposal of Government grants. At any rate, we were faced with the desire expressed by a large body of people who felt that they were being shut out of advantages which they considered that they ought to have under this Act. I am not here to say whether it is an advantage or not to take it up, but I am quite sure that in that case we will save the risk of injustice to them. But now we have got to avoid the risk of injustice to the worker. I heartily support my right hon. Friend in this Amendment and in the one that follows. He makes it as sure as legislation possibly can that only those qualified to administer grants shall be employed as agents to do so. That is the same policy as was followed in the National Health Insurance Act, and it is the right policy in this case. If the friendly societies feel this a burden I hope that they will not undertake it. Those who are able to undertake it for the benefit of the worker ought to be protected against others who would do it in an imperfect way which brings not only distress and trouble to those concerned but brings discredit on legislation which only too often happens in these pioneer Acts and which we must try to avoid as far as we possibly can.
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1, b), to leave out the words "that purpose" and to insert instead thereof the words
securing that unemployed persons competent to undertake the particular class of work required shall with all practicable speed be brought into communication with employers having vacancies to fill.
This makes as sure as we can that those who propose to be our agents shall do this side of the work effectively.