Orders of the Day — Unemployment Insurance Bill. – in the House of Commons on 9th July 1920.
(1) This Act shall apply to persons employed by or under the Crown to whom this Act would apply if the employer were a private person, except to such of those persons as are serving in an established capacity in the permanent service of the Crown, subject, however, to such modifications as may be made therein by Order in Council for the purpose of adapting the provisions of this Act to the case of such persons.
(2) Where a man of the naval reserves, the army reserve, the air force reserve, or the territorial force, is being trained and is in receipt of pay out of the moneys provided by Parliament for the navy, army, or air force services, and immediately before his training was an employed person within the meaning of this Act, he shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed while so training to be an employed person in the service of the Crown.
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "Crown" ["in the permanent service of the Crown"], to insert the words "or having been granted certificates by the Civil Service Commissioners are serving a probationary period preliminary to establishment."
This Amendment, in which my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) takes an interest, as I gather from an Amendment in his name on the Paper, is an Amendment approved by the Treasury, the Post Office and other Government Departments to cover certain classes of civil servants, who, though not technically established, are to be treated as substantially in that position for the purposes of this Bill, on the ground that they have a definite prospect of becoming established after serving a probationary period.
As my right hon. Friend indicated, this raises the question which is contained in the subsequent Amendment on the Paper, and I think we on this side are quite content to have the matter cleared up on the Amendment now before the House. I am afraid that the explanation which has been given by the right hon. Gentleman is not in the circumstances adequate, because this Clause excepts people who are in the established service of the Crown, and the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment is to extend that to people who are serving a probationary period with a view to establishment. I gather also from my right hon. Friend that the class which Treasury and Civil Service Commissioners and others had particularly in view is the class which at some time or other would be eligible for establishment. It is on that point that I wish to have an explanation of what is a very important matter affecting thousands in the Civil Service. I am not prepared at the moment to press any argument with reference to the people serving a probationary period, beyond pointing out that the certificate is usually only granted at the end of the five years' period.
I take it that this reference is to some preliminary certificate which will be issued for the purposes of this Act at the commencement of that period, as, of course, it must be issued at the commencement if it is to be worth anything at all. I am concerned more, in some respects, with a class which is in a peculiar position. The men in the second class have been medically rejected according to the ordinary standards or tests of the Civil Service. There are very large numbers, in fact, in that position in the employment of the Post Office. These men have not satisfied what I may describe for the moment as the extreme test of medical fitness, but they are retained in the Post Office service and regarded as being in every way capable of performing Post Office duties. They are, as a rule, retained in service until sixty years of age, and enjoy, under Post Office regulations, the rights of promotion, certain rights of seniority, and so on, which apply to every man on the established list. As the matter stands, and taking the explanation of my right hon. Friend into account, I confess I have some doubt as to whether a class in that position would be excepted for the purposes of the Bill that we are now discussing.
There is a third class which is also important. It is a class which, for all practical purposes, is established, but is not in the strict technical sense an established class of Civil servants. I refer to a comparatively large number of men who are engaged in the factories and workshops of the telegraph and telephone repairing departments of the Post Office who are retained there under permanent conditions for all practical purposes, and never lose their employment, who have rights of sickness allowance and all the rest of it, but are not strictly and technically an established class.
They are hired men, but permanently employed, and have all the rights that I have just described. These are the three classes. There is first the class serving a probationary period with a certificate at the end of the period. Secondly, there is the class of medical rejects, a term I do not employ in a strict sense because they are not really medically rejected, but retained in the permanent service, though not admitted to the highest tests or highest standards of medical fitness for civil service purposes. There is, thirdly, the class of post office servants who are never unemployed, who have permanent situations, but who do not strictly belong to the technically established class of civil servants. It may be argued by the right hon. Gentleman in reply that these classes in whole or in part are covered. I do not take that view, and that view is not taken by their responsible officials. He may also suggest in reply that he cannot extend his concession to men in that position. But I would direct his attention to the Clause in the Schedule which specifically excepts the employés of local authorities, and bodies of a similar kind. The main contention behind this Amendment is this: It is perfectly plain to hon. Members that these men cannot be unemployed; as a matter of fact they can only lose their employment by misconduct, or neglect, or by circumstances which for all practical purposes would rule them out of any consideration of any kind. I suggest that this being so, they are substantially in a position of men employed by the local authorities who are not dismissible except under the conditions I have specified, and, therefore, fully entitled to be excepted for the purposes of this Bill.
I would simply say that I have explained, I think, sufficiently, how far I am prepared to go. My hon. Friend has put his case with much courtesy, but I think he will recognise that I cannot go beyond the Amendment which I have moved.
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "Order in Council", and to insert instead thereof the word "Regulations".
This is an Amendment which seeks to retain the right of the House to review any change made with regard to the administration of the Act. We feel it is very desirable that any change made in the Regulations should be made in such a way that we have in this House the right to review it and to express our opinion upon it. I do not think this is a very objectionable Amendment from the view of the Government, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to accept it.
My hon. Friend says that we have complete control over Regulations. I am very interested to hear that. I think when he has been in this House longer, he will somewhat modify that opinion as to our control over Regulations as against an Order-in-Council. But that by the way. The essential part here is that we are proceeding along the lines of the Unemploy-
ment Insurance Act, 1911, Section 107 (3), from which this Clause 39 (1) is copied. It provides that the adaptations in this Clause are made by Order-in-Council. That is the proper and constitutional course to pursue. These people are not officials under my authority as Minister of Labour. If they were I could make Regulations. We are not adopting any revolutionary plan, because this is a matter which comes more directly under the Treasury. Hence our procedure, a procedure which has been uniformly followed in the past.
I think the matter has been quite inadequately answered. The Minister has tried to make out that there is really little difference as between Regulations and an Order-in-Council. Why therefore not insert "Regulations" as proposed in this Amendment? As between the two, experience shows that it is more within the competence of this House to discuss Regulations than an Order-in-Council. The substantial reason for accepting the Amendment was given in the closing words that escaped the right hon. Gentleman, that is to say, if we retain in this Clause Order-in-Council the matter would be determined by the Treasury. Well, now, the general administration of this Act should be brought more and more within the region of this House, and within the general circle of the activities of the Minister of Labour. The Treasury have definite sums of money to find according to the provisions of the Bill. Beyond that I do not think the Treasury should be permitted to interfere seriously with matters of administration. As the right hon. Gentleman has put forward no strong reasons for retaining the words "Order in Council" I think he should consider the point and insert the word "regulations."
|Division No. 199.]||AYES.||[3.14 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Brown, Captain D. C.||Curzon, Commander Viscount|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Bruton, Sir James||Dawes, Commander|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Butcher, Sir John George||Cockrell, Sir Maurice|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Campbell, J. D. G.||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Carr, W. Theodore||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Casey, T. W.||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Coats, Sir Stuart||Farquharson, Major A. C.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Fildes, Henry|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Stanley, Major H. G. (Preston)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Stevens, Marshall|
|Forrest, Walter||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Manville, Edward||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Mitchell, William Lane||Taylor, J.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F (Dulwich)||Murray, Lieut.-Colonel A. (Aberdeen)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Vickers, Douglas|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Wallace, J.|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Hinds, John||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Wason, John Cathcart|
|Hudson, R. M.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Whitla, Sir William|
|Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Perring, William George||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Royden, Sir Thomas||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Lister, Sir J. Ashton||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.||Younger, Sir George|
|Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (Newcastle-on-Tyne, W.)|
|Lorden, John William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lort-Williams, J.||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Parker.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Kenyon, Barnet||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Lawson, John J.||Swan, J. E.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Bromfield, William||Mallalieu, F. W.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Mills, John Edmund||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wedgwood, Colonel J. C|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Myers, Thomas||Wignall, James|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||O'Grady, Captain James||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Guest, J (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Hogge, James Myles||Sexton, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Simm, M. T.||Mr. Tyson Wilson and Mr. T. Griffiths.|