When a professional fireman is entitled to receive a pension on the ground that he is incapacitated in the performance of his duty by infirmity of mind or body occasioned by an injury, or the widow or any child of a professional fireman is entitled to receive a pension or an allowance in consequence of his dying from the effects of an injury, neither the fireman nor his widow or personal representatives shall be entitled to receive compensation or damages from the local authority in respect of the same injury or the consequences thereof.—[Lieut.-Colonel Mason.]
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
The object of this new Clause is to amplify the provisions contained in Subsection (7) of Clause 22, which provides that compensation shall not be payable under the Workmen's Compensation Acts to any fireman or his dependant who receives a pension under the present Bill. But in addition to the Workmen's Compensation Acts there are two other Acts under which a small number of cases might be included. One is the Employers' Liability Act of 1880 and the other is the Fatal Accidents Act of 1846. There are certain circumstances under which a claim might be made by a professional fireman or his dependants to compensation or damages under either of those Acts, and, although the number of cases may be very small, it is felt that in order to make the Bill perfect those two Acts should be included. This new Clause, therefore, provides for their inclusion. I understand that the Clause will not be resisted by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bootle (Lieut.-Colonel Henderson), who is in charge of the Bill, nor by the Home Office, nor by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who are particularly interested in the Measure.
I am prepared to accept this new Clause. I do not think that it is really so vitally necessary as the promoters of it think, because we have already, in Clause 22, a provision excluding the Workmen's Compensation Acts, and the likelihood of any local authority placing itself in a position under which it would be sued under the Employers' Liability Act is negligible. But if the local authorities, who after all will have to administer the Bill and be financially responsible for it, feel that there is a likelihood or a possibility of their having to pay double compensation, I am quite ready to accept this new Clause in that spirit. I would, however, like to point out that if the House accepts this new Clause, it will be necessary to move an amendment to leave out Sub-section (7) of Clause 22, because it will become redundant.
I think I ought to say from this side of the House that, while we agree that the obligation under the Workmen's Compensation Act should be excluded in the case of a fireman who receives a pension under this Act equal to or perhaps more than the amount he would receive under the Workmen's Compensation Act. I am not quite sure whether it will exclude the obligation on the part of the local authority to pay compensation in cases of negligence on the part of such authority under the Employers' Liability Act, because, as I understand it, it will still be open to the workman to go to the Courts in case of negligence on the part of the authority. I do not think, however, that there is any likelihood of such negligence on the part of a local authority, and in any case it does not exclude the right of the workman to claim extra compensation under that Act. We, therefore, agree with the new Clause.