I beg to move, in page 23, line 21, to leave out the word "whether."
I suggest that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I discussed at the same time the second Amendment standing in my name, in line 21, to leave out the words "or after." The effect would be that the Minister would have the right to refuse a widows' or orphans' pension only in cases where a fatal accident had occurred between the beginning of January, 1924, and the beginning of the operation of the Bill in 1926. The object of such limitation is to meet what we consider to be the very unjust provision made by this Clause, under which the State refuses to honour an obligation entered into as between the State and the contributor, whereby the benefits for which he has paid shall accrue to his widow or orphans in the event of a catastrophe overtaking him. It appears to us that this Bill ceases to be an insurance Bill in the fullest and truest sense by the introduction of the provision of which we complain. Last night we discussed an Amendment taking into consideration existing pensions. This Clause gives the Minister the right to take into consideration any sums that accrue to the family by way of damages for the loss of the husband and father as a result of a fatal accident occurring during his employment. There is another proposal which proposes to take away the right of unemployed persons.
Whilst this Bill is called a Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Bill, it does not incorporate the real principles that ought to be embodied in a National Insurance Act. Assuming that one of the great insurance societies in this country were to say to those who pay premiums, "You may meet with a fatal accident in the street through being knocked down by a motor car or a motor omnibus, or you may meet with a fatal injury whilst following your employment. Notwithstanding the fact that we undertook to accept from you a premium and in return to guarantee certain moneys at your death, we reserve to ourselves the right to refuse such death allowance if your family secure from a Court of Law damages for a fatal accident to the head of the family." What should he think of such a society? Instead of being a Bill to assist in the promotion of thrift, it appears to me, in consequence of a provision of the sort to which I am drawing attention, that this Bill militates against thrift, because it makes an unfair distinction as against the family of the man who meets with his death whilst following his ordinary employment and the family of the man who meets his death in the street or from some other cause occurring outside the course of his employment, and for which damages rightly and justly accrue to his family.
You say to the workman, "Although you must pay your premiums under this Insurance Act, if you should be killed at work your widow and orphans can expect nothing from the fund, but if you meet your death in the streets through being knocked down, or as a result of some other accident happening outside the operations of the Workmen's Compensation Acts from 1906 and onwards, that is all right; we will meet to the full the obligations of the Act." Can there be any semblance of justice in that? Surely, if the insured person cares to make provision which may accrue to the benefit of his family at his death and you take that into account, you might just as well say that as the employer has to pay for ensuring the safety of the workman while he employs him you also intend to take that into account as regards the fund under this Bill. Otherwise, what are the reasons for singling out this one type of case? Can it be that you desire to lighten the possible calls on the fund and that you argue that as the employer is bound by law to meet the damages for possible injuries sustained to any of his workmen, the workman shall be penalised because of his contributions to the fund? The workman pays his share equally with the employer for the insurance under this scheme. I cannot therefore understand why we should have such a Clause introduced. Most of the general public assume this to be a widows and orphans' insurance scheme, but it is only so in parts. The exclusion on the need pensions side, this provision with regard to damages in the form of compensation to the family for a workman killed in an accident, and the unemployment donation when a man reaches the age of 65—by all these eliminations, you will find that many of the insured population are excluded from benefits under the Bill. If contributions are called for, response should be made. Surely you are not going to say, where damages accrue in the form of compensation, to which the employers separately insure-they do not undertake the risk themselves: they insure with insurance companies-through a Court of Law, or, when the amount is registered, through the County Court, any more than you dare say in the case of those who have sufficient credit, that because there is a certain income coining into the home it is unwise that it should be augmented from the widows' and orphans' insurance fund, notwithstanding the fact that a premium has been taken out by the employés.
I want the Minister to take the human side. It is not that the widows and orphans look at the sum total of the weekly amount they receive as damages for the death of the husband or father. They would rather have the husband and father with them. Consequently, it cannot be from fear, if compensation comes into the home amounting to 30s. or 35s. a week, in accordance with the number of the family, that you should withhold from them something for which they have contributed and to which in augmentation of their income they have a right. I say that the mere fact of it being an insurance establishes the first elementary principle of right. If I took out an insurance hoping that my family would benefit, I should feel very uneasy in my mind if I were told: "If you die under certain circumstances, they can have the benefit; but, if you die under other circumstances, they cannot have it." In that case, you have no right to take the premium. I could understand you asking for this power if it were a non-contributory scheme, but, if you are only going to make this fund solvent by the exclusion from benefit of those who have undeniable, moral rights, whatever their legal rights may be under this Bill when it becomes an Act, then it seems to me that it is incomplete and is patchwork social legislation. It is not even a real, decent attempt at general social insurance. Indeed, I believe it will lead to great litigation on behalf of those who will assume that they have rights under this Bill but who will find that under certain Clauses powers not exactly clearly or well defined are given to the Minister. I know that by an Amendment in the Minister's name he proposes to make up any difference, but that is totally inadequate. There should be no question of varying the benefits. A common payment is made, and a common benefit should accrue; and, if the head of the household be taken away by accident, the benefits of the Act ought to be applied with greater pleasure, so as to remove permanently from that family any fear or dread in addition to having lost the husband and father.
This Clause, in my opinion, strikes at the very root principle of the Bill. It has been the great pride of the Government that this is a contributory scheme. The very justification for the contributions is that you get the benefit not from the State as a favour but as a right. Now we understand, according to this Clause, that that is not to be the spirit of the Bill at all, and that beneficiaries are not to get amounts as the result of their contributions as a right, but that their incomes are to be made up out of a fund under this Bill according to where they get their money under other Acts of Parliament and in other directions. That, in my opinion, strikes at the whole foundation of a contributory scheme. The Minister want to ride two horses at the same lime. He wants to have the advantages of a non-contributory scheme, under which, of course, the benefit given out of the beneficence of the community as a whole, and at the same time to have the advantages of a contributory scheme, the contributors finding the funds. If the Minister really insists on keeping this Clause, the whole justification of the contributory scheme—and I personally support it—seems to me to go. I have always felt that the great advantage of the contributory scheme is that the insured persons would feel, just as when they pay to industrial insurance companies they can come and claim their pensions as a right in a court of law, so under such a scheme they would have the same status and the same rights. Apparently, under this Clause, if the breadwinner dies from an accident, the widow has to come cap in hand to the Minister and ask that some of this fund, to which the family have subscribed by their contributions, should be handed over, not as if it were paid by an industrial company, but out of the beneficence of the State. That strikes at the whole justification of the contributory scheme, and I hope; therefore that the Minister will withdraw the Clause.
I think the Minister, when he gives careful consideration to this Clause, will come to the conclusion that there really are very cogent reasons why it should be withdrawn. Let us consider what really we are dealing with. It is provided in this Clause that compensation on death, which accrues either by agreement or award under the Workmen's Compensation Act, either in whole, or, as I understand the Amendment which the Government are about to move, in part, shall be taken into consideration in dealing with the question of the amount payable under this Bill. What is compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act? It is entirely a private matter of damages to which the employer who at the time of death, which is not the time when the pension necessarily becomes due, becomes liable because he is employing that particular workman.
At the risk of being a little technical, I would ask the Committee to consider how near is the case of compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act and the right to damages under the Employers' Liability Act or at Common Law. The position is this. If a workman is killed while in an employment and if proceedings are brought under the Employers' Liability Act of 1880, as they still can be, or under Lord Campbell's Act, the Fatal Accidents Act, or at Common Law, then the damages which result from that action do not in any way deprive the workman's widow or whoever may be entitled to their full rights under this Bill. It is only where it so happens, as it were, by accident, that they decide, because there was not a defect in the machinery, that their prospects under the Employers' Liability Act are bad and they proceed under the Workmen's Compensation Act —and really it is purely a matter of legal procedure whether you proceed under one Act or the other—that this Clause is to operate and prejudice the rights of the dependants under this Bill. If damages are obtained under the Fatal Accidents Act or under the Employers Liability Act the Minister and Parliamentary Secretary must admit that this Clause, as drawn, has no application, though the facts may be identical.
I repeat this, because the Parliamentary Secretary, who has great knowledge of the law, shakes his head in dissent from something that I have said, though I am not sure what. The facts may be exactly the same. A man may be killed at his work. A piece of machinery may give way, and he may be killed. His dependants may bring an action at Common Law or under the Employers' Liability Act and the money which is thus obtained does not diminish the pension rights in the least. If, however, the widow proceeds to get her compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, which is merely a technical distinction and not a distinction in fact at all, then this Clause is to operate. I can understand the Minister saying—I do not say he is right—that where a person is deriving State assistance from one source he shall not get it from another source; I can understand such an argument as was put yesterday as regards the ex-service men, though I do not agree with it. I can understand to a certain extent the argument that the State shall not provide a pension twice over. But what I am concerned to point out is this: These damages under the Workmen's Compensation Act are no more a State contribution than damages given in a breach of promise action or damages for libel, or damages for breach of contract. They are purely a personal matter. If damages are awarded because a man is killed in any way are you going to deprive the widow of her pension?
I do think that we want some explanation why a private obligation of a private person should be allowed to come into this matter. I can imagine an answer which may be given, and I am going to deal with it in advance. It may be said that the employer has to contribute under this scheme, and that as he is contributing to this scheme and bearing a liability under the Workmen's Compensation Act, or, conceivably, bearing & liability through an insurance company, it is unfair that he should be burdened twice over. The first answer to that is this. There is no particular reason to suppose that the employer or the insurance company who becomes liable at the time when a man is killed by an accident-is going to the same person, or in any way connected with the group of persons, who come in as a general rule to meet their contributions under this Bill. You might as well say that because a man carrying on business is liable to damages for breach of contract, therefore that should be taken into consideration, as to say that if a man dies, and his widow, who would get a pension, recovers money, that should be taken off. The two things have no relation at all. The liability of an employer for an accident to an employé has nothing to do with it.
This is the Post Office contributory system that the pension should be the property of the person receiving it. There mere accident that somebody else has a private obligation to pay damages at Common Law or under the Status should not be weighed up or set up against the liability of the State. It is a wrong principle, I am sure that the. Minister in considering the matter will admit that, although he is naturally anxious to save any liability which he can yet he does not want to do anything inequitable as this would be. That the Minister has doubts about it himself is shown by the fact that he has put down an. Amendment which says, as I understand it, that where the weekly value of the pension is less than the amount of the allowance or pension under the award the person shall not suffer. That is not enough. We want the whole question of workmen's compensation and damages treated in just the same way as you treat liability to damages under the Employers' Liability Act. I would say that unless you are prepared to go forward-we will chance your not doing that-and say that the Employers' Liability Act ought to go in here too, there is no logic or force in saying that the one particular reservation shall be the Workmen's Compensation Act. There is an equitable case made out here without any obstruction for a reconsideration of what we believe to be an injustice.
The ex-Solicitor-General has put his case very forcibly and I hope that he will forgive me if I dissent from his main contention by endeavouring to draw a distinction between the Acts of Parliament which he has cited, and to give some reasons for the differentiation that is being made. In reference to his remark as to obstruction there has been no question of obstruction during the last few days. In the first place, may I refer to the exact provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act as amended by the Act of 1923. If hon. Members will look at Clause 2 they will see a very different provision altogether from the provision in the Employers' Liability Act and the other Acts of Parliament to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred. In this particular Act an endeavour is made not so much to give damages to the children of the man who has been killed as to provide for an automatic increase of a certain percentage to the children by way of allowance and of provision to them for their maintenance, and in support of that view I will ask the Committee to bear with me while I read paragraph (a) in Clause 2 which says:
If both the widow or other member of the workman's family and such child or children as aforesaid were all wholly dependent on the workman's earnings there shall in respect of each such child be added to and dealt with as part of the compensation payable under paragraph (1) (a) of the First Schedule to the principal Act a sum equal to 15 per cent. of the amount arrived at by multiplying the average weekly earnings of the workman or where such earnings are less than £1 then In multiplying £1 or where such earnings exceed £2 then by multiplying £2 by the number of weeks in the period between the death of the workman and the date when the child will attain the age of 15 fractions being disregarded.
It is an automatic increase given to the children on the same principle and much in the same way as the provisions of this Bill. There is no question of the jury
assessing the amount or deciding in a jury box what the amount is to be. Automatically under the provisions of this Bill the children of deceased workmen receive such allowance as is mentioned in the Section.
My experience of juries in dealing with these questions leads me often to wonder how they do arrive at the result. Very often they are liable to have their decision upset, but here you have a definite allowance for children. This has nothing to do with widows' pensions, and in such circumstances we say, though hon. Members may disagree, that as the allowance is being received the benefits under this Bill shall not be paid, but it is fair to say-and I hope that hon. Members will not object to the Amendment which has been put down in the name of my right hon. Friend-that where there is a difference which will adversely affect the recipient of the been fit that difference should be made up That is the simple, though it may be deemed by hon. Members opposite an inadequate, reason which has animated the Government in coining to the conclusion to which they have come. It is not an unfair arrangement, and I am reminded that in connection with Health Insurance Workmen's Compensation, as all hon. Members know, is taken into account when one comes to assess the benefit received. In other words, if you are insured compulsorily under the National Health Insurance the man pays, the employer pays, and the State pays contributions, and if a man receives compensation as the result of an injury the proper amount is deducted.
Certainly not, but I disagree respectfully with the hon. Member as to the materiality of that observation. What I am pointing out is that Parliament has already decided in connection with the scheme which I suppose is more akin to this scheme than any other-the National Health Insurance scheme-that where a man meets with an accident, though he is compulsorily insured for sickness benefit, a deduction is made on account of the compensation which he receives as a result of his injury.
I do say that there is a considerable analogy between those two oases, and we are simply following the precedent of the National Health Insurance Act itself. That is the explanation of the Government so far as this particular matter is concerned, but I want the Committee to realise that in this Clause we are not touching widows' pensions. So far as the actual Amendment is concerned, I do not think that anyone will care to press it or vote for it, because the result is this. Under the proposal of the hon. Gentleman opposite, children of a man who was killed between the 1st January, 1924, and the 4th January, 1926, will be denied allowance or pensions, while children of a man living in similar circumstances after the 4th January, 1926, are unaffected. Whatever views we may have as regards this Clause no one would desire to make that distinction.
Surely the hon. Gentleman recognises the difference between dealing with cases where no contribution has been made and cases where contribution has been made. There will be no contributions between 1924 and 1926, and therefore there is not this established contributory right, but after 1926 there is a contributory right.
I am glad to hear the hon. Gentleman's explanation, but I must confess that I myself do not care to make the distinction and I hardly think that he is justified in making it.
The explanation of the hon. Gentleman reminds me of the story of the Turkish commander who, when asked for reasons why he did not fire the salute, said that there were fifty reasons. The first was that he had no gunpowder. The hon. Gentleman has given us no reasons at all except the first one, namely, that this proposal is enshrined in the National Health Insurance Act, and therefore the Government intend to carry on the same principle here. The usual objection to Amendments on this side is the question of cash. I would ask whether the Government have any figures or statistics showing what the cost of carrying out this suggestion would be. My impression is that there are not very many cases, and that the amount would not be very great, in view of the Government Amendment to be discussed later. The right hon. Gentleman has met us part of the way. He is prepared to bring the weekly payment up to pension level; he has recognised that there is some justice in the Amendment. I do not know whether he has figures as to what the Government Amendment would cost, or what would be the cost of the proposal in the Amendment we are discussing. I venture to say that in any case the amount is not very great.
I cannot understand why the Government do not propose to touch the widow's pension at all, but propose to make a cut in the child's allowance. What is the logic of that? A widow in good health can earn money. The child cannot, and is the most helpless beneficiary under the Bill. The Parliamentary Secretary referred to what was done under the National Health Insurance Act. But we have gone forward since then. This Bill is part of the tribute that is being paid in order to keep the people contented with the present system. The people are asking for more, and you cannot hide from that fact. What was considered just in 1911 would not be considered just now. Fourteen years have passed, and there has been a War during that time. If the people were told of this proposal to dock the children's allowances, they would give an enormous majority against the Government, even if they had to pay a little more in taxes. The Government know that, and they could well justify carrying concession a little further by not touching the children's allowances at all.
I venture to address myself to the argument that the Parliamentary Secretary has just brought forward in defence of the attitude of the Government on this Clause. Generally, what is the position? The Government in one or two points have already selected incomes which are secured to people who normally and who, were they not excepted specifically under this Bill, would be beneficiaries under the Pensions Act. Last night they excepted ex-service men and dependants of a certain category who, but for the Clause, would come within the scope of the Bill. This Clause affects another lot of people, the children on whose behalf payments are made under the amended Workmen's Compensation Act. If this were a Bill which plainly stated, "We are going to impose an income limit test," that would be a perfectly understandable position, because the income would be there, and the income being there, the charges under the Bill would be reduced. But why is this particular thing selected? Children, orphans, receive many increments to their income, small increments, no doubt, but still increments. If these increments are being given, not specified in this Bill, children receive them and their benefits under this Bill. There is neither rhyme nor reason for the Government's proposal. It is unfair, and especially unfair to select something which has been granted to children on the merits of the case.
That is a general argument. Let us take the specific argument. The Parliamentary Secretary goes on to reflect upon the fact that this special benefit is given to the children under the Workmen's Compensation Act, and, having been given, the Government decide that the State has done its duty to the children, and only in so far as what has already been done comes short of what would be done here, are they to receive any benefit under this Bill. What does that mean? I found myself, the first time I addressed the House in Committee on this Bill, denying that it was an Insurance Bill. That is quite sound, if you use the word "insurance" with any accuracy. When the Government wants to say that this is an Insurance Bill, it says so. It says that you must pay a contribution, accept your share of risk and your share of the benefits. When, however, it wants to say that this is a charity organisation, it says, "It is not insurance at all." Let us look at the argument. Who pays for the Workmen's Compensation benefit? Not the State, not at all. I will take the legal aspect, not the economic aspect. Who pays for the Workmen's Compensa- tion benefit to the children? The employer. It is his responsibility. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] If I expatiated at length on that subject, I could go on for an hour. Let us try a short way home. Who pays for this benefit? It is the employer. The employer also insures the child under this Bill.
Therefore, if the employer, because he is responsible under the Workmen's Compensation Act, finds that his contribution in respect of the children under this Bill is of no use, is not the Government going to relieve the employer of his contribution in respect of these children? Obviously it must. The Government cannot go away and say that it will differentiate in the way that it is proposed. That is not insurance; it is sheer tomfoolery. If there is anything sound and real and substantial in the Parliamentary Secretary's argument, he must assure the Committee that all this was considered, that in deducting these benefits because the employers have provided equivalents in other ways, the employers' contribution has been assessed accordingly. Otherwise he is proceeding on no insurance basis at all when he is assessing the employers' liability. I have been dealing with the narrower point about workmen's compensation. If the workmen's compensation obligation is to be excused the burdens under this Bill, then those who provide for that compensation ought to be excused for the payment.
Here is another aspect. The Parliamentary Secretary said that in dealing with health, when the National Health Insurance Bill was before the House, it was specifically provided that the two benefits should not run side by side— workmen's compensation and national health insurance. Why did he not give us a little more information as to this? He was scanty in his information. The National Health Insurance Act, 1924, Section 16, not only refers to workmen's compensation, but also refers to employers' liability. It also refers to decisions given at Common Law. The reason is obvious. It has nothing to do with the point that the Parliamentary Secretary tried to make to-day. I remember the Debate on the Health Insurance Bill. What was the argument? It was a perfectly sound argument. The National Health Insurance Act was an insurance against ill-health. If a man has his hand chopped off by using a machine in the course of his work, ho is not suffering from ill-health; he has been injured. His case comes under workmen's compensation and employers' liability. Therefore, the insurance was based on the statistics of the experience, not of workmen's compensation cases plus ill-health, but of ill-health cases. The whole thing was kept out of the insurance; the contingency was never contemplated.
If a man sues under the Workmen's Compensation Act or the Employers' Liability Act, or any of the accident Acts, and gets his case, then he is not suffering from ill-health, and his premium payment under this Bill does not cover his case. Suppose, however, that he is suffering from a disease under one of the industrial compensation Acts. Suppose that he has consumption, and it has been decided that he has not contracted consumption under conditions which would enable him to be a beneficiary under any industrial Act. Then he is insured under the Health Insurance Act, and he gets his benefit. That is the statement of a layman, and not of a legal expert. The experience of the National Health Insurance Act has absolutely nothing to do with the provisions made in Clause 25 of this Bill, and it cannot be cited as a justification for the decision of the Government.
Take another point. Is this insurance or not? I come back to that. If it is insurance, the realisation of the risk that has been insured against is private property. You cannot get over that. The Government has no business to say that when a child becomes an orphan, and ordinarily is a beneficiary under this Bill, still, before it enjoys its income, we have to decide how it is to be disposed of. In the most stupid and nonsensical form of Socialism as described by hon. Members, opposite so often, that might have a justification. That is justified only by those whose acquaintance with the constructive theory of Socialism is confined to a two-page leaflet issued by the National Conservative Association. Everybody who has given hours or months or years to the study of the theory knows that that pamphlet is sheer rot, but there it is. What is the case here? There is an insurance against risk. The risk eventuates; the property at once becomes effective, but the Government say "No," not unless we desire it to be so. After we have compelled you to be insured, after we have forced your father to contribute and your father's employers to contribute—even then we are going to decide that we will not give you this benefit. It really will not do, and this Amendment moved by my hon. Friend, who has probably more experience than any hundred Members of this Committee of these industrial questions, should be accepted by the Government and by the Committee.
I have listened to the Debate with a perfectly open mind and I think the case put up for this Amendment is unanswerable on the basis of equity, on the basis of fair play, and certainly on the basis of honour. We have had no answer from the Parliamentary Secretary which would justify the rejection of the Amendment. I do not intend to go into the legal aspect of the question, but the main point to me appears to be that the man when he is in employment is insured against accident. Take the case of the coal industry for example. There the owner pays a certain percentage to cover accident, and should there be a fatal accident the law provides that a certain portion of that compensation shall go to the children. There has been payment for it, and the payment has been made, technically, by the employer, but everybody knows that in one form or another the men contribute their share to the payment for that provision. I should think that it may be about fifty-fifty as between the owner and the men. At least, the men pay a very large proportion of the cost of securing that insurance. [HON. MEMBERS: "Seventy-five per cent."] Whatever it is, there is the payment, and they are entitled to full benefit for that payment. Now we have this scheme of insurance, and here again the man and the owner and, in a certain proportion, the State contribute to certain benefit. I think it unfair and unreasonable to expect that these dependants should be deprived of the full value of the payments made towards that insurance. I fail to see why the Amendment cannot be accepted, and I hope it will be pressed, because there is a vital issue at stake. This is very similar to the Debate of last night. We took up the same attitude on the question of ex-service men, and I think in this case the Minister ought to agree to our proposal. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) asked what the cost would be, and I think it would help us very much if we had that information. But whatever it is, I do not think the children ought to be made to suffer, and on that ground, if on no other, I hope the Minister will agree to the Amendment, or agree to the deletion of the Clause entirely.
The Debate upon this Amendment is one more illustration of the dangers to which my hon. Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) called our attention the other night. The moment you begin to listen to the dictates of your heart, rather than to strict logic, you involve yourself in charges of the grossest injustice and hardheartedness towards other people to whom you have not been so lenient. The speeches which have been made on this Amendment would have had much more force if this were an entirely new proposal which had never been heard of before, but this scheme is adapted from the scheme of the National Health Insurance Act for which the Leader of the hon. Member who last spoke was mainly responsible. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition distinguished between the National Health Insurance Act which he says is true insurance, and this Bill which he describes as "tomfoolery." The right hon. Gentleman knows very well what is in the National Health Insurance Act and he quoted the relevant section himself. But he gave a most astounding account of what the purpose of the National Health Insurance Act was. He said it dealt solely with disease. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ill-health!"] At all events, accident he ruled out as being something quite outside it. Do hon. Members agree?
Let me read the relevant section of part of the Section in that Act. Section 10 says:
Subject to the provisions of this Act the benefits conferred upon insured persons are .… periodical payments whilst rendered incapable of work by some specific disease or by bodily or mental disablement.
It does not include only ill-health. It is incapacity for work which is the test.
I hope the hon. Member will allow me to finish making my point. I have read the words from the Act. It confers benefits on those incapable of work, whether the incapacity is caused by disease or general ill-health or bodily or mental disablement. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Well, that is what the Act itself says. I turn to Section 15 of that Act, which, as the Committee will see, is the prototype of the Clause which we are now discussing. It says:
Where an insured person has received … . whether from his employer or any other person any compensation or damages under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906 .… or under the Employers Liability Act or at common law in respect of any injury or disease the following provisions shall apply.
The provisions are that no sickness benefits or disablement benefits are to be paid, unless the compensation he has received from workmen's compensation, etc., is less than the amount which he would receive otherwise under the Insurance Act. If this insurance has nothing whatever to do with the provisions of the National Insurance Act, how is it, when the compensation is not equal to the compensation given by the Health Insurance Act, that Act comes in and gives them the difference? If we had been absolutely logical and had based ourselves entirely upon this Clause we should not only have made the provision which we have made in the Clause under discussion, but we should have taken out also widows' pensions, and we should have included not only the Workmen's Compensation Act but the Employers' Liability Act and Common Law as well. Because we have been rather soft-hearted in this matter, because we have relaxed to some extent, because we have made a change in this Bill which is closely linked with the Insurance Act and improved it from the contributor's standpoint in comparison with the National Insurance Act, we are denounced for not having gone further. It is not an encouragement to make concessions if each one is simply to be made the ground for further demands.
If the point is seriously to be maintained that the distinction between disablement by accident and disablement by disease is not made in the National Health Insurance Act, I must ask the indulgence, of the Committee to read what is said by Section 10 which my right hon. Friend has just quoted. In defining sickness benefit it says:
Periodical payments whilst rendered incapable of work by some specific disease or by bodily or mental disablement.
That does not include accident. [HON. MEMBERS; "Disablement!"] Hon. Members will pardon me, but there are a few matters on which I know what I am talking about, and this happens to be one of them. I come now to paragraph c under that Section of the Act, and what do I find?
In the case of the disease or disablement continuing after the termination of the period during which sickness benefit may continue.
So that disablement benefit is simply a continuation after the period of sickness benefit. When you turn to Section 16 you find it provides that where you are getting disablement benefit through incapacity for work that shall not include disablement which is caused by accident within the meaning of the Workmen's Compensation Act. Therefore, the Leader of the Opposition was perfectly right when he said that the two are complementary. The Workmen's Compensation Act deals with disablement caused by accident and the National Health Insurance Act deals with disablement caused by sickness or with causes of incapacity other than accident.
In this way. If in fact you are getting disablement benefit, then you cannot get the benefit which you would get from the employer under the Workmen's Compensation Act. That is absolutely clear and distinct. I have only risen to make this point quite clear, that the Section of the National Insurance Act which defines disablement benefit deals with it as continuing disease or disablement—that being disablement other than accident disablement —after the termination of the period during which the sickness benefit operates.
I quite agree. They are included in contrast—the compensation which you get under the Workmen's Compensation Act and the other. You are not to get both, because there are two kinds of disablement, one arising from sickness and one from accident, and if you get the one you cannot get the other. But to say that you are not to get benefits under this scheme because you are getting compensation, is an entirely different proposition, and the Government in the drafting of this Clause, show that they appreciate that the two things are entirely different. It may be due to what the right hon. Gentleman himself has described, as the softness of his heart, but whether the reason be a financial reason or not, you cannot excuse the deprivation of persons of their clear insurable rights by saying that the employer under an entirely different liability has paid them workmen's compensation.
The hon. and learned Gentleman said you can either get compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, or you can get sickness or disablement benefit, but not both. I say that under paragraph (a) of Section 16 you can get both.
No sickness benefit or disablement benefit shall be paid to the insured person in respect of that injury or disease in any case where any weekly sum or the weekly value of any lump sum paid or payable by way of compensation.
It goes on to say,
and where any such weekly sum or the weekly value of any lump sum is less than the benefit in question, such part only of the benefit shall be paid.
In that case they get both.
I want to get away from the legal point, and to speak as a layman I think this particular Clause was very ill-drawn. I worked out the figures, and I found a person would be worse off by accepting the position under the widows and orphans' pension. Later on I found that those in charge of the Bill had discovered it also, with the result that they had put down an Amendment to meet the particular point. They made a mistake at first in drawing up the Clause. First of all, as has been stated by the Leader of the Opposition, we pay for workmen's compensation. If you follow the miners' agreement, it comes in the item "Other costs," and I find that we pay something over 3d. a ton; so that we are paying under that head for workmen's compensation, and if this is a Bill on a con tributary basis, at least we are entitled to benefit from both sources for which we pay. That is our claim, and, there should be no objection on the part of the Government to our getting both benefits for which we have paid. It may be said, on the other hand, "Surely you do not want to put a child who has lost his father through an accident in a better position than a child who has lost his father through illness?" That is a sound reason, and if the benefits under this Bill were large enough to put a child in security, I would agree with that, but no one can pretend that 3s. a week insufficient to sustain a child. The hon. Member said 15 per cent., which, on a sovereign, is 3s. a week. In present circumstances, we have many men who are not earning £1 a week, owing to short time and other difficulties. Adding the two amounts together, it would be only 6s. a week, and, on grounds of equity no one can pretend that the child is getting more than sufficient to sustain life. I am still under the belief that the Clause has never been gone into thoroughly by the Government. I do hope, in the face of the opposition, and in the face of the arguments we are putting forward, they will take it back and consider it, and if they cannot go the whole way, they ought to provide, at least, that the child shall not be driven down to 3s. a week. Make it something more than 3s. a week, and I should see some reason for the Clause being put in, but, as it stands, the Minister would be well-advised to withdraw it, and let us deal with the matter in some other way.
I have listened very carefully to the replies from the other side, and I have never listened to such weak and lame explanations in all my life. I want to lead the Committee back to the position of 1897, where the widow was allowed £300, or an average of three years' wages. I am familiar with hundreds of these cases. The £300 or the three years' wages could be paid over to the widow, and, as a result, some insurance agents approached some widows, and frightened them by saying they would not get the full £300, or the three years' wages, and some of these widows, whose husbands belonged to no trade union, used to settle for £50 or £60. Mr. John Hodge, the late Member for Gorton, in an amending Compensation Bill introduced into this House, gave similar illustrations, and in the Bill it was decided that the £300, or the three years' wages, in future should be paid into Court, and that the Judge, instead of banding over all the money to the widow, should apportion it to the widow and also to the children each week. We said this £300 was not sufficient for women and children, and the Holman-Gregory Committee decided that workmen's widows and children were entitled to £800. We succeeded, in Committee upstairs, in getting £600, and this money is apportioned to the children in increased benefits. The Government's proposal now is to deprive them of the benefits we gave them in Committee. It is wholesale robbery, and I want to warn the Ministers that the Budget and this Bill have been the chief plank in the Forest of Dean. They have had their reply to-day.
One has to pack in sometimes. What we want to know now is whether this is insurance, or whether this is a Bill whereby you rob Peter to pay Paul and rob Paul to pay Peter? That is the position so far as we are concerned, and I hope that a large number of right hon. and hon. Members on the other side who are, I think, in favour of our Amendment, will go into the Lobby with us, defeat the Government and make them go to the country on this question.
We have just listened to a very brilliant election speech. This Amendment has followed a very peculiar course. It is noticeable that the Attorney-General has, so far, not taken part in this particular legal discussion, and I do hope he will straighten the matter out. I am sorry he did not hear the argument of the Leader of the Opposi- tion, because it seemed to be very damning. The position is that this Clause seeks to deprive the children of a man who has paid benefits from the benefits for which he has contributed, and it does so on this ground. It says if he is killed under another set of circumstances, against which he has also covered himself, the same kind of benefit cannot be given twice. The grounds upon which that extraordinary position are justified by the Minister are, that the National Health Insurance Act contains a provision which prevents a man from getting compensation for an accident. It is said that that is a logical position, because a man cannot be both in ill-health and suffering from an accident at the same time, whereas the Leader of the Opposition says that the National Health Insurance Act does cover accidents, but only accidents of a particular kind. The Workmen's Compensation Act covers accidents which arise out of a man's employment. If you are riding upon a bicycle and sustain an accident, it is perfectly true it is an accident, but, for the purpose of the National Health Insurance Act, it is considered as being ill-health. Therefore, the National Health Insurance Act is more generous than this Bill, because, although the man is not in the medical sense suffering from ill-health because he has sustained an accident, the Insurance Act says: "We will consider you are a person in ill-health, because, if we do not, you have absolutely no claim under the Workmen's Compensation Act, and, therefore, will not get a farthing."
Therefore, if my reading of the two Acts be correct—and I have neither of them before me—the argument of the right hon. Gentleman who speaks for the Government falls absolutely to the ground, and he will have to argue it upon some entirely different basis, namely, finance. But, after all, it is not his finance which is at stake in the Workmen's Compensation Act. Last night he refused to give pensions under this Bill to persons who are drawing disablement pensions, and the reason he gave to justify that anomaly was that you cannot pay State money twice over. He has not got that argument here. This money is not taxpayers' money, but is in both instances money for which the man and his employer have contributed week by week, and the right hon. Gentleman is benefiting by a scheme over which he has no control. The Workmen's Compensation Act is not financed by the Government, and yet the right hon. Gentleman wishes thereby to save money under this Bill. I would not object to it so strongly if it were the case of an old age pensioner at the age of 65, because a man could wait for five years and then get something; but. in this particular Amendment the children are at stake, and why should you penalise the children who have been bereft of their parents in circumstances of great sorrow, and who have a double struggle with which to put up, and, therefore, should have a double benefit, if anything at all? To both schemes contributions have been paid.
We have been given no figures by the Minister, but, whatever it might cost, it would make all the difference to these children and would give them a fairly comfortable position, which would recompense them, if anything; could recompense them, for the loss of a father, and would put them on the road of some sort of future; whereas this Bill seems to assume that 10s. is a princely fortune which is the largest sum of money a child can expect to receive. I do hope the Attorney-General will deal with the legal aspect of this matter, and say whether or not it is the ease that the National Health Insurance Act does not give benefit to those who fall within the Workmen's Compensation Act, because it draws a distinction between an accident which arises out of an employment and an accident or illness which arises from some entirely different cause.
As a member of the mining industry, I have a question which I wish to raise. The men in the mining industry are peculiarly susceptible to accidents, and they pay not only under the Workmen's Compensation Act, but they pay premiums to other friendly societies, and in some parts of the country they pay premiums to what is known as the Fatal Accidents Society That society pays out benefits in the same way as under the Workmen's Compensation Act, namely, a certain amount per week to the widow and a certain amount to each child. If you are going to take account of one who is drawing under the Workmen's Compensation Act and utterly disregard similar payments received from other societies, you are going to make a distinction between families in the same neighbourhood who may be in these different societies. The Parliamentary Secretary read a Section out of the amended Workmen's Compensation Act, but he was very careful not to say how much the children would draw under that Section. I question whether he knows. He would have to make a mathematical calculation, and he would have to use his pencil pretty freely before he got at the figure, but £300 of the £600, which is the maximum that can be paid under the Workmen's Compensation Act, is put aside for the child, which does not mean that the child would draw the full £300. The most the child can draw is 6s. per week. There is certainly no connection between that and this fund. That was arranged before this was ever thought of at all, and why you should endeavour to alter the payments under this fund or that fund, whichever you intend to touch, because we have got some decent allowance, although not a proper allowance, under the Workmen's Compensation Act, is rather puzzling to my mind
I suggest that the payments that the miner makes under this Bill are more than he receives back in benefits. I know that just now the whole thing is in the melting pot, but we have a peculiar arrangement in the mining industry as to contributions of this character. An hon. Member below the Gangway suggested that payments to this fund were 50–50 as between employers and workmen, but I think he would find that it was nearer 80–20, so that the workmen are not getting anything gratuitously from the Workmen's Compensation Act. They are paying for it, and in addition they pay for whatever benefits they may get under this scheme, and why you should interfere with what is no part of State pay and not interfere with something which may be a part of State pay, I cannot understand. It appears to me that the suggestion made by a previous speaker that this is an attack upon the workmen's compensation, payable to children has some foundation. There seem to be running right through this Bill glaring anomalies whereby you keep back from certain people, who otherwise would be entitled to benefit, certain payments, and this is one of them.
|Division No. 284.]||AYES.||[5.21p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Albery, Irving James||Fielden, E. B.||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Finburgh, S.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Fleming, D. P.||Murchison, C. K.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld.).|
|Astor, Viscountess||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Oakley, T.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Balniel, Lord||Goff, Sir Park||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Gower, Sir Robert||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Grace, John||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H.(W'th's'w, E.)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Gretton, Colonel John||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Perring, William George|
|Berry, Sir George||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Bethell, A.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Philipson, Mabel|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Plicher, G.|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Hammersley S. S.||Pliditch, Sir Philip|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Harland, A.||Raine, W.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Harrison, G. J. C.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hartington, Marquess of||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Brass, Captain W.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Reid, Capt, A. S. C.(Warrington)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Haslam, Henry C.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hawke, John Anthony||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Brown, Maj. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Burman, J. B.||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hoare, Lt-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hopkins J. W. W.||Sandon, Lord|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Huntingfield, Lord||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Ladywood)||Hurd, Percy A.||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ., Belfast)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hurst, Gerald b.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Jacob, A.E.||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Jephcott, A. R.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lamb, J. Q.||Strickland, Sir Gerald|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Cope, Major William||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nalan)|
|Couper, J. B.||Loder J. de V.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Lougher, L.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lumley, L. R.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Templeton, W. P.|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Macintyre, Ian|
|Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||MacMillan, Captain H.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Waddington, R.|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Malone, Major P. B.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Manningham-Bulfer, Sir Mervyn||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Drewe, C.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Meller, R. J.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Meyer, Sir Frank||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Wells, S. R.|
|Everard W Lindsay||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)||Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W. R., Ripon)|
|Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)||Wood, E.(Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)||Mr. F. C. Thomson and Captain|
|Wise, Sir Fredric||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)||Margesson.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hardie, George D.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stratford)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Harney, E. A.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Harris, Percy A.||Rote, Frank H.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hayday, Arthur||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Baker, Walter||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Barnes, A.||Hirst, G. H.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barr, J.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Bromley, J.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Buchanan, G.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snell, Harry|
|Charleton, H. C.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Clowes, S.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Compton, Joseph||Kelly, W. T.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Connolly, M.||Kennedy, T.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Cove, W. G.||Kenworthy, Lt. Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kenyon, Barnet||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Kirkwood, D.||Thurtle, E.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lansbury, George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Lawson, John James||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lee, F.||Viant, S. P.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Lowth, T.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Dennison, R.||Lunn, William||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Dunnico, H.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Watts-Morgan, Rt. Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|England, Colonel A.||Mackinder, W.||Westwood, J.|
|Fenby, T. D.||March, S.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Maxton, James||Whiteley, W.|
|Forrest, W.||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Montague, Frederick||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gillett, George M.||Morris, R. H.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Gosling, Harry||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Greenall, T.||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Owen, Major G.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Paling, W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Griffiths, T (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Windsor, Walter|
|Groves, T.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wright, W.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Potts, John S.||Young, E. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Riley, Ben||TELLERS FOS THE NOES.—|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ritson, J.||Mr. Hayes and Mr. Warne.|
I beg to move, in page 23, lines 27 and 28, to leave out the words "or an orphan's pension."
I move this Amendment in order to bring the orphan children of workmen who meet with fatal accidents into the operation of this Bill. We on this side feel that this Bill is penalising workmen who engage in dangerous occupations, such as miners, railway men, and others, and it really means that in the case of a lad joining one of these occupations at the age of 16, who may lose his wife at about the age of 35, leaving all the children, and who may himself meet with a fatal accident afterwards, he will Have paid, perhaps, for 20 years into the Fund and not receive any benefit. If I have read aright the actuary's report, and as I understood it, this scheme will ultimately be self-supporting. I cannot quite understand that matter, for when the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced his Bill some time ago he laid emphasis on the fact that the widows and orphans would be amply provided for. It does seem to me that those who most require it will get the least benefit. For this, and the various reasons that have been given, I beg to move the Amendment, and I do not propose to delay the House any longer.
This Amendment proposes to limit the Clause of the Bill relating to children's allowances. I quite appreciate what has been said by the hon. Member, but I would respectfully suggest that he will not regard it as discourteous if I reply by saying that I shall rely upon the arguments of my right hon. Friend and myself on a previous Amendment.
|Division No. 285.]||AYES.||[5.54 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Albery, Irving James||Everard, W. Lindsay||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Meller, R. J.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Fielden, E. B.||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Finburgh, S.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Balniel, Lord||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Murchison, C. K.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Goff, Sir Park||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Gower, Sir Robert||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Grace, John||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Bennett, A. J.||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E.)||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Bethell, A.||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Oakley, T.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gretton, Colonel John||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Grotrian, H. Brent||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Penny, Frederick George|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hammersley, S. S.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Harland, A.||Perring, William George|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Harrison, G. J. C.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hartington, Marquess of||Philipson, Mabel|
|Brocklabank, C. E. R.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Pielou, D. P.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Haslam, Henry C.||Plicher, G.|
|Brown, Maj. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Hawke, John Anthony||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Raine, W.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Burman, J. B.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Herbert, S.(York, N. R. Scar. & Wh'by)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Howard, Capt. Hon. D. (Cumb., N.)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. A.(Ladywood)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Huntingfield, Lord||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hurd, Percy A.||Sanderson Sir Frank|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hurst, Gerald B.||Sheffield Sir Berkeley|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst.)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Jacob, A. E.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Jephcott, A. R.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kine'dine C.)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Cope, Major William||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Couper, J. B.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stanley Lord (Fylde)|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lamb, J. Q.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Crook, C. W.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Strickland, Sir Gerald|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Loder, J. de V.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lougher, L.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lumley, L. R.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||MacDonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Templeton, W. P.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Macintyre, Ian||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Macmillan, Captain H.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Drewe, C.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Waddington, R.|
|Wallace, Captain D. E.||Wheler, Major Granville O. H.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Warrender, Sir Victor||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Wise, Sir Fredric||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Watts, Dr. T.||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)||Mr. F. C. Thomson and Captain|
|Wells, S. R.||Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W. R., Ripon)||Margesson.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwich)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hardle, George D.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Harney, E. A.||Robinson, W. C.(Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Harris, Percy A.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hayday, Arthur||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Baker, Walter||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Barnes, A.||Hirst, G. H.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barr, J.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Bromley, J.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Buchanan, G.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snell, Harry|
|Charleton, H. C.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Clowes, S.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Compton, Joseph||Kelly, W. T.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Connolly, M.||Kennedy, T.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Cove, W. G.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kenyon, Barnet||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Kirkwood, D.||Thurtle, E.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lansbury, George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Lawson, John James||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lee, F.||Viant, S. P.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Lowth, T.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Dennison, R.||Lunn, William||Watson, W. M. (Duntermline)|
|Dunnico, H.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||Mackinder, W.||Westwood, J.|
|England, Colonel A.||MacLaren, Andrew||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Fenby, T. D.||March, S.||Whiteley, W.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Maxton, James||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Forrest, W.||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Montague, Frederick||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Gillett, George M.||Morris, R. H.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gosling, Harry||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, Dr. J. H (Llanelly)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenall, T.||Oliver, George Harold||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Owen, Major G.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Paling, W.||Windsor, Walter|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wright, W.|
|Groves, T.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Young, E. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Potts, John S.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Riley, Ben||Mr. Hayes and Mr. Warne.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ritson, J.|
I beg to move in page 23, line "31, to leave out the words
or such earlier date as may be proscribed.
I do not propose, in moving this Amendment, in any way to cover the general ethics of the case, for the case has been fairly well covered. The Clause lays it down that the pension is to cease at a date when the Minister receives notice of the award or agreement. If these words that we desire to delete stand part of the Clause it will be permissible for the Minister, not only to stop the pension when the Workmen's Compensation award reaches him, but he may make it retro-
spective. It was never, I think, intended that that should be the case, because, after all, the weekly payments have been made under the Workmen's Compensation Act, though the children were not included in the Compensation Act weekly payments. We put forward this Amendment in the hope that the Minister may think it desirable to delete it, and I beg to move.
The object of the words to which the hon. Member takes objection—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up!"]—is to enable the Department to take advantage of the earliest intimation of the award or agreement. That is all that is meant by the words, and I think my hon. Friend will agree with that. If we did not keep these words in we should have to wait unnecessarily.
This is another case where the Government are trying to do their best to see they get all they can out of this Bill, which is supposed to be for the benefit of widows and orphans. In every Clause we come to there are anomalies, and those anomalies are not for the benefit either of the widows or the children. Now the Government want to take power to get an earlier date than that at which the award is given, or—
Well, that is how it appears to me. We are dealing with what happens when the award becomes operative, and we do not usually find that they do become operative until after the decision of the Court is come to. Usually it is the decision of the Court which arranges what the amount is to be, and, surely, that date ought to give the Ministry sufficient time to conduct their business. It is bad enough when they take action after they know what the orphans have been awarded by the Court, but, presumably, they want to take action immediately they hear that the man is dead, even before the case comes into Court. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] That is the point of the statement made just now. They want to know immediately the man is killed. Very often months go by before the award is settled. What is going to happen in the meantime. The woman is a widow as soon as she loses her husband, and if her husband has been paying for this benefit, surely, she is entitled to it. It seems to me that all along the line the Government are trying to do their best to prevent either the widow or the children getting the just dues for which the husband has paid. We on this side are entirely against these words, and entirely against the whole Clause.
Yes. As the hon. Member knows, in a large number of cases, the amount is settled by agreement. This Amendment, of course, would not in any way interfere with what was done until a settlement had been arrived at. Whether the widow is entitled to compensation or not, she is not going to be left suspended in the air, as it were. I am afraid I have been at fault in not spending a little more time in explaining the matter. This is only a matter of machinery to get an earlier notification of the award.
I think I must make an observation on that case. I notice that the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has not been with us very much in these Debates, is with us, and it is a question which is exciting his interest. Obviously, we must have some power to make adjustments, but we do not want to leave the widow without money.
May I point out a rather serious hardship? As the hon. Gentleman knows quite well, legal processes are very slow, and we have had cases where a widow—or someone acting on her behalf—has had to take her case first to the County Court, then to the Court of Appeal, and after that to the House of Lords; and years may go by before the case is finally settled. I have one case in my mind now. Is she to be asked to pay back all she has drawn?
The hon. Member must not think that everyone on this side is inhuman, and that we do not intend to work this scheme as sympathetically as we can. In my experience a Court very often orders compensation to be paid pending the decision of the House of Lords. In that event, of course, adjustments will be made. How far one can go back in a case of that kind I should hesitate to say, but certainly we shall not press unduly on the widow in cases of that kind.
Will the hon. Gentleman say what will happen in a case like this? A man loses his life and leaves a widow and children. What is to be the position of the widow and children until the case is finally settled? Our own union has had to take a case to the House of Lords. What is to be the position of the family of the man who has been killed while the case is under consideration in the Courts? It may take months before there is a final settlement.
In such an event, if compensation is paid pending the final decision, then an adjustment would be made, but there would be no withdrawal or subtraction from the widow's money under this Clause until the amount is actually paid into Court under the award of the Court. That is quite clear.
It depends, for instance, on whether the widow has been receiving compensation in the interval. If the House of Lords decide that she is not entitled to the money, the question of whether she has got to pay back the Workmen's Compensation Act money will be a case for the respondents in the appeal.
I have known many cases. Of course, if the woman is proved not to be entitled to Workmen's Compensation, the widows and orphans will be entitled to their allowances under this Bill.
Lieut. - Colonel WATTS - MORGAN:
Would the right hon. Gentleman say what happens in a case like this? A fatal accident happens in the first week of January. Proceedings take place on behalf of the widow and children. At the end of February an agreement is arrived at, but that agreement is not registered in Court until the end of March. If there is no meaning in these words, and if they are not intended to be acted upon, what is the use of putting them in at all—if it. does not give the Department power to go back to January for any payments that have been made in the intervening time to go back from January until the end of March when the agreement was registered in Court?
If these words remain in the Clause, does it not mean that the Department will have the power of taking the whole of the amount that may have been paid in the interval between the first week in January and the last week in March? You say, "Make adjustments." I think I am putting a very plain question. Does it not give you the power to take the whole of the money that has been paid by way of advances from the first week in January until the last week in March?
Not these words which hon. Members are endeavouring to delete. These are mere machinery words, in order to get early notification of the agreement. As regards the question which the hon. Gentleman has put to me, that is a matter concerned with the Clause itself, but the words which the hon. Member is seeking to have deleted are a question of machinery and nothing else.
May I ask if this really means that the Workmen's Compensation Act is going to be a subsidiary part of this pensions scheme? Are the payments which people are going to receive under this scheme to be used as an argument for taking their benefits under the Workmen's Compensation Act? That is what we want to know.
I would like an assurance from the hon. Member that these words are for administrative purposes only, and, further, that in a case where an agreement has been come to, and where, prior to that, a widow has been in receipt of pension for herself and her children, nothing of the amount which she has received in the shape of compensation will be deducted from her in the adjustments that may take place after the award. I want to be quite clear upon that.
As I understand the hon. Member's two questions, the answer is in the affirmative to both of them. It will not deprive the widow of anything. It simply deals with a case where the Ministry has knowledge of an agreement and that the money has been
Lieut.-Colonel WATTS - MORGAN:
May I ask the Minister of Health the same question that I asked the Parliamentary Secretary? The Clause speaks about the allowance ceasing to be payable
As from the date on which the Minister receives notice of the award or agreement, or such earlier date as may be prescribed by him.
That gives him the right to go back to the first week in January to deduct any payments that have been made.
In the case I have mentioned, where months, and even years, may intervene before a final settlement, and the widow makes a claim under this Bill, and gets her weekly allowance for the children, are we to be. assured that until that award is made she is entitled to that allowance?
Amendment made: In page 23, line 38, at the end, add the words
Provided that where the weekly value calculated in the prescribed manner of the sum awarded or agreed as aforesaid in respect of a child in respect of whom an additional allowance or orphan's pension, would but for this Section have been payable is less than the amount of that allowance or pension, a sum equal to the deficiency shall be payable as from the date aforesaid by way of additional allowance or orphan's pension, as the case may be."— [Sir K. Wood.]
|Division No. 286.]||AYES.||[6.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Blades, Sir George Rowland|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Blundell, F. N.|
|Albery, Irving James||Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Boothby, R. J. G.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Brass, Captain W.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Bennett, A. J.||Briggs, J. Harold|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Bethell, A.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Betterton, Henry B.||Brown, Maj. D. C. (N'th'l'd, Hexham)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Buckingham, Sir H.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James|
|Balniel, Lord||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Bullock, Captain M.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Haslam, Henry C.||Perring, William George|
|Burman, J. B.||Hawke, John Anthony||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Phillpson, Mabel|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Pielou, D. P.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Pilcher, G.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.||Raine, W.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Ladywood)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Chllcott, Sir Warden||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Howard, Capt. Hon. D. (Cumb., N.)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hudson, Capt. A. O. M.(Hackney, N.)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Huntingfield, Lord||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hurd, Percy A.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hurst, Gerald B.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n& P'bl's)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Cope, Major William||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Couper, J. B.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Jacob, A. E.||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Crook, C. W.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Skelton, A. N.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lamb, J. Q.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Loder, J. de V.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Lougher, L.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Lumley, L. R.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Drewe, C.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||MacDonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Macintyre, Ian||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|England, Colonel A.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Malone, Major P. B.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Finburgh, S.||Margesson, Captain D.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Forrest, W.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Foster Sir Harry S.||Meller, R. J.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Meyer, Sir Frank||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Wells, S. R.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Murchison, C. K.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Grace, John||Nelson, Sir Frank||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Mewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Grotrian, H. B.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld.)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Nuttall, Ellis||Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W. R., Ripon)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Oakley, T.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Harland, A.||Owen, Major G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Penny, Frederick George||Colonel Gibbs and Mr. F. C.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Thomson.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Barnes, A.||Clowes, S.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Barr, J.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Batey, Joseph||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Compton, Joseph|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Bonn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Connolly, M.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Bromley, J.||Cove, W. G.|
|Baker, Walter||Buchanan, G.||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Charleton, H. C.||Crawfurd, H. E.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Kelly, W. T.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kennedy, T.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Dennison, R.||Kenyon, Barnet||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Dunnico, H.||Kirkwood, D.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lansbury, George||Snell, Harry|
|Fenby, T. D.||Lawson, John James||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Lee, F.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Lowth, T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Lunn, William||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Gillett, George M.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Gosling, Harry||Mackinder, W.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||MacLaren, Andrew||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Greenall, T.||March, S.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Greenwood, A. (Neison and Colne)||Maxton, James||Thurtle, E.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Groves, T.||Morris, R. H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Naylor, T. E.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Oliver, George Harold||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Hall, F. (York, W, R., Normanton)||Paling, W.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pethick Lawrence, F. W.||Westwood, J.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Hardie, George D.||Potts, John S.||Whiteley, W.|
|Harney, E. A.||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Harris, Percy A.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Riley, Ben||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Ritson, J.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwich)||Williams, T, (York, Don Valley)|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Rose, Frank H.||Windsor, Walter|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Wright, W.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Scrymgeour, E.||Young, E. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Sexton, James||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Mr. Warns and Mr. Hayes.|
I beg to move, in page 24, line 17, to leave out Subsection (2).
I think I had better read this Clause to the Committee. It provides as follows:
(1) In any case in which a Poor Law authority has granted outdoor relief to any person, being a person not in receipt of a pension, and either—
I have read this Clause to the Committee because when I first saw it I plead guilty to not having been able exactly to understand what it meant, and yet poor people are expected to know that there is such a Clause, and they will be expected to see to their outgoings, so that when the pension time arrives they will know that a large portion of it has to be paid back. The effect of this Clause is that if a person whose husband dies goes to the parish to get poor law relief when the pension does come through in three weeks or a month after the amount she has received up to 10s. a week, or supposing she has been getting 10s. a week, it will be paid to the authority that has to pay the amount. It does not become payable to the person entitled until the money which the authority has paid has been paid back. Surely that is the meaning of this Clause. One of the sub-sections applies
to children, and I want to say, first of all, that the ordinary man and woman paying into this fund will not know that there is any such provision; and secondly, that when a woman goes to a board of guardians to get relief, she will take it and spend it, and will be banking on getting her pension when the time comes for the money to be paid. It seems to me rather mean to want to take this back. I have always thought that was so in regard to widows' pensions connected with the Army and Navy, because those pensions are dealt with in exactly the same manner. I know it will be said that the woman ought not to get double assistance, but we are always very careful to see that the poor should not get too much.
(2) This Section shall extend to the case of a child in respect of whom an additional allowance or orphan's pension is not being paid in like manner as to the case of a person not in receipt of a pension, and shall apply in such a case subject to the necessary modifications.
Just think that, whatever the woman may get from the State ultimately, there is no hon. Member sitting opposite who would say that any widow will be able to bring up her children and herself on the money provided by this Bill. Anybody who gives a minute's thought to these things knows that that will be impossible. The Minister thinks that because of this Bill people will be more thrifty, and will make provision for themselves and add it to the pension, but there will be multitudes who will not be able to make any addition to the pension, and the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, and every Poor Law authority will tell him, that this sum of 5s. for the first child and 3s. for the next is absolutely inadequate for maintaining the children, whether they are young or whether they are children of 10 to 14 years of age. We ought to recognise that a few weeks will elapse before the woman can draw the pension, even if the Poor Law authorities do give her a few shillings relief, and the few pounds, say £5, £6 or £7 that would come to her when her claim has gone through should be a little nest-egg left to help her to carry on. It is not as though the State were paying this money, or as though it came out of the Exchequer in any way. It will come from the boards of guardians, and I believe—I am speaking in the presence of many members of boards of guardians—that the average board of guardians would be quite willing that this money should not be paid over. I think that this provision is on all fours with the one that the Committee has just carried. It is attempting to prevent the poor from getting too much, to prevent them from having a little extra. At the risk of being considered an extravagant person, I always feel that, when a poor person does get a small advantage, such as a widow would occasionally get under the terms of this Bill by getting a lump sum in pension at the end of, say, a fortnight or a month, that is money that we might very well leave to her and allow her to enjoy it. Therefore, I hope this Amendment will be accepted by the right hon. Gentleman.
Before I sit down, there is just one other question that I should like to ask. I did not want to detain the Committee on the main Amendment to the last Clause, but perhaps I may be permitted to ask the right hon. Gentleman now whether he can tell us, if this Amendment or any of these Amendments were carried, what would be the cost to the Exchequer? In this case he will not save anything at all, I admit, because if I understand the Clause rightly, he is only going to see to it that the local authority gets the money. It seems to me that it might be left to the local authorities, who, I am perfectly certain, would not want to penalise women in this way. If it is not out of order, I should very much like to know what the proposal we made on the last Clause would have cost the Exchequer had it been carried?
I think that nearly the whole of the hon. Member's observations were rather wide of the Amendment which he has moved, because they appeared to me to be directed rather to what he supposed the Clause as a whole would do than to the particular exception to the working of the Clause which he desires to make, and I confess I do not understand why it is desired to make that exception, or why the hon. Member did not confine himself merely to arguing against the provisions of the Clause. May I just point out what the effect of this Clause really is? Where a woman is in receipt of a pension under this Bill, and then applies to the guardians for relief, the guardians will take into account the fact that she is in receipt of that pension in considering what relief they will give to her. The next case is the case of a woman who is entitled to a pension but has not actually begun to receive it. Why should that woman be put in a better position than the first woman, who has actually begun to receive her pension? That is exactly what the hon. Member has been arguing. I say that, as between woman and woman, that would not be fair, and, indeed, it would be an inducement to a woman to withhold her claim to a pension as long as possible, in order that she might get, not only the pension, but also a full amount of relief from the guardians. That does not seem to me to be fair either to the guardians on the one hand or to the other woman on the other hand, and I cannot think the hon. Member has quite appreciated what the effect would be if this Clause were not passed.
As I think the right hon. Gentleman knows, no board of guardians would give assistance without inquiring whether the woman applying for it was a widow or not, and why she was applying.
apply in the case where a widow is herself in receipt of a pension, but that it shall not apply in the case where allowances are payable either in respect of children of a widow or in respect of orphans, in which latter case, of course, the allowance will be paid to some other person than the parent. Why the distinction should be made I do not see at all, but, in any case, exactly the game observations apply to the case where allowances are paid to orphans or children as in the case of a pension.
I hope the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) will not persist in his Amendment. It seems to me that nobody in reason could object to this Clause. All that the Clause says is that, where a pension is accruing but not paid, and in the meanwhile the guardians have given assistance, the guardians are to be recouped what they have paid out of the pension when it is eventually paid.
|Division No. 287.]||AYES||[6.21 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Brown, Maj. D. C.(N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Crook, C. W.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Buckingham, Sir H.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)|
|Albery, Irving James||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Bullock, Captain M.||Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Burman, J. B.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Davidson, J. (Hertl'd, Hemel Hempst'd)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Caine, Gordon Hall||Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yaovil)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)|
|Balniel, Lord||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Dean, Arthur Wellesley|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Ladywood)||Doyle, Sir N. Grattan|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Chapman, Sir S.||Drewe, C.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Chilcott, Sir Warden||Edwards, John H. (Accrington)|
|Bethell, A.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Elliot, Captain Walter E.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Clarry, Reginald George||England, Colonel A.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Clayton, G. C.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Erskine, James Malcolm Montelth|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Falls, Sir Bertram G.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Cooper, A. Duff||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Cope, Major William||Fielden, E. B.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Finburgh, S.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Forrest, W.|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Loder, J. de V.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Laugher, L.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lumley, L. R.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||MacDonald, R. (Cathcart)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Goff, Sir Park||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Macintyre, Ian||Skelton, A. N.|
|Grace, John||Macmillan, Captain H.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E)||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Malone, Major P. B.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Stanley, Hon O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Margesson, Captain D.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Hammersley, S S.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Storry Deans, R.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Meller, R. J.||Strickland, Sir Gerald|
|Harland, A.||Meyer, Sir Frank||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Harney, E. A.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Templeton, W. P.|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Murchison, C. K.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Neville, R. J.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Nuttall, Ellis||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Oakley, T.||Waddington, R.|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Owen, Major G.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Pennefather, Sir John||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Howard, Capt. Hon. D. (Cumb., N.)||Penny, Frederick George||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U.M. (Hackney, N.)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Huntingfield, Lord||Perring, William George||Wells, S. R.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Pielou, D. P.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Plicher, G.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Jacob, A. E.||Price, Major C. W. M.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Raine, W.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Joynson-Hicks. Rt. Hon. Sir William||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York. W.R., Ripon)|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Rentoul, G. S.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)||Major Sir Harry Barnston and|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Captain Donglas Hacking.|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Harris, Percy A.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughten)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Day, Colonel Harry||Hastings, Sir Patrick|
|Ammon, Charles George||Dennison, R.||Hayday, Arthur|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Duncan, C.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhamton, Bliston)||Dunnico, H.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)|
|Baker, Walter||Edwards. C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hirst, G. H.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Gibbins, Joseph||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)|
|Barnes, A.||Gillett, George M.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)|
|Barr, J.||Gosling, Harry||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Batey, Joseph||Greenall, T.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Greenwood. A. (Nelson and Colne)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Grenfell, D. R, (Glamorgan)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Broad, F. A.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Kelly, W. T.|
|Bromley, J.||Groves, T.||Kennedy, T.|
|Buchanan, G.||Grundy, T. W.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Charleton. H. C.||Guest, J. (York, W.H., Hemsworth||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Clowes, S.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Kirkwood, D.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hall, F. (York, W. R.. Normanton)||Lansbury, George|
|Compton, Joseph||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lawson, John James|
|Connolly, M.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Lee, F.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hardle, George D.||Lowth, T.|
|Lunn, William||Scrymgeour, E.||Viant, S. P.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Sexton, James||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Mackinder, W.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Warne, G. H.|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|March, S.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Watts-Morgan, Lt. Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Maxton, James||Sitch, Charles H.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Westwood, J.|
|Morrison, R, C. (Tottenham, N.)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Snell, Harry||Whiteley, W.|
|Oliver, George Harold||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Paling, W.||Stamford, T. W.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Stephen, Campbell||Williams, Or. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Potts, John S.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Riley, Ben||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Windsor, Walter|
|Ritson, J.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Wright, W.|
|Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Thurtle, E.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Rose, Frank H.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. MacLaren and Mr. Hayes.|
Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
Before we part with the Clause I think there is at least one observation that ought to be made upon it. We on these benches have declared from the commencement that the pensions and allowances under the Bill are wholly inadequate and that many people, if not most of those who will be in receipt of these pensions and allowances, will have to have recourse to the Poor Law. In fact, the Clause supports to the hilt the point of view we have put forward, because it states quite clearly, and in fact the Government itself in inserting it has admitted the whole of the claim we have made that these pensions are totally inadequate and will relieve in part only the expenses of the local authority. We should not be true to ourselves if we allowed it to pass without making the comment that the pensions are shown by the Clause itself to be totally inadequate.
It has been said that no one objects to the Clause. I strongly object to it in its present form. It seems to me that the Minister of Health had a generous impulse and then regretted it and has devised all the means he can imagine to minimise the benefits which in his generous mood he wanted to provide. We have had other Acts of Parliament quoted as a reason for minimising the benefits under this Bill wherever they could be used as a reason for minimising them. I have attended as often as I could, but I have not heard a single Act quoted by that side of the House to increase the benefits under the Bill. In this Clause there is a provision for a, pension if the person entitled applies for it within a given time. The Department realises that it will work slowly and it wants time to pay that pension. It realises that it is dealing with poverty-stricken people who may have to apply to a board of guardians, and probably will in most cases. But the Minister of Health is nominating himself into the office of a super-relieving officer and is going to make all the inquisitorial inquiries which we have been objecting to to find out exactly the income of all these people and he says, "That is over 10s. a week; we shall have to have some of this back." I am not an expert on the Old Age Pensions Act, but I understand that under that Act if an old age pensioner went into an infirmary or a workhouse the guardians themselves could not take that pension until the pauper had been in that institution for at least three months. The Minister is going one better than the worst board of guardians in this country and says, "I am going to claim the right to take that pension from the moment that you have that other relief." If a woman has to apply for relief after she has got the pension the guardians will ask for her income and reduce the allowance accordingly. He makes a difference between the woman who gets the pension first and the woman who is so poor, so distressed and so destitute that she had to apply before he could pay the pension. He is making provision in the next Clause to cover that up because if the woman does not got her claim in, though the pension may be accruing, within one month or, at the latest, two, that claim can only be paid from the date on which it was granted. He is therefore safeguarding his interests. Now we have the picture of a woman who has lost her husband and has been under extra expense; She is in great trouble. She may not think of applying for the pension unless she has some friend who is not so troubled, who is interested in her welfare. The two months expire. She is only entitled to a pension then from the date of the application. But the Minister wants to come on, if I read this aright, and say, "You have received so much: that matter must be adjusted." I protest against these restrictive Clauses. I thought for one we were going to get a Parliament with a generous mood towards the poorest of the poor, the defenceless widow and orphan, that was going to treat them decently. The Minister cannot withdraw this Clause altogether, but I hope he will undertake to give us something better than we have here. If he had given some suggestion of an adjustment to help that woman in her great time of trouble we might have had more sympathy with it. I protest against the Clause, and if it goes to a Division I shall vote against it
The first Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Mr. Ernest Evans), in page 24, line 23, at beginning, to insert new Sub-section:
(1) The administrative machinery for the collection of contributions and the payment of benefits under this Act, shall, subject to the provisions of this Section and in so far as it is not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, be that of the National Health Insurance Act, 1924, and the Minister shall have power to make regulations modifying and extending the administrative provisions of that Act in such directions as may be required.
is covered by Clause 10. The next four Amendments all deal with very much the same question. If we take a debate on the first it must not be repeated on the next three.
I beg to move, in page 24, line 25, to leave out the words "one month" and to insert instead thereof the words "two months."
The first Sub-section is a fine, healthy specimen of an unnecessary effusion of words. At any rate I find myself in the position that I have to read it three or four times before I can understand what it means. If I understand it aright, it means that a pension shall be payable if the claim is made before the expiration of one month from the date upon which the claimant became entitled to the pension. If the claim is made within one month from the date, the pension accrues from that date, but if more than a month should elapse before the unfortunate claimant is able to make her claim the pension is not payable from the date of entitlement but only becomes payable from the date upon which the claim is made. I cannot for the life of me understand why the right hon. Gentleman should put this Clause into his Bill at all. No decent, self-respecting insurance company, certainly no friendly society, would attempt a thing like this. I can imagine 20 or 30 sets of circumstances in which it is literally impossible for a claimant to make her claim within a month from the date upon which she becomes a widow. Take the case of a casual worker who goes away on tramp to look for a job. He moves about from place to place. He is accidentally killed, perhaps on the railway. His death is not discovered until more than a month, perhaps two or three months afterwards, yet the Government says this poor woman shall not be entitled to draw her pension except from the date upon which her claim is made. It may be proved that the man died earlier. "No matter," says the Government. "We will not pay the pension from the date of death, but only from the date on which this poor unfortunate woman was in a position to make her claim." I should have thought the experience of the Ministry of Pensions would have taught the Government a lesson. Every one of us is aware of cases where the claim was not made within 12 months of the date upon which death took place; and whilst it may be said those cases occurred during the War, when it was frequently difficult for the widow to obtain proof, or even knowledge of the death, in ordinary civil life hundreds, if not thousands, of similar cases arise. Take a marine engineer. In numbers of cases men are lost at sea. Men are lost when they go away to jobs in a foreign land. The widow may not know until more than a month has elapsed. The Ministry goes out of its way and takes special pains to do what no insurance company or friendly society in the land would attempt to do, that is to refuse payment from the date of entitlement and only grant it from the date on which the widow was able to make a claim. I trust the Minister will see his way—it will cost a mere bagatelle—to wipe this small but unnecessary and irritating blot from his Bill.
The hon. Member has ransacked his imagination to discover cases in which this Clause would bring hardship upon poor unfortunate people, and he wishes us to understand that this hardship will be removed if we alter the period from one month to two months.
It is not desirable that we should allow a claim to be made at an indefinite period after the widow becomes entitled to a pension. The longer the time that elapses since the death of her husband, the more difficult it is to investigate a claim and find out what is the real entitlement of the applicant. If you are to talk about people who have died in remote parts of the Empire, that case will be still more difficult to investigate than one which happens close at home. The only point at issue is as to whether the time that we have provided in the Clause is reasonable or not. Has the hon. Member looked up the precedent of the old age pensions scheme? In that case, the pension only becomes payable from the date when the claim is made, and in no case does it go back to the date on which the applicant was entitled, unless the applicant has made the claim on that date. Therefore, we have gone one better than the Old Age Pensions Act. I suggest that to put in one month is reasonable. From the date of the beginning of this Act, before its provisions are widely known and people understand that they have only to go to the Post Office to make their claim, we thought that a little longer time might be permitted, and we have put in a period of two months from the date of the beginning of the Act. After that date, everybody really has a chance of finding out what is their position.
I am inclined to agree, with the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, although I do not see much difference between one month and two months. It might be justifiable under the Old Age Pensions Act, which relates to a direct grant from the State, to say that the pension shall begin when the applicant applies for it, because the Government are masters of the situation; they are giving away something for nothing, but here we are dealing with a contractual obligation. Persons pay money in order to buy benefits, and whether they apply within a month or six months, the fact remains that they have bought the benefit. In ordinary insurance, unless the period fixed by some statutory regulation has elapsed, they are absolutely entitled, whether they apply early or late. I can well understand that stale applications always involve more clerical work and put the Ministry to some expense, but why the amount of that extra expense should be measured by the amount that should be payable between the time when it was due and the time when the application was made is a matter which I am wholly at a loss to understand.
I agree. First of all, a stale application involves greater expense. Consequently, the Minister wants to urge people to make their applications early, by placing a penalty upon belated applications. It seems to me that the penalty is wholly disproportionate to the crime. The crime is a very slight one, and the amount of the penalty is in many cases greater than the crime. If people neglect for, say, six weeks, to make application, although they might have put it in earlier, they are penalised to a small extent, but if people are very old and distracted and there is everything to excuse them, and they are six months late in putting in their application, they are very heavily penalised. There is no justification for that, and my submission would be that we should allow the pension to be payable, as it is legally due, from the date when it arises. A provision might be put in the Bill saying that persons who, in the opinion of the Minister, have been unreasonable in regard to sending in their applications might have to pay some small sum as a penalty. As the Clause stands, it is unfair and hits hardest the people who probably least deserve it.
I am astonished at the reception that the Amendment has had from the right hon. Gentleman. I thought it was time that he gave another concession on this Bill and that this email matter, in terms of finance, afforded such an opportunity when he might have celebrated his long abstention from concession by giving us something. Instead of that, he has treated us probably to the most ingenious of all the very ingenious arguments which he and the Parliamentary Secretary have competed with each other to give to us on this Bill. He told us that he cannot accept our Amendment, because it is only slightly less wicked than his original proposal. He says that his proposal may be bad, but that our Amendment will not help very much. That is an extraordinary reason for rejecting an Amendment.
There are many cases of people who will be very unfairly treated by the inclusion of this period of a month. If we allow them two months, it would make a considerable amount of difference. A widow may lose her husband suddenly and she may be distraught and, like women often do, she may have depended entirely on her husband to attend to her affairs. A month may pass before she realises that she has a right to make an application for a pension. There is no one in this House who works on a technical plea of this sort to put a woman in a very unhappy condition which might deprive her of her pension for a month or six weeks or two months. There are cases, such as the Mover of the Amendment suggested, where the death is not known in time to make a claim within a month. There are cases of casual workers and men whose occupation takes them from place to place, and abroad. You may have cases of parents dying suddenly and leaving children in a strange town. The relatives or friends will have to fetch the children, and they may not know what the man's employment was, where he was employed, and whether he was an insured man, and before they can pick up the whole chain of circumstances the time may have passed and the children will be penalised. The Minister justifies that by the very extraordinary statement that he wishes to encourage the widow or the orphan to put in their claim promptly.
This provision will be equally hard in regard to old people. There is probably no Member of any party who is not constantly receiving letters from old people in his constituency saying, "I only found out a little while ago that I am 71. I thought I was 69," and asking what one can do for them. Hon. Members know the extreme difficulty that very often arises in finding out the age of these old people, and establishing their claim to a pension. If an insured man who has contributed all his life gets to 65 and is obscure about his age, and thinks he is 63 and then it takes him a month or more to find out his age, he is to be penalised. The Minister appears to think that we can only point to one or two isolated cases, but, if it were not that one did not wish to keep the Committee at great length, one could go on quoting case after case of people to whom this provision will mean a very hard condition. There are people who have reached an old age and are slow to do things for themselves, there are children who, obviously, cannot look after these things themselves, and there are widows who are affected at a time when they are least capable of dealing with their affairs, and unless within a month of the death of the breadwinner they make their application they are to be penalised. I hope the Minister will see whether he cannot in some way meet this serious objection.
It may be that I have missed the provision, if provision there be in the Bill, but so far as I know there is nothing in the Bill which prevents this Clause from being obligatory. Supposing a claim is not made before the expiration of a month, then the Minister is in difficulty in regard to allowing payment to be made. In other Acts, for instance, the Workmen's Compensation Act, there is nearly always a provision which says that, provided the Minister is satisfied that the failure to put in a claim is due to some legitimate and unavoidable circumstance, he has the power to relax the stringency of the rule. There is a good deal to be said for the Minister's contention that the mere variation from one month to two months does not affect the matter very much, but he might consider whether he could see his way to meet the gravamen of the Amendment by moving to insert some provision such as I have suggested. Of course, the onus of proof might be put upon the applicant to show that there was reasonable cause for delay in the making of the application. Supposing a widow was proved to have been ill at the time of her husband's death, and it was physically impossible for her to put in a claim. Why should it not be possible in such a case to bring into operation a proviso such as is common in other Acts that where the Minister is satisfied that the failure to make the claim was due to some reasonable cause he should have power to relax the stringency of the rule?
I beg to move, in page 25, to leave out from the word "when" in line 30 to the end of the Clause, and to insert instead thereof the words
but for the provisions of this Section it would have included such additional allowance.
I need not to say more than just a few words about this Amendment. It meets the case of the pre-Act widow, the widow who may be entitled to a pension for herself and allowances for her children, if she has children, who are under the age of 14. It is provided in Sub-section (3) of this Clause that
where the date on which a pension would begin to accrue under this Act is a day in the week other than that prescribed as the day in the week on which the weekly payments on account of pensions of that class are to be made, the pension shall not begin to accrue until such prescribed day.
You might have the case of a widow who has one child under 14, and that child dies before the prescribed day on which the allowance would be payable. In that
case, not only would the allowance in respect of the child be lost, but the widow's allowance also would be lost. The words which I propose to insert here are to protect the widow in that case, and give her the allowance for six months after the death of the child.
I beg to move, in page 25, line 40, after the word "referees," to insert the words, "of whom at least one shall be a woman."
I do not want to spring a bombshell upon the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope that he will find it possible to accept this Amendment. He will realise that these referees will often have to decide very difficult and delicate questions relating to the claims that will come before them, and that the women that they will have to consider will be women who have just passed through a very terrible period in their lives. I am sure the Minister will agree that it will be much better if, when these women come before the referees, there is at least one woman who would be able to deal with them and take up their case. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that this is becoming part of our general practice where women's cases are to be dealt with. I want to ask the right, hon. Gentleman whether he can see his way to accept the Amendment.
I did not know the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) was going to move this Amendment. I think the point is already met, because under the Regulations providing for the procedure before the court of referees it is also provided that wherever a woman is concerned in an application to the referees there shall be joined with the referees a woman assessor, and that woman assessor will be a woman who has special competence for dealing with insurance cases. That practice is in force now.
The right hon. Gentleman says that the woman would be an assessor. Well, the difficulty, of course, with assessors is that their advice may or may not be taken by the referees, and I was anxious to put this Amendment in this particular way to include women among the referees so that she would not merely be a lady whose advice may or may not be taken, but that she should have equal status with whatever men were there judging the case. It is an important matter of principle.
I am not going to challenge the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has made, but I am not quite clear that under the Regulations which are referred to in this Clause 3 woman will be brought in in every case. If it is found later on that the Amendment moved by the hon. Member is necessary to meet the point that she has made, will he be good enough to remember that point when we are on the Report stage of the Bill?
The right hon. Gentleman will remember that when we were dealing with Sub-section (2) of Clause 21, something was said, rather indefinitely, about provision being made for seeing that woman who became disqualified or liable to become disqualified would have an opportunity of having an appeal. This is the appropriate Clause to deal with that, and I see that an Amendment I had on the Paper—in page 25, line 37. after the word "award" to insert words "or decision" —is struck out. I take it that the right hon. Gentleman in some way or other is going to make provision that a woman shall not be disqualified without having an opportunity of being heard.
I do not quite understand why the Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman was not moved. If it had been I should have accepted it. I shall see that it is put in on Report. In regard to the other point, the body of referees is a body of legal gentlemen, barristers, and there might be some difficulty if we were to insist that one of them should always be a woman.
I would not mind taking this point a bit further, and I promise to do so, but, while the assessor must in every case be a woman where a woman is concerned in the application, there might be some difficulty in insisting that one of the referees should be a woman, who would in every case have a controlling voice in the decisions of the Court.
The right hon. Gentleman has put that point, but I do want to point out that in so many cases it is assumed, when you are speaking of legal bodies, that they must always be gentlemen. We have now bodies of legal ladies, and this is the kind of work which is emphatically their sort of job. If the right hon. Gentleman will bear that in mind, I shall be willing be withdraw this Amendment.
I beg to move, in page 26, to leave out lines 1 to 8 inclusive.
This Amendment is on a slightly different matter, and it is one on which I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain what he meant by the statement which he made previous to the time when I withdrew my Amendment on Clause 21 with regard to cohabitation. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that what I was asking for would be covered on Clause 23, and I thought that was so, but I did not notice that after the word "conclusive" in page 25, line 44, there was not a full stop but a colon, and that over the page there were provisoes. There are three provisoes in regard to the award. People will not be able to make an appeal first if it is on a matter on which the Minister's decision is final under the Act; secondly, on any matter which by this Act is a matter within the discretion of the Minister: and thirdly what is obvious and what is already happening under Section 89 of the Insurance Act.
I want to be quite sure, and I moved this Amendment in order to have an explanation from the Minister that these provisoes do nothing to militate against the right of a woman to appeal on this cohabitation Clause, or on any other matter in the Bill. We do not want to find, when this Bill is passed and when some of us wish to take up cases where we feel that very real hardship has been done, that the appeal is barred because it is stated to be a matter within the discretion of the Minister. This seems to me to be a very dangerous Clause, and I would like to have an explanation from the Minister as to whether he could see his way to give us some absolute guarantee that on these matters the woman shall not be debarred from making her appeal.
The words that the hon. Member uses seem to carry us still further, so far as the limiting point in Clause 21 is concerned, and I must protect myself. In Clause 18 there is a provision that the decision of the Minister is to be binding and final. We have already passed that Clause, and it is quite impossible, she will see, that an appeal should lie against a final and conclusive decision. Again, this proviso says that matters which are left in the discretion of a Minister are not to be subject to an appeal. That, of course, is Clause 6, where the Minister has to decide certain cases where children's allowances are to be diverted. But so far as Clause 21 is concerned I am advised that nothing in this proviso will in any way prevent the woman under Clause 21, Sub-section (2), from making an appeal to the Court of Referees where proceedings under Clause 33 have not been made, and where her pension has been stopped by reason of alleged cohabitation. I am not quite certain whether the words of Sub-section (2) in Clause 21 are as clear as might be, and I have already given an undertaking to the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) to look into that.
This hon. Member is not so easily satisfied, by this concurrence of opinion among the gentlemen. What I am concerned about is somehow to see that these women are not going to be done out of their rights, because of scandalmongering among their neighbours. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I have been moving Amendments consistently throughout this Bill to protect these women. I am very glad to have his assurance that he is going to safeguard the women so far as Clause 21 is concerned, but with regard to Clause 6 there is this difficulty again, that it is this type of case that may come before the Minister, and I gather that you may have a woman's pension taken off for presumably immoral conduct, and she may find herself without an appeal. I do not want to press this Amendment as it stands, but I do want to say that it does seem to me urgent that we should have this appeal safeguarded at every point. If we do not, we shall find ourselves when this Bill has gone through with all sorts of people left out and the appeal absolutely impossible for them. We had a similar sort of case under the Ministry of Pensions. There are very bad cases. We are most anxious to have no Statute-barred cases under this Bill. I would ask the Minister whether he would not be prepared to take this Clause back and re-draft it so that it might come up again on the Report stage.
I am sorry that I disagree with the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) who said that this Clause was all right. I take a very serious view of this Clause. There are three different cases to which this proviso applies. The first is the decision of the Minister where the Act makes it final and conclusive. I do not profess to have every word of the Act in mind, but there is no Clause in this Bill which expressly gives a discretion to the Minister in any matter whatever. The only way in which any discretion arises is by the use of the word "may." If the Minister looks at Clause 21, on which I think he intends to give the right of appeal, he will find the words that if the woman is convicted the Minister may cancel the pension.
I am much obliged. I have read the wrong portion of it, because there are many Clauses—I have marked a great many of them, 6, 17, 23, quite a number—in which there would appear to be a discretion given to the Minister. Take 6 first. There the only words are that a representation has been made, the Minister may direct. That is in line 10. Lower down in Subsection (3) and again in Sub-section (4), he may direct. They are all on different points. I think that it ought to be made quite clear. Is it intended, where the Act says the Minister may do something, that that is to be a matter within his discretion? If so, that applies to practically every one of these Clauses. The difficulty I feel is, that where discretion is given by a Clause as in Clause 21, or in Clause 23, under which there may be orders prescribing what may be the effect of a woman being resident in different parts of the country, a discretion is given to the Minister, and it would relate to a pension, it would be an award or decision in respect of a pension from which there would be no appeal. Therefore, it seems to me that there would be no appeal given by Clause 28.
No, as I understand, the point which we are discussing is this, in what places there are appeals, and I think that the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) is anxious to know in which cases of decisions by the Minister there is an appeal. So far as I understand it, there is to be no appeal in any case where a Minister may make an order. They are all, I understand, to he discretionary, within the meaning of this proviso. If that be so, it would appear to cut out cases in which the Minister may make Regulations dealing with various matters. For instance, under Clauses 17 or 23, and in many other oases, apparently, there is to be no appeal from any of them. If that be so, I think that a great many people were under the impression, as I certainly was, that this Clause was not intended to apply to cases where the Act expressly stated that the matter was within the discretion of the Minister. For that reason I have been looking through the Bill to see if there are any cases in which dis-
cretion is given to the Minister, otherwise than I have stated, and I can find none. The Minister will find the proviso curiously worded in that portion which uses the words "final and conclusive." The words are
any matter as to which the decision of the Minister is by this Act made final and conclusive.
or any matter which by this Act is a matter within the discretion of the Minister.
There is an enormous number of Acts of Parliament in which discretion is expressly given—such and such a matter shall be left to the discretion of the Minister—and I understand, reading this Clause, and the proviso that it was limited to cases in which there was an express discretion given to the Minister by the Act. Now that he says that it is intended to cover every case where you have the word "may" it makes it very much wider. A great many hon. Members did not quite appreciate it. I certainly was under the impression that it simply affected matters in which something was loft to the discretion of the Minister.
I am advised that there is only one case in which express discretion is given to the Minister, and that is under Clause 6, but we have amended Clause 6 and made provision for hearing any person who is concerned. So far as the regulations or orders are concerned, there is no appeal against them. They have to be laid on the Table of the House.
I wish to make the matter clear. It seems to me that you may have two cases like this. You may have the case of a woman who is cohabiting with a man, and, as the Minister says, her pension stops. But suppose you have a case under Clause 6, where the local authority claim that the woman is not fit to bring up her children, because she is engaging in immoral conduct, and is cohabiting with several men—you may put it like that—in one case you have an appeal, and in the other you have not. It seems to me that the two cases are on all fours. What we are trying to secure is that we shall not have a woman's pension taken away from her without her having the right of appeal. In one case does the Minister mean to say, because somebody may appeal before him on the woman's behalf, that that is sufficient to do away with the woman's right of appeal, because if so would it not be the case that you have two different sets of authorities under the Bill? The Minister judging one case, and an almost exactly similar case being sent before the Court of Referees.
I do not know whether we are in order in discussing again Clause 6, but the hon. Member is incorrect in saying that the two classes of case to which she refers are identical or even similar. In one case the pension is going to be taken away, in the other case under Clause 6, there is no question of taking away the pension. The question is whether the pension is to be paid to the woman, or to some other person in the interests of the children. What we have provided is that the woman shall have an opportunity of stating her case to the local authority, and if the local authority have not given her the opportunity of stating her case personally, then the Minister shall give her that opportunity. In that way the mother's interests are protected.
I wish to clear up what I think is a misapprehension. All I said was that this proviso does not affect the case where the Minister has discretion, and it is unnecessary to say so. If the Minister has discretion there is no appeal from his discretion, but of course I accept the assurance which the Minister has given.
Mr. T. THOMSON:
I beg to move, in page 26, line 37, to leave out the word "four," and to insert instead thereof the word "thirteen."
Paragraph (c) of Sub-section (1) authorises the Minister to make payments before a pension is authorised between the time the claim comes in and the date of final adjudication, for a period not exceeding four weeks. A month is not a sufficiently long time to provide for the negotiations that may take place, and this Amendment suggests a period of 13 weeks. If the right hon. Gentleman cannot increase the period of 13 weeks, perhaps he will increase the very limited period of four weeks. All of us who have experience in connection with claims made for unemployment insurance or pensions know that often a considerable time elapses between the original making of the claim and its final settlement. Four weeks is a very limited time, and as the matter is entirely within the discretion of the Minister, he will not be giving anything away by agreeing to an extension of time.
I beg to move, in page 26, line 41, at the end, to insert the words
(d) for providing for the apportionment as between the appropriate national health insurance fund and the pensions account of sums received on account of contributions; and.
The purpose of this Amendment is to make an apportionment between the different funds in the case where there are stamps of the same denomination used for different purposes.
I beg to move, in page 27, line 13, at the end, to insert the words
(f) for applying with the necessary modifications to deposit contributors the provisions of the National Health Insurance (Prolongation of Insurance) Act, 1921.
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has brought in this Amendment. He will probably remember that we raised the issue of the deposit contributor during recent Debates. The money available under the prolongation of Insurance Act of 1921 for the ordinary member of an approved society comes from a given source. I am wondering whether the money for the purpose here will come from the same source, and whether the deposit contributor in this case will fare quite as well as the member of an approved society. Will there be any differentiation in making up the amounts which will retain this person in benefit? I would like to see the deposit contributor in the same position as the member of an approved society.
There is one other point which is still rather in doubt. This Prolongation of Insurance Act has become a Statute upon which vast issues will depend, on which in fact the whole of the rights of hundreds of thousands of persons will depend. Yet that Act is merely an annual Statute, which was originally timed to come to an end in 1922, but has been renewed each year in the Expiring Laws Continuance Act. I have already heard suggestions from some societies that they wish the Prolongation of Insurance Act to be brought to an end before very long.
They were informal suggestions. Is it intended that this Act shall be continued from year to year merely as an annual Statute? I would like to know whether the Government has any intentions on that matter, and in case of the disposal of the Prolongation of Insurance Act, how they would deal with the situation that arises.
With regard to the question put to me by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), there is no money required for this purpose. In reply to the other question, it is the intention that the Prolongation of Insurance Act should be kept in existence for the present.
I beg to move, in page 29, line 29, to leave out Subsection (5).
We have had, right through this Bill. statements from the Minister as to new crimes that he is proposing to add—crimes for which people, and particularly women, can be punished. Under this Clause the right hon. Gentleman is proposing to take away a right that a husband and wife have in common-that they shall not be called as witnesses against each other. I am aware that there is a very limited number of cases in which a woman may be called to give evidence against her husband or a husband called to give evidence against his wife. This right under common law has been so jealously guarded that, the Minister ought not, without very grave reasons indeed, to add to the number of cases in which the right may be forfeited. Before this right is done away with, we should have a very good reason assigned by the right hon. Gentleman. I think he would be well advised to withdraw this Sub-section. I speak as a very new Member, but one really gets horrified as one sits in this House day after day and learns the number of new things for which we are constantly asked to punish people. Here we are continuing to do that; we are proposing to take away common law rights that have existed for generation after generation.
the hon. Member has moved this Amendment. I fully expected that it would be moved from some quarter of the House in any case, because, at first sight, it does seem a very strong order that a husband or wife may be called as a witness, the one to give evidence against the other. The real explanation is that you have to try to protect your insurance scheme against fraud, and that in many cases the wife or husband is practically the only person who can give evidence which will enable you to clear up a case. This fact has been recognised already. Possibly the hon. Member is not aware that in the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1922, in Section 11, there is a precisely similar provision. Therefore, we are not creating a new precedent, but following an old one.
|Division No. 288.]||AYES.||[7.42 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Goff, Sir Park|
|Albery, Irving James||Chapman, Sir S.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Chilcott, Sir Warden||Grace, John|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Clarry, Reginald George||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H.(W'th's'w, E)|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Clayton, G. C.||Greenwood, William (Stockport)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cooper, A. Duff||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Cope, Major William||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R.(Eastbourne)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bethell, A.||Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Harland, A.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Harrison, G. J. C.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Handarton, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Drewe, C.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Herbert. S. (York. N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||England, Colonel A.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Brings, J. Harold||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Brown, Maj. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Fielden, E. B.||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Finburgh, S.||Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Fleming, D. P.||Howard, Capt. Hon. D. (Cumb., N.)|
|Burman, J. B.||Forrest, W.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Huntingfield, Lord|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Kurd, Percy A.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Fraser, Captain Ian||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midl'n & Peebles)|
|Cassels, J. D.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Jacob, A. E.|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld.)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Nuttall, Ellis||Storry Deans, R.|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Oakley, T.||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Styles, Captain H. Walter|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Sykes, Major-Gen, Sir Frederick H.|
|Lamb, J. O.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Col. George R.||Pennefather, Sir John||Templeton, W. p.|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Perring, William George||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell.|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Loder, J. de V.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Lougher, L.||Pielou, D. P.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Pilcher, G.||Vaughan-Morgan. Col. K. P.|
|Lynn, Sir R. J.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Waddington, R.|
|MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Price, Major C. W. M.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|MacDonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Macintyre, Ian||Rentoul. G. S.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Rice, Sir Frederick||Wells, S. R.|
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|MacRobert, Alexander M.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Maitland, Sir Arthur O. Steel-||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Malone, Major P. B.||Ropner, Major L.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Ruggles Brise, Major E. A.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Mailer, R. J.||Sandeman, A. Stewart||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Merriman, F. B.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Meyer, Sir Frank||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Wood, Rt. Hon. E.(York, W. R., Ripon)|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Wood, E. (Chester, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Shepperson, E. W.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon B. M.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Skelton, A. N.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Wragg, Herbert|
|Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n& Kinc'dine, C.)||Young, E. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Murchison, C. K.||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Neville, R. J.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Captain Douglas Hacking and|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G.(Westm'eland)||Major Hennessy.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Groves, T.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Grundy, T. W.||Oliver, George Harold|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Paling, W.|
|Amman, Charles George||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hardie, George D.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhamton, Bilston)||Harris, Percy A.||Potts. John S.|
|Baker, Walter||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Richardson. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Riley, Ben|
|Barnes, A.||Hayday, Arthur||Ritson, J.|
|Barr, J.||Hayes, John Henry||Robinson. W. C (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Batey, Joseph||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hirst, G. H.||Sexton, James|
|Broad, F. A.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Bromley, J.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Charleton, H. C.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Clowes, S.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Rennle (Penistone)|
|Compton, Joseph||Kelly, W. T.||Snell, Harry|
|Connolly, M.||Kennedy, T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Cove, W. G.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stamford. T. W.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kenyon, Barnet||Stephen, Campbell|
|Dalton, Hugh||Kirkwood, D.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lansbury, George||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawson, John James||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Lee, F.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Dennison, R.||Lowth, T.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Duncan, C.||Lunn, William||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Dunnico, H.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Thurtle, E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mackinder, W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Gibbins, Joseph||MacLaren, Andrew||Viant, S. P.|
|Gillett, George M.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Gosling, Harry||March, S.||Warne, G. H.|
|Greenall, T.||Maxton, James||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Montague, Frederick||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Whiteley, W.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Wilkinson, Ellen C.||Wilson, H. J. (Jarrow)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Williams, David (Swansea, E.)||Windsor, Walter||Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. B.|
|Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)||Wright, W.||Smith.|
I beg to move, in page 29, line 30, after the word "may," to insert the words "with his or her consent."
Possibly I am championing a hopeless cause in this Amendment after the Division which we have just had, but move it in the hope that between now and the Report stage, what I say may have some influence upon the Minister in charge of the Bill. Nor do I like to run away from an Amendment which I have put on the Paper. I feel strongly against this part of the Bill. Here we have an offence which may possibly be committed either by a husband or a wife and without his or her consent, husband or wife, as the case may be, can be called upon to give evidence against the accused partner. I disagree with the argument of the Minister, and with every respect, he only seemed to strengthen my opinion against the Clause as its stands. He said he desired to have this provision retained in the Bill because it is the only way of convicting a husband or wife in these cases. I think that is a very serious matter to have on the Statute Book a Clause which is admitted by the responsible Minister to be the only possible way of convicting a husband or wife, and which does so by putting the other partner into the witness box. We do not wish to encourage perjury in our courts of law. I only speak as a bachelor, but I put it to any married man in this House that if he were called upon against his will to give evidence against his wife, it would only be human nature to tell a lie if he thought it would get her off. I should not think very much of the husband if he did not, and yet if he did, he might make himself liable to a charge of perjury. I go further and I put this proposition to any legal Member of the House. If either husband or wife were charged with perjury and found guilty and if the perjury had been committed in a case of this kind in which either husband or wife had given evidence unwillingly, I do not believe there is a Judge on the Bench who would send that person to prison. My Amendment does not go as far as that of the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson). It will be possible under my Amendment to call a husband or wife for the prosecution; and all I seek to provide is that they should not be called one against the other without consenting to give evidence.
I support the appeal of the Mover of the Amendment, and I hope the Government will see their way to reconsider this matter before the Report stage. Anyone who has practised in the courts of law knows that there are two alternatives in this matter. If the husband and wife are a happy and united couple, then husband or wife will lie up to the hilt in order to get the other party off in court, and I agree with my hon. Friend that any husband or wife who would not do it would be a most despicable person. On the other hand, if the husband and wife do not agree, and are leading a life of disunion, and if one wants to get rid of the other—as occasion ally happens—then this Clause lends itself to a sort of matrimonial blackmail. That is the dilemma in which you are placed in cases of this sort, and it should cause the Government to reconsider their position. This Clause is not vital to the Bill. If it were I would not support the Amendment, but I think it expresses what I would call the departmental view, which is that you should obtain convictions. That is not my view. My view is that there are many things more important than punishing people for technical offences, and I appeal to the Government to reconsider the Clause.
Naturally I attach great weight to the remarks made by my hon. and learned Friend who has just spoken, and whose wide experience in legal matters we all know, but I would point out that this Amendment—to which I noticed the hon. and learned Member did not address himself—proposes to insert the words, "with his or her consent," which would make this provision useless, and I would remind the Committee that the provision is for the protection of the fund. Although I belong to what is called the lower branch of the legal profession— so-called I think because the fees are lower—I think the hon. and learned Member will agree with me that this Amendment, if carried, would be practically a reversal of the decision which the Committee has just made. Therefore, I must ask the Committee on the same grounds on which they rejected the last Amendment to reject this Amendment also. I would point out that it is only when it has been shown to the satisfaction of the court that there has been an offence, whatever the evidence may be, that any conviction follows. If, as the hon. and learned Member has suggested, wife or husband in every case is going to stand by the accused partner, then no consequences can follow. It is only when an offence has been committed that conviction will take place.
I am referring to what has been said. It is said that the husband or wife will stand by the accused partner in every case, and I point out that if that was so no convictions would follow.
No. The hon. Member must certainly not put that upon me. I have not made the statement that if husbands or wives are called in respect of their own domestic difficulties and troubles, they are going to commit perjury. That was the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman. All I am saying is that if they are going to take up the attitude suggested, no evil consequences under this Bill so far as they are concerned will follow.
With all due respect, I do not agree with that statement at all. A husband or wife may commit perjury and in the hands of a clever King's Counsel may be broken down on cross-examination and a perjury charge may follow.
I must say that if that sort of thing happens I am one of those who believe that where perjury has been committed consequences must follow. I think the Committee ought to have in mind also the protection of this fund. It is very easy to say that a husband or a wife ought to be protected, but it is only when an offence has been committed that they are liable to any consequences and it is a matter of equal importance to endeavour to protect this fund as far as we can.
With great respect, I submit that my hon. Friend is wrong. This Amendment would not render the Clause nugatory, because it would still enable the wife to be a, competent witness. This Amendment, while allowing the husband or wife to be a competent witness, would not compel them to give evidence against one another. I believe in going back to Conservative principles. One of the old fundamental principles of our common law, which has been incorporated in Statutes repeatedly, and has been hardly impinged upon by any legislation in modern times, is that husband and wife cannot be compelled to give evidence against one another. It is deeply rooted in English law, and is based, not upon caprice, but upon a great principle dear to Members on this side, namely, the sanctity of the home. What will be the effect on any English home if a husband or wife is forced to give evidence against his or her spouse? It is bound to lead to disturbance in the home, bad blood and ill-feeling, and will rankle, and I say, before you impinge upon one of the elementary principles of English law, you want a far stronger case than my hon. Friend has made out. The number of cases in which the Sub-section could be applied is exceedingly small, and it seems altogether an insufficient reason for interfering with what has been one of the historic principles of English law, which is based, not on mere caprice or legal technicalities, but on long experience as to what effect husband and wife giving evidence against each other would have upon them and the home. For that reason, I doubt whether any lawyer in the House, or, indeed, any Conservative would vote against the Amendment.
I only want to add my plea to the Minister to accept this Amendment. I endorse most thoroughly every word which has just been said by my hon. and learned Friend that this is a most unusual thing, and it offends against, I will not say the Conservative principle, but against that great principle of civilised human nature, that husband and wife are one, and to make it compulsory for one to give evidence against the other, particularly in cases of this kind dealing with pensions, on which the family have to rely, is, to my mind, almost beyond comprehension, and I cannot really imagine how my hon. Friend has ventured to defend this Clause, as he has done, and I hope He will reconsider it. Unfortunately, when these comparatively small points, but still points of great importance, arise in the Committee stage of a Bill, it is impossible to get any very considerable number of Members present who know really what is going on, and who vote otherwise in accordance with the Whip's directions; but this is a matter of principle, and I very much regret to say that I shall be obliged—it is the first time it has happened in this Parliament —to vote against the Government if they do not give in on this point. Even if we do not succeed, I hope the Conservative Members who have heard this discussion will take the same course. I would, however, make a further appeal to the Minister in charge to see if he cannot accept a slight Amendment to which we attach enormous importance, and which could make no difference whatever to the successful working of the Clause as a whole.
I must say I think my hon. and learned Friend has put his case very forcibly, and it is one to which I am personally quite prepared to give further consideration. I will undertake to pay attention to the arguments which have been used, and to reconsider this matter between now and Report, but I do deprecate the introduction of this particular Amendment in the Clause. It does not seem to make sense, and we have just defeated an Amendment to leave out the Sub-section altogether, which was the point to which my hon. Friend addressed himself.
I beg to move, in page 29, line 44, at the end, to insert the words
Provided that all orders made under this Act shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after they are made, and shall have effect as if enacted in this Act, and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after any such regulation is laid before it, praying that the regulation may be annulled, His Majesty in Council may annul the regulation, and it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.
This Clause is one to which we on these benches take the greatest objection, and is one to which, I think, we shall find objection is taken from the opposite benches, and one on which, I hope, the feeling of the Committee will have some effect upon the mind of the Minister. It is a Clause which gives the Minister power to make certain Orders, and the Amendment is of a very simple character, laying it down that, before these Orders become finally operative, they shall be laid upon the Table of the House for 21 days, and that if a Resolution be passed against them, then the Minister may annul them. If the Committee will read this Clause, they will see how extraordinary the nature of it is. It is, in fact, what we have called the, Mussolini Clause, and by it the Minister of Health is obtaining wider powers than Mussolini is claiming at this moment in Italy. That is not an exaggeration. In order to explain what I mean by that, may I read the Clause to the Committee?
If in any respect any difficulty arises in bringing into operation this Act, the Minister, with the consent of the Treasury, may by order do anything which appears to be necessary or expedient for bringing this Act into operation, and any such order may modify the provisions of this Act so far as may appear necessary or expedient for carrying the order into effect:
And then, at the end, the Minister has these powers conferred for about 18 months, which means that the Minister
may do anything in connection with this Bill as soon as it becomes an Act. He may raise the contributions if he wishes. He may diminish the benefits if he wishes. He can wipe out any Amendment we have carried. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes, he can do anything that is "necessary or expedient."
Until the Act is brought into operation the Minister may do anything. It means that, presumably, for about 18 months the Minister will have greater powers than this House itself possesses. I think I can predict the reply that the Minister is going to make. He is going to point out that the provision occurred originally in the National Health Insurance Act, and that it has been lifted from that Act into this Bill, and that the National Health Insurance Act period was longer. But the National Health Insurance Act was carried by a Minister who ought not to be quoted as a precedent at all. I think he was a Minister who would go as far as the House would allow in a direction of this sort.
I happen to have looked up the Debates of 1911 referring to this, and the hon. Member's statement is absolutely inaccurate. It is evident he has not read the Debate or recollected what happened. I may say, broadly, what happened was, that this Clause was carried in 1911, not under the Guillotine but in the early afternoon, without a single Member raising the point at all.
My hon. Friend still does not understand the position. He says we were the Gentlemen oppo- site. Does he not realise that his party were the Gentlemen opposite in 1911? This Act of 1911 was carried by the Liberals. The Conservative party was the Opposition, and, in allowing a proposal of this sort to pass without a word of debate, the Conservative Opposition gravely neglected its duty. Fortunately, the Opposition now is reasonable and efficient, and we cannot ourselves adopt the slip-shod methods which were good enough for the party to which the hon. Member belongs. The fact is, that there was a great deal more reason for incorporating this provision in the Insurance Act of 1911 than there is for putting it in this Bill, and the reason, as I have no doubt the Parliamentary Secretary knows, is that the Act of 1911 left this House in a state of chaos. I believe it was so stuffed with Amendments that it was doubled in size in passing through this House, and it was only by scouring the Civil Service of all its most able officials that it was brought into operation at all.
Under those circumstances, there might have been some reason for these extraordinary powers, but that is not the case here. This is a much simpler and shorter and more concise Measure, and while we have opposed it, I do not think it has been rendered unsymmetrical or damaged by the Amendments which have been carried. As was said in the last Debate, we are at a strategic disadvantage. We cannot get any general sense of the Committee at this stage of the Debate or at this time of the evening, but we have put down a very modest Amendment, simply asking that these Orders should be laid on the Table of the House for 21 days and, if a Resolution is passed in either House asking that an Order should be annulled, the Minister, if he thinks it politic, should accept the opinion of the House on the matter.
The hon. Member, with a slipshod practice which I am surprised to find in him, has attempted to attach to a Clause that is narrowly limited a general proviso that refers to all Orders that may be made under this Bill. Probably he had not looked to see what Orders might be made under the Bill.
There is an earlier Clause, and if he had looked he would have found that in Clause 17 the Minister has power to make Orders, and in that case the Orders go through the procedure which he has advocated for all Orders. It is, therefore, not necessary to alter anything in respect of Orders made under Clause 17. Clause 29, which he mentioned, is not a Clause which gives the Minister power to make Orders.
Regulations are not Orders, if he will allow me to direct attention to his own Amendment, which deals, not with Regulations, but with Orders. There are only two places in the Bill where Orders can be made. One is in Clause 17, where already the procedure which the hon. Member desires to adopt is laid down, and the other is in this Clause, which we are now discussing, and there is also an Amendment which I have put down to Clause 40, in which again the Minister may make an Order, and although these provisions are not therein inserted, I am quite prepared to put them in in that case. Now let us take this particular Clause with which we are dealing. The hon. Member says that this power was first put into the National Insurance Act, 1911, and ho does not want to take that as a precedent, because the Minister who introduced it was, I understood him to mean, capable of driving a coach and four through anything. But the hon. Member has not gone far enough back in his researches. This Clause started, not in 1911, but in 1888, and it is not only in the Local Government Act, 1888, and the National Insurance Act, 1911, but it is also in the Unemployment Insurance Acts.
Is it really anything to which any hon. Member need take exception? It is obvious that, in bringing into operation a scheme of this vast magnitude, which requires the setting up of new machinery, there may be difficulties which cannot be foreseen, and all that this Clause does is to allow the Minister to make modifications in the machinery and in the statutory requirements and matters of that kind to enable him to get the Act to start. I may point out that, as it is an emergency provision, the hon. Member's proposal would stultify the whole purpose of the Clause, and would make it impossible to do the very thing which it purports to do. Therefore, I hope I have convinced him that really we have taken, or are prepared to take all the measures that are necessary to see that Orders of a general character which are made by the Minister shall go through the full procedure that he has in mind, except this particular one, because if that procedure were adopted in this case, it would make it impossible to carry out the purpose for which this Clause is designed.
I think the right hon. Gentleman's estimate of the difficulties mentioned in the wording of this Clause 34 showed optimism, and I think he will find that they are more like barbed wire entanglements than anything else. I would appeal to him to give consideration, between now and the Report stage, to the question whether, instead of acting, as is provided in lines 39 and 40, "with the consent of the Treasury," the Minister should consider the desirability of using voluntary agencies such as exist under the Old Age Pensions Act. It appears to me to be entirely unnecessary to give power to the Minister, who in turn is governed by the Treasury. There seems to be the closest analogy between this Bill and the Old Age Pensions Act, and after 15 years' experience I am bound to say that I am only voicing the sentiments of my colleagues when I say that we have not unbounded faith in the Treasury. We do not regard them as custodians of the public purse. In London, we expended money in accordance with their ruling, and we had run into debt, but the Treasury did nothing to help us, and let us get out of our own trouble. To show that they do not exercise control, the London Old Age Pensions Committee did reorganise their re-establishment, and they wiped out a debt of £1,200, saving the country £3,000 in the case of a full year.
If this scheme is to be administered by the Minister "with the consent of the Treasury," I confess I have not very much faith in it. How do the Treasury appoint their officials? They issue secret instructions. We do not know what those instructions are, we cannot ascertain them, and, as far as we know, every officer is appointed under the Interpretation Act of 1871. I apprehend the same difficulty here. If you want to know how and why a certain decision is reached, you will be told it is the secret instructions of the Treasury. I submit that there ought to be nothing secret. People are contributing to this Fund, and—
The words referring to the Treasury are already passed, and the only question now is whether Orders, made with or without the consent of the Treasury, shall be laid before Parliament.
Just one word in addition to what has been said. The Minister told us that if this proviso were carried it would prevent him making any use of the Clause on the ground that the time that was taken up would be so long that he would fail to get the emergency measures that he proposed. That is not my reading of the Amendment. The Amendment especially provides in the last line
but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.
Therefore, as I read the Amendment, the Order made by the Minister prevails until it is annulled. The contention, therefore, that this would be a delaying
proposal seems to me to be quite devoid of foundation. I myself cannot see any difficulty in the way of the Minister accepting a proviso to this effect, because it does enable him to make these Orders and to enforce them. It only provides that these Orders shall be laid before the Houses of Parliament and that such operation as has already taken place shall not be rendered invalid in consequence. The number of cases in which there is a likelihood of the Order of the Minister being annulled is exceedingly small. This just preserves to Parliament what seems to me to be the rights of Parliament.
There is a point that my right hon. Friend might be prepared to consider. I recognise that in administering a matter of this kind there is a difference between the various kinds of Orders and Regulations which are required for that administration. There are usually two kinds of sections inserted dealing with the making of Orders and Regulations. I myself think that the form in which my hon. Friend has moved his Amendment is a practical form in view of the wide powers that it is proposed to take, but would the right hon. Gentleman not consider in view of what he said, and especially in view of what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for East Islington (Major Tasker). that it is advisable that in any Acts of Parliament there should be some such provision? If he is not prepared to accept the Amendment, will he be prepared to accept an Amendment which shall provide that the Order shall be laid before Parliament as from the date of the Bill becoming operative?
|Division No. 289.]||AYES.||[8.31 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife. West)||Clowes, S.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Cluse, W. S.||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Gibbins, Joseph|
|Ammon, Charles George||Compton, Joseph||Gillett, George M.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Connolly, M.||Gosling, Harry|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Cove, W. G.||Greenall, T.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillary)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Barnes, A.||Dalton, Hugh||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Barr, J.||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Griffiths. T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Batey, Joseph||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Groves, T.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Grundy, T. W.|
|Broad, F. A.||Day, Colonel Harry||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)|
|Bromley, J.||Dennison, R.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)|
|Buchanan, G.||Duncan, C.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Dunnico, H.||Hardle, George D.|
|Hastings, Sir Patrick||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, M.)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Naylor, T. E.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hayes, John Henry||Oliver, George Harold||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Owen, Major G.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Paling, W.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Potts, John S.||Viant, S. P.|
|John. William (Rhondda, West)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Riley, Ben||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Ritson, J.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Kelly, W. T.||Rose, Frank H.||Westwood, J.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Saklatvala, Shapurji||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Lansbury, George||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Whiteley, W.|
|Lawson, John James||Serymgeour, E.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Lee, F.||Sexton, James||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Livingstone, A. M||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Lowth, T.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Lunn, William||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Siteh, Charles H.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Mackinder, W.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Windsor, Walter|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Wright, W.|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|March, S.||Snell, Harry|
|Maxton, James||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Montague, Frederick||Stamford, T. W.||Mr. T. Kennedy and Mr. Warne.|
|Morris, R. H.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Albery, Irving James||Drews, C.||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Duckworth, John||Howard, Capt. Hon. D. (Cumb., H.)|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Huntingfield, Lord|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Evans, Capt. Ernest (WELSH Univer.)||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'ni & p'bl's)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Fanshawe Commander G. D.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Fleiden, E. B.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Bethell, A.||Finburgh. S.||Jacob, A. E.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Fleming, D. P.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Fraser Captain Ian||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Blundell, F. N.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Boothby R. J. G.||Ganzoni, Sir John||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lane-Fox, Colonel George R.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Goff, Sir Park||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Grace, John||Loder, J. de V.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E.)||Lougher, L.|
|Brockleband, C. E. R.||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Lynn, Sir R. J.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Macintyre, Ian|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Grotrian, H. B.||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Burman, J. B.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hall. Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D/ Steel-|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hammersley, S. S.||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Meller, R. J.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Harland, A.||Merriman, F. B.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Harney, E. A.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Harrison, G. J. C.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Harvey, Majors. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Haslam, Henry C.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hawke, John Anthony||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Cobb. Sir Cyril||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Murchison, C. K.|
|Collox, Major Wm. Phillips||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Neville, R. J.|
|Cope, Major William||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Oakley, T.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Waddington, R.|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Pennefather, Sir John||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Perring, William George||Skelton, A. N.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Pielou, D. P.||Spender Clay, Colonel H.||Wells, S. R.|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Price, Major C. W. M.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Williams, c. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Rawlinson Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Rees, Sir Beddoe||Storry Deans, R.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Styles, Captain H. Walter||Womersley, W. J.|
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Wood, E. (Chester, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Rice, Sir Frederick||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Ropner, Major L.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Turton, Edmund Russborough||Lord Stanley and Captain Viscount|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Curzon.|
|Sandeman, A. Stewart|
Question put, and agreed to.
May I put a question to the Minister of Health with reference to his speech, which I did not quite follow? He referred to some other Clause in which, I understood, there is no such provision as that which I propose, but in which he suggested he would insert such a provision. It was difficult for me to follow what he said. Would he say what the other Clause was, and whether the provision is there already, or whether he is going to insert it?
I am referring to Clause 40. I have on the Paper an Amendment to insert a new Sub-section (5), which has reference to the expenses incurred by a local education committee or a maternity and child welfare committee, and I have provided there that in the ease of a county council, if the Minister by order so direct, the expense may be an expense for special county purposes. That is the matter I am referring to. It is not in the Bill as printed.
I desire to oppose this Clause, for the following reasons. It is a Clause exempting widows both from health and unemployment insurance. I have read it very care- fully, and, as far as I gather, there are two classes of widows who will be entirely thus excluded-the widows of persons who die after the commencement of the operation of the Bill, and widows now in receipt of Service pensions in respect of the late War. I am not clear whether women who are in receipt of Service pensions include women whose husbands are disabled, or whether this is confined to widows only. Even if those two types only are included in this Clause, I think we ran make out a very strong case for its deletion. I will reduce a case to the concrete, so that the Committee may see how it works. Take the case, first, of a woman who is childless, and who loses her husband after the commencement of this Act. She will receive 10s. per week for life by way of pension under this Measure. That woman will obviously go into industry, but in spite of the fact that all the other workpeople around her are compulsorily insured for National Health Insurance and Unemployment Insurance purposes, she is not entitled to insure under either of those two schemes. It seems to me that there must be something wrong in such a provision. The fact that she is entitled to receive 10s. a week ought not to deprive her of other benefits, if she cares to pay for them. I also fail to understand why a widow is ruled out of the Health Insurance scheme, because that will prevent her obtaining sickness benefits, disablement benefit, or, maternity benefit-I do not know whether that case would arise-or any additional benefits provided by approved societies. There is still a bigger factor. Although she gets 10s. a week as a widow's pension in respect of the insurance contributions paid by her dead husband, she is deprived for life of any medical benefit at all under the panel system of the Health Insurance scheme.
This Clause contains a very much more important provision than I apprehended when I read it first. Can the hon. Gentleman give us an idea—I have not found it in the actuary's report—as to how many women there are in the first category, say—those who become widows after the commencement of the operation of this Act? If he cannot tell us the number of women of the type who would fall into this category for the first year, I am sure he is totally unable to say how many there will be in the second or third year, because this is a growing number. There are thousands, I should say scores of thousands, of women who, if they were not in receipt of this 10s. a week widow's pension would automatically and compulsorily be insured for National Health Insurance and Unemployment Insurance purposes. To deprive these women of the benefits of those two schemes merely because they are in receipt of that 10s. a week is a monstrous thing to do, and, in my view, this Clause ought not to be added to the Bill.
Let me pass to the other part of the case, which refers to women with children under 14 years of age who become widows after the commencement of this Act. If at all possible, those women ought to remain at home to mother their children. The idea of a widows' pension scheme that I always had was one that would give a pension sufficient to allow a woman who became a widow to mother her children in her own home. The pensions given under this scheme are totally insufficient to provide for the case I have mentioned. Take the ease of the widow with children under 14. That woman would be compelled to do something; and so far as Lancashire is concerned, she will enter industry in the mill or the factory after the death of her husband.
The case was made out at the commencement of the Debate that the childless widow would be a competing factor in the labour market. Surely if the argument was good enough that this typo of widow would compete in the labour market as cheap labour, she would be a much more attractive factor in the workshop if the employer is not called upon to pay any insurance payments in respect of her. We ought not to deprive these women of benefits in the way the Clause intends. I apprehend that this Government is guilty of one idea that ought to be dispelled for good —the idea that a large number of our people are becoming over insured. There is a deadly fear in this Government that the working people will receive too much money from the several schemes. I do not myself dismiss the idea of over insurance, but there is not a single one of our working people insured under any scheme yet provided who has reached the stage of being over insured, and I do not think 10s. a week ought to stand in the way of these widows being included for health and unemployment insurance.
I turn now to the second category where the wife of the ex-service man is included in this Clause, or where it is the case of a widow of the service man. I cannot understand in this case too why that type of widow should be excluded from health and unemployment insurance, because surely they also will enter industry. I ask the Minister in charge to give us an explanation of why these thousands of women are to be excluded. I know full well that all widows who fall into these two categories will not enter into industry, but scores of thousands of them will be excluded entering these two schemes who ought to be included by virtue of the fact that they will require the benefit probably more than any of the type of women who are included.
The hon. Member who has just sat down expressed some difficulty in understanding why the Government include this Clause in the Bill. I think I can explain it to him, and I hope at the same time I may be able to relieve some of his anxiety. The reason why the Government include this provision is because we feel that, where women are by virtue of this Bill already in receipt of a widow's pension, then it is not necessary to ask of them that they should contribute for further sickness or employment benefit when they have already got the widow's pension provided; for them under the Bill. The hon. Member said they would be deprived of medical benefit, but he is mistaken about that, because, being exempt persons, they are still entitled to medical benefit.
I am not quite sure on that point, but I will make inquiries. The hon. Member said that there would be an undue preference shown for these women in the labour market because the employers would have to pay less insurance, and that there would be a tendency to employ cheap labour. The answer to that question is that the employer does pay and the widow is exempt. The employer is still liable to pay the whole contribution just the same as he does in the case of a widow of an insured person. The widow gets off her share, but the employer pays just the same, and so that danger has been safeguarded against. The hon. Member asked whether it applied to the wives of ex-service men and my reply is "no." I think those are all the points put to me. With regard to the first case put by the hon. Member, here you have a person provided with a pension not as large as one would like it to be, but it is 10s., and we do not think that it is unreasonable in all the circumstances to make them contribute a weekly sum to ensure a further pension in the case of the double event of getting sick and unemployed. She would still benefit and draw her widow's pension, but we exclude her from that class. We do not relieve the employer from any liability and we do not remove her from the category of medical benefit. I think I have answered all the questions put to me except the one which I reserved and here is the answer. If employed within the meaning of the Insurance Act, being an exempt person, he will be entitled to medical benefit.
Take the position of a widow who has not been employed. She has no chance of getting medical benefit unless she becomes employed. Surely that is an inducement to women who may manage to squeeze a little extra earning by washing or doing light work to become an employed person in order to receive medical benefit. On the other hand, the widow who stays at home who makes a little money by cleaning here and there has no possibility of getting medical benefit.
The right hon. Gentleman has not given us the information we asked for with regard to the numbers. I regard it as being of some importance that we should have the estimated numbers in respect of these two categories to whom this Clause will apply. Then I think the Attorney-General, in his reply with regard to exempt persons, said that of course the argument used by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies) was already met by the fact that the employer was not exempt from contribution. I think the Attorney-General has failed to realise two points. First, that the employer will be compelled to pay in respect of persons who are otherwise exempt, and you will be placing a charge upon industry for which no benefits will accrue in respect of those in his employ. The right hon. Gentleman has not met the point which was made by the Member for Westhoughton with regard to this effect upon employment. Those who have experience in wage negotiations know that even the smallest additional charge per week by way of insurance affects such negotiations. Supposing that, in this case, widows, because of the very meagre amount of the pension given under this Bill, go back into industry. This class of widow is to be exempt from contributions, both to Unemployment Insurance and to Health Insurance, it may be to the extent of 6d. or rather more per week, and it will follow that very often they will be prepared to work for a slightly lower figure than those other classes of women who will be compelled under the law to pay these contributions, and we may be—I know it is only slight, but we have to keep our eye on these things—we may be in such a position that we are tending to bear down the general level of wages in industry. In fact, my hon. Friends again and again, during the Debates on this Bill, have pointed out that the pension is so meagre that widows will probably be driven into industry in greater numbers than has yet been realised, and, because they are getting some pension, they will probably be prepared to work at a lower figure, in many cases, than women who are not in receipt of any pension at all. I shall be glad, before we come to a decision on this, if the Attorney-General or the Parliamentary Secretary will reply to these points.
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for reminding me that I omitted to give him the figures. The figures are in the actuary's report in column 4 of Table III on page 14. The widows who are contributory pensioners-those are the people who come in-are 10,000 in the first year, and the number goes on increasing, of course, until in 1965 it reaches a, very large number, namely, 1,305,000, which is the biggest figure that appears in the Table. The figure would obviously increase year by year. It is only, as the hon. Member will realise, the contributory cases that we have to take here, because the non-contributory ones are exempted by the proviso in the Clause. Then the hon. Gentleman put it to me that there was really an objection to the payment of contributions, first of all because it was a charge on industry. He will forgive me for saying that that is a little changing the ground. The hon. Member for West-houghton (Mr. R. Davies) attacked me on the ground that we were not charging those contributions. He said that that was very wrong, because the effect would be to tempt employers to employ these people. I answered him by saying that that was a mistake, because we were charging contributions, and the next hon. Member gets up and says that that is very wrong because a charge is being imposed
on industry for no benefit. That, of course, is not quite accurate, because, although it is true that the employer pays the contribution, he pays exactly the same contribution in respect of these people as in respect of every other employé, and the money goes not into the coffers of the State, but into the Pension Fund, and, therefore, it does go towards providing pensions and other benefits. At any rate, it is a little difficult to satisfy both hon. Members.
The other suggestion was that the widow will be driven into industry by the provisions of this Bill, and will work for less than she otherwise would. The hon. Member will forgive me if I remind him that the widow here is getting 10s. a week more than if there were no Bill, and, therefore, that would hardly drive her into industry. So far as it goes, we hope that in some cases it may enable her to come out of industry. Another question that was put to me was as to widows who do not get employed, but who are carrying on-taking in washing, or something of that kind, was, I think, suggested. They would not be employed persons, and, therefore, could not come into health insurance or any other insurance, and with regard to them the answer is that which I gave earlier. I cannot hope to have satisfied the hon. Members, but I hope I have tried fairly to answer the questions which have been put to me.
|Division No. 290.]||AYES.||[9.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Buckingham, Sir H.||Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Albery, Irving James||Bullock, Captain M.||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Burgeyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Burman, J. B.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Burton, Colonel H. W.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Drewe, C.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Caine, Gordon Hall||Duckworth, John|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Campbell, E. T.||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Cassels, J. D.||Elliot, Captain Walter E.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith|
|Bethell, A.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Chapman, Sir S.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer. J|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Chilcott, Sir Warden||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Clarry, Reginald George||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Clayton, G. C.||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Fielden, E. B.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Finburgh, S.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Fleming, D. P.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Cope, Major William||Forrest, W.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Foster, Sir Harry S.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Col. George R.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Loder, J. de V.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Goff, Sir Park||Lougher, L.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Grace, John||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Macintyre, Ian||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ., Belfst)|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Hall, Vice-Admlral Sir R.Eastbourne)||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n s Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Malone, Major P. B.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Wlll'sden, E.)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Margesson, Captain D.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Harland, A.||Meller, R. J.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Merriman, F. B.||Storry Deans, R.|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Styles, Captain H. Walter|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Henderson, Capt. R.R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Morrison, H. (Wilts. Salisbury)||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Murchison, C. K.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir w. Mitchell-|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Neville, R. J.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Nuttall, Ellis||Waddington, R.|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)||Oakley, T.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Pennefather, Sir John||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Howard, Capt. Hon. D. (Cumb., N.)||Perring, William George||Wells, S. R.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Huntingfield, Lord||Pielou, D. P.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Pilcher, G.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Price, Major C. W. M.||Wilson. R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Hawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Jacob, A. E.||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Womersley, W. J.|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Rentoul, G. S.||Wood, E. (Chester, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Rice, Sir Frederick||Wragg, Herbert|
|Kennedy A. H. (Preston)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Roberts, Samual (Hereford, Hereford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Ropner, Major L.||Mr. F. C. Thomson and Lord|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Fenby, T. D.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Gibbins, Joseph||Lansbury, George|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Gillett, George M.||Lawson, John James|
|Ammon, Charles George||Gosling, Harry||Lee, F.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Greenall, T.||Livingstone, A. M.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Lowth, T.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lunn, William|
|Barnes, A.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Ab'ravon)|
|Barr, J.||Groves, T.||Mackinder, W.|
|Batey, Joseph||Grundy, T. W.||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Broad, F. A.||Hall, F. (York, W. R, Normanton)||March, S.|
|Bromley, J.||Hall. G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Maxton, James|
|Buchanan, G.||Hardie, George D.||Montague, Frederick|
|Charleton, H. C.||Harney, E. A.||Morris, R. H.|
|Clowes, S.||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Morrison. R. C. (Tottenham, North)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hayday, Arthur||Naylor, T. E.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Compton, Joseph||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Paling, W.|
|Connolly, M.||Hirst. G. H.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Potts, John S.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Riley, Ben|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Ritson, J.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Dennison, R.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Duncan, C.||Kelly, W. T.||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Dunnico, H.||Kennedy, T.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Kenyon, Barnet||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Sexton, James||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Sitch, Charles H.||Thurtle, E.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Smith, Ben (Sermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Tinker, John Joseph||Wilton, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Viant, S. P.||Windsor, Walter|
|Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Wallhead, Richard C.||Wright, W.|
|Snell, Harry||Watson. W. M. (Dunfermilne)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Stamford, T. W.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Stephen, Campbell||Westwood, J.||Mr. Hayes and Mr. Warne.|
|Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Whiteley, W.|
I beg to move, on page 30, line 21, to leave out from the word "Act" to the word "shall" in line 22
This Amendment proposes to deal with such part of the Clause as denies the right of unemployment benefit to an insured person having reached the age of 65. I suggest that this is a very serious step for the Government to take under such circumstances as I shall demonstrate. Here it is possible for an employed person to have been paying unemployment contributions for 12 or 13 years without ever having drawn any benefit, by reason of having had continuous employment, or having claimed a refund of such contributions, thereby still having, when bordering on the age of 65, a considerable amount of credit standing to his account under the unemployment insurance part of the Health Insurance Act. This Clause proposes that should such an insured person fall out of employment near the age of 65 after the commencement of this Bill, whatever credit may have accrued to his account, must be entirely lost and the insured person refused the benefit of such contributions. Having reached the age of 65 he must then come on the old age pension part of the Bill. Let me point out what that means in money values. Having contributed for a number of years he would have been entitled, as an unemployed person seeking full time employment being available for such employment and willing and able to perform it, to 18s. a week so long as he remained unemployed and was available for such employment. At once his 18s. under the Unemployment Act becomes 10s. under the Pensions Act. The injustice of this is rendered more serious owing to the fact that such an insured person cannot now apply for a refund of contributions standing to his credit. He must give up the whole of those contributions. He may, indeed, be one of those youthful middle-aged men available and readily re-absorbed into industry as soon as the opportunity presents itself. He will again be reabsorbed into industry possibly, but in each successive period of unemployment is not looked upon as an unemployed person within the meaning of the Unemployed Insurance Act but as an old age pensioner under this present proposal, so that you can quite see the difficulties that such an insured member is confronted with.
I suggest that it is cruel and unkind in the extreme, because at 65, if married, and with a wife less than 65, there would be an additional 5s. unemployment benefit for the wife. That would make 23s. per week, for which he has paid the higher contributions that came along and were imposed upon him when the fund showed a deficiency. I have not made the calculation, but I suggest it is possible for many pounds to stand to the credit of such an insured person in the Unemployment Fund and because, forsooth, he is 65 when this Bill becomes an Act, and operates as from the early part of next year, the income to the home is to be 10s., his old age pension, as against the possible 23s. for which he has made provision compulsorily under the Act. One can well see the serious hardship imposed in the Bill, because now oven were he to say "I must now appeal to the Guardians," if he goes there there, is another Clause which says the guardians must take the whole of these things into consideration, and they may not grant such relief as they would otherwise have done were it not for this money accruing, so that there is an handicap. There is a suggestion that the standard of living must be much lower than the one even established by the unemployment benefits under the Bill. I suppose we shall be told this is really a simplification Bill and is intended to draw in the rough fringes where there is a possible overlapping under Health, Unemployment and the present Bill. But in taking off those trimmings every time you attempt to prevent an overlap you are instituting to a much harsher degree the handicap and confusion prevailing at present in the minds of those who ought to be accepted to benefit under those respective Acts, and particularly the Unemployment Act, without any question. Is this Bill a reward for service? I could understand to some extent, but not entirely, if it were a case of an unemployed person having exhausted benefit for which ho had established a stamp right under the Unemployment Insurance Act. But this is not a question of extended benefit in cases over 65 years of age. I could understand the suggestion, although I do not entirely agree with it, but it would be fairer than the present proposals, if you said, "You have exhausted your right, and instead of conceding extended benefit, for which there is no established stamp right, we propose to pay you an old age pension at the age of 65 under this Bill." But so long as the person has an established stamp right, you have no right to introduce a Clause in this Bill, under a proposal for pensions for widows, orphans and old persons, to wipe out years of self-sacrificing contributions made by an insured person, and thereby to reduce the liability on the Unemployment Fund.
Is that the reason why you are proposing to reduce the contributions in regard to unemployment insurance in order to soften the handicap of the employers' contributions towards this particular pension? Has there been any agreement between the Government and the interests represented from the employers' side, and no consultations with the workers' side of the contributing element to the fund? You say to the employers, "We will reduce your liability." I have heard it said from the benches opposite that the employers need have no fear of the increased burden of contribution towards this fund, because it was the intention of the Government to lighten their burden in regard to the Unemployment Fund. You are lightening their burden there, but you did not say that you were going to lighten the responsi- bility of the fund, under this Bill, to meet its obligations. If that is the only way you have for bringing the Unemployment Fund to a state of stability and wiping out its deficiency, I am sorry for your human outlook in dealing with those who have contributed faithfully, on the expectation that they would have rendered to them at least the value of the contributions which they had made to the insurance scheme.
In 1911 you entered into a bargain for contributions to the Unemployment Fund, and you extended it in 1920. You said, "So long as you pay your contributions and conform to the conditions, we shall conform to our responsibilities and obligations and we shall see that the fund is used for that purpose." Now, you come along and you lead the people to believe they are going to have old age pensions at the age of 65, and that you are going to wipe out the, inquisitorial inquiries into the means limit. At the same time, you subtly introduce into a Bill of this kind a cruel intention, and instead of giving them 18s. a week when they are 65 you cut them down to 10s. You ease the Unemployment Fund of a liability and you ease the Old Age Pension Fund of a liability. I ask the Minister to take serious account of this matter. There are several unfair proposals in regard to need pensions and orphans who are dependants of persons killed through fatal accidents, and now you are imposing a hardship upon an unemployed person who reaches the age of 65.
Do not be so unfair in your dealings with these people. These people have been the stand-by of the nation in industry. You have cut enough of them out of unemployment pay by reason of their having turned the age of 60 and not likely to be re-absorbed. You have done enough damage to those people. Do not increase the damage by cutting down their allowance, whilst they have a stamp right, established by contributions, from 18s. to 10s. Where there is a wife in the house under 65, instead of the amount being 23s., for which contributions have been paid, they are only to receive 10s. It is hard, cruel and harsh. It is not a method of which any British Government ought to boast, or ought to be proud of introducing into a measure of social amelioration. It is misleading people into the idea that they are being protected and defended in the days of their decline and hardship. You cannot expect a working man at the age of 65 to have accumulated sufficient to invest, and from the interest of which he can make up the difference between 10s. and 18s., or possibly 23s., for himself and wife. As a thrifty man he has done his best, but under this Bill he is to be treated in a cruel manner, and the sooner people outside know of the cruelty, the better. The very least thing that the Government should do is to establish a right to claim a refund, with interest, of the amount standing to his credit before he is cut entirely adrift from the only resources open to him. Instead of giving these poor people a stable boat to carry thorn through the rough weather you are giving them a shaky old boat with a bucket or a pail, which may cause them to loosen their hold and sink into oblivion.
We have had some very hard things said about ourselves and about this Clause by the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hay-day). He has spoken of our hard, cruel, harsh, unkind conduct. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members may say "Hear, hear," but one wonders whether the real object of the speech was conveyed in the concluding remarks, when he said that he wanted the people outside to know. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Why not? Why should not they know the facts and not the misrepresentations which we sometimes hear from Socialist orators? There is, possibly, a more charitable view, and one which I would prefer to take, and it lies in the belief that the hon. Member has misunderstood the whole scheme of unemployment insurance. That is not an uncommon misconception. He spoke repeatedly of people who had paid for unemployment insurance for a long time without becoming unemployed. He spoke of the men who had paid in and had certain amounts standing to their credit. He said that everyone should get at least the value, plus interest, of their contributions to the Unemployment Fund. Of course, if you run an insurance company or an insurance scheme on the basis that everybody who pays in must get out at least what he paid in, it would follow that no one could get out more than he paid in, and what would happen to unemployment insurance?
The hon. Member will forgive me if I grossly misunderstood him. I think he finished up by saying that the very least we could do was to refund to these people the full amount they paid in. That was the least we could do. How much more we could do I am not clear. What I want to point out to the Committee is that no insurance scheme in the world was ever run on that basis. It is the essence of insurance that people are insured on an uncertain risk which will fall in varying degrees of intensity upon different persons who enter into the scheme. Some will get more out than they put in and some will put more in than they get out. Take an extreme case. Supposing one insures against accidents and sickness all one's life and then lives to a healthy old age and then dies. You have been paying in every week for it, may be, for many years to cover a risk which never happens, and the result is that you get nothing for all the money you have paid in. But it is a complete fallacy to suppose that you do not get the value of your contributions. The value is that you are covered against that particular risk. So it is when people pay in to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. This Clause merely provides that when people reach the age of 65 and become by virtue of this Bill entitled to a pension of 10s. a week, they shall from that date cease to have to pay any contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund and cease, of course, equally to have any right to claim unemployment benefit. In my submission there is nothing unfair or harsh or unkind or unreasonable in that proposal.
It is, of course, an essential part of the financial scheme of the Bill, because although the employé cease at 65 to pay in any contributions to the unemployment fund and although it is true that the employer's contribution ceases to be paid to the unemployment insurance fund, the employer continues to pay the equivalent, the same amount as he did before, only that the amount goes to the credit of the widows' and orphans' pensions fund and so enables that fund to be kept up. With equal logic the hon. Member might have protested against the proposal that, after 65 sickness and disablement benefit should cease, and, indeed, there was an Amendment which has not been moved which proposed to continue both. That was worked out actuarially, and I am told by the Actuary that the pension benefits which are given to these people between 65 and 70 are worth 3½ times as much as both sickness and unemployment benefit put together, so that the Committee can see how unkind and harsh we are in conferring this benefit. I am told, further, that if the full proposal had been made that this Clause be omitted and sickness and unemployment benefits were to go on just as before, in addition to old age pensions, it would involve an additional increase in contribution of 2d. a week for every man, and 1d. a week for every woman. I do not suppose anybody seriously proposes that that additional burden should be laid on the scheme. I hope that explanation will satisfy those who are really anxious to be satisfied, that this proposal is neither unjust, unreasonable, nor unfair.
I only want to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman, not a legal point, but simply an ordinary common-sense point. Reading this Clause it appears to me that it would be compulsory for a man at 65 to retire from industry. I want the right hon. Gentleman to help me. He is anxious that the public should know the facts. So am I. Does it follow from the right hon. and learned Member's speech that if a man is willing to work after 65 the employer is bound to pay in the full contribution to the State1? If so, is that not compelling the man to retire because the employer will have to pay bigger contributions for him?
No, Sir. There is no question of compelling anybody to retire and there is no question of increasing contributions. I was proceeding to explain that the employer will continue after the man is 65 to pay the same contributions as he did before, [An HON. MEMBER: "If he continues to employ him and not otherwise?"] Of course, if he continues to employ him and not otherwise, he will continue to pay the same payments as he did before. but there will be this difference, that the destination of the payment that will be given not to the unemployment insurance fund, because there will be no more insurance against unemployment, but it will go into the pensions fund, but the payments will be exactly the same as before.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON:
The right hon. Gentleman gives us a very ingenious defence of the Clause with regard to the ethics of insurance. He said, the essence of insurance was varying risks. Might I suggest to him that another essential part of insurance is sanctity of contracts? Is it not a fact that when these various people took out their insurance policies under the 1910 and 1911 Act it was then understood that if they continued their contributions they would receive unemployment benefit up to the age of 70? Therefore, I submit that they entered into their contract with the State, and that contract provided in effect that they should have unemployment insurance benefit up to 70, if not afterwards. There was no limit then that they should have to stop at 65, and because you subsequently bring in another Measure that may be perfectly right, and no doubt is. for policies taken out after that date, surely it does not invalidate policies taken out prior to that date. In the ordinary insurance world, if such a. proposal were brought forward it would meet with condemnation from all business men. Here is a contract entered into for the payment of certain premiums and for certain benefits to be paid. If it so happens that up to the age of 65 the worker has the misfortune not to draw anything—I gather from the right hon. Gentleman that he has no cause of complaint against the insurance, because he has the good luck not to require it—but if after the age of 65 he happens to have a misfortune and to fall out of work, surely he has the right to claim the full measure of unemployment benefit when that happens? I cannot see how any private insurance company could possibly justify the breaking of a bargain which has been entered into previously by saying we will give you some other policy which we think is as good for you, but which was not in the bargain. It may be desirable for everybody to retire at 65. [An HON. MEMBER: "Even the Attorney-General!"] That is not the question we have to consider, but surely it is a great interference with the rights of individual liberty for this or any Government to say in effect: "You must retire at 65!" That is the sum and substance of this particular Sub-section.
I do appeal to the right hon. and learned Gentleman to reconsider the position and, having regard to the fact that, if my assumption is correct, a contract was entered into with all insured persons that they should have unemployed benefit so far as they fulfilled their part of the bargain, you have no right to say that, because you introduce a pensions Bill which will give them a pension at 65, they must be denied the rights which otherwise would accrue to them. It does seem to me a case unanswerable in justice and in equity.
The Attorney-General said he hoped that we on these benches would be satisfied. I am afraid that that shows the standard of intelligence for which we are generally given credit by the opposite side. Surely hon. Members opposite must realise that large numbers of us who have had the administration of trade union funds are not caught quite so easily. The very form of the words which we are discussing proves clearly that the whole thing is a three card trick. It is the old dodge of political people to profess to be giving something to the working classes in this country, and then to take it away. The more this Measure is examined, the more the people of the country, whether we on these benches tell them or not, will realise by their own intelligence that they are being duped. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to suggest in his argument, not so much the mutuality which he claims for all insurance schemes, but that everyone was going to live to 65 to be in this position. May I remind him that a large number who have paid upon a mutual understanding will never receive the benefit for which they have paid, people who are sufficiently fortunate not to be in this great pool of unemployment. There are others who pass away happily from the toils of this great Christian land of ours before they reach that age, and their payments will go to the benefit of these people.
This is not only offering with one hand and taking away with the other, but it means forcing these men who have had no opportunity of preparing for old age into unemployment, when they may be fit for employment, on a very miserable amount of money indeed. It is taking away from them a proportion of that which they have paid, and scrapping them with an unlivable wage. This Measure would receive commendation from these benches if it were compelling the wage earner of 65 to go into comfortable retirement with a living retiring allowance. But it is not that. But it is to save these few paltry pounds, while they have given away within the last few weeks, millions to people who do not want it, to the detriment of these other people. It is something which the much abused trade unions would not do. We have benefits for which the men pay in addition to superannuation, men who can continue at work beyond our superannuation limit, and are entitled to sickness benefit and other benefits which are greater. As my hon. Friend the Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday) has said, we are not so cruel—I know the right hon. Gentleman objected to the word—as to say that we can save a few shekles from a man by forcing him to receive an old age pension on which he cannot live, and that the other benefits which he should receive we are going to take from him. We would not stoop to that.
I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman and those on the Front Bench to consider this and see if they are not rather riding for a fall. They suggest that we may tell the country. The country will know. Working people are not quite as ignorant or foolish as they used to be a few years ago. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] The applause from the Government Benches may suggest that we can be caught napping sometimes, but while you may fool all the people some of the time, and some people all of the time, you cannot fool all the people all the time. In these circumstances, apart from the retribution that is coming, here is a contract entered into. Working people have paid on a mutual understanding of benefit, and here you profess to give a benefit by taking away a greater benefit. It is not in accordance with what we hear about British sense of fair play. I do not know whether the attendants keep it out of this Chamber, but it does not percolate here as much as I would like to see it. If it had not been for the benefits, unemployment benefit, sickness benefit and old age benefit, paid by the trade unions of this country, you would have had the whole thing about you years ago. As we have stood in the breach so long, and now the State itself is attempting in a very stinted manner to do something, do not let it be said that the most powerful Government for years has sunk to this position of giving wealth to the wealthy, and a few weeks later, when professing to give something to the class which we have the honour to represent—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—it is true: we do represent them—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]
I agree that it is a restricted Amendment. Possibly, within the procedure of this House, it does not mean a great deal, but we see what it means to our people outside. We appeal for people who are robbed of their rights under an honourable agreement for which they have paid, and which they will not receive, and this is as cruel as my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment has stated. I appeal to the Government to do justice to people who are very short of justice.
I am wondering what the country will think of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, whose memory goes back to last year, when the then Chancellor of the Exchequer refused to give to people over 70, who were earning wages, any further consideration with regard to old age pensions. I remember the howl of indignation which came from hon. Members opposite, and how they claimed that old men of 70 could work and that they ought to have something at the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to enable them to go on. Probably, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Leicester (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) has said, the Government are doing this by agreement with the employers without ever consulting the ordinary workers. Let it be remembered that in everything which the trade union does, the old people have the first consideration, even without paying any contributions, so that they may have enough to have a reasonably comfortable existence at the end of their lives.
This Clause means that 90 per cent. of the workers of this country will be pauperised at the age of 55. What can a man or a woman of Go do with 10s. a week? It will not pay for a shelter above their heads. They will be left to the mercy, and, in many instances, more than the mercy, of their own fellows, who have always looked after these people. Common justice demands that these people, having made a contract with the State, should have a right to existence and should have that for which they have paid. But you are taking it away. The country has told you in the Forest of Dean that you are on the wrong lines as far as the workers are concerned. We are out to do our best to make it possible that every man and every woman, when he or she can toil no longer, will have a subsistence that will keep him or her in common decency. I will certainly do my best to tell the country exactly what this Government has done in this Bill.
There is one point that has been overlooked. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment said it was very unfair that people at the age of 65, who had credit standing to their names under the Unemployment Insurance Act, should not be allowed to get any refund. That was the effect of what he said. He certainly referred to a refund, and asked the Government to consider the possibility of allowing these people to get a refund. I would remind him that the right to future refunds under the Unemployment Insurance Act was abolished by the Labour Government last year, and, therefore, if he has any complaint on that score, it certainly does not lie against the present Government.
I do not think the Government ought to make the position of any person worse, by the passing of this Bill, than it was previously. That should be an accepted principle. Let me show what may happen. When this Bill is passed you may find people either drawing unemployment benefit at 65, or on the verge of drawing it. As has been said, a man and his wife may be drawing 23s. a week, for which they have paid. Immediately on the passing of this Bill you are going to cut that down from 23s. to 10s.
The hon. and gallant Member for Bootle (Lieut.-Colonel Henderson) usually tries to be smart. In this case he has failed. He blamed the Labour Government for abolishing the refund. The Labour Government at any rate did not stop the insurance and stop the refund also. That is what this Government is doing.