Old Age Pensions.

– in the House of Commons on 4th April 1922.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Thomas Myers Mr Thomas Myers , Spen Valley

I beg to move That, in the opinion of this House, the recommendation of the departmental committee on old age pensions in favour of the repeal of the provisions in the Old Age Pensions Acts as to calculation of means should be adopted and the Old Age Pensions Acts amended accordingly, thereby enabling applicants for and recipients of the old age pension to derive the full benefit of their thrift and personal provision for old age, and to receive assistance from friends, employers, and organisations, without reduction of or disqualification for the full pension. In submitting to the House this Motion on behalf of the party with whom I am associated in this House, I would ask permission to make one personal reference, and one only. From the date of the inception of the Old Age Pensions Act to becoming a Member of this House, I served continuously as a member of an old age pensions committee. Perhaps what is more to the point, I was a member of a small sub-committee which was entrusted with the responsibility of adjudicating upon the appeals that were made by old age pensioners against the decision of the Committee. From that experience one could justify every syllable of the proposal before us. Fortunately we are strengthened in our attitude by the Report of the Departmental Committee, which has gone into the whole question of old age pensions. We upon this side of the House, and particularly the party with whom I am associated, have long held the view that an advance in the amount given for old age pensions, and a reduction in the age at which these pensions are made available, could both be justified having regard to existing circumstances.

The proposal, however, which we make on this occasion does not make any suggestion in the direction either of reducing the age or increasing the amount. What we do most emphatically say is that the method of administration of the present Act of Parliament and the hardship it imposes upon many a recipient of the old age pension is of such a nature that some very drastic alteration is essential. In a word, we would make the birth certificate of the applicant for an old age pension the sole test upon which the decision is made. Anyone who comes and presents evidence of the fact that he is of the stipulated age to receive an old age pension, that, I say, should be and could be, the sole test imposed. The evils of the existing system are legion. The first one is the irritation which is caused to a large number of old age pensioners. Most old people look forward for a considerable period to the time when they will be entitled to their pension, which will go to relieve their family, frequently, from a responsibility which they have voluntarily undertaken. No sooner is their application presented, and they are looking forward to its being honoured, than they have a visit from a strange individual. This individual enters the household of these old people—I believe he looks upon this duty as a very unpleasant one, but he has to carry out the law—with a view of ascertaining what are the means of income of these would-be pensioners. But the annoyance and irritation, and even worse, that is caused to many of these old people is well known to those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of administering the Act.

Questions are directed to these old people to ascertain their income and they cover a wide field. I could give instances where the old people have been primed before the visit of the official so that they may prevent disclosures being made as to their income. Any system or any method which drives old people to that expedient in order to protect their livelihood stands condemned from that point of view alone. Questions are asked about any extra meal they may be given by some friend. I have also heard of instances where inquiries have been made from the old people as to how many fowls they had, what their upkeep cost, and what was the egg-producing capacity per week, and then an average was struck between the cost of the upkeep and the market value of the produce, the amount being put down as part of the income of the old people. Then inquiries are made as to what they made out of their allotments, what they are receiving from friends, what voluntary assistance they get from relatives—these and similar inquiries are made by officials who have the backing of the law. Here and there are people who have at least some small accumulation. Even then the thing is inequitable, for it is very difficult to defend a system which permits cases like this. One person, say, has £400 in the bank, and there is 5 per cent interest calculated, or £20 per year, to be included in the income. Another person has £100, the interest on which is £5, but in this case he draws upon his little capital to augment the £5, so as to keep body and soul together. Every penny of that which is taken from the capital is included as income against that person. This is not so in the other case. This is one of the factors in the interpretation of the Act which cannot be justified.

But the principal objection to the administration of this Act is the penalty which it imposes upon thrift. We have had during this past fortnight voluminous correspondence and communications from all sorts of voluntary organisations in the country—those organisations that we have been taught in days gone by to support and to be associated with—trade unions, friendly societies, and the like, where life-long contributions have been made by men and women in the hope and belief that at the back-end of their days they would reap the advantage of those contributions of a lifetime. But when the old age pensioner goes round he is informed that if he has a few shillings per week superannuation allowance from a trade union, or a few shillings a week from a friendly society, or some allowance from a benevolent employer after long service at a factory or from a colliery company—if such a person happens to have free coal allocated after a long life at the colliery, or a free house—all those considerations are at once seized upon by the Pensions Department and a penalty is imposed upon the Old Age Pension arising therefrom. These are factors which are objectionable to all self-respecting people, and they are having the effect of stopping those avenues of generosity which in the past have been so much in evidence.

There is another point. Is an old age pension a test of poverty, or is it a reward for service? Do we grant it because people at the age of 70 are poor, or because they have rendered service to the community? The present administration of the law makes an old age pension a poverty test. The Report of the Departmental Committee is very definite upon this point. It says: The existence of the means limit really introduces the old pauper taint and brands the Old Age Pension as a compassionate grant. That ought not to be so, and we say very emphatically that if the birth certificate was made the claim for an old age pension being granted, great economies would be effected. If the birth certificate were made the test we could dispense with the Old Age Pension Committee, and all that would be necessary would be merely to check the age of the applicant, and we could effect all those economies which now involve so much expense by the employment of an army of officials, who at present do little more than impose a sort of inquisition upon these poor old people.

With regard to our Motion, the principal argument which will probably be urged against it will be that there is no money to be had, and the country cannot afford it. We heard that story in the past, when old age pensions were advocated in the first instance. We heard it then at the street corner, and it was only when the pressure of public opinion made the claims af the old people irresistible that old age pensions were granted. There is just as strong a feeling to-day for the removal of those limitations as there was in the old days for the institution of the principle of old age pensions. We shall be told by the Government that there is any amount of sympathy for this proposal, but that there is no money to back it. We cannot accept sympathy without something practical behind it. Sympathy is useless unless backed by something of a substantial character.

I am not going to accept any argument advanced from the point of view that we cannot find the money while we are able to point to avenues of expenditure of a much less desirable kind. If we seek such avenues of expenditure they are legion. While we are expending large sums upon the fighting forces which are very largely futile and all of them wicked, while we are expending the national substance on wicked and futile objects and upon our fighting forces, I decline to listen to any argument which is supported only by the statement that no money can be found for this purpose. We have to look at this question from the point of view of every old person in the country, whether they have a little accumulation of wealth or none at all, because when they reach the age of 70 they have made a definite contribution towards the well-being of the State. Even if they are wealthy people who can meet the test we are entitled to assume that people who do not want the old age pension will not apply for it.

On the Old Age Pension Committees we have plenty of experience in regard to men waiting until they were 72, 73, and even 76 years of age before applying for an old age pension. We are entitled to assume that that state of things will prevail even if our proposal is put into effect. I appeal to the House, having regard to the tremendous volume of opinion in the country in favour of this proposal, to take a broad view and declare an old age pension to be a reward for service to the State, and not a poverty test. Let us encourage those who have served their country well to believe that the country is going to stand by them in their old age.

Photo of Mr William Lunn Mr William Lunn , Rothwell

I beg to second the Motion.

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

I beg to move to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words this House, while fully recognising the qualities of thrift which have been made manifest by such large numbers of men and women workers, and while desirous of encouraging such efforts among all wage earners as may safeguard their welfare in old age, must have regard to the grave financial exigencies of the country which so seriously affect industry, and cannot, therefore, until more hopeful conditions arise, add to the burdens already borne by the taxpayers of the nation. In spite of what my hon. Friend who has just sat down has said, I venture to say that those of us in this House who do not sit on the Labour Benches are just as much in sympathy with the peculiar and hard case of old age pensioners as the Labour Members. The Labour party does not possess a monopoly of sympathy with the old age pensioners of this country, but I suggest that this Motion has been introduced at a most unfortunate time. Last Session a similar Motion was introduced with great force and eloquence by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Widnes (Mr. A. Henderson). On that occasion the whole subject was exhaustively debated, and I do not think in the circumstances of the country to-day that this House is in a better position to extend its recognition of the claim made by the hon. Member who moved this Motion than it was then.

Let us for a moment think of the appalling circumstances in which the industries of this country find themselves at this moment. We have vast numbers of people out of employment, great privations are being endured by the workers in many localities, the bottom has been knocked out of the world's market for British manufactured goods, and we have had an intensive campaign all over the country demanding economy in every direction. Notwithstanding all that, my hon. Friend who moved this Motion asks us to-night to accept the birth certificate as the only test for an old age pension. I venture to suggest to my hon. Friend that in the present condition of the country's finance, that would be a very expensive certificate, and I hope my right hon. Friend who sits on the Front Bench if he speaks this evening, will give us some indication of how this country is going to balance its revenue and expenditure in the financial year on which we have just entered. Last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer did extraordinarily well, in the face of most difficult circumstances, in not only balancing his account, but in coming out with a substantial margin in his favour. But where is he going to get his revenue from in the year to come, in view of the present condition of industry in this country? That is a puzzle which I think the right hon. Gentleman will find it most difficult to solve.

The old age pensions, in the financial year just closed, have cost this country £26,150,000. According to the Report of the Departmental Committee, if the Motion of my hon. Friend is accepted by this House and in accordance with the limiting conditions imposed in that Report, i.e., that those outside the Income Tax limit are to be included, it would mean an addition to the financial burdens of the nation of at least from £12,000,000 to £14,000,000.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

And the money would be well spent.

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

The Departmental Committee indicated allowance for the Income Tax payer. He was not to be included in the old age pensions area, and the Committee pointed out that not less than £38,000,000 would be required. Personally I do not think that would suffice, but, assuming that it would, then the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to find in the forthcoming financial year another £12,000,000 or £13,000,000, and in addition, heaven knows how much more if the demand for an increase in the old age pension is to be conceded.

The Committee, presided over by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Middleton (Sir Ryland Adkins) did eminently good work in its analysis of the operations of old age pensions. I think too much stress has been laid on the Majority Report and not sufficient attention has been given to the suggestions in the Minority Report. Under the Act of 1919 there was an immediate increase to our permanent taxation of £10,000,000 in order to meet the recommendations made in the Majority Report, for we added 120,000 persons to the old age pensions list, and doubled the amount of the pension. My hon. Friend this evening spoke in a very touching way, and I am sure the House was very much impressed with it, of the old age pensioner. He said there were two objections to the means test. He objected to have any test of the means of the individual before the old age pension is granted. The test was, he said, a penalty on thrift, and then there was the irritating system of administration on which he used such forcible views. The system in many instances may be objectionable.

As regards Thrift, in the Minority Report of the Departmental Committee it is distinctly emphasised that there was no evidence to justify the assertion that the fact that the old age pension was subject to a means test prevented its full development, nor was there any evidence that the administration was as objectionable as many Members of this House suggested in the Debate which took place last Session. I would like to read an extract from the Minority Report. Undoubtedly this House will pay every respect, having regard to the very distinguished body of gentlemen who signed it, to the Majority Report, and I would ask it to give the same importance to those who signed the Minority Report, and whose administrative knowledge and long experience of public affairs are worth a great deal in attaching a correct judgment to the substance of their Report. These words appear in the Minority Report: In our view the resentment felt at the so-called inquisitorial method is neither so widespread nor so well-founded as our colleagues think. We have had practically no evidence to show that pension officers act otherwise than humanely and tactfully in their investigations, and while there are some old people who strongly resent being examined as to their means, just as some persons dislike inquiry into their means for Income Tax purposes, the evidence we have heard does not lead us to think that there is anything approaching general dissatisfaction with the system of inquiry. It appears to us that no one who receives benefit from the State can reasonably object to the minor inconvenience which may be involved in showing he is qualified to receive it. I am afraid that many hon. Members on the Labour Benches do not give sufficient thought to that curious quality of relationship between State administration and the recipient of State benefits. With regard to the inquisitorial side, as long as officials are human beings you will have such curious inquiries as those to which my hon. Friend has referred, and there will be some pertinacious individual who will count the heads of cabbages or the tails of pigs or anything of that sort as affecting the income of the applicant. But, taken as a whole, the pensions officers are almost invariably well-disposed persons who are anxious to do everything they possibly can to help these people. I do not think any sweeping condemnation of these men in their character as officials ought to be made in this House.

Mr. BARKER:

And it has not been made.

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

With regard to the thrift side, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Deptford (Mr. Bowerman)—whose view I do not think will be challenged by the Labour party—made a statement before the Departmental Committee which amounted to this, that at the inception of the scheme the great friendly societies throughout the country were very much perturbed lest their activities should be substantially handicapped by the operation of old age pensions. The Tight hon. Gentleman said, in his evidence before the Departmental Committee, that in point of fact the result had been the reverse, and that instead of injuring the operations of the friendly societies, old age pensions had increased their activities and efficiency in the interest of the members. With regard to the grievances—and I am quite sure there are very many of them—the difficulties which confronted this House in designing for the persons whom it was intended to benefit a measure like the Od Age Pensions Act was always circumscribed by the peculiar difficulties connected with the condition, status and circumstances of the people who were ultimately to benefit. It is almost impossible to draw any discriminating line whereby one group of people who may have a distinct grievance can be detached from another group in whose case the Act may work smoothly and advantageously. I hope that in time it may be possible so to amend the Old Age Pensions Act that the grievances alluded to by my hon. Friend, and alluded to in the Debate last Session by other hon. Members, and particularly called attention to by my hon. and learned Friend who was the Chairman of the Committee, may disappear. At the moment it is almost impossible to deal with individual cases without at the same time inflicting corresponding injury or inconvenience upon others.

With regard to the question of private benevolence, it is, of course, unfortunate that, where private benevolence can interest itself, or where organised effort on the part of workers comes into play, that should operate to the disadvantage of people who are entitled to receive old age pensions. But there again one is beset by the same difficulty which occurs in regard to difference in circumstances. It is almost impossible to conceive of any Measure which can be at once so comprehensive and so detailed in its scope and construction as to meet all these individual cases. The Labour party, however, is notorious for the structural quality of its economic mind, and I venture to suggest to my hon. Friend and his colleagues that they should set to work and, before next Session comes, when, doubtless, this Motion will again be moved, should devise proposals for the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman that will so amend the existing Act that at all events in large measure the complaints which have been made and the objections which have been mentioned will disappear. I give my hon. Friend the greatest possible credit for good intentions, but he has, if I may say so, made hitherto no constructive suggestion.

Since this subject was before the House last Session, we have had the sittings and the very remarkable Report of the Committee on National Expenditure, and I think the Labour party enthusiastically received, except in relation to education, the recommendations of that Committee. The Labour party themselves, at many of their meetings, have advocated national economy in every Department of the public service, and yet, at the same time as they do that, they come to this House and make a sweeping proposal to embrace everyone, short of those who are liable to pay Income Tax, in an old age pension scheme, so that all of us will look forward to the age of 70 as a time for receiving the benevolence instituted by this House. I do not think that that is quite in accord with the lofty aspirations towards economy to which expression has so frequently been given by the Labour party. Take, for example, what has been done by the Government in meeting the recommendations of the Committee on National Expenditure. We have cut down the Navy Estimates, in the picturesque language of the Parliamentary Secretary, to the bone. We have scraped them to the bone; and at the very time when this country is taking, as I feel sure, deliberate risks in regard to national safety by cutting down its Navy to the very roots, in reference to the limit of its expenditure, in cutting down the Army to the very lowest level of efficiency, and in cutting down the Estimates for the Air Service, the Labour party come to this House, and the only argument that they can adduce against the economy suggestion which we are bound to make is that we are spending too much on the fighting Services. In that condition of affairs, I do not think that this House, in justice to itself or to the interests of the country, can adopt this Motion.

I am sure that every Member of the House would like to see the position of every old age pensioner in this country made as happy and comfortable as possible. For myself, I am quite prepared to go as far as my hon. Friend, and recognise that services rendered in the duties of citizenship ought to be recognised; but this is not the moment at which claims of this character can be advanced. If, with the returning boom in trade which will result from an enlightened policy on the part of the Labour party in dealing with unemployment, the adjustment of disputes, and the creation of a better feeling between employers and employed in this country—if, following on those developments, we have a revival in trade, our markets return, our production is intensified, and men are prepared to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay—then will be the time to come to this House and ask for an increase in old age pensions on the lines embodied in the Motion which has just been submitted. I am sure that in this House we would go a long way to meet the suggestions in this Motion if it were possible to do so, but we cannot without imposing too heavy a burden on the already overtaxed nation; for industry in this country is squirming under the burden of over-taxation, and unless that can be substantially relieved in the near future, I do not know what is going to happen to private enterprise. In these circumstances, this is not the time to adopt proposals of this quality, and, therefore, I move the Amendment which stands in my name.

Photo of Captain John Jameson Captain John Jameson , Edinburgh West

I beg to second the Amendment.

If my hon. Friend will pardon me, however, I cannot quite go the length of agreeing with the reasoning of his. Amendment. I go a great deal further, because I say that, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had in his pocket £15,000,000—which is just about the figure that would be added to the old age pensions bill if this Motion were to take effect—and if that £15,000,000 were destined for the old age pensioner, I would say that this particular way of giving it to him would be the most foolish and nonsensical way in which it could possibly be done. The result of this Motion would be, not merely to relieve the needy, which is, I think, the first and the only requisite of an old age pension scheme, but would be to provide universal old age pensions for rich and poor alike. I quite understand the risk I am running in faking what may be the unpopular side, because there are very many more people in this country, both rich and poor, who want 10s. a week when they are 70, than there are people who do not; and I hope that hon. Members opposite will bear in mind, if they think that I am a hard-hearted ruffian, that at least I derive no benefit from my hard-heartedness, while at the same time it is pleasant to reflect that their superior benevolence is certainly a thing from which they will not suffer. I have had during the past week a great many letters on the subject of this Motion, some of them hinting at deplorable consequences to myself of an electorial nature; but I reflect that I signed the Minority Report against the very proposal embodied in the Majority Report which the Motion supports, and I think it would be an act of political poltroonery upon my part if I did not give a reason for the faith that was in me then, and for the faith that is still more in me at the present juncture.

It has been represented in my constituency that I am an oppressor of the poor. I like the poor much better than the rich. They are generally very much better fellows. The novelty of the Majority Report was not that it wanted to provide pensions for the poor, but that it wanted to provide pensions for the rich. According to the Majorty Report, the millionaire can roll up in his motorcar and ask for his 10s. a week when he touches the point of 70 years of age just as much as the poor man. The sun of the Majority Report shines upon the rich and the poor alike. Park Lane partakes of its benefits just as much as Houndsditch does, and accordingly it is a complete misrepresentation to say that it is lack of sympathy for the poor that induces people to oppose this Resolution. On the contrary, the remarkable thing about the Resolution is that it provides pensions for the rich and the poor alike. I have read this afternoon in the OFFICIAL REPORT the last Debate upon this what I have no doubt will prove a hardy annual. The plea for universal pensions, in this Resolution, and in the Majority Report which it follows, was frankly put by the right hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. G. Barnes) upon the ground, not of need, not of poverty, but of civic right as is was called—that is to say, that any citizen, by the mere fact of his attaining 70 years, had the right to come forward and ask for 10s. a week. There is very high authority for the proposition that we have to feed the- hungry and to clothe the naked, but I have never yet heard that any authority has propounded that one should give 10s. a week to the millionaire when he gets to the age of 70 merely as a matter of civic right, merely because he has attained the age of three score years and ten.

9.0 P.M.

Photo of Captain John Jameson Captain John Jameson , Edinburgh West

I think he should pay his Income Tax without the inducement of 10s. a week. Accordingly one wants to remove from this discussion all ideas of pity for the poor or of hard heartedness to the poor. These have nothing to do with the matter, and the discussion can only relevantly be taken upon the footing, not of civic right which we ought to recognise, but that at the age of 70 everyone should be entitled to 10s. a week. There are two or three grounds upon which it is championed in the majority report. The first is the taint of pauperism argument. The idea is that under the present circumstances it is a sort of Poor Law relief to get 10s. a week, but that when the Duke of Westminster is entitled to 10s. a week no one will be ashamed of taking it, and the taint of pauperism will be removed and everyone will come forward and claim his 10s. a week. I am bound to say that in the evidence laid before that Committee it was negatived by every witness, and upheld by none that I remember, that anyone was ashamed of taking this 10s. a week which is coming when they reach the age of 70. On the contrary, many witnesses said people were rather proud of being old age pensioners, and I think even to-night the hon. Member for Spen Valley (Mr. Myers) said that people looked forward with a certain amount of satisfaction to the age of 70 and to becoming old age pensioners. It is surely absurd to say that anyone who reaches 70 and goes up to apply at the office for his old age pension is afflicted with the thought, "I am now a pauper and am taking benefits from the State." As a matter of fact, I think there is very little prejudice now in taking benefits from the State. I have not met anyone who is ashamed of the taint of taking benefits from the State. I have found almost everyone anxious to take as much as possible off the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to grumble if he does not get exactly what he wants, and as a matter of the evidence given before this Committee, and I think as a matter of our own personal experience, we can waive aside this argument about the taint of pauperism altogether. In the second place there was the matter of the inquisition. There, again, the evidence laid was that these inquiries were conducted well and that there was no great amount of irritation. Of course, the argument which has been mentioned by the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) seems to me to be also very conclusive. These are the days of inquisition. The Income Tax payer has to submit to an inquisition and knows that at the end of it he will not be getting 10s. a week, but will be paying a large sum of money. In every Department these inquisitions take place, and there is no sting about them now. It may be said, as a tribute to the State officials, that they conduct them in a gentle and proper manner. Accordingly I think nothing can be made of this inquisition objection, even if it was a thing which you can weigh against £15,000,000 in the other scale at this time of the day.

Finally, there was the argument of the penalty on thrift. Upon that Committee I think everyone got very tired of these words "penalty on thrift." I asked this question of every witness that mentioned it. "Does anyone fail to practise thrift in order to get this 10s. a week? Do they say, 'Let us eat, drink and be merry in order that we may get 10s. a week when we are 70'? Do they squander their money in order to get 10s. a week when they are 70?" Every witness said "No, there is no restraint upon thriftiness." Accordingly it seems in that sense that the argument that you are putting a restraint and hindering people from practising the virtue of thrift does not hold good. On the other hand, of course, it may be said of every form of State aid which does not rest upon contract or value for services performed but is given upon the ground of need, that if a man does not need it he does not get it and that if a man has by his thrift saved money he does not get the subvention. But that is not the way the State has been in the past accustomed to look at these matters. The same argument has been used on the other side about Income Tax. When the Income Tax began it was said to be a penalty on thrift because the more a man saved and the bigger income he had the more he had to pay, and that was a penalty on thrift. That is perfectly true. It is a platitude that if you give money to a man because he needs it—and if he does not need it he does not get the money—and on the other hand if you take money from a man because he has got it—you obviously do not take it from him if he has not got it—you may say thrift to some extent indirectly comes in. But that is not the principle on which the State has gone. It has always gone on the principle that on the one hand the man who has got the money, no matter how he got it, should be called on to pay, and on the other hand that, if a man wants help, it is because he needs the help he has got to get that help.

So far that has been the principle of the old age pensions. You are only to get the pension because you need it. I think that that is the proper ground, and not that you have to get it, whether you need it or not, because you have reached the age of 70. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer has got that £15,000,000 for old age pensions, what I want it for is to decrease the age limit and to put up the amount of the pension. These things are far more necessary than making old age pensions universal. The ultimate ideal is that everybody should have an old age pension, that everybody should be guaranteed a certain amount of comfort when he gets past work. We are probably a long time off reaching that ideal, but meantime, everybody who drew up this Report, both majority and minority, regarded it as provisional. That is, we meant that as soon as the State can afford it the age limit should come down from 70, first to 65 and afterwards below that, and, on the other hand, that the amount of the old age pension should go up from 10s. to 15s. and to £1 These reforms are far more necessary than making old age pensions universal, as the Majority Report does, which does not contain them within the limits of Income Tax at all. Accordingly, the position I would take up is that you must have these reforms first—put up the pension and take down the age before having this so-called reform of giving pensions to rich and poor alike.

I deplore the position taken up that all moneys spent upon the necessary preservation of the defence forces of this country were wicked and should be devoted to other purposes. The defence of this country is the very first duty of the Government of the country. The position taken up is an unhappy augury of what might happen if the Labour party came into power in this country, and is an indication that they would deprive this country of its defence forces in order to give the money to rich and poor alike. The defence of this country was not considered wicked when we could hear the German guns on the coast of Kent, and if we ever get in power any party who want to scatter riches over a smiling country by stripping the country of its defences, it will be a very evil hour indeed for this country. We all know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is ground between the upper millstone of the anti-squandermaniacs and the lower millstone of the squandermaniacs. This afternoon we Scottish Members have had a deputation upstairs which stated that there was an imminent threat of bankruptcy to a large number of businesses in this country if 2s. is not taken off the Income Tax. I do not propose to pronounce upon that. But no one, except the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will be more delighted than myself if the right hon. Gentleman can on the one hand satisfy the people who do not want to give him money, and at the same time satisfy the people who want money from him, and, among other things, if he can give us £15,000,000 for old age pensions. But I want that £15,000,000 to be given to make the poor and needy comfortable and not, as this Resolution affirms, that everybody, rich and poor alike, should get the old age pension.

Photo of Mr George Banton Mr George Banton , Leicester East

I hope that the House will allow me the indulgence which is usually accorded to a Member who addresses it for the first time. I take the opportunity of speaking upon this particular Resolution, because I have within the past few weeks had some experience in dealing with old people employed in a large concern with which I am connected. These old people number between 20 and 30, and range in age from 84 down to 70 years. The firm were anxious to give these old veterans of labour a rest, and they were willing to make their latter years as comfortable as possible. They investigated the cases, and they were willing to be generous, but they found that the standard of life at which these men had been living would be diminished seriously if the allowance given to them did not exceed £1 per week. They would have been willing to grant more than 10s., but it was argued that every shilling granted above the 10s. would be subsidising the Government. They did not feel disposed to take the money of that particular firm to subsidise the Government. They were put in this dilemma—to maintain these old men at an economic loss, or reduce their standard of living, which was a necessity they did not wish to face, or let them go to the guardians, and by going to the guardians they, as ratepayers, would have had to bear the cost, and it would have been a greater cost to the community than if they had been allowed the old age pension without these restrictions which are at present imposed. The question is whether it is possible for the Labour Benches to indicate some means by which they could economise so as to recompense in some way for the extra amount that would be called for.

If hon. Members who talk upon this subject were acquainted with some of the great number of people who cannot maintain themselves upon the meagre allowance granted to them, and who have therefore to call upon the Poor Law for aid, they would realise that if these people were kept from the Poor Law a great economy to the State would result. That is one consideration, quite apart from any humanitarian feeling. It is said that all Members of the House are sympathetic towards the claims of the poor. We do not claim to have the monopoly of sympathy, but on public bodies I have heard of sympathy so many times that I am rather chary of giving credence to what is expressed. We want to extend our sympathies to those who need it most. Our old people need it most. The seconder of the Amendment reminded us that there were injunctions laid down that we should clothe the naked and feed the hungry, but that there was no injunction that we should grant old age pensions. One of the earliest injunctions laid upon mankind was that we should honour our fathers and our mothers. The State would show appreciation of that very old injunction by conceding the request of the Labour party, and allowing the old age pension to all, irrespective of their incomes. It has been suggested that that would not be wise, because millionaires might participate. I should not be surprised if millionaires, composed as they are to-day, did participate. They are of that particular kind which will take what is available from whatever source it comes, and they would most likely go for their 10s. a week, or they might make arrangements to have the money forwarded quarterly by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. At any rate, I would not penalise the needy old people because of the few millionaires.

It is also suggested that we might make changes in the law more beneficial than this proposal to the poor. I have just been returned by an electorate which is not small, and I have made much of a point regarding the old people employed by the best employers of labour. There are many good employers of labour who are willing and anxious to help their old workpeople, but they do not feel justified in subsidising the Government. We are often charged with fighting for class legislation. We repudiate that charge. We find that in the granting of pensions there is class legislation at present in operation. When I read the list of pensions that this House has granted, I find there are some people participating in the generosity of the public to the extent of many thousands a year, but I have never read that there have been any inquiry into any recipient's income, or any investigation as to whether the income would maintain them. The pensions seem to be granted "for services rendered." I submit that the old people for whom I am pleading have rendered services to the State.

Photo of Mr George Banton Mr George Banton , Leicester East

They have rendered services to the State. An old writer has told us that there are; the soldiers of the ploughshare as well as soldiers of the sword. These poor old people have served their country. I notice that one hon. Member opposite shakes his head. I do not desire to raise any class antipathy, but I would appeal to the kindly sympathies of the House to realise that in the lower walks of life there are men and women who have served the State to the best of their ability.

Photo of Mr Augustine Hailwood Mr Augustine Hailwood , Manchester Ardwick

On a point of Order. May I ask whether—

Photo of Sir Edwin Cornwall Sir Edwin Cornwall , Bethnal Green North East

It is usual when a new Member makes his first speech, to allow him to do so without interruption.

Photo of Mr George Banton Mr George Banton , Leicester East

I appeal to the best that is in the House. I do not wish to arouse the worst. I claim that hon. Members should extend their sympathy to many of the best of our people. There are thousands and tens of thousands in the ranks of the middle class whom this comparatively small dole would enable to end their last years in decent comfort. A poor woman came to me within the past fortnight. She was 74 years of age, and had been at work. In ignorance of the law she had been drawing 12s. to 14s. a week in addition to the 10s. a week from the State. The State discovered what she had done, and sent notice to her of the crime she had committed. The threat was held over her of punishment and she feared coming before the magistrates. On her behalf I interposed with the pensions officer, and here I may say that the officials in the Pensions Department I have always found sym- pathetic. But there the law stood. This woman received a demand made for the restoration of over £17. Her pension has been stopped, and the old lady is now in the workhouse. That is only one case that has come under my observation in the past few days. If hon. Members were only made more directly acquainted with the poverty of many of the most deserving of our people I am sure there would not be so much difficulty about changing the law. At the beginning of my speech I referred to 20 men. They are at work to-day. There are out of work strong, able-bodied men who are walking the streets. From the economic point of view it would be far more desirable to let the old men take their well-earned rest and to allow the strong and able-bodied to take their places. From the point of view of political economy it would mean a great saving to the public purse. I support the Resolution and I hope the House will realise that the old people deserve better treatment. We do not want to wait until the dreamed-of time when everything will be flourishing.

Photo of Sir William Adkins Sir William Adkins , Middleton and Prestwich

I ventured a year ago in a Debate on this subject to trespass at some length on the time of the House, and I recall with gratitude the tolerance and courtesy which allowed me then to deal with certain aspects of this question in some detail, as I happened to have been called upon to preside over the Departmental Committee on Old Age Pensions. I promise the House I will not trespass on their time so long to-night, but I ask leave to say something on a matter which I venture to think is of high importance. I would like first of all to express the pleasure with which all Members of the House have heard the maiden speech of the hon. Member for East Leicester (Mr. Banton), whose clearness and sincerity and sense of the atmosphere of the House, if he will allow me to say so, commended themselves to the House. We have heard some remarkable speeches this evening, and the most remarkable was that of the hon. Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Jameson), who seconded the Amendment with so much intellectual fervour and such careful control of the avenues of sympathy of the human mind. I remember him well on this Committee. We are indebted to him for much acute criticism and for a good deal of clearness of thought and expression, but I cannot reconcile my memory with his in some of the things he said, or in regard to the general view he took of the proceedings. If I remember rightly, other imperative duties prevented his attending there quite so frequently as was the doom, happy or unhappy, of the person who had to preside as Chairman of the proceedings, and if he had heard the whole of the evidence and had had the opportunity of weighing it—and no man could do it better—I doubt whether he would have come to the conclusion, conscientiously, as I know he must have done, that there was no proof then tendered of there being real grievances with regard to the present limit of old age pensions or that there was not evidence that the present limit was working unfairly and inequitably between individual and individual.

The case for universal old age pensions cannot be dismissed by merely saying, that it is a dream of the indefinite future, or that it rests on some wild-dream theory of popular or civic right. The case for universal old age pensions rests, as does the case for all social reforms, on what is best for the community as a whole. Inexpensive jests about hypothetical millionaires have very little in them beyond the amusement of the moment. They do not really touch the argument, which is that it is possible to conceive, and it is reasonable to consider, the problem of old age pensions as a problem dealing with that feature of human life which may come to anyone, which must come to everyone if life be prolonged, and which is not dependent for much of its character and incidence upon the greater or less resources of the individual. The real thought behind the Report of our Committee, and the thought which, I believe, underlies the arguments on this matter, is whether it is or is not desirable, in the interests of the State and of the community as a whole, that you should destroy for everyone the acuteness of the risk which lies in poverty at the extremity of life. There are millionaires to-day in the prime of life, but who knows they will be millionaires if they reach the age of 70? Who knows if those who to-day are poor are going to be rich or not? The principle of universal old age pensions is that you do give an appreciable added stability to the State if every member of the State knows that whatever may be his or her fortune in the years ahead, there will be, at any rate, something which will save them from acute destitution, and which will be a nucleus around which their own efforts, the efforts of those who love them, and of their comrades in work or community of sentiment, can gather to make their last days happy, as it is good for the State they should be.

That is the way in which Members of this Committee, certainly the majority, and I believe some Members of the minority too, looked at this, not so much at the beginning of their inquiries as after they had spent weeks and months in taking every variety of evidence of the facts that bear on this matter. The hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon), with that breezy tendency to dialectics which we all enjoy, treated this as though it were some casual emanation of the Labour party bent on propaganda with a mind to its philosophic or semi-philosophic basis. It is nothing of the kind. It is not a monopoly of any party or individual. The Committee that came to the conclusion that universal old age pensions were right was a Committee in which Members in any sense representing hon. Gentlemen opposite were a very small, if influential and helpful, minority. This is not a question which ought to be allowed to arouse the distinctions which exist among us in politics. It is one of those classes of social reform which I think we should jealously guard against being mixed up with controversy more than is inevitable. Why did we come to this conclusion?

Photo of Sir William Adkins Sir William Adkins , Middleton and Prestwich

My right hon. Friend is so concentrated on the lower side of politics that he appears to think that other people, who have not the same opportunity of deterioration, have no other motives in their actions in this matter. We came to this conclusion, without looking forward to that conclusion at the beginning, because we found three great facts. First, that as old age pensions were then administered, and, while I warmly thank the Government for the improvements they have made, even as they are administered now, there is a great deal of unavoidable friction that ought to be avoided; second, because it is impossible to draw a line between one kind of resource and another kind of resource, or even to draw a bold line of total income because the responsibilities of one old person may be much greater than the responsibilities of another, the health of one may be quite different from the health of another; the conditions of life, traditions, and habits which go to make mental and physical health, particularly in old age, vary so much. Therefore, we came to the conclusion, on the examination of the evidence, that you cannot draw any line with regard to income which would be equitable and fair, and not open to the most rightly destructive criticism of not working smoothly and in a way equally just to all parties. Thirdly, we came to the conclusion because we held that what may be called the short-cut or simple decision for universal pensions was on the whole best, for these among other reasons. It is not a case of giving money ostentatiously to people who do not want it. It is essential that everybody who contributes to the taxes—and we all contribute to taxes, some directly and some indirectly—should have this opportunity. Everybody in one way or another pays taxes, and therefore if everybody is to be eligible for an old age pension it merely means that those who have paid in taxes for the longest periods, do, as a matter of fact, get a small proportion returned to them at the very time when their power of earning money and their power even of enjoying life, is not what it was before. When you speak of the millionaire, the convenient stalking horse of this Debate, remember that if the millionaire is to get his old age pension he will have to return in present circumstances a great deal more than half of it in taxation of one kind or another. I venture to adopt one of the sentences in the Report of the Committee: The benefits to the country of removing, by universal pensions, hindrances to thrift and industry and provision, public or private, for the aged, cannot be measured in precise figures, but in our view it is of the greatest importance, and if, to secure this, and remove admitted anomalies, there is involved a grant of pensions to a certain number of people who have not contributed to them, it is a small price to pay for the advantages thereby obtained. I hope the House will see its way, in one form or another, to approve and endorse that deliberate judgment. I hope the House will not be led away by the dexterous method of advocacy which the hon. and learned Member for West Edin- burgh (Mr. Jameson) indulged in with some gusto towards the end of his speech. It was much more important, he said, to lower the age, and much more important to increase the amount, than to make pensions of 10s. a week apply to all over 70 years of age. What becomes of his careful and adroit expressions of economy? The moment we talk about raising the amount we embark on a sea of expenditure compared with which the proposal before the House is as nothing, and the moment we consider lowering the age we come in contact with all kinds of questions of national insurance, and enter upon one of the most subtle and complicated inquiries which could possibly take place. It is a well-known argument to suggest that a thing is wrong because other things, well known to be impracticable, would be preferable. The issue is, will this House or will it not endorse the principle of universal old age pensions?

Photo of Sir William Adkins Sir William Adkins , Middleton and Prestwich

Of course, my right hon. Friend hopes it will not, but I have yet to learn of this House, in matters of social reform, taking its cue from the right hon. Baronet. Of course, it is impossible to detach this issue entirely from the question of immediate accomplishment and the question of present conditions, and my hon. Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Mr. Myers), who, I think, has done a public service in bringing this matter up, has drafted a Resolution which does not, in so many words, ask for immediate realisation, but which perhaps, it may be argued, is open to two constructions. For my part I realise as I am sure the hon. Member for Spen Valley realises, how extremely difficult it would be for any Chancellor of the Exchequer, at this moment, to bring this most desirable reform into immediate operation. It is not a matter of £15,000,000. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Edinburgh, in a moment of financial exaggeration, out of keeping with his race, said it was, but it is only £9,000,000 according to our calculations. We know, however, that the financial position of the country is very serious. I often recollect the famous saying attributed to Windham in the middle of the French revolution, when he was asked about Parliamentary reform: You cannot re-arrange the furniture in your house when your house itself is on fire. It may well happen that the country may at one particular time be in such financial straits that it cannot carry out a reform right and desirable and in its nature pressing, but what I am anxious about is to obtain from the House—and for this reason I shall vote with my hon. Friend the Member for Spen Valley and do all I can as long as I am a Member of this House to push this Measure forward—is the deliberate assent to and confirmation by the House of the principle of universal old age pensions. When that is done the further question of whether it can be done immediately still remains, but though of the greatest importance it is subsidiary to the principle. I hope the House will take the view that this is one of those Measures which it is incumbent on this or any Government to bring about as soon as national finance can possibly admit of it. We are all familiar with great reforms which never came about in actual practice on the first occasion when their principle was endorsed by the legislature, but the first step to getting reforms is to be sure that the House of Commons believes in them and that Members of the House of Commons are earnest in trying to bring them about.

I apologise to the House for speaking so long, but I admit that my feelings are engaged in this matter. I can never forget the effect upon my mind of the evidence of witness after witness at the Committee. We are all liable to error, and no one more than I, but I feel confident that if we abolish the regulations and the restrictions we really facilitate instead of hindering benevolence and thrift. There is no suggestion that pension officers are themselves cruel or unkind or tactless, but pensions officers have a duty to look for and discover, if it exists, any irregularity. The mind is apt to see what it looks for, but there is no comparison, and I do not think the House of Commons will think there is a comparison as between the Income Tax payer who has to fill up certain forms often irritating, occasionally misleading, now and then unfair, but which can be answered and in regard to which nearly every Income Tax payer can obtain advice—

Photo of Sir William Adkins Sir William Adkins , Middleton and Prestwich

No doubt my hon. Friend's returns are complicated by the variety of his income. I hope the House will not judge this great question entirely by the perverted dexterity of my hon. Friend. There is however no comparison between the duty, tiresome though it may be, of filling up Income Tax returns and the embarrassment and anxiety that comes to aged and perhaps decrepit persons by a lawful question asked by perfectly courteous officials, but which brings terror into the needed calm of the evening of their lives. Therefore it is, on all those grounds, that I hope the House will support my hon. Friend in his Motion, it being perfectly clear that that Motion cannot immediately fructify in the present state of the country, but that the assertion and the reassertion of that principle are steps indispensable to the realisation of a great reform which I am confident will not only be for the good of the aged, but will tend to the permanent stability of the nation.

Photo of Mr Charles White Mr Charles White , Derbyshire Western

May I also, following the example of the hon. and learned Member for Middleton (Sir R. Adkins), extend my little tribute to the hon. Member for East Leicester (Mr. Banton) on his maiden speech, showing the intense human sympathy which he has with those who need that sympathy most. The Labour party has come in for the usual lecture from the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment. I am not a member of the Labour party—I am an uncompromising Radical—but I am always pleased to be with them, and have been with them ever since I have been in this House, when they have brought forward such Measures as this. I am going to speak very largely from the human standpoint, and not from the highly technical standpoint that has been advanced by some of the previous speakers, and I know this, that if this House passes this Motion to-night, the money can be found. It has been found for very much less desirable objects than this. I want also to speak, not from the standpoint of a theorist, but from the standpoint of a man who is personally acquainted with hundreds of old age pensioners in the district in which I live. The hon. and learned Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Jameson) said there are very few people ashamed to accept benefits from the State. I agree with him. I know a good many Noble Lords who are not ashamed to take benefits from the State; they were taking them long before the old age pensioner had his 5s. a week, and they are still taking them, as we have heard in answer to questions that have been asked in this House not very long ago.

The hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) expressed that sympathy which he is always able to express so profoundly in cases such as these, but might I remind him that that sort of sympathy is a very poor thing for breakfast, and he would find that out if he were unfortunate enough to be an old age pensioner himself. He said this is a most unfortunate time to bring this Motion forward, but I venture to say there could not be a fortunate time for him to agree that it was the exact time to bring such a Motion forward. I have never heard either him or the Seconder of the Amendment protest against extravagance or unnecessary expenditure when it has been proposed by the Government of which they are both such ardent supporters, but he knows very little of the human side of this question. He knows nothing of the suffering, or very little, nothing of the hardship and struggles of these old people in the evening of their days. He knows little of the inquisitorial methods—and I am not blaming the pension officers in this—that are adopted to find out the means of these poor old people. The pension officers are bound by Regulations which they must follow. In regard to his reference to the friendly societies, that it would be an advantage to the friendly societies to refuse this Motion, does he not know—if he does not, he is the only Member who does not know—that the friendly societies are the greatest supporters and advocates of the extension of the pension without any regard to the means of the recipient? The Mover of the Amendment accused my hon. Friend of being a superior statesman, saying that he had no constructive proposal. I know it was said in an ironical manner. We are just as much in favour of economy as either the Mover or Seconder of the Amendment, but we are not in favour of economy when it affects the very lives of the old people of this country and the children of this country, and I am proud to be associated with the people who advocate that view in this House.

I want to support the Motion very heartily, and as we are governed by majorities even in this House—we saw that automatic majority going into the Lobby with the Government last night—so we are governed, or ought to be governed, or at least actuated or animated, very largely by the majority of this Departmental Committee. I have just been looking at the names. Under the chairmanship of the hon. and learned Member for Middleton we had some of the most eminent men in the country sitting on that Committee, and this is what they say: We have therefore been irresistibly forced to advocate that the means limit should be abolished altogether, and that the old age pension be given to all citizens at the age of 70. We are of opinion that no other course will remove the very serious objections to the present system. We are asked where the money is to come from. That Committee, composed of very much more able men than myself, said this: The question whether the country can afford this additional cost is rather for your Lordships than for us to determine, and we bear that in mind in making this recommendation. Our duty, as we conceive it, is to recommend what we believe to be the best system, and while we have regard to finance, it is not for us to consider our problem predominantly from the financial standpoint. That is the opinion of the eminent Committee which sat to consider this great question. May I diverge for a moment? Like the Mover of the Motion, I have been chairman of a very large pensions committee in Derbyshire since 1908, when the Act was passed, and I want to say that here is an initial difficulty that has not bean mentioned to-night, and that is that the pension officer is responsible to the Inland Revenue, but the pension committees are responsible to the Ministry of Health. There is a difficulty that ought to be removed at once. I know that in my own district the pension officer can, and very often does, refuse to come to the pension committees, and says that he is not responsible to them but to his own Department, and so, whatever happens as a result of this Motion, I hope there will be no dual authority or dual administration in this matter.

Here is another difficulty. I am afraid the committee, like a good many Members of this House, are merely registering machines for the pension officer. If a committee refuses to accept his decisions—and his decisions are not always the right ones—he appeals against the committee. He is not answerable to the pensions committee at all. I am egotistical enough to say that in my own district applicants are examined by one or other of the members of the pensions committee of which I am chairman, and there would be less hardship if all pension committees would do their duty in that respect. Here is another injustice of the Act of 1919, and only those who are acquainted with the working of this Act know the difficulty which arises here. It is not even mentioned. It was not mentioned before the Departmental Committee. It is with regard to graduation. Under the Acts of 1908 and 1911, the scale of income and pension was graded by 1s. a week. Thus, a pensioner with an income of 8s. a week received his full pension at that time of 5s. If the income exceeded 8s. by 1s. a week, making it 9s., the pension was reduced accordingly by 1s. to 4s. a week, and so on down the scale. The graduated scale under the Act of 1919 does not provide at all for a graduated scale of 1s. a week. If a pensioner has an income not exceeding £26 5s. a year, he gets his full pension of 10s. a week, but if he exceeds that by 1d., he does not get his pension reduced by 1s. a week, but by 2s. a week. Therefore, there is an injustice that certainly ought to be remedied. It ought to be graduated by 1s. a week. As I say, If he has an income of £26 5s. 1d. a year, the 1d. does it. He gets 8s. a week pension, while a man with an income of £31 10s. gets the same pension of 8s. a week. It is a matter into which, I think, the authorities would do well to inquire, although I am perfectly certain that some genius with £1,000 a year was clever enough to find out that it would save money to deprive the old age pensioner of 1s. a week.

10.0 P.M.

That is not perhaps, the main question here to-night. This reckoning of the amount received from friendly societies, pension in respect of loss of a son, and help from children as part of the income, surely must finally cease. This can only be done, as was admirably explained by the hon. Member for Spen Valley, by abolishing the means' qualification altogether. Hon, Members are not all quite so conversant as some of us with the working of this Act. Even if rates are excused on the ground of poverty, that is all reckoned against the excused person as part of income. If he has sown a few vegetables, not in his allotment, but in his little garden attached to his cottage, it is all reckoned against him as part of his income. If there is a loaf of bread taken by the daughter in the village, a bit of coal, a bit of tea, a bit of sugar, or a little help from children in money, or kind, it is all reckoned against the old age pensioner, or applicant for an old age pension, as part of income. If the old man or woman has to go to live with a son or daughter, everything they eat, the value of the lodging, is counted against them as part of their income. Let me give a concrete instance. It came under my own notice before my own Committee only a few months ago. A Hampshire farm labourer, who never in his life received above 14s. a week, during the War fell ill. His wife died, his little home had to be given up, and he lived as long as he could by selling the furniture that was in it. He then went to Derbyshire, where his daughter was living. She said, "You can come to live with me if you apply for the old age pension." He applied, and the pension officer went to see the man's circumstances. I know the circumstances, because I investigated the ease personally, so that I might bring it before the Minister. The man was sleeping in a little box room. The pension officer inquired as to the sort of food he had. Sometimes he had an egg for breakfast—fancy an old age pensioner having an egg for breakfast!—sometimes a little meat for dinner, and the pension officer found that the standard of living he was enjoying was too high for him to recommend him for a pension at all, and so he decided that no recommendation should be made for a pension. The committee of which I am chairman refused to accept his decision, and gave 10s. a week. The pension officer appealed against our decision, and I went and examined the whole circumstances, saw the bed in which the man slept, and the food he ate, and inquired the income of the house. Eventually the Minister would not accept the decision of the pension officer, but accepted the decision of the committee of which I am chairman.

Here is another case, and I cannot do better than give you these cases, because hon. Members who talk about this have a very vague idea, or no idea at all, as to how this works. Here is an old man and an old woman, whom I know well, who lost their only son in the War. Brokenhearted and broken in health, they had to sell up their home. The mother went to live with her daughter, and the father with his old brother. The mother had a small pension for the loss of the son, and the father had a small pension from his employer and a small amount from a friendly society. The old man, out of his scanty income, used to send his wife 4s. a week to help the daughter keep her. The pension officer comes along and says: "Your income is too much to allow me to recommend the full pension." He goes to the wife, and he reckons her income, adding to it the 4s. a week which has already been reckoned as part of the husband's income. Of course, we get over it by a little bit of sharp practice, but I submit we were entitled to use a little bit of sharp practice in this respect. These are pitiful cases. I could give hundreds of cases such as these, and I am not exaggerating. Yet we are told to argue this purely from a financial standpoint, though these poor old men and women, in the evening of their days, have rendered as much service to the State, comparatively, with their opportunities, as many of the men who are now receiving their thousands a year in pension.

Questions have been asked in this House lately as to the amount paid in pensions to judges, ex-Lord Chancellors, ex-Cabinet Ministers, and as to a perpetual pension to a Noble Lord. Have they to make any declaration as to their means? In my younger days I used to go on race courses, and I remember seeing one of these Noble Lords on a race course when he was receiving much over a thousand a year in this way. If you saw an old age pensioner on a race course, you would disqualify him from a pension. I know we shall be met by the old cry—that the financial position of the country will not allow it. If we had another war, we should soon find money to conduct that. Money is found to-day for much less desirable objects than bringing a little more comfort into the homes of these old people in the evening of their days. Last year we narrowly escaped having a free vote of the House. I appeal to the Leader of the House or the Chancellor of the Exchequer to let us have a free vote of the House to-night, and I am sure that if the party Whips are not put on, this Motion of my hon. Friend will be carried by the overwhelming majority which it deserves.

Lieut.-Colonel SPENDER CLAY:

I will not follow the hon. Member who has just sat down further than to say I am sure the House is not so ignorant of the injustices to men and women who seek old age pensions as he would imagine. Everybody who has been an employer of labour, or has been brought into contact with labour, is aware of innumerable instances of hardship where the border line between means and the right to obtain an old age pension is very fine. The House listened with great pleasure to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Middleton (Sir R. Adkins). The House always listens with deep interest to anyone who knows his subject, and the hon. and learned Gentleman is in a position to speak on this subject with probably more authority than anybody in the House. But it struck me that at the end of his speech he treated this question rather as an academic one than as a matter of practical politics. He said no party ought to claim a monopoly of desire for social reform, and I agree with him there. I disagree with some of my Friends who think this hardy annual is of necessity an electioneering device. I do not think it is. Once you admit the principle of non-contributory old age pensions, it is very difficult to draw the line, and it is very difficult to refuse the pension to those who, by their thrift and industry, have managed to save up something for old age.

I was struck by the speech of the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) on the Civil Service expenditure this afternoon, when he said the Labour party did not approve of doles or of relief. It seems to me this proposal comes under the category of relief or doles, and I have noticed that on almost every occasion when money is asked for the relief of what are no doubt deserving causes, the Members of the Labour party ask for more than has been offered by the Government. It is a commonplace to say that at this moment our national finances are in a precarious condition, and we ought to be quite sure when money is expended that it is spent in the wisest direction. If we have got £9,000,000, which, I understand, is what would be required for this purpose, we have to be quite certain that it would be spent to the best possible advantage, and that we should not be doing more harm than good by raising this money from taxation, which ultimately reacts on the very people we are anxious to assist, and to that extent diminishes their ability to provide for their old age by thrift. I wonder whether even Members of the Labour party, and others who support the Motion, are quite satisfied, having regard to the interest of the health and the well-being of the masses, that this is the most deserving object which could have been chosen for the expenditure of this money. If Members were asked what they consider the most deserving case, I should be surprised if the majority here favoured the grant of assistance to those who in the majority of cases are not in immediate want. For these reasons, while I fully appreciate the necessity for encouraging thrift and the difficulties and hardships which many people are under, I cannot help thinking we may be doing more harm than good unless we treat this Measure as a purely academic one, not to be put into immediate operation; for however deserving the case may be, we cannot put fresh burdens on the Exchequer. I shall support the Amendment.

Photo of Mr George Barnes Mr George Barnes , Glasgow Gorbals

May I first associate myself with those who have already, congratulated my old Friend the new Member for East Leicester (Mr. Banton) on the speech he made to-night, which was one of great promise. In the second place, I can also bear my testimony to the great kindness, consideration and sympathy of old age pension officers. I used to see a great deal of those officers, and I believe that if they could find within the Regulations by which they are bound the means of giving an old age pension they would gladly do it. I have so much sympathy with those officers, however, that I should like to relieve them of a very unpleasant duty, a duty which, although it sometimes brings the old age pension ultimately, involves at the best a long delay after the pension has been applied for. I want to associate myself with the Motion, and I do so because it expresses the idea with which I endeavoured to familiarise the country 20 years ago, and which I commended to this House 17 years ago. I have been here 17 years and have heard no argument to beat the argument in favour of a pension as a civil right. Some ridicule has been thrown on it by one hon. Member; but I still adhere to my opinion that the best way of dealing with this problem is not by niggling investigations into the incomes of poor old men and women of 70 years of age, but by adopting the principle of giving the pension to all, on the assumption they have contributed to the wealth and welfare of the community during their life. I should have liked to see this Debate limited to the principle of the thing. I should have liked to see my hon. Friend who moved this Motion stopping at the word "accordingly." The Motion does express to that point admirably the principle that we want—that I want—to see adopted. It says: That, in the opinion of this House, the recommendation of the departmental committee on old age pensions in favour of the repeal of the provisions in the Old Age Pensions Acts as to calculation of means should be adopted, and the Old Age Pensions Acts amended accordingly. That is a principle I should like to see this House accept, and leave the discussion of the details till afterwards. I commend to this House, as I have commended for so many times before, the idea of giving a pension as a civil right just the same as you give elementary education to the children of the man, although it may be that he is a millionaire. One or two hon. Members opposite have said that the millionaire would take the ten shillings. I do not for a single moment believe that he would take it. He has a right to do so, because he has contributed during his life to the pool whence the pension is drawn. That is a simple elementary principle. The hon. Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Jameson) surely would not fall out with the principle that you are bound to do something for a man or woman in their old age. The only question is as to how that obligation is to be discharged. There are many of us who think, rightly or wrongly, that unless the pension is given to everybody, just the same as the right to elementary school teaching is given to every child, and unless it be embodied in the Old Age Pensions Act, there will always be the man or woman who feels that in accepting the pension under these circumstances they are accepting something to which there is attached something in the nature of a social stigma.

I have dealt with a single statement or a principle. There is, however, a great deal to be said about the ill-effects of the present system upon the man or woman who desire to save. Members of trade unions and friendly societies should be entitled—would be entitled on my principle—to a pension, notwithstanding the receipt of four or five shillings a week or even ten shillings in their old age from the friendly society or the trade union. They have a right to have it, for their other benefits has nothing at all to do with the State. They have paid for it, and paid for it in the best of all possible ways, by pooling their savings with other people's savings. I do not think that ought to be taken into account. I shall be glad to vote with hon. Members if this matter goes to a Division. I want to, as a last word, remind the House that we are now discussing the principle upon which old age pensions shall be given. We leave to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if it is passed, to give effect to it, to find the money in due time—we do not ask him to do it next week—we simply want the House to affirm the principle that the man and woman who have served their country and contributed to its wealth and welfare during their time of health and strength should get something in their old age with no stigma of pauperism to it, but as a civil right.

Lieut.-Commander WILLIAMS:

I associate myself with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in the tribute he has paid to certain officials engaged in the administration of the old age pension. I know they have had a most difficult task to perform, and one in which very few of us would envy them in having to carry out. I am certain from what I have seen that they have always endeavoured to do their duty, and have generally given the benefit of the doubt to the pensioner. When I first had my attention called to this particular proposition which we have before us tonight, I thought that in a time like the present with high prices, the high cost of living, and high burdens on almost everyone, we ought certainly to endeavour to see if we could possibly support the Amendment. I certainly welcome the fact that the Socialist party have, at any rate, taken the trouble to put down a Motion of this particular kind.

The second point which came to my mind was the fact that this particular Resolution was recommended by the Departmental Committee. When I came into this House some three and a-half years ago, possibly not knowing a great deal about Government administration and things of that kind, I believed that a Departmental Committee or a Royal Commission, or any of those curious methods used for inquiry into a question, were composed of very wise men who were bound to be right. We have had the Sankey Commission and other Committees of Inquiry, but the curious part is that when ever they are appointed we are told how wonderful they are, but they always seem to report on the assumption that the taxpayer and his interests must never be considered, and they always look at the case entirely from the point of view of what they would like to do, and they leave it there, and they never try to balance it with the effect which their recommendations would have.

In regard to this particular Motion, I should like to congratulate my hon. Friends of the Socialist party on the fact that at last they have discovered that thrift and provision for old age is a good thing. It has taken them many years and generations to discover that, but it is something to have got them to have put it down now in the form of a Motion. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Co-operative movement?"] That subject is not relevant to this discussion, but the Co-operative movement was not started by Socialists, but by good Conservatives. Personally, I have spent a considerable amount of time recommending co-operation, but that subject is not relevant to-night. I was surprised and amazed to hear the right hon. Member for the Gorbals Division (Mr. G. Barnes), whom I respect very sincerely, saying that he would like the tail of this proposal to be cut out. I maintain that it is the best part of the Motion, and I think they should carry it a little further instead of actually attacking thrift as they generally do. [An HON. MEMBER: "We never do."] I would advise the hon. Gentleman to read up the Socialist programmes if he is still under that delusion.

After all, these very people whom you most wish to help by this Resolution are the people who will be hit worse every time by the recommendations of the Socialists on my right. Their capital levy, and its ultimate effect, whether he pays it or not, is going to hit the small man. It is going to destroy automatically a very large proportion of what he has saved. If I may recommend hon. Members to follow up this first lesson which they have learned on thrift, I would suggest to them they should not forget that one of the best things that happened during the War was that a very large number of the working people of this country contributed to the War Loans in one way or another, and I say that the recommendation which many of my hon. Friends are continually thrusting down our throats, and particularly down the throat of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that we should cut down the interest on the War Loan—I hope the right hon. Gentleman will remain firm in rejecting that—is one which will also hit hard these very people whom they profess to be out to help. Surely it is not a good thing to attack thrift on the one hand, and then on the other hand, by means of a Resolution which may never come to very much, suggest they would encourage it.

I want to know, in the first place, if you are going to extract at this moment any sum from £9,000,000 to £12,000,000 from the taxpayers' pockets, how many people it is going to throw out of work directly and indirectly? We all have sympathy with the, old age pensioner, and it is quite possible that hon. Members on the Labour Benches who ironically cheer that statement do not realise that very many of us have as much, and even more, to do with paying the pension and looking after these old people than they themselves have. They might remember that, for I know a large number of Members of this House who undertake that kind of work. I would like to bring before the Chancellor of the Exchequer this point. If he is called upon to exact the additional taxation which will be necessary to cover this expenditure, it is bound to add additional pressure to a trade already over-burdened and to an industry struggling hard to exist, and the effect will be, not to improve the general condition of our people, but to throw more men on the labour market, to depress wages, and to put more people out of employment. I think we ought to consider that seriously before we go blind-headed into the Division Lobby to vote for this Resolution. I should like to emphasise this further point. At the present time we are hoping to re-establish the prosperity of our country, and we ought not to add to our present burden however much we may wish to help these old people. Of course, many of us would like to see their positions bettered, but the fact remains that if you are granting an old age pension at all, it should be granted to everyone. There can be no justification for granting it to a man who has never done anything, or has possibly spent his time in very doubtful circumstances, while, on the other hand, you refuse it to the man who has devoted the best of his life to work, and has never been out of work for a single week, as is the case with many agricultural labourers. Although you cannot argue, on the merits of the case, against this proposal, yet, if you go into its actual working at the present time, you will find that the time is absolutely unsuitable, and that it would actually do more injury to the poorer classes of this country than will be done if you reject it.

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

I had thought that everything that it was possible to say on this topic had already been urged in the Debate which we had in the course of last year, but I am free to confess that the Debate which we have had to-day has been a very illuminating and interesting one, and has added many considerations to this problem which previously had been left out of account. We have had a series of very interesting speeches, and, along with others, I should like to welcome to the Debates of this House the hon. Member for East Leicester (Mr. Banton), who made his maiden speech to-night, and to whom I listened with great interest and considerable admiration. Everyone knows what the difficulties of a maiden speech are, and I am sure that anyone who listened to the hon. Member would agree that he made a distinct contribution to this discussion, and that he has given promise for the future which induces us all the-more heartily to welcome him amongst us to-night.

This Motion is one which involves a large expenditure. Various figures, not all of them quite accurate, have been given. The amount which would be added to our annual expenditure, if this Motion were adopted, would be £15,000,000. It would increase the present cost of Old Age Pensions from £26,000,000 to £41,000,000; and it really is idle to say that we are debating to-night a question of principle. In point of fact, the Motion makes it plain that this is a principle which is intended to be carried into practice, and, if the speeches of my hon. Friends opposite mean anything, they certainly indicate that there is an urgent case for reform which must be dealt with at once. I am, therefore, prepared to deal with it on that footing.

I confess, however, to a feeling of great disappointment. It would be supposed, by anyone who has listened to recent Debates in this House, that I had been carefully educated in the doctrines of economy by some of the more distinguished Members who sit opposite. We were told only the other day by my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) that he at one time was a voice crying in the wilderness on the subject of economy. He told us only last week that we must treat economy as a real thing, and not as a sham; that we must resist organised public opinion that sought to induce the House to embark upon new expenditures, and that, no matter at what cost in the way of popular favour, we must take our stand in this House in favour of resistance to all expenditure. Where is my right hon. Friend now? I look in vain to the opposite bench for the support to which I think I ought to be entitled. And my eye travels below the Gangway, but there is no appearance of my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson), who for a very considerable time now has been denouncing the Government in most extravagant terms for its wasteful expenditure, and who, even this afternoon, has been busily engaged upon that task. And the Anti-Waste party—where is the Anti-Waste party? In fact to-day has produced something like a microcosm of the attitude of this House towards questions of expenditure. It spent the whole afternoon denouncing the Government because of its supposed extravagances, and the whole evening in urging the Government to spend another £15,000,000 a year. I propose to adopt the view of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) and to treat economy as a reality and as something more than a sham. I am glad to see my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson) in his place and I look with great confidence to his support in the Lobby.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

All economists will support you in the Lobby.

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

Let me deal with the situation as we find it. Last year the House rejected a similar Motion to this upon the ground, not that they were unsympathetic to the idea, as I think most of the speeches were in the direction of expressing a great desire to do whatever was possible to alleviate the hard lot that overtook many of our old people when age made it impossible for them any longer to earn a livelihood, but because they could not see how the country was to meet the expenditure involved in the proposal. Is our situation better now than it was last year? On the contrary, it is much worse. Last year we had a return of Income Tax based upon an average of three good years. In the current year, upon which we have only recently entered, we have to calculate on a much reduced yield from Income Tax, because of the depressed year through which we have passed. Last year we had a very considerable revenue from miscellaneous receipts and the sale of war stores. This year we have to look forward to a very narrow margin of excess of receipts over expenditure in connection with the clearing up of war material, and on the expenditure side, in the present year we have to find an extra sum of £25,000,000 in order to pay interest upon our debt to the United States. Is it to be supposed that if last year we were unable to find any possibility of meeting such an expenditure as this we are in any better ease in looking forward to the conditions of the future?

But that is only a half of the problem. It is not any good embarking upon expenditure of this kind unless you can afford to maintain it in the succeeding year. The year 1923–24 is going to confront us with far more serious financial problems than even the year 1922–23. The revenue to be obtained from Income Tax then will have two bad years in the three upon which the average will be based instead of one. Miscellaneous receipts, so far as they are of a special kind, we may anticipate will have disappeared alto- gether, and instead of £25,000,000 interest on our debt to the United States we shall have to find £50,000,000. It seems to me that it is sufficient for my purpose in dealing with this immediate problem to put these grave figures before the House, and to ask whether, under these circumstances, it is possible to embark upon a further expenditure of £15,000,000, even upon a most laudable object.

It stares one in the face that a considerable part of this £15,000,000 is to go to people who do not deserve it, and do not require it. I understand the case that is put forward for the deserving poor, for the people who are in need, whose meagre support has to be supplemented by such assistance as the State can in these circumstances give; but I cannot, in the position in which we find ourselves, understand a proposition which asks us, at a time when our resources are strained to the uttermost, to make expenditure upon people who do not require it, and do not want it. I understand the anomalies to which reference has been made, and I appreciate the great difficulties which arise in connection with them; it certainly appears on the face of it somewhat illogical that because people have saved a little, have been thrifty, and put something by, therefore they should be denied that which a man gets who has paid no attention to his future. I admit that this is a bad principle in itself, but I do not think that it largely affects the industrious character of our people. Testimony was given before the Committee that dealt with this matter to the effect that nobody connected with trade unions or friendly societies was less eager to be thrifty on account of the fact that he had a chance of getting an old age pension if he lived to be 70. After all, it is a very remote prospect for most people, and the amount to be got is not so large as to destroy thrift when a person is really anxious to exercise it. So while I think that the principle is not a good one, nevertheless, I think that its detrimental results have been greatly exaggerated.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Middleton (Sir R. Adkins), who is an enthusiast upon this subject and deserves the greatest praise from this House for the assiduity and zeal with which he has dealt with this problem, both as Chairman of the Committee and in the speeches which he has made in this House, has advocated this reform on the ground of principle unconnected with need, and he and my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals Division (Mr. Barnes) have alone really addressed themselves to the Resolution. All the other speeches to which I have listened in favour of the Motion have really been directed to the hard cases of the needy. The speeches from behind me, on the other hand, were really based on some sort of idea of civic right which would entitle a man to a pension by his mere survival to the age of 70. Frankly that is, whether right or wrong, an entirely different idea from that upon which the old age pension system was founded. I looked up the Report of the Committee when I heard my hon. and learned Friend speak upon the subject and it states that the existing system was framed on the view that the claim to a pension rests on necessity and not on right.

Photo of Sir William Adkins Sir William Adkins , Middleton and Prestwich

Perhaps my right hon. Friend would read the rest of the sentence which will modify it.

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

The Report says: The criticism under the first head really touches the root principle upon which old age pensions are granted. We have already dealt with this question in paragraph 10, and have indicated that the existing system was framed on the view that the claim to a pension rested on necessity and not on right. So long as a means' limit is imposed, the grant must retain the character of almsgiving.

Photo of Sir William Adkins Sir William Adkins , Middleton and Prestwich

When we were dealing directly with that point, what we said was that pensions were originally granted more with a view to need than by right, but most carefully leaving open the question as not being definitely settled.

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

I read the paragraph with care. While I agree that it is less definitely expressed than in the paragraph I have read, that comes later in the Report and presumably expresses the Committee's own view on the topic. I do not think the matter admits of doubt. Can anyone believe that if there had been no one over the age of 70 in a state of need the old age pension scheme would ever have been brought forward? If we had had a community of people with £500 a year and upwards, would anyone have proposed the pension scheme? The scheme is based on necessity, and not on right. I do not presume to pronounce upon the question whether that is a sound principle or not. All I say is that if you are now to claim that the system shall be based upon some theory of civic right to obtain a pension by mere survival to the age of 70, it is an entire alteration of the principle, and deserves far more consideration than can be given to it to-night.

I would remind the House that this Government and this House have not been unsympathetic to the old age pensioner. Hon. Members opposite seem to take my remarks derisively. It is not more than about 18 months ago, in December, 1919, that we increased the pensions from 7s. 6d. to 10s. at a cost of £10,000,000 a year to the State.

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

What was the cost of living then?

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

That interruption has pointed my remark. We made that change in the pension when the cost of living was 126 per cent. above the pre-War level. Now the cost of living is only 86 per cent. above the pre-War level. Accordingly, whatever justification existed then for increasing the pension, nothing can be suggested now which should induce us to do something more.

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

What about house rents?

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The hon. Member for Dartford is making it far too much a custom to try to make speeches while sitting down.

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

At the same time, we increased the number of people who became beneficiaries by 120,000. We raised the limit at which the person was entitled to a full pension from £21 10s. to £26 5s., and we raised the limit of people who were entitled to get any benefit at all from £31 10s. to £49 17s. 6d. We did all that under the counsel and guidance of my hon. and learned Friend who was Chairman of the Committee. Those were great alterations for the benefit of the old age pensioners. Therefore, I repeat that it cannot be said that this Government or this House has looked unsympathetically upon the claims of the old age pensioners. But we are now in a situation of great financial difficulty, and whatever, under other circumstances, it might be right to do, it is not pos- sible to-day to add to the burden of the taxpayer without inflicting a grievous blow upon industry. There is nothing to-day so fruitful a cause of unemployment as the very heavy burden of taxation. Is the House prepared to face the burden of taxation which is involved in such an extra sum added to our yearly expenditure as £15,000,000? I regret an expression which fell from the Mover of the Motion. He seemed to think that we ought to be able to find the money for such a purpose as this by still further cutting down the defence forces of the country. He said that expenditure upon them was wicked. That was the expression he used. Was expenditure upon the Navy and Army wicked prior to 1914? I venture to suggest to the House that, but for the expenditure upon the Navy and Army prior to 1914, there would have been nothing for the old age pensioners now. In all the circumstances in which we find ourselves, without prejudging this question, I venture to give my support to the Amendment, which seems to be to express most fittingly the attitude which this House ought to take on this matter at the present time.

Mr. S. WALSH rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Glasgow Springburn

I have listened to this Debate with very great interest, and the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer have converted me to the view that I must vote for the Amendment. I think there is no sadder spectacle in the world than a poor, poor old man or a poor, poor old woman, and there is no one to whom the sympathies of all mankind go out more. I listened in vain, however, for any constructive proposal as to how to get out of the financial difficulty. I wish that when the scheme of Old Age Pensions was inaugurated the policy enunciated by Canon Bladsley, I think it was, had been adopted. He pointed out that there was a time in every young man's life when he had more money than was good for him, and that was the period when he had just become a journeyman and before he entered into matrimony. He had all his income and wages to himself, and got into habits of spending which he found it difficult to break when he had assumed greater responsibilities. He suggested that every young man should have a levy imposed on him to meet pension and sickness. If something of that kind had been adopted at the time Canon Bladsley proposed it, I believe the whole difficulty would have been solved long ago.

If I had heard some proposal from the Labour party to cut down expenditure in some other form to meet this I would have called that constructive. I have a proposal to make, which I know will meet with their hearty enthusiasm, as to a way in which part of this money could be supplied. We have a very well-paid Civil Service who ought to provide for their own old age as the rest of us have to do, and take the cost out of the income they receive. Instead of that they retire at the comparatively early age of 60 or 65 with three years' salary in their pockets, and two-thirds of their salaries as pension. Then we have the school teachers, who, up to the time of the 1918 scheme, used to contribute to their own pensions out of their then very meagre salaries. They now also retire on a Civil Service basis with a very largo sum of money in their hands and large pensions which is exciting wild indignation in many parts of Scotland. There is money on which the Labour party can lay their hands for money for old age pensions. There is a practical proposal. I have found some money that ought to make the tender hearts of the Labour party melt for the old age pensioner. There is a chance for the Labour party. Let them take that up and have a little more equality and more sympathy for the old age pensioner who has worked all his life just as hard as the teacher or the civil servant. You will get a better teacher and a better civil servant in consequence. It must be remembered that on account of accruing pension you cannot sack a civil servant. Similarly the school teacher is like the laws of the Medes and Persians, and cannot be altered. If we had teachers without pensions it might be an improvement. That is what we want to improve the status and tone of both these occupations, instead of giving those who follow them,

the lotus-eating idea, that while still in the prime of life they can go to a golf links and enjoy themselves for the remainder of the natural term of their days.

After all, neither of these classes are even unemployed. They are never out of work, though they are said not to work very hard. Lord Palmerston said that the clerks in the War Office were like the fountains in Trafalgar Square—they played from 10 to 4. They certainly are not over-wrought and they are never out of work; they never lose their situations if they keep moderately sober and do not find themselves in the Divorce or Criminal Courts. Yet the Labour party come here and appeal for the unemployed, for the toil-worn craftsman, for the miner, who is down to a 1d. a week and all that sort of thing, while they insist on giving large sums of public money to people whose incomes are large enough to make provision for themselves, as we all have to do. Instead of coming here with a constructive proposal, they come and ask for more money. I have no sympathy with that, non-constructive way of dealing with the matter. I believe our sympathy should rather be with those who are thrifty. I wish we could have a universal old age pension. I would like to see it and it is perfectly logical. The Income Tax payers have been mentioned. If we had an Income Tax system such as they have in Holland it would be better. There a man only pays Income Tax on the money he spends and not on the money he saves. That is the system which we ought to go upon. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] I do not wish to detain the House, but some interesting figures have been put into my hand—

Mr. S. WALSH rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I think the House is ready to come to a decision.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 118; Noes, 161.

Division No. 75.]AYES.[11.2 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.Banton, GeorgeBarrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)
Adamson, Rt. Hon. WilliamBarker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)
Adkins, Sir William Ryland DentBarnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)
Amnion, Charles GeorgeBarnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.
Bagley, Captain E. AshtonBarrand, A. R.Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.
Bramsdon, Sir ThomasHartshorn, VernonRobertson, John
Bromfield, WilliamHayday, ArthurRodger, A. K.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Hayward, EvanRose, Frank H.
Cairns, JohnHenderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)Seddon, J. A.
Cape, ThomasHinds, JohnShaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)
Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)Holmes, J. StanleyShort, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Casey, T. W.Irving, DanSitch, Charles H.
Clough, Sir RobertJohn, William (Rhondda, West)Spencer, George A.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Johnstone, JosephStanton, Charles Butt
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Sutton, John Edward
Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Swan, J. E.
Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)Kennedy, ThomasTaylor, J.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)Lawson, John JamesThomas, Rt. Hon, James H. (Derby)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Lister, Sir R. AshtonThomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)
Doyle, N. GrattanLunn, WilliamThomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Lyle-Samuel, AlexanderThorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)Mallalieu, Frederick WilliamWallace, J.
Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)
Finney, SamuelMatthews, DavidWalton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)
Foot, IsaacMills, John EdmundWard, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Forrest, WalterMitchell, Sir William LaneWaterson, A. E.
Frece, Sir Walter deMurray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.
Galbraith, SamuelMyers, ThomasWedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Gillis, WilliamNaylor, Thomas EllisWhite, Charles F. (Derby, Western)
Goff, Sir R. ParkNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas HenryWilson, James (Dudley)
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbrdge)
Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Rae, H. NormanWintringham, Margaret
Grundy, T. W.Raffan, Peter WilsonWood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)Rondall, AtheistanYeo, Sir Alfred William
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Halls, WalterRoberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)
Hancock, John GeorgeRoberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. W. Smith.
NOES.
Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayLoyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)
Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteFarquharson, Major A. C.Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
Ainsworth, Captain CharlesFell, Sir ArthurMcLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)
Amery, Leopold C. M. S.Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel MartinFlannery, Sir James FortescueMacquisten, F. A.
Armstrong, Henry BruceFord, Patrick JohnstonManville, Edward
Atkey, A. R.Forestier-Walker, L.Middlebrook, Sir William
Baird, Sir John LawrenceFraser, Major Sir KeithMolson, Major John Elsdale
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyGange, E. StanleyMond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Ganzoni, Sir JohnMoore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamMorden, Col. W. Grant
Barnett, Major Richard W.Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JohnMoreing, Captain Algernon H.
Barnston, Major HarryGould, James C.Morrison, Hugh
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)Nall, Major Joseph
Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)Greenwood, William (Stockport)Neal, Arthur
Bennett, Sir Thomas JewellGretton, Colonel JohnNicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)
Blane, T. A.Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. GriffithHailwood, AugustineOman, Sir Charles William C.
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William CliveHannon, Patrick Joseph HenryParker, James
Brown, Major D. C.Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Haslam, LewisPease, Rt. Hon Herbert Pike
Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)Herbert Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Butcher, Sir John GeorgeHilder, Lieut.-Colonel FrankPerkins, Walter Frank
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.Hobler, Gerald FitzroyRankin, Captain James Stuart
Carr, W. TheodoreHolbrook, Sir Arthur RichardRatcliffe, Henry Butler
Carter, R. A. D. (Man. Withington)Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)Renwick, Sir George
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)Hopkins, John W. W.Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Cheyne, Sir William WatsonHorne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Child, Brigadier-General Sir HillHunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir AylmerSamuel, A M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. SpenderHurd, Percy A.Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Coats, Sir StuartHurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur
Cobb, Sir CyrilJames, Lieut-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Conway, Sir W. MartinJameson, John GordonScott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)
Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)Jodrell, Neville PaulSeager, Sir William
Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)Johnson, Sir StanleySeely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John
Curzon, Captain ViscountKelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)Shaw, William T. (Forfar)
Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)King, Captain Henry DouglasShortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)
Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)Lindsay, William ArthurStarkey, Captain John Ralph
Dawson, Sir PhilipLloyd, George ButlerStrauss, Edward Anthony
Ednam, ViscountLloyd-Greame, Sir P.Sturrock, J. Leng
Elveden, ViscountLocker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)Sutherland, Sir William
Erskine, James Malcolm MonteithLocker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)
Evans, ErnestLowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)Weston, Colonel John WakefieldWise, Frederick
Thorpe, Captain John HenryWhaler, Col. Granville C. H.Wolmer, Viscount
Townley, Maximilian G.Williams, C. (Tavistock)Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)
Townshend, Sir Charles Vere FerrersWilliams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Turton, Edmund RussboroughWilloughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. ClaudYoung, E. H. (Norwich)
Vickers, DouglasWills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.
Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.
Warren, Sir Alfred H.Winterton, EarlMcCurdy.

Question, "That those words be there added," put, and agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put.

The House divided: Ayes, 162; Noes, 98.

Division No. 76.]AYES.[11.10 p.m.
Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.Gibbs, Colonel George AbrahamParkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)
Agg-Gardner, Sir James TynteGilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JohnPease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike
Amery, Leopold C. M. S.Glyn, Major RalphPercy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel MartinGoff, Sir R. ParkPerkins, Walter Frank
Armstrong, Henry BruceGould, James C.Rankin, Captain James Stuart
Atkey, A. R.Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)
Baird, Sir John LawrenceGreene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)Remer, J. R.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyGreenwood, William (Stockport)Renwick, Sir George
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Gretton, Colonel JohnRoberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Barnett, Major Richard W.Hallwood, AugustineRodger, A. K.
Barnston, Major HarryHannon, Patrick Joseph HenryRoundell, Colonel R. F.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)Haslam, LewisSamuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart, (Gr'nw'h)Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur
Bennett, Sir Thomas JewellHilder, Lieut.-Colonel FrankSassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Blane, T. A.Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardScott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)
Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)Seager, Sir William
Breese, Major Charles E.Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William CliveHopkins, John W. W.Shaw, William T. (Forfar)
Brown, Major D. C.Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.Horno, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)Stanton, Charles Butt
Butcher, Sir John GeorgeHunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir AylmerStarkey, Captain John Ralph
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.Hurd, Percy A.Strauss, Edward Anthony
Carr, W. TheodoreJames, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSugden, W. H.
Carter, R. A. D. (Mall., Withington)Jameson, John GordonSutherland, Sir William
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonJodrell, Neville PaulTaylor, J.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm, W.)Johnson, Sir StanleyTerrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Cheyne, Sir William WatsonKing, Captain Henry DouglasThomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Child, Brigadier-General Sir HillLindsay, William ArthurThorpe, Capt. J. H.
Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. SpenderLloyd, George ButlerTownley, Maximilian G.
Coats, Sir StuartLloyd-Greame, Sir P.Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers
Cobb, Sir CyrilLocker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)Turton, Edmund Russborough
Conway, Sir W. MartinLocker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)Vickers, Douglas
Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)
Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)
Curzon, Captain ViscountMacdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.
Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)Weston, Colonel John Wakefield
Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.
Dawson, Sir PhilipMacquisten, F. A.Williams, C. (Tavistock)
Ednam, ViscountManville, EdwardWilliams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)
Elveden, ViscountMolson, Major John ElsdaleWilloughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud
Erskine, James Malcolm MonteithMond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred MoritzWills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.
Evans, ErnestMoore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)
Falle, Major Sir Bertram GodfrayMorden, Col. W. GrantWilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)
Farquharson, Major A. C.Moreing, Captain Algernon H.Winterton, Earl
Fell, Sir ArthurMorrison, HughWise, Frederick
Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)Wolmer, Viscount
Flannery, Sir James FortescueNall, Major JosephWood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)
Ford, Patrick JohnstonNeal, ArthurWood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Forestler-Walker, L.Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)Young, E. H. (Norwich)
Fraser, Major Sir KeithNicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)
Gange, E. StanleyOman, Sir Charles William C.TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Ganzoni, Sir JohnParker, JamesColonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. McCurdy.
NOES.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)
Adamson, Rt. Hon, WilliamBenn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)Casey, T. W.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeBowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Clough, Sir Robert
Bagley, Captain E. AshtonBowyer, Captain G. W. E.Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.
Banton, GeorgeBramsdon, Sir ThomasDavies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Bromfield, WilliamDavies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)Cairns, JohnDavies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)Cape, ThomasDavies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)
Doyle, N. GrattanJohn, William (Rhondda, West)Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Sitch, Charles H.
Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Spencer, George A.
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)Lawson, John JamesSutton, John Edward
Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)Lunn, WilliamSwan, J. E.
Finney, SamuelLyle-Samuel, AlexanderThomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Foot, IsaacMaclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)
Forrest, WalterMallalieu, Frederick WilliamThomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Galbraith, SamuelMalone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Gillis, WilliamMatthews, DavidThorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Mills, John EdmundWalsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)
Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)Mitchell, Sir William LaneWard, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)Waterson, A. E.
Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)Myers, ThomasWatts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Naylor, Thomas EllisWedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Grundy, T. W.Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)
Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas HenryWilliams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Halls, WalterPeel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)Wilson, James (Dudley)
Hancock, John GeorgeRae, H. NormanWintringham, Margaret
Hartshorn, VernonRaffan, Peter WilsonWood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Hayday, ArthurRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)
Hinds, JohnRoberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Holmes, J. StanleyRobertson, JohnMr. W. Smith and Mr. Kennedy.
Irving, DanRose, Frank H.

Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Select Committee of seven Members, three to be nominated by the House and four by the Committee of Selection.

Resolved, That this House, while fully recognising the qualities of thrift which have been made manifest by such large numbers of men and women workers, and while desirous of encouraging such efforts among all wage earners as may safeguard their welfare in old age, must have regard to the grave financial exigencies of the country which so seriously affect industry, and cannot, therefore, until more hopeful conditions arise, add to the burdens already borne by the taxpayers of the nation.