Orders of the Day — Contributory Pensions Bill

– in the House of Commons on 30th June 1925.

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Again considered in Committee.

[Captain FITZROY in the Chair.]

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

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

I think I was saying that if the British working man was anything like I am, the more he gets for nothing the more he is pleased. The truth of the matter is that the real boons of this world do not come to us who contribute towards those boons, but they are merely a matter of luck, like winning the Calcutta Sweep, or like having an attractive complexion, which is a mere matter of chance, towards the receiving of which we have made no contribution whatever, unless we are in a position to pay for the latest discoveries of science. I am not against the contributory principle, and I was merely saying that if the Minister of Health thought he had done a fine thing by introducing a contributory pensions scheme and trying to justify it on the ground that he was in a high ethical and rarefied atmosphere, he was recommending this Measure to the Committee by entirely false arguments.

The contributory scheme does not differ from the non-contributory in any moral particular; the difference being purely one of practical politics. From that point of view I think that before the discussion on this Amendment is brought to a close we are entitled to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health exactly what it is that industry is going to be asked to do. You cannot legislate piecemeal in this way. You have to survey the whole industrial position and take employers and employed into your confidence if that does not sound too much like a plagiarism from one of the Prime Minister's speeches, and tell them, "Your total contributions under health insurance, unemployment insurance and this new Bill will be so much. "They do not mind whether a scheme is contributory or non-contributory. The people are ready to have a contributory scheme, provided no additional contributions are exacted from them, and that is a very sound point of view. Of course, the contributions provided for under this Bill show no reduction whatever, and no reduction will be made if we carry this Clause. The reduction, if any, that comes will come from the consideration of another Bill and a book-keeping adjustment of accounts I ask the Committee to trace the history of this Measure and consider how disgracefully it has been treated. The Chancellor of the Exchequer first spoke of this contributory pensions scheme, and when we tried to get some information about it he said, "It is in the hands of the Minister of Health." Eventually we came to the discussion of the Measure itself and we asked, "How much are these contributions coming to when added to the contributions which are already payable?" Then the Minister of Health tells us to ask the Minister of Labour, and he says, "After you have voted for the Bill you will know how much you have voted for." Is there any precedent in British history for that kind of legislative treatment or for that kind of self-sufficiency and meglomania?

The Minister of Health tells us that his colleague the Minister of Labour will give us this information in a few weeks' time, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he introduced the Sugar Taxes did not ask us to vote for them, and inform us afterwards what Sugar Taxes we had imposed. When the Parliamentary Secretary comes to speak, I hope he will take the Committee into his confidence in a manner which appears quite alien to the Minister of Health himself. Of course he is more genial than the Minister—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Nobody can be less genial in this matter than the Minister of Health, because he has not told us anything at all, and therefore I say that the Parliamentary Secretary ought to show his usual geniality and confidence in the people and tell us exactly what we are voting for under this Amendment.

The right hon. Gentleman must realise that this scheme is going to give rise to the very greatest dissatisfaction, and, much as I approve of this proposal, there are several anomalies in it which must be redressed. It is a fact that the widow of an officer in the Navy can get a pension on terms which the Minister would think degrading, whereas the lower deck ratings have to pay under this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman must consider all these anomalies and the very serious effect they will have upon our very critical industrial position. He must also have regard to the fact that there is not an employer or an employé who is not waiting with the greatest expectancy to hear the right hon. Gentleman's declaration, and it is in that atmosphere that I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will now rise to address us.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

I want first of all to reply to something which was said by the hon. Member for York (Sir J. Marriott), who joined with the Minister of Health in saying that the people outside were in that frame of mind that they would welcome being obliged to pay this money, and he backed it up by saying that he had travelled up and down the country, and had formed that opinion after coming in contact with the people. I, too, have travelled a good deal, and I have met large masses of people, but I have never met any assembly of workmen who were in favour of a contributory scheme of pensions of this kind. Then the Minister of Health told us exactly the same story as the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us, that we cannot afford to pay for these pensions out of national funds or national taxation. It seems to be forgotten that the money has to be found somewhere, somehow, and one would imagine that the money was coming from a hole in the wall or from the ground somewhere, and that the nation was not going to pay it. But the people are going to pay it, and it will come out of the pockets of those people who can least afford to pay these contributions. The fact of the matter is that in the last resort, whether we have contributory or non-contributory pensions, it is the workers who will pay, and nobody else will pay a farthing of the cost.

The whole question is the incidence of paying. We may get back from the wealthy classes some of the money which in our opinion the wealthy classes ought not to possess at all and we get it back in a better way by taxing them, and that is why I support the non-contributory principle for this particular Bill, not because I think the workers will not pay because they will pay. That is what makes them treat with contempt the kind of argument we hear about their moral backbone and so on, and getting something for nothing. Moreover, there is not a single social service paid for by the community except that which comes out of the earnings of the workers in one way or another. From what is often said on this question one would imagine that we were living like people were living 100 years ago. There is not a man or woman in this country who does not enjoy thousands of services which are paid for either directly or indirectly by the workers.

It has been said that these pensions will be something which the people themselves have paid for, and they will consequently value them all the more. When hon. Members go careering up and down the country in their motor cars it is true to say that they will not have paid for the whole cost of the construction and the drainage of the roads, and those who -enjoy the lighting of the streets do not pay the whole cost. They only pay the same proportion as their fellow-citizens, some of whom may never see the roads or the streets in the same way that hon. Members see them from a motor car. The idea that this question of direct contribution is some great vital principle that we are trying to impose on society is all nonsense. The whole social services, without which none of us could exist in modern society, are paid for by the whole community, and they are not always paid for by direct contributions in the way in which these weekly levies are proposed to be levied. I do not think that you have any right to levy this contribution without taking into account the fact that you will still leave the worker and the worker's wife and children very largely to the mercy of the Poor Law. All of us agree about that, but there is this further fact that, by making this a contributory scheme in this way—1 know I must not pursue this argument—you will be stabilising the sort of allowance that is now going to be given to the woman through this miserable, meagre pension that is proposed.

The point I want to make, however, is that the relief that will come in regard to expenditure by boards of guardians ought to be taken into account when you are arguing against a non-contributory scheme. Another thing that ought to be considered is that, unless you lower the amount of public assistance—and I know there are many people who want to do that—this scheme ought to reduce very considerably the amount of money that it is necessary to spend on the public health services just now, and the number of women and children who, because of poverty-stricken conditions, have to be partially maintained by the public health authorities. If this scheme were decently administered—I am now speaking of a scheme of pensions for widows and children—if it were administered in a proper manner, you would be preserving the health of the community in such a way that, again, expenditure on public health services would be saved. What I mean is not that the 5s. per child or the 10s. a week for the woman will do it, but that, if you do not interfere with her getting ether assistance from the board of guardians, you will be relieving very considerably the expenditure on public health. That, however, does not affect the principle for which we are arguing just now

A great deal of cant and humbug is talked about the morality of people getting what is described as something for nothing. The extraordinary thing to me is that those people who get most for nothing are the people who are loudest in their condemnation of the poor getting something for nothing. When I am able to live without ever getting something for nothing, then, perhaps, I shall be Pecksniff enough to say nasty things about other poor people who are getting something for nothing, but, while my life is what it is, I am not going to stand in this House and be such an arrant humbug and cad as to denounce the poor for getting something for nothing. In this House, in every Finance Bill, we vote considerable sums of money to people who have never contributed a halfpennyworth of work, directly or indirectly, to entitle them to get what they are paid by us, and I know that men who have served as Lord High Chancellors never pay a halfpenny into any pension fund at all. I am not going to gibbet them by giving their names, but it has all been printed in Parliamentary records, which can be looked up.

Here is one who served for six years and six months, and drew in salary, not £2 a week, not £4 a week, Mr. Minister of Health—the amount that is considered too much, for a workman to live upon— but this gentleman drew, in six years and six months, £65,000, and he had drawn, up to 1923, £46,000 in pension. You cannot afford to the soldiers of industry, to the women and children of the fallen soldiers in industry, a non contributory pension, but you can let this gentleman have a salary of £65,000 for six years, and then give him, for a short period of about eight and a half years, £46,000. Here is another who served for two years eleven and a half months, during which period he was paid £29,587, and then, for seven years and nine and a half months, he was paid £38,000 in pension—under a non-contributory scheme!

Captain BENN:

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to point out, as this is not a party question—there are ex-Lord Chancellors of all parties—that ex-Lord Chancellors serve as Judges day by day.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

Oh, yes, I know that. I know that they serve as Judges; I have sat and watched them, and I know that their hours are not eight hours a day, that their days are not five days a week, and that their months are not six months in the year. Do not let us have any cant about it. I can give another case. When Mr. Speaker retires from that Chair, he will go to the other place, and, after drawing his salary and emoluments, he, too, will get a non-contributory pension.

Viscountess ASTOR:

Has he done no work?

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

He will have no work in the other place. One would imagine that the workers of the country did not work. Where do we get the means to pay Members of Parliament, or to pay anybody in this House? It is only because the workers work and enable us to live. It is in no other way at all, and I am protesting that, if you are going to impose a contributory scheme on the poorest of the poor, you should level it up and put a contributory scheme on those who draw thousands a year. I want to give two other cases, and I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn) that this is not a party question. I am certain that when the late Solicitor-General and the late Attorney-General go up higher, they will rake it in just the same, but that does not make it any more defensible. It would not make it any more defensible if you could prove that I would do it. That is not the point at all. The point of my argument is that I am against this contributory scheme because it is class legislation against the working classes. If you are to have a contributory scheme, it ought to go right through from top to bottom.

Let me take another case, that of a gentleman who served for 18½ months—18½ months and then a pension. He drew £15,392. I may point out that it is not I who call it a pension. The official designation of the income is not payment for services, but "total pension received." This gentleman, according to the official figures, having served for 18½ months in the other place, received £30,353 during six years and three months, up to January, 1923, and he is drawing it still. In present circumstances, and arrangements being as they are, I am not blaming them, but I am blaming the House of Commons, which says that it is right to vote these people that money, and not right to allow the poorest of the poor to have a non-contributory scheme. That is the argument that I am putting forward. I am not at all wanting to say anything against them as individuals, but, if I had the power to vote and determine, I would abolish these pensions right away. There is one other case that I must give. This gentleman served only three years and nine months, and he, too, drew £37,000, and then for a very short time he drew a pension; but the point there is that he had not to live for 65 years in penury and want and then get, as we are going to give the old age pensioner, a miserable 10s. a week, these gentlemen get these enormous pensions.

Then there are other people. If I were lucky enough, which, of course, I could not be, to be an Attorney-General, I might become a Lord High Chancellor, or I might become a Lord of Appeal, or I might become an ordinary judge. There are gentlemen who are appointed as what are called Lords of Appeal, and who get £6,000 a year for serving as Lords of Appeal. What happens to them when they get too old for that, I really do not know, but I do not ever hear of their going on the dole. I know that all judges are supposed to be very wonderful, very learned, very intellectual men, and probably they are, and probably they are not overpaid. I do not know. I only know that the people who provide them with funds are very grossly underpaid. The point I want to make, however, is that, if you serve as a Lord Chief Justice or as a judge, and you get a salary of £5,000 or £6,000 a year, you then retire, for however short a period you may serve, on £3,500, and there, again, no contribution is paid for those pensions. It cannot be said that Attorneys-General and Solicitors-General do not get well paid when they are in office. I suppose they are about the best paid gentlemen on the Front Bench—they get £30,000 or £35,000 a year, I am told.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

I can only go by the records, but perhaps they are suffering from hard times. They all look very happy over it. But, according to the returns we have had—and I will try and get a return for the last year or two, to show what it is now—according to the last return I saw, it was somewhere about £30,000; and whenever I go to law—or rather, whenever other people take me to law, because I never go to law myself—I have always found that they have a good minimum wage, which is generally a good maximum, and that nobody can call the profession a cheap one, or say that they are living on the borderline of poverty, and, therefore, cannot afford to put a little bit away for a rainy day. But they are never expected to do that; they are expected to spend, and in their old age, or when they retire, or when their party goes out of office, or when a new Judge is wanted, or when there is some change in their position, we are expected to make provision for them. I think that in their case we have a sound, good argument against making this a contributory scheme.

There is another scandalous state of affairs that I want to call attention to, and I want the Minister of Health to bear this in mind. Not only do the heads of Government Departments get pensions, and generals in the Army get pensions and allowances, but there is another thing to show, as it seems to me, that it is impossible to give the rich too much, and that they are never ashamed of taking a little more. I should like the Noble Lady to remember the words of Lord Balfour, who once said, "Clear your minds of cant." This humbug about the poor who never want to get anything for nothing—

Viscountess ASTOR:

May I ask the hon. Member if this is all directed to me individually, because if so, I would like to answer it?

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

I assure the Noble Lady it is a reply to everyone who thinks it applies to him. I am here in this House simply because I know I cannot get any standard of life except at the expense of the workers, and I am going to help them to throw me off their backs, and you off their backs, too. That is what I am here for. There is no cant about me. Anything I get for nothing, exactly the same as anything you get and do not earn, some other person earns for you, and earns it for me, too.

Viscountess ASTOR:

Then give it back. Practise what you preach.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

The Noble Lady is always very touchy when we are dealing with this sort of question. She is like Satan rebuking sin. She is always anxious about someone else's moral welfare. When I see her twittering about from bench to bench, I always feel inclined to say, if she comes near me, "Go and look in the looking glass, and if you see anyone worse than the person you see there—"

Mr. ERSKINE:

On a point of Order. I do not want to interrupt an interesting speech, but I wish to ask whether the hon. Member is not rather straying from the actual Amendment.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I was expecting every moment that the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) would bring this diversion to a close.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

I will keep my eyes off the Noble Lady. I was pointing out that not only do Governments take good care to pay big pensions to people who never contribute a farthing to them but they also, in every Government Office, from the War Office to the Ministry of Health, employ these gentlemen. Here is a gentleman who is a Director-General of Medical Services. You pay him £1,800 a year, and give a non-contributory pension of £1,525 a year. In another case you pay £1,000 a year, and at the same time a pension of £1,040, non-contributory. Another gentleman you pay £900 and you give him a non-contributory pension of £1,000 a year. Another £800 a year also £1,000 a year pension, and another £890 a year salary and £800 a year pension. Yet we have to listen to-day to homilies about the independence of the worker who never wants to get anything for nothing. Why do you not set him an example of moral rectitude? The real fact of the matter is that there is one sort of standard of morality for the poor, and another for the rich.

There is one other fact which I beg hon. Members on the other side to hear with patience. Here, again, I am not saying a word about the individual. If you have a system with individuals packed into it, you have to take it as it is. I give it because I want to emphasise the fact that there is one standard expected of the poor, and another standard expected of the very rich and well-to-do. If a King dies you pay his widow £70,000 a year—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] It is sheer, undiluted nonsense to cry "Order!" It is in our records, and every Member of the House has a right to call attention to every item of expenditure. There was a day, not very long ago, when an illustrious relative of the Minister of Health used to take a very strong attitude on this kind of expenditure. I am old enough to have heard some of the palmiest of his speeches in his palmiest of days, and I know perfectly well what I am talking about. If a King dies, his Queen, in this country, gets £70,000 a year. There is no contribution whatever. One of our dukes gets £25,000 a year and the sons of the King get £10,000 and £15,000 a year, and when they get married they get a bit more, every penny of it non-contributory. They may say what they like about how hard these ladies and gentlemen work, and I am not saying a word about that. They may work very hard indeed, but do you deny that the poor work hard? Do you deny that the miner and the railwayman and those people also work hard? Yet you are saying we cannot afford this non-contributory scheme. There are three princesses at £6,000 a year.

This proposition of a contributory scheme of old age pensions eventually, and of pensions for mothers and widows, is a reactionary, retrograde step, and you are going now to put the burden of maintaining the poor off the shoulders of the ratepayers very largely, and off the shoulders of the rich and lump it fair and square down on the shoulders of the poor. You challenge us very often that the people outside have put you here to do this thing. I know perfectly well that whenever the time comes for whoever sits on those benches in place of you, they will be obliged, by the promises they will have had to make at the General Election, to reverse the whole of this proceeding. This thing cannot stand, because it is as certain as the day that social service, the care of the weak, the care of those who have no one to care for themselves, more and more will be placed on the shoulders of the whole community. The old Poor Law placed it on the parish. Later it placed it on the union. To-day you are getting rid of it, and not taking it on nationally. Even the little bit you took on nationally you are taking off the nation, and putting it back on to the working classes. It is because you are doing that, and because you are the party who mainly support the kind of thing I have read out to you, which none of you enjoyed, that I am very glad to be associated with those who are going into the Lobby against this mean and contemptible scheme of contributory pensions.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I propose for a few moments to endeavour to answer some of the questions which have been put, and at the same time to appeal to the Committee to come to a decision after a discussion which has been very full and complete. The last question that was put from the Liberal Benches, and especially by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond), concerned the relief contemplated in connection with the payment of contributions both under the unemployment scheme and under this scheme. It is not relevant to this Amendment, which simply raises the question whether the pensions shall be contributory or not. The question the right hon. Gentleman has put to me, which is a perfectly proper one, and must be answered, will really arise when the Committee come to consider the question of the contributions under the Bill. But I can give this assurance, that to-morrow the terms of the Bill to which we have referred will be in the hands of every Member of the House, and they will then be able to see the exact proposals the Government make. That will be in good and sufficient time before we come to discuss the appropriate part of the Bill, namely, the question of the contributions which have to be paid. I think everyone will agree it would not be proper in the course of this discussion to state the terms.

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Carmarthen

What reason is there— the Government must know what is in the Bill that is going to be published to-morrow—why we should not have it now? There is nothing improper in the Minister making a statement.

7.0 P.M.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I think the real answer is, in the first place, that it is irrelevant to the discussion to-day. The question whether the scheme should be contributory or not is not affected by the terms of the contribution. Secondly, I want to refer to certain criticisms which have been passed by hon. Members opposite. They have described the contributory proposals of the Bill as mean, despicable and a crime, and suggestions of that kind. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite have read an article which appeared the other day, which I can only quote from memory at the moment, in an evening newspaper written by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Snowden). He discussed this Bill and ended up with words which impressed themselves upon, my memory to the effect that, notwithstanding the criticisms which he had passed in the course of the article, he had come to the conclusion that, defective as he thought it was, it would undoubtedly bring relief and much needed relief to thousands of people in this country. I am content to rest upon the words of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer who certainly has been very strangely silent so far as this Debate is concerned, and I am not surprised because I think I can say this to the House, that there has not been a responsible Member of either of the two opposition parties who has got up in the House and said that he would have brought in a non-contributory Measure.

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

The ex-Minister of Health (Mr. Wheatley) said so.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

In fact the leader of the Liberal party expressed himself in favour of the contributory principle, and so did Lord Oxford in a speech in the country some time ago. So far as the responsible leaders of the Labour party are concerned, I have yet failed to bear a single one say that if they were now in the position we are in they would have brought in a non-contributory scheme, because they know perfectly well that the reason why a non-contributory scheme was not brought in by the Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer last year was simply because he had not sufficient money to do it.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

Have you plenty of money to do it?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

At no time during the Debate, either on the Second Reading or to-day, has the late Chancellor of the Exchequer come forward, with his full knowledge of the finances of the country, and said he would be prepared to lend his weight and authority to a proposal which the party opposite are now making—that there should be non-contributory Measure. No responsible person in this House who might ultimately have to deal with a Measure of this kind is prepared to come forward at this rime in the state of the finances of the country and say that any other proposal but a contributory Measure is possible. I want Members of this House to know that if this Amendment is carried it means the destruction of this scheme, and, if it means that, I hope hon. Members opposite, who certainly hold views about the popularity of this Measure which I do not share, will understand that by their votes on this Amendment they are voting against benefit to thousands of people.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

You know you are talking rot now.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

What has been the experience of my right hon. Friend and myself during the last few weeks? The main complaint—I do not say the only complaint—that we have from sections of the people is not to keep out of this Bill, but to come in I myself have received deputations introduced by hon Gentlemen opposite. What was the first purpose they stated? They complained that they were not permitted to come in. There is not the slightest doubt, as was expressly stated at the last General Election and as I believe every colleague of mine on this side of the House expressed it at that Election, that this party was in favour of the contributory principle. We are in favour of it for two reasons. One is because we believe it is the best thing for the character of the people; and, secondly, whatever our view on that may be, we have to have regard to the finances of the country at the present time.

An hon. Gentleman opposite asked some time ago what the cost of this scheme would be, and he put some questions to my right hon. Friend indicating that he had made no allowances for the savings on war pensions. I want to give just three figures to the House, because I think they should have them before they vote. I find, for instance, comparing the cost of this scheme, with war pensions, and making allowances for decreasing costs, and comparing it with the cost of a non-contributory scheme that the figures are very startling. Take, for instance, 1934–35. There the cost of our scheme, as we are presenting it to-day with the war pensions, is £93,000,000. If you compare that with a non-contributory scheme plus war pensions, the figure rises to £117,000,000. If you take it 10 years later, 1945, you get a figure of £102,000,000 as compared with £134,000,000; and, if you take it still another 10 years, 1955, the cost is £99,000,000 as compared with £138,000,000 with a non-contributory scheme. -Any one would have thought, listening to the speeches heard this afternoon, that the demand on the Government in regard to the social service of this country was only in connection with widows and orphans. All who have regard to health and housing progress and education progress in this country must bear in mind that further demands will come from that direction. Are we going to spend it ail on pensions? Have we not got to make the necessary provision and take into our calculations other demands which will be made in connection with the services in other aspects of the social programme? Why do hon. Members opposite say the widows' pension scheme shall be non-contributory and a national insurance scheme shall be contributory? The Leader of the Opposition said this about the National Insurance scheme: I was only the other day concerned in my own constituency to look up an article I wrote 15 years ago on this very subject, in which I discussed the problems of a contributory versus a non-contributory scheme, and I was delighted to find that I was of the same opinion as I am now, that a contributory scheme is the soundest scheme, from the economic point of view, and those of us who are consistent Socialists are bound to support it as opposed to a non-contributory scheme. That was a statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition when the National Health Insurance scheme was before the House.

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Aberavon

Will the hon. Gentleman be good enough, as apparently he has a repertoire of quotations, to quote also an article I wrote saying how there was nothing in common between a scheme of real social insurance and a scheme which emphasises individual interests—the division between the two sections?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I am afraid I have not got that. I will continue the quotation: I have said I am in favour of the contributory scheme. That means that I am in favour of insurance, for to talk about State insurance without contribution is simply to talk nonsense. Then the right hon. Gentleman goes on to say: The very word 'insurance' implies a contribution"—

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

Read the title of the Bill.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

The hon. Gentleman has forgotten that before I read this quotation, I asked if they had distinguished between national insurance and widows' pensions, and they said they did not distinguish. The right hon. Gentleman concluded his statement by saying: The very word 'insurance' implies a contribution, not a gift, nor a grant, nor a dole, but a contribution proportionate to the risk which is covered by the insurance. That really sums up the situation so far as this Bill is concerned. It is a first step towards, as we believe on this side of the House, making a very considerable contribution towards the needs of a very large number of people who have waited too long, and I ask the Committee this afternoon to reject this Amendment and endorse the decision and policy of the Government in bringing forward this Bill.

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Aberavon

I had no intention whatever of intervening before the Division, as I am perfectly willing to leave our views in the hands of my right hon. Friend, but really when a Gentleman who purports to be an authority on insurance calls this an Insurance Bill, a Bill that has to be considered on the principles of what are called economic insurance, it even surprises me in the case of the hon. Gentleman himself. This Bill is not insurance, because insurance, for one thing, means that your risk is estimated, that its cost is estimated, and that when you have paid in your money if here is any balance over you benefit from the balance.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Reading

It is only an endowment policy.

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Aberavon

An insurance is not a compulsory payment of 4d. or 6d. or 8d. in order to get something, and which, when you have got it, you have got irrespective of your contributions so far as the valuation is concerned. An insurance is a proposition the risk of which is estimated, the value of which is valued upon the basis of contributions. If the contribution is too much and it is a proprietary company, the proprietors benefit and pocket the difference. If it is a mutual company the shareholders, the contributors, benefit and pocket the difference. Those of us who are in mutual insurance societies know perfectly well that that is the basis. There is nothing in common with that feature of an economic problem and this Bill.

This Bill is an attempt on the part of the Government to shirk its own social responsibilities. It has come to the con- clusion that, owing to the state of the public mind, the demands of public morality and of public conscience, widows and orphans and old people should receive pensions which they do not now receive. Instead of regarding that social service as you regard, say, the social service of the protection of national health, as a public charge, they say that the people who are ultimately going to benefit because their needs have aroused the social conscience, shall pay for it; that they shall pay their fourpences and that they will then get a certain scale of benefit. But when they have that scale, there will be no fund, no balance for the distribution of benefits to which they have a legal title. There is no legal title in this Bill. It is a deposit, a payment made into a fund. If the fund prove to be adequate, well and good; if it prove to be inadequate, the State makes certain provision. It may be a good scheme or it may be a bad scheme, but for the hon. Member to quote what was an economic argument about insurance, and to imagine that because I hold those views, as I do, in regard to an insurance scheme, he can, therefore, apply that argument to this Bill, is sheer nonsense.

I shall vote for the Amendment because I do not believe this is an insurance scheme. I do not believe that these pensions ought to be subject to an insurance scheme. You can insure against risks in industry and you can insure against the risks of widowhood. This is a Bill the burden of which ought to be taken upon the shoulders of the Government, because this is a Bill to deal with a social service which is precisely of the same character as a public road, as public education, as the Army and Navy, and all those services that are ho longer paid for by the user as such, but paid for by the community by means of a scientifically imposed system of taxation.

Photo of Mr Walter Runciman Mr Walter Runciman , Swansea West

The right hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. MacDonald) has drawn a distinction between the proposals of this Bill and the principles of National Health Insurance. Whether that be a way of supporting this Amendment or not, I am not prepared to say. I desire to put before the Committee another point of view, which has been emphasised again and again by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) and the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne). The point that we reiterate and must go on repeating and emphasising is that the present time is certainly not the time when industry, which is already over-weighted, can bear further burdens.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health complained that if this became a non-contributory scheme it would place a heavy burden on the Exchequer. Surely, the hon. Gentleman is not going to say that the burden disappears if you make it a contributory scheme. The whole point of difference between a contributory and a non-contributory scheme is that the whole scheme has to be supported either by the taxpayer or the prospective beneficiary. It is a tax, however you raise it. Under the Government's scheme the tax is raised from the prospective beneficiaries. It is raised from those who are employed in industry, and otherwise. It is raised also from those who organise, manage or own industry, or who are employers in any respect whatever. If it were a non-contributory scheme it would be raised from the taxpayers as a whole, and I must say that, looking at it purely from the point of view of finance, it seems to me a much fairer scheme to raise what is necessary for the pensions of widows and orphans and old age pensions from the taxpayers as a whole rather than from a selected body of citizens.

May I press my point by an illustration of the kind of thing that was discussed yesterday? The Prime Minister, in a comprehensive speech, laid great stress upon the conditions of certain black spots. Where are those black spots to be found? In the coal trade, the iron and steel trade, shipbuilding and engineering. Under this scheme, each of these depressed industries will have to bear a burden which in some districts will wipe out the entire profit that they are now making. We know that to be the case in the coal industry. The Minister of Mines has already given figures which show that, in the last half of 1924 and, I believe, we shall see the same thing for the first quarter of 1925, the burden which this scheme will place upon the coalowners, upon the employers in the coal trade, will wipe out the whole of the profit which they made in that period. That is not the end of the story. When you turn to the shipbuilding industry, exactly the same thing will happen. At the very time when shipbuilders cannot produce vessels cheaply enough to compete in the world's markets, you are, under this scheme, making it more and more impossible for them to get rid of standing charges, which put them out of the markets in competition with the Dutch, and, to some extent, with the Dane. If you turn to engineering, exactly the same result is seen. In fact, upon all these black spots you are going to place a further burden.

The Minister of Health says, "That is all very well, but to-morrow we are going to tell you how we are going to relieve the black spots." Why should he not tell us now? He knows, and the compositors know. Why should not the House of Commons know? Why should we not know whether there is any provision in the proposals that are to be made public to-morrow which will relieve the industries in these black spot districts? Is the coal trade to receive any relief? Is the iron trade to receive any relief? Is the shipbuilding trade to receive any relief? What about those who are employed in those industries? Their wages have been pressed down in some of these trades below the average at which they stood in 1913–14, if you allow for the cost of living. The only thing that has enabled many of the shipbuilding yards and repairing yards to keep going during the last twelve months has been the fact that those who are employed there, taking a reasonable view of the conditions of the trade, were prepared to make great sacrifices in order to reduce the labour charges. At the very time when they are down at that low wage level, the Government under this proposal is going to place a burden of some pence —it may not be much, but it is something—upon these workpeople. If real relief is to be given them to-morrow, let it be made public to-day.

The right hon. Gentleman cannot get out of a discussion of this kind merely by saying that it is striking at the very root of the Bill. I do not believe that that is a fair statement, having regard to the principles on which the Bill has been drawn. This scheme could work perfectly well, even if the Government allowed in the rst few years the whole amount to be provided by the State. If it were provided by the State, it would be worked more economically and more justly than by placing the burden at the present time upon a specially selected class of taxpayers who, in many of these heavily depressed trades, are less able to bear it than they have ever been at any period during the last 50 years.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health says that this scheme is a useful contribution towards social reform. No one can deny that certain people have asked to come under this scheme who formerly were outside it. While that may be the case, the fact that they are asking to come in under the scheme proves that they are anxious to come in because of their extreme need. I would point out that during the War the soldier was not asked to make a contribution in order that he might receive a pension, or that his widow might receive a pension, in the event of his death. I would strengthen this illustration by reference to the coal miner. In the coal mining industry the casualties and the risk of death are as great as any casualties to which the coal miner was liable when he was serving in the Army during the War. To-day the risks of mining casualties are in many cases greater than were the risks run by the miners serving in the Army during the War. We have a position where miners who served in the War actually received better wages if they were married men with their allowances, their food and their clothing, than they are to-day receiving in industry, and the risk of their wife becoming a widow was certainly not greater during the War than it is to-day.

Had a proposal been made during the War that a soldier should contribute towards his pension or towards a pension for his wife and children in the event of his death, the whole nation would have been shocked. The argument would have been that the soldier was performing a national work. We maintain that, equally with the soldier in the War, the miner is to-day in getting coal for the community performing a national function. If it be the case that the soldier could not be asked to make a contribution towards his pension or the pension of his widow because he was performing a national duty, we submit that out of the inadequate wages of the miner to-day he ought not to be asked to pay towards a pension.

Take the professional classes in great cities like Glasgow or Liverpool. Take the case of the man who is earning £1,000 a year or more, as compared with the man who is earning £4, £3, or £2 a week. The latter person is asked to pay out of his small wage a contribution towards the pension of his widow and children in the event of his death. The man with £1,000 a year makes no contribution, but if by chance through his business becoming bankrupt or through himself excessively spending his money he is landed without anything, and he dies and leaves a widow, she can go to the parish council or to the board of guardians, and though he has not made a single contribution to this fund his widow can draw from the board of guardians more than the widow of a man who has made contributions to this fund. Take the case of a school teacher, a doctor, or a professional man who through neglect or spending his money in ill ways can ruin his life and can leave his widow on the rates. Though he never contributed, his widow can draw much more than the widow of the workman who has made these contributions. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health says that this is insurance. Under an insurance scheme this money would be paid in addition to what the Poor Law gives, because the man had made a special contribution. An insurance scheme would be the result of the man's savings or special contributions being repaid to him.

I have a brother, a doctor, and one an engineer. The engineer earns £3 a week, and he keeps my mother, who is a widow, but out of this £3 a week my brother is to be asked to pay 1s. 3d. all the year for unemployment and the widow. My young brother, who earns considerably more as a doctor, is not to pay a penny, although his ability to pay is three times greater than that of the poor engineer. There is no equity in that. Every day we read of school teachers coming to this House. They are extremely well paid compared with the rest of the community. They draw every penny of their wages from the community. The money is placed in a common fund, and those men and women, though they draw wages from the common fund of the country, are not to contribute for the common social service of keeping the widows.

The case of industry was referred to by the last speaker. I read the speech of the Prime Minister yesterday, in which he stated that the Government are considering the question of granting subsidies to certain industries that are depressed. The argument is that those industries need it to employ more men, yet the same Government are proceeding to-day to take money from those industries. They differentiate between the workman and the commercial traveller, the engineer and the doctor, those who need help most and those who need help least. It may be argued that this scheme is semi-popular. That may be so, but a scheme may be popular at this stage, before it gets to work, and he unpopular when contributions have to be paid, and when widows who think that they are inside the Act find that they are outside the Act. This country to-day is raising for National Debt purposes £350,000,000 a year, which goes mostly to people who render no social service to the community for it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It may be that they render other service, but for the £350,000,000 they render no service to the community. They raise, in addition to that, for local loans for authorities all over the country, over £100,000,000 per annum. The nation that can raise that amount can raise what is required for this scheme without asking for contributions from the wages of men who are earning £2 a week.

We are now agitating that the cost of keeping the poor should not fall on the poor area, but upon the nation as a whole, but now you are going to ask the poor industries to keep their own poor instead of placing the burden on national shoulders. That is the meanest form of action, the form of asking the poor people to keep the poor themselves. None of us Members of the House of Commons are going to be asked out of our salaries to make contributions towards keeping widows. Why should I, because I have left my pattern shop and become a Member of Parliament, not have to contribute? Why, because I have altered my job, should the Government alter my responsibilities? My social responsibility is greater to-day because my ability to pay has been increased, and consequently I ought to pay more. Why should my own brother, if he becomes a foreman to-morrow and has his wages increased and his ability to pay increased, cease to have the burden which was formally placed on him because he was poor?

In my trade, men who are proficient in their work often become servants of an education authority, and give manual instruction. When they do that their wages are increased by about £2 a week. A tradesman earns £2 15s. a week and he gets paid £2 extra, and paid for holidays and sick leave, when he makes this change, and yet when his occupation alters, though his duties to the community increase, he gets off paying a contribution because he is better able to pay it. Could there be a greater contradiction that that even among the working people, the better off they become the less they need pay, and the less they are penalised? The thing is ridiculous. A draftsman in a shipbuilding yard earns a comparatively small wage. If he transfers his services to the Glasgow County Council he gets much better wages and much more constant employment, though he still remains a draftsman. His social obligations are still the same, but because his wages are increased he is exempt from contribution, whereas formerly he was taxed. You tax a man now because he is poor and receives low wages and you exempt him because he becomes well off.

The same principle is applied to the rating of houses. A working man leaves a small house and moves to a larger house to give his1 family the benefit of sunshine and fresh air. The moment he endeavours to give his family this better chance, you increase his rates. You now extend this principal to wages. The better off the man becomes the more he is placed in a privileged position. We now hear of proposals that may have some effect in relieving the burden on parish councils, but we all know that the contribution is not to be taken from the employer, because the reduction is to take place at the cost of the unemployment fund. It is not even the employers who will pay, but it is the poor people who will suffer. You might to-morrow engage in a war about China, either for or against Japan. If we were to start a war then, as was the case in the last war, our side would be always right, but if this Government or any other Government declares war you will find 10 times the cost of this scheme in less than six months for destroying life, for build- ing naval bases at Singapore, for increasing the Army and the Navy. If we were in danger from Germany, Japan or America, this nation could find 10 times the sum which is needed to provide social pensions for our widows. We are faced to-day with even greater danger, the danger of poverty among our people, and you are not giving them any decent chance by this method. It is not a correct method.

It may be said by Members opposite that our Government would have done the same. When we were a Government we at least could do what the other side never have done so far, and do not seem likely to do. When we thought our Government wrong we usually told them so. If our Government had brought in this scheme, the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), myself and others would have criticised our Government equally as much as we criticise yours. We would never have tolerated it. I would never myself, and some of my colleagues would never, have stood for five minutes a shabby thing like that, which is contemptible from the Tories, and which would be equally so from any other kind of Government. My view is that our party never would have introduced it because the party would never have agreed to it. Our view is that there is too much talk about poverty. Where is the poverty? Ascot does not prove poverty, your dresses do not prove poverty. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Do not sneer at this. If sneering comes we can sneer as well as everyone else. We do not hear so much about sob-stuff now since the Prime Minister has gone in for it. One does not see poverty apart from the poor people. Our Income Tax and Super-tax returns prove every year that a small section of the community is becoming richer and richer each year, while the large masses are becoming poorer and poorer.

In my belief this Bill is introduced because the Government think that the coming of a Labour Government is inevitable in the future, and that by passing this Measure they will be passing legislation that will be typical and a basis for any other Government of the future. All I can say with regard to that is, that this contributory scheme will not last one day longer than the new Government, if it be Labour, can afford to give to get it scrapped. I hope that members of our party will fight the Bill not only here but in the country. I am not afraid of the result. I would go back to my own constituency and fight on this issue and accept the verdict of the people. Imagine the injustice of asking a miner, with greater danger to his life daily than he had when he was in the Army, to pay contributions out of 30s. a week. The miner to-day is less able to pay for a pension for his widow than he was when he served in the Army. The average wage of the miners in my constituency works out at 34s. 6d. a week. The Government would have rebelled against a soldier contributing. We rebel against the miner contributing. The rich can afford to pay. The Noble Lady the Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor) can afford to pay; by means of Super-tax she could contribute more than she is doing. Talk about philanthropy and charity! If we started to keep the poor under a proper national scheme, we would need none of your charity. I am tired of charity, tired of the handing out of a few shillings to the poor. It is the nation's duty to keep the widow. If the nation can keep the widow of the late King it can keep the widow of a miner, and see that she is secure against privations and poverty, and that her children are given the chance of a decent life, even as is done in the case of a Royal prince or duke.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Huddersfield

The performance that we had a little while ago from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health was undoubtedly brought about by the fact that, although he had been appealed to several times during the Debate to provide information upon which the value of the Debate must ultimately depend, throughout he failed to give that information, and, indeed, proved in his speech that the only argument he had was an old, dished-up quotation used, not once only in these Debates, but several times— a quotation which was ultimately shown to have no relationship whatever to the question under discussion. Unfortunately, the Minister of Health was in no better situation. Apparently, the only argument that he had to advance against the Amendment was that we had introduced it for electoral purposes. At any rate he should be a good judge upon that matter, or the party that he represents should be. I observed only last week-end, on the walls of a Conservative club in the West Dorsetshire division, a beautifully coloured poster, appropriately blue, promising the worker many things, with the aid of graphic representations and nicely drawn rectangles, each covered with 10s.—10s. for the widow and 10s. for the worker, if he survives until 60 years of age—and away in the top of the poster, hardly observed until you came to look closely at it, four little circles representing the four little pennies that each week you are going to extract from him. At the bottom of this carefully prepared poster was the statement that any who desired further information about the magnificent benefits they were receiving from the present Government, would gladly be provided with it by the Conservative agent. Apparently it was not necessary for the Conservative Association which has been responsible for the printing of these posters, to wait for this Debate or for the Minister's speech. These do not count at all.

I submit that the Minister of Health knew perfectly well, when he made the statement to-night, that this Amendment had been brought forward for electoral purposes, that it is exactly for such purposes that this Bill has been drafted and that the poster I have mentioned has been circulated. Let us leave that point, which apparently was the main point that the Minister had to bring forward. Let us discuss again what we consider to be the very serious backward step that has been made in connection with this proposal. As one of my hon. Friends has shown, even such advantages as we gained many years past as a result of the old age pensions legislation, when the workers were kept free from contributions, are ultimately to be taken entirely away from the workers, for the proposal that we are now discussing is one that must ultimately mean that both for widows and for old age pensions the contributory principle shall be the sole principle. It is very important to consider what would have happened had this legislation not been introduced. What would have been the position of the workers in the West Dorsetshire Division? They would have had from their boards of guardians support more generous than the support which is contemplated in this Bill. In many of the Yorkshire areas, boards of guardians grant to a widow with three children a. subvention in excess of 30s. a week. In some cases it is as much as 35s. or 36s. a week, when you take into account the allowances for rent, coal and so on. What is the proposal of the Bill? It is 10s. for the widow, 5s. for the first child, and 3s. for each subsequent child. That is to say, you propose to give 21s. to a widow with three children. There is not very much benefit to be obtained by that, when you consider that at the present time the benefits that would be received by working people who might be compelled to go to boards of guardians are greater.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I think the arguments now used by the hon. Member would be more appropriate on a subsequent Amendment. On this Amendment he must confine himself to the question whether this should be a contributory or a non-contributory scheme.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Huddersfield

I am trying to show that the contributions which would be forthcoming, had this scheme not gone through, would have been contributions provided through the ordinary process of payment of taxes and rates, contributions that would have been drawn, not from the workers alone or from the employers, but would have been drawn generally from the community. I want to ask the Minister, what ground is there for letting off the landlords in connection with this matter? Why should they not be contributing to a scheme for widows' pensions? What ground is there for letting off large numbers of other persons who at present are compelled to contribute to widows and the children of widows by such arrangements as we now make? I make the suggestion to the Minister that this is a deliberate plan by which he is shifting the burden from the shoulders of all to the shoulders of a limited number. The worst part of this proposition is that it is brought in at a time following constant reductions in wages. The working classes have lost in one year alone £500,000,000 in wages. It is following that experience that the Government come forward with a proposal that a further contribution of 4d. per week should be taken from the workers.

8.0 P.M.

Those who followed carefully the speech of the Chancellor of the Ex- chequer will remember that he stated that the reason why the State had to come in at all, with regard to pensions for widows, was that large masses of the people had been entirely unable to provide for the dreadful consequences of death, if death ever assailed the breadwinner in the family. If they could not provide for these dreadful consequences, why does the Government come in with this proposal of a further additional burden for the worker? It is entirely unjust. It is particularly unjust when one remembers that we have frequently reminded the Government how easy it would have been to have collected this money in the form of Super-tax and Income Tax. It is a piece of class legislation, particularly when you consider it from the point of view of the contributions, and it is for that reason, more than any other, that we shall offer our opposition to the Bill, and we bring this Amendment forward.

Captain BENN:

I would like to reinforce what has been said. I am going to vote for this Amendment. I do not see how a Member of a party which brought in a plan of non-contributory pensions can vote for a plan which is going to put even the existing system on a contributory basis. We know that this is a 'heavy burden on industry. We know there is a plan promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech. We know that it is formulated, that it has been approved by the Cabinet, that it is in print and has been presented, and in a few hours will be circulated to us by the Vote Office. It has a most material bearing upon this Amendment. It is obvious we cannot decide on the question before us without knowing what the Government are going to do to assist industry. What possible reason can the right hon. Gentleman, who is geniality, candour and information itself in this House, have for not telling us? Will not the Minister of Labour allow him? We are going to know in a few hours. It has a most direct bearing upon the issue, and, therefore, it seems to me, the most proper thing for us to do would be to postpone the discussion on this Clause. It may be that when the proposals of the Government are explained, everyone will abandon the Amendment, or, it may be, when they are explained, everyone will vote for the Amendment. But we cannot make up our minds about the Amendment until we know the facts, which are not secret, but merely have not reached us in time. Therefore, I ask you, Sir, whether we should be in order in moving, not that the Debate be adjourned, because I have no desire to delay the general progress of the Bill, but that the further consideration of Clause I should be adjourned, in order that we may have his information before us before we come to a decision. I, therefore, beg to move, "That the Clause be postponed."

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I cannot accept that Motion.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

May I put it that this is very germane to the discussion upon which we are now embarked? We are really arguing without all the facts before us. One of the main arguments being used now is that of the burden on industry, and, unless we know the true position of industry, we are at a serious disadvantage, and it is not quite fair to the Committee to be left in this position. I think we should have some information from the Government.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I will accept the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Motion if it be put in the form of reporting Progress, but not to postpone the Clause in the middle of the discussion.

Captain BENN:

I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

I did not move to report Progress before, for the reason I gave.

Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

The Committee proceeded to a Division.

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Carmarthen

On a point of Order. Surely we are entitled to make a statement?

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

Several Members, including myself, rose. I was going to suggest that there should be some sort of reply from the Government.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. and gallant Member is not in Order. Clear the Lobby.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

I want to protest against your putting) this Motion— [Interruption.] I am going to protest against your putting this Motion, after having looked at the other side of the House, and refusing to look at this side.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

I am not going to sit down. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order"] I raise a point of Order. [HON. MEMBERS: "Sit down."] I shall not sit down.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

If the hon. Member will sit down, I will deal with his point of Order. When a Division has been called, an hon. Mem-

ber who wishes to raise a point of Order must be seated and covered.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

I am refusing to accept your ruling after the Division has been called. You have only looked at the Government side, and declined to look at this side.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

(seated and covered): The right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) and other Members wished to discuss the Question of reporting Progress, and I put it to you that a Division should not have been called. I very respectfully submit to you that the Division is not in order.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I have exercised that discretion which is given to me.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 148; Noes, 266.

Division No. 220]AYES.[8.8 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)Saklatvala, Shapurji
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)Scrymgeour, E.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Scurr, John
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)Sexton, James
Attlee, Clement RichardHardie, George D.Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Harris, Percy A.Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Baker, WalterHayday, ArthurShort, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Hayes, John HenrySimon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Barnes, A.Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Sitch, Charles H.
Barr, JHirst, G. H.Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Batey, JosephHirst, W. (Bradford, South)Smillie, Robert
Beckett, John (Gateshead)Hore-Belisha, LeslieSmith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Jenkins. W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Briant, FrankJohn, William (Rhondda, West)Snell, Harry
Broad, F. A.Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)
Buchanan, G.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Stamford, T. W.
Charleton, H. C.Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Stephen, Campbell
Clowes, S.Kelly, W. T.Sutton, J. E.
Cluse, W. S.Kennedy, T.Taylor, R. A.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Compton, JosephKirkwood, D.Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)
Connolly, M.Lansbury, GeorgeThorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Cove, W. G.Lawson, John JamesThurtle, E.
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Lee, F.Tinker, John Joseph
Dalton, HughLivingstone, A. M.Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Lowth, T.Varley, Frank B.
Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)Lunn, WilliamViant, S. P.
Day, Colonel HarryMacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)Wallhead, Richard C.
Dennison, R.Mackinder, W.Warns, G. H.
Duckworth, JohnMacLaren, AndrewWatson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Duncan, C.March, S.Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Dunnico, H.Maxton, JamesWebb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Edwards, John H. (Accrington)Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir AlfredWelsh, J. C.
Fenby, T. D.Montague, FrederickWheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Forrest, W.Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)Whiteley, W.
Garro-Jones, Captain G M.Murnin, H.Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Gibbins, JosephNaylor, T. E.Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Gillett, George M.Oliver, George HaroldWilliams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Gosling, HarryPalin, John HenryWilliams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Paling, W.Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Greenall, T.Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Windsor, Walter
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)Potts, John S.Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Riley, BenTELLERS FOR THE AYES
Groves, T.Ritson, J.Sir Godfrey Collins and Major Crawfurd.
Grundy, T. W.Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwich)
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)
NOES.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.Edmondson, Major A. J.Macintyre, I.
Ainsworth, Major CharlesElliot, Captain Walter E.McLean, Major A.
Albery, Irving JamesElvedon, ViscountMacMillan, Captain H.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)England, Colonel A.Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)Malone, Major P. B.
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)Margesson, Captain D.
Astor, ViscountessEvans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)Marriott, Sir J. A. R.
Atholl, Duchess ofEverard, W. LindsayMason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.
Atkinson, C.Fairfax, Captain J. G.Merriman, F. B.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyFielden, E. B.Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Finburgh, S.Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)
Balniel, LordFleming, D. P.Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Barclay-Harvey C. M.Ford, P. J.Moles, Thomas
Barnett, Major Sir RichardForestier-Walker, Sir L.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.
Barnston, Major Sir HarryFoxcroft, Captain C. T.Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)Frece, Sir Walter deMoreing, Captain A. H.
Bethell, A.Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Murchison, C. K.
Betterton, Henry B.Gadie, Lieut.-Col. AnthonyNelson, Sir Frank
Birchall, Major J. DearmanGalbraith, J. F. W.Neville, R. J.
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)Ganzoni, Sir JohnNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)Gee, Captain R.Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld.)
Blades, Sir George RowlandGlyn, Major R. G. C.Nuttall, Ellis
Blundell, F. N.Goff, Sir ParkOakley, T.
Boothby, R. J. G.Grace, JohnO'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftGreene, W. P. CrawfordO'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh
Bowater, Sir T. VansittartGretton, Colonel JohnOman, Sir Charles William C.
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.Gunston, Captain D. W.Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Pennefather, Sir John
Brass, Captain W.Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Brassey, Sir LeonardHall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Briggs, J. HaroldHarland, A.Perring, William George
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeHarney, E. A.Pielou, D. P.
Brittain, Sir HarryHarvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)Pilcher, G.
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Haslam, Henry C.Preston, William
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.Hawke, John AnthonyPrice, Major C. W. M.
Broun-Lindsay, Major H.Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.Radford, E. A.
Buckingham, Sir H.Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)Raine, W.
Bullock, Captain M.Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)Ramsden, E.
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir AlanHeneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel
Burman, J. B.Hennessy. Major J. R. G.Rawson, Alfred Cooper
Butler, Sir GeoffreyHerbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Reid Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHerbert, S. (York, N. R. Scar. & Wh'by)Remer, J. R.
Caine, Gordon HallHilton, CecilRemnant, Sir James
Campbell, E. T.Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.Rentoul, G. S.
Cassels, J. D.Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)Rice, Sir Frederick
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardRichardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A.Holt, Capt. H. P.Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)Hopkins, J. W. W.Rye, F. G.
Chapman, Sir S.Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Salmon, Major I.
Christie, J. A.Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston SpencerHome, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Churchman, Sir Arthur C.Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)Sandeman, A. Stewart
Clarry, Reginald GeorgeHume, Sir G. H.Sanderson, Sir Frank
Clayton, G. C.Huntingfield, LordSavery, S. S.
Cobb, Sir CyrilHurd, Percy A.Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.Hurst, Gerald B.Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl.(Renfrew, W.)
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Mldl'n & P'bl's.)Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)
Colfox, Major Wm. PhillipsJackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.Shepperson, E. W.
Conway, Sir W. MartinJacob, A. E.Skelton, A. N.
Cooper, A. DuffJames, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSmith-Carington, Neville W.
Cope, Major WilliamJephcott, A. R.Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Couper, J. B.Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)Spender Clay, Colonel H.
Crook, C. W.Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir WilliamSprot, Sir Alexander
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)Stanley, Col. Hon. G.F.(Will'sden, E.)
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gamsbre)King, Captain Henry DouglasStorry Deans, R.
Cunliffe, Joseph HerbertKinloch-Cooke, Sir ClementStott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Curzon, Captain ViscountLamb, J. Q-Strickland, Sir Gerald
Dalkeith, Earl ofLane-Fox, Lieut.-Col. George R.Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipTasker, Major R. Inigo
Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Loder, J. de V.Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Dawson, Sir PhilipLooker, Herbert WilliamTitchfield, Major the Marquess of
Dean, Arthur WellesleyLougher, L.Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. HerbertLuce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard HarmanWaddington, R.
Doyle, Sir N. GrattanMacAndrew, Charles GlenWallace, Captain D. E.
Drewe, C.Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Eden, Captain AnthonyMcDonnell, Colonel Hon. AngusWarner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Warrender, Sir VictorWilliams, Herbert G. (Reading)Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Water house, Captain CharlesWilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).
Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel GeorgeWragg, Herbert
Watts, Dr. T.Wise, Sir FredricYoung, E. Hilton (Norwich)
Wells, S. R.Wolmer, Viscount
White, Lieut.-Colonel G. DairympleWomersley, W. J.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)Colonel Gibbs and Lord Stanley.
Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W. R., Ripon)

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

On a point of Order. In giving a ruling to the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn) you, Sir, said it was at your discretion to continue a Debate on a Motion to report Progress, and you claimed to be within your right as Chairman in declaring a Division at once and refusing to observe hon. Members who rose on this side of the Committee to carry on the discussion on the Motion to report Progress. I wish to draw your attention, Sir, to the terms of the Standing Order under which you gave that ruling, namely, Standing Order No. 23. If Mr. Speaker, or the Chairman of a Committee of the whole House, shall be of opinion that a Motion for the Adjournment of a debate, or of the House, during any debate, or that the Chairman do report progress, or do leave the Chair, is an abuse of the Rules of the House, he may forthwith put the question thereupon from the Chair, or he may decline to propose the question thereupon to the House. Now, I understand you, Sir, have given it as a ruling that you can exercise your discretion and I call your attention to the fact that you can exercise your discretion only where you think there has been an abuse of the Rules of the House. I ask whether you consider the Motion to report Progress, made by my hon. and gallant Friend in order to elicit what a number of the Members of this House consider to be very necessary information to enable us to continue the discussion upon this Clause, is an abuse of the Rules of the House?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The Standing Order clearly lays down that I can use my discretion as to whether I accept the Motion or whether I do not, or rather as to whether I put the question forthwith or whether I refuse it altogether. In the case under consideration, I accepted the Motion and put it to a Division without further discussion, as I am clearly entitled to do under the rules.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

I have read Standing Order 23 under which you claim to have discretionary power. That discretionary power is limited to cases where the Chairman thinks there has been an abuse of the Rules of the House. You have not given a ruling upon my point as to whether this Motion to report Progress made in order to elicit what a number of Members of the House consider to be necessary information for the Debate on the Bill before the Committee, is an abuse of the Rules of this House. The Minister of Health and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health have admitted that these figures are a necessity and they have stated that for the information of Members they will be laid before the House to-morrow. I ask if a demand for information which is considered necessary on the contributory Clause of this Bill is considered by you, Sir, in your discretion to be an abuse of the rules?

Photo of Captain Robert Gee Captain Robert Gee , Bosworth

Is it not the fact that you, Sir, or Mr. Speaker, has a discretionary power, and that no Member of the House has a right to call upon you to explain why you exercise that discretionary power? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

Let me deal with one point at a time. The hon. and gallant Member for Bosworth (Captain Gee) has asked me whether I have to give my reasons for using my discretion in a certain way. I think in certain circumstances I ought to give my reasons for any ruling. In this particular instance it certainly appeared to me that, after four hours' discussion of the particular Amendment, it was an abuse of the Rules of the House to move to report Progress. Any information which hon. Members sought might have been obtained in the course of four hours' discussion.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

Are you aware, Sir, that when Mr. Hope was in the Chair this question was raised by at least two hon. Members who took part in the Debate, and then we vainly tried to get information from the Minister? We had hoped that when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry spoke he would have given the information. In these circumstances, do you think it quite fair to say that it was an abuse of the Rules to move to report Progress in order to get this information?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

All I can say is that that was the decision to which I came, and I do not see any reason to alter it now.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

May I point out that we were not discussing during these four hours the points that we sought to elicit by the Motion to report Progress. We were discussing the pros and cons of an Amendment against the contributory principle of the Bill and in response to statements made by the Minister of Health and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health that certain figures which were considered to be necessary information for the purposes of the Debate would be laid before the House to-morrow, the Motion was made to report Progress in order to obtain that information to-night. I am pointing out that the Motion to report Progress sought to elicit information which had not been discussed by the Committee, which had not been before the Committee and which could not have been discussed in the four hours Debate and therefore your point that it was an abuse of the rules to move to report Progress because that Motion was made with the object of discussing something which had already been discussed is, as I think on reflection you will admit—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"]—I think, Sir, on reflection—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] —I think on reflection—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order! "]—

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Member has not said anything disorderly.

Photo of Mr Henry Cautley Mr Henry Cautley , East Grinstead

May I ask what is the Question before the House?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Member is—at some length, I must admit —putting a point of Order.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

Even though the point of Order is being made at length, I think in the past many things in this House have been carried through to a useful issue by lengthy points of Order. I am asking if, on reflection, when you have seen what I have said recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT you will not admit that you were a little precipitate in keeping your eyes fixed on the Government side of the Committee— [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"]

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I do not wish to intervene if the hon. Member does not himself get out of Order in putting his point of Order, but I think, at the moment, he is coming rather near to it. I might bring the matter to a close or, at any rate, shorten the discussion on this point of Order, if I say that the hon. Member has been kind enough to give me some time in which to reflect on my decision, but I have not changed my mind.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

Of course, the longer time that one gets to reflect—

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

On the main question of the Amendment before the Committee, might I now ask the Prime Minister if he will be good enough to give us some information as—

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I must put some Question before the Committee. If the hon. and gallant Member proposes to continue the discussion on the Amendment, he is entitled to speak, but not on the point of Order.

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

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

I have not finished with the point of Order.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

May I put this point of Order to you, Captain FitzRoy?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

Is the hon Member putting a fresh point of Order?

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

I am. The fresh point of Order I am putting is that when the hon. and gallant Member moved to post- pone the discussion upon this Clause, you rose and said that, as you could not accept that, you would suggest to him that he should move to report Progress, and upon your own suggestion the hon. and gallant Member moved to report Progress, and when we want to continue the discussion upon that Motion, you rule us out of order and put the Question forthwith. I am asking why that is done by you.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

That is exactly the point we decided a moment ago

Photo of Mr William Mackinder Mr William Mackinder , Shipley

Further to that point of Order. Might I ask you, as Chairman, how you can consider it an abuse of the Rules of this House to discuss a Motion to report Progress, when you yourself suggested to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that he should move to report Progress?

Captain BENN:

On that point of Order. Might I point out that I, of course, was solely responsible for moving to report Progress? I would suggest to my hon. Friends that the responsibility should rest with me, and not with the Chair.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

The Prime Minister is now present, and I do not think he has heard the whole of the discussion. Indeed, I do not know that any hon. Member has sat through the Debate for four hours.

HON. MEMBERS: Oh, yes, we have

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

I compliment my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) on his pertinacity, but certainly neither the Prime Minister nor I has sat here the whole time, and as this is a matter that affects the Prime Minister, I will put the point to him. One of the main points we have been discussing is the burden on industry. To-day the House gave a formal First Reading to the amending Bill on unemployment insurance, which, we understand, alters the contributions by workers and employers. I do not think it is asking too much to ask that we should be informed simply as to the terms of that Bill. It is in print now, and it will be issued in the Vote Office to-morrow. It has been read the First time. The information contained in it is very germane to this discussion, and I do not think it is treating the Committee pro- perly, or, I think I may say, with respect, for the Minister of Health to remain perfectly silent or for him not to send for the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he can give us this information. I think we are entitled to have this information. The request is not unreasonable, and I must press the Government to give us some information.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I think it is perhaps desirable that I should say another word or two in regard to the question that has been repeated so often, and I would like to express to hon. Members first of all, why I do not think the information for which they are asking is necessary to enable them to make up their minds as to the particular Amendment which is before them, the Amendment as to whether this Bill is to be on a contributory or a non-contributory basis. Secondly, I should like to say a word as to why I have thought it undesirable that I should enter upon a discussion of the details of a Measure which is not yet available in the Vote Office. In the first place, I have to recall that the hon. and gallant Member who moved to report progress just now began his speech by saying he was going to vote for this Amendment anyhow. That was hardly consistent with the argument, which he afterwards propounded, that it was quite necessary to have this information before voting on the Amendment. That may, I think, throw a certain amount of light on the spirit with which this matter is being discussed. But I would reply rather to a speech made by the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman), who dealt with this matter rather more elaborately than some other Members who have spoken.

He was particularly emphatic about the danger of the burden upon industry imposed by the provisions of this Bill. There were two ways in which you might remove this burden, according to the right hon. Gentleman. One was to make the scheme non-contributory, although I might, in passing, say that it has been frequently argued—and I think it was argued by the right hon. Gentleman himself—that all taxation ultimately comes upon industry, and, therefore, it surely should not make very much difference whether the scheme is contributory or non-contributory. As a matter of fact. the House has already accepted the contributory principle in regard to the Bill on Second Reading. But there was a second way in which you could deal with the matter, and it was one suggested by the right hon. Gentleman himself. He said you could postpone the operation of the Bill, at any rate, so far as the contributions were concerned. That is a matter which can be discussed perfectly well at a later stage of the Bill, and, therefore, it really is not necessary that we should have before us the exact burden upon industry at this moment in order to decide whether the Bill should have a contributory or a non-contributory basis. Those who are in favour of a contributory system can vote for it now, and afterwards we can quite well discuss what measures may or may not be necessary in order to postpone or diminish the burden upon industry.

It is not that I am anxious to keep information from the Committee which they ought to have or want to have. The information will be in their hands to-morrow, and, therefore, it is only a question of a few hours, but it really does not seem to me to be a proper thing that a Minister should begin to give explanations or information about the details of a Bill which is in the Department of another Minister, which he has not got before him now, and which explanations might very easily lead to misunderstanding and misinformation on the part of hon. Members. I have not the slightest doubt that, if I began now to say exactly what that Bill does, I should have innumerable questions from hon. Members opposite about all sorts of other points, but it is not really right or fair that such a position should be created, and, therefore, in view of what I have said, in view of the fact that it is not necessary to have the information now, and in view of the obvious objections to discussing the text of the other Bill at this stage, I hope the request will not continue to be pressed.

Mr. BECKETT:

I am entirely at a loss to understand the rather slipshod method of dealing with public business which the Minister of Health has just recommended to this Committee. We hear ad nauseam in this Chamber long, learned, grave and solemn admonitions from hon. Gentlemen opposite who have come here after long experience of business methods, and on every small proposition we make, every suggestion even of the smallest addition to national expenditure for the benefit of the people whom we represent, there are never wanting grave and learned business men who rise on the other side of the House and say to us: "Give us the exact figure, put it in front of us, work it out in £ s. d., our hearts beat for the poor just as much as yours, but we must know exactly what it will cost." Then one of their leaders, the Minister of Health, tells this Committee, on one of the most important pieces of legislation of the year, that we can come to a decision as to whether industry can bear this very great burden or not without knowing anything like the precise burden, or any amount of the burden, which industry is going to bear. I must confess that I am very surprised—and disappointed— that it has been possible for me to get an opportunity to address this Committee owing to the lack of the desire of hon. Members on the other side to take part in this Debate. I have read the Press which represents hon. Gentlemen opposite and all that concerns them so admirably in the country. I have been reading the description of the four black pennies, and the donkey with the four heads, with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health on the top of it, and the remarks about it all. I hope that the hon. Gentleman opposite will not consider this an offensive remark, but I am quoting from his own Press. After all, the knowledge we ask for is frequently claimed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I do not think they are denied it. They represent the business experience of this House just the same as many of my colleagues on these benches claim to represent the organised working classes in the country's industry, and I am surprised to find that a new piece of legislation, which imposes the very gravest burden both on the large employers and on the workmen, is allowed to pass without any of that able and skilled criticism which, according to the papers of hon. Gentlemen opposite, the hon. Member for Ilford (Sir F. Wise) can deliver so admirably when he chooses to do so. I should like, if I may, to point out the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite on this Bill and the attitude of a certain section of hon. Members on my left, of the Liberal party, whom we may call the Sons of Mary. There are two kinds of industry and there are two kinds of capitalists. There is the kind of capitalist and the kind of industry about which this side of the House may disagree fundamentally, but which we realise, under the present system of society, consists of men who are actively—

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The present system of society seems a little wide when it is a question of the contributions under this Bill.

Mr. BECKETT:

I am very sorry, but I want to point out the heavy burdens which the four black pennies are going to place on a certain branch of industry, that branch of industry being the more valuable of the two kinds of industry that we have in this country. The industry that will not be affected, and will have no responsibility for the old people, the widows, and the orphans under this Bill, are the bucket-shop keepers, the cosmopolitan financiers, and the manœu-verers of the papers. They contribute not one useful action in the whole of their lives for the benefit of the people of the world, but they extract toll from all the people. I refer to the people who make money either from the workmen or from a big industry. Those people bear no responsibility for looking after the widows and the orphans. These people will not bear these burdens. These people if anything in this world even in these difficult times can be described as getting money easily and cheaply, get it, and they bear no part or share of the national burden. The whole weight of the burdens are placed, one part upon the unfortunate working people who are earning a very low wage. As my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) said, they have very little, and if they get a little more salary the Minister of Health recognises them as coming nearer to his own class and lets them off any share of the burdens which they otherwise would have to bear. The other sections attacked are the sections whom hon. Members opposite, on more favoured occasions, claim to represent. The final blow to any belief I had in the legitimate sympathy with the unemployed of what is known as the business group in this House was when I listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond). Yesterday, in this House, he was telling us that if we are to get men employed we must pay the employers to employ them—"If you will pay wages, I and my friends will have as many labourers as you like." To-day he comes to us and says he is going to vote in favour of making an employer pay 4d. extra for every unemployed man whom he absorbs. That seems to be very peculiar finance, and to be entirely contradictory. A much more serious aspect of the Debate has been the thoroughly irritating way in which thoroughly comfortable Members have risen in their places one after the other to tell us how good it is for working people to save. What character it gives them when they pay for everything they get! Only a few days ago I read in the Press of an hon. Member on the Government Front Bench, a popular and a deservedly popular Member of this House, who has just been fortunate enough, and I am sure we all join in congratulating him, to drop into a very, very large sum of money which he has done nothing whatever to earn. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health is going to see that the oral character of his colleague is not impaired.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I think the question of whether or not pensions are to be contributed to by certain people is what we are discussing.

Mr. BECKETT:

But if I may remind you, Sir, because I think you were in the Chair when it happened, the Minister of Health in his opening remarks went out of his way to tell us that his chief object was to safeguard the moral character of the worker, and as he is so anxious to look after the moral character of our friends, perhaps we may also be allowed to express a little anxiety as to the moral character of his.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I do not think the morality of those who sit on the Government Bench has anything to do with the question of contributions.

Mr. BECKETT:

And I do not think that the morality of the workers has anything whatever to do with the question whether they are to be fleeced to pay for these benefits. That has been the subject of the few discourses we have been-privileged to hear from the other side of the House this afternoon.

Then we have had a second plea, look how much it will cost. It is suggested that it is question of a contributory pension or no pension at all, and the Parliamentary Secretary, in his reply, tried that very overworked and unscrupulous electoral trick of telling us that if we press our Amendment we are going to wreck the whole Bill. The majority of this House may do whatever they consider fit, and if the majority of this House decide that the wisdom of the Parliamentary Secretary and his right hon. Friend can be surpassed by the wisdom of the House, that does not say that no legislation for the interest of these people can come from any other two Members except the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health and his right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. If we carry this Amendment, as we should, I think, if quarter-deck discipline were not so strict on the other side, the Bill would not be wrecked, the Bill would merely be revised, perhaps by different Members of this House, and a scheme be evolved by responsible members of the Labour party which would embrace a non-contributory system of pensions. It would not cost any more.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day genially rebuked some of us on this side of the House because, he said, we were preaching class warfare. Many hon. Members opposite tell us continually it would be better if we regarded the nation as one class and not as a set of classes. If that is so, we ought to regard the wealth of the nation as a national asset; the care of the old, the sick and the widows as a national charge; and if we are to drop any fear we may have that Members opposite believe in class warfare they must persuade us they are ready to take their share of the national community burden which every decent civilised Christian of any side of the House should be prepared to accept. I welcome the advance which the Conservative party have made in this regard; but when it comes to the question of finding money there is no such thing as a non-contributory method, it is just a question of where the money comes from. The money has to be got out of the stock of national wealth. We can smile at the national wealth, or weep at it, according to our mood, but the fact remains that there is so much money in the country and it may be used for one purpose or another. If, as I hope, we are all agreed that the care of the old, of the widows and of the orphans is a charge for which we must all be responsible, then there is no longer any grave fundamental breach on that matter. The breach comes on the question of who is to pay, and here we find the disadvantage of having in power a rich man's Government, elected on the cry "Beware of the Bolshie bogey," dealing with problems of the poor which they do not understand and do not make any serious endeavour to consider. The very wealthy people are to bear no burden; and the Parliamentary Secretary will be glad to take part, because of the tame majority behind him, in what, I have no doubt will be the thoroughly congenial task of running round the country—either he or his deputies—to rob the weekly wages of the poor of 4d. in order that his friends behind him may remain uncomfortably rich.

Photo of Mr William Robinson Mr William Robinson , Elland

I desire to express the opinion of the workers on this matter. Yesterday I was at a meeting in Manchester representing more than 500,000 workers in the textile industry and with representatives of the big textile amalgamation, and they unanimously decided against a contributory scheme of pensions. One can understand why those people are against it. I guarantee that 75 per cent. of the workers who are going to have to contribute to their own pensions do not earn a full week's wage every week in the year. Very often they draw not more than half a week's wages, but the contributions for health insurance and for industrial insurance are deducted all the same. It does not matter if they work no more than half a day, they have to pay their contribution. It will be a sad day for any textile representative, either from Lancashire or Yorkshire, who votes for a contributory system to be applied to these people. In the textile industry both the employing class and the operative class are opposed to this charge being placed on industry. It is for the Government to consider the position, and I hope and trust they will consider it. This ought to be a non-contributory scheme. What a scandal it is to think of old people, who have built up this country, being told, "If you are to have old age pensions in the future, you have got to pay for them before you get them." In the textile industry we are absolutely opposed to a contributory scheme of pensions, and I hope the Government will bear in mind what the feeling of the great textile industry is. Nearly 1,000,000 workers in Lancashire and Yorkshire are affected by the decision that has been taken, and they are unanimous in their decision. Conference after conference has taken that view, and I know exactly the feeling not only of the people who have to work but of those who employ them. They have enough contributions to pay, they have enough taxation to pay, and instead of increasing taxation the Government ought to be considering how they can reduce it, so that industry can revive and the cost of living be made less than it is.

Photo of Major Hon. Sir Edward Cadogan Major Hon. Sir Edward Cadogan , Finchley

Has not this whole matter been before the electorate? [HON. MEMBERS:"NO!"] Yes, it was at the last Election.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I want to refer to two or three fallacies which, I think, underlie the arguments of hon. Members on the other side. First of all, we have been told of the wonderful moral effect of having money taken from you in due course of law. It is extraordinarily bracing to the character to have a certain number of pence deducted from your wages every week if you are a working man. How very stimulating the Income Tax collector must be to those who pay Income Tax; and how still more stimulating must be the Super-tax! I am surprised the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have overlooked the chance of applying some of this moral stimulus to those who need it so very much, the millionaires and the multimillionaires. There is nothing bracing to the character in having a certain sum of money deducted from one's wages. That stuff, if I may call it so, is the sort of thing you still find put forward by very aged spinsters who have been engaged in social work for 30 or 40 years, and are still deeply attached to the principles of 1834. I have come across them very frequently. They are dying out now, but the last Election brought them out in great numbers to vote for hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I think their spirit has been incorporated in this Bill.

We have in it also the immortal principle that was handed down to us by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), the great principle, so bitterly opposed by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, which has now become blessed, of putting stamps on a card. I can remember very well when there was severe opposition to the idea of deductions from wages. Then there were individualists in the House beside the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. A. Hopkinson). There was a great disbelief in taking a person's wages and spending them for him. I still happen to hold that particular objection. I do not think the right way of providing social services is by giving people what amounts to a series of tickets instead of money. That is what it is coming to. Bit by bit we are knocking something off people's wages, and giving them a right, sometimes a very doubtful right, to receive certain illusory benefits. Eventually we shall find that we are getting back to the old truck order of things under which people will receive a certain number of stamps, and this will entitle them to possible benefits at some future date, and I do not believe in its moral, bracing effect. I am opposed to that, and I have watched people in my own district who go about collecting pennies for insurance of various sorts, and I do not think it has a bracing effect. I do not believe that the deprivation of a certain amount of money per week in the case of poor people has a bracing effect. I know men who deprive themselves of sixpences and hand them to a man at the corner of the street every week, and generally lose them, and I know that has not got a bracing effect.

9.0. P.M.

My next point is a fallacy which was developed by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health with all his skill as a debater. He talked very ingeniously about the difference in cost of a scheme of contributory and non-contributory pensions. He was good enough to run through various figures amounting to £140,000, and he tried to show that one scheme was more expensive than the other. But that is an entire fallacy. Whether one scheme is more expensive than another depends to a certain extent on its administration, but more on the amount of the benefits and the way they are drawn. But as regards benefits and the costs of administration, the point is that whether the money is paid out of the Exchequer or on a contri- butory basis, you have to find a certain sum amounting to £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 a year, and all this has to come out of the wealth created every year in this nation. The suggestion is that if you take it from the worker you are saving something, and if you take it as a State contribution you are spending something, and this seems to me to show an extraordinary inability to understand the ordinary simple economic position. We have to take this Bill as it is, and it is one which provides that certain benefits shall go to certain categories of the population, namely, widows and orphans, and it is thought that a certain amount of claims on the national wealth should go to a particular category of persons. A certain claim has got to be made, and how are you going to meet it? Hon. Members opposite suggest that you must do this by a contributory system, or else it will cost a great deal more. The position we are considering now is merely the channel through which these claims are going to be satisfied. We are going to say who are to be the immediate payers. Under this Measure it is going to be put on the wage earners and the immediate employers. It is said that it does not matter where you put this burden, because it is all the same in the end, but may I point out that an argument like that ignores the very structure of the industry concerned. It is thought that the typical economic unit to-day is still the person who owns his business and pays all the expenses and taxes has the rest to divide as profits. Many of the speeches made by hon. Members opposite seem to be based on the idea that the basis on which a business is organised is that of the coffee shop at the corner of the road. I would like to point out that you have capital invested in such a way that the great part of capital will escape these contributions, and the burden will fall only on that part of capital which is active. I have never understood what is the social theory which suggests that the employer is the right person especially to be singled out to pay for the widow. I could understand if this was being done in the nature of workmen's compensation, it being held that the majority of deaths were caused by the controllers of industry. In a country where there was no Factory Acts, you might apply such a principle, and it would be correct to say that really the widow's pension should be borne by the people engaged in that particular industry. I would like to ask, however, why is a general provision for widows and orphans to be put on industry? What is the social idea behind it? I could never understand when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) introduced his famous rare and refreshing fruit, how he connected up sickness with the employer, while the landlord whose responsibilities are just as great as the industrial employer, was not called upon to pay anything. I hope we shall get some idea from the Government as to why this burden is being put on the employer. There is this further point to be considered which is that the number of men or women employed in a certain works is not necessarily any criterion of ability to pay. You have plenty of firms making their hundreds of thousands of pounds in the city who have practically no employés at all, whilst you have other firms struggling with a large staff, and they are the people who will have to meet this heavy burden.

It is absolutely unfair to put a burden of this description on the employers, and it is equally unfair on the worker, because his contribution is placed on a flat rate and not on the particular wage which he is receiving. The whole financial basis of this Bill is not based on any principle of taxation, or equity, or social utility, and the one class that escapes right through is the most useless class in the community. This is another instance of what we have seen almost every day during the past few weeks except last Friday, and that is the parasites being looked after by the Government. All the time the interests of the rentier class are being looked after. We, on this side, in the interests of the workers in industry, and in the interests of sound social legislation, are supporting a non-contributory system in order that the burden may be placed on the whole of the nation, and not on a certain section who have been singled out by the Government without rhyme or reason or equity.

Photo of Mr Thomas Greenall Mr Thomas Greenall , Farnworth

I want to say a few words on this question, especially after the remarks made by the Parliamentary Secretary as to the cost as between the voluntary scheme and the contributory scheme in connection with these pensions. I understand that he put it at from £93,000,000 to £100,000,000 per annum. The thought occurred to me, where is this coming from? I take it that the hon. Gentleman's figures are correct, and it is a most serious question, especially at the present time, where this £100,000,000 is to come from. That is the question which I think hon. Members, apart from party politics, ought to take into consideration in this Debate. I venture to say that neither the Parliamentary Secretary nor the Prime Minister, nor any Member of the Government, has received one resolution or been told of one decision that has been passed by any employers' organisation or any workmen's organisation in favour of this contributory scheme. Silence gives con sent. It is a fact, and, surely, that ought to have some effect upon the Government in connection with this important question as to where that £100,000,000 is coming from. That money will certainly come, in the end, from the working men and women of Great Britain. It will prove to be one of the biggest taxes upon the workers of this country that has been imposed for some considerable time. We all remember the Prime Minister uttering not very long ago in this House words, as it were, of prayer for peace. In my opinion, this is not the way for the Government to go if they really want peace.

Is it possible that the people in the different industries, when they realise that this additional tax is being placed upon them, are going to rest peaceful and be satisfied? I think it is unreasonable for anyone to expect that that will be the case. They will not be satisfied, and the reason why they will not be satisfied is mainly because, in many cases, they will be thrown out of employment as a result of this tax. Another point is with regard to the method of collecting this money from the workers. I think the last speaker referred to the subject in connection with the truck shop. Some of us on these benches well remember when the House of Commons was compelled to deal with the question of money being taken from the workers' wages in the past. A great amount of indignation was created in the country, and legisla- tion was passed by the House to prevent money being taken from workmen's wages without their consent after they had earned them. I grant that the principle has been adopted for some time, but we can see that it is increasing, and we are of the opinion that it is the intention of the Government, if they possibly can, to continue to increase it until everything in the nature of taxation will be taken from the workman's wages by this method of forcing him to pay for all that he has in connection with amenities or in any way whatever, whether for widows or orphans or anything else.

That is not all. I think attention ought to be called again to the fact that the working men and women will have to pay this tax no matter how much they work. If they have only a few hours' pay due to them, the money will be taken out of their wages at the week-end. I come across any number of people who are only working a few hours a week, and they talk about the tax which is taken from their wages now, and which amounts to over 2s. a week. Some of them tell me that really the time is coming when, having worked all that they possibly can, they will have to take something from their homes to pay, because they will be in debt owing to the stoppages which have been taken from them. Is that the kind of thing that is going to bring peace in the industries. I think that, if the Committee would really consider this question from that standpoint, we might reasonably expect that this Amendment would be carried, even at the present hour.

Further than that, the different industries of the country, as has been admitted from time to time in speeches on different subjects from the other side, are in such a state to-day that they cannot possibly afford to pay this tax which is going to be imposed upon them. Let me take the case of the mining industry. The mining industry will be taxed to the extent of over £1,000,000 per year under this Bill. Is there anyone in this Committee, who really understands the condition of the mining industry, that will say that that industry can continue under such a burden as that? Hundreds, possibly thousands, of miners will be thrown out of work because, in the smaller collieries, the employers will be unable to pay their share of this tax directly. And what about the miner? There is not an Eon. or right hon. Gentleman in this House who does not deplore the position in which the miner is as regards the wages he is able to earn to-day. He is to be taxed directly by an additional 4d. per week, even if he only works a day, or two days, or three days a week, and he is also to be taxed indirectly, making 8d. per week out of the miserable earnings that he is receiving at the present time. Again, I ask, is that the way for the Government to proceed if they are really honest in assisting the Prime Minister to bring peace in the industries of this country? No. The Prime Minister may pray for peace, but, if he assists his Government in doing what they are doing now, he is acting entirely in the opposite direction. I think the time has come when the people of Great Britain will realise that actions speak louder than words. Therefore, I believe if the Committee will honestly look at the question from the standpoint of peace in industry, or at least help in industry by some means or other to continue, they would join with Members on this side on the Amendment and defeat the object which, in my opinion, the Government has with regard to this policy of placing the burden upon the working men and women of Great Britain.

Photo of Mr Edwin Scrymgeour Mr Edwin Scrymgeour , Dundee

I certainly want to join with my colleagues in the Labour movement regarding this Clause and the unfortunate feature with which we are dealing at present. It was a remarkable situation that was brought about when the principle of old age pensions was recognised by the State, and we had good reason to believe that the various parties in the House had not only arrived at support of that principle but desired to bring it into more effectual fruition in the interests of those longer suffering people. The very fact of the limitations which many of us have sought to get rid of proved that it was the actual poverty of the person that was going to be the outstanding claim on his or her part for obtaining this appreciation by the State. The age was so far advanced that we all know how very disappointing it has been to many people that they should have to reflect on the unlikelihood of participating in this very small modicum of appreciation from the State. But still, even at that advanced age of 70, how many have felt exceedingly grateful for the boon bestowed upon them? Here this powerful Government, apart from the question of whether they were to move in the direction of the widows and orphans at all, had a splendid opportunity for accentuating that unity of recognition which had been given by the State of giving an advance on the sum. It is some time ago since we had the discussion which indicated agreement on both sides of the House that that advance should be given, however small, a half-crown or five shillings, and we raised a very strong hope among many who were recipients of the old age pension that that would be perhaps the next step to be taken by any numerically strong Government coming into power.

Another point which was thought of was that we should agree upon the reduction of the age to give these folk a chance of coining into this small benefit. The Government have resolutely decided that we are going to dispel the hopes of many of this classification of people from even being able to get the pension because of the very conditions and limitations which have been laid down. These people would have difficulty in making the requisite contribution to obtain eventually the benefit which has hitherto been given as really a graceful act by the State. Upstairs we are dealing with a Teachers' Superannuation Bill. Par more reason can be applied for exacting contributions from people who are well able to give them and are very ready to give them. Then, again, you have the police of the country with very substantial salaries. There, again, they are very ready to make their contributions. You have just passed through the House a Firemen's Pension Bill on similar lines. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) made a strong plea on the score of specific cases which he had very carefully selected. On the Second Reading I referred to the Rodney and the Nelson pensions. Those striking cases, to my mind, simply wipe into triviality any points that have been made from the Ministerial Bench to-day about the desirability of safeguarding the characters of these poor people or insisting that they should pay for anything which the State is going to show of appreciation. You actually go in for commutation of pensions which have been given free and have paid out ten of thousands of pounds to the successors of those who had made contributions to the State by means of the Army or Navy. You stand solidly by that principle of saying to those who have, "We will bestow still more," but to those who have not, "We will exact anything that there might be a chance of taking from them."

To me it is a question far beyond anything in the way of partisanship, and I feel confident that many of those on the other side would respond if it were not for this discipline that comes over the party system and tells a man that, whatever he may have thought of a given deliverance from any speaker, however much his heart might have been touched or his mind influenced, he is met by the Whip who says—[An HON. MEMBER: "It is the same on your side."] I said the party system. In my own particular case I happen to be free of that. I know it has its disadvantages at times, but I think the advantages counterbalance the disadvantages. At any rate I am perfectly satisfied. I am sure of this, and have seen it many times and in speeches not always on our own side of the House, that from those who are just carefully following deliverances and considering matters as nearly as possible without prejudice you can get testimony after testimony about the earnestness and the considerable strength of the argument that has been applied. If things were just a little different in the House there is no saying what some of them might do. I want to put it this way. There ought to be a vote on this side of the House and there ought to be a vote on the other side on this human plea that you are all committed to this: that those who hitherto have received old age pensions could not receive them unless they were abjectly poor. Now you are to attack that point which you have established yourselves. You are deliberately to invade, and you

are to go to the very heart of the old men and women or the typical successors of them and say, "Hitherto we have recognised and laid it down very thoroughly that you have to be mighty poor and mighty old before you get your old age pension." We have actually come as a party or as a Government and we say, "Now we are going to tighten the screw on you."

In the old days there was such a thing as the thumb screw. You are going to put them into this torture if you say to them, "We are not going to give you an advance of pension, we are not going to give you the real benefit that you might have expected and to which your hopes had been lifted, and we are going to say that in future out of your meagre little store you are going to make a substantial contribution to the powerful State." If any danger arises, if a national danger arises, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whoever he might be, would be called upon to make a demand upon every resource that there was in the country—for what? For the defence of the homes of the people. Here you say we are going back on anything we have ever done before and we are going to say that the people, while they are poor are going to be trained in the narrow path of moral character on the principle of saying that you will pay for it, whereas those in high society, as it is termed, are to wallow in affluence, and you are further to accentuate such conditions. No wonder you stir up strife and infuriate large masses of the people into a state in which they are stirred to take action which is anything but constitutional. I admit that this kind of business is irritating, annoying, exhausting and makes ridiculous any deliverance of the Prime Minister when he says: Give peace in our time, O Lord.

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Ladywood

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

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 261; Noes, 135.

Division No. 221.]AYES.[9.32 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)Astor, Viscountess
Ainsworth, Major CharlesApplin, Colonel R. V. K.Atkinson, C.
Albery, Irving JamesAstbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Forrest, W.Moles, Thomas
Balniel, LordFoxcroft, Captain C. T.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.
Banks, Reginald MitchellFraser, Captain lanMoore, Sir Newton J.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M.Frece, Sir Walter deMoore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Barnett, Major Sir RichardGadle, Lieut.-Col. AnthonyMoreing, Captain A. H.
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)Galbraith, J. F. W.Murchison, C. K.
Bethell, A.Ganzoni, Sir JohnNall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph
Betterton, Henry B.Gee, Captain R.Nelson, Sir Frank
Birchall, Major J. DearmanGibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George AbrahamNeville, R. J.
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)Goff, Sir ParkNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)Grace, JohnNuttall, Ellis
Blades, Sir George RowlandGreene, W. P. CrawfordOakley, T.
Blundell, F. N.Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E)O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftGretton, Colonel JohnO'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh
Bowater, Sir T. VansittartGunston, Captain D. W.Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Pennefather, Sir John
Brass, Captain W.Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Brassey, Sir LeonardHammersley, S. S.Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Briggs, J. HaroldHanbury, C.Perring, William George
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeHannon, Patrick Joseph HenryPielou, D. P.
Brittain, Sir HarryHarland, A.Pilcher, G.
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Harrison, G. J. C.Preston, William
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)Price, Major C. W. M.
Broun-Lindsay, Major H.Haslam, Henry C.Radford, E. A.
Buckingham, Sir H.Hawke, John AnthonyRaine, W.
Bullock, Captain M.Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.Ramsden, E.
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir AlanHenderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel
Burman, J. B.Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)Rawson, Alfred Cooper
Burton, Colonel H. w.Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.Remer, J. R.
Butler, Sir GeoffreyHennessy, Major J. R. G.Rentoul, G. S.
Butt, Sir AlfredHerbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHerbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)
Calne, Gordon HallHilton, CecilRobinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)
Campbell, E. T.Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.
Cassels, J. D.Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)Rye F. G.
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHolbrook, Sir Arthur RichardSalmon, Major I.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)Holt, Capt. H. P.Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Chapman, Sir S.Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Charteris, Brigadier-General J.Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Sandeman, A. Stewart
Christie, J. A.Hopkins, J. W. W.Sanderson, Sir Frank
Churchman, Sir Arthur C.Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Savery, S. S.
Clarry, Reginald GeorgeHorlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)
Clayton, G. C.Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl.(Renfrew, w.)
Cobb, Sir CyrilHudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd. Whiteh'n)Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.Hume, Sir G. H.Shepperson, E. W.
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Huntingfield, LordSkelton, A. N.
Colfox, Major Wm. PhillipsHurd, Percy A.Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Cooper, A. DuffHurst, Gerald B.Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cope, Major WilliamHutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)Spender Clay, Colonel H.
Couper, J. B.Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.Sprot, Sir Alexander
Crook, C. W.Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)Jacob, A. E.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)James Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSteel, Major Samuel Strang
Cunliffe Joseph HerbertJephcott, A. R.Storry Deans, R.
Curzon, Captain ViscountJones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)Stott Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Dalkeith, Earl ofJoynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir WilliamStrickland Sir Gerald
Davies A. v. (Lancaster, Royton)Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)King, Captain Henry DouglasTempleton W. P.
Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)Kinloch-Cooke, Sir ClementThompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Lamb, J. O.Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Dawson Sir PhilipLeigh, Sir John (Clapham)Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Dean, Arthur WellesleyLister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipTichfield, Major the Marquess of
Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. HerbertLloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)Waddington, R.
Drewe, C.Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)Wallace, Captain D. E.
Duckworth, JohnLooker, Herbert WilliamWard, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Eden, Captain AnthonyLougher, L.Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Edmondson, Major A. J.Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard HarmanWarrender Sir Victor
Edwards, John H (Accrington)Lumley, L. R.Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Elliot, Captain Walter E.MacAndrew, Charles GlenWatson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
England, Colonel A.Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)Watts Dr. T.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)McDonnell, Colonel Hon. AngusWells S. R.
Erskine, James Malcolm MonteithMacintyre, I.White Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)McLean, Major A.Williams, Com C. (Devon Torquay)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)MacMillan, Captain H.Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Fairfax, Captain J. G.Macnaghten, Hon. Sir MalcolmWilliams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Malone, Major P. B.Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Fielden, E. B.Merriman, F. B.Wise, Sir Fredric
Finburgh, S.Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)Wolmer, Viscount
Ford, P. J.Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)Womersrey, W. J.
Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Wood, Rt. Hon. E.(York, W.R., Ripon)Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)Wragg, HerbertMajor Sir Henry Barnston and Captain
Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).Young, E. Hilton (Norwich)Margesson.
NOES
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Hardie, George D.Scrymgeour, E.
Adamson, w. M. (Staff., Cannock)Harney, E. A.Scurr, John
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')Harris, Percy A.Sexton, James
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHayday, ArthurShaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Attlee, Clement RichardHayes, John HenryShiels, Dr. Drummond
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Hirst, G. H.Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Barnes, A.Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)Smillie, Robert
Barr, J.Hore-Belisha, LeslieSmith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Batey, JosephHudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Beckett, John (Gateshead)Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)John, William (Rhondda, West)Snell, Harry
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Broad, F. A.Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Stamford, T. W.
Buchanan, G.Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Stephen, Campbell
Charleton, H. C.Kelly, W. T.Button, J. E.
Clowes, S.Kennedy, T.Taylor, R. A.
Cluse, W. S.Lansbury, GeorgeThomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Lawson, John JamesThomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Lee, F.Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Connolly, M.Livingstone, A. M.Thurtle, E.
Cove, W. G.Lowth, T.Tinker, John Joseph
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Lunn, WilliamTrevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Crawfurd, H. E.MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)Varley, Frank B.
Dalton, HughMackinder, W.Viant, S. P.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Wallhead, Richard C.
Dennison, R.March, S.Warne, G. H.
Duncan, c.Maxton, JamesWatson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Dunnico, H.Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Fenby, T. D.Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir AlfredWebb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.Montague, FrederickWelsh, J. C.
Gibbins, JosephMorrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Gillett, George M.Murnin, H.Whiteley, W.
Gosling, HarryNaylor, T. E.Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Oliver, George HaroldWilliams, David (Swansea, East)
Greenall, T.Palin, John HenryWilliams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)Paling, W.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Pethick-Lawrence, F. WWilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Potts, John S.Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Groves, T.Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Windsor, Walter
Grundy, T. W.Riley, BenYoung, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)Ritson, J.
Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr, Tydvil)Rose, Frank H.Charles Edwards.
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 266; Noes, 131.

Division No. 222.]AYES.[9.41 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.Blundell, F. N.Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward
Ainsworth, Major CharlesBourne, Captain Robert CroftCalne, Gordon Hall
Albery, Irving JamesBowater, Sir T. VansittartCampbell, E. T.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.Cassels, J. D.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K.Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.Brass, Captain W.Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)
Astor, ViscountessBrassey, Sir LeonardChapman, Sir S.
Atkinson, C.Briggs, J. HaroldCharteris, Brigadier-General J.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyBriscoe, Richard GeorgeChristie, J. A.
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Brittain Sir HarryChurchman, Sir Arthur C.
Balniel, LordBrocklebank, C. E. R.Clarry, Reginald George
Banks, Reginald MitchellBrooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.Clayton, G. C.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M.Broun-Lindsay, Major H.Cobb, Sir Cyril
Barnett, Major Sir RichardBuckingham, Sir H.Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.
Barnston, Major Sir HarryBullock, Captain M.Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir AlanColfox, Major Wm. Phillips
Bethell, A.Burman, J. B.Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)
Betterton, Henry B.Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.Cooper, A. Duff
Birchall, Major J. DearmanBurton, Colonel H. W.Cope, Major William
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)Butler, Sir GeoffreyCouper, J. B.
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)Butt, Sir AlfredCrook, C. W.
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)Price, Major C. W. M.
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Radford, E. A.
Cunliffe, Joseph HerbertHopkins, J. W. W.Raine, W.
Curzon, Captain ViscountHopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Ramsden, E.
Dalkeith, Earl ofHore-Belisha, LeslieRawilnson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel
Davidson, Major-General sir John H.Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.Rawson, Alfred Cooper
Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Remer, J. R.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)Rentoul, G. S.
Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)Hume, Sir G. H.Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Huntingfield, LordRoberts, E. H. G. (Flint)
Dawson, Sir PhilipHurd, Percy A.Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)
Dean, Arthur WellesleyHurst, Gerald B.Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.
Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. HerbertHutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)Rye, F. G.
Drewe, C.Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.Salmon, Major I.
Duckworth, JohnJackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Eden, Captain AnthonyJacob. A. E.Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Edmondson, Major A. J.James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSandeman, A. Stewart
Elliot, Captain Walter E.Jephcott, A. R.Sanderson, Sir Frank
England, Colonel A.Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)Savery, S. S.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)
Erskine, James Malcolm MonteithJoynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir WilliamShaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)Shepperson, E. W.
Fairfax, Captain J. G.King, Captain Henry DouglasSkelton, A. N.
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Kinloch-Cooke, Sir ClementSmith-Carington, Neville W.
Fielden, E. B.Lamb, J. Q.Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Finburgh, S.Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)Spender Clay, Colonel H.
Ford, P. J.Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipSprot, Sir Alexander
Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)
Forrest, W.Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Foxcroft, Captain C. T.Looker, Herbert WilliamSteel, Major Samuel Strang
Fraser, Captain IanLougherr L.Storry Deans, R.
Frece, Sir Walter deLuce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard HarmanStott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Gadie, Lieut.-Col. AnthonyLumley, L. R.Strickland, Sir Gerald
Galbraith, J. F. W.MacAndrew, Charles GlenStuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Ganzonl, Sir JohnMacdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Gee, Captain R.McDonnell, Colonel Hon. AngusTempleton, W. P.
Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George AbrahamMacintyre, I.Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Goff, Sir ParkMcLean, Major A.Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Gower, Sir RobertMacMillan, Captain H.Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Grace, JohnMacnaghten, Hon. Sir MalcolmTichfield, Major the Marquess of
Greene, W. P. CrawfordMalone, Major P. B.Waddington, R.
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H.(W'th's'w, E)Merriman, F. B.Wallace, Captain D. E.
Gretton, Colonel JohnMitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Gunston, Captain D. w.Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)Warrender, Sir Victor
Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Moles, ThomasWaterhouse, Captain Charles
Hall, Lieut.- Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)Moore, Sir Newton J.Watts, Dr. T.
Hammersley, S. S.Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)Wells, S. R.
Hanbury, C.Moreing, Captain A. H.White Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple
Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryMurchison, C. K.Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Harland, A.Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JosephWilliams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Harney, E. A.Nelson, Sir FrankWilliams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Harrison, G. J. C.Neville, R. J.Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Wise, Sir Fredric
Haslam, Henry C.Nuttall, EllisWolmer, Viscount
Hawke, John AnthonyOakley, T.Womersley, W. J.
Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. HughWood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W. R., Ripon)
Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)Oman, Sir Charles William C.Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.Orsmby-Gore, Hon. WilliamWood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Pennefather, Sir JohnWood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Wragg, Herbert
Hilton, CecilPerkins, Colonel E. K.Young, E. Hilton (Norwich)
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.Perring, William George
Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)Pielou, D. P.TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardPilcher, G.Major Hennessy and Captain
Holt, Captain H. P.Preston, WilliamMargesson.
NOES.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Crawfurd, H. E.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Broad, F. A.Dalton, Hugh
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield. Hillsbro)Bromfield, WilliamDavies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)
Ammon, Charles GeorgeBrown, James (Ayr and Bute)Dennison, R.
Attlee, Clement RichardBuchanan, G.Duncan, C.
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Charleton, H. C.Dunnico, H.
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Clowes, S.Edwards, John H. (Accrington)
Barnes, A.Cluse, W. S.Fenby, T. D.
Barr, J.Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Gibbins, Joseph
Batey, JosephConnolly, M.Gillett, George M.
Beckett, John (Gateshead)Cove, W. G.Gosling, Harry
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Graham, E. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Stamford, T. W.
Greenall, T.March, S.Stephen, Campbell
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)Maxton, JamesSutton, J. E.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)Taylor, R. A.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Montague, FrederickThomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Groves, T.Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)
Grundy, T. W.Murnin, H.Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)Naylor, T. E.Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)Oliver, George HaroldThurtle, E.
Hall, F. (York, W. R., NormantonPalm, John HenryTinker, John Joseph
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Paling, W.Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Hardie, George D.Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Varley, Frank B.
Hayday, ArthurPotts, John S.Viant, S. P.
Hayes, John HenryRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Wallhead, Richard C.
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Riley, BenWarne, G. H.
Hirst, G. H.Ritson, J.Watson, w. M. (Dunfermline)
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Rose, Frank H.Welsh, J. C.
John, William (Rhondda, West)Scrymgeour, E.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)Scurr, JohnWhiteley, W.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Sexton, JamesWilkinson, Ellen C.
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Kelly, W. T.Shiels, Dr. DrummondWilliams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Kennedy, T.Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Lansbury, GeorgeSlesser, Sir Henry H.Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Lawson, John JamesSmillie, RobertWilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Lee, F.Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)Windsor, Walter
Livingstone, A. M.Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Lowth, T.Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Lunn, WilliamSnell, HarryTELLERS FOR THE NOES.
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)Snowden, Rt. Hon. PhilipMr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.
Mackinder, W.Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)Charles Edwards.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The next Amendment, which stands in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond)—in page 1, line 9, after the word "Parliament," to insert the words and in respect of insured persons employed in agricultural occupations as defined for the purposes of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920, without reference to these provisions— is out of place, because it is a proviso at the end of the Clause.

The next two Amendments in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shetleston (Mr. Wheatley)—in page 1, line 12, to leave out the first word "the" and to insert instead thereof the word "a," and in page 1, line 12, to leave out the words "of an insured man" and to insert the words "within the meaning of this Act"—are out of Order. There is no corresponding definition on the Paper, and the matter is therefore left in a state of incompleteness.

Photo of Mr John Wheatley Mr John Wheatley , Glasgow Shettleston

On a point of Order. May I put it to you that my Amendment is in Order at the present stage, because a manuscript Amendment has been put in. defining what is meant by "within the meaning of the Act." The object of the Amendment is to bring within the Bill widows who would be excluded from its operations if the Measure were to re- main in its present form. A manuscript Amendment has been put in limiting it to widows whose husbands were in receipt of a certain specified income. I submit that from that point of view these two Amendments are in order, and we should have an opportunity of discussing them.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

It is true that within the last few minutes an Amendment has been handed in, but it has been so drafted that it would literally involve a contradiction, because the definition is a widow within the meaning of this Act shall be a woman whose husband has an income of not more than £250 a year. The matter evidently has not been thought out in good time. Even if an Amendment with the word "had" were on the Paper, I really do not think that I could select an Amendment which had been put on the Paper only at the last minute, and which had never been submitted to those in charge of the Bill.

Photo of Mr John Wheatley Mr John Wheatley , Glasgow Shettleston

I submit that it would be in order at a later date to put in for your consideration an Amendment. I must confess that I have not had the privilege of reading the Amendment which has been put in. Probably the contradiction which you have detected is due to the careless handwriting of one of my friends. It may be his peculiar way of forming a letter, but I do submit that we can, at any rate at a later stage, put in a subsequent Amendment, and that we are entitled at this stage to discuss the question of whether the widow of, say, a crofter in Scotland, a hardworking man who would not come within the provisions of this Bill, whose widow was left unprovided for, should not come within the operation of the Bill.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

It has been held before, that where an Amendment has been proposed in such terms as this, that a sum of money should be granted in accordance with the provisions of a schedule, and the schedule is not put down on the Paper, that is out of order. Here, in the case of a supplementary manuscript Amendment handed in in these circumstances, it would not be fair to the Committee and it would not be fair to those in charge of the Bill that they should be asked to debate something that they had not seen. Therefore, apart from the ground of order, I do not feel that I can select this Amendment.

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Middlesbrough East

I beg to move, in page 1, line 12, after the word "man," to insert the words or the widow of an uninsured man who is herself insured. This Amendment embodies a very serious principle. If we are to have a contributory scheme, as now seems certain from the last Division, at least I am sure that the Minister of Health will desire that the scheme shall cause as few hardships and contain as few anomalies as possible. Consider the case of the woman who starts paying contributions for insurance at the normal age of 16. She pays, say, for 15 years. She then marries, say, a hawker, a small business man or some other of the various classes that are excluded from the Bill. By that fact, all her contributions are lost. You may have a still harder case, say, in the County of Lancashire or the County of Yorkshire, where it is the normal custom for the married woman to continue in work after marriage. Many of them continue thus in insurable employment the whole of their lives, with necessary intervals when they have children. What is the position 1. If a woman's husband dies and he is not an insured man, although she is an insured person, and although she has been continually paying her insurance contributions, she is left with the children without a pension. She has then to take part herself as the breadwinner without any of the assistance that is given to other women under the Bill. For instance, there may be a sister of hers who has never paid a penny under the Bill, whose husband may have been insured for a period of two years, and she would draw a pension for life, although she has paid far less in contributions than the woman who is an insured contributor. It is the children and not the widow who are the main consideration. Therefore, the nature of the case should be the test.

10.0 P.M.

Women ought not to lose their rights on marriage. I do not know whether hon. Members realise it, but we are rapidly getting into the habit in this country of penalising a woman on marriage. We already have the municipalities forcing women out of jobs for which they have been trained, and now we are to have the married woman forced out of the pension she has paid for, unless she marries an insured man. I know that the obvious retort is that the woman pays only twopence while the man pays fourpence. You have the anomaly that, while a woman working and paying all her life draws no insurance at all when her husband dies, if he is not an insured contributor, a man who is getting above £250 a year, if his wife remains in an insurable occupation during her married life, at her death can draw an orphan's pension in respect of the children of the insured mother. You penalise a woman there. At the same time you do not give any assistance to the woman. It may be argued that the woman has not paid at the full rate and only the twopence for the orphan's pension. But I submit that the woman who has paid for the 15 years previous to her marriage loses that if she does not remain an insured contributor. Would it not be possible to meet the difficulties in two ways? First of all, at least to give the woman who is insured before marriage her rights to an orphan pension for her children; or, secondly, to allow the married woman to pay at the man's rate. A further alternative is to take a very small consequential alteration later in the Bill and allow the married woman to continue as a voluntary contributor. I see that another hon. Member has put down an Amendment on that point. If the Minister of Health accepts the principle of this Amendment, these consequential Amendments would be very easy to put in order. If the right hon. Gentleman accepts this Amendment, he will have done somthing right at the beginning to remove one of the glaring anomalies of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Ladywood

It is not possible for me to accept this Amendment. The anomalies of which the hon. Member complains are, if anomalies at all, incidental to any insurance scheme. The essence of an insurance scheme is that you insure against risks which may never arise. It is always possible to point out that those in whose case the risk has never arisen do not get any benefit from the contributions paid. But I do not think the hon. Member in this case has sufficiently realised the fact that the contribution of the woman is not a contribution equal to the contribution of the man; it is only half the rate. The hon. Member said so, but she did not seem to draw the necessary inference from that. It is not true that the woman who marries an uninsured man is to be forced out of the pension for which she has paid. If she remains in afterwards, she still is entitled to a pension at 65 instead of 70, and she is also entitled to have—

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

Does she get the widow's pension?

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Ladywood

I am not talking about widows' pensions but only old age pensions. The widow's pension arises, not out of the woman's contribution but out of the man's contribution, because the man's contribution is double that of the woman's. Let me point out what would be the result if this Amendment were accepted. A woman, who is herself insured but who has married an uninsured man, is to have the pension at his death. Therefore, the woman, who becomes the widow of a man who was uninsured, by entering into an insurance, would thereby secure for herself a widow's pension for the rest of her life. The hon. Member has not appreciated that. Therefore, all that would be necessary for a woman to do, under Section 7 of the National Health Insurance Act, would, be to obtain a few weeks' employment. She could then stamp her own card until she had the equivalent to 104 weeks' contributions, and that would be sufficient to ensure to her a pension for the rest of her life. That, no doubt, was not intended by the hon. Member, but that is the actual result of the Amendment, and I think she will see now why I cannot accept it.

Photo of Mr Edward Harney Mr Edward Harney , South Shields

I am in sympathy with the Amendment. I agree with the scientific view that has been put by the right hon. Gentleman. It is, of course, true that actuarially this thing has been worked so as only to render certain benefits, the result of certain contributions. It is true that the woman herself only pays half of the man's rate, and, therefore, when she gets her old age pension, she really gets what is the due result of her contributions. I quite agree as to all that, but I submit a broader view ought to be taken. It is quite possible to work this Act as an insurance Act with this view. You say generally, "We collect a certain number of contributions. We propose to give a certain number of benefits. By those contributions, we are willing to insure against certain risks." Having arrived at that, what is the fair thing to do as against those contributions? It is only a matter of re-adjustment. Women contribute 2d or 2½d.; men contribute 4d. The result of these contributions is that we can give certain benefits. Now here is a very glaring and irritating contrast created. The widow of a man, though she has never insured herself, because he was an insurable person, gets a pension for herself and allowances for her children. Then there is the widow who paid her own contributions, but who happened to marry a man who could not be brought into the scheme, because he was either a small shopkeeper or one of the excluded classes. These two women may be living next door to each other, equally poor, the drudgery of life the same to both. The husband of one dies, and she finds she is provided for, though she has paid nothing. The one next door says, "Why, I have been paying all these years, I have my children, I am as destitute as my friend next door, and I do not get a penny."

That is the result, and if it be possible I would press upon the Minister to take a different scientific view of this insur- ance from what he has taken. He is impregnable in the position he takes up, that if you treat 2d.—the amount a woman pays—as against the benefits that are to be given to a woman, then the woman who pays, but is not married to a man who is insurable, is undoubtedly different. But if he takes the broad view that contributions from men and from women go into one pool for the purpose, so far as actuarially can be done, of giving benefits to that class all round, without varying injustice, then, I think, the case put by the hon. Member is more entitled, if anything, to sympathetic consideration than the other. If you look at Clause 4, you will find this rather significant point. Supposing in the illustration I have given these two women live next door to each other. The one who pays nothing, but is married to a man who has paid, and he dies, she gets her pension and allowance for her children. They both die, and the orphans get the full allowances. Now we come to the one next door who has done all the paying. The breadwinner dies, and she is left derelict. The children get nothing. I know it is scientifically right, but it is a position that is very unfair, and leads to a great sense of grievance, because it is felt that Parliament has done something unjust, and, as the amount involved would be very little, I do make an appeal to the Minister to try, if possible, to extend the Bill in the way the hon. Lady asks. It could be done by a readjustment, and I think it would have a very good effect upon the country, and, at all events, give the notion that there was an honest attempt made, not merely to create an insurance scheme, but to do a real good to the necessitous people of the country.

Photo of Mr Hastings Lees-Smith Mr Hastings Lees-Smith , Keighley

The Minister of Health does not seem to me to have met the case made by the Mover of this Amendment. It must surely be clear that here is an evident injustice which is in the very heart of this Bill. Take the case which the Mover of this Amendment has in mind. A woman has been contributing for years. She marries, we will say, a blacksmith, who may be a poor man, but who, because he is not inside a workshop or factory, is not insured. She goes on working and paying contributions for years, and, taking the period before she was married, and the period during her marriage, such a woman may have paid contributions for 20 years. Then the husband dies, and she finds, in spite of all those contributions, she is left without a penny of pension either for herself or for any of her children. I say if that case cannot be met, it is an injustice that will cause heart-burning and indignation amongst hundreds of thousands of women. I follow the argument that the Minister put, and I am going to make a suggestion to deal with it. I hope when we make suggestions really for the purpose of dealing with some of these very difficult cases, the Minister will give them very careful consideration. I followed the right hon. Gentleman's reasoning. I think it was that the woman, although she has been paying contributions, has only been paying, so to speak, at half the rate of a man, and, therefore, her contributions have been sufficient to insure her for her pension at 65, but not sufficient to insure her for widows' and children's pensions.

If the Minister cannot accept, in its widest sense, the full proposal made by the mover of the Amendment, I ask him to consider the last suggestion which fell from her, namely, that some of these cases might be alleviated—though not completely met—by bringing in the assistance of voluntary insurance. When I first saw this Amendment I naturally thought that a. woman in this position would be able, if she so wished, to provide for herself and her children by means of voluntary insurance, and I think the Minister will agree that we are not necessarily making any financial demand when we ask that such a woman should be permitted to use her accumulated funds to give herself a start in voluntary insurance. But when I come to the Clause dealing with voluntary insurance, I find that if a woman—or a man—wishes to insure for the benefits of this Bill, he or she is compelled also to insure for the benefits under the National Health Insurance scheme. A woman in this position who wished to help herself by her own money, would find that she would have to pay about 1s. 1d. per week. That is to say, in order to obtain the form of insurance which she feels she needs, she is compelled to spend most of her money and has forced upon her a form of insurance which she does not want. Surely, that is a position which can be dealt with by the Minister. He will find this question coming up again and again. This method, not of overcoming but of alleviating certain difficulties will bring us back again and again to voluntary insurance, and as long as a system is maintained by which the right hon. Gentleman will not permit voluntary insurance for the purposes of this Bill alone, he will find many injustices arising.

I find furthermore in the Clause dealing with voluntary insurance that married women are forbidden to come into the voluntary insurance at all, so that even if a married woman were willing to spend 1s. 1d. per week she—almost alone among all those who come within this Bill—is refused permission to help herself in this way. If this Committee stage is to be more than a mere demonstration on both sides, if it is to be a real Committee stage in which, while not able to alter the foundations of the Bill, we may be able to make a difference to perhaps some hundreds of thousands of people by Amendments and improvements, I submit this is the kind of point to which the Minister should give consideration. The special suggestion I make is that married women should be permitted to come within voluntary insurance and, if they come within voluntary insurance, they should not be compelled to accept insurance for national health purposes as well but should be permitted to insure simply and solely for the purposes of this Bill.

Photo of Mr John Wheatley Mr John Wheatley , Glasgow Shettleston

I join in the appeal to the Minister to accept the spirit of this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman's difficulty is that he cannot see his way to give 4d. for 2d. Evidently we are not to have a repetition of the generosity which existed in days gone by, when we were dealing with questions of insurance. I want to put it to him that, at any rate, he should see that the children's allowances are paid for in a case like this. If the woman died, the children, under Subsection (1, b) of Clause 4, would be entitled to orphans' pensions. The uninsured husband dies, and the insured widow survives. She is left with children who are unprovided for, and she has been paying her insurance. According to the Minister's calculation, she has not paid the full amount that would entitle her to receive the 10s. for herself and the allowances for the children. But the breadwinner has been taken away, the children are left dependent on her, she has paid contributions, not the full amount, but a sum that will go a long way—I have not the actuarial calculations before me—to provide the allowances for the children, and I am quite sure that, if the Minister desired to meet us to that extent, he could quite easily find words which could be inserted in the Clause now or at a later stage. I appeal to him to make that concession.

Mr. T. THOMSON:

I am sure the Committee are indebted to the hon. Lady the Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) for pointing out a very serious anomaly in the Bill as drawn. We are all very conscious, in the working of the Unemployment Insurance Act and the Health Insurance Act, of anomalies and injustices which have somehow slipped through and missed the vigilance of Parliament. These things we cannot remedy, but here are injustices which we have it in our power to remedy and to prevent, and I hope the Minister will be able to see his way to meet the very real cases of hardship which have been outlined. It does seem to me that the total cost involved could not be large. I noticed that the Minister shook his head when my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) suggested that the amount involved was not big, but he has not given us any information as to what the sum is, and it would be interesting to the Committee to have that information before coming to a decision. Whether it be large or small, the grievance is a very real one, and I suggest to the Minister that the 2d. which the contributor pays perhaps does more than provide for the old age pension which she will get, and that she is not getting her share of the State contribution as things are, and it only means augmenting the contribution of the State to a small extent to give her this added benefit. I appeal to the Government before we leave this Clause that some concession may be made to remove cases of very real hardship and grievance.

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Dundee

There is, I think, one point that has not yet been made in the discussion, which, from my point of view, makes the Clause as it stands even worse. The Clause says that to the widow of an insured man a pension shall be paid; but who is an insured man? In Clause 5 we learn that a man who has been unemployed for a considerable time and has been unable to pay more than 26 weeks' contributions in each of three years—

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

The hon. Member must read in that connection the provisions of what is called the prolongation Insurance Act. All the benefits of that Act will apply to insured persons under this Act. Therefore, if a man is genuinely unemployed or is ill, that would count as a contribution under this Bill.

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Dundee

Yes, but it is this precious question of what is genuine unemployment which raises an issue which, I am afraid, Mr. Hope, you would not allow to be discussed at the present moment. I am leaving contentious matters aside, leaving the question as to who is an insured man for discussion on a subsequent Clause. I am merely drawing the attention of the Minister of Health to the fact that I am putting forward as the Bill stands a man, say, a shipyard worker, may furnish a case in point. Take an area like, for instance, the Clyde, where a man may have been unemployed for some years. There are shipyard workers there who have been unable to get work, not for three, four, or four and a-half years, but in some cases five years.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The hon. Gentleman is getting rather wide of the Question. The point he seems to be making will be more appropriate on Clause 2.

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Dundee

May I call your attention to the fact that the Clause we are discussing says that a pension shall be payable to the widow of an insured man. I have submitted that by virtue of this designation of an insured man the widows of whole categories of unemployed men are ruled out.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

That may be so, and I think the point of the hon. Member is a good one, but I think it is one that should come under Clause 2 where we get a definition of who are insured.

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Dundee

I bow, of course, to your ruling, Mr. Hope—

Captain BENN:

On a point of Order. The Minister may reply on this Amendment and deal with what he considers to be the definition of an insured man. If we are going to assume that the definition of an insured man may be on a later Amendment, will the Minister of Health be unable to deal with Amendments of this kind?

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The question of the widow of an uninsured man is now before the Committee. The definition of an insured man will come up under Clause 2.

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Dundee

I want it to be made plain whether or not the matter can be raised under any other Clause than the one we are now discussing. I take, for example, the case of a shipyard worker unemployed for, say, three years. He has certainly not got 26 stamps on an average on his card for the last three years, and his wife has been compelled to go out to work. She is an insured person, and he is not. When he dies his widow is further penalised, for under this Bill as it stands, no pension is payable as the man has ceased to be an insured man. Therefore, as I understand it, and—I shall be very glad if the Under-Secretary will reassure me—the widow of the unemployed man in these circumstances does not come within the ambit of this Bill. At present that widow is completely ruled out and in addition she has the further humiliation that she has no pension for her orphan children. I trust the Minister of Health, in the interests of the workers generally, will give consideration to this case.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Leicester West

I venture to think the Minister of Health does not fully realise the very serious character of his opposition to this Amendment, or the large amount of feeling there will be in the country if he persists in resisting the claims of a woman to any benefit except the old age pension as a return for her contribution. Three distinct benefits are conferred by this Bill. First of all, there is the benefit to the widow living with her children; then there is the benefit to the orphans when both their parents are dead; and, finally, there is the benefit to the woman herself on attaining the age of 65 years. The Minister excludes from benefit the first two classes, in the event of the contributions coming from the widow; it is only the third benefit that he confers upon a woman who has paid all these contributions. The Minister defends that on this ground. He says: "The woman pays only half what the man pays, and she. gets a corresponding benefit." I want to put this serious question to the Minister. Does he seriously maintain that the old age pension benefit is an adequate return for the contributions of the woman and her employer? In other words, is the benefit that she obtains if she lives to the age of 65 the actuarial valuation of the 2½d. that the woman pays and the 2½d. her employer pays? If my information is correct, the benefit which the 'woman attains at 65 could be obtained by a contribution of something like 1d. a week between her and her employer. If I am wrong the Minister will, no doubt, correct me, and give me the accurate figures; but I am quite confident he will not be able to show that the benefit conferred upon the woman at 65 years of age will be worth anything like the 5d. a week contributed by her and her employer. If that be so, and I do not believe the Minister can challenge it, I suggest the woman is not getting an adequate return for her contributions.

The Minister said in the course of his speech, "It is an Insurance Act." I do not want to delay the Committee by pointing out that it is not called an Insurance Act, but let us assume it is an Insurance Act. In an Insurance Act you pay for things according to the risk. You may not get your value back, but you enter upon a fair risk and you get a fair return. If it were true that the woman, in contributing 2½d. a week, with her employer contributing a further 2½d., was paying for a fair risk, there might be something to be said for the Minister's contention; but if, on the contrary, she is paying four or five times more, or, in fact, anything more, than the benefit is worth, then it is not a fair risk. That is the danger of a compulsory insurance scheme. If you have a voluntary insurance scheme only those people will enter who are getting a fair risk, but with a compulsory insurance scheme you are making a great number of people pay a premium for which they do not get anything like an adequate return. Let me take one particular case that was not mentioned. The hon. Lady who moved this Amendment assumed that the woman who was paying her contributions married a person who, by reason of carrying on some trade, did not come under the compulsory provisions of this Bill. Supposing she marries a cripple. It is quite a common thing for a working woman to marry some disabled person; he may be an ex-serviceman, quite unable to earn any money for himself. This woman is made to pay before she is married; you compel her and her employer to contribute during her married life, and you give her no benefit that is at all adequate for the money she has paid. You give no benefit to her, and she receives no benefit if she becomes a widow. Under Sub-section (b), you do not give anything to the orphan children for the mother's contribution. When the Minister realises the large number of women, particularly in the north of England, who are in employment before they are married and after they are married, from whom under this Bill you propose to take a continuous contribution for all those years, he will see that it will be nothing less than a scandal which will react upon his own head if all these women, after contributing for all these years, do not get a pension on widowhood, and their orphans will not get any benefit after the death of the mother, unless you can show that the woman's contributions are a fair payment for the benefit she may receive.

Photo of Mr Frank Briant Mr Frank Briant , Lambeth North

This Amendment seems to me to prove what I have already anticipated, namely, that this Bill will create a great sense of injustice. Only those who know intimately the sufferings of the poor people can fully realise how great will be the sense of injustice which you are creating by this Bill. Take the case of two widows who are neighbours. One will receive a pension exactly the same as the one who has to apply to the Poor Law guardians for relief, and I am sure that that will cause a sense of injustice which will be very dangerous indeed. I think the Minister would not find it a pleasant task if he had to explain to the woman who has been paying into insurance for years why she is not receiving the same benefit as her next door neighbour.

Most of us who believe in pensions for widows do so because we want the children to be carefully looked after and we want to relieve the widow from the necessity of going out to work. That is supposed to be the broad basis of this Bill. We do not want these women to go out to work, but we want them to perform the service of looking after their children. Everybody in this House recognises that it is the duty of a mother to look after her children, and it is not economy or in the interest of the State if she is not enabled by the provisions of this Bill to carry out that duty, and the injustice created will be intense.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

Let me at once say to the Committee that, so far as we are able to consider Amendments put forward in a proper and reasonable spirit, we shall be only too happy to do so. All that we want, in framing this Bill, so long as we keep within its four corners and do not interfere with its financial provisions or matters of that sort, is to take the sense and view of the Committee with a view to modelling and re-modelling the Measure in the best fashion for the people who are insured under it. It is only when we have to come to deal with Amendments such as this, which are very difficult and which affect the finance of the Bill, that we are compelled to resist a suggestion which I think everyone in the Committee would like to see carried out were it possible to do so. Let me, in the first place, in a word or two, dispel, if I can, the suggestion—I do not think there was any definite statement—that the contribution in respect of women is in excess of the benefit which they are likely to receive. I think the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) threw out some suggestion in that connection. It ought to be known, in order that people may not feel a sense of injustice in this connection, that at all ages over 25 the value of the old age pension at 65 to 70 is more than the equivalent of the 4½d. payable in respect of a woman, the employer paying 2½d. and the employé 2d. At higher ages the value of the pension benefit increases rapidly. At the age of 30 it is worth 5¾d. a week, at 40, 11d. a week, and at 50, 2s. 1d. a week. Apart from these definite benefits, a woman, on reaching the age of 70, secures automatically the old age pension for life, free of all restrictions.

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Middlesbrough East

Does the hon. Gentleman mean that that is for women who have entered into insurance? Obviously, that does not touch the point we are discussing, which is in regard to girls of the age of 16, that is to say, nine years before the lowest age that is specified in this Bill.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I was pointing out the considerable advantage that will be received. I will deal in a moment with the point that the hon. Member (has specified, but I was endeavouring to dispel the view that may be created that by some means, under the financial arrangements of this Bill, women are being penalised. That is not the case at all, and I was endeavouring to show that very considerable advantages do accrue.

Photo of Dr Alfred Salter Dr Alfred Salter , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

That is because a certain number are taken out. You ought to take the whole.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

As regards women entering into insurance at ages under 25, it is calculated that nearly 80 per cent. of them will marry, and will, normally, secure the benefits of the Bill in view of their husbands' insurance. That is the calculation made by the actuary. What would follow if this Amendment were carried—

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Leicester West

I think we are entitled to ask the hon. Gentleman what is the value of the old age pension for the woman who enters at the age of 16. If she enters at 16, how much is it worth a week?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I should have to look that up. I inquired just now and I am assured there is no foundation at all for the statement the hon. Member made. What would follow if the Amendment were carried? Obviously there would have to be some further money found, and the hon. Member who spoke a little while ago suggested that I should state what the cost of carrying this Amendment would be. It is most difficult to make a calculation of this kind because the events are not certain under which the benefit will be paid, but some attempt has been made to arrive at a rough idea of the cost and it is reckoned that if 20,000 women every year obtain this benefit it would mean an extra cost of £500,000 to the finances of the scheme. That is a very serious increase indeed.

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Middlesbrough East

That is if they only pay 2d. a week. Have you made a calculation as to what it would be if they came in and paid their way under the Bill?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I will deal with that suggestion in a moment. I want to say a word or two about the case of an insured woman who married a man engaged in a shipyard who fell out of employment and was not able to stamp his card with the requisite number of stamps. It was put to the Committee that that was an exceptionally hard case because all the payments made on both sides would be lost and no benefit would be obtained. That is not the case at all. Under the National Health Insurance Act in all such cases that man is automatically kept in insurance.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I am dealing with the National Health Insurance Act. Under that Act a man in the circumstances mentioned automatically continues in insurance so long as he is unemployed.

Photo of Mr James Sexton Mr James Sexton , St Helens

If he is genuinely unemployed.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I am assuming that this is a man who is genuinely unemployed. All these people have the benefit of the Act for the prolongation of insurance. It is not to be mixed up with the unemployment question. That is under a different Act altogether. I have heard of no difficulty or any disputes, so far as national health insurance is concerned, such as has arisen in connection with unemployment insurance. In the case mentioned by the hon. Member the full benefit would be paid.

Photo of Mr Hastings Lees-Smith Mr Hastings Lees-Smith , Keighley

Does what the hon. Gentleman says in any way affect Clause 5, which lays it down that for the three years previous to this date the man must have paid 26 contributions per year under the Insurance Act?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

The answer to that is that the weeks of unemployment and sickness are counted as contributions under that Clause. Therefore, he gets the benefit in that calculation. It is in another part of the Bill, and is provided for by regulations. So far as this Amendment is concerned, I think everyone will agree that, with the beet wish in the world, it is practically impossible for the Government to accept it, having regard to the considerable increase of cost which would be involved. The only other proposal which has been made is that made by the hon. Lady who moved the Amendment. She said: "Why should not those women be allowed to come in as voluntary contributors?" The third point was made that if they were to be allowed to come in as voluntary contributors, I think it was suggested that they should not have to come in as voluntary contributors both to national health insurance and pensions as well. The answer to that is this: That it is part of the principles of this scheme, for good or ill, that it is interlocked with national health insurance. Married women are not allowed to come in as voluntary contributors, for a very good reason. I think anyone who has any connection with the administration of national health insurance will know that the difficulty of administering a scheme for married women in connection with national health insurance would be practically impossible. I do not think there has been a single person in connection with the scheme in trade union societies, friendly societies, or any other societies, who ask that a married woman should be allowed to come in as a voluntary contributor under national health insurance. Therefore the difficulty arises that when you ask for a woman in these circumstances to come in as a. voluntary contributor under the women's pension scheme, you are divorcing that part of the machinery of the Bill from national health insurance.

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Middlesbrough East

Is it not a fact that the married woman is debarred from National Health Insurance because of the possibility of malingering?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I do not quite follow that. I now come to the second point. Obviously people who would come in as voluntary contributors under such a scheme as this would be those most likely to have benefit. There would be a selection by this means against the scheme, and the actuaries consider that the risk of such a thing might be so considerable that it would not be advisable to permit that option. The difficulty of extending the principle of voluntary contributors under the scheme is that you are getting all sorts of risks in, and all covering a very wide sphere, that directly you open the door you get people coming in who are likely to take benefits quickly, and the people not likely, and who are better subjects as far as insurance is concerned, stay out. We are afraid that the selection against the scheme would be very great, and would involve a considerable sum as far as the scheme is concerned. Everyone would like to give more benefits, but we are bound, if we can, to keep it on a stable financial position, and very reluctantly and regretfully for those reasons, I am sorry to say we cannot assent to the Amendment suggested.

Photo of Mr John Baker Mr John Baker , Wolverhampton Bilston

How can the hon. Gentleman make his argument apply to those women who entered at 16 and paid contributions? When he is considering twopences, and the cost of this scheme, will he get an estimate of what will be the cost to the nation of keeping these women and their children as paupers?

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health has made an interesting and extremely sympathetic speech, but in spite of his oratorical aptitude I should like to protest against the manner in which the Government is treating the Committee throughout these discussions. On the last Amendment and on this Amendment they have refrained from giving us the data on which to arrive at a satisfactory decision. We had no information before us on the last Amendment, and the only relevant questions which have been put to the Government in regard to this Amendment have remained unanswered. The discrimination that is made against this insured woman has not been justified by the Parliamentary Secretary. He has not told us what would be the cost of bringing this unfortunate woman into the scheme. He has not made any calculation as to how many such widows there would be likely to be. His actuarial advisers, who have had such arduous work cast upon them and have acquitted themselves so well in the publications which have been furnished, could easily have provided the hon. Gentleman with the necessary information in order that he might give it to the Committee.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I said that if 20,000 of these persons come in, as suggested, the cost would be £500,000.

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

That is extremely interesting, and I am very much obliged, but the hon. Member says, "if" 20,000 persons come in. We want to have, and I submit in all earnestness we have a right to have, a calculation of some kind. His actuarial advisers are extremely competent persons and have shown their ability to give all possible statistics and figures. This Amendment has been on the Paper for a very considerable period, and it was due to the hon. Member who moved it and to hon. Members who are interested in it to have material supplied upon which they might arrive at a just and satisfactory conclusion.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

Perhaps I did not explain our difficulty. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member can tell me how many insured women he thinks will marry uninsured men. Obviously, you can only give some sort of a guess.

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

The whole basis of the Bill must be that certain calculations of an intricate nature have to be made. If not, we are basing the whole of this discussion on conjecture, and we do not know at this moment whether the Bill is sound or unsound. If it be unsound, then by admitting this Amendment it will not do very much damage to the finance of a scheme which is quite hazy and ill-considered. I suggest that the actuaries, who have obtained all the necessary figures as to the insured persons upon which this Bill has been drafted, could easily have given my hon. Friend the necessary facts in connection with this Amendment.

11.0 P.M.

The scheme must stand or fall when you consider it as a whole. There are imperfections in every scheme. Here is an injustice so patent, so glaring that my hon. Friend has not even endeavoured to give an argument in favour of it. All he has said has been: "I quite agree with everything that has been said. Here is a poor, unfortunate woman who is paying week after week her insurance contributions and is entitled to nothing except an old age pension, whereas her sister next door who pays nothing from the date of her birth to the date of her death is entitled to all sorts of benefit." "I agree," says my hon. Friend, "that that is a great injustice. I shed tears when I think of this poor, unfortunate woman being deprived of benefits which her more forunate sister is to obtain, but we have not catered for her, and our whole scheme would collapse if we were to bring her in." There is an indictment and conviction of the whole Bill. If you cannot justify a thing you have no right to come to this House and reject an Amendment which seeks to put it right. If you can justify it, then let us have the argument by which you do justify it. Here is an inequitable provision at the beginning of this Bill. The Minister of Health tells us that he wants the co-operation of all parties to make it a satisfactory Measure to give benefit on an equal basis to all who deserve it. But when a suggestion is put forward on the first Clause, the Parliamentary Secretary says "Thank you very much for your suggestion. It makes my heart bleed to have it pointed out that these widows who are in a far worse position than the widows who are brought in, should be deprived of all benefit, it makes the Government cry. We realise the force of your argument, but we can do nothing because we have made no calculation, and if we did make calculations, we feel that the scheme might be destroyed." I ask the courteous and efficient Parliamentary Secretary, before we divide on this question to state two plain facts. The first is, what will this cost? The second is the significant question of the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), what is the cash value of the contributions made by the insured woman from 16 to 65 years of age? If it should transpire that it is worth more than 10s. a week then there would be no grounds for resisting this very cogent and useful Amendment.

Mr. ROSSLYN MITCHELL:

The test of a scheme of this nature is whether it fulfils the purposes for which it was introduced. In the Budget speech it was stated that this Bill would be for two definite objects. One was that no widow should have to enter into and compete in the labour market. The other was that she should not have to be dependent upon parish relief for the maintenance of herself and her children. The Minister of Health said that the secret of insurance is the provision against contingencies that may never happen. I demur entirely in that definition of insurance. By far the greater amount of insurance that is taken out in every country in the world is insurance against a contingency which is bound to happen. Life insurance is far and away the largest form of insurance. Life insurance is by way of provision for a contingency which is certain to happen. It does not matter from the public point of view what may be the actuariall opinion upon this scheme. What is vastly important to the public is that they should not be misled intentionally or unintentionally, and should know precisely what they are insuring against. For the hon. Gentleman opposite to say that young girls of 16 are to begin to pay premiums for insurance against old age from 65 to 70 years is, I think, trifling with the Committee. The girl's 2d. is taken from her wages as her premium for this insurance. She is bound to pay that. She is paying that 2d. against the risk of widowhood and against the risk of having fatherless children.

This is called a widows' and orphans' pension scheme. How are we to deal with these girls? The one girl pays. She marries an uninsured man and continues to pay. The uninsured man dies, and she still continues to pay to the scheme, she and her employer 4½d. a week, to meet this remote contingency of an old age pension between 65 and 70; whereas the other girl, who starts beside her in the same work, or the girl who does not work at all and who pays nothing herself, marries a man who is insured, pays nothing while she is married, is left a widow and pays nothing again, and she is enabled to get a pension for herself and for her children. And the difference between those two, including the old age pension, is a difference between 9d. a week and 4½d. a week. I think the Minister will have some difficulty in persuading the people that the value of the contingency of widowhood with fatherless children represents only 4½d. out of 9d., and that the chances of a woman between 65 and 70 having an old age pension represents also 4½d. I cannot see it myself. The Parliamentary Secretary made a very startling statement when he said that 80 per cent. of the women, it is estimated, will marry insured persons. Women are insured under the National Health scheme in far greater relative proportions to those employed than are men. Of the employed women far more are under the National Health Insurance scheme than there are men employed relatively to their respective numbers, because the wages of women are relatively so low that there are few indeed who reach the stage when they pass out of the scheme on account of wages. To say that 80 per cent. of all women who are ever employed are going to be married to insured men seems to me, to be extraordinary. What about all the women who are employed as typists, stenographers, cashiers, clerks and all the rest, and who marry people who are never insured and are outside the National Health Insurance scheme altogether or who very soon pass out of it? Are they and all the unmarried women to be comprised within the remaining 20 per cent?

Sir K. WOOD indicated assent.

Mr. MITCHELL:

That makes all the stronger the claim of the Mover of the Amendment. Surely it is a very small demand to make on the Government, even at the cost of £500,000 a year, that they should include that 20 per cent with their sisters in the 80 per cent. I prefer this scheme to no scheme: at all, but I do think the Government have some liability. At first there will be a large payment. You will very quickly reach your apex, and then your scheme will become normal, and eventually balance. Surely where 20 per cent. of uninsured women have paid, and still continue to pay contributions, there is no need for a cry of national impoverishment and national distress and for excluding them from benefit for which they have paid, and absolutely understood they would receive when they were introduced in the scheme.

Photo of Mr Frank Rye Mr Frank Rye , Loughborough

As I understood the argument of the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence), he seems to think this Amendment ought to be accepted, because the widow of an uninsured man does not get an equivalent benefit to the widow of an insured man. He said that all the benefit the widow of an uninsured man would get was her old age pension at 65, and there would be no benefit whatever to her children on her death. That cannot be right, because under Clause 4 orphans' pensions are paid in the case of a widow who dies after the commencement of the Act, and is insured at the date of her death.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Leicester West

What the Bill does is this: If the woman is insured, and goes on being insured during her marriage, and her husband dies first, it is quite true when she subsequently dies her orphan children will get benefit, but the point to which I referred was, where a woman is insured and her husband is not insured, and she dies first. Then if subsequently her husband dies, the orphans will not get any benefit.

Photo of Mr Frank Rye Mr Frank Rye , Loughborough

I entirely agree, but I do not think that was the view the hon. Member put forward.

Photo of Mr Frank Rye Mr Frank Rye , Loughborough

It certainly was not put forward by other speakers. The whole essence of this Bill is contributions, and out of the quantum of contributions the benefits are to flow. However sympathetic we may be with the case put forward by the Mover of the Amendment —land I am very sympathetically inclined —the fact remains that the contribution for the widow's pension is to flow from a larger contribution by the insured husband, and however sympathetic we may be, it is hardly reasonable to say that the wife of an uninsured person, and who is herself as insured person, should receive the same benefit as that given to the widow of an insured person. The payments are not equivalent, and unless you make them equivalent, you cannot reasonably expect that the benefits should be the same.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

I regret that the Minister has not seen fit to accept this Amendment, or, at any rate, some of it, which he could have translated into his own words if he cared to do so. I do not think that in respect of the person who is continuously unemployed the Parliamentary Secretary met the case which was put forward from these benches, with regard to the prolongation of Insurance Act, because, as I understand it, the approved society will only continue the membership of an insured person so long as the Employment Exchange provides documents to prove that the man has been genuinely seeking employment. It is a fact that a considerable number of unemployed people cannot be continued in their insured membership of approved societies under that Act. With regard to the main point of the Amendment, the hon. Member who spoke last suggested that we were declaring that the woman in the case mentioned in the Amendment should have exactly the same benefit as if she were the widow of an insured person. If we are not to give the same benefit to her, I hope the Minister will tell us what benefit he is willing to give in a, case of that kind. Let me put the case in another way. There are two types of men who would be dealt with by this Amendment. First, there is the non-manual worker whose income exceeds £250 per annum, who dies and leaves a widow. Then there is the other case of the person mentioned by the Mover of the Amendment. I am not sure whether the Government is not animated in this way—that with regard to the widow of the man in the first category, they will probably say that the widow ought to be able to take care of herself, as her husband had been in receipt of an income of £4 16s. a week. I would not accept that view. With regard to the second category I feel a strong case has been made out, and that the Minister has not met it. There is the case of the man who has usually followed an employment in respect of which there is a contract of service. He is an insured person; he is all right and if anything happens to him, his widow and children are provided for by this scheme. But if that man leaves his employment in factory or workshop, and enters into a little business on his own account and has an income of anything from £l to £2 a week, and the wife of that man follows her ordinary vocation, and is insured—that, in fact, is the case about which we are most concerned.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

He can become a voluntary contributor.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

There are cases where such a man cannot become a contributor at all, because there are men who fall into that category who have never been insured. If it meets the hon. Gentlemen, I will deal with that specific case. Let me return to the man who has not been within the National Health Insurance scheme at all; who has a little business of his own, and whose total income does not exceed £2 a week. The wife of that man follows her ordinary occupation and is insured under the National Health Insurance scheme. That is the case about which we are most concerned. The Minister declares that we have put an extreme case on this side. I am very much afraid he has put an extreme case on the other side. "Take the case," he said, "of the widow falling within the Amendment. She will contribute only 104 contributions, and be entitled to receive 10s. pension for life." If he is in sympathy with this Amendment, as I believe he must be—and every hon. Member will have been moved by this fact, that a woman who has contributed to this scheme from 16 years of age to 50 is not entitled to draw a penny piece in respect of her membership under this scheme—and if he feels that 104 contributions are not enough to secure any benefit in this case, I should like him to suggest what would secure a pension in respect of this woman. The wording of our Amendment may not be right, but so far as I am concerned I should be glad if the Minister would give us a better reason for not accepting it.

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, as one who has to deal with the administration of National Health Insurance, that I know that the argument about actuarial calculations and the value of this benefit or the value of the contributions will not weigh with the people who will suffer in connection with this scheme. There are three categories that fall within the scheme now. First of all, next January a widow, with dependent children, will draw benefits under this scheme without having paid one penny piece under the scheme. She will draw that benefit merely in respect of the membership of her husband under the National Health Insurance scheme. Category No. 2 is this, that a woman who is left a widow, whether or not she has dependent children, will draw benefits under this scheme after the scheme begins to operate. The third category is this, that the woman will be entitled to the 10s. merely by the fact that she reaches 65 years of age. Now, when the woman who is married to an uninsured man begins to compare her position, on the death of her husband, with the three categories that I have mentioned, I feel positive she will be indignant because she is left out in the cold, especially in view of the fact that she has contributed towards this scheme and is not going to draw any benefit when she becomes a widow.

I want this Clause to be dealt with without any political bias, but I want to make this observation: This woman will be justified, in my view, in saying to her neighbour: "I feel positive that I am called upon to pay contributions towards subsidising the pensions of other people." There will be justification for that statement, and the position of the woman in respect of whom we have been speaking to-night, on this side of the House, in my view, is an unfair position. The Minister is not just towards her, and I feel positive that if he does not accept the spirit of this Amendment and translate the spirit into words that will fit this point of view, he will regret his action to-night.

Photo of Mr Thomas Naylor Mr Thomas Naylor , Southwark South East

From the observations of the Minister of Health and the Parliamentary Secretary one would suppose that they think that every woman must, sooner or later, become a widow. One would imagine that that was in their thought when they spoke of the great cost that would be incurred in the adoption of the Amendment. The Parliamentary Secretary suggests that the cost would be half a million. Has the hon. Gentleman considered the other side of the case— that there must be many men subscribing under the scheme who are not married, and never will be, and whose contributions, therefore, are covering the liability that the fund will never sustain so far as they are concerned. Again, there are married couples under the scheme who will not have children, and whose contributions will, therefore, cover liability on behalf of others. Would not the loss of half a million arising out of this Amendment be counterbalanced by what is gained in the cases that I have mentioned? I represent a division in London where a large number of women are insured, and are married to men who are not insured. These women go out to work at charing, seeing their husbands are unable to earn sufficient to keep the house going. The woman is paying the insurance money, yet she is not to benefit under this scheme because she marries a man who is not insured! In the same street—it maybe—there are the wives of citizens who are not insured, who will benefit under this scheme by virtue of their husband's contribution. That surely is not fair to those who are left as a result of the Bill making no provision for them, and for the simple reason that they have married men who are not insured under the scheme, though they themselves are paying towards it. I hope the Minister may see his way clear to reconsider the decision that he has given to the Committee.

Photo of Dr Leslie Haden-Guest Dr Leslie Haden-Guest , Southwark North

I want to join my hon. Friend who has just spoken in regard to a large part, indeed of London generally, where insured people will be excluded by this particular provision. A large number of these women are living under very, very poor conditions, people whose children, because the mothers have to go out to work, are very often neglected, and who are precisely the kind of people that, I am sure, the promoters of the Bill, before they had got the actuarial calculations, when they were still thinking of general principles, desired to help, and who are, in fact, left out. It is not only a question of war-pensioners. There are a great many in London who are unable to work, married women. There are street traders and those of miscellaneous occupations, who make up so large a part of the people employed in London in occupations which are not insurable. I ask the Minister, if it is going to cost half a million to bring in these widows, how much is it going to cost to keep the widows out? How much is it going to cost in poor relief, in hospital relief, not to mention actual loss by the devitalisation of the children of the widows and others—how much is it going to cost? I think that is a matter which the actuaries will be able to estimate. There is another question which the Parliamentary Secretary did not answer, a very important question, which I venture to press, what is the worth of the insurance to a woman who begins at the age of 16? It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman to start his level of calculations at the age of 25. At the age of 25 a large number of women have fallen out of the category of insured persons. I think this particular Clause showing a discrimination against women which is very undesirable. I fail to see why arrangements cannot be made, though they may be difficult and complicated, to put a woman who has a responsibility equal to that of a man with regard to children on the same footing as if she were a male contributor.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

And pay the same contributions?

Mr. GUEST:

It may be difficult, but it can be met. It is a matter for full discussion.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

Would the hon. Member say whether he suggests that the women should pay the same contributions?

Mr. GUEST:

If the hon. Gentleman will accept the spirit of this Amendment, I do not see why he should not find a way of meeting this without penalising the woman. I cannot forbear pressing this point. I really do not see why women should be penalised in this Bill which is supposed to give aid to women. One is justified in asking, Is the main plank in this proposal to provide pensions and relief, or is the main plank to cut down what is given to the narrowest possible limits?

Photo of Captain Charles Foxcroft Captain Charles Foxcroft , Bath

I fully appreciate that a woman pays her contribution in order to obtain an old age pension, and that a man pays his contribution in order to obtain not only an old age pension, but also a pension for his widow and children. I cannot see why the Government should not allow an insured woman who marries an uninsured man to pay, if she chooses, the same insurance as her husband would pay had he been insured. I ask the Minister seriously to consider that point, which, I am sure, appeals very much to all sections in this House and outside.

Photo of Mr Philip Snowden Mr Philip Snowden , Colne Valley

May I for the second time intervene in this discussion to put one simple question? Is it not a fact that the actuarial value of the 2d. per week paid from 16 years to 65—well I will put it in another way. Is it not a fact that the value of the old age pension from 65 to 70, beginning at 16, is a penny a week?

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Ladywood

Any intervention in our debates on the part of the right hon. Gentleman is to be encouraged as far as possible. It is not the fact that the value of the old age pension from 65 to 70 is a contribution of a penny a week for a girl entering insurance at the age of 16. What we have to consider in an insurance scheme is not whether every individual who enters the scheme gets eventually the full equivalent of his contributions, but we have to consider whether the benefits which are possible are on the whole equivalent to the aggregate of the contributions. That is the proper basis of an insurance system. What hon. Members do not see is that they are taking a particular case which is, as a matter of fact, of comparatively rare occurence. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] They take a particular case and say that because the person insured will not have equivalent benefits to their contributions it is unjust to that person. The hon. Member for North Southwark (Mr. Guest) pointed out that exactly the same argument could be adduced in the case of bachelors who never marry but who will have to pay their contributions under this Bill. Of course they will never leave a widow.

Mr. GUEST:

But they do not have any children to look after.

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Ladywood

We insure them all the same, and we know that in the case of a bachelor that contingency cannot arise. Therefore the hon. Member is perfectly right in saying that in that case also the benefits are not equivalent to the contributions. It is so again in the case of a married couple who have no children at all. Of course a man cannot leave any provision for children he has not got. Take the case of a girl at 16 who enters insurance. You must not assume that she is going to marry an insured man and be exposed to this hardship. As a matter of fact, she is insuring against a whole range of contingencies, and one of those contingencies may be that after entering insurance at the age of 16 she may marry an insured man, and in that case she will get all the benefits that accrue to the widow or the wife of an insured man. While it is easy to pick out these cases and say if this or that happens they will not get the full benefits of their contributions, that is only the same hardship that a man suffers who insures against a fire and never has one. I think the difficulty which hon. Members are finding is that they have not appreciated the fact that this is an insurance scheme and not a scheme for the provision of pensions for the needy.

Mr. THOMAS:

The principal point has not been answered by the right hon. gentleman. I do not say that the Minister of Health wilfully avoided it, but diplomatically he slided over the query, and he seemed to forget that the Parliamentary Secretary, had already spoken. The right hon. gentleman says that we are imagining something which cannot arise. Even if it does, he says it is a very remote contingency, of which no real notice can be taken. But he forgot that the ground upon which it was rejected by the Parliamentary Secretary was the cost, his estimate being £500,000. Which are we going to reconcile?

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Ladywood

I am much obliged to the right hon. gentleman for calling attention to what might seem to be an inconsistency. I think it is very easily explained. When I said that the contingency to which hon. Members opposite had called attention was a rare one, I was speaking of the contingency of an insured woman marrying an uninsured man who is not a person of independent means—I think the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) suggested that he might be a hawker, or something of that kind. That was the kind of contingency which I represented as being of comparatively rare occurrence. I should imagine that in the greater number of cases in which an insured woman marries an uninsured man, she will be marrying a man who is not in employment because he has independent means.

Mr. THOMAS:

The right hon. Gentleman cannot get over the fact that he is answering a case for the specific Amendment, and the case presented from, this side is, shortly, this: The particular cases upon which this Amendment bears merely provide old age pensions between 65 and 70. That is not in dispute. My right hon. Friend asked a simple question: Is it not true that the evidence at the disposal of the Ministry—and it was equally at our disposal—clearly establishes the fact that the contribution necessary to provide that benefit is 1d.? The Minister has not answered that question; I now repeat it. If it is not 1d., will the Minister tell us what the amount is, because, whatever it is, the difference between it and the amount that these women are being compelled to pay is the amount to which they are robbed of benefits on their contributions, for other people's benefit.

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Ladywood

Perhaps, in answering a little while ago, I a little lost the thread of the question which the right hon. Gentleman put to me, and to which he asked for a specific answer. I do not want to conceal it for one moment. I think the answer I have already given is the real answer, and is a complete answer. As to what is the equivalent of an old age pension between 65 and 70 to a girl entering insurance at 16, the answer is 3d., not 1d. That is for the old age pension alone, but to that there must also be added the orphan's pension to which the widow is entitled.

Mr. THOMAS:

I am sorry to interrupt, but this is rather important for the purpose of record. Does the Minister make that statement, that the figure is 3d., on the clear and specific case presented, as being the responsible actuarial calculation made by those who are advising him?

Mr. THOMAS:

All I can say is that it is amazing that this difference should arise in a few months. I make no other observation.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

The discussion that has taken place between the front benches as to what this actually costs is very interesting. I do not know whether the penny applies to the whole body of people who will be insured and that you are taking out just this one category of women and getting a fixed sum for them alone apart from all others. If you are that is rather an unfair way of dealing with the figures, because, as I understand this arrangement, it is that all the money is going to be paid into a certain pool, and, if it pans out all right, the Government will not have to provide anything. I do not understand that the Government has to pay anything more than the deficiency that will remain to be paid over and above what the people themselves contribute to the fund.

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Ladywood

It is equivalent to £750,000,000.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

I have heard that. I remember on the National Health Insurance Bill how the actuary's figures were tossed about. They were very swollen indeed, and there are very big funds that have accumulated. I am taking part in the valuation of a pension fund which the actuaries have compelled us to put on a certain footing and which gives us only swollen reserves. When we speak to the actuary about it he tells us they have to make extra provision. They have to take everything into account in order to preserve their own reputation, and at the risk of ruining my own reputation, in another sixty years. I believe those who are here at that time, if such a pernicious scheme as this is still in operation—I am confident that no such sum as that which is talked about now will come from the State to pay for these benefits. The two Ministers have given us, as usual, a very great deal of sympathy. When I was young I read "Alice in Wonderland." I read about the Walrus and the Carpenter and the crocodile tears they wept, swallowing the oysters, and it always reminds me of that when I hear the bucket-loads of sympathy and the deep feeling they have for the poor. Contrast the attitude of the two right hon. Gentlemen with that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day. Because a couple of representatives of the landed interest shook their fingers across the floor at him he abjectly gave them £500,000 a year as a present.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Member must not refer to that subject now.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

I only wanted to use it as an illustration of the spirit of class sympathy that finds expressions in action. We get sympathy but we do not get anything to back it up. When the people who have got plenty want something they get a little more than mere sympathy.

A point that has not been met by other speakers is the case of the woman who has married an ex-service man. I am surprised to hear someone jeer at that a little while ago. In my district there are a number of women who, out of sheer goodness of heart I believe, have taken men who for some reason or other have not been given pensions by this grateful country. I know cases where women are supporting such men and they will go on paying, and when the man dies they get nothing whatever, but they have to go on paying into the fund after he has died in order that they may get the Old Age Pension. The man may at this time only be earning a little money, but it may be enough to help pay the rent and keep things going, and you will leave her high and dry with her children if any. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member will come to Bow I will introduce him to some of these people and he will be able to explain why he voted against this Amendment.

I want further to emphasise the point that you are not saving anything by this. You are simply, as the hon. Member for South-East Southwark (Mr. Naylor) said, lumping it on to the locality for what you call the horrors and rigours of the poor. It is perfectly disgusting to do it in this way. When you come to the unemployed man I wonder that the Parliamentary Secretary has the impudence to stand at that Box and to talk as he does, considering the statements he made when he sat in the seat now occupied by the right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) last year. He knows perfectly well the kind of speeches he made on the subject for the men who were being turned off the unemployed list. Now he is standing at that Box and telling us to-night that under the Unemployed Workmen Act or under the National Health Insurance Act a man who has been genuinely seeking work that nothing will happen to the money paid in, and that he will be considered all right. He knows perfectly well that under the present administration there is a quarter of a million men and women already struck off since August last. There is no dispute about those figures, because they are the figures of the Minister of Labour. A large proportion of these have been turned off because they were charged with not genuinely seeking employment. What guarantee have we that a man and woman may not marry and the woman has been paying in at work in some industry or other since 16 and the man has paid in also and then, for some reason over which he has no control— nowadays you cannot say that unemployment is the fault of the individual; captains of industry tell you that and I am sure hon. Members on the other side will believe them—you get a man who all at once is thrown out of employment and he is out of employment, as many of them are to-day, for two or three years, then comes disappointment and semi-starvation, the man gets some disease or other and dies and the wife and whatever children are left are penalised and all the money they have paid in is lost. Yet the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentlemen tell us that they want to meet us and to consider fairly any reasonable Amendment.

Now we have put this reasonable Amendment the hon. and learned Gentleman said there would be so-and-so, and in the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, who is usually so very lucid, did not seem to know whether there would be so-and-so and he did not seem to be sure whether it was a matter of great importance or small importance, but whether it is a big or little thing he has said nothing at all. This is another instance of the sort of class legislation, class feeling that dominates the other side. If we were appealing for the landed class, hon. Members opposite would give whatever was demanded. They have given £500,000 a year recently, but they will not give to these women that which every decent-minded man and woman in the country knows they ought to have, and that is, the value of the money which they pay into this fund.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Leicester West

I should like to ask the Minister how he reconciles the speech he made at the beginning with the speech he made at the end? In his speech at the beginning, he said that the woman's contribution was solely for the old age pension that she would get, and that the benefit for widows and orphans depended on the man's contribution. In the later speech he took exactly the opposite line. On which leg does he stand? If he stands on the first leg, we are entitled to ask him to show that the old age benefit is an adequate return for the contribution paid in. We do not, of course, ask him to show that it will be an adequate return for each individual woman. There will necessarily be a large number who do not reach the age of 65 and who will get no return for their contributions. That is insurance. What is not an insurance principle is for women to begin to be insured at the age of 16 and to remain insured when they are married without, as a class, getting an aggregate benefit equal to the contributions which they have paid.

12 M.

Photo of Mr Joseph Gibbins Mr Joseph Gibbins , Liverpool West Toxteth

The Minister made a statement as to an unemployed man having his case met when he cannot afford to pay for stamps. As a branch secretary, I say that that is not true. A man who has not been working and has paid no contributions for a certain period is struck out of insurance altogether. In cases where the number of stamps required are very few, usually the trade society comes to his assistance and puts so many stamps on his card. To suggest that the man who is unemployed for a long period is likely to be assisted out of the fund is not true. I have known men even in connection with the National Health Insurance who because of unemployment have been placed outside the scope of the benefit, and they have had to pay 104 contributions even to qualify for the ordinary Health Insurance Sickness allowance. What will happen when it comes to qualifying for a pension of 10s. a week? If we are to rely upon sympathy from Government departments, what are we to expect for a man who has paid contributions for 40 years and cannot pay during the last two or three years. If we are to depend upon the sympathy of a Government department, what will happen to hundreds and thousands of men will be that they will get no pension. Why should a man after paying for 40 years have the last three years set up as the standard upon which to qualify for a pension? Why not take any three years. Why not take the prime of life or the first three years or the first ten years? At 60 years of age his chance of employment gets less, and you pick out the worst period of his life to judge him by. It is grossly unfair. The Government itself is causing men to be withdrawn from industry, or using a certain amount of pressure—

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I do not know that what the hon. Member is saying has very much to do with the Amendment under discussion. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] I am quite open to be persuaded on the point.

Photo of Mr Joseph Gibbins Mr Joseph Gibbins , Liverpool West Toxteth

The Parliamentary Secretary said that these people could be assured of assistance and sympathy. They should not be disqualified because of long periods of employment. This Amendment ought to be accepted.

Photo of Mr Ernest Thurtle Mr Ernest Thurtle , Shoreditch

The Parliamentary Secretary has said that if a man is unemployed for a considerable period, say two years, his health insurance is still maintained. I am given to understand that if a man is unemployed for a long period, say 12 months, and has not stamped his health insurance card his health insurance lapses. I would like to know if that is a fact?

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

The last point raised is a very important point. There is a large number of men one or two, and, in some districts, three years out of employment. Those men after 12 months are automatically excluded from national health insurance. What we want to know is if such a man dies will his widow be eligible for benefit under this fund? We maintain that as the Bill stands at present unless this Amendment is accepted the widow of the man who, prior to his death, had been unemployed for a considerable time will not be eligible to receive any benefit. What is the exact position?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

The statement which I made previously to the Committee is perfectly correct. The statement which the hon. Gentleman made just now represented the state of affairs before the Act extending the period was passed—

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

Two years ago. The position to-day is as I stated it to the Committee. However long a man may be unemployed, provided that he complies with the conditions of the Act, as I indicated an hour ago—

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

That is another issue. A very flat contradiction of my statement has been made—that an insured man went out after twelve months and lost his insurance benefit. That is quite incorrect. As long as a man can fulfil the conditions of the Act, that he is genuinely seeking work, he is retained in health insurance without any limitation of time whatever.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

If the local employment committee for any reason disquali- fies a man as not genuinely seeking work that man is disqualified, and not only because he is not genuinely seeking work, but if the committee think he is not liable to get work because of age or some such thing. Such a man at the end of twelve months is automatically excluded from the Insurance Act.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I cannot do more than again state the case. The hon. Gentleman is referring to the period before the prolongation of the Insurance Act was passed. That made provision for the people who are genuinely unemployed as long as they satisfy the conditions laid down, without any limitation of time.

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Aberavon

Am I right in assuming that that is only so long as a man is included on the live register of unemployed?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I do not know; I cannot say that. I am endeavouring to point out that the statement that a man went out after twelve months is quite incorrect. As to the conditions laid down, the proper time for discussion will be on Clause 5.

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Aberavon

The point is a simple point and calls for a precise answer. There seems to be some doubt, not on the point that has been replied to, because that is accurate; but an answer is essential to this Bill, this Clause and this Amendment. It is very essential to this Bill, to this Clause and this Amendment. Is the test of whether a man is genuinely seeking work or not to be whether his name remains on the live register of unemployed? That is a very simple question, and the Government have no business to ask the Committee to pass this Clause until it can tell us what the Clause means. Until it answers that very simple question, we do not know what we are voting about at all. I would remind my hon. Friend that the Bill which has been introduced to-day for the purpose of dealing with unemployment is going to increase the number of people whose names disappear from the live register. Therefore, we are giving the Government certain powers regarding benefits under this Act and at the same time the Government are taking power to reduce the number of beneficiaries under this Act, by a Bill they have introduced already. I think we must have a very definite reply.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I am informed that the live register has nothing whatever to do with the test as to whether a man is genuinely employed or not. It is solely a matter for the approved society itself.

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Middlesbrough East

On a point of Order. Surely the approved society does not come in. The whole point is whether the local rota committee states that this man is not genuinely seeking work. Is it not a matter, not so much about the live register, but whether the man, during the time he was unemployed, was actually in receipt of unemployment benefit, whether covenanted or expended, and as soon as a man is turned off the rota committee he gets a red form which is marked that he is not genuinely seeking work? You get great areas like Tees-side, where there is no job to be found, and yet these men are turned off as not genuinely seeking work. Not only are these men being told that they cannot get employment benefit, but you are actually proposing to starve their women and children.

Mr. THOMAS:

I do not know quite where we are getting with this Amendment, and I am quite sure the Governmnt do not know. Originally a very simple issue was before the Committee, and it was based upon this Amendment to ascertain from the Government whether the contributions exacted from women at 16 years of age were more than sufficient to meet the benefits that are provided. We definitely stated that from our information the amount required was not 3d. as exacted, but 1d. Then an issue was raised of supplementary benefits, which we disputed, and now my hon. Friend gets up and definitely says that, notwithstanding the changes in the National Health Insurance Act, it is not true that an unemployed person over 12 months is deprived of benefit. That is your statement, and you follow it up by saying it is true that there may be limitations, but those limitations, as to whether a man is genuinely seeking work, are determined by the approved society. I say that is not true. I not only know it is not law, but I speak as one responsible for the administration of the fund. I am, as my hon. Friend knows, the president of the largest society in the country, and I not only say it is not true, but I go beyond that and say there is no jurisdiction with the approved societies. My hon. Friend knows perfectly well that this is not determined by the approved society but is determined by the rota committee, which is independent. Here is a conflict of fact, and I want hon. Members on the other side of the Committee to observe that when they go into the Lobby they have to choose on these facts, and I say deliberately again, it is not true, as my hon. Friend must know. Let me take the case of a man who is 62 years of age. There are many of them. It is within the power of the Committee to say that he is deprived merely on the ground that his age of 62 is not such as to place him within the labour market. It is not only within their power, but it has been said. What has the approved society to do in that case? Is it not true that the approved society has to accept the verdict? The specific point I want the hon. Gentleman to answer is this. Smith, a miner, is unemployed, and has been unemployed for 14 months. Under the provisions of the National Health Insurance Act he is kept on the live register, but the rota committee come to the conclusion that he did not look for work, or they come to the conclusion that a miner of 62 should not be expected to get employment—that the liability of the employer would be too large—or they come to the conclusion that he might have got a job in Scotland, although he lives in Wales, but he did not take the trouble to go to Scotland to look for it. All these three categories enable them to disqualify him. Is that true or not? I ask the Minister, on the three categories I have put before him, whether it is within the power of a committee to say that such a man has not legitimately sought employment and that he can therefore be excluded?

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Ladywood

The right hon. Gentleman has been so positive in his statement that the information given to the Committee was incorrect, that I confess for a moment he shook my confidence. I therefore thought it desirable that I should confirm that information. It is very important that the Committee should not go wrong on this point, because, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, it is an important point. May I submit to the Committee that we must not confuse in this matter the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Acts and provisions which relate only to health insurance. What we are here dealing with is health insurance; we are dealing with the prolongation of insurance Act which relates to health insurance and the benefits receivable under that Act. The right hon. Gentleman appears to think that the test which is laid down under prolongation of insurance Act has to be decided by an organisation set up under the Unemployment Insurance Act, but that is not so. The rota committees and the employment exchanges have nothing to do with this matter so far as the prolongation of insurance Act is concerned. What happens is that the approved society inquires into the circumstances of their own members through their committee of management elected by themselves. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I assure hon. Members that is so. They are the body to decide whether the conditions are met or not, and therefore it is not necessary for hon. Members to be afraid that any alteration in the practice of the rota committees or in the Unemployment Insurance Act will have any effect whatever in this connection.

Mr. THOMAS:

Surely my right hon. Friend will agree at once that there can be no possible object in anyone deliberately deceiving the Committee? There must be some common agreement upon one thing: those who administer the Act either do not understand the instructions they receive, or, alternately, there may be new instructions given at a critical moment. I am speaking in the recollection of a number of people who administer the Act when I say that the National Health Insurance Act gives the amount of maximum unemployment— with which I am dealing, as my hon. Friend dealt with that Act—and I say that the statement made that the absolute determining authority is the Approved Society is in comformity with the experience of those administering the Act. It is no use the hon. Gentleman dissenting: he does not administer the Act. Do let us try to be fair. I am not going to stand here and make a statement as one administering the Act, and here an hon. Gentleman who does not administer the Act shaking his head. If there is a legitimate difference of opinion let us put it right. If there has been a misunderstanding or a difference of interpretation let us put it right. But do let us. at least, give credit to those who say: this is our actual experience! The Amendment with which we are dealing we are keen on this, because in the administration of the National Insurance Act we find large numbers of people who suffer through no fault of their own, from causes over which they have no control, and from which the Friendly Society cannot save them. All we are anxious to do is to see that these victims, whoever they may be, shall not be further penalised by any mistake in this Act.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

We should like the position made quite clear. I think the Minister has raised the real point at issue. As I see it, when a member of an Approved Society has been unemployed for a long period the Society is entitled under the Prolongation of Insurance Act, to continue his membership of the Society. The Society must, however, secure evidence of the fact that the man is genuinely unemployed and seeking employment. The point arises in this way: Although the Approved Society can determine whether or not the man's membership is to be continued it is the practice of the Approved Society to get the evidence that is necessary. There are a large number of people who are now insured under the National Health Insurance Act who will be debarred from this scheme on the grounds I have mentioned. It is no use for the Ministry of Health telling us therefore, that the determining factor is the Approved Society. I say definitely that there will be a large number of people who are now insured under the National Health Insurance Act who will be debarred from this scheme on the ground that although they are unemployed there is no documentary evidence available to prove the fact.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I will try again to make the point clear on the authority of the Controller of National Insurance who, I suppose, ought to know as much about this as anybody. He assures me that the Committee of the Society elected by its Members solely decides whether a person is genuinely unemployed or not. The right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) talked about instructions and documents issued to societies. Societies have alone the responsibility for deciding this matter. The only possible thing that can occur is that certain societies could, on their own account, have made a reference to quarters to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. That is not a widespread system, and the Controller knows of no such system. As a matter of fact, the societies are anxious to keep as many members as possible in order to get the administrative allowance. They are the sole people to decide, and, so far as the Controller of the National Insurance scheme is concerned, he believes they do decide. He has no knowledge of their reference to documents. That is the exact position, I am instructed.

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Aberavon

I beg to move "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

On the one hand, we have the assurance from the Government, and I am perfectly certain it is sincerely given, but around me are men actually administering the Act. They say it is the practice that you must give documentary evidence about the genuineness of the unemployed man. What more natural thing for an Approved Society to do than to ask the Employment Exchange or one of its Committees what is their view in this particular matter. We are assured by those administering the Act that this is often done. We cannot give power under this Bill on an assumption which, as a matter of fact, is not true in actual practice. That is the evidence we have. It is a statement on the part of the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) and others who do actually administer the law. Supposing the statement is true, on the information the Government have received, what happens? If it is merely the approved societies which decide whether a man is genuinely unemployed or not, their decision up to the passing of the Bill related only to the benefits under the Health Insurance Act. Under this Bill that the decision of the approved society not only involves a man with relation to the benefits of health insurance but involves his potential widow and children. Nothing could be more unsatisfactory than that and nothing could be more unsatisfactory than to put the administration of this Bill into the hands of a committee that is charged with administering a fund which has nothing whatever to do with this question. What a confused state of legislation. I do not think the Government have foreseen this extraordinary administrative incorrectitude. The position is so serious and the confusion still remains so much that I think the Government would be well advised to allow us to report Progress so that we may meet to-morrow. [Interruption.] This is not a small point. I think the Committee will agree it is necessary that inquiries should be made on both sides so that we may assure ourselves that the practice is such as to be safe and that we may begin the discussion with the assurance that we are proceeding on safe lines.

Photo of Sir Douglas Hogg Sir Douglas Hogg , St Marylebone

I think that the Leader of the Opposition, in his eloquent suggestion that we should report Progress because of the confusion, has a little lost sight of the Amendment we are discussing, and the reason why any confusion has arisen. The confusion, if any, is between the experience which is put forward by the right hon. Gentlemen opposite—they will not imagine I am challenging their good faith—and the information which the Government have from responsible officials as to the administration of the Health Insurance Act. The suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition is that we ought to know whether or not the statement of the practice from the Opposition side is the correct one, or the information we have is correct. If we were discussing at this moment who was, or who was not, an insured man within the meaning of this Bill, that, I think, would be of vital importance. If we were discussing the definition of insured person it would be eminently proper that we should be quite sure we knew whether the Health Insurance practice is as is suggested. But the Amendment which the Committee is at present discussing, or at any rate is purporting to be discussing, is an Amendment which suggests that where there is an insured woman who is the wife of an uninsured man she shall have certain benefits. If, in fact, the definition of an insured man in this Bill is too narrow, then by all means, when we come to that definition, let us widen it. We do not overcome the difficulty by saying that the definition is too narrow, and in an isolated case we ought to widen it so that a widow, whether insured or not, should get benefit. The Committee will notice that, assuming this Amendment be passed, it would merely have the effect of giving benefit to some widows of some men, who ought to be insured, and continue to exclude the vast majority of widows of such men who were not themselves insured. This is not the place at which it becomes of importance to consider whether the definition is what we think it is or what they think it, is, because we intend, as they do, that the definition of an insured man shall be of a reasonable latitude and width. We can consider that when we get to Clause 2 or Clause 5. We can then clear up and discuss that matter, if there be any confusion. I am sure that when we get to Clause 2 we shall be quite prepared to report Progress.

Mr. THOMAS:

I am sure the Committee is always indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for any contributions he makes, because he is always genuinely anxious to help and guide it. In this case, unfortunately, he did not happen to be in the Committee when two speeches were delivered. If he had been, he would not have made the speech he has just delivered. Let me recall to the Committee what it is we are really discussing. This difficulty is created by two confused statements by the Minister. The Amendment proposed from this side said that we believed the contribution that you are now exacting from these women is too high considering the benefits they receive. We proceeded to ask the Minister, keeping in mind the evidence we had and which tended to show that actuarially he could secure old age pensions for widows between 65 and 70 for a contribution of 1d. per week, to say what was necessary from the age of 16. That was the object of the Amendment. The first reply we got from the Parliamentary Secretary was that while he agreed there was considerable hardship, and while there was much to be said for the argument, the Committee should please keep in mind that this was an insurance scheme and that the liability was unlimited. While not committing himself to a definite figure, he said he believed this would involve 20,000 people and cost £500,000.

That was the first reply we got. It was so astounding, and so contradictory to all our investigations, and ran so foul of the evidence we had, that we felt that we were bound to press it. Then a simple question was put by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Snowden) as to whether it was or was not true that the. benefits that the widows received could be obtained for one penny. The Minister of Health said, "Certainly I will answer that." He spoke for ten minutes and then did not answer it. I got up and said that it was just as well that the Committee should have a reply, and the Minister remarked that he had forgot it when making his remarks. His information, he said, was that instead of it being 1d., it was 3d. That left us more confused than ever. The right hon. Gentleman opposite shakes his head. It is getting a bad habit with him, and it is a habit for which I must correct him. When we say that the information at our disposal is the same as that at the disposal of the Ministry he must not shake his head, because we do not tell lies. I repeat, whether he shakes his head or not, that we went into this question, and the actuarial advice at our disposal was that this benefit was worth a penny, and we make that statement on that authority. Then, suddenly, a new issue comes up, and in order to make this benefit worth more than a penny, another speaker intervenes and says that this does not concern old age pensions alone, that is not all that these widows get. There are other benefits which we cannot calculate. We say, let us calculate them—and immediately there comes up this emergency difficulty of these other people. It all became so confusing that my right hon. Friend says that as it is now twenty minutes to one we are all getting thick-headed, that as this is so important and affects so many people we had better discuss it at 3.45 to-morrow afternoon. The Minister of Health must remember that when posterity is blessing him and all his works they will point to this one spot as a blot upon it all, and it will be recalled that it was done at a quarter to one, when everybody was mixed up. He must want to avoid that confusion. We say clearly and definitely that the Amendment now before the Committee is to prevent you exacting from a certain class of women in this country a contribution disproportionate to the benefits they will receive; we want to do elementary justice to them.

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Carmarthen

I have listened to the Debate very carefully because we are dealing with a matter of the greatest importance. I rise to support the Motion of the Leader of the Opposition. I have listened for something like two hours to a duel that has been going on between the Ministry of Health and the Parliamentary Secretary and members of the Opposition as to how National Health Insurance is or is not administered. As I understand it, the position finally is this—and it is an important point. That whereas approved societies have full power and discretion to keep people on their books who are unemployed, yet in practice the only method by which they can find out whether the unemployment is genuine or not is by going to the local employment committee. If that is so, I must point out how important it is that this mysterious Bill, which we have discussed once before and which should have been before Members of the House before we began to consider this Bill at all—a Bill which is in the hands of the Press but not available to Members—should really be before us if we are intelligently to discuss the Amendment which is now the subject of our debate. Obviously, if that Bill is going to disfranchise and take out of employment benefit a large number of those who are now receiving benefits and thereby render them insured persons, the scope of the Amendment will be extremely wide. That is why I do not agree with the Attorney-General. He pointed out that the question as to who was an assured person could be discussed on a subsequent Clause, but we have no pledge as to what the Government are going to do in that matter. We have now the power to say that a woman paying her contributions can provide for herself. The real question is what the number is likely to be. If it is large, the Amendment becomes important, and the finances become more difficult. There, again, we have had most conflicting accounts from the Minister of Health and the Parliamentary Secretary. I suggest that if one only spoke it would be much better. The Parliamentary Secretary says that the number will be large and the cost so much; the Minister of Health blandly says that really it is not worth discussing. The Minister of Health in effect says that a woman, instead of being so careless as to neglect the precaution of getting an insurance card for her fiancee before she marries him or have the bad luck to fall in love with an uninsured man—and that after this Bill becomes law this will be a new crime in this country—should marry a man who is a millionaire.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The right hon. Gentleman is speaking to the Amendment and not to the motion to report Progress.

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Carmarthen

I will gladly turn to that. We have discussed this important Amendment so long, and we have been so confused by the contradictory statements from the Front Bench, we are so ignorant of the mysterious Bill which we shall all find on our tables in the morning, that I do not think the Government will lose anything by accepting the Motion to report Progress. Then we shall be able to resume our debate with a general chorus instead of discordant notes from the Front Bench; they will be able to reconcile their differences in the meantime, and many of us who have grave doubts as to how to vote on this particular Amendment will be able to form a clear and firm judgment as to how we shall vote.

Photo of Mr William Mackinder Mr William Mackinder , Shipley

On the point of reporting Progress, I think it would be as well if the Committee were to adjourn this discussion until each side can fortify its opinion. The exact position is that the approved society does have to go to the rota committee for evidence as to whether or not a man is normally employed.

Photo of Mr William Mackinder Mr William Mackinder , Shipley

Well, let me try to put it as one who commenced to administer the Insurance Act when it was first initiated and was a general secretary of an approved society; and I assure the Committee that those of us who have administered the Act as members of committees and otherwise ought to know something about it. The only place a committee can go to for real useful evidence at present is the rota committee. If the Minister of Health wants to adopt a new process, I would like to point out to the Committee where it is going to lead. At present the rota committees are combinations of various degrees of people. There is the employer and the workman, and this mixed committee decides whether or not a man is normally insurable. If the Minister of Health desires that the approved society shall discuss it from their own point of view, I can see that the two Departments are going to get mixed up. The approved society can decide on their own evidence whether a man is normally insurable, but I want to point out to the Minister that if you get an approved society committee composed almost entirely of working men the sympathy will work in another direction and you will be getting the approved societies deciding that men are normally insurable as against the rota committee deciding that they are not normally insurable. What it may lead to will be that the Minister of Health, to prevent conflictions of opinion between their Department and the Ministry of Labour, will have to issue instructions to approved societies that they must accept the decision of the rota committee. It is quite evident that the two schemes cannot work side by side.

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Ladywood

On a point of Order. Is not the hon. Member speaking to the Amendment, and not to the Motion to report Progress?

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I was in doubt on the point myself. I gathered that his argument was to illustrate the complexity of the subject, and that therefore it should be further dealt with on another occasion.

Photo of Mr William Mackinder Mr William Mackinder , Shipley

I have no desire to take up the time of the Committee, but I suggest, if members on the other side will agree, that the Debate should be adjourned that they may seek their information as to how the approved societies do work. That may help to clarify their minds. We on this side do know how approved societies work, because we direct the work of the approved societies. If we say the approved societies do go to the rota committees for information and the Parliamentary Secretary says they do not, it would be better if the debate were adjourned to let the other side clarify its opinion and let us fortify ours. I do suggest that you cannot have two Departments with their Committees making two decisions about the same individual—the rota committee that he is not insurable and the approved society committee that he is—and the Bill ought to be amended to make the matter straight.

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

I would like to suggest to the Minister that he. should accept this Motion to report Progress. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, the Attorney-General, the Member for West Marylebone—I am sorry that Ministers shake their heads so much; if they kept them still we might make more progress.

Photo of Sir Douglas Hogg Sir Douglas Hogg , St Marylebone

I did it because the hon. Gentleman inaccurately described my constituency. I represent Marylebone

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

I would very gladly have given way to the right hon. and learned Attorney-General, the Member for Marylebone, if he had made any sort of suggestion that I should do so, and then the Committee would not get into confusion by this head-shaking business, which seems to have done so much damage to-night. He has made the point that the question about which there is so much complexity does not really effect this Amendment, because he said it is only a question as to how wide a circle is included in the term insurance. I want to put it to the Minister that he and the Parliamentary Secretary already have agreed that this Amendment depends to a great extent upon the number of women that will be in this position, and the number of these women will be determined in large measure by how great a circumference this circle has with regard to the definition of the insured person So I think it is only reasonable that the Government should take this opportunity of reporting Progress, because it is going to mean a great deal to a certain section of these women and these people that are in a difficult position in the community, people whose lives have been hard. I am sure it is the intention of every Member of this Committee to try to make this Measure as workable as possible, and to try to make it so that it will not bear heavily upon any individual; and so, having met the point that has been made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the Attorney-General, the Member for Marylebone, I hope the Minister will now agree to report Progress.

1.0 A.M.

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

I hope the Minister will agree to report Progress until we all know exactly what does take place. When the Parliamentary Secretary say that the committee under the Health Insurance Act is the sole power—and those of us who says it is not— seeking information as to whether a person is genuinely unemployed, the statement is quite wide of the facts. I venture to suggest to the Minister that as the conditions in the different societies, the different regions and the different districts vary it would be a very foolish thing to vote on an important matter until we know precisely exactly what the machinery is to be and how it is to function. I am quite satisfied that the Parliamentary Secretary is absolutely misinformed as to what takes place in certain cases and I venture to suggest that to him that it is the most frequent thing in the world for the Ministry of Health officials deliberately to seek from Ministry of Labour officials the facts regarding whether persons are genuinely unemployed and not with a desire to get the facts, with a desire to help the Minister to come to a conclusion as to what his policy should be with a desire to give the Ministry an opportunity of finding where it stands. I hope they will take the offer we give them to report progress so that they may know what these officials are doing and what are their intentions under the Bill, so that the House may know what are the facts.

Photo of Mr Luke Thompson Mr Luke Thompson , Sunderland

I hope the responsible Minister will not accept this Motion. I want to bring the Committee back to the Amendment and the reason of this Motion. It was due to the fact that there was great confusion of thought by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas). He made definite assertions that in the administration of the Health Insurance Act that certain things operated. The point is this. Is it a fact or is it not that any representation from the Employment Exchange to the Insurance or Approved Societies may not be acted upon by the Approved Societies? The Approved Societies have a perfect right to act as they like. If that is true there is no need to report Progress, and all the talk we have heard in these last 10 minutes is only a confusion of thought. We on this side of the Committee are perfectly wide awake, and I want to say to the hon. Members on the other side that I am as much versed in the administration of the Health Insurance Act and Unemployment Insurance as they are, and I am perfectly clear as to the interpretation of the Act. I hope the Minister will not accept the Motion to report Progress.

Photo of Mr Joseph Compton Mr Joseph Compton , Manchester, Gorton

Following on the remarks of the last speaker, I think the Committee is more confused still. I want, if I may, to support the remarks of the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) in so far as the administration of the Health Insurance Act is concerned. The statement of the Minister is quite true up to a point that Approved Societies have the power to define for themselves whether a man is genuinely seeking employment. In the office of my own Approved Society we have in the next room a Trade Union section of our administration, and although our management Committee on the Approved Society have the right to determine whether a man is genuinely seeking employment or not, the snag comes, if I may use the term, when the State auditors associated with the Minister of Health pay their annual visit in order to audit the accounts. We have in connection with our administration, both on the trade union side and on the approved side, a matter of over 200 branches.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The hon. member is now speaking on the merits of the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Joseph Compton Mr Joseph Compton , Manchester, Gorton

I am endeavouring to show the reason why the Minister ought to accept the Motion to report Progress. I have said we have about 200 branches and each branch has a Committee which determines not only whether a man is entitled to approved benefit or if unemployed whether he is genuinely seeking work but when the auditors from the Ministry of Health come to the Approved Societies to audit the accounts they ask very definitely what authority we have and what investigation the Approved Society Management Committee made with regard to whether our members were genuinely seeking employment. I say here very definitely and whatever the administration may be, whatever advice the right hon. Gentlemen or Parliamentary Secretary may get from the officials in the box under the Gallery they cannot understand the workings of the State auditors in so far as I have related in regard to the business of the Approved Society. Approved Societies represented by Members on these Benches deal not only with National Health Insurance, but we pay out benefit from our own Society office, and if for no other reason it is manifestly unfair for the Minister to be so definite in his refusal of this Motion to report Progress while we have scores and scores of cases which may be given with regard to his department dealing out, in my opinion, unjustly to those approved persons and not being prepared to take the word of honour of individuals of the Management Committee of these Approved Societies.

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Ladywood

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

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 194; Noes, 94.

Division No. 223.]AYES.[1.10 a.m.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.Fleming, D. P.Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Albery, Irving JamesForestier-Walker, Sir L.Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Astor, ViscountessFoxcrott, Captain C. T.O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)
Balniel, LordFraser, Captain IanOakley, T.
Banks, Reginald MitchellFremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Barrett, Major Sir RichardGadie, Lieut.-Col. AnthonyPennefather, Sir John
Barnston, Major Sir HarryGee, Captain R.Penny, Frederick George
Beamish, Captain T. P. H.Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnPerring, William George
Bethell, A.Glyn, Major R. G. C.Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Betterton, Henry B.Goff, Sir ParkPeto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)Greene, W. P. CrawfordPhillpson, Mabel
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)Pielou, D. P.
Bowater, Sir T. VansittartGretton, Colonel JohnPrice, Major C. W. M.
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.Gunston, Captain D. W.Radford, E. A.
Brass, Captain W.Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Raine, W.
Brassey, Sir LeonardHall, Capt. W. D'A. (Drecon & Rad.)Ramsden, E.
Bridgman, Rt. Hon. William CliveHanbury, C.Rentaul, G. S.
Briggs, J. HaroldHannon, Patrick Joseph HenryRice, Sir Frederick
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeHarland, A.Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Brittain, Sir HarryHartington, Marquess ofRoberts, E. H. G. (Flint)
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Rye, F. G.
Broun-Lindsay, Major H.Hawke, John AnthonySalmon, Major I.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir AlanHenderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Burton, Colonel H. W.Hennessy, Major J. R. G.Sanderson, Sir Frank
Butler, Sir GeoffreyHenniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mel. (Renfrew, W.)
Butt, Sir AlfredHerbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHilton, CecilShaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)
Campbell, E. T.Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)Shepperson, E. W.
Cassels, J. D.Holt, Capt. H. P.Skelton, A. N.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A.Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cecil. Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)Hopkins, J. W. W.Spender Clay, Colonel H.
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHorlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.Sprot, Sir Alexander
Chamberlain. Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Chapman, Sir S.Hume, Sir G. H.Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)
Charteris, Brigadier-General J.Huntingfield, LordSteel, Major Samuel Strang
Churchman. Sir Arthur C.Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Clayton, G. C.Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)Strickland, Sir Gerald
Cobb, Sir CyrilJacob. A. E.Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.Jephcott, A. R.Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Cooper, A. DuffKing, Captain Henry DouglasTempleton, W. P.
Cope, Major WilliamKinloch-Cooke, Sir ClementThompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Couper, J. B.Lamb, J. O.Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Courtauld, Major J. S.Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Col. George R.Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipTryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Crookshank. Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard HarmanWallace, Captain D. E.
Curzon, Captain ViscountLumley, L. R.Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.Lynn, Sir R. J.Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)MacAndrew, Charles GlenWarrender, Sir Victor
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)McDonnell, Colonel Hon. AngusWaterhouse, Captain Charles
Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)Macintyre, I.Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Dawson, Sir PhilipMcLean, Major A.Wells, S. R.
Dean, Arthur WellesleyMacmillan, Captain H.Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Drewe, C.Malone, Major P. B.Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Eden, Captain AnthonyMitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Edmondson, Major A. J.Moles, ThomasWise, Sir Fredric
Elliot, Captain Walter E.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.Womersley, W. J.
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)Moore, Sir Newton J.Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).
Everard, w. LindsayMoore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)Wragg, Herbert
Fairfax, Captain J. G.Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JosephTELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Fielden, E. B.Nelson, Sir FrankMr. Thompson and Captain
Finburgh, S.Neville, R. J.Margesson
NOES.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Montague, Frederick
Ammon, Charles GeorgeGroves, T.Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, M.)
Barnes, A.Grundy, T. W.Murnin, H.
Barr, J.Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)Naylor, T. E.
Beckett, John (Gateshead)Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Oliver, George Harold
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)Hamilton. Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)Palin, John Henry
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Hardie, George D.Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Briant, FrankHayday, ArthurPethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Broad, F. A.Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Potts, John S.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Hirst, G. H.Salter, Dr. Alfred
Buchanan, G.Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)Scrymgeour, E.
Charleton, H. C.Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)Scurr, John
Clowes, S.Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Cluse, W. S.John, William (Rhondda, West)Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)Sitch, Charles, H.
Compton, JosephJones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Cove, W. G.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Stamford, T. W.
Crawfurd, H. E.Kelly, W. T.Stephen, Campbell
Dalton, HughKennedy, T.Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Kirkwood, D.Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Day, Colonel HarryLansbury, GeorgeThurtle, E.
Dennison, R.Lawson, John JamesWatson. W. M. (Dunfermline)
Dunnico, H.Lowth, T.Watts-Morgan. Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwllty)Lunn, WilliamWebb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Edwards, John H. (Accrington)MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)Welsh, J. C.
Fenby, T, D.Mackinder, W.Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.MacLaren, AndrewWilliams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Gibbins, JosephMaclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Windsor, Walter
Gillett, George M.Maxton, James
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Mr. Hayes and Mr. Warne.

Question put accordingly, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 93; Noes, 193.

Division No. 224.]AYES.[1.17 a.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Montague, Frederick
Ammon, Charles GeorgeGroves, T.Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Barnes, A.Grundy, T. W.Murnin, H.
Barr, J.Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)Naylor, T. E.
Beckett, John (Gateshead)Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Oliver, George Harold
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)Palin, John Henry
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Hardie, George D.Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Briant, FrankHayday, ArthurPethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Broad, F. A.Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Potts, John S.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Hirst, G. H.Salter, Dr. Alfred
Buchanan, G.Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)Scrymgeour, E.
Charleton, H. C.Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)Scurr, John
Clowes, S.Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Cluse, W. S.John, William (Rhondda, West)Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)Sitch, Charles, H.
Compton, JosephJones. Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Cove, W. G.Jones, Morgan (Caerphiily)Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Stamford, T. W.
Crawfurd, H. E.Kelly, W. T.Stephen, Campbell
Dalton, HughKennedy, T.Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Kirkwood, D.Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Day, Colonel HarryLansbury, GeorgeThurtle, E.
Dennison, R.Lawson, John JamesWatson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Dunnico, H.Lowth, T.Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelty)Lunn, WilliamWelsh. J. C.
Edwards, John H. (Accrington)MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Fenby, T. D.Mackinder, W.Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.MacLaren, AndrewWindsor, Walter
Gibbins, JosephMaclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Gillett, George M.Maxton, JamesTELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)Mr. Hayes and Mr. Warne
NOES.
Agg-Gardner. Rt. Hon. Sir James T.Barnston, Major Sir HarryBowater, Sir T. Vansittart
Albery, Irving JamesBeamish, Captain T. P. H.Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.
Astor, ViscountessBethell. A.Brass, Captain W.
Balniel, LordBetterton, Henry B.Brassey, Sir Leonard
Banks. Reginald MitchellBird, E. R (Yorks, W. R. Skinton)Bridgman, Rt. Hon. William Clive
Barnett, Major Sir RichardBird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)Briggs, J. Harold
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeGunston, Captain D. W.Perring, William George
Brittain, Sir HarryHall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)Peto, G (Somerset, Frome)
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.Hanbury, C.Philipson, Mabel
Broun-Lindsay, Major H.Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryPielou, D. P.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y)Harland, A.Price, Major C. W. M.
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir AlanHartington, Marquess ofRadford, E. A.
Burton, Colonel H. W.Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)Raine, W
Butler, Sir GeoffreyHarvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Ramsden, E.
Butt, Sir AlfredHawke, John AnthonyRentoul, G. S.
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHenderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxt'd, Henley)Rice, Sir Frederick
Campbell, E. T.Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Cassels, J. D.Hennessy, Major J. R. G.Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A.Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Rye, F. G.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)Hilton, CecilSalmon, Major I.
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)Holt, Capt. H. P.Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Chapman, Sir S.Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)Sanderson, Sir Frank
Charters, Brigadier-General J.Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mel. (Renfrew. W.)
Churchman, Sir Arthur C.Hopkins, J. W. W.Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerhy)
Clayton, G. C.Horlick, Lieut. Colonel J. N.Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)
Cobb, Sir CyrilHudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)Shepperson, E. W.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.Hume, Sir G. H.Skelton, A. N.
Cockerill, Brigadier-Gene. 'al G. K.Huntingfield, LordSmith-Carington, Neville W.
Cooper, A. DuffHutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cope, Major WilliamJackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)Spender Clay, Colonel H.
Couper, J. B.Jacob, A. E.Sprot, Sir Alexander
Courtauld, Major J. S.Jephcott, A. R.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)
Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)King, Captain Henry DouglasSteel, Major Samuel Strang
Curzon, Captain ViscountKinloch-Cooke, Sir ClementStott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.Lamb, J. Q.Strickland, Sir Gerald
Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Col. George R.Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipStuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Dawson, Sir PhilipLuce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard HarmanSugden, Sir Wilfrid
Dean, Arthur WellesleyLumley, L. R.Templeton, W. p.
Drewe, C.Lynn, Sir R. J.Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Eden, Captain AnthonyMacAndrew, Charles GlenThomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Edmondson, Major A. J.McDonnell, Colonel Hon. AngusTitchfield, Major the Marquess of
Elliot, Captain Walter E.Macintyre, l.Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)McLean, Major A.Wallace, Captain D. E.
Everard, W. LindsayMacmillan, Captain H.Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Fairfax, Captain J. G.Malone, Major P. B.Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)Warrender, Sir Victor
Fielden, E. B.Moles, ThomasWaterhouse, Captain Charles
Finburgh, S.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Fleming, D. P.Moore, Sir Newton J.Wells, S. R.
Ferestler-Walker, Sir L.Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Foxcroft, Captain C. T.Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Fraser, Captain lanNail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JosephWilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Nelson, Sir FrankWise, Sir Fredric
Gadie, Lieut.-Col. AnthonyNeville, R. J.Womersley, w. J.
Gee, Captain R.Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exster)Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnNicholson, O. (Westminster)Wragg, Herbert
Glyn, Major R. G. C.O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)
Goff, Sir ParkOakley, T.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Greene, W. P. CrawfordOrmsby-Gore, Hon. WilliamMr. Frederick Thomson and Captain Margesson.
Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)Ponnefather, Sir John
Cretton, Colonel JohnPenny, Frederick George

Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Aberavon

Before we dismiss this Amendment, I think we ought to know exactly where we stand now regarding its meaning and significance. First of all, there is no doubt at all about the persons who have got to pay contributions. There is no chance of anybody avoiding that. The Government have come to a decision and an insured woman is not quite sure whether she is going to get her insurance or not. Supposing that we take it that the Government are right in their explanation, and I am certain they believe they are right. We will assume they are right. Society "A" may administer with laxity and "B" with hard definite business-like precision. Now whether a certain number of these compulsorily-insured persons get the benefits of the insurance scheme or not depends upon whether the societies to which their husbands belong are administered with large-hearted generosity or narrow and flinty-hearted business conceptions. Nothing could be more unsatisfactory than that. Surely one of the essential conditions in a scheme, which we will call, provisionally, an insurance scheme, is that there should be uniformity of administra- tion. I know that when you come down to individual cases in the most uniform scheme the men who have to decide whether one should be taken and another left are variable as human minds must be. The Ministry are quite open in saying that the fate of these women is going to be determined, through the status of their husbands, by scores and scores of separate unorganised and independently worked insurance systems. That being the position, as now revealed by this scheme, it is much more crude than some of us thought at first, and I hope my friends will insist most rigidly on carrying the question to a Division and make it known to the people outside why we are doing so.

Photo of Mr Horace Crawfurd Mr Horace Crawfurd , Walthamstow West

I should like to say a few words on this Amendment, on which already some Members have spoken three or four times and some right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench more than three times. I have not hitherto taken any part, and I do now simply suggest that the Minister of Health should do now what he ought to have done hours ago—and that is to accept the Amendment. I do not know how long the discussion threatens to go on, but I do know that there is great hostility to this Measure on the Benches above the Gangway, and I am sure that that hostility would be greatly mitigated if the Government would abandon their habit of rejecting all suggestions from this side and accept one or two Amendments which are to be moved in order to make the Measure a little more humane. There is the case, mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, of people who fall out of employment, but there is also the large class of women who marry men who can never under any circumstances get employment at all. When the Minister in a rather airy way says that this class is so small that it does not matter, I would remind him that there is the whole teaching profession, who, I understand, will not come into this Bill at all. We have had appeals from all parties in the House, and I think the Government would do much to mitigate opposition if they would accept certain Amendments that are put forward—and I can imagine no Amendment more worthy of acceptance than the present one.

Mr. BECKETT:

I would like to ask the Minister of Health most sincerely to seriously consider this Amendment. He has said in one of his replies that the number affected is very small. It will be a great pity for political life in this country and for all Parties if it went out that because the number affected by any legislation is small that their case is not to be considered by a Government with the great majority possessed by the present Government. The Minister of Health has many things to think of, and it cannot be expected that he can have the time to consider many of the ways in which his colleague, the Minister of Labour, is endeavouring to rob the poor unemployed in this country. As the Minister of Labour is not present and as no one else appears to know anything of the matter, as it is inconvenient for us to talk and for hon. Members opposite to listen, and as we shall have to wait for our morning papers to bring information of the Bill on which Fleet Street is now working, I beg the Minister to accept the Amendment and allow us to get to something on which cither he or the Under-Secretary is able to give the Committee some definite information.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

I want to bring before the Committee a point which has not so far been considered. I want to raise the question of the deposit contributor who is not in an approved society. Who is to judge his case? The approved society settles the position of a man who is on their books. He is a man generally of fixed habits. But the deposit contributor is a man who is here to-day and gone to-morrow, and consequently he is affected more than any other class. It is important that the position of this class should be dealt with.

Photo of Mr Ernest Thurtle Mr Ernest Thurtle , Shoreditch

I will not detain the Committee for any length of time, as there are many more of my colleagues who wish to take part in the discussion. This is a most important Amendment, and we wish to examine it in full in all its aspects, and, to use the language of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to deploy all our armaments. First I will take up the point made by the Attorney-General in regard to the definition of an insured person. He said that the way in which we could resolve our doubts as to whether the widow of a certain type of man would be eligible for benefit or not was by considering the definition of an insured person. It would relieve our minds if the Attorney-General would undertake at this stage to widen that definition in such a way as to make it quite clear that the possibility envisaged from this side of the House would not arise. It has already been explained very clearly by those who have great experience of approved societies that the approved societies have no effective machinery for determining whether or not a man is genuinely seeking work, and in the lack of that machinery they have to resort to the rota committees of the employment committees to find out the information. It is very natural that they should not have the necessary machinery for determining a point of that sort, because it has been the experience of this House that even the Ministry of Labour, with its most elaborate system of committees and Employment Exchanges all over the country and its great army of officials, is not able to establish in a satisfactory manner whether or not a given person is genuinely seeking employment. Week after week we have cases raised in this House where there is very grave doubt indeed as to whether a just verdict has been given in a case of that sort, and when there is so much genuine doubt on an issue of this sort I do suggest that the least the Attorney-General could do would be at this stage of the Debate to give a guarantee that later on he would so widen the definition of an insured person as to remedy any possibility of an injustice of this sort taking place.

I did not rise in the main to make that point. I rise to deal with the way in which this Amendment will affect a very worthy class of British citizens, and it so happens to be a class in which I am particularly interested because a large number of them reside in my constituency. I refer to the costers of London. I think it will not be denied that the costers of London are a very worthy class of citizens, and if I were to attempt to make any subtle distinctions between costers I would say that the costers of Hoxton are the very best costers in London. Having said that the costers are a very worthy set of citizens, I must not be understood to suggest that the wives of these costers are any less worthy citizens, and it is for the benefit of the wives of these costers that I wish to put this point forward. I think it is an accepted fact that, under the Bill as it is framed at present, the costers cannot benefit. They do not come within the Attorney-General's definition of insurable persons. As this is a Widow's and Orphans' Pension Bill, as it is not described as a Bill to provide pensions for some widows and some orphans, but is really intended by its Title to cover all widows and all orphans, I want to submit very respectfully a claim on behalf of the potential widows and orphans of the costers. I hope this Amendment will be accepted in order that these persons, among many other worthy and deserving persons, may participate in the benefits of this Bill.

Mr. THOMAS:

I am quite sure that Members on the Government side of the Committee must be at least disturbed in their minds. I am quite sure they all feel they want to do the right thing, and when they sit there and listen to arguments and new points and pregnant criticism from these benches and find their own Front Bench speakers—I can quite understand the back benches being speechless, because they are waiting for a lead and are all saying to themselves, "What possible answer can the Minister give?" No answer is forthcoming. I refuse at this stage to elaborate that important point just raised about costers, but on the other side of the Committee they must have been disturbed in listening to it.