(1) The periods for which the Minister of Labour may, under Section four of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1922. authorise a person to receive benefit during the third special period shall be periods not exceeding in the aggregate twenty-two weeks instead of periods not exceeding in the aggregate fifteen weeks, and the prohibition imposed by Sub-section (5) of the said Section four, on the receipt in the third special period of benefit for more than fifteen weeks in the aggregate, shall not apply in the case of benefit authorised by the Minister under that Section as amended by this Sub-section.
(2) The period during which a person who has at any time received benefit under the said Section four in the third special period for periods amounting in the aggregate to five weeks is under Sub-section (2) of that Section not to be qualified for the receipt of benefit, shall be reduced from five week3 to one week:
Provided that where by virtue of the said Sub-section any person is at the commencement of this Act disqualified for the receipt of benefit in the third special period, he shall continue to be so disqualified until the expiration of five weeks from the date on which he began to be so disqualified, or the expiration of one week from the commencement of this Act, whichever first happens.
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the word "twenty-two," and to insert instead thereof the word "twenty-five."
The Bill proposes to enlarge the period of benefit as set forth in the Act of April last. That Act provided for 15 weeks of benefit out of a total of 30 weeks up to the end of October, in periods of five weeks with benefit and five without. The. first period has now passed, and the proposal of the present Bill is that there shall be 22 weeks of payment out of a total of 30. One five weeks gap has passed, and from the 20th of the present month, when it is proposed that the Bill shall operate, there would be a period of five weeks for payment, one week of gap, five of payment, one of gap and two of payment making a total of 22 weeks to cover the period referred to. The Amendment would in effect add 10 weeks where the Bill proposes to add seven to the period of payment in the original Act. One of the reasons suggested for the amending Bill was that the gap created such a state of chaos and uncertainty and unnecessary suffering, bringing about almost a dislocation of Poor Law administration in the country, and as a result of Poor Law authorities' deputations to the Prime Minister, and the fact, I assume, that the Minister of Labour has somewhat over-estimated his liabilities in connection with the current loan, it was felt that the Unemployment Fund might be released to ease the responsibilities and anxieties that have fallen on the boards of guardians throughout the country.
That opens up quite a wide field of speculation and argument, and at the moment one is concerned about the remaining gap of one week as against the gap of five. The Minister of Labour estimated for a sum of £60,000,000 as his liabilities in carrying on under the present Act until July, 1923. He also estimated that, with his increased borrowing powers, he would be able to mortgage future possible contributions to the Unemployment Fund, by drawing up to the extent of £30,000,000 through the Treasury, to meet what was agreed to be the abnormal circumstances of the time. We now find that the average estimate of £1,500,000 to draw from the fund was an overestimate up to the moment, and if the tendency remains as at present it will be a considerable over-estimate. We, of course, are pleased with that, and should be glad if we felt that all claims for unemployment were being made without the extreme tightening of the regulations having for their purpose the exclusion of what the Minister of Labour has described as non-actually-necessitous cases.
If you remove four out of the seven weeks' gap—the suggestion is that this will cost £2,750,000—then we feel that you should remove the remaining three weeks, beceause the difference in the cost, in comparison with the suffering and the chaos that would come with one week, will be greater than that of the five weeks, because, as a member of one of the Birmingham divisions has said, you will have in that one week, when there is no income, the sudden rush and the sudden demand for machinery of the Poor Law authorities, as against the rush on the Poor Law machineries during five weeks. The extra cost therefore cannot amount-to much more than £750,000. That would make £3,500,000, and to prevent this chaos and get rid of those sources of great irritation, that would be well worth while. I believe that the Minister of Labour will find himself well within his Estimates and able, I hope, during the next period, to enlarge those weeks of payment and reduce the gap next year between November and July, because we must not forget that, while it is stated that the uncovenanted period from April this year until July next year is considered as one during which those who have used up their right to benefit by reason of stamps, or who have no provision made at all, would be provided for to some extent, as the present Acs, provides in the period from April this year until July of next year for 37 weeks of benefit out of a total of 65, you have seen during the first period under the present Act the grave difficulties which are so intense at the moment, but will become greater next year.
The Minister of Labour might say, "That is all the more reason why I should conserve as much of my funds as I possibly can during the present period, and that might enable me to be a little more generous in the next period." My answer to that is that if you have in the midsummer, of all periods, an acknowledged breakdown of Poor Law administration, and, as has been said, over-drafts already standing against the Poor Law authorities in the necessitous areas amounting to something over £6,000,000, it is time that the State looked upon this matter more in the light of its moral obligations than in the light of mortgaging future contributions, borrowing money, and debiting the fund with that money for the purpose of easing the pressure and agitation due to the breakdown of Poor Law administration. It is an obligation that should stand on the debit side of the State account and not on the debit side of the contribution account of workman, employer and State combined, the workman and employer having contributed three-quarters and the State one-quarter.
That is not a complete list of our complaints because of the existence of these gaps. While 1,400,000 persons may be regularly registering as wholly out of work at the employment exchanges, I suggest seriously that there are not more than 1,100,000 persons drawing benefit. Your regulations have become so stringent that you have eliminated the right to the uncovenanted benefit of large numbers of single persons. These people are still registered, without the hope of any unemployment benefit. Therefore, the obligation of the State at the moment, far from being the average figure for which the Minister of Labour was estimating, namely, 1,500,000, is more like 1,100,000, while the registration of persons unemployed might lead the public outside to believe that there are 1,400,000 in receipt of unemployment benefit. I do not say that that statement has been made by the Minister of Labour. But such statements appear in the Press, and with the denunciation that too often finds its way into the newspapers in agitation against the payment of unemployment benefit, lead the public to believe that 1,400,000 people are being paid unemployment benefit. I understand that the Minister of Labour agrees with me that a total of 1,100,000 would be much nearer the mark. It appears to me, therefore, that you are already inflicting much suffering.
There is a further fact. While there are boards of guardians which have been sufficiently sensible of their responsibilities during the gaps to make payments that will tide people over a period of hardship, that cannot be said of all boards of guardians throughout the country. Within my own knowledge there are some which, during the period when there was no unemployment benefit being paid, refused to grant any additional or any Poor Law relief during those periods. It is during those periods that you find the queues now, not outside grocers' shops waiting for 2 ozs. of margarine, but outside the pawnshops. That trouble is mainly caused by the gap system. It is a brutal system. Whatever can be done ought to be done to end it. it must be remembered that there are people who have been unemployed since April, 1921. I can imagine that if the Benches of this House were full many Members would imagine that those were shameless, lazy persons to be unemployed so long. The fact is that many of these men, such as the ironstone miners, the blast furnacemen, and those in the heavy trades, where business has been completely shut down, cannot get into other industries, because other industries have unemployed on their lists and always have large crowds waiting for work.
If you trace these periods through, it will be seen that when the stamps were exhausted there came a period of six weeks. That was a period for deep scrutiny. Then there was a further gap. That was two months without unemployment benefit at all at the end of 1921. Again, there was a gap in the early part of 1922. Then you came to your third special period. five weeks in and five weeks out. The most thrifty of all men, who, after struggle and sacrifice and thrift, had saved £50 or £60, which is a big sum for a workman to be in a position to save, would then have found the money gone, together with their priceless treasures and heirlooms, for there are heirlooms in a workman's home as well as in the grandest castle. It means that the Government up to the moment have not accepted their responsibility as they ought to have done. We have not compelled the State to come to the rescue of those who are becoming gradually but surely submerged in this great struggle for an existence. The State's moral obligations ought to be fulfilled.
The State ought not to travel on the? lines of ordinary business insurance concerns. I suppose the argument might be adduced by the business man that an insurance scheme must always provide for probationary periods, must always be sound on the credit side, and must always be able to meet its obligations. That may be very well in preparing for sickness or superannuation, or old age, or even death. But this is a question of insurance against starvation. It is something more than the average business law that ought to be brought into play. If you continue even the gap of one week, you will have a rush to the guardians, you will have applications turned down by the guardians, who will say that the State has met the case of the unemployed for four out of the five weeks. What is going to happen? Does the Labour Minister imagine for a moment that he can weigh in the balance the possible permanent injury to the child life, to the womanhood and manhood of this country, with the expenditure of an additional £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 in giving immediate relief and stopping the degeneracy which is now setting in far too rapidly.
We have instances of it at the moment. Your housing problem will soon solve itself if you continue to drive two families to live in one room, with a curtain strung across the centre to retain the sense of decency. It is not because the people desire these conditions that things are in this state. It is not because they want it, but because they are being driven into this environment. Otherwise, they are as great an asset as a nation ever had. What is to be the result of that environment and of the degeneracy that it causes? People will get down to such a level that they will lose all hope; they will lose the proper outlook on life, and there is the danger point. All the glowing talk about this heroic land and this free nation will prove mere phrase making. It will be an empty mockery. It is an empty mockery at the moment, with the treatment which is being meted out to these people. I say the State should deal with this matter, even though it may be necessary for the State to ask for further borrowing powers. I am not an expert like the Labour Minister, but I assert that without any alteration other than this Bill provides, you will never exhaust your borrowing powers at the commencement of July next year. The Labour Minister may say, "So much the better if we do not." Supposing you have not exhausted all the machinery and all the supplies which Parliament has placed at your disposal, will there be any satisfaction in looking back over the period, and saying, "We have not used up all that which we might have used, and we have been able to save so much, at the expense of somebody who has gone prematurely either to the asylum or the grave." That is the real picture, it is the true picture, and it is not an overdrawn picture, as can be seen by reference to every industrial city and every village and hamlet in the country where industry operates. You can see it every day in the week.
I do not think it is right that you should even debit £30,000,000 of your borrowing powers against the very people you are borrowing for, and whom you are relieving, in the hope that when they get work they will be able to pay that back to the State. There is nothing generous in saying, "Well, old chap, I will help you a bit, but you cannot work without coming under my power, and as soon as you start you will be compelled to pay everything I have advanced to you." There is no great generosity in that. It is not as though I asked one of my hon. Friends here to lend me a shilling. Forgetting all about it I may not come within his purview any more, but the unemployed persons on whose behalf the State proposes to advance up to £30,000,000, if ever they work even one day, from that first day's money must come their share of that which the State has borrowed to help them in this difficulty. The Cabinet have shelved their responsibility. The Cabinet have said, "The pressure on the boards of guardians is too great. The distress is abnormal. We look with fear to the next few months, but we are not going to subsidise or help the boards of guardians." Then they look round and they fix on the Labour Minister's Department and say, "What can you do to meet this? "Instead of the Cabinet meeting its responsibilities and obligations to the boards of guardians it has put the boards of guardians' obligations on to the Unemployed Workers' Fund. This only makes the deficiency period much longer, and makes the struggle harder for those who are in work to-day, and who are most willingly and generously paying their 9d. per week to the unemployed fund. That is a great spirit. It is a spirit worthy of something more than mere lip service. It is worthy of some real help. It is deserving of the Cabinet saying: "If it will take £4,000,000 do away with these gaps during this temporary period, and then the £4,000,000 will come from the nation to help you. We will shoulder this extra responsibility, because we feel it is ours. As a third partner, in future we are going to have at least one-third of the responsibility, and not shirk our responsibility by only meeting it to the extent of 25 per cent of the total."
I wish, without reiterating the reasons stated by the Mover of the Amendment, to support the claim which we are putting before the Minister of Labour. We sincerely hope before the discussion ends to-night the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to accept the Amendment, thereby bridging over a period which is causing a great deal of anxiety and distress among the unemployed. The right hon. Gentleman told us yesterday that this Bill was brought in because of the very large amount of distress in the country at the present time. I should like to add one reason why we should do away with these waiting weeks and par the full 25 weeks' benefit. As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, there is no assistance to a very large number of unemployed—I may say to the majority—from sources other than the unemployed benefit;. The trade unions which used to augment, in some manner, the unemployed benefit are not in a position to do so now. Their funds have been exhausted almost entirely as a result of the long spate of unemployment through which the country has been passing, and if we retain these waiting weeks or these gaps, it will mean that those who are unemployed will have no assistance whatever for the purposes of livelihood during those weeks.
As was pointed out by my hon. Friend yesterday, they will not be in a position during the weeks of their unemployment benefit to lay aside anything for the gap week. As a result of that much misery, distress, and anxiety will undoubtedly happen. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well what I am saying about the trade unions being able to assist at the present moment is true. In my own organisation 30 per cent. or thereabouts are at the present time signing unemployment forms and not receiving a penny. There is nothing coming from the engineers. There is nothing coming from other skilled trades as unemployment benefit. They will get nothing from their unemployment fund. As a result the distress and anxiety will be considerable. Why should the Government take up this attitude and still cling to these gap weeks when the only result will be that there will only be a transference from the unemployment fund to relief granted by the boards of guardians? He must recognise that it would be much to his advantage, and also to the advantage of the country as a whole, if that transference could be avoided, because he is not at all going to save anything in any direction for the State if the necessity for that transference should take place. To refrain from that transference would mean a considerable saving in at least administration expenses in one direction at least, that of the local authorities.
There is a stronger reason why these gap weeks should be taken up. The industrial efficiency of those who are unemployed has been considerably lessened as a result of their experiences. I have only recently been in Glasgow. I had no real knowledge of the extent of the misery that existed in large industrial centres until I made inquiries in that great shipbuilding, engineering, and industrial town. I came across a very large number of men, many of whom had been out of work 18 months, others 13 months, and even to-day some who are working are only working one week in five. No one can expect men under circumstances such as these to be in a position adequately to provide for their families. Therefore, I insist that the right hon. Gentleman will be doing the right thing if he, in spite of the extra expense incurred, can see his way to do what he can by accepting the Amendment. In putting forward this Amendment we are not unmindful of the difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman, but, after all, we are not so hard pressed in this country that we are unable to provide, surely, for these three weeks for which we are asking. Why have the misery which will be entailed by the operation of the terms of this Bill? Why go on in such a way as to make the people realise that, however hard pressed they may be to-day, they are going to be much harder pressed to-morrow for the necessaries of life. Not only is there the anxiety to the man in the position of being unemployed, but there is the anxiety to his wife and children as well, who are suffering deterioration, the result of all of which will be bad for the country and the nation as a whole. Add to this what I have called industrial inefficiency to the community when the turn in the trade of the country takes place—because, after all, it is the duty of the nation to take every possible step it can devise to obviate distress, so that on the return of industrial activity those who obtain reemployment may be in a condition of physical fitness to do their very best in their daily occupation. That cannot be done unless we make full and ample provision, as far as in our power lies, for those who are out of employment through no fault of their own.
In spite of all we hear from certain sections of this House concerning those who are unemployed, we must remember that the vast majority of the unemployed, with a few exceptions here and there, are out of employment through no fault of their own. They cannot find work. Not being in a position to find work, surely it is a duty of the State under these exceptional circumstances to do what it can by way of alleviation. Therefore I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, the Minister of Labour, who has been able as a result of the money that has been placed at his disposal, having taken in so much of the waiting period, to take in also the fifth week, so that everyone may realise they will not be thrown out of the unemployment benefit to-day and into the hands of the board of guardians to-morrow and in that way forced to take up a position which to them is distasteful. The right hon. Gentleman said some time ago, on the introduction of this Bill, that he realised the working classes did not readily go before the Poor Law authorities. Unfortunately, seeing they have had to do so in large numbers, the fear of the degradation which it was supposed was incurred has been largely removed. I ask the Government so to act that people will not, having got into the habit of going to the board of guardians, be satisfied to continue without that feeling of fear—and I was going to say disgrace—which at one time obtained among the working people of this country. I do sincerely trust, therefore, that the Minister of Labour will not be adamant or harden his heart against this Amendment, but will do his best, and that the Government may authorise him to accept the Amendment before the Committee.
In the ordinary course I might have reserved any observations I may have to make until my right hon. Friend had addressed the Committee. In case, however, he has not absolutely made up his mind as to the course to take on this Amendment, I take the opportunity of trying to reinforce what has been so cogently said by my hon. Friends who have spoken. We know full well that the right hon. Gentleman, listening to these speeches, is not less human than we who make them. Therefore I reach the conclusion that if it is possible for him, within the resources at his disposal and in keeping with such means as he may have to use, can do what we ask, he will do it. Acting upon that assumption, I venture to submit two or three reasons to show it is essential that this step, claimed in the Amendment, should be taken, and how it can be done. I understand the right hon. Gentleman takes the view that we are considering now the subject of insurance, and that in all matters of insurance there is to some extent such a condition as this gap of which we complain. That is to say there is an addition in the nature of an interval during which no benefit is paid at all. If we had to consider the matter merely as a business proposition of ordinary insurance, our case would have gone and the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman would hold good.
This, however, is not a case of ordinary insurance at all, but it, is an extraordinary step taken by the Government to meet an extraordinary situation, so-extraordinary that in the past few weeks accredited representatives of the great municipalities have approached the Prime Minister and explained to him their state of desperation. They have become involved financially because they have to carry municipal burdens which do not ordinarily fall to local authorities and guardians in this country. The guardians have long had the duty of relieving ordinary conditions of distress, but here we are now suffering certain after-War effects which we believe are attributable to the peace settlement, and those conditions haw produced such an unusual state of prolonged unemployment that quite a new problem has been forced upon the country. It is a problem not for the boards of guardians and the local authorities, but it is the problem of the Government and the nation. So fully has that been recognised that, with the sanction of the Government and the approval of the Prime Minister, we are proceeding to amend the present Act.
That Act deprives certain claimants of their benefits for a period of five weeks. It is now proposed to amend that, and reduce it to one week, and we put to the right hon. Gentleman this fact, which I challenge him even to contradict: The people who are getting this benefit cannot, during the period they are receiving it, do more than keep body and soul together with what they are getting. There is no means of saving out of their weekly relief, and they must eke out a miserable existence with what they receive. I agree with what has been said that to treat the recipients in this way, and to give them the money for four weeks and then tell them in effect to starve during the fifth week, is a mockery of which the right hon. Gentleman might well be ashamed. Clearly the household resources are exhausted, and they have not only exhausted their own resources, but those of their friends at a time when their friends are less able to assist them than formerly. The friends of the workmen who are now working are in receipt of much lower wages, and they have not got that margin for helping others which they had 12 months ago. Everything points to the fact that the distressed unemployed are sinking deeper and deeper into difficulties out of which the right hon. Gentleman might very well assist them.
Let me put forward the view that there is some trade improvement. We are encouraged in this by daily signs and propects, and the Minister of Labour a few days ago on the Second Reading of this Bill gave us figures showing that the total number of unemployed was gradually being reduced. If such signs are to be taken as any real improvement I think we are entitled to take them as an argument. I assume an improvement in trade and a reduced number of claimants on the fund, and I think that should enable the right hon. Gentleman all the more to continue the full benefits to a lesser number of workers who are driven to seek this support. Certainly in the discussion of yesterday my right hon. Friend did not adduce any arguments at all in support of this Bill. I cannot recall on this particular point any justification or any argument used by the Minister of Labour which in any way supports the conclusion to which the Government has been driven. The gap to some extent was intended as a sort of moral corrective in the case of many people. It was intended to put them in the position of knowing that they would not idly remain on the funds certain that they would always receive their money whether they sought for employment or not. and it was intended to act as a spur. I do not argue against that, but it is a fact that in the last few months the general rules and regulations and administrative forms of this law have been made much more stringent, and have tended to weed out and exclude any section which could be described as being the least deserving and the least necessitous cases. And so we are driven to this conclusion, that only those who are really in need, and whose circumstances really prove their absolute necessity, have any chance of receiving benefit of any kind under this Act. If that is so what justification can there be for telling the most necessitous of these people that there is one week in which they shall get no benefit, no matter how fully or how completely exhausted their resources may be.
The right hon. Gentleman was able to show the House yesterday on the Second Reading that this amending Bill was built neither upon further borrowings nor upon increased contributions, and I congratulate him upon that position. Contributors are not to be asked to pay more, and no further State obligation is to be assumed in the way of finding larger sums of money beyond the exercise of the borrowing powers which the Minister of Labour has at present. The right hon Gentleman therefore is able to fall back upon a device which may be termed the postponement of the state of insolvency of his scheme. That is the device by which the right hon. Gentleman is arranging to reduce the gap from five weeks to one week. No doubt that device is sufficient for the purpose of this proposal, but what reason can there be for fixing the postponement at some precise point where the loss of one week's benefit will have to be sacrificed. Our claim would mean no more than a slight further postponement of the period to enable my right hon. Friend to completely and fully meet the demands of this Amendment. We may reasonably expect a period of good trade, but even when the period of trade boom was over a comparatively short spell would make good and completely cover such additional financial outlay as might be involved in the course which we are suggesting that the right hon. Gentleman should take. I hope that what we are asking for can be done without borrowing and without increased contributions or involving the country or the Government in additional burdens of any kind. The Amendment if made would merely mean drawing rather slightly upon future anticipated reserves which will come into the insurance fund when a state of improved trade returns to us. I hope therefore our appeal will not fall entirely on deaf ears, for it is certain that the exhausted state of the considerable number of unemployed will mean that if the Government does not meet the demand of this Amendment the local authorities will have to dip into the ratepayers' pockets to find what should be found from this scheme of National Unemployment Insurance. In short, resistance to this Amendment will not only mean no saving to anybody, but possibly it will mean increased embarrassment for the local authorities and a feeling of stronger resentment than has yet existed. The right hon. Gentleman must feel that having gone as far as he has tried to do to breach the gap he might well make this little further advance we are trying to carry him. Let him brace himself to do that. It can be done without cost. It can be done by adopting more fully and completely than that he has done the device which is behind the main body of the Bill.
Mr. T. THOMSON:
I am sure the Minister will find it very difficult to resist the strong human appeal made in the three previous speeches, which, I am sure, will find an echo in every part of the House. The right hon. Gentleman said yesterday that he brought in this Measure in response to a very large deputation from all sections in the House which waited upon the Prime Minister and himself a few weeks ago. I want to put this point to him. If this is his answer to the deputation from the necessitous areas, every argument in favour of abolishing the four weeks is equally good for abolishing the five weeks. He is not dealing with this as an insurance scheme. The Colonial Secretary, the other day, told us that the Bill which was going to be introduced was the answer of the Government to the appeal made by local authorities to the Prime Minister on this question of the necessitous areas. If that is the ground for this Bill, I submit to the Minister that every reason which holds good for doing away with the four weeks equally holds good for doing away with the other week. What is going to be gained by retaining this fifth week? Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the dislocation which will be caused in every local authority, in every board of guardians, and in every Employment Exchange because of this one-week gap? Is it really worth it? The right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) stated that to resist this will really cost the public a great deal more than the £750,000 involved in this Amendment, because it will mean that the unemployed in that fifth week will have to go to the guardians for relief. The men cannot starve. Their families cannot be allowed to starve. They have exhausted their private resources. The engineers' union and the other unions have exhausted their benefit funds, and, therefore, these people in this fifth week will go to the guardians, and instead of having the 15s. unemployment benefit, they will get from the guardians 20s., 25s., or 30s. It will cost public funds—and, whether it comes out of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, or whether it is paid by the guardians, it is public money just the same—it will cost public funds, not three quarters of a million, as suggested by tins Amendment, but twice that sum if the right hon. Gentleman refuses to accept it.
I would remind the Minister, in view of the statement that this scheme is put forward as an answer to the local authorities, that in certain areas unemployment is still increasing. We were told yesterday by the Minister that there were signs throughout the country that it is decreasing, but there are areas, particularly in the iron and steel districts, where unemployment has reached over 34 per cent. In those districts it is increasing, and it is only right, in order to rqualise matters, that this fund should be drawn upon in order to help these most necessitous districts. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman looking at it from the point of view of public policy. This being the answer which the Government is making to the appeals of the hardly-hit necessitous areas, he should give way on this point. He should do the thing properly and make a complete job of it. The Minister said yesterday he was very anxious that the men should retain their self-respect. Why not help them to do so by enabling them to still keep away from the guardians? I put it to the right hon. Gentleman, it is not worth the dislocation which will be occasioned by the proposal he suggests. He is putting a tremendous cost of administration on the guardians, and he is adding to the cost of the Unemployment Exchanges by retaining this gap. This Amendment would meet the case adequately and much better than he is doing. If he will give way on this particular point, and if he will look at the matte? from a national point of view, he will realise that the Government by accenting the Amendment will really help the unemployed to tide over these hard times.
It is impossible not to pay a tribute to the earnestness and fervour of the four speeches made in appeal to me in support of this Amendment, and if I seem to be ungracious in the substance of the reply which I have to make—not, I hope, in form—it is because I have no alternative. The hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday), in moving the Amendment, made, as he always does, a vary powerful speech, but I venture to think it suffered from the fact that he had, unintentionally, of course, overlooked what has been done during this long and depressing period of unemployment. A stranger from another country, listening to my hon. Friend, would never have supposed, for instance, that since the slump began in 1920, down to April of this year, we have managed to spend at east £80,000,000 on unemployment benefit, and much of that has gone to people with no covenanted right— through no fault of their own—to it, while from April to July, 1923, we have made provision for another £60,000,000 to be spent.
That may be so, but since then, let me repeat, £60,000,000 more has been provided between April and July, 1923, and a good one-half of that will be paid to those who would not be entitled under the covenant to insurance money. This is no fault of theirs. My hon. Friend might have pointed out to me that I ought to have reminded the Committee, as I have often done before, that a considerable proportion of that comes from the working people themselves;. Apart, however, from that £140,000,000 which has been and is to be provided, at least £40,000,000 has been put up by local authorities and the State for relief works of various kinds, and, further, during the period from the slump of December, 1920, down to April, the guardians must have put up another £50,000,000 in relief of unemployment. No one, if I may say so, listening to my hon. Friend's speech, would have thought that we had done inconceivably more than has ever been done before in this country or in any other country. I listened with great respect to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), and I think I am entitled to make this comment: When we debated the Second Reading of the Labour party's Bill on the 12th May, my right hon. Friend, speaking on behalf of the Labour party, rather astonished me
by speaking of financial assistance to the unemployed without some work in return as a deliberate waste of public money. In reply to my recital on that occasion of the amount of benefit we had been able to provide, my right hon. Friend used these words:
A parade of wastefulness of which any Government should be ashamed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1922; col. 2607, Vol. 153.]
Again, yesterday I said that, by reducing the gap to one week, I was increasing the number of weeks' benefit between April and October, as my right hon. Friend has told us already, from 15 to 22, and my right hon. Friend again took that line. "Indeed," said he, "the whole system of relief as it has been followed is wasteful." The problem is much too serious to spend any time upon a mere debating point, and I do not want to do it, but I am a little perplexed that on Wednesday I am told that this is all wrong, that it is waste, and then, on Thursday, my right hon. Friend comes and says, "Give us three weeks more."
May I make myself clear? What I said, as correctly quoted by my right hon. Friend, was said in support of my argument that what we should find, at such a time as this, is not mere payment for nothing, but work for wages.
No one knows better than my right hon. Friend that there are large bodies of people—all the women, all the clerks, all the artificers who perform the more delicate parts of modern industrial operations—for whom you cannot find relief work. I know that my right hon. Friend will say in reply, "Find work for all the rest in national factories." I am well aware of that.
I am sorry, Mr. Hope. Under the Insurance Act of last April, we provided for 37 weeks un-covenanted benefit to carry us to the end of June or the beginning of July, 1923, carrying on the grant to women and children during that period. Of those 37 weeks, I reserved 22 for the winter and early spring months that are before us, leaving 15 weeks out of the period of 30 weeks from April to the end of October in this year. In order to spread that out to the best advantage, I laid down, and Parliament accepted, in the Act of last April, five weeks' benefit, five weeks' gap, five weeks' benefit, five weeks' gap, five weeks' benefit, and five weeks' gap, covering the 30 weeks. Already the first five weeks' benefit has been drawn, and the first five weeks' gap covered; and we are now drawing to the close—indeed, this day week is the closing date—of the second period of five weeks' benefit. As the Committee knows, directly the first five weeks' gap was entered upon, we received representations from the Poor Law authorities to the effect that the five weeks' gap threw a burden upon them more heavy than they could bear. The House, therefore, gave us yesterday the Second Reading of this Bill, which reduces the gaps in the period between the 20th July and the end of October from five weeks to one week in each case, and, as I said yesterday, the programme as from next Thursday, if this Bill goes through, will be as follows: One week gap, five weeks' benefit, one week gap, five weeks' benefit, one week gap, two weeks' benefit. The Bill raises the total provision of uncovenanted benefit, between April and October, from 15 weeks to 22 weeks. This Amendment would make that 25—it would strike out the three separate single weeks, and would, in fact, provide continuous payment of benefit from this day week till the end of October.
I have been told by, I think, two of my hon. Friends, to forget all about the fact that I am dealing with an Insurance Act, but that is what I am dealing with. It is an Insurance Act. I can understand that the very heavy burden which I have put on the emergency side, covering a volume of work at least as great as the permanent side, might make me and my hon Friends forget that sometimes, but nevertheless it is an Insurance Act From the time of the original Insurance Act of 1911, the scheme of providing a number of weeks of benefit less than the calendar period to be covered, has been the established principle and rule. From 1911 down to 1921, the benefit was 15 weeks and the gap was 37 weeks. I have to deal with this Act, which is an Insurance Act, and I am trying to make the utmost that I can of it. As I have said, from 1911 to 1921 the total benefit—covenanted in that case, of course—was 15 weeks, with 37 weeks' gap, if continuously drawn. From March, 1921, to October. 1921, when I introduced what I call the emergency side, paying benefit in advance of contributions, I made provision for 22 weeks' benefit to cover 35 calendar weeks, so that there was a gap of 13 weeks; and, as a fact, a very great many people were not receiving benefit under this Insurance Act for the period of 13 weeks between last August and the and of last October. From November, 1921, to July, 1922, had the provision continued which we made originally, there would have been 22 weeks' benefit to cover 35 weeks' calendar weeks, and that, again. would have meant 13 weeks of gap. When we brought in the Act of April last. there was also a nine days' gap before we started the new provisions of that Act.
Therefore, from the very beginning, a break of non-continuity, whether as a moral corrective or not— into which I do not enter—has been a guiding principle in these Insurance Acts, and in the early days there were much longer gaps, as I have shortly tried to show. I now turn to the trade union practice in regard to insurance schemes, and many of the unions, of course, have such schemes. I think it is the universal practice amongst hon. Members opposite in their organisations not to afford continuous benefit. They have breaks in their schemes.
I know the case of the Amalgamated Engineering Union. It calls upon a man to make ten years' payments. I know the times are difficult and the circumstances are abnormal, but when I am interrupted on the point of the Amalgamated Engineering Union I am entitled to point out that here we are paying benefit before there has been any contribution at all.
The hon. Member knows the Amalgamated Engineering Union bettor than I do, but my information is that the Amalgamated Engineering Union rules provide that a member of 10 years' standing is the only member who can draw continuous benefit as long as he is unemployed. That is the point I am making. The boilermakers' scheme pays for 11 weeks in the year, and the Workers' Union pays for 12 weeks.
It has never been done before, and I have brought things to a fine point. Here are men who come into benefit before paying any contribution. I hope and believe they will when good times come.
Again, on the uncovenanted side, benefit is paid before there is any contribution at all. So much for the practice, both in regard to the Government scheme and in trade union schemes with which I am familiar. There remains the financial question, which cannot be overlooked. After all, the right hon. Gentleman says, "All you are doing is postponing the date of solvency." That is true. I think it is fair, with the heavy contributions, especially on people on short time, that I should be in a position to reduce payments as soon as I can. I have come to the conclusion that it would be wrong to introduce a system now of continuous benefit without a break, even if I were in a position to do so. Look at the finance. I have been able to increase the benefit in this Bill from April to October, from 15 weeks to 22, because I have not yet borrowed as much as I expected. I expected to be in debt £19,000,000. I am in debt, in fact, £15,000,000. I have not got the £4,000,000 difference in hand. It is not that I have something more than I expected, it is that I have borrowed less. I have arranged to utilise £2,750,000 of that and thereby postpone the date of solvency of my fund pro tan to by wiping out four weeks, and in making the provision set forth in this Bill I am at once merely drawing upon three of the four millions which I thought I should otherwise have borrowed by this time.
I said yesterday it is mainly due to a rather better state of employment than we had anticipated. But it is partly due to the fact that we have looked rather closely at the claims of boys and girls and young single men and women, because we wanted to conserve the fund as much as we could in view of the serious disabilities of men with women and children dependent upon them. In making the provision I have done, in bringing the five weeks' gap down to one, I have very little left if things go wrong. Therefore, much as I regret the fact, apart altogether from the merits of the proposition, apart from the merits of a continuous, unbroken period of benefit as against a gap, which has been the universal practice in all insurance Acts in the past, whether Government or trade union, I cannot undertake, on the finance of my scheme as it now discloses itself to me, to accept the Amendment which has been so powerfully pressed upon me.
This is one of the occasions where one would regret that every Member of the House is not present to hear the case presented. Hon. Members opposite who have listened to the whole Debate would be forced to admit that a stronger case was never presented, and the Minister has not only not met the case, but has confused the whole issue as presented in the Amendment. He uses as an argument against it trade union practices. He knows perfectly well that we are dealing, not with a practice, but with an emergency. He himself justified the Bill that we are discussing on the ground of emergency absolutely, and if that be true, is it fair to attempt to justify the Government's action, or even excuse themselves, on something that is a regular practice as against an emergency? But let us compare the Government practice with their action a few weeks ago on National Health Insurance, because on the National Health Insurance Bill the Government did precisely what we are asking you to do at this moment. The Geddes Committee decided that certain economies should be effected by an additional payment of one penny per week. The Minister of Health brought in a Bill founded upon the Geddes Report, and a few days after he came along and said, "We not only withdraw the Bill but we are satisfied that we can give effect to the recommendations of the Geddes Committee without an additional copper contribution from the members or an additional charge upon the State." Then I drew his attention to the fact that the Geddes Committee had had a report from one of the financial experts, who pointed out that this could not be done except by a raid on the members' surplus. The Minister promptly said, "we can meet the entire case. It will cost no one any money. All we are doing is that the funds will be used in this way, but the period of solvency will be deferred." That is exactly what we ask you to do in this, the only difference being that we ask you to do it for a much shorter period and an amount nine times less than the amount in the case of National Health Insurance. Seeing that the Government found it necessary and did it, on the ground of Health Insurance, will anyone with any knowledge of unemployment do otherwise than recognise that at least there is not only a precedent for it, but an absolute obligation on the part of the Government to do the same thing now.
The Minister of Labour said that if a stranger had been listening to this Debate, knowing nothing of the conditions of this country, but simply listening to the statement of my hon. Friend, he would be tempted to assume that the Government had done nothing. Supposing that same stranger, having heard my hon. Friend's statement, and having heard the right hon. Gentleman's reply, said to himself, "I will go down to some of the industrial centres and see the classes of people for whom this appeal is being made." When he got there he would discover that large numbers of them were men who only a few years ago were fighting for us, and were prepared to give their lives for their country. He would find them to-day with their homes being broken up, with themselves and their children suffering, and having reached the stage of desperation. We remember the old cry that our working-class people hated charity—a statement that was made from thousands of platforms by politicians —and that there was in this country an inherent dislike of charity amongst the people of this country. That was why the Poor Law system was so abhorred; but the economic condition of these people is such to-day that all those feelings have been broken down. That same stranger, when he had seen these people and their condition, would conic away saying that he marvelled at their patience and endurance.
If it be true, as I have already indicated, that our Amendment will not put any charge on the State, and that at the most my right hon. Friend says that it means compelling those who are now paying their unemployment insurance to pay a higher contribution for a little longer period, what is there against the Amendment? It may not even turn out in that way, because if there is a trade revival the fewer people will you have in receipt of unemployment benefit. If you have fewer people to provide for than you budgeted for, the finances must benefit proportionately. Supposing both claims are wrong, and at the worst you are reduced to the position of saying to these people: "Oh, no! I cannot accept the Labour's party's Amendment. I was compelled to resist the Labour party's Amendment, because I was satisfied that you would refuse to pay a higher contribution—
That is the logical sequence of the right hon. Gentleman's argument. My right hon. Friend said that, so far as the Government is concerned, he must safeguard the interests of those people and see that they are not compelled to pay for a longer period a higher contribution than they otherwise would have to pay if this Amendment were not carried. The only logical conclusion from that argument is to say that he is resisting this Amendment because he does not believe that the workers are prepared to pay the higher contribution. I say that they are prepared to pay it.
I have to do all that I can. for these people, and I have wiped out the five weeks' gap and left one week. By this proceeding, I have pretty nearly absorbed £3,000,000 of the £4,000,000 which I have not yet borrowed. I do not know what will happen, and I have to look at several things at one time. What my right hon. Friend is now looking at is only one of them.
I am dealing with them as the right hon. Gentleman outlined them All that you are compelled to do in accepting this Amendment is to defer the period of solvency for the fund. If certain circumstances arise, there is the necessity of the insured employed persons having to pay a higher contribution for a longer period. I answer that argument by saying that they will gladly pay. They have not shown themselves unmindful of their responsibilities, and they would be the first to say, "Yes. We will do in this, as we have always been ready to do, and that is, to help those not so fortunate as ourselves." Therefore, on the question of finance, there is no argument against the Amendment.
How are you going to meet the position of the local authorities? It is admitted by this Bill that this gap of five weeks has not only been demoralising but disastrous to local finance. The local authorities have said to the Government, "We cannot continue," and the Government have said, "Very well, we will relieve you to the extent of four-fifths of your deficit. We relieve you, not by ourselves meeting the obligation, not by ourselves paying more money, not by any contribution from the Imperial Exchequer, but by using the prospective accumulation of your own money."
The joint contribution. You put the local authorities in this difficulty in regard to the one week gap, that they have to prepare special machinery for the one week and instead of saving money it is absolutely going to cost them very much more. I would say to the right hon. Gentleman," Is it not very nearly time you did the big thing? You have admitted the flaw in your case; you have admitted the difficulty. You know perfectly well the demoralising conditions now existing. You know that meetings are being held by local authorities; called by the town councils and city authorities in all parts of the country, to deal with this problem. Here is an opportunity of helping them. It will not cost you any money to meet the real hardship. "I hope the right hon. Gentleman, having regard to all the circumstances, will be able to accept the Amendment.
The technical and financial reasons put forward by the Minister of Labour why this benefit should not be paid are altogether beside the point. Here you are dealing with people on the verge of starvation, through no fault of their own, yet technical and financial reasons are put forward why they should continue to starve. In these days, that argument will not hold water. I heartily support the Amendment. I do not represent, in this House, an industrial district, but I know the terrible effect of this waiting period in the towns and villages of my constituency. Unemployment is not confined to the large towns. I represent 124 towns and villages, covering 100 square miles, in West Derbyshire. There is acute distress in every one of those places. It has been rendered much more acute by the waiting period which these people have to put up with during the last few months.
Some of the people are living in a state of semi-starvation, and you find, perhaps, in the small villages a good deal more pride than in the large industrial districts. They have not been in the habit of applying for parish relief and are not inured to it, as, by force of circumstances, the people in the industrial districts have become inured to it. Too proud, even now, to ask for relief, the weeks they have had to wait have brought untold misery into their lives. A point, to which reference has not been made to-night is that parish relief, when asked for in rural districts, is not always forthcoming. The boards of guardians meet sometimes once a fortnight, and I know some boards which only meet once a month. What happens? These people, when they have exhausted unemployment benefit and have this gap between, go to the relieving officer. They often go many miles before they can see him. The relieving officer is not empowered to give them any money until the sanction of the board has been obtained. As a consequence, they only get an order for a few groceries and some bread, some of the absolute necessaries needed to keep life in the bodies of these poor people. That is all he can do. They get this order for a few groceries, but they are denied all the little comforts of life except the poor helping the poor.
I live among them, and I am proud to do so. I know exactly their wants and sufferings. The sufferings of the children in the small towns and villages that I represent are pitiable to see. The self-denial of the parents in these difficult times is an inspiration to those who live among them, and who know their daily wants and sorrows. I have been sorry to-night to see the empty Benches while this matter has been so well put before the Committee by hon. Members here. There should be no economy at the expense of the health of the women and children of this country. We seem to forget that our children are our greatest national asset, and I sincerely hope, even now, that something may be done. It is a national duty; we must not neglect it, or we shall live to rue the consequences.
I was never reconciled to the five weeks' gap in the original proposals of the Government, and I never could understand it. Now that the Minister of Labour has been told of the evil effects of that gap on the local authorities, and of the complaints made by them, I think he might make a virtue of necessity and do away with it. As has been pointed out in this discussion, it is not worth while making two bites at the cherry. Having given way on the five weeks, I think the right hon. Gentleman might have given way altogether, and removed this deplorable gap. A man receives his unemployment benefit, and then there comes this gap of one week. He cannot continue without some help, and he is obliged to go to the Poor Law authority to get assistance during that week. While I agree with the view that reluctance to approach the Poor Law authorities has largely broken down, I know that in my own country, in Scotland, respectable working people would almost face death itself rather than go to the parish council for Poor Law relief. It stamps them with the pauper taint, a thing which respectable working people resist to the last ditch. Here they are compelled, in these terrible conditions, for the sake of one week, to go to the Poor Law authority and receive help. I cannot, for the life of me, conceive why the Minister of Labour should not have wiped out that one week altogether. I hope he will do so. It is a faint hope, because I find in this House that when a Minister makes a declaration to begin with that he is not going to give way, it is hopeless to convince him. I wish the right hon. Gentleman had kept his mind open until a later stage of the discussion, and had seen his way to have accepted the Amendment. That would have given infinite satisfaction; the right hon. Gentleman would not have imperilled his scheme, and he would have met the objections that many people conscientiously hold against seeking Poor Law relief. He would have put those in receipt of unemployment benefit in a more dignified position, by receiving support solely from that source instead of having to go to the Poor Law guardians or the parish councils in Scotland. I trust that even at this late stage the right hon. Gentleman may reconsider his decision, and accept the Amendment.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman may reconsider his decision. He advanced the financial objection to this Amendment, but is he certain, or has he any surety, that there will be any real economy of public funds? The hon. Member for East Renfrew (Mr. Johnstone) has cited the case of Scotland. A few weeks ago a parish council in my own constituency saw roe on this subject. They pointed out that through the present Act they were paying large sums of money every week in the employment of inspectors, clerks and other officials to enable the parish council to pay unemployed workers when they were not drawing unemployment relief I think, with all respect to the Minister of Labour, that if he would wipe out this one week there would be no further inroad on the public funds. It is generally agreed on all sides that these men and women, during that one week, must be supported from one fund or another. The only question really before the Committee at this time is whether the money forthcoming for that one week should come from the Insurance Fund or from the local authorities. As the Minister of Labour has his machinery already sat up in every town and district in this country, would it not be much more economical and much more advisable in the interests of the insured persons that for that one further week during the five these men and women should draw their money from this particular fund?
I want to put a point to the Minister of Labour which, I think, he ought to consider before the Division is taken, or, at least, before this Bill passes this House. The Government were warned of what was likely to happen, but the warnings were not heeded, and the experience of the working of the Act has compelled the Government to come before the House with this arrangement. But still they cannot give way altogether, and they still retain a gap of one week. We are asking for three weeks' additional payments for the wiping-out altogether of the gap. The Minister put forward no argument against it, but he put forward the usual excuse of lack of money. He simply says he has a small balance, and you want to draw upon the balance of the money that still remains to be borrowed. It is not a case of money in hand, but you want to borrow some of the money still left. It is the right hon. Gentleman's own statement.
What the right hon. Gentleman has to bear in mind is that the 1,400,000 unemployed have serious obligations to meet every week, and during. the week's gap. They have to find food for the home, and possibly other things just as necessary. What I want to point out to the Minister is this. He
has stated that he is going to use up £2,750,000 of the money that is still left to be borrowed. That leaves a small balance from the £15,000,000 of £1,200,000. If the £2,750,000 is going to be exhausted by wiping out these gaps, then the three weeks' additional we ask is going to cost him £1,000,000 approximately. He has jibbed at the extra £1,000,000. Only a few days ago, not for such a large body of the community as is represented by the 1,400,000 unemployed, who, with their dependants, must amount almost to 5,000,000 people, this House was scattering millions of money to the wealthier class. You can find money when you want it for men who are sitting on the benches opposite and for their friends, but it is very difficult to find it for the unemployed who are asking for a few additional things during the period of unemployment. The only Members who have spoken from the Government Benches in this Debate have endorsed the attitude taken by the Labour party and other colleagues on these benches. Not one voice has come from any section of the Committee, other than the Front Bench opposite, backing up the Minister of Labour. Everyone has been in support of this, or, at least, too ashamed of the attitude taken up by the Minister of Labour to stand up., [An HON. MEMBKR: "Oh, no; we will vote for him all right."] Of course hon. Members will go into the Division. The crack of the whip will get them there. I ask the Minister of Labour to agree to wipe out this one week gap. It is little enough to ask. He has expressed the hope, and others have expressed the hope, that with the improvement of trade, he will be able to meet the obligations in 1923. Large numbers of these unemployed will then be in industry, and will be working to pay up that which is paid to them to-day.
|Division No. 226.]||AYES.||[10 5 p.m.|
|Adkins. Sir William Ryland Dent||Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Barlow, Sir Montague||Betterton, Henry B.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Barnston, Major Harry||Birchall. J. Dearman|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Beckett, Hon, Sir Gervase||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bellairs. Commander Cariyon W.||Brittain, Sir Harry|
|Bruton, Sir James||Haslam, Lewis||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Buckley, Lieut-Colonel A.||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Parker, James|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hills, Major John Waller||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Hinds, John||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Casey, T. W.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Perring, William George|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Lady wood)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossiey)||Pollock. Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Rae, Sir Henry N.|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hurd, Percy A.||Romer, J. R.|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Renwick, Sir George|
|Davidson, J. C. C.(Hemel Hempstead)||Jodreil, Neville Paul||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Janes, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Kellaway. Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath]||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Lloyd, George Butler||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Evans, Ernest||Locker- Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Lorden, John William||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Faile, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Fildes, Henry||M'Curdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Sturrock, J. Leng,|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Taylor, J.|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Macnaghten, Sir Malcolm||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Forrest, Walter||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Magnus, Sir Philip||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Matthews, David||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Murchison, C. K.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Wise, Frederick|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Neal, Arthur||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Hamilton, Sir George C.||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.-|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Harmtworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Dudley Ward.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Ammon, Charles George||Halls, Walter||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Banton, George||Hayday, Arthur||Rose, Frank H.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertiltery)||Hayward, Evan||Sexton, James|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hirst, G. H.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hogge, James Myles||Spoor, B. G.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Irving, Dan||Swan, J. E.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Johnstone, Joseph||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Cairns, John||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Cape, Thomas||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Kenyon, Barnet||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lawson, John James||Wallace, J.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lunn, William||Waterson, A. E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wignall, James|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Murray, Or. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Finney, Samuel||Myers, Thomas||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Foot, Isaac||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Poison, Sir Thomas A.||Mr- Arthur Henderson and Mr.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Kennedy|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
Question put, and agreed to.
I beg to move, in Subsection (2), to leave out the words
Provided that where by virtue of the said Sub-section any person is at the commencement of this Act disqualified for the
receipt of benefit in the third special period, he shall continue to be so disqualified until the expiration of five weeks from the date on which he began to be so disqualified, or the expiration of one week from the commencement of this Act, whichever first happens.
I move this Amendment in order to obtain an explanation which, I hope, will clear up a little misconception. An unemployed person having exhausted his first five weeks of benefit and passing through the first gap would have done, we will say, three out of the five weeks by the time this Bill operates on 20th July. The purpose of my Amendment is that he shall not be called upon to serve a further one week, but shall come into immediate benefit on the 20th July and be able to draw that week of benefit on 27th July. There may be difficulties so far as the wording of the Amendment is concerned, for were it successful I understand it would leave the man in a more unsatisfactory state, but I trust to hear what the Minister has to say upon it.
I am sure my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment when he sees the effect of it. The object of the proviso is to secure that an unemployed person shall not have to serve a longer gap than five weeks. If he had served 4½ weeks and this proviso were omitted, he would have to serve another week instead of another half week, and I am sure my hon. Friend does not wish that.
The Minister of Labour will remember—whether it was a year and a half or two years and a half ago, I cannot recall—that when he first proposed making an inroad into his reserves he informed the House that it would be all right in a short period. I ventured to say that it would be all wrong, and that the more he used his reserves the greater would be the demand for these doles, and the larger would be the amount of money spent, and every word that I said on that occasion has come true. It is perfectly clear that as long as you give a man a sufficient sum of money, to give him nearly the same amount of comfort as if he were in work, he will continue to do nothing in preference to working. I warn; to call special attention to the question of how the right hon. Gentleman is going to administer his powers under this Clause. I have in my pocket a letter from a certain firm in Poplar—I am willing to give the right hon. Gentleman the name—who are ship repairers, and who inform me that they had no dispute with their men, as they were actually paying them the old original rate of wages, plus the bonus. There had been a dispute with other ship repairers in that district who had refused the bonus, but this particular firm had not refused the bonus and were paying their men the full rate of wages, plus the full bonus. On the loth May the union withdrew these men and refused to allow them to continue to work, because there was a dispute with another lot of ship repairers. My information is that the right hon. Gentleman is paying these men benefit.
Then I will say honorarium. Clause 1 diminishes the gap, and, therefore, imposes a larger charge, and I shall not vote that it stand part unless I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is not going to use those terms to give an honorarium to men who are out on strike.
My right hon. Friend's information must be incorrect. The main Act provides that in the case of a stoppage of work, due to a trade dispute, unemployment benefit cannot be paid.
We do not care to be insulted by the right hon. Gentleman, who thinks that when a man falls out of work and gets out of work benefit, he never cares to work again.