Orders of the Day — Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions [Money].

– in the House of Commons on 1st November 1929.

Alert me about debates like this

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 71A.

[Mr. ROBERT YOUNG in the Chair.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That for the purpose of any Act of the present Session to make provision for amending the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1925, Section three of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1908, Section three of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1919, and the enactments regulating the right to become a voluntary contributor under the National Health Insurance Acts, 1924 to.1928, it is expedient—

  1. (a) to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament into the Treasury pension account constituted under Section eleven of the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1925, of the following sums, that is to say:
    1. (1) for the year ending the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-one, the sum of nine million pounds;
    2. (2) as respects the period of twelve years next succeeding, for the first year of the period the sum of ten million pounds, and for each successive year of the period a sum greater by one million pounds than the sum payable under this resolution for the year immediately preceding;
    3. (3) for each of the next three succeeding years the sum of twenty-one million pounds;
    4. (4) thereafter such sums as Parliament may hereafter determine; and
  2. (b) to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of such sums as may be payable by virtue of the said Act of the present Session on account of old age pensions payable under the Old Age Pensions Act, 1908 to 1924; and
  3. (c) to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of such additional sums as may, by reason of the provisions of the said Act relating to the right to become a voluntary contributor under the National Health Insurance Acts, 1924 to 1928, be required for the purposes of those Acts."—[King's Recommendation signified.]

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

The House yesterday gave a unanimous, and I might almost say enthusiastic, assent to the Second Reading of the Bill. I do not remember ever having seen the House in so wildly generous a mood as that in which it was last night. From every part of the House there were loud cries that the expenditure should be increased. I am aware that, as far as the Opposition were concerned, they had a certain flavour of irony; but from the benches behind me and in the two very important speeches delivered from the benches below the Gangway opposite—and perhaps, in parenthesis, I might say how much we welcomed the excellent and thoughtful speech of the hon. Member for Flint shire (Mr. Llewellyn-Jones)—from both those quarters of the House there came heartfelt and sincere demands that a great deal more money should be spent on these laudable objects. This is the day after; this is the morning after last night; and it now falls to me to put before the Committee the serious facts with regard to the expenditure involved.

Now that hon. Members have the Financial Resolution in their hands, they will see that it is divided into three heads. Paragraph (a), which deals with the overwhelming bulk of the expenditure, is concerned with Exchequer contributions under the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act. The expenditure dealt with in paragraphs (b) and (c) is much smaller, and un certain in amount. It concerns the sums to be paid under the Old Age Pensions Acts and under the National Health Insurance Acts. Paragraph (a) is of very great financial importance and is definitely estimated. I will begin with the major subject of to-day's business.

We are proposing to impose new obligations of a very heavy kind on the Exchequer. We are also taking the opportunity of putting the finances of the 1925 Act on a sounder and more satisfactory basis. I will begin with the second consideration. I am now going to say a word or two about the progressive burdens on the Exchequer imposed by the 1925 Act, the manner in which the late Government proposed to meet those obligations and the changed manner in which the present Government proposed to meet them. Section 11 (3) of the Act of 1925 provides that a sum of £4,000,000 a year shall be paid annually for 10 years from the Exchequer to the Pensions account and, thereafter, such sums as Parliament may determine. That provision represented, not the actual amount which would in any one year fall to be paid out of public funds, but the total Exchequer expenditure for the 10 years in question divided by 10. The expenditure under the old scheme rose rapidly, is still rising and will continue to rise for a considerable period as soon as Old Age Pensions become payable to persons between the ages of 65 and 70 and as fresh classes of the insured attain the age of 65 and as new individuals die and leave widows behind them. There were certain deductions to be made from the total sums as the class of pre-Act widows passed away, but those deduction were very small and did not prevent the general rise in expenditure, though they perhaps made it a little irregular. The expenditure for the purpose of the 1925 Act was somewhat overestimated by the Government actuaries in 1925. We have now had a year of actual experience. In the light of this experience the estimate has been revised and it is now estimated that the expenditure under the 1925 Act will reach rather more than £13,000,000 a year in the 10 years from 1936 to 1945.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

How much does that differ from the original estimate?

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

I cannot say off hand, but somewhere in the neighbour hood of 20 per cent.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

20 per cent. of what?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

Cannot we have some sort of idea as to the number of million pounds?

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

The estimate of the number of pre-Act widows was too large. I will give you the exact figures in a moment. It is between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000 a year.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

Between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000 less than was anticipated?

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

Yes. In the revised Estimates the amount will be an average of £13,000,000 a year in 1936. There would, therefore, be a violent jolt in the country's finances if we passed from an expenditure of £4,000,000 in one decennial period to an expenditure of £13,000,000 in the next. The Committee may like to have some light on this point because it is extremely important. The explanation of the sudden jump in the Exchequer contribution from £4,000,000 to £13,000,000 is in this wise. The original Contributory Pensions Act was passed in 1925, and the provisions imposing payment by employers and employed persons of contributions for pensions purposes came into operation on 4th January, 1926, but the payment of pensions under the Act only became operative in stages. Thus pensions to widows became payable from 4th January, 1926, while Old Age Pensions at ages from 65 to 70 did not become pay able until January, 1928. In con sequence of this, the amount of contributions collected from employers and employed persons during the first two years and a quarter exceeded the amount needed for pensions in those two years, and the surplus thus caused was available towards meeting in part the excess of the cost of pensions over the amount of contributions collected from employers and employed persons.

The late Government's plan was to eat up the surplus of the early years wholly in the first decennium and leave the future to take care of itself, with the consequence of the violent jolt in the national finances to which I have referred. We are proposing, as I said, to impose new obligations on the Treasury, but are also proposing to remedy the financial inconvenience which I have out lined. The Chancellor of the Exchequer desires to make it quite certain that if, as appears highly probable, he is in charge of the nation's finances in 1936, he will not be called upon to face the Budgetary inconvenience that so sudden a jolt would cause. Paying as you go is not nearly as pleasant a process as leaving the future to take care of itself, but the Government believe it is a far more wholesome and proper course for the country to pursue. With this double end in view, of imposing a new burden and preventing a sudden rise in any particular year in the Treasury contribution, we propose that the Exchequer contribution shall be raised to £9,000,000 for the year 1930–1, that the next year it shall be £10,000,000, the year after that £11,000,000, and that it shall increase by £1,000,000 a year up to the year 1943. The scheme will then be approaching stability. We cannot say within one year or even two years that the scheme is absolutely stable, but we believe that £21,000,000 a year will be sufficient for the three years 1943 to 1946, and there after future Parliaments will have to consider the matter and decide what contributions shall be paid. We budget for a steady rise in expenditure up to £21,000,000 from 1943 to 1946. There will then be plenty of time for successive Parliaments to look at the matter.

Details of the expenditure incurred by the new concessions are set out on pages 5 and 6 of the financial memorandum. Those paragraphs deal with the other side of the account. They relate, not to the increase in the Exchequer contribution but to the increase in the amount of pensions to be paid. The relation between the two sets of figures will be seen by reference to the table given on page 9 of the financial memorandum. The new expenditure on the payment of pensions is £47,300,000 for the period ending March, 1936, an average additional expenditure of about £8,000,000 a year. For the next 10 years the total expenditure is estimated at £51,000,000 an average additional expenditure of a little over £5,000,000 a year. For 1946–7 onwards the additional cost is about £3,400,000. Thereafter, the amount will diminish, be cause the pre-Act widows are a class which must ultimately disappear from the population, though the increased expectation of life is so great that some slight effect will be felt in later years.

Taking the items one by one we estimate that on the whole about 500,000 pre-Act widows will receive a pension. It is further estimated that in 210,000 cases the pension will become payable in July, 1930—widows over the age of 60—and in about 85,000 cases in January, 1931—widows between the ages of 55 and 60. In the remaining cases—about 200,000—the pension will vest on the widow attaining the age of 55.

The estimated cost in the period of nine months from 1st July, 1930, to 31st March, 1931, is about £4,600,000. For the year 1931–2 the estimated cost is £7,300,000, and for the full period from 1st July, 1930, to 31st March, 1936, about. £37,600,000. This period comprises the financial years remaining within the first, decennial period under the principal Act. For the second decennial period 1936–6 the cost would be about £44,000,000. The cost would then begin to diminish, but, gradually.

The estimated number of pensions to be awarded to wives aged between 65 and 70 of insured men who were over 70 on. 2nd January, 1928, is 24,000 and the cost in the first full year will be £550,000. The number of cases will rapidly diminish as the age of 70 is reached and the beneficiaries enter the "over70" pension class. The estimated cost for the full period to 31st March, 1936, is about £2,000,000.

It is estimated that under Clause 6 of the Bill nearly 20,000 pensions will be come payable, because of the relaxation of the average test, as from the 2nd January, 1930, to persons, including from 1,000 to 2,000 widows, whose claims have hitherto failed, and that the cost will be about £500,000 a year. This is a speculative item. It is not possible exactly to estimate the cost of these concessions. They might become absolutely valueless in a period of really brisk trade where all the elderly employed might come under the provisions of the earlier Act.

The extension of the widow's pension until the youngest child reaches the age of 16 affects about 18,000 cases, and it will be a small outlay—an item of about £70,000. I say that it is small in comparison with the other figures which I have given to the Committee. The expenditure due to the concession with regard to workmen's compensation is, on the other hand, an unfortunate further item. These case do not diminish very much from year to year. There are about 10,000 cases in which the full allowance will become payable at once. We estimate that the cost of the new provisions will begin at about £100,000 and rise to £150,000. There is included all the other expenditure which is put together in Clause 7. This expenditure is small in amount.

I come to the cost of administering the scheme. The cost of administration is put down at £1,000,000. That is a very heavy charge which has to be met. If hon. Members will consider for a moment the test imposed on pre-Act widows they will see that the very easiness of the test will make matters extremely difficult as far as the officials of the Department are concerned. We have in many cases to go back prior to 1911 and obtain evidence of the husband's occupation, and we are dealing with formidable numbers. The total number of persons in England in respect of whom pensions under or by virtue of the Contributory Pensions Act are being paid had reached at the end of March, 1929, a total of 1,159,667, comprising 200,292 widows, 216,727 children (including orphans), 455,271 persons between the age of 65 and 70, and 287,377 persons over the age of 70. This is a very formidable task.

Paragraph (b) of the Financial Resolution make provision for the granting of an old age pension to the 500,000 widows who will receive pensions under the Bill. This is a most highly speculative item as indeed have been all the items under all the Old Age Pensions Acts from 1908 to 1924. The greatest number of these women will be entitled to an old age pension under the non-contributory scheme. Most of these people I think would have been people who, at the age of 70, would have received their pensions under the non-contributory Act, but you cannot really say. One of the surprises of the Department is the extraordinary extent to which persons even in quite an advanced age, manage to keep their heads above water by their own exertions and disqualify themselves from the operations of the non-contributory Measure. They are most surprising cases. They are in the bulk very distressing cases. When these pensions were refused, I often felt that the country was simply penalising a man for his exceptional energy and enterprise. There will also be certain charges of a similar kind with regard to all new pensioners who by the relaxation of conditions obtain an old age pension before the age of 70 and survive till after 70, and who would be disqualified by the means test. We, therefore, do not ask the House to fix a figure, and in so doing we are following a formidable list of precedents all the precedents of the Old Age Pensions Acts from 1908 to 1924, and we are following accurately and closely the provisions with regard to old age pensions of the class of whom I am speaking in the Act of 1925.

The same applies to the additional claims which will fall to be met under the National Health Insurance Acts. The House has never set any definite monetary limit to the Exchequer contributions under the National Health Insurance Acts. It has been my duty to lay before Parliament the items of a very formidable Bill. I am far from suggesting that we cannot afford it; I think the country can afford it and, indeed, I think the country will be more prosperous and richer by this slight equalisation of the incomes of the poorer sections of the community. If this were the only expenditure of this nature foreshadowed by the Government in their election pledges and in the Gracious Speech from the Throne, there certainly would be a case for doing very much more. But there are many other items already announced for which fresh expenditure will be needed. We passed last July two items of fresh expenditure. This item of £8,000,000 a year for the next ten years is a large sum. The Government feel that this is an important instalment towards the solution of a great question and I ask the Committee to consider it as a large and generous instalment and as a worthy preliminary to the business of the Session.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

May I ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether she can now give us some further information on a point which I put last night, and tell us whether the words italicised in the Bill are correctly italicised and whether they are the only parts of the Bill which impose a charge on the subject?

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

I am afraid I must intervene. We are not concerned with that question on the Financial Resolution. The form of the Bill cannot be discussed.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I submit that we are discussing the financial implications of the Bill under the Resolution, and we have been given some indication as to where these financial implications are to be found in the Bill by the fact that certain passages are italicised. It occurred to me that it was doubtful whether these italics were in the right place and I asked a question last night which the Minister of Health declined to answer. I am now asking whether the Parliamentary Secretary can give the Committee such information as will enable it to know which parts of the Bill do impose a charge on the subject?

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

We cannot discuss the question as to whether the italics are in the right place or not.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Nelson and Colne

This is really not a matter on which I am in a position to pronounce. The question as to which parts of the Bill should be italicised is a matter for the Officials of the House. If I am pressed I should say that in my view, although it is not for me to pronounce upon it, the italics in Clause 6 might have been dispensed with because I think they are covered by Clause 4. Provided the Financial Resolution covers all the expenditure of money in the Bill I do not see that any difficulty can arise.

Photo of Mr Bertram Falle Mr Bertram Falle , Portsmouth North

May I ask whether the Parliamentary Secretary can answer the point I raised last night with regard to naval ratings?

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

I want to ask a question on the statement which has just been made by the Parliamentary Secretary

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I should like first of all to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary upon the clear and concise statement she has made to the Committee. The difficulties, as I know, of explaining complicated matters of this kind are not inconsiderable, but most of us have been able to follow most of the statement she has just made. She has now, I hope, almost completely re covered from what I may call the orgy in which she and the hon. Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor) indulged in last night. We approach a very import ant part of the proceedings on any Parliamentary Bill. I read with considerable interest a week or two ago an article by the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. W. Brown). He is a new Member of the House but has already, if I may say so, made many useful contributions to our Debates. He wrote an article which was of consider- able interest to me because it gave the impressions of a new Member of the House in relation to our procedure and, as many a new Member does, he ex pressed a certain amount of impatience with some of the old procedure and traditions of this House.

In the course of the article, which will have the sympathy of a good many hon. Members, he expressed the view that fuller opportunity should be given to hon. Members to take part in our proceedings. He did not deal with the subject of Financial Resolutions and I do not want for a moment to speak on his behalf. I think he will agree, however, that the power which is given to Members of this House in connection with finance and particularly Financial Resolutions, should be jealously guarded and when we approach, as we do to-day, a Financial Resolution which deals with such a vast sum of money it is the duty of every Member to address himself to one of his most important obligations as a Member of Parliament. We are dealing this morning with a vast sum of money. We may have every sympathy with its objects and we might very well desire to see larger sums expended wherever possible to help those in the country who need help and assistance at the present time. But this morning we have to address ourselves particularly, and the country will demand it,—to the implications of this vast expenditure. Everybody is agreed that so far as industrial conditions are concerned it is not an exaggeration to say that they are in a critical condition and that as far as unemployment is concerned it causes grave anxiety in every section of the House.

I was particularly amazed yesterday, not that I ought to be by this time, with one statement of the Minister of Health. I suppose he belongs as he would rightly and proudly claim to what is called the Socialist intellectuals. Yesterday he made a most astounding statement with regard to finance and this Bill which ought to be lifted from the OFFICIAL REPORT and put forward as a real Socialist gem. It was to this effect: that broadly speaking whether a nation can afford a thing depends on how much it wants it. That is a strange doctrine. I wonder how many people would like to put that into practice in relation to their private affairs. I do not think that we can do more than put it along side an utterance of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer who, in a moment of particular enlightenment, in formed the last House of Commons that rates, as such, were no burden. There can be no doubt about it that heavy taxation is a severe handicap to trade and industry, and has a material effect upon unemployment, and we should have particular regard to this aspect of the matter in consideration of the expenditure of nearly £100,000,000 in the next 16 years.

In this respect, I would remind the Committee of a statement which was made recently not by a politician but by an authority on economics, Sir Arthur Salter, the Director of the Economic and Finance Section of the League of Nations. A few days ago, this gentle man addressed a conference on British unemployment and world economics, arranged by the Oxford City and University Branches of the League of Nations Union. We must have careful regard to what an authority of that kind said, especially when we are dealing with the vast sums under consideration this morning. He put a very interesting question, and he gave very important answers to it. He asked, and I was particularly struck by one of his conclusions in relation to it, why, in a world which was definitely better off, as a whole, than in 1913, in spite of the War, does Great Britain still suffer from serious unemployment, and why is it less prosperous in relation to most other countries than before. A very vital question at this time! He gave two or three reasons for this condition of things, two of which I want to cite this morning. He stated, as the first reason, that we should always remember that trade is not a luxury but a vital necessity to the country, and that it suffers more than any other from the increased impediments to foreign trade that have arisen since the War. That was one of the vital reasons that he gave for the position in which Great Britain finds itself to day. Another reason that he gave, and it is certainly a matter well worthy of consideration at the present time, was that our burden of taxation in this country is the highest in the world.

12 n.

I should also like to bring to the notice of the Committee—I daresay most hon. Members have read it, and if so they ought especially to consider it in the light of the commitments which are asked this morning—the speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the Cutlers' Feast, a few days ago. This is one of the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer which I am pleased to quote with approval. He dealt directly with the question of the cost of social insurance, and the growing burdens of taxation. In the first place, he stated that he was not able to say he would be in a happy position next March, that the slump, which we again read about this morning, had affected the Stamp Duty, the yield of Death Duties, and that it would also entail an increased cost of Treasury Bills. So far as the prospect of the reduction of taxation was concerned, he was not hopeful or encouraging. He then went on to refer to a matter which is directly germane to our discussion this morning, namely, the position of this country, having regard to the fact that it is the most heavily taxed country in the world, and the rising cost of the social services.

He called the particular attention of the country to the high cost of the social services, and, what is often overlooked by a good many people, the automatic increases that are bound to take place in that particular connection. He referred also to the heavy burdens of War taxation, and stated that so far as he could see, speaking in his position as Chancellor of the Exchequer, there was no hope of any immediate reduction of what he himself called "the terrific load of taxation." I do not think anyone will seriously deny that industry is the largest taxpayer. It is surprising to note the rising tide in the cost of social services in this country. In 1921, according to the latest official figures that have been supplied to the House, the cost of what we call the social services was £306,000,000. In 1927 it had risen to £383,250,000, and the cost then was six times as great as it was in the year 1910–11. If you examine the insurance services you see again the great increase that has taken place. Again, according to the latest figures available, for 1926–27, the insurance services cost £135,000,000, of which the general taxpayers or rate payers contributed over £80,000,000.

What does this mean so far as industry is concerned? It is important to us and to the social services that we should have regard to this aspect of our national position, because the country and the improvement of our social services in the long run, or perhaps more quickly, still depend upon the condition of trade and industry. If you take the cost of the social services and the proportion of it which industry has to bear compared with foreign competitors, a very remark able state of affairs is revealed. The cost of the social services in Great Britain amounts to 78s. per head; in Germany, the cost is 32s. per head; in France, 16s.; in Italy, 3s.; and in Belgium, 4s. What ever views we may have about the conditions in these various countries, there is no doubt—I am now speaking from the point of view of trade and industry alone—that industry in Great Britain is put in a very difficult position indeed so far as the cost of these services is concerned.

One of the reasons, at any rate in many trades, why British industry cannot get costs down so as to regain markets can be fairly ascribed, amongst other things, to the considerable extra cost it has to bear in relation to services such as we are considering now. In this connection we have to remember also the very considerable local rates which industry has to bear. Many hon. Members opposite will agree with this statement, because I remember that in days gone by, when they came to the Ministry of Health as representatives of necessitous areas, one of the most important factors that they put forward, and put forward quite rightly, when they asked for increased assistance, was the growing cost of local rates. A rather striking instance can be given to show how industry has to bear increased costs in this connection. Rates on a ton of finished steel represented, at any rate in 1925, a figure of 17s. 6d., as compared with 1s. 8d. in 1914. That is a very serious situation for many trades and industries.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

To some extent, and I am glad to have the hon. Member's ad- mission, for I always understood from his criticisms that he thought we had done nothing.

Photo of Mr John Beckett Mr John Beckett , Camberwell Peckham

In reference to the deputations in which some of us took part, and the question of the rates in necessitous areas, it is only fair to say that our complaint was that the abolition of social services by the last Government was forcing these burdens on the rates.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I remember very well that the hon. Gentleman addressed to us many arguments in that connection, but I hope he will be more successful with the present Government than he was with the last.

Photo of Mr John Beckett Mr John Beckett , Camberwell Peckham

We are, but no thanks to you.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I read a Resolution passed only a few weeks ago by the representatives of necessitous areas, requesting the Government to give some further financial assistance. It will be interesting to see what assistance is given. If it is given it will mean, of course, still further contributions from the taxpayers of the country. Another consideration that I want the Committee to consider is, that since the present Government took office there has been an extra expenditure of £3,500,000 a year for unemployment, and I rather gather as an outsider that there will be other claims under that heading. What it really all comes to is this: Apart from the position in which industry finds it self now, and the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the vital importance of having regard to the position in considering social schemes of this kind, we are often apt to overlook, when we consider such a matter as widows' pensions, that undoubtedly there will be other claims put forward in relation to other social services. The Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out when he first occupied the position some years ago that he was obliged to have regard to the competing claims of social services such as housing, slums, education and things of that kind.

I have no doubt, and I do not think it ought to be a matter of surprise, that a large number of people in this country are apprehensive of demands such as this and are wondering when a halt is going to be called to give a breathing space for industry to recover its position. I should have felt perhaps more sympathy with the claims of money for this Bill if I did not believe that a considerable sum of the money which we are voting this morning, and which will be expended on a selected class of individuals, is going to be given irrespective of their needs. I could understand if the Minister of Health asked for this sum of some £81,000,000 and said it was to be voted to meet the legitimate and proper claims of people who are in need, but that is not the position. When we have carefully to consider the expenditure of every pound in relation to our national finances, it is surprising that the Government should come forward and ask for this large sum of money without making any test, as the Prime Minister himself suggested, that the widows who are to receive a free gift under this scheme should be, in fact, widows who are in need. I invite the Minister of Health, because I did not ob serve that he made any reply to these matters yesterday, to tell the Committee to-day why it is that he is not asking for this money for widows who are in need. If he did that, at any rate it would com mend itself much more to the Committee than the knowledge or belief that we are voting a considerable sum of money to people who may very well be in comfort able circumstances, who have never paid a penny in contributions to the scheme, and yet who are to get a life pension of 10s. a week.

I am not going to allude, because I have no doubt hon. Members opposite, if they live up to their speeches in the country, will no doubt allude in the course of this Debate, to those sections of the community which will not be covered by this Financial Resolution. I have no doubt also, if they act up to the standard I expect from them, that they will allude to all those inequalities and injustices which are not covered by this Financial Resolution. It would pain me, after this Debate, to read the speeches which will be made by hon. Members opposite, say, on Sunday next, and to see how much they grieve for the lot of people who are not included in this Bill. I should not like to read on Monday morning perorations about their great sympathy, we will say, with the widow of 50.

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

The right hon. Member must keep within the scope of the Resolution.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

This is the Financial Resolution which is allowing payment to make provision for certain widows and other classes of people. I now propose to say a word or two on what steps will have to be taken if we desire to include other persons in this Financial Resolution. This is the last opportunity that hon. Members opposite will have, if they are going to make a real attempt to get these people included. It is no good after wards, on the Sabbath, talking about widows of 50 and how sorry they are for them, if they do nothing definite for them to-day. I will allude to one matter only which I heard so constantly in this House during the last Parliament, but which is not covered by this Financial Resolution. It was at one time one of the most insistent complaints of hon. Members opposite. My right hon. Friend and I, to the best of our ability, endeavoured to give an answer and an explanation, but hon. Members and particularly the Minister of Health, persisted in their complaints. Everybody termed it robbery, and I wonder why steps have not been taken under this Financial Resolution to make restitution and to set up what apparently is, in the opinion of hon. Members opposite, a more honest method of dealing with the particular Section of the Insurance Act.

I refer to the termination of benefit for unemployment at the age of 65 when, under the provisions of the Act, people have to give up their national health insurance and unemployment insurance and accept a pension only. The case is so fully familiar to hon. Members opposite, who so long complained about it in this House, that there is no need for me to explain it further, but I will briefly refer hon. Members to the pages of the OFFICIAL REPORT, from which it will be seen that hon. Members again and again brought forward cases—I do not know whether the Under-Secretary of State for Air was not active in this connection—of poor old people who were losing 18s. or 23s. a week, and then, they said, under this iniquitous provision, were only to be given 10s. a week. It was in vain that my right hon. Friend explained, taking the great mass of contributors in this connection, that they were getting 3½ times the benefit that they did under the previous Act. No, it was robbery, and the Minister of Health gave an interview not very long ago complaining in bitter terms of this particular provision. At the last election the complaint was put in very specific terms. Hon. Members opposite may consider this before we vote this Financial Resolution, and adjust themselves to it in their speeches next week. I have a leaflet here which says: Thirty thousand old workpeople of 65 years of age have had their 18s. a week unemployment benefit taken away from them by the Tory Government and have only been given 10s. a week pension in its stead. Once again the facts disclose that the Tory party is incapable of giving a fair deal. We shall have to reprint this leaflet altering it to read, "The Socialist party is incapable of giving a fair deal to the workers." This Financial Resolution is a fair sample of Socialist thought, and the kind of instalment that we may expect of "Socialism in our time." It gives large sums of money to a selected class, many of whom are not in need of it. If that be denied, we might perhaps all agree upon an Amendment in Committee that it shall be given only to people who are in need. [An HON. MEMBER: "What does that mean?"] You must ask the Prime Minister. He laid down the principle that the Socialist party were going to give pensions to widows in need, and the hon. Member must consult him when he returns on Tuesday. In fact, I rather think that this Debate ought to be adjourned for the return of the Prime Minister, because I would like to hear his explanation why the word of the Prime Minister of England has been broken, and why the widows who relied upon his word have been so betrayed by the Socialist Administration.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Shakespeare Mr Geoffrey Shakespeare , Norwich

I am in a state of inspissated gloom, for this Memorandum on the Bill is so meagre; and, having examined it in the time at my disposal, I am still very much at sea. I should like to address a few questions to the Government to find out what is the basis of the scheme. After all, we are embarking on a very heavy capital charge. I do not grudge one penny-of it, but the Committee are entitled to know what that capital charge is. Widows are very funny creatures. They have provoked us to song, and frequently provoke us to matrimony; and in the last few years they have provoked us to legislation. The first question that I want to put is: What is the capital value of this scheme undertaken by the State at the outset of the scheme? Under the 1925 Act, the capital value undertaken by the State over and above the contributions was £746,000,000. The second question is: On what percentage of unemployment has this scheme been based? Under the 1925 Act, the actuary calculated that the basis should be 6 per cent. In the report of the Government actuary special attention is paid to the percentage of un employment, because obviously if un employment falls, the actuarial basis of the Bill is improved, and contributions can be reduced; and, when the 1925 Act was drawn up, it was calculated that the unemployment figure would be just under a million, or about 9 per cent. I want to know whether the same basis has been taken in calculating the finance of this scheme.

This legislation by reference is very objectionable, but, if 6 per cent. is taken, legislation by reference seems to be still more objectionable, because it is legislation by reference to the Lord Privy Seal. Has he been consulted, and does he agree that the result of his survey over the next 10 years is that unemployment will still remain at the million figure? Thirdly, what is the actuarial basis for the contributions? Is it 4 per cent., and does the Parliamentary Secretary think that that is a true estimate, and could she not say what is the actual interest earned by the contributions? I imagine that it must be certainly more than 4 per cent. It might well be 4½ or 4¾ per cent. If 4 per cent. is too low a basis, the scheme is sounder than we think. In the last Session we heard a lot about a mythical surplus. Under the Act of 1925, it was calculated that there would be a certain surplus in the Pensions Fund at the end of 1929, and, if I understand this Financial Memorandum, meagre as it is, that surplus for the year 1929–30 amounts to £44,000,000. At the beginning of this Session, I was led to think, by the many questions in this House, that there was in fact a surplus over requirements, because the Actuary calculated that only £26,000,000 would be expended in the year 1929–30, leaving a balance over requirements of £18,000,000. We were led to believe that that £18,000,000 was avail able for removing injustices in connection with the 1925 Act.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary say whether that mythical surplus was in fact available or not, because, if it was available, it seems to me that it has been used in connection with the extended scheme. After the 10 years ending 1936–37, I find that there would still be a surplus of nearly £20,000,000 under the scheme of contributions of £4,000,000 a year as allowed for by the late Government. The whole basis of this scheme is very conservative. There was, unless I am mistaken, a considerable surplus, owing to the financial acumen of the late Minister of Health, of £46,000,000, of which nearly £20,000,000 was in excess of requirements. Even at the end of the 10 years period, with the old scale of £4,000,000 a year from Exchequer contributions, there would still be a surplus. I want to know whether it is possible that the Minister of Health and the Parliamentary Secretary have something up their sleeves. [Interruption. ] After all, the original insurance Act was so well founded financially that to-day there is a surplus of over £100.000,000 in the approved societies, and I rather think that with one thing and another, like people falling out of insurance, this scheme will be equally well founded; and if so it will be easier for the Government to make concessions, even though they be small concessions, on the lines that very many Members on all sides of the House want to see achieved.

But there is one grave omission from this scheme, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will give us some information about it when she replies. No one on these benches would blame the Government for not bringing in a comprehensive Measure of insurance at this time. It may take three, four or five years, if full justice is to be done by the inquiry into this extremely complicated subject, to determine the relations of the approved societies to the Exchequer and deal with the ramifications of unemployment insurance and widows', orphans' and old age pensions. No one in this House would blame the Government because in four or five months they could embark only on one aspect of this very large subject, but, after all, the Labour party is pledged to more than that. Every member of the Government is pledged not only to remove the injustices of the widows' and orphans' pensions scheme but immediately—immediately—to introduce a scheme of voluntary contributions.

I hope it will be in order for me to say that if this scheme had been extended in that direction nothing would have been more welcome to a great number of people all over the country. Speaking as a son of the manse I know what a blessing it would be in the case of ministers especially country ministers, who have to maintain their self-respect on a miser able pittance, bring up their children, and send them to public schools and sometimes to universities. I know what a blessing it would be to ministers and to black-coated workers generally. There fore, I looked forward with great pleasure to this Bill, because we were promised that immediately, and quite apart from the large measure of insurance which may come in two or three years' time, we should have a wide measure of voluntary insurance jointly with the removal of grievances arising out of the 1925 Act. A letter was written by the present Foreign Secretary to a most authoritative body, the sixteenth National Conference on Widows', Orphans', and Old Age pensions. That is a non-party body and it met last May, at the beginning of the General Election. I suppose it represents all the approved societies, and trade unions were represented there, and thrift societies. All parties had been asked to state their views as regards pensions, and the present Foreign Secretary gave a very emphatic pledge as to what were the intentions of the Government, by which he bound every member of his party. It is no excuse to say that this pledge is different from the pledge of the manifesto. They were influential people at that conference; the resolution was seconded by a Government Whip; and they went away from that conference with that pledge in their minds. The pledge was this. After a reference to the wider scheme of insurance, it was pointed out as part of the immediate task if the Government were returned that: The Labour party now undertakes"— now undertakes— that the grave injustices of the existing Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Pensions Act would be immediately remedied and provision made for uninsured persons to become insured on equal terms with those already insured. In view of the conservative nature of this scheme and the accumulation of large surpluses, I sincerely hope that the Minister of Health has some surprise up his sleeve. If so, no one will be more delighted than hon. Members on these benches, and he will earn a great name for himself for bringing to more people the advantage of the provisions of this legislation.

Photo of Mr John Beckett Mr John Beckett , Camberwell Peckham

I should not have intervened in this Debate had it not been for the ironic spectacle presented by the late Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health in his speech this morning. If he will accept it from me, I would like to congratulate him upon what I thought was a remarkable Parliamentary performance. He reminded me of a boxer who has discovered by the seventh round that his blows have completely lost their sting but who, from old acquired habit and science, is able to make some pretence to the spectators of keeping on his feet and feinting, When the present Minister of Health was being asked to remedy all the evils which the right hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) referred to but did not specify, I was reminded of some of the long, long evenings we spent together in the early days of the last Parliament. I remember on one occassion consulting the OFFICIAL REPORT—when I managed to open my eyes after two nights spent in the right hon. Gentle man's company—and I discovered that the hon. Lady the Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) and myself had made 33 separate appeals to the right hon. Member and his right hon. colleague—many of them made at most unholy hours of the night because he would not give us proper time to discuss his Bill—that the very widows to whom we are now giving pensions should be given pensions then. We got nothing at all from him, not a single concession of any kind worth mentioning. We got that cold, elaborate courtesy which the late Minister of Health always showed us at every hour of the day or night, but not the slightest sympathy, and not even the champagne to which the hon. Member referred this morning.

I do not think there is any case at all—and I have been into this matter very carefully—for the very grave doubts which the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) expressed last night and the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Shake speare) expressed this morning. During the Recess I spent a considerable time in my own constituency and there I got the cases of 16 widows who were not getting pensions under the Act passed by the last Government. I have looked into every one of those 16 cases, and I find that 15 of them will get a pension when the Bill now before us is passed. I am not quite clear as to the sixteenth case; it is a margin case, which I am referring to the Minister, but I shall be rather surprised, and shall be writing rather indignant letters to him, if he does not say that that comes in as well. I think the widows who are not included are very difficult to specify and very difficult to discover. On the other hand, we have to remember that we are at the very early stages of a very large Bill, and that no measures of social reform have been brought before this House which have not come out of the mill slightly different from what they were when they went in. For my own part, I think there will be the greatest difficulty in proving that any large section of widows is omitted, and if there are I hope their cases will be dealt with in a manner which will be satisfactory to them. In my own experience, as I have said, I have only found one case where there is any doubt, and I should be surprised if that lady does not come through the mesh. One of the most extraordinary economic arguments was used by the Parliamentary Secretary on this Measure when she told us of the heavy expense. Insurance services, she said, were to cost over £135,000,000, the State contribution being over £80,000,000; social services depended on trade and industry, and the cost of these social services was a serious handicap to manufacturers. It is remark ably like the case of the man taking his car up a hill with the horse behind. While you can argue that case speciously on the surface, directly you examine it carefully you find it works exactly the other way round; and while, in the pre sent enlightened state of civilisation, social services may be dependent on industry, I deny that the two are inter dependent. Regarding the £135,000,000, of which the State provides £80,000,000, although this is spent on social services, and although it may cause a certain amount of discomfort to some manufacturers in the payment of their quota, yet, looking broadly over the matter, I am certain that you will find, as a result, a stronger home market, and what you may lose on the swings you will gain on the roundabouts. If to-day we went hack to the Tory ideal of unassisted poverty for the masses of the people, the result would he that industry would be squealing more than it does now; for you would get a population that was not rich enough to buy their goods, and not strong enough to provide the skilled labour they re quire, and in the end manufacturers would be in a much worse state than they are in now.

As a matter of fact, every Act of this kind increases the purchasing power of the people and gives a higher standard of living to the population, which results in better business for the manufacturer. Therefore, I am not ungrateful, and I consider we owe a great debt to the Minister of Health for bringing in this Bill so promptly, and for redeeming, to my mind, a great proportion of the promises we made with regard to these pensions. Nobody on this side is going to say, now that we are finished with the widows' pensions, that is all there is to do. We are doing our best to do something immediately, and we say that if we get a year or two longer we shall be able to do something more. I hope we shall be long entertained by the statements of the hon. Member and his right hon. colleagues in their half hearted opposition to this Measure, and I believe I speak for all my colleagues when I say that we shall have no objection to going to our Sunday evening meetings and explaining how the present occupants of the Government Benches are dealing with these problems.

1.0 p.m.

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Westmorland

Listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Shakespeare) I was particularly struck with his optimism. He seemed to envisage a good many millions which the hon. Lady has up her sleeve and which at some future day will be available for the Government's proposals. But, as I take it, the surplus shown on page 9 of the Memorandum is created because contributions started to be paid before the benefits were given out, and the amount of that surplus was taken into consideration in fixing the Government's contribution in the next few years, and, in fact, any possible reserve there may be, owing to any mistake the Government actuary may have made at the time of the earliest Bill in determining the actual amount required to be paid out.

Before coming to a consideration of the more general principles of the Resolution, I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary one or two small questions. The first is in regard to Clause 20, a small, but extremely important Clause, regarding assistance given to dependants after fatal accidents to the breadwinners. It is an admirable Measure, but the hon. Lady will appreciate that the anomaly has already fallen on a certain number of persons, and, although this will prevent the same thing occurring in future, no provision is made for dealing with the cases which have already occurred. When this Bill gets into Committee, I shall ask if some consideration cannot be given to those cases, and I should like to know whether the Resolution in its present form will pre vent any ex gratia payment to those who have suffered under the anomaly which is removed by Clause 20. It has been estimated that the extra cost will be £1,000,000 a year. Will the hon. Lady be in a position to tell the House how many extra people will be affected?

With regard to the more general principles of this Resolution, no one listening to the Debate to-day can deny that it has been more satisfactory than the Debate yesterday, and I do not intend to follow the general lines of yesterday's Debate. We have to keep to realities, and no one hearing the promises which hon. Members opposite made at the General Election expected that they would be able to fulfil them all—no one except perhaps the 8,000,000 people who recorded their votes in their favour. Nor do I want to deal with the other point of view, the question of demoralisation. I noticed, for instance, that the excellent speech of the Noble Lady the Member for Stoke (Lady Cynthia Mosley), which we heard yesterday, was concerned almost entirely with the charge of demoralisation, which in fact had not been brought by anybody on these benches; but it gave us an opportunity of hearing her address, and of expressing, first of all, our pleasure that she herself has not suffered from the demoralising influences of the possession of wealth, and, secondly, of expressing our admiration of her courage in still going on facing the temptations of that possession.

Apart from that, it does seem to me that this Resolution raises two great points of principle, points which are perhaps too great to discuss on a Friday during the Committee stage of a Money Resolution. The first, of course, is the hopeless muddle, if one may describe it as such, into which the whole subject of pensions in this country is getting, on the question of whether they should be contributory, whether they should be free with a means limit, or whether they should be free without a means limit. We have all three of those systems growing up side by side; and although, as the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Beckett) said, no one can possibly expect the Government so early as this to tackle a question of that magnitude, we shall look forward to some attempt to put the whole of this system of pensions on a sounder basis of principle. There is a great deal to be said for and a great deal to be said against all these methods. There is a good deal to be said against the contributory system, which it is true imposes a contribution upon the employé who gets the direct benefit out of it in the shape of his pension, which imposes a contribution on the State, which benefits, as a State would benefit, by the betterment of its citizens, but at the same time put a direct contribution upon the employer, who is already taxed as a member of the tax-paying public, and gets no direct benefit out of it, other than that enjoyed by all members of the State.

There is a good deal to be said against a free pension without a means limit. In this particular case, there may be instances where the circumstances of the widow have entirely changed since the death of the husband on whose conditions in life her present entitlement depends. She may since then have by some means or other come into a considerable amount of money and therefore may have no right to look for assistance from the Government. On the other hand, as was pointed out from these benches, the existence of the means limit in the case of the old age pension very often means that a man or woman is being penalised because he or she has exercised thrift and self-denial, and has built up a small sum of his or her own; and so we shall look forward with hope, if with a certain amount of doubt, to attempts by the right hon. Gentleman opposite to deal with this whole problem of pensions.

The second main point of principle which is raised is, of course, the financial one, and I was rather amazed with the way in which the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health dealt with it in his speech yesterday. I remember' reading years ago a novel in which one of the characters, who was completely ignorant of all political subjects, was going down to be adopted as a candidate for a certain constituency, and the advice was given to him that whatever question was asked he should make the same reply: "I believe in my great leader, Mr. So-and-So "—whoever it was—" and in this matter I shall be guided entirely by his advice." The Minister of Health passed off the financial proposals by saying simply that he believed in the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in this he would be guided entirely by his advice. "Trust the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and keep your powder dry." But I think it is time that the House and the country did face, in no spirit of bias, the really acute enonomic problem which sooner or later is going to arise. Perhaps hon. Members opposite will disagree when I say that social services are an evil, even if they are an essential evil; that is to say, as they will I think agree with me, it would be very much better that everybody in this country should enjoy a standard of life which would enable them to provide for themselves against these contingencies rather than that it should be left to the State to do it for them; and, therefore, any extension of social services which might be shown to entail a reduction of the individual's own power to provide against those contingencies is in fact an evil.

In discussing this matter to-day, we start with the difficulty that we do not know how the money for this service is going to be found. [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes."] The hon. Member is actually more in the confidence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer than either we on these benches or I imagine some of those on the Front Bench opposite. If this sum of £8,000,000 a year is going to be found by economy—if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to present the same indomitable iron front to the spending departments and their assistants in the Civil Service that he did to the nations at the Hague—then of course it will not have a serious effect on his Budget; but I imagine that, in fact, that will not be found possible, and that the money for financing schemes such as this service will have to be found by increased taxation. It is quite true, as the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health said, that an increase of direct taxation is a tax on property—that it does not fall on industry until profit has been made—but he, too, I am sure would agree with me that there is a quite clear economic case for saying that even a tax on profits has its effect on industry in that it reduces the incentive to production, and, in fact, you get back to the controversy with which every economist is familiar between wealth as a social irritant and wealth as an incentive to production.

Hon. Members opposite will say, of course, that we pay too much attention to production, and that we ought to turn our attention to-day to consumption; but I wonder whether they all realise some of the difficulties which lie in our way in this country. America, of course, has always been a great example; it has been said that the reason of their great industrial prosperity in the last few years is that they have linked production to consumption, and that by creating an atmosphere of confidence and an expectation of an increase of wealth, they have so artificially raised the consumption of the people that production has been increased. But before we adopt that as a criterion we want to be quite certain what are going to be the effects of the events of the last few days in America. It looks very much as though that system had come to an end. It depended on the confidence of the people that the wealth of the country was always going to be increased, and that they could therefore not only spend all they earned, but spend a little more in the expectation of making a little more the next year. It looks as though that expectation is going to be ill-founded. But there is one great difficulty from which we in this country suffer and which is comparatively rare: In America any increase of consumption results in a demand for home production; in this country, the first result of an increase in consumption is to increase the demand for produce from overseas, and that can be met only by goods from this country, and therefore production in this country must go on an equality with consumption and cannot be preceded by it.

I do not want to argue this matter to-day, but I do appeal to hon. Members—because that argument is going to apply with ever-increasing force in the future—to approach it from an unbiased point of view, and to try to give some of us on this side of the House some credit for some sincerity in the views which we express, and to believe that what we say may not be actuated entirely by selfish motives. It is no good acting like the hon. Member for Peck-ham, using a sort of Nelsonic touch in finance by putting the telescope to his blind eye, and saying, "I do not see that taxation has any effect on prosperity." Everybody admits that there is, in fact, a case for the protection of trade against undue burdens, just as there is on the other side a case for the increase of social services, and, when we have to weigh those two up, I do hope that hon. Members will be prepared to weigh them up in a spirit of impartiality, and to determine not only not to take the easy course of dishing out Government money to the electorate, but at the same time to keep in their minds the ultimate aim of all of us in this country, which is such an increase of industrial prosperity in this country that the workers them selves can meet the exigencies for which these social services are designed.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Wolverhampton West

I should like to commence my remarks by assuring the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley) that I do not propose to attack the sincerity of the views put forward by those who sit on the opposite benches. I am pleased to know that there are hon. Members of this House who can disagree with one another fundamentally and yet be perfectly insincere in the point of view which they put forward. But, while I do not attack the sincerity of the view expressed by the hon. Member opposite or the view expressed by the late Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, I am bound to say that I ques- tion both the validity of the arguments that have been used and their economic soundness. I want to deal especially with the speech which was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) who seemed to me to make the fundamental mistake of assuming that seraphic rotundity is a substitute for arguments on this particular subject.

The right hon. Gentleman began by saying that he had read an article of mine in the "New Leader," and I am bound to express my gratification at the knowledge that any humble contributions from my pen are being read by so eminent a right hon. Gentleman. This fills me with a sense of alarm as to what is likely to happen to the right hon. Gentleman if he proceeds in that way. It is only one stage from the "New Leader" to the "Sunday Worker" and another stage to the "Communist Review," and the latter is only a very small stage to Karl Marx. There are parts of the Empire where it is still a criminal offence to be found in possession of Karl Marx's works, and I hope my right hon. Friend the Member for West Woolwich will restrain himself from going any further on the dangerous path which he has been treading.

What did I say in the article referred to? It was an article in which I criticised the limitations placed upon private Members in this House, and I stated that a tremendous proportion of the available time of the House was taken up by speeches from the Front Benches. The only relevance I can discover between the article referred to and the Debate to-day is that last night he spoke interminably and he has again spoken interminably to day, and in both cases he said precisely the same thing in slightly different language. What was the burden of his speech? The right hon. Gentleman said that the cost of the social services in England to-day is 78s. per head while in Germany it is 32s. per head, in France 16s., Italy 6s., and Belgium 4s. per head. The burden of the right hon. Gentle man's argument was that there was some connection between the cost per head of the social services and the size of the un employment problem in this country. The right hon. Gentleman argued that what you spend upon social services is not able to feed industry as it would otherwise be able to do.

Let me examine that argument in the light of the figures which the right hon. Gentleman gave. If in England there are 1,000,000 unemployed when the cost of the social services is 78s. per head, and if in France there are no unemployed and the cost of the social services is 16s. per head, one would expect that in Italy and Belgium, where the cost is 6s. and 4s. per head respectively, must have been importing hundreds and thousands of labourers from outside their own country in order to keep going. Notoriously that is not the case. What is the unemployment situation? The right hon. Gentle man the Member for West Woolwich and his colleagues put forward during the election the statement that there were 800,000 more people employed in British industries at that time than there were in pre-War days. According to the right hon. Gentleman's figures, the local rates on a ton of finished steal amounted to 1s. 8d. per ton as compared with 17s. 6d. per ton at the present time.

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

I do not see the particular connection between the arguments which the hon. Member is using and the Question before the Chair.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Wolverhampton West

I do not see the connection myself, but I am replying to the arguments which the right hon. Gentle man the Member for West Woolwich was allowed to use, and I would like to know why I am out of order in answering those arguments.

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

The hon. Member may proceed with his argument, but I hope he will not go outside the usual limitations.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Wolverhampton West

The conclusion to be drawn from the argument which was used by the right hon. Gentleman is that, if the proportion of employed persons has increased by 800,000 during a time when the rates and taxes on a ton of steel varied between 1s. 8d. and 17s. 6d. per ton, the method of procedure ought to be to change the 17s. 6d. per ton to 35s. per ton and that is the logical conclusion to which we are forced by the right hon. Gentleman's argument. That the conclusion is so absurd is not a condemnation of my logic, but a condemna- tion of the premises which the right hon. Gentleman puts forward. I suggest to the Committee that one of the main justifications for every act of social service is, not merely that it gives help to the needy, but that it represents a saner expenditure of social resources. Supposing that we could go back to the pre-War conditions and reduce our social services, which cost us £130,000,000 a year, down to nothing, where would the £130,000,000 go which is now used for social services? In the main, that £130,000,000 would go, not into the hands of workpeople, but into the hands of those who live by ownership.

The people who live by ownership use the money that they take from industry in two ways: firstly, to meet their own needs, and, secondly, to re-invest in industry. The amount that they take for the satisfaction of their own needs positively feeds the luxury trades in this country at the expense of the necessary trades, and one of the most important social phenomena in the last 100 years has been the steady decline in the pro portion of the population engaged in the basic industries as compared with the luxury trades. But, even where the money is re-invested in industry, a substantial proportion of it is exported abroad. The wording of the Money Resolution gives, as the maximum charge per annum deriving from this Bill, the sum of £21,000,000. That £21,000,000 represents less than one-seventh of the amount of money exported from this country to other countries with every year that goes by, and to assert, as the right hon. Gentleman asserts, or to imply, that this country cannot solve the problem of finding the sum of £21,000,000 which is necessary for this purpose, is, with great respect, sheer economic nonsense. It is a kind of argument which it ought no longer to be possible to use in the British House of Commons. I assert that the transfer of £21,000,000—and, personally, I hope that it will not stop at £21,000,000—by a judicious use of the weapon of taxation, from the rich to the poor, would represent a positive stimulus to trade in this country, and, above all, a stimulus to the basic trades as compared with the luxury trades. In other words, it would reverse the process that the capitalist system of production and distribution has fostered during the last 100 years, of cultivating luxury trades at the expense of the necessary basic industries of this country.

In conclusion, I should like to say one word with regard to what was said by an hon. Member below the Gangway as to the Liberal point of view. I listen with considerably more patience to contributions on this subject from the Liberal benches than to contributions from the Conservative benches. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] They, at least, have a re cord in social insurance, and it is a re cord upon which we, to a degree, are building. For that reason I listen more tolerantly to contributions from that, quarter than to contributions from the benches opposite. But nothing is easier than for the individual members of a party which is far removed from power, and becomes still farther removed from it with every day that goes by—[Interruption]—nothing is easier than for a small party, which has not fixed on it the responsibility for finding the money, to propose extensive changes in a Bill of the kind that is now before the House. I have no doubt that the Liberal party will do that; I have no doubt that they will seek electoral capital from the fact that they will do it; but I am confident that, when the £21,000,000 that we propose to spend under this Bill is set in relation to the millions of pounds that it is proposed to spend in other directions for increasing the social ser vices, we need fear nothing, when the next election comes, from criticisms that we have not covered this particular type of widow or that particular type of widow, and so on.

My only regret, and the regret of many who sit on the back benches with me, is not that we are spending too much on this, but that we are spending too little. We will back the Minister in this Bill, and we will back him in the subsequent Bills that we believe will be coming when this one is out of the way. We do not think that hon. Members on the Conservative benches will oppose it; God knows, if they do, their number is up. We are not afraid of that; in fact, we are not afraid of anything that those on the Conservative benches can do at the present time, for the first essential to any resumption of the offensive on their part is that they shall get on speaking terms with each other, and they seem to be a very long way from that at the present time. We are not afraid of opposition from the Tory benches, we are not afraid of opposition from the Liberal benches, and we invite criticism. This Bill will go through, and it will be a tremendously valuable contribution to that process of despoiling the Egyptians on which many of us on these benches are bent.

Photo of Sir Arthur Harbord Sir Arthur Harbord , Great Yarmouth

I want to compliment the last speaker on his fairness in speaking of those on these benches with whom I have the honour to be associated. As one who, throughout four Parliamentary elections, has kept these proposals very prominently before the people, I am, naturally, anxious at the very first opportunity to redeem my pledges, and to show in a practical manner my belief in these proposals of the Government and my sincere hope that they will come to fruition at the earliest possible moment. I shall give them my heartiest support. This is the third Parliament of which I have had the honour of being a Member, and no vote of mine will give me more sincere pleasure than my vote for this instalment of a larger scheme of insurance for a deserving and numerous class of persons who were excluded from the former Bill.

I do not regard this as a gift, but as a recognition of a public duty and responsibility. I am not blaming the Government, as some other Members of the House are, for omissions from this Bill, because I recognise fully that they could not possibly, on grounds of expense and expediency, or, indeed, in the limited time which they have had at their disposal, explore all the matters with which it is necessary to deal in a comprehensive Measure; but, so far as time has been afforded them, I believe this to be an honest attempt to deal with an existing evil. As to the question of expense, we have been spending an ever growing amount on armaments, and I would rather spend money on social reform and the betterment of the people than on something which is destructive to human life. There are two matters which I regret are not included, though I do not in any way blame the Government for it. There is still, as I under stand it, the imposition of the means penalty in the case of persons 70 years of age. As a member of a Pensions Committee for many years, I have seen bow this condition operates to the disadvantage of thrifty and careful persons who throughout their lives have practised self denial, and who are penalised when they come to claim an old age pension. Another thing which I hope will be dealt with before this Parliament runs its course is that there shall be opportunities for all deserving persons on equal terms to have old age pensions. The Act does not meet many cases that we have in mind. There is the small shopkeeper and there are numerous other classes. But this is an important instalment towards helping a large section of our deserving people, and I welcome it and thank the Government for bringing it in.

Viscountess ASTOR:

I rise, a member of what has been called a profligate party. We have just been referred to as the Egyptians whom an hon. Member opposite said they are going to despoil. I am certain when the hon. Member has been in the House longer he will realise more and more what he has already seen, that honesty and virtue belong to no one party, and I think the hope of this House is that we have a great many perfectly honest, high-minded Socialists who come for the first time into the House and are going to have to face facts which never before in their lives have they had to face. Let us see what this profligate Government did. It spent £400,000,000 on social services in one year. [An HON. MEMBER: "Never!"] You know perfectly well what I mean. Our social contribution to widows' and orphans' pensions cost nearly £400,000,000. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is more than we spend in three Budgets."]

Commander WILLIAMS:

The figure was given earlier in the Debate. It is approximately correct. The total social services of the country last year were getting on for £400,000,000. Everyone knows that.

Viscountess ASTOR:

I was beginning to wonder whose speech this is. I do not mind that little gibe about millionaires. You have some on your side of the House too. If I joined the Socialist party, I should live like a Socialist and not talk like one. However, I want to get back to realities. When the Bill was brought in it was fought by the Opposition on two main grounds. One was that it was a contributory scheme and the other was that industry could not bear it. I myself think there has been a good deal of nonsense talked about what industry can bear. Industry is a little like a husband who never tells his wife what his in come is, because he knows perfectly well that she would spend every penny of it. A wise wife will not spend over her husband's income but she will spend right up to it. You are trying to spend the principal. Your theory of Government is to spend the principal. Our's is to spend the whole of the income and leave the principal untouched. That is my objection to Socialist social reform. Is industry any better than it was when you fought us on our Bill? It is in no better situation to-day than it was then. What did the present Under-Secretary of State for Scotland say in that de bate? [Interruption.] The hon. Member knows perfectly well that many of us, and many hon. Members opposite, if they had the possessions I have would not be here to-day. Some of us care more about social service than we do about possessions. The whole basis of civilisation and progress is honesty. Was it honest for you to fight our Bill and tell us that when you came into power you were going to bring in a non-contributory Bill? This is what the hon. Gentleman said: I am sure the House has listened, as it always does, with interest to the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor). She mixed up some admirable human sentiment with some prophesying, which brought her within the jurisdiction of the Chair, and she talked at length, as previous speakers in this Debate have done, about what the late Chancellor of the Exchequer might have done. She went in for some thought reading in this regard and declared that the late Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Members of this party, if they had introduced a Bill to deal with widows' pensions, would have introduced it on a contributory basis. If there is one thing more than another that is certain about the opinions of the Labour party it is that any proposal to introduce a contributory scheme of widows' pensions Would have been thrown out holus bolus without apology and at once."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th May, 1925; col. 308, Vol. 184.] Not only did he say it but nearly the whole of his party. There was one just man among them and that is the present Secretary of State for India. When he was honest he was with the Liberals. He was over here.

Photo of Mr Andrew MacLaren Mr Andrew MacLaren , Stoke-on-Trent Burslem

Do you suggest that he is dishonest now?

Viscountess ASTOR:

No, but I suggest that he will be if he stays with you long. It shocks me and horrifies me. I had to fight this election on Labour promises. I never thought our scheme was perfect. I thought it might be improved a great deal and a good many widows should have been included, but as long as it was an insurancee scheme I thought there was reason behind it. I admit that the mistake the late Government made was in giving pensions to widows with children under 14 whose husbands had not been insured. That was the only way in which we departed from the contributory system. That opened the door for you to say that we were not consistent. Certainly, when it came to the election it was very difficult for us to deal with the widows whose late husbands had not been insured, and the widows whose husbands had been in small businesses. The only defence we had was that those widows whose husbands had not been insured had children. That was not a very easy thing to fight upon. You have made it almost impossible for us to go to those other widows, those thousands of widows in the country who have a right to this pension, if we are going to place it on a non-contributory scale. I do not see how the position can be defended. Perhaps I am taking too much trouble and thinking of the honesty of hon. Members opposite.

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

The Noble Lady has repeatedly referred to honesty, and I have listened with great care to the quotations from the speeches which we made in this House declaring that we were in favour of non-contributory pensions. Will she tell us where in this Bill that non-contributory principle is violated, seeing that we are bringing in hundreds and thousands of widows on a non-contributory basis?

Viscountess ASTOR:

I want to know why you do not bring in all of them.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

The hon. Gentleman is perhaps quite unaware that in the course of the Widows' Pensions Debate in the time of the Conservative Government, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) then occupied a seat on the Front Bench, and spoke in an official capacity. He gave a definite undertaking on behalf of his party that if the Socialist Government were returned to power they would repeal the Contributory Pensions scheme and bring in a non-contributory one. I was present on that occasion, and any hon. Member who looks at the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Debate when the right hon. Gentleman made that observation, will see that I asked him if that was an official pledge on behalf of the Labour party, and that he said it was.

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

That in no way meets the point upon which I interrupted the hon. Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor). She has made an allegation about dishonesty in the matter of election pledges. I have drawn her attention to the fact that the Bill which we are discussing this after noon adds very considerably to the numbers of people who are to get non-contributory pensions, and to that extent we in no way violate any statements which were made in 1924.

Commander WILLIAMS:

This is a very serious statement. The Bill is called the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Bill, and, if this proposal is not contributory, I submit that the whole of our proceedings are out of Order at the present moment.

Viscountess ASTOR:

I want to ask the party opposite why they do not keep their promises to all the widows? That is what I want to know. Why do they not keep their promises to all of the women? I, as a woman, have always fought for widows' pensions, and I am perfectly prepared to see you go further than you are going now. Why do you not do so? Let the Minister of Health bring in such a Measure and give us a chance. What has become of the scheme of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Peckham (Mr. Beckett)? He brought before the House a scheme on a non-contributory basis, and said that it was a much easier scheme than the one which we produced. He said that it could be understood by anyone who could multiply two by two, and that it was as easy as falling off a log. Why do the Government not fall off the log and bring in that scheme? [Interruption.] You are sticking to power and refusing to keep your promises. I ask the Minister before the day is over to explain the position to us, for we are quite simple people, and want to go into the country and explain the position to other quite simple people. If the scheme of the Member for Peckham, which was non-contributory, would double the benefits and would cost, I think, only £42,000,000 a year, was so remark able, why did the Government not bring it in? I hope to have an answer to that question.

The position is a little difficult for us on this side of the House, and particularly those of us who have but one interest at heart, namely, the raising of the standard of living of the great masses of this country. There is not a single thing in the world which any honest social worker cares about except the problem before us. The Minister must know how difficult it is for us on these benches to be patient and listen to speeches from that side. It is very difficult for the "hard hearted, cold, and unimaginative business men on these benches, whose only thought is to grind down the faces of the poor" to be patient during these Debates. I do not want to be provocative. [Interruption.] Every hon. Member knows that I am just as apt to attack my own party as I am the party opposite. We must have common honesty in politics or we shall not get anywhere. If the Socialist Government have gone back on their pledges, if they have given up that ideal State where the Government supports everybody, and there are no rich and no poor—that socialistic vision of a State—and they are only going to do what all social reformers desire to do—

Photo of Mr Benjamin Smith Mr Benjamin Smith , Bermondsey Rotherhithe

What has that to do with the Money Resolution?

Viscountess ASTOR:

It has a great deal to do with the Money Resolution. The hon. Gentleman ought not to interrupt me, because he knows perfectly well that I am, as far as possible, trying to speak the truth.

Photo of Miss Edith Picton-Turbervill Miss Edith Picton-Turbervill , The Wrekin

The Noble Lady has said that she would like to give pensions to all widows. Did the Noble Lady in common honesty move an Amendment to that effect when the previous Bill was passed?

Viscountess ASTOR:

Not at all. I have always believed in the contributory scheme. I said that I wish it had been possible. I would like to give pensions to all widows, but I know perfectly well that no Government, certainly not in the present state of the country, will be able to do it. I had to fight my election on that matter, but you honest Christian Socialists promised this to the widows of the country. I rise in just wrath, and when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health faces me with that menacing look, she does not frighten me in the least. She might frighten a man, but she does not frighten me in the least. I know that with all her gifts for figures there is something even better than the gift for figures, and that is just ordinary woman's common sense. Above all, do not promise that which you know in your own heart you can never carry out. It is a very surprising thing that there are two spinsters who are Members of the Government, and not one of them has considered the spinster when the Government are giving additional benefits to women.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Nelson and Colne

I am not sure that I shall take up much time in replying to the Noble Lady.

Viscountess ASTOR:

Why not?

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Nelson and Colne

The reason why I do not think I need spend much time in replying to the Noble Lady is, that if she is not afraid of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, neither am I afraid of her arguments. The question which was put to the Noble Lady by my hon. Friend the Member for the Wrekin Division (Miss Picton-Turbervill) and the answer given by the Noble Lady dispose of her right to question our purity of motive in this method of politics.

Viscountess ASTOR:

What about your promises?

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Nelson and Colne

I am delighted, as I said yesterday, that hon. Members opposite should be so interested in our promises. We have no desire to run away from them. I take it as the greatest possible compliment to me that I should have been expected to fulfil so many promises within four months of taking office. Being a modest man, I disclaim having that power. The hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Shakespeare) raised a number of specific questions, to which I should like to reply. He asked what will be the capital cost of the new proposals. I do not know what the capital cost will be, because they have not been worked out. It does not seem to me, taking the long view, that that is really a relevant point. I have never known in the social services of this country, apart from insurance, that any question arises of the capital cost of a scheme. It is a new device which has been invented for insurance schemes, and one which is not always equitable. It does not mean very much and does not help us the least bit in regard to proposals for dealing finally with a declining number of people. It is a very elaborate calculation, and we have not had time to work it out.

The hon. Member for Norwich also asked about the percentage of unemployment on which the Bill is based. If he will refresh his memory and go back to the Report of the Government Actuary on the financial provisions of the original Bill, he will see a figure given there, and he will find that that figure has not been substantiated by the subsequent facts. I should, therefore, be reluctant to make any estimate. My view would be that my estimate might perhaps be nearer to the truth than the particular estimate to which I have referred, for unemployment has undoubtedly exceeded the percentage that was stated there. The hon. Member must realise that it is impossible for me, looking forward to 1946, to make any kind of estimate or any calculation which is worth anything at all. As we pointed out in 1925, any forecast for actuarial purposes is really valueless, and I must say that I have no figure in my mind.

On the third point raised by the hon. Member, he will see in the same report that the interest rate is reckoned at 4 per cent., and that that rate is maintained. His fourth question was as to the surplus of the Fund at the end of 1935–36, if there had been no new Bill. In 1935–36 we should have ended up under the existing Act with a surplus of £22,000,000. At the end of 1946 that surplus would gradually have disappeared.

The hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley), asked me whether Clause 20 could be made retrospective. That is the Clause which deals with deaths, as a result of which payments are made under the Fatal Accidents Acts. Where there have been decisions by juries extending back for many years it is quite impracticable to make that provision retrospective. The hon. Member asked how many people are to be employed as a result of the new Bill. It is very difficult for me to say, because a very substantial proportion of the people who will be engaged in the administration of the scheme will be in the Post Office and will come upon the Post Office Vote. For the purposes of the Bill we are utilising the ser vices of something like 400 clerks for the time being. That is necessary in view of the examinations of the large number of claims which will be forthcoming as soon as the Bill is on the Statue Book.

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

What my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland had in mind, was to know whether the Financial Resolution excludes the people who to-day are in receipt of pensions or allowances under the Fatal Accidents Acts. Of course, you cannot re-open the cases that have been settled, but one would like to know whether this Bill will prevent people who are getting these allowances from getting pensions.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Nelson and Colne

The pensions will be taken off the allowances. It is very difficult to go back on these things. One of the difficulties that we have had in framing the Bill has been in trying to go back on a good many things that happened as a result of the Act of 1925. Let me deal with the speech made by the right hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Sir K. Wood), who is anxious to guard so jealously the rights of this House in matters of finance. The first part of his argument was that we are now going through times of very great economic difficulty, and his implication was that we are unable to bear this new burden. He referred to the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Sheffield recently, in which he dealt with the rising cost of social services. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was explaining, not complaining. He was not saying that these rising costs were beyond the power of this country to meet. He was merely facing up, in an analytical spirit, to the existing economic situation, and I think he was a little too kind to the late Government who, in my opinion, were largely responsible for the financial straits in which we find our selves to-day. I am not afraid of the rising cost of social services. Only this year, on the 25th April, the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in a Debate on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, agreed with the Colwyn Committee that the national savings of this country per year amounted to £450,000,000, and in five years that we had added to the general pool of the assets of the nation £2,250,000,000. I know that some of that money is required for capital expenditure, but at the same time I am quite certain that a country which is saving to that extent can not complain of poverty when it comes to pensions for widows.

It is true that times are difficult, but it is equally true that luxury flaunts it self to-day. It is true that there are big areas devastated by bad trade to-day, but it is equally true that there is a large amount of wasted wealth in this country which can properly be diverted to the needs of large sections of the population who have never enjoyed these resources. Of course, there are burdens on local authorities and increasing burdens on ratepayers to-day. The results of the Local Government Act, 1925, and new legal decisions, are increasing the circumference of the circle within which our industries are being de-rated, leaving a larger burden on the masses of house holders. Of course there are burdens on the rates, but I have still to learn that all burdens on the rates are socially unproductive expenditure. The burdens on the rates to-day are largely the result of the inadequacy of our system of social insurance in the past, and every improvement we make in it is to that extent a relief of the overburdened ratepayer. The right hon. Member for West Woolwich developed the difficulties of competition, his view being that the heavier expenditure on social services and social insurance was an enormous handicap.

2.0 p.m.

In the days before the War our social services cost infinitely more than those of any other country in the world and no complaint was ever made. No complaint could rightly be made. The theory of all those who support social services, even those on the Conservative Benches, is that in the long run they make for national efficiency and improve the general well-being of the country, and that they are not an economic drawback to a nation but an asset. If we were to measure our power of competition by the cost of social services in each country, then a country which I will not name ought to be in the forefront of the great industrial nations to-day. The thing is preposterous. It is on the same footing as arguments about Free Trade and Protection. Both these systems exist, and where they exist the evil of unemployment may also exist. It is really out side any fiscal system. So to-day the plight we are in at the moment is not due to our expenditure on social ser vices. I am prepared to say, and to substantiate it if time permitted, that our position would have been infinitely worse if we had not had these social services. I tremble to think what might have happened in this country at the end of the War but for the great social provisions which were then made. When the right hon. Member for West Woolwich harps on about their effect on competition, every hon. Member knows that there are far bigger difficulties in the way of success fully operating in the markets of the world than the social services, and rather than deprive the masses of the people of them I should be willing to spoil the Egyptians, for whom the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) has spoken. I cannot understand how any Member of this House who has been a Minister, and particularly Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, can come to this House and complain about the increasing cost of the social services. I would not change my job for any other in the Government. It deals with the social ser vices of the country; the human side of politics more than any other Department. The very basis of its operation is the development of our social services. Of course they have increased in cost. Does the right hon. Gentleman wish to reduce them, or to sweep them away? Does he take the view of the hon. and gallant Member for Westmorland that they ought not to be necessary? I do not take that view. However well off people might be, there are large social services which are better collectively administered than they are under individual arrangements.

These social services under successive Governments, of whatever party, will be bound to extend until you have insured for the people of this country those pro visions which are essential to civilised life. So long as disease exists, so long will the social services exist to root it out; and more must be spent on them. I am not apologising for the increased expenditure on social services and social insurance. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the question of the means test and said that I had not only dealt with the question of widows in need. That is because my standard was set by the late Minister of Health. It was one of the proud boasts of his Act that people who came within his contributory pensions scheme had not had to submit to an inquisition as to their means. Why, in extending his Act and bringing in the same class of people which he dealt with, should I impose a different means test?

Then we had from the right hon. Gentleman a description—which I have never sought—of myself as a socialist intellectual. Heaven forbid that I should ever call myself an intellectual; a socialist I am. He regards this Bill as a fair sample of socialist thought. I thank him for the compliment. It is giving, he says, large sums to a selected class. But the late Government selected the class; I did not select it. I am dealing with two Measures, the second of which was the Contributory Pensions Act of 1925, and I have extended it only—it was the limited extent to which I could go in this Bill—to bring in the people of the same class for whom the right hon. Gentleman had made provision. I would put a question to the right hon. Gentle man. Does he want these people to have pensions or not? That is a plain and fair question and we are entitled to an answer. We got no answer yesterday. Do right hon. and hon. Members opposite want these people to have pensions or not? You cannot bring them within a contributory scheme; the contributor is dead. Another question is: Does the right hon. Gentleman really believe that this country is unable to bear the charge for these pensions? Is the new charge which is to fall on the Treasury the last straw which will break the camel's back?' Is it something that is going to plunge this country further and further into the difficulties of the day? I do not think it is; no one can believe it is.

The general reception which this Bill has met, not only from Members on this side but from Members opposite and from Conservative Members too, seems to indicate that they have no doubt as to the capacity of the people to pay this added bill. If their complaint is that there are no contributions, my answer is that whenever you introduce a scheme for future operation there will inevitably be a number of people left out, particularly in a scheme of this kind. You cannot make provision for them inside the four corners of contributions. You must therefore rely upon some other way of doing it. The question that we have to settle to-day is the plain and simple question, ought these widows to have pensions? Ought the easements that are being brought into the scheme to operate? It is not a question as to whether a new class of people should be brought in.

A final question is, should the people whom we propose to provide with pensions, the people who will obtain pensions as a result of the easing of the condition, be the people who are to have pensions? That is a question that the Committee is asked to settle. Another question is, do hon. Members believe that the country can bear the financial burden? Three-quarters of the tale of opposition which petered out miserably last night, was this fear that the country could not bear the burden. If the country can bear the burden it is our "business to support this Financial Resolution. I say, in anwer to those two categorical questions, that all those beneficiaries ought to come into this scheme, and even the Chancellor of the Exchequer, hard pressed as he is to-day through no fault of his own, is convinced, as I am and the great body of the public are, that the nation is able to bear the financial strain of this tardy measure of justice to a large and needy class of our people.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

The right hon. Gentleman has devoted a great part of his speech to an attack on my right hon. Friend the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood).

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

An attack in the form of a reply, and the effect was to misrepresent my right hon. Friend as being against all social services. That is a libel on my right hon. Friend and is not a fair description of the argument which he ad dressed to the Committee. The late Government perhaps did more than many Governments had done for many years past to increase and improve the social services, and thereby no doubt to add to the burdens which fall on the tax payers. The question that we are now considering is certainly not whether social services are proper or desirable in this country, but we are entitled to point out, when a proposal is brought in to increase very largely the burden, that that burden is being increased, and to consider whether the additional sums which the Government are proposing to spend will be wisely spent. It is not the slightest use for the Minister of Health to talk as though the more you spent on social services the richer the country would be. We must all admit that there is a limit to what the country can bear, although we may differ as to the precise point at which the limit is reached. I am not myself prepared to say that the country cannot bear an additional £100,000,000 of taxation in the course of the next 16 years, but we must draw the attention of the House and the country to the fact that these burdens are being increased, and it is clearly our duty to consider how far the implications of that additional burden may react on the general prosperity of the country.

I want to make one observation upon a remark which fell from the Parliamentary Secretary. She made some play with the suggestion that there was a great improvement in the present Bill over the financial methods of the late Government. She spoke of their having contemplated what she called a jolt in national finance at the end of the period which is completed in 1935–6. She claimed that the present arrangement would avoid that jolt and would lead the expenditure of the country step by step instead of by large jumps. But when we talk about national finance we are not thinking only of national finance in relation to one single subject or one Bill. The question of pensions, for example, may very well be held to include other pensions besides those which are included under the Contributory Pensions Act; and the Parliamentary Secretary, if she had looked at the Actuary's Report on the original Act, would have seen that in contemplating the various sums of money which would be necessary from the Exchequer in order to balance the expenditure, account was taken not merely of the expenditure under the Contributory Pensions Act, but the whole expenditure upon pensions. On page 26 of that report there was given a table which showed the expenditure on old age pensions, on contributory pensions and on war pensions. Of course, there was a diminution in the annual cost of war pensions which was to be set off against the increase in expenditure on the other kind of pensions. In the last column of that table there was given a total which included the expenditure on all these services and which shows that in that total there was no such jolt as the Parliamentary Secretary suggested, but that practically the total amount remained within a very small margin right throughout the period dealt with.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Nelson and Colne

But war pensions are no part of the Estimates of the Ministry of Health.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

No, but they are part of the national finance, and it is the national finance to which the Parliamentary Secretary alluded and in which she said there would be a jolt. I am pointing out that in considering national finance at the time when the Contributory Pensions Act was framed regard was had to the war pensions and to their effect upon national finance, and that, taking that into account, there was no such jolt as is suggested.

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

If the right hon. Gentleman will look at column 7 in that table in the original Actuary's Report, he will see that, whereas in 1940–41 the total is £97.6 millions, in 1945–46 the total is £102.5 millions, even taking into account the relief afforded by the decline in war pensions, which is no part of the Ministry of Health pensions.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

The hon. Lady is only repeating what I said. There is no such jolt as would have been sup posed by hon. Members listening to the hon. Lady when she was comparing the Exchequer contribution of £4,000,000 a year for the first 10 years with the £13,000,000 which she said it was going to cost in the succeeding year.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

The hon. Lady must not interrupt me the whole time. I have given way twice, and I cannot go on giving way at every moment. I want, further, to make some complaint about what I must call the very meagre information which is given in the financial memorandum in this Bill. An explanatory memorandum, I think, should explain, and this memorandum which is affixed to the beginning of the Bill leaves a very great deal unexplained altogether. It only deals with a certain number of Clauses, and those are by no means all the Clauses, as far as I can see, which do as a matter of fact inflict a charge upon the Exchequer; and I think we are entitled to have a little more information than we have yet got from the right hon. Gentleman about the basis of the calculations that are made here, because it is very important, at any rate in debating a Financial Resolution of this kind, that we should know where we stand and whether in fact the figures that are before us take account of all the considerations that ought to be considered in deciding what are going to be the liabilities of the nation. The hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Shakespeare), in an interesting contribution to the Debate, drew attention to the question of unemployment, which was made a very conspicuous feature in the original Report of the Government Actuary, and in one of the paragraphs of his Report, paragraph 38, he said: In preparing this Table it has been assumed in regard to the early years of the scheme that unemployment will average 8 per cent. over the whole of the insured population at ages under 65 during the year 1926–27, falling by regular gradations to the normal rate of 5 per cent., which is assumed to be reached in the year 1930–31. We have got very near to the year 1930–31. The Actuary goes on to say that the lower rate, that is, the rate assumed in 1930–31, represents about 750,000 persons, of whom 700,000 may be taken as being in the industries covered by the unemployment scheme. We know that those anticipations have not been fulfilled and that, instead of being 750,000, at the present time unemployment is well over 1,000,000; and if it goes on at the present rate we may expect in 1930–31 that it will have advanced even above that figure. I would like to know, and I think we are en titled to know, from the right hon. Gentleman whether, in making out these tables which are given us in the present Bill, unemployment has been assumed to be at the rate of 5 per cent. over the total population, or whether some other figure has been taken. I notice that the contributions which are put down on page 9 of the Memorandum do not show any very great variation from those which were included in the tables given by the Actuary in 1925. In 1929–30, for example, the receipts from contributions were put down in the Actuary's table at £23.3 millions, and in the table that we have now they are put at £23.4 millions, and they remain about the same until they actually coincide in the year 1932–33. If unemployment is much higher to day than was anticipated at the time when the Actuary made that Report, how is it that contributions are estimated to be the same as they were upon that assumption? Can we trust to these figures, or are we to take it that the basis has been changed and that, in spite of the change in that basis, nevertheless these contributions are going to remain the same; and, if they are going to re main the same, and if the basis has been changed; then what else has changed which has enabled the right hon. Gentle man to estimate that the contributions are going to be maintained? That, I think, is a matter on which we certainly ought to have further information.

We also want to know whether all the charges which are likely to be incurred under the various Clauses of this Bill are actually accounted for by the figures we have before us, because in another table, which is given on page 5 of the Memorandum, I do not see any estimate at all for charges which would arise under a number of the other Clauses in the Bill. There is Clause 3, which must involve some charge. We are told that that may be accounted for by certain margins in the contributions which have been re served. Then there is Clause 15, and there is Clause 6, as to which the estimate is only conjectural. There are Clauses 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, and 17, all of which, as far as I can see, will involve an extra charge upon the Exchequer but none of which are included in this table on page 5, and I think we are entitled before we pass this Resolution to have more detailed information than we have at present as to how much has been included for those charges, and whether they have in fact been accounted for in making the calculations upon which the financial provisions are based.

The right hon. Gentleman has spoken about the criticism that has been made with regard to need pensions. It is quite clear that under the proposals in the Bill a good many pensions will be given to people who are not in need of them. It says on page 7 of the Memorandum: While the majority of these widows would be entitled to an old age pension under existing conditions, the numbers de barred by the means test … would probably be appreciable. Therefore, it is evidently anticipated that a considerable number of these widows would, if the means test were not abolished, have been debarred from their pension by the fact that they already have means of their own, and when the right hon. Gentleman asked us how it is consistent on our part to demand that need should be brought into consideration, be cause we did not bring it into consideration in our Bill, he is, of course, begging the whole question. Our Bill was not based on the principle of need. Our Bill was based upon the principle of insurance, and the argument which I used yesterday I repeat now, that there are only two possible principles on which you can base a system of pensions. You can either make it an insurance scheme, in which case the question of need does not arise, or you can make it a non-contributory scheme; and if you do that, then I say that it is an outrageous thing that you should take money from the tax payers, including people who are in need, who will have to pay their share of the taxes and give it to people who have no need at all.

I must remind the right hon. Gentle man again, when he tries to put his own interpretation upon the Prime Minister's statement, that what the Prime Minister stated quite definitely was that need was to be the one test for the entry of widows upon the register of pensions. The question of test has been absolutely ignored and flouted by the Minister of Health in his Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said that the late Government selected this class for pensions, but how absurd it is to mislead the Committee like that. If he means that the late Government selected widows for pensions, they did, and they deserve all credit for being the first Government to do it; but, if he means that the late Government selected the 500,000 widows whom this Bill is intended to benefit, I say that that is not a true statement of the case. This is an arbitrary selection by the present Government, and, as I showed yesterday, it is based upon no principle whatever. The right hon. Gentleman says that the question he has put to us is: Do we, or do we not, mean that these people shall have pensions? I put to him the question: Does he want people who are in need and do not come under his particular provisions to have pensions?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

Then why does not the right hon. Gentleman carry out his pledges and give them?

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Nelson and Colne

We cannot do it in four months.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

The right hon. Gentleman did not say that in election time. There is plenty of time in four months, and there was no reason what ever why he should not have doubled his £100,000,000 in that time, and made it £200,000,000, and brought in any other classes if he wanted to do so. He is riding two horses at once, and trying to say that he wants to bring in all widows, and at the same time that he cannot do it, because he knows that he has not the money with which to do it. We shall have to consider in Committee once again whether it is really justifiable to take this large sum of money and give it to these particular people. It is not a question of whether £100,000,000 is a sum which this country can afford or not. It is not a question whether this or that class ought or ought not to have pensions at some time or another. The question is whether, if we are to spend £100,000,000 to-day, this is the right way in which to spend it. Upon that we shall challenge the right hon. Gentleman, and we shall require from him further information than he has given us in his very meagre speech.

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

I will give one or two explanations to the right hon. Gentleman. The first point on which he rightly demanded information was how it was that the unemployed percentage being so different from the estimated figures of 1925, the total figures given for contributions coming out at approximately the same. For the purposes of calculations the present figure for unemployment has been taken as the basis. It has been assumed that this figure of 10 per cent. will gradually decline, so that in the later years of the scheme employment may be supposed to have reached the somewhat optimistic figure which was estimated in 1925. On the other hand, there is a very great improvement in the mortality rates, and it is calculated that the increase in the number of contributions that will be paid will to some extent off-set the large figures of unemployment. So that there are two factors to be taken into account—an immediate basis of 10 per cent. in the unemployment and the decrease of that in the course of years to a more reason able and natural figure, and the improvement in mortality which has already taken place. Hon. Members will be familiar with the paradox that, although unemployment figures are rising, there are more persons employed. The additional number of persons employed will be a greater possible benefit to the scheme to off-set the higher percentage of unemployed. The right hon. Gentle man also asked whether the cost of Clauses 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15 and 17 are included. These are small but uncertain elements which are mentioned in paragraph 7 of the Financial Memorandum. It is estimated that these costs will be met by the margin of expenditure which is spoken of in paragraph 7 of the Financial Memorandum.

Now, one word as to the jolt. On page 26 it will be seen that column No. 2 of the Financial Report gives the Exchequer payment to the Pension Fund, and the payments jump from £1,700,000 in 1935–6 to £8,300,000 in 1936–37. Then to £14,000,000, and afterwards to £17,000,000. In the 10 years up to 1935–36 the Exchequer would be covered if you take into account the surplus with which the Fund begins, owing to the contributions be ginning at 1926 and the pensions being only fully payable at 1928. If you calculated the War pensions, which is an illegitimate extension of the Estimates of the Ministry of Health, the payments from the Exchequer jump from £85,000,000 in the year 1935–36, to £91,000,000 in the year 1936–37. The payments go up to £97,000,000, and then in the next year to £102,000,000.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

You are in creasing the Exchequer contributions from £4,000,000 to £9,000,000.

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

I am talking about the finance of the 1925 Act.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

Is not that a jolt?

Photo of Miss Arabella Lawrence Miss Arabella Lawrence , East Ham North

Yes, increased expenditure budgeted for next year and voted by the House of Commons is a different thing from budgeting for a figure ten years hence. But what man can say what the revenue will be in 1936 or what additional expenses, unforeseen now, the state of the country will require? The illegitimate thing is to throw an uncertain jolt on be futurity. In framing the expenditure for the next year, to increase it by any conceivable amount that the country can afford may be unwise, but is not illegitimate. The wicked thing in finance is to throw great burdens on to posterity and bring a jolt in a scheme long years ahead. To allow the increase to come gradually year by year is the sensible and reasonable course. It is exactly what a prudent man would do in his own case. He would not say, "In the year 1936 I shall be well off and I. can put off my debts till then." He would pay his debts in the present, and lay by a nest egg to accumulate for his possibly increased expenditure in the future. It pays to cover year by year future expenses which are foreseen.

Photo of Mr Bertram Falle Mr Bertram Falle , Portsmouth North

I must congratulate the Minister on that part of his speech yesterday in which he was wise enough and generous enough to allow the widow and orphans of a workman who loses his life and whose case comes under the Workmen's Compensation Act to receive not only the sum which she obtains under that Act but also the widows' and orphans' pensions. There is no one in the House who will not praise that provision. The Minister called it a measure of justice, and I think that is what it is. But there is another class for whom I wish to speak, the members of a great service without which this country would be but a blot in the North Sea, and the Empire would no longer be our boast. I refer to our naval ratings. The Minister said of civilian workers that when there are two contracts it is monstrous that the relatives of the worker who lost his life should be deprived of their advantages under one of those contracts. The relatives of the naval rating are thus penalised. If a man loses his life in the service of his country, his widow and children are given certain emoluments by the Admiralty, but the pension for which he had subscribed all his life, the pension for his widow and children, is not given to them. That is a blot on the last Act, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will remove it. It is true that a large number of innocent people, mostly on the other side of the House, believe that there will be no more war. In that case no naval rating will lose his life in action and there will be no additional charge on the country. But I am not one of those who share their view. Perhaps I am a little too old to be caught by such chaff. I believe the world will go on in much the same way as it has gone on hitherto, and that the next war will be much bloodier than the last, and some naval ratings will give their lives for their King and country. I say the depend ants of those men should receive both advantages, the advantage which is given to them by the Navy, and the advantage which they ought to have under this scheme.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

This is the first occasion under the present Government on which we have clearly and decisively before us the question as to how far we on this side are genuine in supporting or opposing a measure of social service. I am glad that some hon. Members on the other side who have spoken have allowed the possibility of our being honest and sincere. Often in this House I have tried to represent the medical profession and ancillary professions, and I think little exception will be taken to the view that no body of men in the country become so intimately acquainted with the material condition of people of every class, just as the clergy are acquainted with their spiritual condition. Medical men gain an intimate knowledge of their material condition, and therefore they have a keen interest in measures such as that which we are considering to-day. Throughout my profession there is an immense amount of support for any Measure which tries to mitigate the cases of hardship which exist in the poor homes of this country. But if we are to believe much that is spoken from the other side, there should be no end to this kind of legislation, no end to it at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] There are one or two hon. Members who say "Hear, hear," to that, but I maintain that every man of sense and responsibility must differ from them.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said again and again and has tried in vain to impress upon his own party that there must be a limit to this expenditure. The line must be drawn somewhere. Where must it be drawn? There we come to the vital point, and I want to emphasise that at the outset of this Parliament, because it will be coining up again and again. I want it to be clearly recognised by hon. Members opposite that we on this side are just as sincere as they are about social service, but we are not going to take social service as being a definite phrase, because it is not. We want to come down to what it is. We are keen on social betterment, and we object to social service which is not going to lead to social betterment. Mere proposals to spend millions on social service do not recommend them selves to those who really understand the responsibility we have for seeing that we get full money value out of these Measures. The danger on the other side is, that they say "As long as we can say from the soap box that we are spending millions out of money to which we do not contribute—" [Interuption.] That is the whole force of your point. You want to exempt not only needy workers but, as far as possible, all workers from taxes, and to put the cost of such Measures as this upon the shoulders of the very limited number of taxpayers in this country who are left to pay taxes. That is where we must strike the line. I am not going to rely upon my own statement, but would en force my argument by the opinions of men who are obviously impartial. The President of the friendly societies after the conference in October this year made a most remarkable speech referring to the general schemes of insurance and looking forward to this scheme before us to-day. I should like to read what he said: Since 1911, when the first great National Insurance Act was passed, a series of other Acts have followed, each penetrating further than its predecessor into the every day life of those who are brought within its scope. One has only to look round to see the beneficent results of much of this legislation among the sick, needy and the aged. There is in evidence however another development, less desirable in its reactions on the life of the nation. Useful though the schemes are there is a very real danger in their over development. Any scheme, however good, which removes the incentive to provide for the future and encourages all and sundry to look to the State to make provision for that future, forgetting all too often that they themselves are the State, must tend to weaken the national fibre which thrives and develops in an atmosphere where thrift is practised and where self-reliance and independence are fostered. That message to the friendly societies in conference is not to be met by ribald laughter. It is endorsed by the common sense of hundreds of thousands and by Members on our side of the House. We are responsible for distinguishing between schemes of social services that are likely to undermine the national fibre and schemes that make for social betterment and are necessary.

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Middlesbrough East

Would the hon. and gallant Member mind saying whether he considers it right for a family with £2 or £3 per week, a family which includes young children, to exercise any thrift?

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

The answer, obviously, is that those who were responsible for that family in the past should have been helped to provide what was necessary, and that the State should come in, as our party agreed it should come in, or, as the Government before the War decided in the original insurance scheme, that certain provisions should be made. The interruption brings me to the point that I want to make. We say that responsibility rests upon us to get proper value for our money. It is clear that the friendly societies view with the utmost concern and anxiety the introduction of State insurance. Why, then, do they care to day, and why do we still back up State insurance? Because there are certain conditions of life, and widows, orphans, and old age are among them, which are so certain to all families that it requires, a comprehensive system which will pro vide for every case. Therefore, it was with the greatest anxiety, which was reflected from all sides of the House, that it was decided that the State should make comprehensive provision. But there must be exceptions, and you must draw the line somewhere. Therefore, it is that the main provision of this country for relief of people in distress and need is made by the Poor Law, which was started under Elizabethan law and which has been immensely revolutionised under the late Government, and is now transferred to new and larger authorities. The whole system of this country for social betterment is that special cases arising only in a certain section of the community shall be dealt with as they may occur, by those intimately concerned and who understand the needs of the people. We hope that the new guardians will be able to relieve these conditions and these difficulties. If so, it may be on a bigger scale than anything that can be provided by a State system of Insurance.

It stands to reason that an intimate system such as that provided by the guardians ought to be the best to provide for the real needs of others, who may need it as much as the widows pro vided for in this Bill. This is the distinguishing feature between the Socialism of our opponents and the conditions of social betterment for which we stand.

Photo of Mr John Bromley Mr John Bromley , Barrow-in-Furness

This Bill has already begun to do something good if it is only to arouse the bitter eloquence of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. I have heard the hon. Gentleman before, but never so eloquently; and, when he noticed that some of us on this side said, "Hear, hear!" to the continual extension of social services, we had the secret of his eloquence. He has spoken of the traditions of the Conservative party. The less said about them the better in a respectable gathering.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

What about the Factories Act?

Photo of Mr John Bromley Mr John Bromley , Barrow-in-Furness

The trouble about the hon. and gallant Member and others with him is not with this small Bill or ex tension of the law which helps to benefit a few hundred thousand widows, but that he and they can see the red light of what is to follow. I am sick and nauseated by the flattery from selfish people opposite, with the traditions of the Conservative party; sick of those living on the workers, the land-owners, the great industrialists, bankers, and inter nationalists, with no line of country, no language frontier, and nothing but greed of gold. When the hon. Gentleman speaks of the cost of these things, because of the social services, then I say that I trust this party is going on and will continue its extension of them to the workers until we have taken away the ill-shared wealth of the people for which the Conservative party tradition stands. I can understand the perturbation of the hon. Member and his colleagues over this Bill, which is another step towards social justice in the country. I regret to take time at this late hour, but it has to be said, when we hear the jubilant eloquence from those who have always had sufficient and have always lived in idleness, with full stomachs, because they see that some of their wealth is going to be taken. I stand, as the Minister of Health has just said he stands, as a Socialist, and one who will never be satisfied until social injustices have been rectified, even though we have no blue blood in us. I am not discriminating in what I say; I am talking of those who own the broad acres. Yes, I say that I am not discriminating now. Some of us on these benches have the courage to tackle in justice wherever it is found, and not on mere party lines. I rise only to strike this note: I hope we are going jubilantly forward to do justice to those who are suffering injustice; and, when we find that it arouses the imitation hilarity of yesterday and to-day on the other side of the House, or the eloquence of the hon. Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle) who has just sat down, we take it with delight, because we know that we are on the right track.

3.0 p.m.

Photo of Sir Gerald Hurst Sir Gerald Hurst , Manchester Moss Side

I would suggest that one of the issues which have been raised by hon. Members on the other side is an issue which is really not before the Committee. The issue which they purport to raise is whether or not it is desirable that a large number of widows should receive pensions. Obviously, every widow would like to receive a pension, and, if there were an un limited fund at the' disposal of the State, nobody would object and nobody could cavil in the least at the giving of money which everybody would give only too willingly to people who are in need of it. But that is not the issue before us, nor is the issue the question which the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Bromley) raised, whether or no it is a good thing to expropriate people who are large landowners and to tax the rich. The true issue which this Resolution raises is whether or not it is expedient that the money to be raised in the way indicated by the Resolution should be given to a specified and limited class; and I support the point which was made by the right hon. Member for West. Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) when he opened the Debate to-day by suggesting that it is not expedient to raise the money and to apply that money entirely on the lines which the Government have laid down.

The first ground upon which I say it is inexpedient is that at the present time this country cannot afford, without very good cause, to raise a very large sum of money to be given as a free gift to a special privileged and favoured class. I represent a Division in which no doubt many widows will enjoy the pensions which are to be given to them, and nothing will please me as a Member more than to see those widows given a pension; but, taking a long view, an industrial constituency like the one which I have the honour to represent depends for its well being, not upon the number of pensioners within its borders, but upon the state of trade. What is the good of hon. Members going up and down the country deploring the amount of unemployment at the present time and pointing out that the one way to redress that unemployment, as no one knows better than people in industrial constituencies, is to lower the heavy burden of rates and taxes, and then supporting with enthusiasm a Measure which has the effect of placing a burden of millions of pounds a year for years and years to come upon trade and industry? You cannot have it both ways. You cannot achieve the great object of reducing the burden on industry and at the same time pour an unlimited fund, at the expense of industry, into the pockets of pensioners.

It seems to me that we have to have courage in these matters, and we have to face facts. It is very easy to sentimentalise about the troubles and sorrows of poor widows, but, taking a long view, the interest of the community to which they belong is an interest which is common to employers and employed. The figures given this afternoon show that at the present time the weight of social services on industry is something like £80,000,000 a year. We have reduced the rates on industry by the De-rating Act; in a great many trades wages have had to be reduced; but we know that, not with standing the reduction of rates and the reduction of wages, it is still impossible for our great staple industries to hold their own in the markets of the world against foreign competitors, because our dead weight of rates and taxes is so in finitely greater than the dead weight which our competitors have to bear. It is quite obvious that the weight of taxes and the weight of rates must add to the cost of production, and it is the high cost of production which makes competion in foreign markets difficult or impossible. No hon. Member who represents an industrial Division, and particularly a Lancashire Division like mine, can view with any pleasure or even equanimity a Measure the effect of which will be to add considerably to the burdens already imposed on industry, and to make it more and more difficult for the great export trades of the country to hold their own in the markets of the world. What is the good of having a multitude of pensioners in this country if our oversea trade is thereby imperilled, if our markets are curtailed, and our unemployment in creased? I have no doubt that if hon. Members face this question in the clear light of facts as they are they cannot help but realise that it is more to the interests of the State to have widows dependent upon their own exertions and upon the exertions of their families, than to impose such a burden upon industry as will simply add to the dead weight of unemployment in the industrial market. That is the first ground why, in my submission, this Resolution is misconceived.

The second point which I wish to make—I shall not develop it, because it has already been made very excellently from the Front Bench—is that if we subsidise one class at the expense of the State we must be very careful that that class is in need. There is in this country an enormous, number of spinsters and an enormous number of poor people whose need is very great indeed, whereas the class which is benefited by this Bill is admittedly a class which may include a very large number of persons who are in no need whatever. There is no analogy such as has been suggested between the Government scheme and a scheme based on contributory insurance. The Govern- ment scheme is simply a scheme of bounty and free gifts. If the State is to subsidise one section only, it is the duty of Parliament to see that that section needs the gift, and it is ridiculous to import into the scheme proposals whereby a number of recipients of the bounty of the States are recipients who do not need it at all. I know very well that there are many women up and down the country who will bitterly complain that they have been excluded from the ambit of this project while a number of women who do not need any assistance at all are going to receive a bounty.

Photo of Mr John McShane Mr John McShane , Walsall

May I ask the hon. Member to specify which particular class does not deserve a pension?

Photo of Sir Gerald Hurst Sir Gerald Hurst , Manchester Moss Side

Those widows who have contributed nothing but who since the deaths of their husbands have become quite wealthy. There may be widows whose husbands died 20 or 30 years ago, and they may now be quite well-to-do women earning good incomes, perhaps living in houses of their own in consider able comfort. They come within the scheme, and I say that they do not deserve any benefit at all. Indeed, the term "deserve" is ridiculous as applied to a bounty; nobody has a clear right to a bounty; but, if Parliament is going to give a bounty, it is right to ask the pro posed recipient, "Do you need it or do you not?" That is a point which I suggest this Bill ignores.

The third objection which I take to this Resolution is that by passing it we are impliedly giving our sanction to the electioneering methods pursued by the Socialist party. We all know how they attained office; it was simply a case of offering everything for nothing, so that everybody imagined that they would derive benefits beyond their dreams by voting for a Socialist Government. The whole tendency of modern electioneering is to offer the biggest bribe, and, as nobody can compete with the Socialists in bribes, they naturally win. The electors in this country can, when an election comes, be divided into two classes: one class asks itself, "How can we help the country?" and they vote Conservative; the other class asks, "How much are you going to give to me?" and they vote Socialist. The only difference between the Liberals and the Socialists is that the former offer 9d. for 4d. and the Socialists offer everything for nothing. The principle for which the Conservatives stand is self-help, and that is the principle which has built up the industries of this country. Speaking as one of the representatives of the City of Manchester, once the citadel of self-help, I consider that this Resolution is retrograde, and the country does not wish to be pauperised in this way. The whole future of the country depends upon keeping up a spirit of adventure and enterprise, and no country can succeed in any other way. I hope all those hon. Members who have told us that they regard this Resolution as inexpedient at the present time will have the courage of their convictions and vote against it in the Division Lobby.

Commander WILLIAMS:

I wish to congratulate most sincerely the hon. Member opposite upon the speech which he has made. I think it is most interesting when we find a really successful man in life coming here and taking part in what is the primary duty of hon. Members, that is to intervene on financial questions. I wish that we could have had more details relating to this financial Resolution and more views expressed upon it by hon. Members opposite who have had experience in financial matters. Speeches of the kind I have suggested would be very useful to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We have at present a weak-kneed Government and not a very strong Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it would have been comforting to know that the Government had behind them hon. Members who would be able to back up their proposals.

I would like to give one or two reasons why I have not felt quite as happy during this Debate as I might have been. Hon. Members have been indulging in a flood of verbosity and a torrent of words, but I wish to turn to the hard facts of finance. I have noticed that the Front Bench are still labouring under one of many troubles. I do not intend to go into it in any detail, but they have not yet been able to discover in their own Bill, which they themselves have drafted, and in this Financial Resolution, which clearly affects every word in that Bill, the exact position as to why this or that part of the Bill is in italics. That is a vital financial question about which this Committee as a whole has an absolute right to know, unless the House of Commons is going to give up its old power of dealing with the finances of the nation and hand them over to the Executive.

There is another point, which I think was passed unnoticed earlier in the day. I was amazed, or, at least, not very amazed, but certainly amazed—[HON. MEMBERS; "Hear, hear!"]—I am glad to hear those cheers, because, when I hear the Minister of Health admit that he knows nothing about finance, I naturally ought not to be amazed at all; but I am always an optimist, and I live in the hope that the right hon. Gentle man may come to know his own Bill. He told us quite clearly that he did not know what the capital charge would be as far as this Financial Resolution is concerned. As regards the capital position under this Bill, I am surprised at the attitude of Members of all sections of this House, who, in their private lives, deal with things in a perfectly sound business way. Any member of an organisation outside, whether he were, say, a trade union secretary, or a member of a lodge of a friendly society, or engaged in any branch of business, if he were dealing with a simple matter like the building of a house, would want to know, not only what is going to be spent on it this week, and that week, and the week after, but what the whole capital expenditure to the very end would be. As regards this Bill, we have the details as to how it will work out for a certain time, but, as we have been told, we have absolutely no knowledge of the financial position under the Bill. That is a matter which, considering the large amount of time that the Government have had in which to compose and draw up this Bill, might have been brought out clearly.

The Parliamentary Secretary, in her opening speech, said that there was no great jolt—I think that that was the word—that there was no great jump in the new obligation; but, as set out in this Financial Resolution, the Exchequer contribution rises in one jump from £4,00.0,000 to £9,000,000. Surely, an in crease to more than double is a very considerable jump, and can hardly cause the Chancellor of the Exchequer a great deal of joy at a moment when he is facing, as he told us the other day, the prospect of decreasing revenue. It does not, however, stop at the £9,000,000, but goes on increasing to £21,000,000. But that is not the only serious aspect of the position as far as we are concerned. We find that the proportion of money found by the State, which at present is approximately one-seventh, will, under this Financial Resolution, be gradually built up to approximately two-fifths—an enormously increased amount. It will be far less a contributory pensions Bill and far more a Bill based on State grants.

There is a further side which I think has not been at all considered to-day, and that is the last part where the figures of the balance in the Treasury Pensions Account at the end of the year are given. In 1929–30 the balance is £44,000,000. In the year 1945–6 it is under £1,000,000. In other words, not only are you getting an increased contribution from the Exchequer as a whole, but you are steadily using up that reserve which is now in the fund, with the in evitable effect that at the end of the time the State will have to pay an ever increasing contribution. If we had gone on in that kind of way I can imagine the wrath that would have been poured on the head of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. We should have been told straight out that we were robbing the hen roost. It is unfortunate that the Minister of Health is no longer here. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, he is!"] I am glad to welcome his return. Under the late Government, the Minister in charge of the Bill and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on all these occasions attended the House, and it would be very wise if Ministers would consider whether it might not be useful in the future to attend a little more closely, and particularly the representative of the Treasury, because there is such a procedure as moving the Adjournment. It is very wrong when we are committing ourselves, as we are to-day, to enormously increased expenditure, that we have no representative of the Treasury here to tell us where we are. I am glad the hon. Gentleman has now arrived. I have been hoping he would explain some things that the Minister admitted he was totally ignorant of. He admitted that he did not know the capital position of the Bill.

Another point that is very interesting is that when the Minister was arguing earlier in the day that the finance of the Bill would have no effect on employment and that you might go on with your taxation and things of that kind, he referred to the Rating Act. I hoped he might say something on the Rating Act, intimating that that abomination, as we were told it was, was going to be dealt with, be cause it might give more money for pensions if it was. But that did not come. He went on a minor line. But I am going to take the point—

Commander WILLIAMS:

As long as this House sits, and as long as there are independent voices in it, it will be the duty of some of us to discuss these financial Resolutions. I know perfectly well that if the Socialist party had their way many of them would like to stifle all discussion. That is their aim and object, and that was the aim and object of the hon. Member who interrupted. If he had been in the House rather longer he would know that I rarely make long speeches unless I am interrupted. I have been interrupted continually and systematically by many hon. Members, and in many different ways, during the time I have been speaking. It is very difficult for me when I am interrupted in this way by right hon. as well as hon. Members to address my remarks to the Committee as concisely as I would wish to do. It would be easier for me on these occasions if I were allowed to put my remarks in my own way without having this continual interruption which comes from hon. Members below the Gangway, who, apparently, only come down here to jeer and to gibe at things, which, perhaps, they have not even yet taken the trouble to inquire into.

I was just going to deal with the really serious situation which is created by this financial Resolution. We had a right hon. Gentleman opposite who was sitting on the back benches, and who is now advanced in life, telling us that there was no lack of money in this country, that there was plenty of money being spent on luxury, that the luxury trades were flourishing, and that the real trouble was that the heavy industries, by which, I think, he meant in the main the export industries, were at the present time not as prosperous as they ought to be. In that speech, he really pointed out what most Members on this side mean when they say that we cannot as a nation to day afford to go on increasing our expenditure but ought rather to cut it down. I say, quite frankly and quite clearly, that, if I had to deal with the finances of this country to-day, I should follow the advice which was very nearly given, but not quite, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day, when he said that he believed in the encouragement of thrift in every possible way. I think that hon. Members will find that these are approximately the words which he used. He said that he believed that anyone who was saving money and putting it back into industry was doing something very valuable on behalf of trade and of the community as a whole. I said that he very nearly gave the advice. If he could have given the advice to his Government, and to every one who was saving money and putting it back into industry, that the Government ought to give a definite relief of taxation, it would have been an encouragement and been of real value to the nation. If, instead of discouraging—

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

I think I have been very patient with the hon. and gallant Member, and I would ask him to keep to the Resolution.

Commander WILLIAMS:

I will come back at once to the Resolution. The Resolution compels the House to find money for this Bill, and we have been discussing whether the finding of money for this Bill—and it is only the finding of the money with which we are dealing to-day—is in the best interests of the nation at the present time. So far as we on these benches are concerned, we do not say that there are not many people to whom we would like to give pensions, but we say very clearly, and I base it on the remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that at the present time we are taking away money from one side and giving to another when that money is not most wanted for giving pensions or giving help to this man or that woman. It is far more necessary to conserve the money which we shall take under this Financial Resolution in order that we may develop our trade and industry. Thereby money will be paid out in wages and we shall be helping the whole employment system of the country.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir WILLIAM ALLEN:

I suppose that it will be considered pre sumptuous on my part to take part in this Debate, but probably the House might go away dissatisfied if they had not heard the voice of one lone Irishman. Perhaps I have no business intervening in the Debate, considering that Clause 24 states that this Bill shall not apply to Northern Ireland. I shall confine my re marks purely to the financial aspect. There is some loose thinking as to where the finance for this Bill will be got. I have heard such a phrase as "free Treasury grants." Such a phrase would lead to the idea that the Treasury has money which it can pour out for any purpose that any Government may bring for ward, and yet we all know that the Treasury, as such, has no money save what it digs from the pockets of the people. It is because the Treasury must go to the people for this money that I am taking part in the Debate. I do not know whether it is the intention of the Government that there shall be an In come Tax levied for this purpose, but the right hon. Gentleman did lead us to anticipate the possibility of some of the money required being taken from the profits of industry. The only method by which that can be done is by Income Tax. It does not matter, for the sake of my argument, in what way this money is obtained, whether by Income Tax, Tobacco Duty, or otherwise; the point is that the people of the country must pay.

Coming from Northern Ireland and seeing that the Bill does not refer to Northern Ireland, I want to ask a very vital question. Will not the financial position of Northern Ireland be affected by the financial demands of the Treasury? The Committee is quite aware that if a shilling is put on Income Tax the business people of Northern Ireland will have to pay if they make any profit; the gentleman who smokes a cigar or the old lady in the chimney corner of an Irish house who smokes her cutty pipe will have to pay. For what purpose? In order to pay this money to the people of England, Scotland and Wales. I think it is only fair and right that I should ask the representative of the Treasury if he can give any information as to how the Treasury intend to deal with the situation when it arises. You are drawing money from Northern Ireland to pay the dependents of this Bill, and I see nothing unreasonable in asking for information. So far as Northern Ireland is concerned, when beneficent legislation is passed here we have immediately followed suit, and it is possible there may be an extending Bill proposed in Northern Ireland. If such is the case, will the people of Northern Ireland get the benefit of the collection of taxes which may be imposed for the purposes of this Measure if such a Bill is introduced in Northern Ireland? I doubt very much whether the matter has been considered at all. I am not keen to have an answer now, but the point is worth considering, because the question will arise later on. While we do not mind helping England on occasions, there is such a thing as being over generous. You are spreading your net over a wider financial area than you administer under the Act. There is just this difference between the Bill and the Financial Resolution; that the Bill excludes Northern Ireland but your Financial Resolution embraces us; and it is not a very kindly embrace. I do not say that it will be resented, but it calls for explanation. All I can say is that if there is a possibility of such a Bill as this being introduced in Northern Ire land I hope the Financial Secretary or the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see that we are fairly and justly treated.

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

I beg to move, in line 20, after the word "sums," to insert the words "not exceeding four million pounds in the aggregate."

Before I come to the rather narrow and more technical points covered by my Amendment I should like to make a few observations on the Financial Resolution. Paragraph (a) commits the Committee to the payment starting in 1931 of a sum of £9,000,000, which increases ultimately to a sum of £21,000,000. I listened with great interest to the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary in introducing this Resolution and I, gather from her re marks, that, this is merely part of, the scheme. I submit to the Committee that it is a very great drawback to us in fulfilling our duty as Members of, Parliament if we get the social service schemes brought to us piecemeal. As an hon. and gallant Friend said, in the course of a very interesting contribution to the Debate, there are only certain sources of money from which these schemes can be financed. Those sources are, roughly speaking, the surplus on our productive industry, the revenue received from overseas investments, and the payments for services, such as shipping, rendered to other countries. The total amount of the money is limited. It may expand if we get further foreign investments and if we build more ships for or give more services to other countries. But in any given year there is a fixed amount of it. It is very important that the Committee should consider how much it can afford, at any given moment, to spend on social services, and having arrived at that sum should decide how to allot it in the most economical and judicious way. At present we are muddling up contributory and eleemosynary schemes. We are proposing to spend money on this Measure without any relation to what money may be needed under another scheme. I do not think it tends either to an economic ad ministration of our social services or to their efficiency, or to the proper discharge of our duties as the custodians of the public purse.

There are economists who have argued forcibly that the best way to improve the condition of the country is to cut down expenditure both by the Government and locally. If Members will take the trouble to look at the drop in the unemployment figures that followed the reduction of national expenditure after 1921, they will see that there may be something in these arguments. I do not say post hoc ergo propter hoc, but the matter is at least worth careful examination. There was one other statement by the Parliamentary Secretary which deserves a great deal more consideration than it has received. She stated, not once but twice, that the expectation of life had very largely increased in recent years. That, in future, will impose a greater burden of expenditure on the community, and it is a burden which will be placed on the shoulders of those who are still producing for the benefit of those who are not. It is a point which I mention merely in passing, but it is one of the considerations which might very well engage the attention not only of the Government, but of all Members of the House.

Let me turn more closely to the Financial Resolution. Paragraph (a) is very largely eleemosynary in effect. It is a grant, it is intended to cover a grant to those women who are commonly called pre-Act women. A figure was given of something like 500,000 as representing those widows who do not come under the 1925 scheme but whom it is intended to bring in under this scheme. As I under stand the finance of this Measure, under paragraph (a) an Exchequer contribution is to be paid into the Fund known as the Pensions Fund, out of which the pensions for the 500,000 extra widows are to be paid. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Torquay (Commander Williams) has already drawn attention to the fact that one effect of this legislation will be to reduce the Fund, which at present has a balance of nearly £49,000,000 standing to its credit, to a state of practical bankruptcy by 1946, and that seems to me to be dealing some what unfairly with those who have been contributors to that Fund. The Parliamentary Secretary has referred two or three times in the course of her speeches to-day to the financial jolt which she said there would be with a sudden rise of £13,000,000 in the Exchequer contribution. Although perhaps it may be less if the Exchequer contribution goes up year by year, still it will not be much less pleasant for the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day to have to find the extra money whether it is gradual or sudden. What I could not quite under stand from the hon. Lady's remarks is whether there is in fact such a Fund or whether this Treasury contribution is merely a book-keeping figure representing the liability of the Treasury in any one year should it be called upon to pay, but which is in effect not paid but kept in the Consolidated Fund. There are certain Funds which have been set up by this House in which that principle operates, and I wanted to ask whether the figures set out in column 3, on page ix, as to the Exchequer contribution, are in fact actually transferred out of the Consolidated Fund and put into this Pensions Account, or whether there is merely an entry in the Estimates of the Ministry of Health which says that up to a certain amount the Treasury shall con tribute in any given year.

With regard to paragraph (a) of the Resolution, I have another question to put, and perhaps it might be convenient if I raised a point with which this Amendment is specifically intended to deal, and which has caused a very great deal of trouble during these Debates. My right hon. Friend the late Minister has raised the question of the italicised Clauses. It would be out of order if I were to attempt to argue whether those Clauses were correctly or incorrectly italicised, and I am bound to assume, and I assume readily, that the very able officials of this House who carry on that work have done it correctly, but there is one thing which the Committee is entitled to know about those Clauses, and on that I would again draw attention to the form of this Resolution. Paragraph (a) is strictly limited. It says that certain sums of money are to be provided in one year, but that those sums are to increase year by year by a fixed amount, and that finally for the last three years the contribution will be a fixed sum of £21,000,000. I want to ask which of these italicised Clauses are affected by paragraph (a) and which are affected by paragraphs (b) and (c), be cause, while paragraph (a) is strictly limited, paragraphs (b) and (c) are un limited. I shall have something to say later on as to the undesirability of un limited Financial Resolutions, but for the moment I am extremely anxious to find out—and I would point out to the Government that it is a matter of very great importance to the Opposition to know—which portions of this Financial Resolution refer to which specific individual Clauses.

I think the Parliamentary Secretary, if she casts back her mind to the last Parliament, will remember some discussions she had with me on the subject of the effect of Financial Resolutions during the passage of the Local Government Act of this year, and they do have a very distinct bearing on what type of Amendment is permissible when we come to deal with the Committee Stage of this Bill. It is because I feel that this is information which the Opposition are entitled to demand from the Government, that I desire to put a specific question to the Minister. The Clauses in italics which affect paragraph (a) are 2, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 17 and 19. I take it that Clause 19 is covered by paragraph (c), but I am by no means clear whether paragraph (b) and only that paragraph covers Clauses 2, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15 and 17 or whether these Clauses are covered by both (a) and (b), and if so, what is the limited effect of (a) in each specific in stance. It is exceedingly difficult for anybody who reads this Bill to find out.

It is one of the most complicated Measures from the drafting point of view which has been before this House for some time, and in spite of a considerable amount of attention in reading it, together with the principal Act, I have found Clauses, especially some of the italicised Clauses, which it is impossible to construe. In the course of her speech the Parliamentary Secretary also referred to the fact that the cost of the ad ministration of this Measure is going to be somewhere in the vicinity of £1,000,000. The Minister referred to the fact that a good deal of the work would be done by the Post Office. Is that work included in the figure of £1,000,000, or is that an expenditure which is totally outside it? Secondly, is that figure of £1,000,000 covered by either Paragraph (b) or (c), or is that a matter which will be dealt with separately on the Estimates of the Department? I have found it very hard to make out, but I conclude that probably most of that will appear in an increase in the Ministry of Health Estimates. Then Paragraph (b) is unlimited, and when she introduced this Resolution to the Committee, the Parliamentary Secretary said that it was quite impossible to put a limit on (b), because it was quite impossible to forecast the amount that would be required. It seems to me that the Parliamentary Secretary in making that statement had overlooked one small requirement.

Presumably no sum is put into the Bill or into the Financial Resolution limiting the amount of money which is required by virtue of Paragraph (b). That money will have to be provided year by year by Parliament through the Estimates. If it be possible to put in a sum in the Estimates of the Ministry of Health, or of the other appropriate Departments, for the amount which will be required to finance the services, whatever they may be, which are covered by Paragraph (b), I find it very difficult to understand why it is not possible to give an estimate to the Committee now. Presumably the Estimate will have to be made at some period, and I should like to know why the Estimate cannot be made now; and also specifically what services are covered by (b), and what Clauses of the Bill explain both what these services are and what amount may be expended on them, and how many people even at a rough estimate may be expected to benefit. The Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary say they cannot give an estimate, and I have done my best to put an estimate on the limitations of the Financial Resolution, because I am certain, the more I have watched and studied the workings of this House, that unlimited Financial Resolutions are highly undesirable.

I would remind the Committee that not long ago, the Estimates Committee passed a very strong recommendation that all Bills involving a charge on the public funds should be accompanied by a close estimate of what that charge would amount to. If we have no limit in our Resolutions we do not know how the money is being spent. We do not know whether the Department has grossly under-estimated or over-estimated the cost of the proposed services. Those de tails are tucked away somewhere in the Estimates, and I would say to those who are less familiar with Parliamentary practice that when they come to the Estimates of a Department they will find they are in a financial jungle which it taxes the most acute train to explore. For that reason, I wish to impose this limit, and I cannot see what harm would be done if the Government were to accept it. Supposing it be insufficient, then it is always open to the Government to come to the House to ask for an amending Bill, and in that case I think they should do so. If it be ample, as I calculate this limit will be on such information as I have been able to obtain, equally it will do no harm. It is for this reason that I move the Amendment, and I shall be grateful if, whoever is to reply for the Government, will give me some specific answer to the points I have advanced.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Nelson and Colne

I find it difficult at this hour of the afternoon to reply in any detail to the many points raised by the hon. and gallant Member. The first thing I must say is that of course I must oppose this Amendment. I do it on grounds which may appeal to hon. Members opposite, on the grounds of efficiency. Let me explain what the effect of this Amendment really is. It imposes a maximum limit on the amount which for all time shall be charged to the Old Age Pensions Vote for pensions to persons over 70 whose title to those pensions is consequential on the awards of widows and old age pensions under the provisions of this Bill. When the 1924 Bill was before the House it was regarded, as I said at an earlier stage of this Debate, as one of the glories of the Bill that people who might be brought within its beneficent pro visions should not be subjected to the restrictions on income imposed by the means limit. On that day did the hon. and gallant Member move an Amendment that there should be a maximum placed on the amount at the disposal of the Department for these old age pensions? Of course he did not. Never has it been done. In the 1925 Act there is no limitation upon the expenditure on pensions for persons who enter into the enjoyment of unrestricted pensions through the contributory scheme when they reach the age of 70.

Why this new revolutionary proposal from the Conservative party? If they are so apprehensive about the financial position of the country, why did they not do that in 1925? They did not do it be cause they knew it was utterly absurd and impracticable to include any definite estimate as to the amount of the expenditure under this head. In so far as I am varying the cardinal principle of the 1925 Act, I think I can claim the sup port of hon. Members opposite, and I feel that I may claim the support of all sides of the House in resisting this Amendment. We are not doing anything that is new. We are simply asking that those people who have now come in, that the pensioners of 65, shall have the same conditions applied to them as people who came in under the 1925 Act, and we are following the same procedure when we say we cannot put a limit upon expenditure. Neither could they. Who am I to put a financial limit upon something that even those greater than I were unable to do? I think it is clear that that cannot be done.

Let me say just one word about the relation between the Financial Resolution and the italicised Clauses in the Bill and the points raised by the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken. Paragraph (a) applies to Clause 4, paragraph (b) covers Clauses 2, 5, but not 6, 10, 11, 13, 15 and 17, and paragraph (c) as he stated, covers Clause 19. I hope he will be better for that explanation.

We have had a very full Debate to-day on the Financial Resolution, and I am glad to think that the Members opposite have become as articulate as they have. It is a great pleasure to hear them voicing now, four years too late, some of their apprehensions about the 1925 Bill; and we are glad to have their opinion. We have had a full Debate to-day, and I hope now that the Committee will

agree to give us the Financial Resolution.

Commander WILLIAMS:

rose

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Nelson and Colne

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

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 206; Noes, 64.

Division No. 7.]AYES.[3.58 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)Mort, D. L.
Adamson, W. M (staff., Cannock)Hardie, George D.Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Alpass, J. H.Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHaycock, A. W.Muggeridge, H. T.
Arnott, JohnHayes, John HenryNaylor, T. E.
Attlee, Clement RichardHenderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)Noel Baker, P. J.
Ayles, WalterHenderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Oldfield, J. R.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Herriotts, J.Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Hoffman, P. C.Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Barnes, Alfred JohnHollins, A.Palmer, E. T.
Barr, JamesHopkin, DanielPerry, S. F.
Batey, JosephHore-Belisha, LesliePeters. Dr. Sidney John
Bellamy, AlbertHorrabin, J. F.Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Phillips, Dr. Marion
Benson, G.Hunter, Dr. JosephPicton- Turberville, E.
Bentham, Dr. EthelIsaacs, GeorgePole, Major D. G.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Price, M. P.
Bowen, J. W.John, William (Rhondda, West)Pybus, Percy John
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Johnston, ThomasRathbone, Eleanor
Broad, Francis AlfredJones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)Raynes, W. R.
Brockway, A. FennerJones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Bromley, J.Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Ritson, J.
Brooke, W.Jowltt, Rt. Hon. W. A.Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Brothers. M.Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)Romeril, H. G.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)Kelly, W. T.Rowson, Guy
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)Kennedy, ThomasSamuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Burgess, F. G.Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)Kinley, J.Sanders, W. S.
Caine, Derwent HallKirkwood, D.Sawyer. G. F.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)Knight, HolfordScott, James
Charleton, H. C.Lang, GordonScrymgeour, E.
Chater, DanielLathan, G.Scurr, John
Church, Major A. G.Law, Albert (Bolton)Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Cluse, W. S.Law, A. (Rosendale)Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Cocks, Frederick SeymourLawrence, SusanSherwood, G. H.
Compton, JosephLawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Shield, George William
Cove, William G.Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Daggar, GeorgeLee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)Shillaker, J. F.
Dallas, GeorgeLee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Shinwell, E.
Dalton, HughLees, J.Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Day, HarryLloyd, C. EllisSimmons, C. J.
Dickson, T.Longden, F.Sitch, Charles H.
Duncan, CharlesLovat-Fraser, J. A.Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Ede, James ChuterLowth, ThomasSmith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Edmunds, J. E.Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth)McElwee, A.Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Elmley, ViscountMacLaren, AndrewSmith, Tom (Pontefract)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)MacNeill-Weir, L.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)McShane, John JamesSorensen, R.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)Malone, C. L' Estrange (N'thampton)Spero, Dr. G. E.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley)Mansfield, W.Stephen, Campbell
Gill, T. H.March, S.Strachey, E.J. St. Loe
Gillett, George M.Markham, S. F.Strauss, G. R.
Gossling, A. G.Marley, J.Sutton, J. E.
Gould, F.Mathers, GeorgeTaylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Granville, E.Matters, L, W.Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).Maxton, JamesThurtle, Ernest
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Messer, FredTillett, Ben
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Middleton, G.Tinker, John Joseph
Groves, Thomas E.Millar, J. D.Tout, W. J.
Grundy, Thomas W.Mills, J, E.Vaughan, D. J.
Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)Milner, J.Wallace, H. W.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Montague, FrederickWallhead, Richard C.
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)Morgan, Dr. H, B.Watkins, F. C.
Wellock, WilfredWilliams, David (Swansea, East)Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
West, F. R.Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Westwood, JosephWilliams, T. (York, Don Valley)Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Whiteley, William (Blaydon)Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)Wilson, J. (Oldham)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Paling.
Wilkinson, Ellen C.Wilson R. J. (Jarrow)
NOES.
Albery, Irving JamesHammersley, S. S.Ross, Major Ronald D.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryRussell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Hartington, Marquess ofSamuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Atholl, Duchess ofHerbert, S. (York, N.R., Scar. & Wh'by)Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Balniel, LordHudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Savery, S. S.
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftHurd, Percy ASomerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Boyce, H. L.Hurst, Sir Gerald B.Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Iveagh, Countess ofSpender-Clay, Colonel H.
Castlestewart, Earl ofKindersley, Major G. M.Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.Thomson, Sir F.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir GeorgeLeighton, Major B. E. P.Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Lymington, ViscountTodd, Capt. A. J.
Cranbourne, ViscountMakins, Brigadier-General E.Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Dalkeith, Earl ofMargesson, Captain H. D.Warrender, Sir Victor
Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir GodfreyMarjoribanks, E. C.Wells, Sydney R.
Davies, Dr. VernonMeller, R. J.Williams, Com, C. (Devon, Torquay)
Duckworth, G. A. V.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Edmondson, Major A. J.Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Elliot, Major Walter E.Penny, Sir George
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Major Sir George Hennessy and Captain Sir George Bowyer.
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Pilditch, Sir Philip
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Power, Sir John Cecil
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.

Main Question put accordingly, and agreed to.

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put accordingly, and negatived.

Whereupon Mr. GREENWOOD rose in his place and claimed, "That the Main Question be now put."

Resolution to be reported upon Monday next, 4th November.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.

Adjourned at Twelve Minutes after Four o'Clock, until Monday next, 4th November.