Clause 1. — (Extension of right to widows' pensions.)

Orders of the Day — Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Bill. – in the House of Commons on 12th November 1929.

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Amendment proposed [11th November]; In page 2, line 1, to leave out the words "the Minister," and to insert instead thereof the words, "one or more referees."—[Mr. Chamberlain.]

Question again proposed, "That the words 'the Minister' stand part of the Clause."

Photo of Sir Richard Meller Sir Richard Meller , Mitcham

When the Debate was interrupted last night, a suggestion had been made to the Minister that he might at least consider the proposal made in this Amendment and, if he could not there and then give a reply, that probably he would be prepared to make some offer to consider the position which we had put forward. The Prime Minister to-day intimated that it was his wish that we should proceed with the Amendments on this Bill as far as Clause 15, but I think it could not have been present to his mind that very strong views are held on this side and by Members of the Liberal party on this Clause, which gives unfettered power to the Minister to consider claims for pensions. Last night I was endeavouring to combat the argument put forward by the Minister of Health that, inasmuch as under the Act of 1925 power had been given to the Minister to determine conclusively the right of an individual to have a pension, he was entitled to come forward and claim that as a right and proper precedent for such a power in this Bill; and I was endeavouring to show that there was a marked distinction between the cases set up under the Act of 1925 and those proposed under this Bill. It will be remembered that under the Act of 1925 we were dealing with a limited class of persons and that the right of a widow to a pension was based upon the fact that she had a child, and, therefore, the period over which the Minister had to make a review was a period at the most limited to 14 years, whereas, if hon. Members will take their minds back to Section 18 of the Act of 1925, paragraph (a), they will find it stated that: the decision of the Minister on any question whether a person would have been so insured or deemed to have been so insured shall be final and conclusive. I submit that there the task of the Minister was a comparatively easy one. It was merely a reference over a comparatively short period, and a period during which most of the applicants would be able to give some evidence of which trace could have been made as to their insurance. I agree that under Section 18 of that Act there might arise some cases where the Minister had to deter mine whether he should say that such and such a person must be deemed to be a widow of a man who was insured, but such cases were very few. The Bill of 1929, however, goes a great deal further, and I would call particular attention to the second paragraph under Sub-section (1, a), which declares that the Minister has to determine that the normal occupation of the individual was at some time within the said period employment in respect of which contributions would have been payable if the Insurance Act had been in force.

It is very necessary that we should direct our minds to this particular paragraph. Is it a question of 14 years? Is it a question of a short period over which the Minister can make these inquiries, with comparative certainty that no wrong cases will be let through? That is not the case. The case here is that the Minister has to determine—and his decision is to be final and conclusive—some thing which has happened at some time over a period of 30 or 40 years. I should not raise the same strong objections if I were dealing with facts in regard to which I could get evidence from the records of the Ministry itself or of the society which had received contributions and noted them against the insured per son, but that is not the case here. We are going to a period the other side of the 14 years, a period of something like 30 or 40 years, and I submit that the Minister is not right in putting upon him self the very serious burden of deter mining finally whether these persons shall be included or excluded from the benefits of the Clause.

Let us think what it really means when we say that the Minister's decision shall be final and conclusive. Of course, it is a physical impossibility for the Minister to be examining 2,000 claims per day, which I believe is the number estimated. The task will fall upon his Department, and he will not be able to have the experience and service of men who have been dealing with these cases for many years, but he will be bound to bring in a number of persons who will have to be taught the lines on which the examination must be made, and, what is worse, they will have to examine the cases between very watertight compartments.

There is no flexibility in the Civil Service. I own among my friends a great number of civil servants, against whose intelligence and skill I have not a word to say, but they are restricted by the very conditions under which they work. If we knew that the decision of the Minister was to be a discretionary power in cases on the border line, there might be something to be said for it, but under this Bill you are going to submit these cases to a number of persons who will have their instructions and who cannot depart from "Aye" or "No." They cannot run to the head of the Department and say, "What do you think of this case? Do you think we ought to let it through or not?" May I give as an example something which occurred to one of my constituents in the past three weeks? Hon. Members will remember that in the Act of 1925, Section 28, provides that where it is shown … that failure to make a claim within the time above limited was due to circumstances over which the claimant had no control, the pension shall commence to accrue on the date on which the claimant became entitled thereto, but if the Department comes to the conclusion that the. circumstance is one over which the applicant had control, then his pension accrues from the date on which the claim was made. The instance I wish to give is that of a man who believed himself to have been born in June and to have attained the age of 65 in June of this year. He had that belief from a baptismal certificate. He had some difficulty in remembering or ascertaining exactly where he was born, but he had this baptismal certificate, and he always believed that it was obtained within about a month of his birth. He made the claim in respect to June of this year quite honestly. The Department, however, said that the evidence they required was not a baptismal certificate, but a birth certificate, and when he made inquiry—and it took some time to get that birth certificate—he found that he was in fact born in January of the year, not June. He said he put in his claim for June because he believed he was born in June, but the Department said that this error was a circumstance over which he had control. Is not that a narrow and, if I may say so, a mean adjudication upon a case? I submit that if any institution outside which had been doing this business had dared to set up such a claim for disputing a payment, some considerable stir would have been made about it, yet that is the sort of risk you will run under this Clause.

We are proposing to relieve the Minister of a very unpleasant situation. He perhaps contemplates that the whole of the cases applying will be put through, and, therefore, that there will be very few discontented people, but I want to think of the discontented people who, because they have not had the experience or advice of some other people, have not been able to put forward their claims in the right way. What will be their position?

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

They will have the right of appeal.

Photo of Sir Richard Meller Sir Richard Meller , Mitcham

I know that later on the right hon. Gentleman is taking power so that, if a few facts are brought to his notice, he may reconsider the case, but I do not like this provision in an Act of Parliament which says that a Minister may do something, but does not compel him to do it. I would rather have it clear that when an individual makes a claim he knows it will be dealt with by in dependent people, who will not be bound down by the red tape of the Department, but who will give some human feeling and consideration to the matter. I read through this Bill first of all to get the general sense of it, and then I went through it paragraph by paragraph, to see what lay behind it, whether it had any hidden meaning or some wickedness lurking in it, and the first thing that struck me was this statement that the Minister's decision shall be final and conclusive. When we are dealing with a Measure of this kind, which is an inducement to those persons who want to sup port a particular party to look and see how easy they can make things for them, I say that this sort of thing is dangerous.

As to the argument that there have been many precedents for these powers, I must say that I have never been enamoured of them, though some of them have come from my own side. I dislike legislation by Regulation, and Members of this Committee who have had experience of Regulations under social insurance schemes know that there is a great deal to object to in them. Indeed, in some cases the volume of Regulations far exceeds the size of the Act itself. You are dealing, not with regulations which can be laid on the Table of the House where they can be seen by Members and questions replied to upon them, but with something done in the secrecy of a Department. It is wrong to leave this to the Minister, and I hope when the Amendment goes to a Division there will be an overwhelming decision in favour of reasonable and proper treatment of matters of this kind.

Photo of Mr John Wheatley Mr John Wheatley , Glasgow Shettleston

I hope the Minister will consider very carefully before he accedes to the eloquent request from the other side of the House, and that he is going stoutly to resist the Amendment. It is put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) on the grounds of democracy. Somebody remarked the other evening that he wished to be saved from the sins of the late Government. We all know the right hon. Gentleman to be in the opposite camp from the democrats. If ever we had the example of Satan rebuking sin, it is in the spectacle of the right hon. Gentleman posing as a democrat. I have looked at the 1925 Act while the right hon. Gentle man was speaking, and, as a result of a casual glance, I discovered no less than a dozen instances where the right hon. Gentleman took power for the thing to be done by the Minister. There was no objection to the Minister in those days, but since then the right hon. Gentleman has found salvation, and he says that we must be very careful how we put our trust in Governments.

The hon. Member who has just addressed the Committee devoted most of his speech to trying to convince us that the referee would perform the functions that are placed upon the Minister. I fail to see any argument that would convince anyone on either side of the House. Surely, the Minister with all the power of the Ministry of Health behind him can perform the work equally as well, to put it no higher, as it would be done by a referee or referees. But I want to ask the Committee, Where is the democracy? Under this Bill, the House will have some control, but who will control the referee? You are asked to put the State in the position of a claimant or defendant in an action, and to go before a judge or referee appointed by this House. In other words, you ask a person to regard the State as his potential enemy, and you ask a referee to decide between the two claims, the State on the one side and the claimant for a pension on the other. Is that a constitutional position you want to create? Should you not train these people to regard the State as their friend and not as their enemy?

An HON. MEMBER:

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the Committee what appeal any person who is refused a pension has except to one of the parties—the Minister for the time being in control?

Photo of Mr John Wheatley Mr John Wheatley , Glasgow Shettleston

I do not want to create the spirit of two parties to an action at all—the State with all its power on one side, and the claimant on the other with his limited resources. I say that is entirely wrong. To set a power above the decision of Parliament and above the Government, to which the Government has to appeal, in legislation of this kind is entirely wrong, and I hope that Members in all parts of the House will see that it is a wrong principle and will not support it. We have some experience of these referees. I cannot discuss them here, but the House of Commons devotes a considerable amount of time at Question Time and in Debates to considering the decision of Courts of Referees under another Measure, the administration of which arouses a great deal of discussion. I submit that nothing has done more to create irritation and ill-feeling than this appointment of referees. We should leave the matter in the power of the Minister who is responsible to the House of Commons, for the House of Commons represents the people and is the proper authority to control the administration of Acts of Parliament.

Photo of Mr Cyril Atkinson Mr Cyril Atkinson , Altrincham

I have always disliked and protested against giving these autocratic powers in Acts which pretend to give rights. A right, at any rate if it is to be a legal right, must be some thing in the defence of which we can go to the Courts or some independent tribunal, and I do not see how you can set up to be conferring a right when all you say is that a widow shall have a pension if the Minister chooses to let her have it. It is suggested that the Minister is the best person to decide. I doubt that. It is a claim made against a Department administering a fund, and there are a thousand objections to letting that Department be the sole judge. We are dealing with £80,000,000 and 500,000 claimants. Doubt less, the bulk will go through without appeal, but you are putting the Department in the position that no decision, however unjust or mistaken, can be remedied. I am not sure that is wholly understood. It is quite true that under Section 18 of the principal Act there were two questions on which the decision of the Minister was founded. They were questions concerned with normal employment under (e) at the time of the deceased's death, but the provisions in that Act went far beyond it. If you turn to Section 29, you will see that, although the Minister was not to submit to the Court of Referees a question upon which his decision was expressed to be final, there was nothing to prevent his doing it if he thought fit. The words are: Nothing in the Sub-section shall be construed as requiring such a reference. The proviso to Sub-section (2) has nothing to prevent the Minister permitting a reference in a matter in which his opinion was expressed to be final. Therefore, if there were a doubtful question and the Minister was not satisfied that he was right, doubtless he would take the course, if desired, of bringing the appeal to a referee. It states: The Minister may, on new facts being brought to his notice, revise any award or decision given by him under this Act. That was a provision which really made him a court of appeal from his own Department. The Minister told us that he was given judicial powers, but he said quite frankly: I shall not exercise them; that will be done by clerks in my Department. It will be done in his name, and I have never heard of anybody being able to delegate judicial powers, but he said, quite frankly, that he was going to dele gate them. This did make him a sort of appeal from his own Department, because he still had power under that Section to review his decisions on new facts being brought to his notice This Bill enlarges that power in a very happy way, because Section 16 says: The Minister may at any time and from time to time revise, any award or decision given by him under the principal Act, if it appears to him that, having regard to any new facts or other considerations which have been brought to his notice…. wise to do so. The Committee, therefore, will see that it wisely extends his powers of reviewing decisions. It is not limited to new facts. There is no doubt that the Minister would have the power of putting right some decision come to in his name by his Department. The Committee, however, will notice that in this Bill there is no word giving a right of appeal in any respect from a decision given under the terms of this Bill. I do not know why this distinction is drawn. Under Section 16, it is made quite clear that the power to revise a decision is confined to one given under the principal Act, which is defined in Clause 1 as the Act of 1925. If you stop there, there can be no doubt whatever that there is no right of appeal on any decision under this Bill. It may be contended—perhaps the Minister will throw some light on it—that if you look at the last Clause in the Bill, Clause 24, there is a provision which enables him to read these rights of appeal and powers of revising decisions into the Bill now before the Committee, because it says: Unless in any case the context other wise requires, any reference in this Act to the principal Act or to any enactment contained in that Act shall be construed as a reference to that Act or to that enactment as amended by this Act. The Committee will observe that that does not touch my Amendment at all, because Clause 1, giving the pension to a new class of people, is in no sense an amendment of the principal Act; it is an extension of it. There are Clauses amending the principal Act, but I venture to suggest that under the final Clause you could not possibly say that questions arising under Clause 1 could be brought into the ambit of the rights of appeal and revision of decisions.

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

The Amendment under discussion deals with the question of the referees. The question of appeals is raised on another Amendment.

Photo of Mr Cyril Atkinson Mr Cyril Atkinson , Altrincham

I quite follow that, but surely it is germane to the discussion to consider whether the Minister is to be the final arbiter.

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

May I put this point? The question under discussion now is whether, in every claim for pensions, the referees are to be the court of first instance. The question of the appeal does not arise.

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

That is so. I said so last night.

5.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Cyril Atkinson Mr Cyril Atkinson , Altrincham

Because there is no right of appeal and because the Minister has no right to revise his decision, I object to the Clause as it stands. My objections would disappear in the main if there was some indication or promise from the Minister to put these other matters right. I submit to you, Sir, that my point is absolutely germane. The question is whether the Minister shall be the final tribunal, or whether the claims shall go to the court of referees.

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

With all respect the question as to who shall be the final court of appeal does not arise on this Amendment. The question before the Committee, as you, Mr. Young, have pointed out, is whether every claim made for pension has to be submitted to the referee. Whether there is to be any further appeal is a matter for a subsequent Amendment.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

On a point of Order. I understand, Sir, that you ruled yesterday that we should take these two matters simultaneously; that we should first discuss whether there should be a court of referees, a court of first instance, and that, later, we should discuss the other matter.

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

That is exactly the position.

Photo of Mr Cyril Atkinson Mr Cyril Atkinson , Altrincham

I will just state the reasons why I say that the Minister should not remain the authority under this section. They are: because his decision is final, because he has no power to revise it, and because there is no right of appeal. That puts the Minister in the position of a dictator, a position which he does not hold under the principal Act.

Photo of Sir Patrick Ford Sir Patrick Ford , Edinburgh North

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, after the word "referees," to add the words "in Scotland, the sheriff."

I think I shall be in order in moving this manuscript Amendment, which I handed in before the proceedings began to-day, and which bears very closely upon the Amendment of the ex-Minister of Health now under discussion. I sincerely hope that the Committee will agree to accept the substance of one or other of those Amendments. I speak on behalf of Scotland in this matter in moving my Amendment. I think the great bulk of Scottish opinion is behind me when I ask that this question of the decisions of the rights of parties—after all, there are two parties, the person making the claim and the Minister dealing with it; you cannot get away from the fact that there are those two parties—the decision on points of dispute arising out of the claim, if the claim is resisted or not fully met for certain reasons—that that claim should go at once to the sheriff court.

The sheriff in Scotland occupies the position to which there is nothing exactly analogous in England. The sheriff combines partly the functions of the county court judge and partly the functions of a stipendary magistrate. He has, in addition, very considerable executive and administrative powers. He is always a man of character, and has very considerable experience of facts as well as of law. There is a very general opinion in Scotland that if you remit the case to the sheriff you get that knowledge of facts and law applied without the least bias and in the most satisfactory and in the quickest manner possible. I have talked on this matter with various people, and with at least one prominent member of the party opposite. His main objection seemed to be to be a difficulty about the delay that might arise. The procedure in the sheriff court in summary cases is very quick, however, and there is not really very much delay. It is one of the courts of which people can complain least of delay.

On the general principle of having a reference to an outside court, the Committee might bear in mind the words of the present Lord Chief Justice, in a book recently published, where he points out that very serious encroachments, for which every Government in the last 20 years or so has been responsible, have been made on the liberties of the subject without defence in the King's impartial Courts of Law. It is not good enough to say that the Minister is a kindly and just man, and that his permanent officials are men of integrity and knowledge. They do represent the Department. I remember, from the earliest days when any law was taught to me, or any idea of constitutional rights, that we were held up as a standing example, as opposed to France, Germany and other civilised countries, because we had not a special law for the State the Government Departments, under which they could act for themselves and be their own judge, counsel and advocate. It was always held up to me that every subject, how ever humble, and whatever might be the complexion of the Government in power, had his right of redress in the Courts. I should like to see that redress quicker and easier. But that does not constitute an argument against my Amendment, becase the Sheriff Court is the right court where you would get a quick decision, and you have public opinion in Scotland behind my proposal.

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

May I very briefly appeal to the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Edinburgh (Sir P. Ford) not to press his Amendment in this particular form. With the spirit which is behind the Amendment, I have no quarrel at all, but I hope to show him conclusive reasons why his object would not be attained by the Amendment. In the first place, his Amendment does not cover appeals against decisions where the Minister has turned down a claim; it is designed to cover all claims of all pre-Act widow applicants. If the hon Member with his knowledge of the law and the Law Courts and administration in Scot- land, will consider what that will mean, with our present overburdened legal machinery, I am perfectly certain he will reconsider his Amendment. We are, at this moment, as I am sure he is aware, compelled to face the question of very serious congestion in our Sheriff Courts in our large cities. It would be utterly impossible for the sheriffs in Scotland, particularly in the large cities, to take on the additional burden of making an investigation into every application by a pre-Act widow.

May I further draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that the Minister, in the Bill, is only asking that his decision shall be final and conclusive on one point, that is the insurance status. He is not asking that his decision shall be final on questions of marriage, questions of age, of death, of husband, of residence, of service, of pensions, and so on. All those questions will still come before an arbiter in Scotland, chosen from the panel of arbiters, under a system which has worked, as I think the hon. Member will agree, very satisfactorily during the past year or year and a half. If the hon. Member's proposal were carried, we should be compelled to appoint extra sheriffs. Those sheriffs would be compelled to examine every claim of every pre-Act widow on questions of insurance status, to get hold of records which are at present in the possession of the Department as to insurance status, and to undertake work which they cannot at present, and cannot from any past experience, be qualified to deal with. That would be taking away those duties from men whose experience on the present panel of arbiters has suited them for the work.

Photo of Mr Cyril Atkinson Mr Cyril Atkinson , Altrincham

Under what Section is the system of appeals which the Under-Secretary has described going to be applied to the words in this Bill?

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

The Act under which we are operating now does give a right of appeal on such questions as I have referred to. What we are discussing now is the question on the top line of page 2 of the Bill.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL:

On a point of Order. May I ask your Ruling on this matter? So far as I am aware, the Amendment moved by the right hon. Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) has not been withdrawn. Therefore, I suggest that we are rather closing the opportunity of discussing the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment because that Amendment has not been put or withdrawn. I should like to know what position we are in at the moment.

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

Perhaps I am at fault; I am not quite sure. I put the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) and then the manuscript Amendment was handed in. Therefore, the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Edinburgh (Sir P. Ford) is not in order. We should come to a decision on the previous Amendment.

Sir F. HALL:

Then we shall have an opportunity of discussing the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment.

Photo of Mr Walter Greaves-Lord Mr Walter Greaves-Lord , Lambeth Norwood

Do I understand that there would be, under the Clause we are discussing, a right of appeal? If so, the Under-Secretary has not indicated that the Government are going to accept an Amendment leaving out the following words. Unless those words are left out, there can be no right of appeal.

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

No, that comes on a later Amendment. I do not want to discuss what the attitude of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health would be when we come to the Amendment which stands in the name of an hon. Member below the gangway opposite.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

Do I understand the hon. Gentleman to say there is a right of appeal? I do not understand where such an appeal is to be found, and I should like to have this misunderstanding cleared up.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

The Minister did.

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

Really, hon. Members are trying to pre-judge the Amendment which hon. Members below the Gangway are to move. The Committee are raising now the general question of appeal, and I will deal with that question when the Amendment comes before the Committee.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

It is very difficult to discuss the question of the Minister's decision with relation to this large number of appeals without briefly referring to the question, which is very vital, whether the Minister's decision is really final and conclusive. If it is, it makes the arguments for a reference to some outside body very much more powerful. I do not know whether the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland has concluded his speech; otherwise, I wish to make some observations on it.

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

The Question be fore the Committee is "That the words the Minister' stand part of the Clause." An Amendment was moved. I had better dispose of the Amendment to the proposed Amendment first.

Photo of Sir Patrick Ford Sir Patrick Ford , Edinburgh North

I will withdraw my Amendment to the proposed Amendment, providing I get some assurance from the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland that he will endeavour with his Scottish colleagues to induce the Government to embody the principle of an appeal to the sheriff when cases are in dispute, whether there has been a previous appeal or not.

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

Order, order! This is a very difficult point, and I have been looking it up in Erskine May. We must get back to the Question before the Committee.

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

I had almost concluded what I had to say. I was not seeking to pre-judge later Amendments. I was trying to confine myself to the very narrow point raised by the hon. Member for North Edinburgh. His point is that in Scotland, instead of referring all claims of pre-Act widows to referees, as has been proposed by his right hon. Friend, there should be substituted a sheriff. I am submitting—and I am rather gather from his remarks that I have convinced him—that his Amendment was not workable, and I suggest therefore that, in the interests of the administration of the Bill in Scotland, he might see his way to withdraw it.

Photo of Mr Archibald Skelton Mr Archibald Skelton , Perth

May I ask one question—

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

The Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for North Edinburgh (Sir P. Ford) for the time being falls, and the discussion will take place on the Question, "That the words 'the Minister' stand part of the Clause."

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

May I recall the sub stance of the observations which were made by my right hon. Friend when he proposed this Amendment. He did not seek to deal with the question whether there was a right of appeal from the Minister of Health on these matters. That is a question which, as I under stand it, is raised by a number of other Amendments which follow. We are seeking in this Amendment to say that in respect of what I may call these abnormal cases, the right of the Minister to come to a decision should be taken away, and that the decision should be given by a Court of Referees. It is true that, in association with a suggestion of that kind, it is important to refer to the question whether there is an appeal from the Minister or not, because, if there is not that appeal, it makes the necessity of having some other tribunal than the Minister more and more necessary. The position is very well indicated by the speech which was given a short time ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettlestone (Mr. Wheatley). He desires in connection with both national health insurance and unemployment insurance that this kind of claim should be decided by the Minister. He, and a good many hon. Gentlemen who sit with him, do not like the system of referring the matter to some outside body. They want the Minister to be responsible for these decisions, for that gives them an opportunity—and I give this to those who are opposing this Amendment—of bringing what pressure they can to bear upon the Minister of the day with reference to these claims—

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

Withdraw! The right hon. Gentleman is bringing a charge against hon. Members of this House. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentle man has made a charge against my hon. Friends. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, he has not!"] I am not in the least thin skinned, but here is a deliberate suggestion that I am wishing to keep some powers, which I will explain later, I do not as a matter of fact possess, in order that my hon. Friends may exercise political pressure. I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I will repeat the statement which I have made. I said that under the proposed system in this Bill, if it is left to the Minister to come to a decision in connection with matters of this kind, it lays him open to pressure with reference to claims. That, I should have thought would have offended no body—[Interruption]—and would have been apparent to anybody. It has again and again been urged in this House, in connection with unemployment insurance, that the reason why we should have an umpire is to remove his decision—

Photo of Mr Joseph Alpass Mr Joseph Alpass , Bristol Central

On a point of Order. Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman to discuss unemployment insurance in connection with this Amendment?

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

The right hon. Gentleman is not discussing unemployment insurance, but only using it as an illustration.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I was simply giving that as an illustration in answer to the somewhat plaintive interruption of the right hon. Gentleman. I was in no way imputing—it is the last thing that I should do—to the right hon. Gentleman any motive in a matter of this kind. It has again and again been advanced in this House that the reason why we have an Umpire in connection with unemployment insurance is to remove claims of this kind from the decision of the Minister of the day, and to leave it to an independent person who is not in any way connected with political affairs. That is very largely the suggestion behind the Amendment which we are pro posing. I suppose that you could not have a more difficult class of case upon which to ask for the decision of the Minister than that which will come under this particular provision if it is passed into law. The Minister would have to go back 30 or 40 years, and have to make a decision upon the difficult question of the normal occupation of a man who died many years ago. No rules or regulations are laid down as to what particular evidence is to be taken.

As was said by an hon. Gentleman who sits opposite, whom I knew very well as an inspector in the Insurance Department, even in relation to present claims, it is very often difficult to come to a decision; and I ask the Committee to imagine what the position of the Minis- ter will be when be gets a very large number of people naturally anxious to obtain these pensions, and he has to come to decisions as to the normal occupations of men who died 30 or 40 years ago. What is more, he will have to decide whether these men would have come under the Insurance Act of 1911 long before it was passed into law. I can conceive of no more difficult matter for any one to have to decide than that, and I should have thought that in his own interest the Minister of Health would have desired that this matter should be separated from his office altogether. I do not think that it will be as easy as some hon. Gentlemen think to come to these decisions. Sitting opposite to me is the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Shillaker), who has had a great deal of experience in pension work. He thinks that it will be a very easy matter. He wrote an article on this very subject. It is called "'The Charter of the Old Folk,' by J. S. Shillaker, Pensions Expert to the Labour Party." In this, he said: In these cases"— that is, the cases which we are discussing this afternoon— proof of occupation will be difficult, but the applications will be dealt with with sympathy, and the rejections will, practically speaking, be nil. I cannot take that view, and I shall be glad if the hon. Member will explain if there is any reason in the adjudication of this complicated and difficult question to consider that rejections will be practically nil. I can conceive of a large number of people who will be unable to furnish any evidence. I suppose that these decisions, if they are to be fair, will be based on some evidence, and the Minister ought to have regard to the rules of evidence. I would urge other reasons for presenting this Amendment to the Committee. It would be far more satisfactory to the claimants if the decision were given by some outside tribunal. I know nothing more difficult than to have to explain to an applicant whose claim has been rejected that the decision has been given by some Government Department. When you say, "This is the Minister's decision," the applicant says, "Has the Minister seen my case?" and if you are honest you are bound to say that the word "Minister" in an Act of Parliament does not always mean the Minister individually but his Department acting on his behalf. Speaking from some little experience of the ad ministration of the principal Act, which was more easy to administer than this one will be, I know that it was a most difficult thing to satisfy applicants when decisions had been made by some officer of a Department, however competent the latter might be, whom they had no opportunity of seeing and to whom they could not put their cases personally.

There will be a great deal of heart burning over differences in the administration of this Clause, and it will be a great deal more satisfactory if the applicants can go to a court of referees. We have already established a court of referees for this purpose, and they have done their work well. I do not remember any question being put in this House which has raised the question of the competence or impartiality of the referees existing under the present Widows' Pensions Act. People attach a good deal more importance to a decision from them than to what I may call a Departmental decision, and from that point of view there is a great deal to be urged in favour of sending these cases to an independent body of this kind. On the question of whether the referees would be able to deal with all these claims, it will be just as easy to expand the number of referees as to make additional arrangements in side the Department. The present referees under the Widows' Pensions Act are drawn from eminent, competent and practical men at the Bar, and I know of no great amount of over-employment at the Bar which will prevent the necessary referees being obtained; perhaps, also, the work would be done there more rapidly than in the Department. From the point of view of public policy it is undesirable that these decisions should be based solely on the Minister or that the Minister should be concerned in them, but they should be decided by somebody independent of the Minister of the day, whoever he may be; and, further, I think the applicants themselves would feel more satisfaction if their claims were dealt with by competent people who have done the work well in the past. On both grounds I urge the Minister to reconsider his position.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Wolverhampton West

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) is to be congratulated on bringing us back to the point of the Amendment, but a great deal of what he has just said is only true on the assumption that there is to be no appeal machinery. It may be that there will be no appeal machinery, but at the moment he is not entitled to assume that there will be none.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I am entitled to assume that there will be none, as none is provided in the Bill.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Wolverhampton West

There is an Amendment from the Liberal Benches providing for appeal machinery, and since those on the Liberal and Conservative Benches completely outnumber those on our benches it would be just as reasonable to assume, for the purpose of this discussion, that there will be appeal machinery. I asked the Committee to consider what would happen in practice if this Amendment were rejected, and what would happen if it were carried. If it be rejected, the Minister will have power to determine the validity of these claims. It is obvious, however, that the Minister himself will not deal with them, but that they will be dealt with by the inspectorate of the Ministry, the Minister being guided by the recommendation of the inspector in the particular district in which a case occurs. If the Amendment be carried, we are going to set up a new sub-department of the Ministry, with separate representatives in every Ministry of Health district and with a different set of staff to do the job—or we are not. If we do that, it will be a physical impossibility to adjudicate on these claims by the date on which the Bill is supposed to come into operation. If we do not do that, and utilise the present inspectors of the Ministry, the position becomes that the referees will have to judge on precisely the same advice as the Minister will decide upon if the Amendment were not carried.

That is the point to which we are brought. What is the advantage of adopting the Amendment? The right hon. Gentleman said the applicant will have the satisfaction of having his case judged by an impartial outsider. The late Mr. Keir Hardie once said he would believe in independent arbitration if somebody could find him an independent arbitrator. If we cannot find that in dependent arbitrator, at least we might make sure that we get a responsible arbitrator, and in relation to this House the Minister is a much more responsible arbitrator than the referees suggested. As to appeals from the Minister's decision, I say nothing at present, because it would be out of order at this stage. I will conclude my remarks by saying, first, that the proposal in the Amendment is impracticable from considerations of time; secondly, that it would give us a less responsible machine than the machine suggested in the Bill; and, thirdly, that if experience of unemployment insurance legislation is not to be any criterion, then so far from this being a more satisfactory course than the course proposed by the Minister, all the evidence shows that it will be less satisfactory.

Sir F. HALL:

Listening to this discussion one would imagine that the cases of some 400,000 or 500,000 widows will have to be dealt with, but in fact this matter concerns only what I may call the pre-Act widows. The Minister of Health indicated yesterday that he might have 2,000 cases a day coming before him, and, with all due deference, I say no Minister of Health could be expected to deal with that number. The work would fall on the members of his staff, and I know the Civil Service and have the greatest possible confidence in it, but in view of the difficulties that are likely to arise in regard to the question of "Normal occupation" I think it would assist the Minister and the Department if the procedure proposed in the Amendment were adopted. I have been in this House for more years than I care to remember, and I have sat on a good many committees upstairs, and whenever it has been pro posed to leave these important matters in the hands of a Minister I have always objected—it would be out of order for me to recall the circumstances of all those cases—and therefore I am sure the Minister will not think there is anything personal to him in the attitude I have taken up. No one on this side of the House has any doubt as to his integrity—let no one for a moment imagine that that question arises—but, as Members of Parliament, we all know how cases are brought to us and we are asked to use our influence with the powers that be to get this matter or that matter set right.

I would remind hon. Members that in some of these cases it will be a question of going back 30 or 40 years before a decision can be given. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, West (Mr. W. J. Brown) that there is no such thing as an independent arbitrator. I should be very sorry if I thought it was not possible to secure an independent and unbiased opinion about matters. There are heaps of people who would be only too glad to give their assistance and their advice in unravelling the difficulties which are bound to arise. The poor widows with whom they deal will be in a very difficult position, and I am sure anyone who undertook the duty would give every care to see that even more than justice is done—wherever they could, they would stretch a point in favour of the widow. I can see difficulties if the Minister of Health is to be placed in that position. Their cases will require a lot of care and attention, and if he has to say "I am not sure in this case" and "I am not sure in that case" when trying to give a decision, he may be put in the position of saying, "The easiest way over this difficulty is to give a decision in favour of the applicant."

Last night I listened to a speech from the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr. Perry), who undoubtedly has great experience in these matters. As far as he was concerned, he said that members of the staff under the right hon. Gentleman, instead of having an antipathy to the importation, if I may use that word, of other referees, would welcome the assistance which they would be able to give in the discharge of these important duties. I see nothing that can possibly operate against it. As regards the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Shillaker), he has apparently pre-judged this case already. He, with the great knowledge that he has, has come to the conclusion that there will be very few, if any, cases that will have to be gone into. I am sure the Minister of Health would only wish that that was likely to be so, but it will not be so. There will be many difficulties, and, where we are expending public money, it is our duty and our right to see that every care and every attention is given so that there shall be fair adjudication with regard to the matters coming under this Bill, and that only by the Clauses in the Bill will decisions be arrived at.

HON. MEMBERS:

Divide!

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I am astonished that there should be any suggestion that the Committee should come to a decision at this stage, when we have yet to receive any cogent answer from the Government to the arguments that have been put for ward. Last night the Minister of Health based his defence almost exclusively on the contents of the Act of 1925, but I submit that that is a defence which does not by any means meet the case at issue. I am not myself prepared to maintain that in every respect the Act of 1925 was so correct that the right hon. Gentleman would be justified in basing his defence upon it. I have every respect for the late Minister of Health, but I should not be able to uphold the contention that he himself, or even my right hon. Friend the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), was entirely untinged with the taint of bureaucracy. [Interruption.] I thought that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway would be surprised; they have not yet learned what burueaucracy is. We above the Gangway still feel some anxiety at the spread of bureaucracy, and we see with very little pleasure the Minister of Health basing his power in respect of this matter exclusively upon the action of my right hon. Friend in 1925. I think we must ask for some more convincing explanation than that.

Nor were the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) very convincing, though they were certainly extremely illuminating. I think it is the first time in this Parliament that we have had the privilege of seeing the right hon. Gentle man throwing a life-line to the Government; it was a most interesting new role that he was playing, and it is interesting to know that he was playing it on an occasion which, of course, fits in extremely well with his Socialist views. The right hon. Gentleman told us that it was quite wrong to retain, for instance, a condition of affairs in which the State and the applicant were in opposite camps, and that such cases should not arise, but that they should be in the same camp. I would ask the Committee to consider whether, when cases do occur, though it may be rarely, when the State and the applicant are in different camps, it is not infinitely preferable that the arbiter who has to decide shall not be one of those who are concerned in the result of the arbitration. I think that that is one of the strongest reasons why we should ask that some outside authority should be the final power by whom a decision is taken, and not the Minister himself.

Nobody, of course, suggests that the Minister is biased in these matters, nor does anyone suggest that it is the Minister who decides these matters; and it is for that reason that we maintain that a mere bureaucratic decision is not one which this Committee should take, or which the House should take, or which the country outside, which instinctively dislikes such decisions, would wish to see incorporated in this Bill. I have every respect for the right hon. Gentleman and his Department, but I do not think that he is always right. Still less do I think that he can expect us to believe that he will be always right. This is not a power that he should have; it is not a power that he should wish to have. I confess that it is surprising to me that any Minister should wish to have this responsibility placed upon him. I should have thought that he would have been only too glad to find some means of placing the responsibility, in a measure, upon some impartial arbitrator. The hon. Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. W. J. Brown) may think it difficult to find an impartial arbitrator, but that is no reason why the House should not turn its attention to that task. What we have to devise is the best method possible in an imperfect world, and, with all apologies to the Minister of Health, he is not the best method possible even in this imperfect world.

I do hope that the Committee, including hon. Members of the Liberal party below the Gangway, will take an especial interest in this matter, because it is just one of those rare occasions which arise when the Committee should express itself as a Committee, irrespective of the Front Benches—much as we admire them—who have actually to use these powers which they are seeking and which they are asking us to give. Some of us in the last Parliament protested against the extension of these bureaucratic powers, and we were not always successful. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member had listened to the Debates, he would know that. We did protest against the extension of these bureaucratic powers, and here is an occasion where, so far, no justification whatever has been given us by the Minister except that it is in the Act of 1925. That will not do, because next year there will be another Act, and the Minister will then say that it is in the Act of 1929. That is no answer. We want a reasoned justification for these definite bureaucratic powers which the Minister is asking us to give. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will give us such a reply, and will go a little further afield than merely falling back on a minor precedent under a previous Act. If she does not, I hope that this Committee will exert itself as a Committee and express the determination that bureaucratic powers shall not be yet further extended.

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, 310; Noes, 145.

Division No. 16.]AYES.[5.55 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Batey, JosephBromfield, William
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)Bromley, J.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherBellamy, AlbertBrothers, M.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodBrown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)
Alpass, J. H.Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central)Brown, Ernest (Leith)
Ammon. Charles GeorgeBennett, William (Battersea, South)Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)
Angell, NormanBenson, G.Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)
Arnott, JohnBentham, Dr. EthelBuchanan, G.
Aske, Sir RobertBevan, Aneurln (Ebbw Vale)Burgess, F. G.
Attlee, Clement RichardBirkett, W. NormanBuxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)
Ayles, WalterBlindell, JamesBuxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Bowen, J. w.Caine, Derwent Hall-
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Cameron, A. G.
Barnes, Alfred JohnBroad, Francis AlfredCape, Thomas
Barr, JamesBrockway, A. FennerCarter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)
Charleton, H. C.Jowitt, Rt. Hon. W. A.Potts, John S.
Chater, DanielKedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)Price, M. P.
Church, Major A. G.Kelly, W. T.Quibell, D. J. K.
Cluse, W. S.Kennedy, ThomasRamsay, T. B. Wilson
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Rathbone, Eleanor
Cocks, Frederick SeymourKinley, J.Richards, R.
Compton, JosephKirkwood, D.Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Cowan, D. M.Knight, HolfordRiley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Daggar, GeorgeLambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Dallas, GeorgeLang, GordonRitson, J.
Dalton, HughLathan, G.Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)Law, Albert (Bolton)Romeril, H. G.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Law, A. (Rosendale)Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Day, HarryLawrence, SusanRothschild, J. de
Denman, Hon. R. D.Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Rowson, Guy
Dickson, T.Lawson, John JamesRussell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Dudgeon, Major C. R.Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Salter, Dr. Alfred
Dukes, C.Leach, W.Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Ede, James ChuterLee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Edge, Sir WilliamLee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Sanders, W. S.
Edmunds, J. E.Lees, J.Sandham, E.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Lewis, T. (Southampton)Sawyer, G. F.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth)Lindley, Fred W.Scott, James
Egan, W. H.Lloyd, C. EllisSexton, James
Elmley, ViscountLongbottom, A, W.Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
England, Colonel A.Longden, F.Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)Lowth, ThomasShepherd, Arthur Lewis
Foot, IsaacLunn, WilliamSherwood, G. H.
Forgan, Dr. RobertMacdonald, Gordon (Ince)Shield, George William
Freeman, PeterMacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)Shillaker, J. F.
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)McElwee, A.Shinwell, E.
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)McEntee, V. L.Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)Mackinder, W.Simmons, C. J.
Gibbins, JosephMcKinlay, A.Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)
Gill, T. H.MacLaren, AndrewSimon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Gillett, George M.Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Glassey, A. E.Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)Sinkinson, George
Gosling, HarryMac Neill-Weir, L.Sitch, Charles H.
Gossling, A. G.Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Gould, F.McShane, John JamesSmith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Smith. Frank (Nuneaton)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Mander, Geoffrey le M.Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).Mansfield, W.Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)March, S.Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Markham, S. F.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Marley, J.Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Groves, Thomas E.Mathers, GeorgeSnowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Grundy, Thomas W.Matters, L. W.Sorensen, R.
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Maxton, JamesSpero, Dr. G. E.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Melville, J. B.Stamford, Thomas W.
Hall. Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth. C.)Messer, FredStephen, Campbell
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)Millar, J. D.Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)Mills, J. E.Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Hardie, George D.Milner, J.Strauss, G. R.
Harris, Percy A.Montague, FrederickSullivan, J.
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonMorgan, Dr. H. B.Sutton, J. E.
Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMorley, RalphTaylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Haycock, A. W.Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Hayday, ArthurMorrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Hayes, John HenryMorrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Mort, D. L.Thurtle, Ernest
Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)Moses, J. J. H.Tillett, Ben
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)Tinker, John Joseph
Herriotts, J.Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)Toole, Joseph
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)Muff, G.Tout, W. J.
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)Muggeridge, H. T.Townend, A. E.
Hoffman, P. C.Murnin, HughTrevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Hollins, A.Nathan, Major H. L.Turner, B.
Hopkin, DanielNaylor, T. E.Vaughan, D. J
Hore-Belisha, LeslieNoel Baker, P. J.Viant, S. P.
Horrabin, J. F.Oldfield, J. R.Walker, J.
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)Wallace, H. W.
Hunter, Dr. JosephOwen, Major G. (Carnarvon)Wallhead, Richard C.
Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.Palin, John HenryWatkins, F. C.
Isaacs, GeorgePaling, WilfridWatson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Palmer, E. T.Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
John, William (Rhondda, West)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Wellock, Wilfred
Johnston, ThomasPerry, S. F.Welsh, James (Paisley)
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Peters, Dr. Sidney JohnWelsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.West, F. R.
Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)Phillips, Dr. MarionWestwood, Joseph
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Picton-Tubervill, EdithWheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Pole, Major D. G.Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.Ponsonby, ArthurWilkinson, Ellen C.
Williams, David (Swansea, East)Wilson, J. (Oldham)Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)Wise, E. F.TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr. Whiteley and Mr. T. Henderson.
NOES.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelGrattan-Doyle, Sir N.Peake, Capt. Osbert
Albery, Irving JamesGreaves-Lord, Sir WalterPercy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)Greene, W. P. CrawfordPeto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)Pilditch, Sir Philip
Atholl, Duchess ofGretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. JohnPownall, Sir Assheton
Atkinson, C.Gunston, Captain D. W.Purbrick, R.
Balniel, LordHacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Ramsbotham, H.
Beaumont, M. W.Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Reid, David D. (County Down)
Bennett, Sir Albert (Nottingham, C.)Hanbury, C.Remer, John R.
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftHannon, Patrick Joseph HenryRentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Brass, Captain Sir WilliamHaslam, Henry C.Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Buchan, JohnHennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Buckingham, Sir H.Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)Salmon, Major I.
Bullock, Captain MalcolmHoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Burton, Colonel H. W.Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Butler, R. A.Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.Skelton, A. N.
Castlestewart, Earl ofHudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir AylmerSmith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Hurd, Percy A.Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)Hurst, Sir Gerald B.Smithers, Waldron
Christie, J. A.James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSomerset, Thomas
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston SpencerKindersley, Major G. M.Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Colfox, Major William PhilipKing, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Colville, Major D. J.Lamb, Sir J. Q.Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Cranbourne, ViscountLane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Leighton, Major B. E. P.Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)Stuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. GodfreySueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipLong, Major EricTitchfield, Major the Marquess of
Davies, Dr. VernonLymington, ViscountTodd, Capt. A. J.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)Train, J.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Macquisten, F. A.Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Duckworth, G. A. V.MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Dugdale, Capt. T. L.Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Eden, Captain AnthonyMakins, Brigadier-General E.Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Everard, W. LindsayMargesson, Captain H. D.Wells, Sydney R.
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Meller, R. J.Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Fermoy, LordMitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Fielden, E. B.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Ford, Sir P. J.Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)Womersley, W. J.
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Ganzoni, Sir JohnMorrison-Bell, Sir Arthur CliveYoung, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew HamiltonMuirhead, A. J.
Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnNicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)Sir Frederick Thomson and Sir
Glyn, Major R. G. C.O'Neill, Sir H.George Penny.
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William

Question put accordingly, "That the words 'The Minister' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 311; Noes, 147.

Division No. 17.]AYES.[6.7 p.m.
Adamson. Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central)Burgess, F. G.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherBenson, G.Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Bentham, Dr. EthelCalne, Derwent Hall-
Alpass, J. H.Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Cameron, A. G.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeBirkett, W. NormanCape, Thomas
Angell, NormanBlindell, JamesCarter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)
Arnott, JohnBowen, J. W.Charleton, H. C.
Aske, Sir RobertBowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Chater, Daniel
Attlee, Clement RichardBroad, Francis AlfredChurch, Major A. G.
Ayles, WalterBrockway, A. FennerCluse, W. S.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Bromfield, WilliamClynes, Rt. Hon. John R.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Bromley, J.Cocks, Frederick Seymour
Barnes, Alfred JohnBrothers, M.Compton, Joseph
Barr, JamesBrown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)Cowan, D. M.
Batey, JosephBrown, Ernest (Leith)Daggar, George
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Dallas, George
Bellamy, AlbertBrown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)Dalton, Hugh
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodBuchanan, G.Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Lawrence, SusanRowson, Guy
Day, HarryLawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Denman, Hon. R. D.Lawson, John JamesSalter, Dr. Alfred
Dickson, T.Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Dudgeon, Major C. R.Leach, W.Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Dukes, C.Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)Sanders, W. S.
Ede, James ChuterLee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Sandham, E.
Edge, Sir WilliamLees, J.Sawyer, G. F.
Edmunds, J. E.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Scott, James
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Lindley, Fred W.Sexton, James
Edwards, E. (Morpeth)Lloyd, C. EllisShakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Egan, W. H.Longbottom, A. W.Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Elmley, ViscountLongden, F.Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
England, Colonel A.Lowth, ThomasSherwood, G. H.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)Lunn, WilliamShield, George William
Foot, IsaacMacdonald, Gordon (Ince)Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Forgan, Dr. RobertMacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)Shillaker, J. F.
Freeman, PeterMacdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)Shinwell, E.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)McElwee, A.Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)McEntee, V. L.Simmons, C. J.
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)Mackinder, W.Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)McKinlay, A.Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Gibbins, JosephMacLaren, AndrewSinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Gill, T. H.MacNeill-Weir, L.Sinkinson, George
Gillett, George M.Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)Sitch, Charles H.
Glassey, A. E.Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Gosling, HarryMacpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Gossling, A. G.McShane, John JamesSmith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Gould, F.Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Mander, Geoffrey le M.Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Mansfield, W.Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).March, S.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Markham, S. F.Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Marley, J.Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Mathers, GeorgeSorensen, R.
Groves, Thomas E.Matters, L. W.Spero, Dr. G. E.
Grundy, Thomas W.Maxton, JamesStamford, Thomas W.
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Melville, J. B.Stephen, Campbell
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Messer, FredStewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)Millar, J. D.Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)Mills, J. E.Strauss, G. R.
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)Milner, J.Sullivan, J.
Hardle, George D.Montague, FrederickSutton, J. E.
Harris, Percy A.Morgan, Dr. H. B.Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonMorley, RalphTaylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMorris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Haycock, A. W.Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Hayday, ArthurMorrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)Thurtle, Ernest
Hayes, John HenryMort, D. L.Tillett, Ben
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Moses, J. J. H.Tinker, John Joseph
Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)Toole, Joseph
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)Tout, W. J.
Herriotts, J.Muff, G.Townend, A. E.
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)Muggeridge, H. T.Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)Murnin, HughTurner, B.
Hoffman, P. C.Nathan, Major H. L.Vaughan, D. J.
Hollins, A.Naylor, T. E.Viant, S. P.
Hopkin, DanielNoel Baker, P. J.Walker, J.
Hore-Belisha, LeslieOldfield, J. R.Wallace, H. W.
Horrabin, J. F.Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)Wallhead, Richard C.
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)Watkins, F. C.
Hunter, Dr. JosephPalin, John HenryWatson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.Paling, WilfridWatts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Isaacs, GeorgePalmer, E. T.Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Wellock, Wilfred
John, William (Rhondda, West)Perry, S. F.Welsh, James (Paisley)
Johnston, ThomasPeters, Dr. Sidney JohnWelsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.West, F. R.
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Phillips, Dr. MarionWestwood, Joseph
Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)Picton-Tubervill, EdithWheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Pole, Major D. G.Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Ponsonby, ArthurWilkinson, Ellen C.
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.Potts, John S.Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. W. A.Price, M. P.Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)Quibell, D. J. K.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Kelly, W. T.Ramsay, T. B. WilsonWilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Kennedy, ThomasRathbone, EleanorWilson, J. (Oldham)
Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Richards, R.Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Kinley, J.Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Kirkwood, D.Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)Wise, E. F.
Knight, HolfordRiley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)Ritson, J.Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Lang, GordonRoberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Lathan, G.Romeril, H. G.TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Law, Albert (Bolton)Rosbotham, D. S. T.Mr. Whiteley and Mr. T. Henderson.
Law, A. (Rosendale)Rothschild, J. de
NOES.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelGrattan-Doyle, Sir N.Peake, Capt. Osbert
Albery, Irving JamesGreaves-Lord, Sir WalterPercy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)Greene, W. P. CrawfordPeto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)Pilditch, Sir Philip
Astor, ViscountessGritten, W. G. HowardPownall, Sir Assheton
Atholl, Duchess ofGunston, Captain D. W.Purbrick, R.
Atkinson, C.Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Ramsbotham, H.
Balniel, LordHall, Lleut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Reid, David D. (County Down)
Beaumont, M. W.Hanbury, C.Remer, John R.
Bird, Ernest RoyHannon, Patrick Joseph HenryRentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftHarvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.Haslam, Henry C.Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Brass, Captain Sir WilliamHeneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.Ross, Major Ronald D.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Buchan, JohnHerbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Buckingham, Sir H.Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.Salmon, Major I.
Burton, Colonel H. W.Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Butler, R. A.Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Castlestewart, Earl ofHudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Skelton, A. N.
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir AylmerSmith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Hurd, Percy A.Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)Hurst, Sir Gerald B.Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Christie, J. A.James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSmithers, Waldron
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston SpencerKindersley, Major G. M.Somerset, Thomas
Colfox, Major William PhilipKing, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Colville, Major D. J.Lamb, Sir J. Q.Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Cranbourne, ViscountLane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.Spender-Clay, Colonel H
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Leighton, Major B. E. P.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. GodfreyStuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipLong, Major EricSueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Davies, Dr. VernonLymington, ViscountThomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)Thomson, Sir F.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Macquisten, F. A.Todd, Capt. A. J.
Duckworth, G. A. V.Mac Robert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.Train, J.
Dugdale, Capt. T. L.Maltland, A. (Kent, Faversham)Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Eden, Captain AnthonyMakins, Brigadier-General E.Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Everard, W. LindsayMargesson, Captain H. D.Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Meller, R. J.Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Fermoy, LordMitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.Wells, Sydney R.
Fielden, E. B.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Ford, Sir P. J.Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Ganzoni, Sir JohnMorrison-Bell, Sir Arthur CliveWomersley, W. J.
Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew HamiltonMuirhead, A. J.Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnNicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Glyn, Major R. G. C.O'Neill, Sir H.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. WilliamSir George Fenny and Major the
Marquess of Titchfield.

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

The next Amendment which I select is one in the name of the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. Philip Oliver).

Photo of Mr Henry Muggeridge Mr Henry Muggeridge , Romford

On a point of Order. I want to ask whether it might not be possible to ration the time for the discussion of these Amendments, in order that a great deal of repetition and waste of time might be prevented?

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

That is not a point of Order.

Photo of Mr Philip Oliver Mr Philip Oliver , Manchester, Blackley

I beg to move, in page 2, line 1, to leave out the words "(whose decision shall be final and conclusive)," and to insert instead thereof the words: from whose decision the applicant shall have a right of appeal in accordance with Sub-section (2) of Section twenty-nine of the principal Act. This is the principle which is recognised under the principal Act with regard to referees under national insurance, and I hope that the Minister will be able to accept this very reasonable Amendment, especially when one realises that he hopes this evening to reach the distant pages of Clause 15. If he desires to do this, sooner or later he must begin to accept some of the suggestions which are placed before him with all respect from the Members on this side of the House. A great number of the cases which will come before the Minister will, of course, merely be subject to automatic decisions. All the claims, under paragraph (i), of those widows whose husbands at some time within three years before death registered as members of an Approved Society or as deposit contributors will obviously be claims which can be settled one way or the other in a moment of time through departmental channels.

When we come to paragraph (ii), we are faced, as has already been pointed out, with an entirely different kind of case—the case of the widow whose husband had a normal occupation which at some time within three years before his death was employment in respect of which contributions under the principal Act would have been payable if that Act had been in force at that time. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) has already shown, the people in this class include men who died as long as 40 years ago, and the decision as to whether the widows of such men are really within the Act or not may be one which is extra ordinarily difficult to decide. Forty years back, at school, we used to sing a song, "Forty years on," referring to the times of to-day. We have to go back 40 years. Many people who were alive then are now dead and evidence is extremely difficult to obtain. Everybody who has any knowledge of the processes of courts of law knows how extraordinarily difficult it is to establish a right of prescription 40 years ago. It is one of the most difficult things in a court of law to obtain real evidence of what happened, and what was the state of property 40 years ago. Under this paragraph, the Minister has to try and go back 40 years and discover what would have been insurable occupation in those days.

That being so, it is only right and proper that, as we are placing upon the Minister this very difficult decision, there should be a right of appeal. We propose that the right of appeal should be general and should cover all the cases whether they are in paragraph (i) or in paragraph (ii). There will be very few cases of appeal under paragraph (i), but there may be many cases of appeal under paragraph (ii). The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland earlier to-day said that the Minister had only reserved to himself the right of appeal on one point, and that is the one point on which the Minister ought not to have reserved that right.

This is a far more difficult point than nearly all the other points on which there is a right of appeal to the Minister. It is not only a difficult point but a very important one. A county court or a trained Judge will occupy an hour or two hours over some dispute involving £5 or £10, but when you come to a question like this it is not a matter of £5 or £10, but a matter of a pension which might involve hundreds of pounds. If we use all the instruments of the law in order to come to a decision on a question of £5 or £10, surely there ought to be some appeal from the Minister's decision on a matter of such real importance. We hope that the Government, in the interests of time and in the interests of widows, will accept our proposal and agree to the insertion of a method of appeal. I was very sorry to hear earlier in the Debate an hon. Member state that in his view it was impossible to obtain an impartial arbitrator. I trust that that is not the view of the majority of hon. Members on the benches opposite.

Supposing we had fallen into such a low state of honour that an impartial arbitrator could not be found, no harm would be done to widows I suppose that you would turn down their appeals and not go any further, but no harm would be done to them. They would not be worse off. But, if two or three just men can be found to form an impartial tribunal or become referees, there is a chance, at any rate, that some of the wrongs and injustices done to widows may be remedied. As we know, the Minister is sometimes wrong. Many Members in this House have had reason to correspond with the Minister upon decisions with regard to pensions, and the Mnister has sometimes had to admit that he was wrong. He can make mistakes, and therefore the right of appeal ought to be given, especially when we are considering such persons as widows. The widows come to us and ask questions about these matters, and we all know how tremendously hard it is to have to say to one of these widows that the Ministry has turned their case down. The first thing that they ask is: "Is there not somebody else to whom we can appeal?" Whether such a person is going to be just or unjust, partial or impartial, I think that this House and the Government ought to give the widow an opportunity of making the appeal she wishes to make.

Photo of Mr Frank Griffith Mr Frank Griffith , Middlesbrough West

I want to support the very powerful appeal which my hon. Friend has put forward. This, after all, is eminently a judicial matter. It is not a matter for purely administrative decision. If there be any matter in which an ordinarily constituted court may be the final people to give a decision it ought to be one of this nature. I should have imagined that the Minister himself would not want the tremendous responsibility of being the person to give the final decision. I should have thought that he would welcome someone who in the majority of cases, would probably confirm what he had decided. I would appeal to hon. Members opposite generally. I am sure that if the boot were on the other leg and it was the last Ministry which was in power and they were, in a similar way, excluding the right of appeal in matters of this kind, they would feel very aggrieved on behalf of those whom they represent. They may now have a Minister in whom they have confidence, but it may not always be so. I can most strongy echo what was said by the proposer of the Amendment, that it is a tremendous means of allaying discontent if people feel that their case, whatever its merits may be, has been properly investigated. It is not only a question of arriving at a right decision. It is also a question of giving people the idea that every single consideration that can be advanced in their favour has been properly heard. I hope that the Minister will agree to accept this very helpful and simple Amendment.

Photo of Captain William Sanders Captain William Sanders , Battersea North

I am not quite sure whether there is unanimity on the other side with regard to the reasons for these Liberal Amendments having been moved. I was much struck by the argument put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) who seemed to be very anxious to provide work for barristers who are unemployed, a matter which might be referred to the Lord Privy Seal. On the other hand, I find that many hon. Gentle men who are urging this Amendment from the other section of the Opposition seem to fear that the Ministry of Health will not be impartial in dealing with these cases, or that the widows will not feel that the Minister of Health has been impartial. I am not sure that the widows will feel that there is any more impar- tiality to be found in Referees than there is to be found in the Minister of Health, seeing the experience that we have had in regard to Referees and their actions concerning unemployed insured people. I am always very suspicious, as a layman, of the very powerful organisation which backs a demand for the employment of more lawyers. I have the greatest respect and admiration for lawyers, but I share the fear expressed by a celebrated Member of this House, many years ago, a Member who, I believe, has the esteem and admiration of hon. Members on the other side, Edmund Burke, who warned the House about the influence of lawyers.

Photo of Mr Isaac Foot Mr Isaac Foot , Bodmin

When did he do that?

Photo of Captain William Sanders Captain William Sanders , Battersea North

The hon. Member will find it in the works of Edmund Burke.

Photo of Mr Isaac Foot Mr Isaac Foot , Bodmin

Will the hon. Member produce the work?

Photo of Captain William Sanders Captain William Sanders , Battersea North

My point is, that what is wanted on behalf of these widows is someone to help them to prepare their case, not so much a Referee, and I would advise hon. Members in every constituency to see what they can do to establish a poor man's lawyer who, without fee, will assist the widows to make their case in proper form—widows particularly for whom evidence will have to be collected going back 10, 15 or even 40 years. That is the real necessity from which the widows suffer. Their need is not for a Referee, but for someone to prepare their case properly before it goes to the Minis try of Health. In that direction the activities of hon. Members of this House might be directed.

Photo of Sir Louis Smith Sir Louis Smith , Sheffield, Hallam

I am sorry that the Amendment standing in my name is not to be called, and I would ask the Committee to allow me to refer to some of the financial points that would be covered by my Amendment.

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

The hon. Member must con fine himself to the Amendment before the Committee.

Photo of Sir Louis Smith Sir Louis Smith , Sheffield, Hallam

May I respectfully submit that my Amendment is a most important one? I presume that it is only time which does not allow it to be called. Seeing that we are discussing the question of limiting the powers of the Minister, perhaps I might make a point on that ground. Some of the Amendments on the Order Paper would not be necessary were it not for the fact that the scheme goes far beyond a contributory basis. That would be a sounder basis, and if that principle had been adopted these Amendments would not be necessary. The Act must be administered not only from the heart but also from the head. I have no doubt that when cases are brought before the Minister, backed by a great deal of pressure from those who bring the cases to his notice, he will give undiluted sympathetic support to the cases, and I have no doubt that he will get a good deal of support from the Parliamentary Secretary. In these difficult days the administration of the Act must be considered also from the head, and my reason for suggesting the words, "with the approval of the Treasury"—

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

The hon. Member must confine his remarks to the question contained in the Amendment be fore the Committee. I cannot allow a discussion on the financial side now.

Photo of Sir Louis Smith Sir Louis Smith , Sheffield, Hallam

We are going through desperately difficult times. The growing costs of the social services are a very heavy load.

Photo of Mr Isaac Foot Mr Isaac Foot , Bodmin

I support the Amendment, and I should like to reply to the hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Sanders) who has misinterpreted the desire of those who sit on these benches. Never have we made any indictment of the Minister of Health on the ground of his partiality. What we have said is that, being human, he is liable to make mistakes and that there ought to be some machinery set up to enable a mistake to be rectified. There is something in the contention that when a widow has had her case dealt with—a case that means the difference between penury and some modest comfort in her later days—that decision should be made the subject of an appeal, if necessary. The stand we take is, that in the principal Act of 1925 there were words introduced to ensure that the decision of the Minister should be final and conclusive; but so far as the Act of 1925 was concerned that provision applied only to a minor part of the Measure. The difference now is that that provision is made to apply to the major part of the present Measure. Under the Act of 1925 that provision applied to comparatively few cases, but practically the whole of the cases, I sup pose 19 out of 20 cases under the new Measure, are now made subject to this provision that the decision of the Minister shall be final.

I do not know that it was right to include that provision in the Act of 1925, but there must be a very much stronger argument than has been brought here to day to induce us to believe that it is right to take that phrase, applied to a small part of the Act of 1925, and apply it practically to the whole of the amending Act of 1929. In this matter we think that our Amendment is so right that it ought to go to a Division, and I hope that there will be no suggestion of obstruction. I remember very well that on the Second Reading the Parliamentary Secretary said that she could not understand hon. Members speaking in support of a certain line of action, and failing to support that line of action by their votes in the Lobby. Therefore, it is not out of any desire to obstruct or to occupy time, but simply an attempt to reach to the high ideal of political sincerity which the Parliamentary Secretary put before us on the Second Reading, that we press our Amendment.

I wish the hon. Member for North Battersea had been a little more particular in his reference to a Member of this House who, unfortunately, is no longer here to answer for himself. Edmund Burke represented the City of Bristol, and was, I suppose, the greatest philosopher who has ever brought his mind to bear upon British politics; but he took such a line through his life that practically all sides can quote some passage in support of their views. It is possible for the hon. Member for North Battersea to find a disconnected sentence of Burke that might support what he said to-night, but no one who has read the writings of Edmund Burke and has studied his writings could accept the very general and superficial interpretation put; upon them by the hon. Member for North Battersea. I had occasion on Friday-morning last, in this House, to draw attention to the fact that when Edmund Burke was speaking in this House—not upon this site but upon the site of St. Stephen's Chapel—he stated that love of liberty was an essential feature of the lawyer in every sense, that it was the love of liberty that brought about the American revolution, and that the lawyer by his training was enabled to stop the approach of tyranny in every tainted field. When the hon. Member for North Battersea speaks disparaging words about those who have in past days worked for his liberty, it is really a case of the child forgetting the kindnesses and care of his parents in earlier years.

The submission that we make is that we were asked at the beginning of this Session to constitute ourselves into a Council of State. It is not intended that when a Bill leaves the hands of the drafts man that it is something written upon tablets of stone; that it is something beyond human improvement. If I may quote Edmund Burke again, he said on one occasion that it was marvellous how the proposals that were made by distinguished men could be improved by ordinary folk.

Photo of Mr Isaac Foot Mr Isaac Foot , Bodmin

I should be very happy to give to my hon. Friend the precise chapter and verse. There are a good many volumes of Burke. There is an opportunity after a Bill has left the hands of the supermen and the draftsmen for the ordinary folk in the House to improve it. There ought to be a league of ordinary people to keep the extra ordinary people in their proper place. Our Amendment will commend itself to those people outside who are watching the progress of our Debates. I have not the slightest doubt that if we could take the opinions of the people outside, those who will come within the limits of this Measure, that they would approve the granting of the power of appeal where very substantial interests are at stake. Seeing that we have later on to fight for very much more important matters than this and that we desire to reach Clause 15 some time before the morning sun breaks upon us, I hope that, even now, the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to tell us that we have made out our case in good faith, and, in our desire to improve the Bill, as we were invited to do.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

It gives one a certain pleasure to support the Government on this Bill. I am not going to follow the hare that has been raised by the mention of Mr. Burke. I hope the Government will refuse to accept the Amendment. I have listened to the case for it and it seems to be this, that the Minister of Health may make mistakes, that he is human, therefore there ought to be an appeal. That assumes that a court of referees, or some other judicial body, cannot make mistakes. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] There is to be no appeal from them. They are to be final. The Minister makes mistakes, and we must have an appeal. The tribunal makes mistakes, but we are not to have an appeal. I agree with his submission that the 1925 Act only applied to a small part of the claimants. I have had some experience of the tribunals, possibly more experience than any other Member of this Committee. I have appeared before the tribunal for more widows in Scot land than any other hon. Member, and I say that I would sooner go to the Minister, whether he be Tory, Liberal or Labour.

Photo of Mr Isaac Foot Mr Isaac Foot , Bodmin

Would the oases to which the hon. Member refers be cases which the Minister has turned down?

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

No, what happens is this. A widow whose pension is disallowed is entitled to appeal to the tribunal. In Scotland the chairman of the tribunal is a lawyer. I am dealing with what I know. In Glasgow, Sheriff McClure appears, and takes the chair. The widow comes in to make her appeal. She sits on one side of the table, and the representative of the Ministry of Health sits on the other. A trained lawyer appears on behalf of the Minister of Health, and he is a man who is very trained in this class of business. There you have the poor woman by her self, and the Ministry of Health represented by a trained lawyer. I go to the tribunal and I meet this lawyer. I may have a certain standing and power which others have not, but even an ordinary lawyer going for the first time before this tribunal would not be on anything like terms of equality with the trained lawyer.

Photo of Sir Robert Aske Sir Robert Aske , Newcastle upon Tyne East

You prefer the widow to stop at home?

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

No, and when the hon. Member has been in the House of Commons as long as I have he will agree that the House of Commons is a much better place to raise grievances like this than these tribunals. Take the Ministry of Pensions. The right hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) just before the General Election was very critical of the Government because certain constituents of his, ex-soldiers, had been badly treated, and he was making an earnest plea on behalf of these men who, he said, were entitled to a pension.

Photo of Sir James Macpherson Sir James Macpherson , Ross and Cromarty

I was dealing with the question of "genuinely seeking work."

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

Yes, I was wrong. The right hon. Member was making an earnest and honest plea on behalf of decent men in his constituency who had been refused benefit by the Court of Referees for not genuinely seeking work, and he could not raise the case because the tribunal had considered and decided them. I prefer to come to the Minister of Health or the Minister of Pensions in this House when a benefit is refused. Take the Minister of Pensions. Every hon. Member must have hundreds of cases in which wrong has been done to the applicant. You go to the Minister of Pensions, and in every case his answer is the same. He says that they have appeared before the appeal tribunal, and the decision of that tribunal is final. In this case if hon. Members of the Liberal party have a number of cases which have not been properly decided they can come to the House, put down the salary of the Minister of Health and move a Vote of Censure on him if he has done wrong. They can constantly question him in this House, and charge him with doing wrong. With some considerable experience of the working of the Pensions Act in Scotland, I say that I would much sooner have the right of appeal on the Floor of this House.

During the last week of office of the last Government I appeared before this neutral tribunal, and I argued a case which was turned down. I went to the Under-Secretary for Scotland at the time, the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot), who admitted that I had a very good case, and that if he had the power to intervene he would do so, but he said they had been to the tri- bunal—which cannot make a mistake—and they had given a decision, and by the Act of Parliament he could not alter it. That was his reply. It was a question as to whether a person had paid 104 contributions. I argued the matter, and although the hon. and gallant Member admitted that I had a reasonable case, he said that as I had exnausted my legal rights he had no power to alter the decision. I say that I prefer an appeal to Parliament. I think the head of a Department should take the decision, and not hide behind his subordinates. In connection with pensions wrong decisions are given, and in connection with the Ministry of Labour wrong decisions are constantly being given, and they are not subject to review. We are muzzled, whereas if the Minister was responsible there is a check in this House against wrong decisions. If a wrong decision is given against a widow under this Bill, we can attack the Minister in this House. I hope the Amendment will not be carried.

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

I think it would be well if I intervened at this point. We have debated an earlier Amendment which was clearly fantastic. The Amendment now put forward is merely that certain appeals from a decision of the Minister should go to the referees. I understand and appreciate the point of view of hon. Members opposite in wishing to protect the interests of the insured persons. I am in hearty agreement with the desire to protect the interests of the claimants, but I should like the Committee to understand what has led me to take the view I have on this Amendment. In the first place, I must ask hon. Members opposite to get into their minds the question we are discussing. The implication running through a number of ill-informed speeches is that this Bill utterly destroys the right of appeal. Nothing could be further from the truth. No right of appeal which exists under the Act of 1925 is destroyed by this Bill. Under the Clause we are now discussing the only question at issue is the determination of the insurable status of the husband of the widow. That is the one question which is reserved to the Minister. On all other questions the right of appeal remains intact.

Photo of Sir Robert Aske Sir Robert Aske , Newcastle upon Tyne East

There is no right of appeal given in respect of any right conferred under this Bill. The only right of appeal is given in Clause 16, which relates to matters not arising under this Bill at all, but to matters arising under the principal Act.

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

The hon. Member must pardon me. We are not taking away from insured persons any single right of appeal which they have to-day. We are not worsening their position at all. There is only one question at issue. The question of the age of the applicant, the marriage of the applicant, death and residence, and service, are all questions on which appeals can be made by all applicants under this Bill.

Photo of Sir Robert Aske Sir Robert Aske , Newcastle upon Tyne East

I am sorry to interrupt but this is a very important matter. What I am putting to the right hon. Gentleman is this, that all the pensions given under this new Bill are not new pensions and new rights, and the pro visions of the Act of 1925 do not apply at all to the pensions given under this Bill. Unless there is an express right of appeal given by this Bill in respect of these pensions there is no right of appeal whatever.

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

There are, of course, new pensions on new grounds. That is true. But all these claims for pensions have precisely the same rights of appeal as the present pensioners.

Photo of Mr Cyril Atkinson Mr Cyril Atkinson , Altrincham

Where are they given these rights in this Bill?

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

If hon. Members will look at the beginning of this Clause, they will see these words: be entitled to a widow's pension payable in accordance with the provisions of the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1925 and in so far as these provisions are not modified by this Bill they still apply. I want hon. Members to realise that on all these other questions which may be in doubt there is still remaining, as there was under the 1925 Act, the right of appeal to the referees.

Photo of Colonel Harry Nathan Colonel Harry Nathan , Bethnal Green North East

May I refer the right hon. Member to the definition in Section 44 of the 1925 Act? Under that Section a pension is specifically defined as: a pension under this Act and a pension under the Old Age Pensions Acts, 1908 to 1924, which is payable by virtue of this Act. There is nothing I have found in the amending Bill which brings a pension under the amending Bill within the definition of Section 44 of the Act.

7.0 p.m.

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

The original Act of 1925 and this Bill must be construed together. Under Clause 24 (1) of this Bill, it is made perfectly clear that this Bill shall foe read as one with the Act of 1925. We are depriving nobody of any rights of appeal enjoyed under the Act of 1925. The one question which is in issue now is that of normal employment. I want to refer again to Section 18 of the Act of 1925, not for the purpose of making any mere debating point but for reasons of substance. We are following in this Bill the procedure of the Act of 1925 under which the question of the normal occupation of the husband of the pre-Act widow with children was reserved to the Minister. Presumably that decision was taken because the Act of 1925 was built upon the National Health Insurance Acts, and questions of insurability were necessarily bound up with the National Health Insurance Act itself. The question as to whether a person is or is not insurable has always been dealt with under the Insurance Act itself by the Minister, for the reason that it raises highly technical questions. It is not a question merely of weighing evidence; it is a question of whether a particular man's job, when it has been tracked down, does fall within the category of insurable occupations or not. It is not a simple matter. However learned in the law people may be, it does not follow that they are able to understand that question any better.

There has been built up from 1912 to this day in the Ministry of Health year by year a large body of knowledge on this complex question, and I know of no people who could adjudicate on the question of insurability better than those who have been devoting all their time to deciding this particular kind of question, not only as to the Pensions Act but also as to the National Health Insurance Act. Remember that when you are taking decisions about insurability, you are not merely taking them on the particular case or on questions of old age and widows' pensions, but you are taking them on a much wider issue as affecting the whole working of the National Insurance Acts. I am not responsible for the way this legislation is built up, but our system of insurance to-day is tied hand and foot to the National Health Insurance scheme, and decisions respecting insurability so far as pensions are concerned, are bound to have repercussions on the National Health Insurance scheme.

It is vital, in the interests of good ad ministration, that we should have uniformity in administration. Hon Members will see the importance of having some common standard, a common application of the law. Whatever may be the case about marriage and death certificates and so on, I am not satisfied that on this particular point of insurability you can get uniformity of decision by a body of referees. It is for that reason, I imagine, that my predecessor kept to himself the power of determining this question of insurable status. He did it twice over in his Bill, because from his experience of administration he felt it was one of the questions which were not suitable to put to a referee but which ought to be decided by people who had special and detailed knowledge of what did and what did not constitute an insurable employment.

The House should remember that we are only discussing this single question of insurable status and not some of the questions raised earlier. Insurable status can be substantiated in two ways. There are two alternative tests under the Bill. One was whether the husband was registered as a member of an approved society or was a deposit contributor. There his insurability is proved by that and the question is quite simple. The other test is whether the husband had a normal insurable occupation for three years before his death. It is on that that questions may rise. In many cases the point will be proved by fairly definite evidence in the possession of the applicant, but, when we are dealing with widows who lost thir husbands 30 or 40 years ago, it is clear that we are getting away from the possibility of producing written evidence. There it will be a case not of some hard-hearted person, an inspector of the department, going round and seeing a widow and holding a full inquisition into the insurable status of the husband, but it will be a case—as has occurred with the pre-Act widow with children—of the inspector going round as a friendly, helpful person, desiring to help the widow to produce the necessary evidence of her husband's qualifications as an insured person. I should have thought that the experience of these inspectors going round in this friendly way, backed by the experience of the department as to what is and what is not an insurable occupation, would provide very adequate machinery for doing justice.

It may be said by hon. Members, "We must have something lying beyond that, a Court of Appeal, a Law Court." Such a body would be in no better position to judge the insurable status of the husband than the skilled person who has already done it and made the decision. On the contrary, I should imagine that, once cases of this kind come before the referee, there would be a much severer standard of legal evidence required than there would normally be. What you really want to find out is what the husband was and the referee, when it comes to him, has to give a legal decision. Now what is the result? There have been cases and there are cases now under the Act of 1925 which have been pending a very considerable time because of the inevitable delay through the system of appeal to the referee. Even with a perfectly straight forward case we have a delay of a few months at a very considerable cost. If you add to the responsibilities of these part-time people, who are not primarily engaged on this work, the responsibility of dealing with the insurable status, we shall either have very substantially to in crease the numbers of these people, who are now part of the new despotism, or we shall have to allow these cases to fall more and more into arrears.

One further point on this question of the history of this problem of the insurable status and insurability. In the original National Health Insurance Act of 1911 provision was made by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) in his earlier days for an appeal to the County Court. That did not work and, when the right hon. Gentleman was Prime Minister, assisted by his little handmaiden, the right hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), who did the work for him, he came for ward in the Bill of 1920 in order to cut out appeals to the County Court. Why was the appeal to the County Court cut out? It was cut out, partly because of the delay which had been caused, and also because the County Court decisions did not agree on the question of insurability and that meant chaos in the working of a scheme of this kind.

It is because I see the difficulties which arise from varying and conflicting decisions on questions of insurability that it seems to me that this is not really a practicable question to remit to the referees. All experience of Insurance Acts up to date has shown—and every Minister has approved of it—that this highly technical question is one that ought to be settled by the people who understand it, and that other questions are suitable subjects for appeal to some other body. With that explanation, I hope the Committee will see that I am not trying to keep powers which I think I ought not to have, or to take new powers to myself. I am merely maintaining the existing powers of the Minister and the right of appeal as it exists to-day, but reserving as it has been reserved apart from the very unfortunate experiment of the County Courts under the Act of 1911, the right of the Department to determine this question of insurability. That question is even more important to-day than it was in 1911. It is a question the decision of which ought to rest with the Department responsible for administering the whole system of health insurance. That decision ought not to lie with people who are in no way concerned with the implications which may arise on any decision regarding insurability.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

The Debate on this Amendment has become very interesting, and it raises a series of questions on which quite evidently there can be legitimate differences of opinion. The Minister is right in saying that the Bill does not take away any rights of appeal enjoyed under the Act of 1925, but he was incorrect in attributing a statement to that effect to hon. Members behind me. That statement emanated from hon. Members below the Gangway, and I think it arose from the fact that those hon. Members had not studied sufficiently some of the Clauses, and particularly Clause 24, of the Bill. It still remains true that the cases which come under this particular Clause are not subject to appeal, and they are, of course, the bulk of the cases which are touched by the Bill. The position is that the words whose decision shall be final and conclusive, are inconsistent with there being, at the same time, an appeal, because, if the decision is final and conclusive, there can be no appeal. Following on this Amendment, there is an Amedment in the name of the hon. Member for Gravesend (Mr. Albery) to leave out the words whose decision shall be final and conclusive. It might be thought that there was some difference between that Amendment and the Amendment now before us, but there is no difference whatever, because the effect of my hon. Friend's Amendment would be to bring the provisions of this Clause under Sub-section (2) of Section 29 of the principal Act, which is the sub stance of the present Amendment. The two Amendments are really identical, and the effect of both would be that the decisions of the Minister, instead of being final and conclusive, would be subject to the appeal provided for in Sub-section (2), Section 29, of the principal Act.

The Minister has told us over and over again that he is only following the precedent set by me, and it is true that in the provision dealing with pre-Act widows under the Act of 1925 similar words occur, and, in fact, the decision was reserved to the Minister. I do not quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman's account of the difficulties of appeal, the desirability of uniformity, and the powerful considerations which influenced me and my advisers at the time. It is necessary that I should explain why I am now supporting an appeal in these cases when there was no such appeal in the Act of 1925. My explanation, in a sentence, is that the circumstances which are to be subject to the Minister's decision in this case, are so much more remote; they are so much more suceptible of different interpretations, there is so much less unimpeachable evidence to be obtained in support of them and they affect so many more people, that, it seems to me, the case now differs, not merely in degree but actually in kind from the case of that limited number of pre-Act widows who came under the Act of 1925 and whose cases were limited in time, owing to the fact that they were only those who had children under 14 years of age.

Therefore, although I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, that some difficulties may be caused by giving an appeal, yet the circumstances are so different that I consider that a new procedure should properly be applied to the cases which will come under this Measure. The right hon. Gentleman said among other things that lawyers would not be better judges of insurability than the Minister. It is not merely a question of insurability which is at stake. That is one of the questions and a very important question, but another question is whether a man's normal occupation was, in fact, what it is claimed to have been at a particular time. That is a question on which the opinion of one or more referees is likely to be quite as valuable as that even of the experts in the Ministry of Health, and that is certainly a consideration which ought not to be kept out of account. Then the right hon. Gentleman says there is going to be delay and I think he suggested that cases which would have been settled quickly—possibly in favour of the widow—are going to be unduly delayed by the fact that there is an appeal. But surely the appeal would be made in the cases where the widow had been "turned down," and the widow would not complain of delay if the result was that she got a pension, which in the first instance had been refused.

I cannot see much in that argument, but there is another consideration which has weighed with me and which has been confirmed by the speech of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). That was an illuminating speech. It threw a lurid light on the hon. Member's ideas of the way in which judicial functions should be exercised. The Minister under this Bill is to exercise a final and conclusive judgment. Apparently if he gives that judgment in favour of the widow, the hon. Member will say nothing. But if, in the exercise of his judicial functions and on the advice of those experts to whom he has paid a well-merited tribute, the right hon. Gentleman gives his judgment against the widow, what is going to be the hon. Member's procedure? He is going to come down to the House of Commons, with his friends to fortify him, and violently attack the Minister here and in the Press and continue to put pressure on the Minister until the Minister says, "After all, on second thoughts I think I will alter my decision." We find in a later Clause of the Bill that this unhappy Minister is never to have any peace on this subject. We know what the position of the Minister is now, when the hon. Member for Gorbals sees him in his room.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

I never see him in his room.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

When the hon. Member puts questions on the Paper and violently attacks the Minister, the right hon. Gentleman now says, "I am very sorry; I should like to intervene if possible in this particular case, but the law now lays it down that the case must go to a tribunal, and the tribunal's decision is final. They have given their decision, and there is nothing more that I can do, and, with every sympathy, I am very sorry that I am obliged to leave the matter where it is." But the right hon. Gentleman will not even have that protection in this Bill, because without any new facts being brought up, the Minister under Clause 16 lays himself open to continuous pressure from the hon. Member for Gorbals, as long as he remains Minister. I can quite see that the position is going to be an extremely embarrassing and difficult one and therefore in his own interest—and not merely in the interest of the present Minister—

Photo of Mr David Kirkwood Mr David Kirkwood , Dumbarton District of Burghs

Watch the Greeks when they bring you gifts.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

As I say, not merely the present Minister, but other Ministers will find such a position embarrassing and a Minister ought not to be put in that position. There ought to be an appeal from his decision to some impartial body which cannot be worked upon in the way I have described. For all these reasons, in spite of the fact that I did not consider an appeal necessary in the Act of 1925, I say that an appeal is necessary in the changed conditions and I support the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Herbert Samuel Mr Herbert Samuel , Darwen

The Minister last night, when a similar point was under discussion, sheltered himself behind the Act of 1925 and said that he was merely following the procedure laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain). Now the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston has disavowed that precedent and has said that in his view the case now before the Committee is entirely different in certain respects from the case with which he was dealing. To-day, the Minister has further sheltered himself be hind our Act of 1911, and it devolves upon me to point out that the case here is not similar to the case dealt with in 1911. The Minister said that under the Act of 1911 there was a technical point to be decided and that it could better be decided by the technical officers of the Department rather than by placing it, with evidence, before an outside tribunal. The Minister said: "When a man's job has been tracked down, the only question that arises is whether or not his work is an insurable occupation." But in con temporary cases, the question of whether a man's work is insurable or not is the only question which does arise. The man's job is easily "tracked down," and he is or is not in an insurable occupation, and there is a very narrow point to be decided by technical officers within the Department.

In this Bill you are dealing with two questions: (a) Was this particular occupation insurable or not? (b) Was this man 20 years ago in that occupation or not? That is the point which will give rise to difficulty, that is the point which needs examination, that is where a Department may easily go wrong, and that is where, on the first inquiry, a widow who may not know all the facts may not present her case effectively. That is the reason why we say that this case cannot be disposed of simply by saying it is on all fours with the cases dealt with under the Act of 1911 and that therefore there is no other point to be considered.

I appeal to hon. Members opposite, in the interests of these women, not lightly to say that they must be content simply with the decision of the Department and be denied access to a tribunal. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health says he is not a man who desires to concentrate all power within his own Department, that he preserves all the rights of appeal wherever they have hitherto been granted, and that this is a wholly exceptional matter. That must have been very distasteful to the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), who endeavoured to convince the Committee that appeals were very bad things and that we ought not to have them at all.

Photo of Mr Herbert Samuel Mr Herbert Samuel , Darwen

The hon. Member agrees with my observation. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman, in order to meet the position of the hon. Member for Gorbals, ought to abolish appeals altogether. Is that the view of hon. Members opposite in general? I am sure it is not. The hon. Member for Gorbals takes a purely individual view, which carries no conviction to hon. Members opposite, with regard to the great majority of cases. Why then should it carry conviction with regard to this point? He says that these detailed, difficult cases, as to whether or not individual persons were in insurable occupation 20 or 30 years ago, can be settled by personal conversations between individual Members and particular Ministers. But for one case that could be dealt with in such a manner, which happens to come to the notice of an hon. Member and which he happens to press in this House, there must be 50 unknown, undealt with, where possibly injustice may have been done. Surely Parliament cannot legislate on the assumption that these detailed, difficult, and sometimes remote cases can be settled on the Floor of the House, as the hon. Member says, or by interviews between particular Members and particular Ministers. There must be some regular procedure set up, and for these reasons I commend most heartily the Amendment of my hon. Friend to the attention of the Committee.

Photo of Mr George Knight Mr George Knight , Nottingham South

I would remind the Committee that one of the oldest principles of English justice is that where there is a grievance there should be a remedy. Like other Members of the Committee, I have been moved from time to time by the accounts which my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) has given in this House of his endeavours to get justice before appellant tribunals. I put a perfectly simple case to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, that supposing after the adjudication of the Department the claimant has a grievance, where is that grievance to be considered?

Photo of Mr George Knight Mr George Knight , Nottingham South

I beg my hon. Friend to assist the business of the Committee by not interrupting unduly. I am simply commending the view to my right hon. Friend—and I am certain it is a view which will at once commend itself to my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General—that where a grievance may arise under the operation of this Bill, provision should be available for satisfying the aggrieved person that the grievance will be reviewed by some qualified authority. I am casting no aspersions on the Department, but let me remind the right hon. Gentleman that as the ambit of social legislation widens and widens, you get more and more people brought within its operation who are very sensitive about, and indeed extremely suspicious of, lawyers. Frankly, I think that suspicion is often well founded. That suspicion arises, and therefore some means of meeting and perhaps of ending it should be found. For reasons advanced from Various quarters, it is clear that a right of appeal does not remain in regard to numerous cases which will arise under the Bill, and therefore it is in the interests of justice to provide a remedy where a remedy is required. I beg my right hon. Friend that he should take steps, in conjunction, if I may suggest it with all respect, with the learned Attorney-General, to make quite certain that in all cases of grievance arising under this Bill there will be avail able a remedy. I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that he should give an assurance that this matter will be reconsidered, and perhaps on the Report Stage he might find himself in a position to make proposals which will satisfy the point. If he agrees to that course, I hope the hon. Member opposite who is responsible for the Amendment will with draw it.

Photo of Sir Philip Colfox Sir Philip Colfox , Dorset Western

It is difficult for me to understand why it is that the Minister of Health so strongly opposes this very moderate Amendment. To judge by many of the speeches to which one has listened, one would think that an alternative is being proposed and that a decision by the Minister on the one hand or by a court of referees on the other is proposed, but that, of course, is not the case. The procedure must clearly be, if this Amendment is incorporated in the Bill, that first the claim will be considered by the representative of the Ministry, and if it is allowed, that finishes the matter. It is only in cases where the applicant has failed to substantiate a claim that it will go to an appeal tribunal. In resisting the Amendment, the Ministry are in fact curtailing the possibility of indigent widows getting pensions, which the party opposite profess to wish them to have. They are doing exactly the contrary from what they professed to be doing, because they are reducing the opportunities for widows to obtain pensions. It is true, of course, as the Minister said, that he is not depriving any existing applicant of any existing right by this Bill, but this Bill does not deal with cases under the existing law. It brings in a totally new class of people, and for this totally new class, unless this Amendment is accepted, there will be absolutely no right of appeal.

When the Bill says that the decision of the Minister shall be final and conclusive, does that mean that it is final and binding with regard to the Minister himself, or is he in a position later on, either on the production of further evidence or without any further evidence, to reverse his own decision, which the Bill says is final and conclusive? If in fact the Minister is bound by this phrase and his decision is binding, then the point made by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) is of no avail, because the hon. Member would like this question of the granting of pensions to become the sport of party politics. He would like the decision as to who is or who is not to get a pension to be left to the play of party politics and political influence. He would like, he has told us, as a final resort, to have each case where an applicant has been refused a pension debated on the Floor of the House and decided by a party majority in this House. I can imagine nothing more disastrous for the good of the people of this country, for the good administration of an Act of Parliament, or for the good of the widows themselves than to allow this question of the granting of a pension to become the sport of party politics, as is desired by the hon. Member opposite. It is rather an eye-opener to me that he should have been so very frank in his statement of aims and in saying that that was his desire, and if there were no other reasons for incorporating this Amend- ment in the Bill, that speech by itself would, to my mind, provide ample justification and in fact would have pointed to the absolute necessity for the inclusion of the Amendment. To leave a matter of this sort to the unfettered discretion of an individual Minister, who can be indefinitely pestered by party politicians, to whatever party they may belong, to reverse and modify his decisions ad infinitum, seems to me to be perfectly preposterous, and I shall support the Amendment.

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

May I put this point to the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, because I am very anxious to find a way out? There are really two points before us. There is the question of insurability, and there is the question as to whether an insurable employment was the normal employment of a man. As I gather, the main brunt of the charge against me is on this question of normal employment, not on the question of insurability. I think the question may arise as to whether employment shown to be insurable was or was not the normal employment of the individual. I can see a case there for allowing an appeal, but at the same time I hope hon. Members will see that I have some case for saving the Clause with regard to insurability, which is a very technical point. If the hon. Member who moved the Amendment agrees, I am prepared, in consultation with him if he likes, to furnish an Amendment for the Report stage which will bring the question of normal employment within the ambit of appeal, while retaining this narrower question of insurability for decision by the Minister.

Mr. LLOYD GEORGE:

I am very glad that the Minister of Health has met what I consider to be the very powerful case which has been made out. I am not going into the question of the Act of 1911, it is so many years ago, but I think that having regard to the promise the right hon. Gentleman has made to reconsider the matter and to put down an Amendment to deal with the more substantial cases, I should advise my hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment.

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

Will the Minister also bear in mind the other point, that it is not only the normality of the employment, but the insurability which has been raised by the right hon. Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain).

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

I should like to be firm on that point. I have indicated that I will consider the point of normal occupation. I should not like to mislead the Committee.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

This is in some respects a joint Amendment, and I would like to say, on behalf of my hon. Friends behind me, that we must see the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman before we can say if we are satisfied, and we must reserve the right to continue our Amendment if the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment does not satisfy us. If that be agreed, I should advise my hon. Friend not to proceed with his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Cyril Atkinson Mr Cyril Atkinson , Altrincham

I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out from the word "that" in line 3 to the word "or" in line 6, and to insert instead thereof the words: his normal occupation was, at the time of his death, such as would have been employment in respect of which contributions would have been payable under the principal Act if that Act had been then in force. If the Minister means what he has already said, he will have difficulty in resisting this Amendment, because there is a very serious departure from the principle of the original Act in Sub-sections 1 (a, i and ii). You, Sir, may think it would be fitting to consider at the same time a later Amendment which deals with the same point in connection with Sub-section (1, a, ii). The point is this: Under the principal Act the test of whether a widow with children was entitled to come in was whether she was the widow of a man whose normal occupation at the time of his death had been or would have been insurable. The words of my Amendment are taken from the words used in the principal Act where the two points that stand out in the qualification are, first, that the employment is insurable, and, second, that it was the man's normal employment at the time of his death. In Sub-section (1, a, i), both points have been departed from. There is not a word about normal employment nor about the time of death. A new period is introduced—three years before death—and the test is whether the deceased was registered as a member of an approved society or as a deposit contributor.

Let the Committee realise what this means. A woman with children has to prove that her husband was normally employed at the time of his death in an insurable occupation, whereas what the widow under this Bill has to prove is that, for one week, perhaps, three years before his death her husband was registered as a member of an approved society. A man may have been registered for a week, proved thoroughly unfit for his work, or have taken to drink, or been convicted of theft and spent the three years in prison. His widow can claim. The contrast is striking, and there can be no reason for it. We were told most emphatically last night that the machinery and the principles were to be the same in the two Measures. Just test the unfairness. You may have a widow asking for a pension on the ground that she has three children, and she has something far more onerous to prove than a woman living in the same street with no children. The inconsistency is quite intolerable, and it is grossly unfair. The same point arises under Sub-section (1, a, ii). There you have the reference to the term "normal," and I should like to know why it is there and not in Sub section (1, a, i). On the ground of consistency, and in order to make the association with insurable employment more complete, I move the Amendment which stands in my name.

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

The effect of these two Amendments taken together is, first of all, to get rid of Sub-section (1, a, i). The hon. Member says that a man may have been insured for only a day or two before his death, but the Sub-section actually proposes a definite test that is capable of easy confirmation. We have the records of the approved societies, and, as a matter of fact, people do not join these societies unless they are seriously insured members. If a man has gone through all the trouble and formality of joining an approved society, we may take it that he has not only one or two stamps. Deposit contributors do not sent in their cards until they have sufficient to entitle them to money. We find from the records of the societies that membership of an approved society is a test of solid insurance and a very much better one than that proposed by the hon. Member.

The hon. Member is slightly in error in thinking that the only test in the Act of 1925 is that of normal employment. That test is contained in Sub-section (18, e), but in Sub-section (18, a) of the same Act an insurance test is used. Sub section (18, a) roughly corresponds with Sub-section (1, a, i) of the Bill, and Sub section (18, e) with Sub-section (1, a, ii) of the Bill. The point at issue between is whether "the time of his death" or "some time within three years" is to be the test.

8.0 p.m.

As to Sub-section (1, a, ii) the phrase "at the time of his death" is a phrase which, in practice, has been found extremely difficult to administer, even if you only go back for a few years. It is very difficult to prove what a widow's late husband was doing in certain cases at the time of his death, within only a week of his death. It is very much easier to give a certificate to the effect that the man was working at his normal insurable occupation. If, however, you are to go back for a very long term of years, it is absolutely impossible for a woman to prove what her husband was doing, and it is much easier to give evidence to show that a man was habitually employed at his normal occupation. For instance you may go into a village and make inquiries and be told that the man in question was employed by "Mr. So-and-so," who is a well-known employer. If the Amendment were carried it would not be in harmony with the Act of 1925, and it would undoubtedly cut out a great number of women who have a strong and good claim to a widow's pension. I, therefore, hope that this Amendment will not be pressed. It can only do a great deal of harm, and it may result in the loss of pensions to a number of deserving persons.

Photo of Mr Cyril Atkinson Mr Cyril Atkinson , Altrincham

I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary is right in her reference to Section 18 (e). I think that Section also refers to the time of death.

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

The hon. Gentle man is quite right, but Section 18 (a) deals with an insured occupation and Section 18 (e) deals with a person's normal occupation. What is at issue is "time of death" as against "some time within three years."

Photo of Mr Cyril Atkinson Mr Cyril Atkinson , Altrincham

My objection is to the inconsistency of the whole thing, and that you are applying a much severer test for the widows with children than you are going to apply to the widows without children. And if experience has shown that the new test is the better and fairer one, then I think the Parliamentary Secretary might go a little further and apply the new test to the original Act. If she will say whether that is possible, it would certainly meet all the objections that I have put forward. If it is fair to the new widows it is surely fair to the new widows with children.

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

In my humble position I cannot, I am afraid, give such a definite assurance as is asked for by the hon. Gentleman. I can only promise to convey his views to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, who will, I have no doubt, give them careful consideration.

Photo of Mr Cyril Atkinson Mr Cyril Atkinson , Altrincham

In view of what the Parliamentary Secretary has said, that consideration will be given to the possibility of bringing in widows with children, I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I beg to move, in page 2, line 3, to leave out the words "at some time," and to insert instead thereof the words "for a period of at least twelve months."

My Amendment deals with a rather different point from that raised by my hon. and learned Friend. I am inclined to agree that, if you are going to fix a moment of time as necessary to establish the right of a widow or the claim of a widow to a pension, it may make things more difficult, and it is right that the widow shall not miss her claim because she cannot bring evidence that her husband had been employed at a particular moment of time in his normal occupation. Therefore, I do not quite agree with my hon. and learned Friend in the Amendment which has just been under discussion. But I am now more concerned with a more difficult point. It will be noted that a little further down I have a similar Amendment to line 7, and in fact I have put down Amendments both to paragraph (i) and to paragraph (ii) in the same words, because the same words are applicable to each of the two paragraphs. But, as a matter of fact, I attach much more importance to my Amendment as regards the second paragraph than I do to my Amendment as it concerns the first. I cannot, how ever, very well confine my remarks to the second paragraph, because it might well prejudice me if I had not moved the Amendment to insert similar words in paragraph (i). Therefore, if I am in order, I would like to put forward my argument in the case of both these paragraphs on this first Amendment. In that case, of course, I cannot ask to take a separate Division on the two Amendments, but I will accept the decision of the Committee as to both of them on the first one.

Granting, as I have already said, the difficulty of laying it down that the occupation of a man who died more than a generation ago was of a particular character at a particular moment of time, yet, I think, one must agree that it is really almost absurd when you say that his normal occupation is to be determined by what he was "at some time" within a period of three years. What does the phrase "at some time" mean? As far as paragraph (i) is concerned, I am inclined to agree with the Parliamentary Secretary that people do not go and become members of approved societies or deposit contributors for a week at a time, and then go out. If they go into one or the other, they do it with a serious purpose, and they remain within one or the other. Therefore, I cannot attach very much importance to these words as they apply to the first paragraph. Of course, I have already expressed my disagreement with the provisions of this Bill, and with the provisions of this Clause in particular, but we have passed that stage now. We have passed the Second Reading of the Bill, and I now have to treat this Clause in the light of the fact that the House of Commons as a whole has approved the Second Reading of the Bill. Therefore, I have accepted the opinion that it is desirable that widows of men who belong to what we, roughly and rather loosely, call "the insurable class" should be the widows who are brought in under this paragraph.

What I am concerned with now is that the paragraph should not be so drawn as possibly to bring in to this class the widows of men who did not belong to what we agreed is an insurable class. I admit that the original Act was in some Cases unequal and unfair. It created many hard cases, but we should make many still harder cases if there were brought in under this paragraph the widows of people who did not belong to an insurable class. I contend that the phrase "at some time" is too vague a phrase to use in this connection. You must, at least, specify time which is long enough to give a reasonable presumption of normality. Under the paragraph as it now stands, to state that a man's occupation is his normal occupation, one has merely to show that he has been employed in that occupation for a week or even a day. A day is "some time" I believe. I do not know in what way the phrase "at some time" may actually be denned. To say that you are to let in anybody who, some body dimly remembers that on some occasion they had reason to believe, was employed in such and such a position for one day at some date is far too vague.

The long discussion we had a little time ago when the Minister was forced by the power of the arguments used to agree to bring in an Amendment on Report, turned on the argument of whether a man was or was not in fact engaged in an occupation that he believed to be insurable under the terms of the Bill. I put it to the Committee that the task of determining whether a man was normally employed in an insurable occupation—a task which the experts will have to perform—would be much simplified if there were a more concrete definition than these words. There may be a difference of opinion as to period. Some hon. Members may say that 12 months is too long, but I would point out that I have not said a continuous 12 months, and I do not think that that period can be considered as unreasonable in order to settle whether a man's normal occupation was of a particular kind over a period of three years. At the same time I am not wedded to 12 months. I think that it is a reasonable time, but other hon. Members may be satisfied with a shorter period, and I would not quarrel about that, but I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us what she understands by these words and what is the shortest time which she would consider would be covered by the words "at some time"? I ask her to consider whether it would not be much better for the sake of the clarity of the Bill and simplification of working, that some specified time should be put in so that those who are to decide on the cases, which we are all agreed are going to be most difficult, can say with greater certainty what can properly be described as being normally employed in an insurable occupation.

Photo of Colonel Albert Ward Colonel Albert Ward , Kingston upon Hull North West

In two of these paragraphs we have the ambiguous term "at some time," and it is advisable that some thing more definite should be substituted. Wording like that leads to so much of the litigation which always follows when a new Act is put upon the Statute Book. I am certain that if this ambiguous term is left in the Bill, the actual meaning will not be decided until it has gone through the Law Courts up to the House of Lords. Such litigation not only throws a considerable volume of expense upon the country indirectly, but casts a slur upon those who are responsible for drafting the Bills of this House. That could be avoided if some specific time were inserted. I do not say that 12 months or even six months is the right period, but some minimum time should be laid down. I could understand it if the object of the Bill were to bring everybody within its scope, but many classes of people are left out; a large number of people who require the benefit of the Bill and deserve it as much as those who are brought in are left out. If the object were to bring everybody in, this might be the best way of doing it, but as many classes are left out, those classes who are being brought in should be named in a much more definite and certain way.

Photo of Sir Louis Smith Sir Louis Smith , Sheffield, Hallam

When I first read the wording of the Bill, it occurred to me that the words "at some time" must create a great deal of difficulty in the future. I am wondering what the Minister of Health would do in the case of a man who might have been, during this period years ago, a small contractor. He may have been doing work in a village as a master man in a small way, but, owing to slackness of trade or difficulty in finding enough employment as a master man, he may have accepted employment with another contractor for one week during those three years. It would, therefore be difficult for the Minister, in the first place, to find out with whom he was employed, and, in the second place, to decide whether he would come under this Bill. Then again, I am thinking of a man who may be a master man in a small way, and for reasons of his own may, for one week during the three years, have been employed in some factory. How difficult it would be for the Minister in that case to find out with what firm he had been engaged. I do not know whether 12 months, which is one-third of the period under consideration, is too long, but the words "at some time" will cause a great deal of difficulty in administration. Whatever period be taken, I consider that, having in mind the instances to which I have referred, some alteration must be made.

Mr. PALMER:

The Committee should bear in mind the main purpose of this provision. The intention, as I under stand it, is to provide for an insured class with a view to bringing in the pre-Act widow. "at some time" might be rendered "any time," and it is clear that it means any time within the three years, in order to establish whether the husband of a widow was insured under the Act through an approved society or as a deposit contributor. Under this provision, the Minister has to determine the title to benefit, and the intention of this Clause, as far as I undersand it, is that it should be as wide as it is possible to make it with safety, and as simple as possible administratively. If you begin to restrict the operations of this Clause by introducing this period of one year, or any other such period you restrict the powers of the Minister to bring within the Bill the deserving and necessitous widows—

Mr. PALMER:

I say, "Yes." I say hon. Members opposite have been pleading all the time for these necessitous widows to come into the scheme, and yet every Amendment they have tabled has had the effect or the objective of cramping our effort to bring in the maximum number of widows. The Committee ought to see through the purpose of the Opposition, as distinct from the purpose of the Government. It is the purpose of the Government to bring in a certain number of pre-Act widows, and it is necesary that these two Sub-sections should be drafted in this manner to en sure that no really deserving case, no case of hardship, whether that of the widow of an actually insured person or of a person in the insurable class, is left out. This drafting of the Clause ought to stand if the Minister is to give effect to the object of providing for this particular group of pre-Act widows.

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

The hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Palmer) has fallen into an error. At no time has it been the policy of the party which I support to restrict the scope of the Bill or the number of widows who are to benefit by this legislation. What we have maintained is that, granted a certain sum of money is available to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is the duty of this Committee to see that that money is distributed in the best possible manner. It is not for us to say whether the money is available or not, and I may remark that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has never yet graced these proceedings, and we have had no information from the Treasury. But assuming that a certain sum is available over a period of years for distribution amongst a certain section of widows, our object is to see that it goes to those who most require it. There fore the hon. Member for Greenwich is in error in saying we have been trying to restrict the scope of the Measure and that his party wants to give these pensions to the maximum number of widows. The maximum number is fixed by the financial provisions of the Bill and we are only trying to divert the stream of gold provided by the Chancellor into the field of widows who are most in need of it. I am sorry I should have been diverted from what is relevant to the views expressed by the hon Member.

Mr. PALMER:

Which, if I may say so, you have not disposed of.

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

The hon. Member is a little premature. I was submitting a few preliminary observations on the remarks he had made. He must not be in too great a hurry. This Amendment seeks to lay down a particular period of time for the very good reason that the phrase "at some time" is too vague a definition in an Act of Parliament and will require too much interpretation. What we have done so far is to decide that pensions should after a certain date be granted to widows of the age of 55. That is the only thing settled so far. The next thing is that the Minister must be satisfied that the husband of the widow was at some time within three years before his death registered as a member of an approved society. Earlier in the Debate we had it from the Minister that his Department will have no difficulty in tracking these particular cases. Records are available in pretty complete detail, and as he claims that in matters of insurance law his Department is practically infallable there will be no difficulty in deciding whether a man was or was not a member of an approved society; but while there may be no physical difficulty in ascertaining that fact, we say it is quite reasonable to lay it down that he must have been a member of that approved society for some period.

The Minister more or less gives away the case by inserting the words "at some time." He evidently has some period of time in his mind, and the suggestion of my right hon. Friend in his Amendment that it should be a period of at least 12 months is an invitation to the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to ex plain how far she would be prepared to go on these lines. The difficulty we are up against is that, whether the Minister likes it or not, there are in the Bill certain limitations on the number of widows of 55 who are going to get pensions. That is due on the one hand to the policy of the Minister in breaking away from the pledges of his Leader the Prime Minister, and, on the other hand, it is due to the promises held out by the Home Secretary at the election. What the Minister has done is to choose this arbitrary line of 55 and add conditions to it. We want to make sure that those conditions, such as they are, will bring no further in justices and create no further anomalies among the widows who will not, unfortunately, come within the scope of this Measure.

I invite the hon. Lady to say why some period should not be inserted in the Bill in place of this very vague phrase "at some time." As the Bill stands to-day, the Minister is the final arbiter and his Department will have the last word with regard to these different categories of people. It is not my right hon. Friend the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain), or myself, or any others who sup port this Amendment, who are suggesting that this should be one of the qualifications of a widow for a pension. That is what the Minister has put into the Bill; it is not our proposal. As the Department will be the final judge, it is up to this Committee to see that we have some indication of what is meant by the words "at some time." It does not seem to me to be absolutely fair to put that responsibility upon the Department, at any rate until we see what fresh Amendments the right hon. Gentleman is going to produce later. So far, there is no way of appealing from the Department. I hope the hon. Lady will give us a clear explanation of any reasons she may have, if she has any, for not accepting this Amendment. Otherwise, I suggest that she should, in the very charming manner in which she could, accept the Amendment, and take it from me that the remarks which fell from the hon. Member behind her just now with regard to our trying to restrict the maximum number of widows to come within this Measure are entirely without foundation.

Photo of Mr John Baker Mr John Baker , Wolverhampton Bilston

It is some satisfaction to Members on this side of the Committee to get an admission from Members on the other side that at least this Amendment is restrictive. Person ally I have felt that the whole of the Amendments "moved from the other side have been restrictive, and that the desire is to reduce the numbers coming under the Act; or that, if that be not so, granting to hon. Members opposite the intelligence which we believe they have, all these Amendments are merely blocking Amendments moved in the hope of wrecking the Bill. I hope that some Member speaking from the other side, either in the discussion on this Amendment or on some of the other Amendments, will tell us that they are going to drop the bunkum of trying to persuade this Committee that they are only moving these Amendments with a view to saving money so that other categories of persons can be included who in their opinion ought to come within the scope of the Bill.

Last week, in the discussion on an Amendment, I asked a speaker to tell me, before he resumed his seat, if he could give a single instance of a person who will not get a pension under this Bill and who would get a pension under any of the Amendments moved by the Opposition up to the present. Unless we are given some categories of people who can be thus covered, I shall continue to hold the view that hon. Members opposite are mere obstructionists. There has been some talk to-night on the question of proving length of time in connection with this Amendment. Surely it is more difficult to prove a long time than a short time. Under the Act that we are trying to amend there are people who have lost widows' pensions because their husbands died an hour-and-a-half before the Act came into operation, and if this Amendment were in force there might be people dying who had worked 11 months and two weeks and whose widows would lose a pension because the period of 12 months was insisted upon.

Photo of Mr Charles Waterhouse Mr Charles Waterhouse , Leicester South

Has the hon. Member considered the case of the widow whose age is 54 years, 11 months and one day?

Photo of Mr John Baker Mr John Baker , Wolverhampton Bilston

You want to ask the Minister of Health that question—

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

It is becoming the custom for hon. Members to address one another across the Floor. I must remind them that, if they wish to address questions to hon. or right hon. Gentlemen on the other side, they should do so through me.

Photo of Mr John Baker Mr John Baker , Wolverhampton Bilston

I do not see what bearing the hon. and gallant Member's question has on the point under discussion. I suggest to you, Sir, that, if there is anyone in this Committee of whom he should ask that question, it is his own colleague the late Minister of Health. What I am arguing is that this Amendment is intentionally restrictive, that it is intended to be exclusive, that it will have the effect of depriving some widow of a pension, and that that is its object. I shall continue to believe that that is its object until hon. Members opposite give us some categories of persons who ought to be included in this Bill and are being left out. One of the supporters of the Amendment said that a man might be a master-man and, for some reasons of his own, might work for one week as a workman. But, if he were a master-man and were under the necessity of working even for one week as a workman so that he might live, he is surely sufficiently poverty-stricken to be classed in with the workers of the country, and his widow ought to be entitled to a pension under this Bill. Another case is that of a master-man who admittedly might not have any work, might not have any contract, and his financial position might be such as to compel him, by reason of his poverty, to seek work as an ordinary workman. The widow and dependants of a man of that type would be excluded by the people opposite from the operation of this Bill.

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

I would point out to the hon. Member that, in my intervention just now, I was not rebuking him for referring to other hon. Members, but only drawing his attention to the fact that he should address the Committee through me.

Photo of Mr John Baker Mr John Baker , Wolverhampton Bilston

I thought that I was telling you, Sir, of the wickedness of my colleagues on the opposite side of the Committee, and I thought that for once I was in order. I am not in agreement with them. I think I have said that quite emphatically, and I hope that they are going, as I said last week, to save their face and withdraw their Amendment.

Photo of Major George Davies Major George Davies , Yeovil

We sympathise with the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. J. Baker) in the difficulty he finds in conforming to the recognised usages of this Assembly, but I think it hardly lies in his mouth to accuse us of wanting to put restrictive provisions into the Bill. Indeed, towards the end of his speech, he wandered away from the line of country that he had been following, and took up a question which has already been debated at some length in connection with this Measure, namely, whether the provisions of this extraordinary Bill should apply to those who could prove need or not, because some of his examples were simply examples on the question of need.

As to whether we are attempting in this Amendment to include further restric- tions, I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that from the very commencement there are restrictive Clauses in the Bill itself. For example, the very fact that a fixed age has been put in is in itself a restriction, and the hon. Member himself has alluded to the difficulties attendant upon any fixed provision as to amount or period or age. In doing so he has merely drawn attention to what is inevitable in any Measure or regulation which sets a limit. There was a provision during the War with regard to those who went overseas, whereby those who landed before mid night on the 31st December received a certain decoration, while those who landed just after midnight were not en titled to it. Admittedly, those who are on the dividing line suffer from a restriction. If you lay down an age of 75, 65, 55, or whatever you like, those who fall just below it suffer from the restriction. Therefore, so far as the general argument on the question of restriction is concerned, it is completely immaterial.

In this Bill, as in many Acts of Parliament, some restrictive provision as to date or period is inevitable. Those who do not just fall within the purview of the Measure are, so to speak, out of luck. We have to admit that, and this Bill in its restrictions, which already exist and which have already been passed by the Committee, does not depart from that fact of introducing certain restrictions which of themselves must create hard ships which did not exist before the restrictions were put forward. Hon. Members opposite cannot get away from that, which is our fundamental objection to the Bill. It is all very well to charge us with being hard hearted, whereas they are all soft hearted. I say nothing about heads, because I might be called to order. But it is really pointless, when we are arguing a Bill like this, to fling across the Floor of the House the sort of charges which the Minister of Health himself has flung in an airy way at us, and if we suggest anything in retaliation there is immediately a great uproar that we have insulted hon. Members opposite. I trust that no hon. Member, particularly the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly), who knows me well, would think I would be so rash as to endeavour to insult hon. Members opposite. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and it does not assist in the passage of the Bill to indulge in that sort of back chat and repartee.

The hon. Member who has just spoken spent a great deal of his time in pointing out how wicked we were in trying to introduce a further restriction. It is admitted that it is a further restriction, but not in order to cut out certain deserving people. It is aimed, in common with all the Amendments we have put down, to say that if you once depart from what was admittedly a restrictive provision, the one that was applicable in the original Act, the question of insurable and contributory cases, you land yourself into a morass of difficulties, and we are trying to prevent hon. Members opposite from getting deep into a morass by following the will of the wisps which are put forward from their Front Bench, and to put in front of them a true light which will bring their feet back to firmer land.

With regard to the actual merits of the Amendment, when we were children and had fruit tarts we used to say, "This year, next year, some time, never!" The first two and the last are perfectly desirable measures to put into an Act of Parliament because you know where you are, but Acts of Parliament have to be interpreted by the Courts, and when you use such an expression as "sometimes" you are simply asking for trouble. It seems to me entirely unsatisfactory that the right hon. Gentleman should seriously suggest that there should be this vague phrase in an Act of Parliament. I am not wedded to the actual period of 12 months.

The hon. Member who spoke last was talking about need, just because it is restrictive, but I am sure he would be the first to admit that there should be a certain restriction that people who are well off and do not need assistance should not have it. When you have once departed from a restrictive covenant that can be enforced with a minimum of unfairness you get into a morass, and it is the duty of the Committee to try to restrict those restrictions as much as we can. That is the objective in this Amendment because, when you have a vague expression like this, in the first place it conveys different opinions to different minds. We are seeking, from a practical point of view, to remedy cer- tain unfairnesses, injustices and grievances which undoubtedly arise under the original Measure. That is common property. The question is what is the wisest way to do it. We consider that amongst the many unwise ways one of the unwisest has been selected. Nevertheless, having that before us, we have to admit that the doors have been opened wide to allow people whom neither side of the Committee wishes to see included, included. We are prevented by words which have been already passed from going back to that, but that does not alter the fact that we have still the problem before us of endeavouring to confine this unexpected largesse on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer into those channels where it will do the greatest amount of really deserved good. That is our objective all through, and it is the same objective in this Amendment, because while admittedly it may result in restricting certain people who under these vague words would get benefits, it would have a two-fold result. One is that by the particular restriction it will give us scope, under the maximum amount that has been voted into the financial provision, to include some people whom hon. Members opposite would desire to see included and who are excluded by the terms of the Bill. In the second place, it gives us a more concise, a more legal and a more satisfactory interpretation of what is meant.

The hon. Lady may point out that 12 months is an unsatisfactory period and that nine, six or three would be better. Surely those perfectly definite periods would be incomparably better than this vague "some time." What does it mean? Does it mean a minute or an hour? One of the functions of the Committee is so to discuss and think out these problems ahead that, as far as we can, we can do what the Judges in our Courts always do. They say, "We have to interpret what is in the Act of Parliament and not what those who framed it meant or thought would be in it." That applies with increased force to this Amendment, so I hope hon. Members opposite, and particularly the hon. Lady, will realise that in bringing it forward we are really seeking to give a definite description of what the qualifications shall he and not leaving it in this vague way. If, as the result of this, a certain restrictive Measure is incorporated into the Bill, it will only be one of a number of infinitely more unsatisfactory and burdensome restrictions which we have already found. There fore, I trust the Amendment, or some modification of it, will commend itself to those in charge of the Bill and will be met in the spirit in which it has been put forward.

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

Far be it from me to charge anyone with so vile a crime as obstruction. I only say that, sitting with my pencil in my hand trying to take notes of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech, I could not find any point at all to take down. I did my very best, but I really could not gather any relation between his eloquent speech and this very narrow and technical Amendment.

Photo of Major George Davies Major George Davies , Yeovil

That is because the point of my speech was so blunt com pared with the point of the hon. Lady's pencil.

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

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain), with the consent of your predecessor, Sir, and for the convenience of the Committee, asked that the two Amendments in his name should be debated together.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

No, my right hon. Friend in my presence expressly pointed out that the second Amendment raised a point altogether different from the first.

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

The right hon. Gentleman's memory must have failed him.

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

I think it is very bad for the right hon. Gentleman to go on saying "No, no." The right hon. Gentleman's memory has failed him, as he will see when he looks at the OFFICIAL REPORT. His right hon. Friend spoke of the two Amendments. He said that the first Amendment, which he was actually moving, was the weaker case of the two, that he was disposed to admit that membership of an approved society was a solid test. He said that in regard to the second, "at some time," the case was very strong. He did, therefore, discuss the two Amendments together.

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

He proceeded to discuss the second Amendment, and it is within the recollection of every Member of the Committee that he said that "the one which I actually move is not the stronger of the two." He thought the two things were so similar that with the permission of the Chairman he desired to discuss the two together. I think I must ask that the right hon. Gentleman, as my voice is weaker than his, should remain silent until I have finished. The right hon. Gentleman did not address anything in an effective way regarding the Amendment to which he was actually speaking. He admitted that membership of an approved society was bona fide evidence of real insurance, because a man could not join an approved society for a week or two. He then addressed his remarks to the second Amendment standing in his name, and argued very acutely that one would not say that normal employment "at some time" was a reasonable condition. "Normal" employment does not come into the first. Hon. Members will remember that the whole force of his eloquence was addressed to the fact that normal employment at some time should be normal employment within a period of three years.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

On a point of Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Lady, but I really must put a point of Order now in case we have a misunderstanding as to the discussion. My right hon. Friend expressly observed in your absence that he reserved his right—because there might be some misapprehension about it—to put his case on the later Amendment in page 2, line 7, to leave out the words "at some time" and to insert instead thereof the words "for a period of at least twelve months." This Amendment, as he says, raises a different issue altogether, and all I want to be clear about is that we should not be discussing on this Amendment another matter which is altogether of a different nature. I want to avoid any misunderstanding or discussion upon the wrong Amendment. There are two different reasons for the two Amendments, and, as I understand the position, we are now discussing the first Amendment and not the second.

9.0 p.m.

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

On that point of Order, Mr. Chairman, you will observe that the discussion circled round "normal" employment. "Normal" employment does not occur in the first Amendment, and the right hon. Gentleman spent the greater part of his speech in arguing that it was preferable to have 12 months of normal employment and not normal employment "at some time."

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I do not mind as long as it is expressly preserved to my right hon. Friend or to myself or to some of my hon. Friends whose names are put down to that Amendment to have the right to put our case as regards that particular matter.

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

I must point out to the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Lady that I was not present when such an arrangement was discussed, and the Deputy-Chairman has forgotten to tell me if there was any such arrangement. I will inquire into the matter.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

There was no arrangement.

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

I will proceed to answer the speech of the right hon. Gentleman on the second Amendment, on the point which was discussed by the Committee, as to whether our proposal that normal employment "at some time" within three years shall qualify for pensions. The right hon. Gentleman has said that that is absurd; that we must substitute for normal employment—

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

It is very difficult for me. If it was not agreed that the Amendment in line 7 should come under discussion, any reference to it at the moment is out of order.

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

There is a difference of opinion in the Committee and until I find out who is right I cannot allow the discussion on the second Amendment.

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

You will have observed, since you have been in the Chair, that we have been discussing normal employment.

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

Oh, yes! We have been discussing not whether the fact that a member shall be in an approved society "at some time" will be sufficient justification, but whether "normal" employment was sufficient justification, and hon. Members have been talking about "normal" employment.

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

All I know at the moment is that the question before the Committee is, in Clause 1, page 2, line 3, to leave out the words, "at some time" and to insert instead thereof the words, "for a period of at least twelve months." I understand that the arguments on that Amendment may have impinged on the argument of the next Amendment, and until I know the exact position the second Amendment is not before the Committee and at the moment I cannot accept a discussion upon it.

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

Of course, I bow at once to your ruling, but it is very hard upon me. I know that these things are necessary. I am entirely unable to answer any of the speeches to which I have listened and of which I have taken notes. Not one of the speakers has dealt with the point of the first Amendment. Not one has dealt with the point that membership of an approved society must be for 12 months. The proposer of the Amendment only touched upon that and said he was inclined to agree that membership of an approved society was in itself satisfactory evidence of effective insurance. As that is the case, I cannot reply to a single one of the speeches I have heard. I can only sit down, saying that the Mover himself agreed with my statement on the previous Amendment that membership of an approved society was satisfactory evidence, and that all the speeches were on the question of employment. I have to apologise to hon. Members that I have no argument which is in order.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I will endeavour to address myself to the Amendment and, if I can, to give some reason why it should receive the consideration of the Committee and induce the right hon. Gentle man to give some reply on behalf of the Government. In regard to the little controversy which I regret I should have had with anyone opposite—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—a personal controversy, I would point out that my right hon. Friend distinctly stated the difference between the two Amendments. It will be found that no agreement whatever was made in connection with the matter.

HON. MEMBERS:

That is not so.

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

There is no need to make contradictions across the Floor of the House. I am making inquiries.

Photo of Mr Adam M'Kinlay Mr Adam M'Kinlay , Glasgow Partick

Why should the right hon. Gentleman pursue a thing that you have ruled out?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

The hon. Member, who is a new Member, will perhaps learn in time—

Photo of Mr Adam M'Kinlay Mr Adam M'Kinlay , Glasgow Partick

I am not going to be lectured as a new Member by anyone in this House.

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

The hon. Member must not interrupt.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

It is recognised that, when some observation is made from the benches opposite, there is always the right of reply on the other side to any statement that may have been made. The hon. Member will no doubt learn that in the course of time. The Amendment with which we have to deal is one of sub stance not only from the drafting point of view but from the point of view of the people who may be entitled to receive a pension under the Bill. Take the question of drafting. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has any precedent—he may have—but it is not within my recollection that at any time in any Act of Parliament, especially in connection with what we may call the rights of particular individuals to pensions—

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

The Deputy-Chair man sends me word that he understood discussion on the second Amendment would also be included. In those circumstances, one Debate will satisfy the Committee.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

Whatever the Deputy-Chairman says, we shall be agreeable to take it. I am content to accept such a Ruling, but there was no undertaking and no suggestion of an undertaking to that effect. I am now prepared to discuss both Amendments, and that will widen the scope of the Debate. At no time so far as I know has the vague expression "at some time," appeared in an Act of Parliament. It has been a matter of considerable criticism by the Judges who have to interpret Acts of Parliament that both Houses are loose and careless in the expressions that they incorporate in Acts of Parliament, and that it places a very undue burden upon the Judges as to their interpretation. There have been constant criticisms during many years to that effect. I wonder what will be said if we permit such a phrase as "at some time," to pass a Committee of the House of Commons to-night.

Photo of Mr George Oliver Mr George Oliver , Ilkeston

That surely is not difficult.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

The hon. Member says that that is not difficult. I am only a Member of what is called the lower branch of the legal profession. The hon. Member belongs to what is called the higher branch, so called because it gets the higher fees. No doubt, in the course of the Debate, he will explain why he does not think that the expression "at some time" is a difficult one. Not having the experience which the hon. Member has of legal matters, I confess that the words "at some time" rather astonish me. I can never hope to aspire but perhaps the hon. Member may aspire to occupy a position on the judicial bench. I wonder what he would say if he had to endeavour to define and interpret an Act of Parliament which said that at some time within three years before his death a man was registered as a member of an approved society, or as a deposit contributor. Speaking from that high judicial eminence, I think he would speak in terms of the severest condemnation of a vague and unsatisfactory term of that kind.

My first criticism is that that particular phrase from the point of view of drafting and judicial interpretation is most unsatisfactory, because it is uncertain. I hope to hear the hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. G. Oliver) tell us what in his opinion that particular phrase means. Possibly that argument may be dismissed as technical, and it may be said that it is a minor point, and that if anything does go wrong with this particular phrase, Parliament may amend it in future. My objection, and the objection of my right hon. Friend, is not a technical objection but one which goes to the very substance of the proposal incorporated in the Bill. The House of Commons, in its wisdom, having approved the expenditure of this large sum of money, and having rejected the proposal that this sum of money should be divided on more equal and fairer terms, we have to see whether we can in any way make the Measure more fair and more just. In some respects there has been no more unfair and no more unjust Measure ever proposed to the House. If we examine the Measure from that point of view, we get an illustration of the innumerable inequalities and injustices which arise in connection with this proposal.

If you say that at some time within three years he was registered as a member of an approved society, or was a deposit contributor, certain conseqences may follow. There is no more difficult case, as hon. Members who are acquainted with the work of national insurance will agree, than what is called the man who goes out of insurance on account of the income limit. He may, under this particular provision, be in national insurance for a short time only, but by the progress he makes with his particular employer his salary is raised above what is called the national insurance income limit, and immediately and automatically he goes out of national insurance. The Minister of Health has said that this Bill is definitely incorporated with our national insurance system; and, for good or ill, that is the effect of the principal Act and of the Bill now before the Committee. What is the result? If you use these words "at some time" without giving any definition at all you will find yourself face to face with another grave inequality. For instance, you will find a widow whose husband was a small shopkeeper, or a man just over the income limit as far as national insurance is concerned. She is getting nothing at all out of the £80,000,000 which is being given as a free gift in connection with the Socialist Government's proposals. Another person may be in a much happier and more favourable position because for a short period of time, a week or a fortnight within three years before his death, her husband, owing to the peculiar circumstances of his case, registered as a member of an approved society.

No one can defend a position of that kind from the point of view of equality or justice. It would be most unfair if this Amendment is not made; it would be unfair that the mere whim of registering as a member of an approved society should entitle a man's widow to a pension of 10s. a week for life without any contribution at all, while, on the other hand, the widow of a man who happened by a few shillings to be over the particular limit of income should get no pension. It is very necessary to avoid, as far as we can, the inequalities and in justices of these proposals. I do not think it is possible altogether, but, as far as we can, we should endeavour to do so, and it may be some reply to the widow of a man who has been so excluded to say that in the Act of Parliament it is laid down that for a certain period the deceased man was a member of an approved society or was a deposit contributor. That, at any rate, would be some reply, but to say to the person excluded from the provisions of this Bill that at some time within three years before his death the husband was registered as a member of an approved society cannot but bring more injustices and grievances and disappointments. That is one of the points of view we put forward in connection with a member of an approved society.

Take the next case, which I have no doubt the Minister of Health has considered and upon which no doubt he will reply, the case of the deposit contributor. According to this proposal the deceased man must have been at some time before his death a deposit contributor. There is nothing upon which general knowledge is so insufficient and incomplete as that of deposit contributors. People believe that the average deposit contributor is a man in bad health who has been forced into the deposit contributor class. That is certainly not the case as regards a great number of people who belong to this class to-day. A large number who belong to this class are those who have neglected to join an approved society; they have not taken the necessary steps largely owing to their own carelessness and a lack of consideration for the benefits which would come to them; and they fall into the deposit contributor class. Is it the proposal of the Government that because a man such as that, at some time within three years before his death, fell into the deposit contributor class his widow is to receive a pension, in contradistinction to the case of a widow under 55 years of age? That is obviously another grave injustice, and certainly we shall hear a great deal more of that and of the other matter before this Bill has been long upon the Statute Book. I understand it is your desire, Mr. Chairman, that we should discuss the other Amendment of my right hon. Friend as well?

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

I did not say it was my desire, but I understand that was the arrangement made.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

If that be so, I will now proceed to deal with what I may call the second part of these proposals. The other Amendment is in identical terms, but has a different implication. We are proposing in Sub-section (1, a, ii) to leave out the words "at some time," and to insert instead thereof the words "for a period of at least twelve months." If hon. Members will look at this proposal they will see that the difficulty which arises in connection with Sub section (1, a, i) is doubled when we come to Sub-section (1, a, ii), because you have no test as to whether a person was within three years before his death registered as a member of an approved society or was a deposit contributor. Here you have a much more difficult situation. Whoever undertakes this work will have to find whether his normal occupation was at some time within the said period employment in respect of which contributions under the principal Act would have been payable if that Act had been in force at that time. What the Lord Chief Justice would say about that provision I do not know. He would probably write another book. Certainly, the arguments which have been advanced for giving some definition in respect of Sub-section (1, a, i) are doubly reinforced when you come to the very vague and difficult question of interpreting Sub-section (1, a, ii). You have to go back to events of 40 years ago, and you have no test as to whether a man was a member of an approved society or whether he was a deposit contributor. All you have to do is to ascertain, according to the Bill, what his normal occupation was at some time within the said period. I do suggest to anyone who wants to do the right and fair thing in connection with these proposals that obviously the phrase "at some time" ought to have some definition. Hon. Gentlemen who said it was easy to define the matter must have been thinking of Sub-section (1, a, i). I do not think even they could define in very precise terms what "sometime" means in dealing with the question of normal occupation. We have at any rate demonstrated the danger of this particular phrase in this particular connection. My right hon. Friend the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) has made a proposal that there should be inserted the words "for a period of at least 12 months." That, at any rate, does give some preciseness and is a definition that is worthy of consideration. We are not tied to it, and if the right hon. Gentleman thinks it is too long a time he can make his own suggestion. We were accused at the beginning of the Debate of endeavouring to restrict the proposals under this Bill. That is a grave misconception of the arguments advanced from this bench. We have endeavoured to make the Bill fairer and more just, and if this particular Amendment were carried it would at any rate permit a number of people who will be excluded from these proposals, and who will bitterly resent it, to have some opportunity of getting their case considered. If the matter is hot considered in this Committee these people will demand consideration at the hands of Members in all parts of the House, if not now, at any rate when they come to face their constituents.

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

I had not intended to intervene in the Debate, but as the second Amendment will not be called I wish to make a few observations.

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

Did I understand the Chair to say we were to have only one Debate on the two Amendments or one on each Amendment, because I feel that the arguments for the second Amendment are much stronger and are different from those for the first Amendment?

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

I said I understood the arrangement of the House was that there should be one discussion upon the two Amendments and that there would be two Divisions if necessary.

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

With regard to the first part of the Amendment, dealing with Sub-section (1, a, i), my main objection is purely drafting. There is some uncertainty as to what is meant by the words "at some time." The hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. G. Oliver) interrupted my right hon. Friend, who retorted that the hon. Member would at some time be a Judge of the High Court. In that case the words "at some time" referred to future events, but in this case we are dealing with the past. If a man has been registered for one week within the period before his death he will have been registered "at some time." In my opinion, as a humble student of the drafting of Acts of Parliament, that is absurd. This is a matter of some importance, because as far as I can understand the object of Sub-section (1, a, i) the whole point is to prove that the man was in fact a bona fide member of an approved society or a bona fide deposit contributor. The words which we are debating, "at some time," do import a certain amount of uncertainty of a somewhat undesirable character which might have to be interpreted in the Law Courts. I cannot help thinking that there should be some period inserted. I am not wedded to 12 months, but when you come to Sub-section (1, a, ii) I cannot make out, as it is drafted, what on earth it means. A man either has a normal occupation or he has not, but I cannot see how he can have a normal occupation "at some time." If his normal occupation is that of bricklayer but he temporarily goes on digging trenches, does he become normally a navvy?

Photo of Mr John Arnott Mr John Arnott , Kingston upon Hull South West

Is the hon. Member trying to bring in the late Chancellor of the Exchequer under this Bill, because he was a bricklayer?

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

The hon. Member has raised a very interesting point as regards normal occupation. I think the right hon. Gentleman might reasonably claim that his normal occupation was that of a Cabinet Minister, but also it might be held that he was at some time employed as a bricklayer. [HON. MEMBERS: "But he has not left a widow!"] There is always a chance in the uncertainty of this life that he might leave a widow who might claim a pension under the Clause. It is very important when claims are put up that the conditions under which such claims are made should be perfectly definite. It is impossible to say that a man's normal occupation was at some time something. We can say his normal occupation was, in a period of three years, a certain job, but to say that "at some time," which I conclude in this case means "at any given moment," his normal occupation was something, seems to me a gross misuse of the English language. If the occupation was normal it must have been his normal occupation during the period in which contributions would have been payable if the principal Act had been in force. I quite agree that he might have changed after a period of time from one occupation to another, but it seems to me, as this Clause is drafted, that there will be a very great difficulty for the appeal tribunal, which I understand the right

hon. Gentleman is prepared to set up, in interpreting this part of the Clause, and in deciding what was the normal occupation of any deceased man at some time. The difficulty would not be eased when we remember that some of these claims may go back for a very considerable period. In the interest of better drafting I urge the right hon. Gentleman to consider this point and to see if he cannot find some words a little more explicit than those in the Clause.

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

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

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 303; Noes, 106.

Division No. 18.]AYES.[9.37 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Cowan, D. M.Hayes, John Henry
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Daggar, GeorgeHenderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherDallas, GeorgeHenderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)
Alpass, J. H.Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)
Ammon, Charles GeorgeDay, HarryHerriotts, J.
Angell, NormanDenman, Hon. R. D.Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)
Arnott, JohnDickson, T.Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)
Aske, Sir RobertDudgeon, Major C. R.Hoffman, P. C.
Attlee, Clement RichardDukes, C.Hollins, A.
Ayles, WalterEde, James ChuterHopkin, Daniel
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Edge, Sir WilliamHore-Belisha, Leslie
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Edmunds, J. E.Horrabin, J. F.
Barnes, Alfred JohnEdwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)
Barr, JamesEdwards, E. (Morpeth)Hunter, Dr. Joseph
Batey, JosephEgan, W. H.Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)Elmley, ViscountIsaacs, George
Bellamy, AlbertEngland, Colonel A.Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodEvans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)John, William (Rhondda, West)
Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central)Forgan, Dr. RobertJohnston, Thomas
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Freeman, PeterJones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)
Benson, G.Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Bentham, Dr. EthelGardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)
Birkett, W. NormanGeorge, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Blindell, JamesGibbins, JosephJowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Bowen, J. W.Gill, T. H.Jowitt, Rt. Hon. W. A.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Gillett, George M.Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Broad, Francis AlfredGlassey, A. E.Kelly, W. T.
Brockway, A. FennerGosling, HarryKennedy, Thomas
Bromfield, WilliamGossling, A. G.Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.
Bromley, J.Gould, F.Kinley, J.
Brothers, M.Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Kirkwood, D.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)Gray, MilnerKnight, Holford
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Lang, Gordon
Buchanan, G.Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Lathan, G.
Burgess, F. G.Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Law, Albert (Bolton)
Burgin, Dr. E. L.Groves, Thomas E.Law, A. (Rosendale)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)Grundy, Thomas W.Lawrence, Susan
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)
Caine, Derwent Hall.Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Lawson, John James
Cameron, A. G.Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)
Cape, ThomasHamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)Leach, W.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)
Charleton, H. C.Harbord, A.Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Chater, DanielHardie, George D.Lees, J.
Church, Major A. G.Harris, Percy A.Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Cluse, W. S.Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonLindley, Fred W.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Hastings, Dr. SomervilleLloyd, C. Ellis
Cocks, Frederick SeymourHaycock, A. W.Longbottom, A. W.
Compton, JosephHayday, ArthurLongden, F.
Lowth, ThomasPhillips, Dr. MarionSorensen, R.
Lunn, WilliamPicton-Tubervill, EdithSpero, Dr. G. E.
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)Pole, Major D. G.Stamford, Thomas W.
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)Ponsonby, ArthurStephen, Campbell
McElwee, A.Potts, John S.Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
McEntee, V. L.Price, M. P.Strauss, G. R.
Mackinder, W.Pybus, Percy JohnSullivan, J.
McKinlay, A.Quibell, D. J. K.Sutton, J. E.
MacLaren, AndrewRamsay, T. B. WilsonTaylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)Raynes, W. R.Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Richards, R.Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H, (Derby)
McShane, John JamesRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)Thurtle, Ernest
Mansfield, W,Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)Tillett, Ben
March, S.Ritson, J.Tinker, John Joseph
Markham, S. F.Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)Toole, Joseph
Marley, J.Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs. Stretford)Tout, W. J.
Mathers, GeorgeRomeril, H. G.Townend, A. E.
Matters, L. W.Rosbotham, D. S. T.Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Maxton, JamesRowson, GuyTurner, B.
Melville, J. B.Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)Vaughan, D. J.
Messer, FredSalter, Dr. AlfredViant, S. P.
Middleton, G.Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)Walker, J.
Mills, J. E.Sanders, W. S.Wallace, H. W.
Milner, J.Sandham, E.Wallhead, Richard C.
Montague, FrederickSawyer, G. F.Watkins, F. C.
Morgan, Dr. H. B.Scott, JamesWatson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Morley, RalphScurr, JohnWatts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)Sexton, JamesWellock, Wilfred
Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.Welsh, James (Paisley)
Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Mort, D. L.Shepherd, Arthur LewisWest, F. R.
Moses, J. J. H.Sherwood, G. H.Westwood, Joseph
Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)Shield, George WilliamWheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)Shiels, Dr. DrummondWhiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Muff, G.Shillaker, J. F.Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Muggeridge, H. T.Shinwell, E.Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Murnin, HughShort, Alfred (Wednesbury)Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)
Noel Baker, P. J.Simmons, C. J.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Oldfield, J. R.Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)Sinkinson, GeorgeWilson, J. (Oldham)
Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Owen, H. F. (Hereford)Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)Wise, E. F.
Palin, John HenrySmith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Paling, WilfridSmith, Rennie (Penistone)Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Palmer, E. T.Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Perry, S. F.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Peters, Dr. Sidney JohnSnowden, Rt. Hon. PhilipMr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Whiteley.
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
NOES.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelFremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Atholl, Duchess ofGanzoni, Sir JohnMargesson, Captain H. D.
Atkinson, C.Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew HamiltonMason, Colonel Glyn K.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Beaumont, M. W.Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnMonsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)Glyn, Major R. G. C.Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)
Birchall, Major Sir John DearmanGraham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftGrattan-Doyle, Sir N.Morrison Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)
Bracken, B.Greene, W. P. CrawfordMorrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Gritten, W. G. HowardMuirhead, A. J.
Buckingham, Sir H.Gunston, Captain D. W.Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Butler, R. A.Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Peake, Captain Osbert
Castlestewart, Earl ofHannon, Patrick Joseph HenryPenny, Sir George
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHarvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Chapman, Sir S.Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Purbrick, R.
Christie, J. A.Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.Rawson, Sir Cooper
Colfox, Major William PhilipHennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.Remer, John R.
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Ross, Major Ronald D.
Croom-Johnson, R. P.Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir AylmerRuggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)Hurd, Percy A.Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Davies, Dr. VernonJames, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Kindersley, Major G. M.Savery, S. S.
Eden, Captain AnthonyKing, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)
Elliot, Major Walter E.Lamb, Sir J. Q.Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Everard, W. LindsayLane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.Smithers, Waldron
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)Somerset, Thomas
Fielden, E. B.Leighton, Major B. E. P.Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Fison, F. G. ClaveringLewis, Oswald (Colchester)Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Ford, Sir P. J.Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)Stuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)
Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Mac Robert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Thomson, Sir F.Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Tinne, J. A.Waterhouse, Captain CharlesTELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Titchfield, Major the Marquess ofWells, Sydney R.Captain Sir George Bowyer and Sir Victor Warrender.
Train, J.Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Tryon, Rt. Hon. George ClementWindsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George

Question put accordingly, "That the words 'at some time' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 307; Noes, 118.

Division No. 19.]AYES.[9.48 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Foot, IsaacLang, Gordon
Addison, Rt. Hon. Or. ChristopherForgan, Dr. RobertLathan, G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Freeman, PeterLaw, Albert (Bolton)
Alpass, J. H.Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)Law, A. (Rosendale)
Ammon, Charles GeorgeGardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)Lawrence, Susan
Angell, NormanGeorge, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)
Arnott, JohnGeorge, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)Lawson, John James
Aske, Sir RobertGibbins, JosephLawther, W. (Barnard Castle)
Attlee, Clement RichardGill, T. H.Leach, W.
Ayles, WalterGillett, George M.Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Glassey, A. E.Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Gosling, HarryLees, J.
Barnes, Alfred JohnGossling, A. G.Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Barr, JamesGould, F.Lindley, Fred W.
Batey, JosephGraham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Lloyd, C. Ellis
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Longbottom, A. W.
Bellamy, AlbertGray, MilnerLongden, F.
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodGreenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)Lowth, Thomas
Bennett, Captain E.N. (Cardiff, Central)Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Lunn, William
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Benson, G.Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Bentham, Dr. EthelGroves, Thomas E.Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Grundy, Thomas W.McElwee, A.
Birkett, W. NormanHall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)McEntee, V. L.
Blindell, JamesHall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Mackinder, W.
Bowen, J. W.Hall, Capt. W. p. (Portsmouth, C.)McKinlay, A.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)
Broad, Francis AlfredHamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Brockway, A. FennerHarbord, A.McShane, John James
Bromfield, WilliamHardie, George D.Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Bromley, J.Harris, Percy A.Mansfield, W.
Brothers, M.Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonMarch, S.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMarkham, S. F.
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Haycock, A. W.Marley, J.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Hayday, ArthurMathers, George
Buchanan, G.Hayes, John HenryMatters, L. W.
Burgess, F. G.Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Maxton, James
Burgin, Dr. E. L.Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)Melville, J. B.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)Messer, Fred
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Middleton, G.
Caine, Derwent Hall-Herriotts, J.Millar, J. D.
Cameron, A. G.Hirst, G. H. (York, W. R.,Wentworth)Mills, J. E.
Cape, ThomasHirst, W. (Bradford, South)Milner, J.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)Hoffman, P. C.Montague, Frederick
Charleton, H. C.Hollins, A.Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Chater, DanielHopkin, DanielMorley, Ralph
Church, Major A. G.Hore-Belisha, LeslieMorris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Cluse, W. S.Horrabin, J. F.Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)
Cocks, Frederick SeymourHunter, Dr. JosephMort, D. L.
Compton, JosephHutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.Moses, J. J. H.
Daggar, GeorgeIsaacs, GeorgeMosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Dallas, GeorgeJenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)
Dalton, HughJohn, William (Rhondda, West)Muff, G.
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)Johnston, ThomasMuggeridge, H. T.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)Murnin, Hugh
Day, HarryJones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Denman, Hon. R. D.Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Oldfield, J. R.
Dickson, T.Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Dudgeon, Major C. R.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Dukes, C.Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
Ede, James ChuterJowitt, Rt. Hon. W. A.Owen, H. F. (Hereford)
Edge, Sir WilliamKedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)Palin, John Henry
Edmunds, J. E.Kelly, W. T.Paling, Wilfrid
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Kennedy, ThomasPalmer, E. T.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth)Kenworthy Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Perry, S. F.
Egan, W. H.Kinley, J.Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Elmley, ViscountKirkwood, D.Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
England, Colonel A.Knight, HolfordPhillips, Dr. Marion
Picton-Tubervill, EdithShiels, Dr. DrummondTownend, A. E.
Pole, Major D. G.Shillaker, J. F.Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Ponsonby, ArthurShinwell, E.Turner, B.
Potts, John S.Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)Vaughan, D. J.
Price, M. P.Simmons, C. J.Viant, S. P.
Pybus, Percy JohnSimon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)Walker, J.
Quibell, D. J. K.Sinkinson, GeorgeWallace, H. W.
Ramsay, T. B. WilsonSmith, Alfred (Sunderland)Wallhead, Richard C.
Raynes, W. R.Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)Watkins, F. C.
Richards, R.Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)Smith, Rennie (Penistone)Wellock, Wilfred
Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)Smith, Tom (Pontefract)Welsh, James (Paisley)
Ritson, J.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)Snowden, Rt. Hon. PhilipWest, F. R.
Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)Westwood, Joseph
Romeril, H. G.Sorensen, R.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Rosbotham, D. S. T.Spero, Dr. G. E.Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Rowson, GuyStamford, Thomas W.Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)Stephen, CampbellWilliams, David (Swansea, East)
Salter, Dr. AlfredStewart, J. (St. Rollox)Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)Strauss, G. R.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Sanders, W. S.Sullivan, J.Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Sandham, E.Sutton, J. E.Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Sawyer, G. F.Taylor R. A. (Lincoln)Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Scott, JamesTaylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Scurr, JohnThomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)Wise, E. F.
Sexton, JamesThorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.Thurtle, ErnestYoung, R. S. (Islington, North)
Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)Tillett, Ben
Shepherd, Arthur LewisTinker, John JosephTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Sherwood, G. H.Toole, JosephMr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Whiteley.
Shield, George WilliamTout, W. J.
NOES.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelGault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew HamiltonPercy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Albery, Irving JamesGibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Atholl, Duchess ofGilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnPurbrick, R.
Atkinson, C.Glyn, Major R. G. C.Ramsbotham, H.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Rawson, Sir Cooper
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.Remer, John R.
Beaumont M. w.Greene, W. P. CrawfordRoberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)Gritten, W. G. HowardRodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Birchall, Major Sir John DearmanGunston, Captain D. W.Ross, Major Ronald D.
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftHall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryRussell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Bracken, B.Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Savery, S. S.
Buckingham, Sir H.Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast)
Butler, R. A.Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.Skelton, A. N.
Castlestewart, Earl ofHoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Smithers, Waldron
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir AylmerSomerset, Thomas
Chapman, Sir S.Hurd, Percy A.Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Christie, J. A.James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSpender-Clay, Colonel H.
Colfox, Major William PhilipKindersley, Major G. M.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Cranbourne, ViscountKing, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Lamb, Sir J. Q.Stuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)
Crookshank, Cpt.H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)Lane Fox, Rt. Hon. George R.Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Croom-Johnson, R. P.Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)Leighton, Major B. E. P.Thomson, Sir F.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipLewis, Oswald (Colchester)Tinne, J. A.
Davies, Dr. VernonMacdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.Train, J.
Duckworth, G. A. V.Makins, Brigadier-General E.Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Dugdale, Capt. T. L.Margesson, Captain H. D.Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Eden, Captain AnthonyMason, Colonel Glyn K.Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Elliot, Major Walter E.Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Everard, W. LindsayMonsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.Wells, Sydney R.
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Fielden, E. B.Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Fison, F. G. ClaveringMorrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Ford, Sir P. J.Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Muirhead, A. J.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Oman, Sir Charles William C.Sir George Penny and Sir Victor Warrender.
Ganzoni, Sir JohnPeake, Captain Osbert

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I understand that, in the circumstances, Mr. Chairman, you may wish to make a statement. Perhaps I have myself contributed to a misunderstanding which exists as to whether an

agreement was come to on the Amendment standing in my name. As you know, I would not desire to press anything that you do not think fair.

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

There has been an unfortunate misunderstanding in Committee as to the two Amendments that were to be disposed of. I think the Parliamentary Secretary rose to reply, and I prevented her from making her reply. I think she should do so, and there might perhaps be one speech and only one on the other side. The next Amendment I take is that in the name of Mr. Greenwood.

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

May I ask if I am to understand that my Amendment—in page 2, line 3, to leave out the words, "within three years before his death"—is left out?

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

It is in the power of the Chairman to select Amendments, and I have not selected it.

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

I recognise that it is in the power of the Chairman, but the Amendment raises an entirely different point.

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

I am not prepared to argue whether it raises a different point or not; I have not selected it.

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

I am not referring to the Amendment of my hon. Friend, but the one in the name of myself and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) which raises a very material point.

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

I beg to move, in page 2, line 4, after the word "death," to insert the words or, if he lived to attain the age of seventy, within three years before the date on which he attained that ago. Prior to 1926, when the principal Act came into force, the insurance life of an employed person was regarded as ending at the age of 70, when the contributions ceased to be paid. It seems only right, therefore, that, in the case of a man dying after he reached 70, the three years prior to his reaching that age should be taken into account. As the Bill stands now, if a man were to die at, say, 77, 78 or 79, the last three years of his life would be taken into account. As during that time he would have ceased to be a contributor under the Act, his approved society, probably knowing very little about him, it would be difficult to deal with the case, whereas for the three years up to 70 there are, of course, full records.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I do not think, if I understood this Amendment aright, that I ought to offer any opposition to it. I am not quite certain from the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman whether I am correct in my interpretation of it, because he several times used the phrase: "If he were to die now," but I under stood that this was entirely a matter of people who died before 1926. I only just rise to make quite certain that we are not under any misapprehension on this matter, and that it does only refer to people who died before 1926.

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

That is quite right; I am sorry if I used the wrong phrase.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arthur Heneage Lieut-Colonel Sir Arthur Heneage , Louth Borough

I would like to ask for an explanation on one point. We are very interested to see the figure of 70 used here. We should like to know why it is not 65 and why the figure of 70 has been decided on. It is not in accordance with provisions of previous Acts.

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

As I have stated, it is because, prior to the Act coming into force, up to the age of 70, people were regarded as insurable persons and contributions were paid in respect of them and their records are available for the last two years of their life before they reached the age of 70.

Amendment agreed to.

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

The next Amendment, standing in the name of one of the hon. Members for Devonport, may be, I think, covered by the Minister's Amendment on page 75.

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

With very great respect, I submit that the Minister's Amendment on page 75 deals with an entirely different point. I would ask your permission to be allowed to argue the matter, because my Amendment affects a very large and deserving class of person. I need hardly say that if I am satisfied by the statement of the Minister that these persons to whom I refer are covered by the Bill I shall, of course, withdraw my Amendment, but I hope to convince you, Mr. Young, that the Amendment is one of substance.

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

I beg to move, in page 2, line 5, after the word society," to insert the words "or of the Navy, Army, and Air Force Insurance Fund. I am very much obliged to you, Sir, for your Ruling, but I would point out, in the first place, that I am not one of the hon. Members for Devonport, I am the only hon. Member for Devonport. [Interruption.] I am not surprised that some hon. Members opposite should be seeing two of us. The Committee will have observed that, in the case of every widow who is to be given a pension under this sub-section of the Act, her husband must have been at some time within three years before his death registered as a member of an approved society or as a deposit contributor. No mention is made in this sub-section of the Navy, Army and Air Force Insurance Fund, and it is in order to ensure that these persons who at one time or another in their lives come under this fund shall receive their right that I move this Amendment. If this Amendment is carried the sub-section will read as follows: that he was at some time within three years before his death registered as a member of an approved society, or of the Navy, Army, and Air Force Insurance Fund, or as a deposit contributor; It will be within the knowledge of the Committee that the Health Insurance Act of 1911 established a special fund known as the Navy, Army and Air Force Insurance Fund for sailors, soldiers and airmen. What is the position in regard to those who come within that fund? Their position is this: that a man, while he remains in the Navy, Army or Air Force, remains insured under the Health Insurance Act through this particular fund. What happens to him when he is discharged? Paragraph (e) of Section 59 of the National Health Insurance Act of 1924 states: A man of the Forces discharged from service as such, who proves that the state of his health is such that he cannot obtain admission to an approved society may, if he so elects, on making application to the Minister in the prescribed manner within three months of his discharge or such longer time as may be prescribed, become, subject to regulations made after consultation with the Admiralty, Army Council, and Air Council, entitled to benefits (other than additional benefits) at the ordinary rates. Therefore, a man who is discharged may, within three months, apply to the Minister to remain under this particular fund on the grounds of ill-health. My first point is this. Suppose that he does not apply; suppose that he is a proud man, or a man who despairs of the condition of his health, and fails to make this application. He ceases to be insured for the purposes of the Health Insurance Act and, therefore, in my submission, he loses all entitlement to benefit, either under this particular sub-section, or if he is not a person normally in insurable employment. He has ceased to be a sailor, soldier or airman; he has not joined any approved society; he is living, it may be, on a chicken farm, or somewhere else, and he dies, and his widow will fail to get a pension under this Bill. I know perfectly well that that is not the intention of the Minister or of anybody sitting behind him; it is not their intention to exclude any man on the ground that he cannot become a member of an approved society.

There is another category of persons who will not come under Sub-section (1, a, ii), and who are also covered by my Amendment. Suppose that a man, at the conclusion of the South African war, left the Army, with tuberculosis or any other sort of ill-health and he died, say, in 1905. His widow would get a pension under this Act because, within three years of his discharge, the man was an insured person for the purposes of this Act, but, if he died two years later, his widow would not come under this Act, although exactly the same person to-day would have the optional right of applying to the Minister to remain a beneficiary under the Navy, Army and Air Force Insurance Fund. Therefore, there are two categories of persons for whom I ask consideration; one, the man who has failed to make application to remain a member of the Navy, Army and Air Force Insurance Fund; his widow will not get a pension. Secondly, there is a person who can never have made application because the Insurance Act was not in force, and there is nobody to say at this date whether or not he could properly have exercised that option. A man may continue in disablement benefit for a large number of years, and, providing he is drawing that disablement benefit and dies, it does not matter how long ago he left the Service—it may be 10 years—he has been getting disablement benefit, and, therefore, he remains within the ambit of this Act. If he lived at a time when there was no such disablement benefit, he would only get entitlement to pension from a date three years subsequent to the date on which he left the Army. I am sure I have said enough to show that there are two classes of persons who may benefit if this Amendment is accepted, and I commend it to the goodwill of the Minister.

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

As I understand it, the hon. Gentleman wishes to raise this as a query rather than as a definite Amendment.

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

I said that I am quite prepared to withdraw my Amendment if the right hon. Gentleman can show that these persons are covered.

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

If a man is incapacitated, his widow would not lose her rights under this Bill because his period of incapacity followed on his Army service. In the case of a man who, on leaving the Army, does not become a member of the special fund, he does not thereupon cease to be an insured person for the purposes of this Bill. He becomes a deposit contributor and he would still be insured so long as he remained a deposit contributor and his wife would be eligible to receive a pension.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arthur Heneage Lieut-Colonel Sir Arthur Heneage , Louth Borough

I do not quite see that point, because the Minister's own Amendment reads as follows: that during the late War he served in the naval, military, or air forces of the Crown. If it is necessary to deal with those who served in the War, surely it is necessary to mention all those who have actually served in the Navy, Army and Air Force. I understand that that is the purpose of the Mover of this Amendment. The Minister must explain why it is necessary to mention those who served in the late War, for apparently what he says is that every man who served in the Army, Navy or Air Force is at the present time

covered. I am not satisfied that they are so covered.

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

I should prefer to deal with the question when we reach my Amendment.

Photo of Major Sir Derrick Gunston Major Sir Derrick Gunston , Thornbury

I want to raise a point which was not made by the Minister of Health with regard to this Amendment. With regard to the soldier or sailor who served in the South African War, which ended some considerable time before this fund was set up, can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that the rights of those men will be safeguarded under this Bill?

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

The widow of a man who served in the South African War and retired from service within three years after the end of the War, and did not enter into insurable employment, but engaged say, in a chicken farm or something of that kind, would under this Amendment be entitled to the benefits of this Clause. Under the Minister's Amendment, however, it seems quite clear that the widow of such a man would not be entitled to those benefits.

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

If the Minister will be good enough to assure me that he will look into the points which I have raised between now and the Report stage, and, if they are not covered, undertake to accept this Amendment or to move one him self, I will be quite prepared to withdraw.

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

I think my hon. Friend's point has been substantially met, but, if he does not feel that it has been covered, I will consider the matter further before the Report Stage.

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

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 128; Noes, 294.

Division No. 20.]AYES.[10.22 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelBowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.Christie, J. A.
Albery, Irving JamesBracken, B.Cranbourne, Viscount
Atkinson, C.Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C. (Berks, Newb'y)Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)Buckingham, Sir H.Crookshank, Cpt.H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)
Balniel, LordBullock, Captain MalcolmCroom-Johnson, R. P.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Burgin, Dr. E. L.Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)
Beaumont M. W.Butler, R. A.Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip
Bentham, Dr. EthelCastlestewart, Earl ofDavies, Dr. Vernon
Bevan, s. J. (Holborn)Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonDavies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)
Birchall, Major Sir John DearmanChamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)Duckworth, G. A. V.
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftChapman, Sir S.Dugdale, Capt. T. L.
Edmondson, Major A. J.Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)Savery, S. S.
Elliot, Major Walter E.Leighton, Major B. E. P.Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast)
Everard, W. LindsayLewis, Oswald (Colchester)Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Lymington, ViscountSmith-Carington, Neville W.
Fielden, E. B.Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)Smithers, Waldron
Fison, F. G. ClaveringMacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.Somerset, Thomas
Ford, Sir P. J.Makins, Brigadier-General E.Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Margesson, Captain H. D.Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Mason, Colonel Glyn K.Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Ganzoni, Sir JohnMeller, R. J.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew HamiltonMitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)
Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.Stuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnMoore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Glyn, Major R. G. C.Morrison Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Gower, Sir RobertMorrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)Thomson, Sir F.
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Muirhead, A. J.Tinne, J. A.
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.Oman, Sir Charles William C.Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Greene, W. P. CrawfordO'Neill, Sir H.Train, J.
Gritten, W. G. HowardPeake, Capt. OsbertTryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Gunston, Captain D. W.Penny, Sir GeorgeWard, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryPeto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)Warrender, Sir Victor
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Purbrick, R.Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Ramsbotham, H.Wells, Sydney R.
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.Rawson, Sir CooperWilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.Remer, John R.Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir AylmerRodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James RennellWomersley, W. J.
Hurd, Percy A.Ross, Major Ronald D.Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertRuggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Lamb, Sir J. Q.Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)Colonel Heneage and Major Colfox.
Lane Fox, Rt. Hon. George R.Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
NOES.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Compton, JosephHastings, Dr. Somerville
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Daggar, GeorgeHaycock, A. W.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherDallas, GeorgeHayday, Arthur
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Dalton, HughHenderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)
Alpass, J. H.Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)
Ammon, Charles GeorgeDavies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)
Angell, NormanDay, HarryHenderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)
Arnott, JohnDenman, Hon. R. D.Herriotts, J.
Aske, Sir RobertDickson, T.Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)
Attlee, Clement RichardDudgeon, Major C. R.Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)
Ayles, WalterDukes, C.Hoffman, P. C.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Ede, James ChuterHollins, A.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Edge, Sir WilliamHopkin, Daniel
Barnes, Alfred JohnEdmunds, J. E.Horrabin, J. F.
Barr, JamesEdwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)
Batey, JosephEdwards, E. (Morpeth)Isaacs, George
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)Egan, W. H.Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)
Bellamy, AlbertElmley, ViscountJohn, William (Rhondda, West)
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodEvans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)Johnston, Thomas
Bennett, Captain E.N. (Cardiff, Central)Forgan, Dr. RobertJones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Freeman, PeterJones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Benson, G.Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)
Bentham, Dr. EthelGardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Birkett, W. NormanGeorge, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Blindell, JamesGibbins, JosephJowitt, Rt. Hon. W. A.
Bowen, J. W.Gill, T. H.Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Gillett, George M.Kelly, W. T.
Broad, Francis AlfredGlassey, A. E.Kennedy, Thomas
Brockway, A. FennerGosling, HarryKinley, J.
Bromfield, WilliamGossling, A. G.Kirkwood, D.
Bromley, J.Gould, F.Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)
Brothers, M.Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Lang, Gordon
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Lathan, G.
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).Law, Albert (Bolton)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Law, A. (Rosendale)
Buchanan, G.Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Lawrence, Susan
Burgess, F. G.Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)Groves, Thomas E.Lawson, John James
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)Grundy, Thomas W.Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)
Caine, Derwent HallHall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)Leach, W.
Cameron, A. G.Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)
Cape, ThomasHall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)Lees, J.
Charleton, H. C.Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Chater, DanielHarbord, A.Lindley, Fred W.
Cluse, W. S.Hardie, George D.Lloyd, C. Ellis
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Harris, Percy A.Longbottom, A. W.
Cocks, Frederick SeymourHartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonLongden, F.
Lowth, ThomasPethick-Lawrence, F. W.Stamford, Thomas W.
Lunn, WilliamPhillips, Dr. MarionStephen, Campbell
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)Pole, Major D. G.Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)Ponsonby, ArthurStrachey, E. J. St. Loe
McElwee, A.Potts, John S.Strauss, G. R.
McEntee, V. L.Price, M. P.Sullivan, J.
Mackinder, W.Pybus, Percy JohnSutton, J. E.
McKinlay, A.Quibell, D. J. K.Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
MacLaren, AndrewRaynes, W. R.Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)Richards, R.Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
McShane, John JamesRiley, Ben (Dewsbury)Thurtle, Ernest
Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)Tillett, Ben
Mansfield, W.Ritson, J.Tinker, John Joseph
March, S.Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)Toole, Joseph
Markham, S. F.Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)Tout, W. J.
Marley, J.Romeril, H. G.Townend, A. E.
Mathers, GeorgeRosbotham, D. S. T.Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Matters, L. W.Rothschild, J. deTurner, B.
Maxton, JamesRowson, GuyVaughan, D. J.
Melville, J. B.Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)Viant, S. P.
Messer, FredSalter, Dr. AlfredWalker, J.
Middleton, G.Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)Wallace, H. W.
Millar, J. D.Sanders, W. S.Wallhead, Richard C.
Milner, J.Sandham, E.Watkins, F. C.
Montague, FrederickSawyer, G. F.Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Morgan, Dr. H. B.Scott, JamesWatts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Morley, RalphScurr, JohnWellock, Wilfred
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)Sexton, JamesWelsh, James (Paisley)
Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)Shepherd, Arthur LewisWest, F. R.
Mort, D. L.Sherwood, G. H.Westwood, Joseph
Moses, J. J. H.Shield, George WilliamWheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)Shiels, Dr. DrummondWhiteley, William (Blaydon)
Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)Shillaker, J. F.Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Muff, G.Shinwell, E.Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Muggeridge, H. T.Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Murnln, HughSimmons, C. J.Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Naylor, T. E.Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Sinkinson, GeorgeWilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Noel Baker, P. J.Sitch, Charles H.Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Oldfield, J. R.Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)Wise, E. F.
Owen, H. F. (Hereford)Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Palin, John HenrySmith, Tom (Pontefract)Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Palmer, E. T.Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Snowden, Rt. Hon. PhilipTELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Perry, S. F.Sorensen, R.Mr. Hayes and Mr. Paling.
Peters, Dr. Sidney JohnSpero, Dr. G. E.

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

I beg to move, in page 2, line 6, after the word "contributor," to insert the words: or was a policeman not entitled to the benefits of the Police Pensions Act, 1921. I can understand many of the characteristics of the Conservative party, but I really cannot understand them placing party advantage before the claims of the Army, Navy, or Air Force. I feel that those people have a far greater security in the right hon. Gentleman's promise to look into the matter before the Report—

Photo of Sir Philip Colfox Sir Philip Colfox , Dorset Western

What has this to do with the police?

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

It is utterly impossible for me to hear what the hon. Member is saying.

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

I rise to a point of information.

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

The hon. Member cannot rise to a point of information.

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

I wish to ask your Ruling, whether an hon. Member can be deprived of his right to vote because of the defective electrical wiring of the bath rooms?

The CHAIRIMAN:

I am sure, if there is anything wrong with the wiring of the bath room, the attention of the right Department will be drawn to it.

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

The Sub-section, with these words inserted, would read: That he was at some time within three years before his death registered as a member of an approved society or as a deposit contributor, or was a policeman not entitled to the benefits of the Police Pensions Act, 1921. That, in my submission, would include within this Clause the widows of all policeman who do not receive pensions at the present day. As the Committee is aware, the Police Pension Act, 1921, gave pensions to the widows of certain policemen. The relative Section of the Act, which is Section 3 (a), reads as follows: Where a member of a police force who, having joined the force after the 1st day of September, 1918, has completed five years' approved service, dies whilst serving in the force, or whilst in receipt of a pension from a police authority, or in consequence of any disease or injury on account of which he retired from a police force, his widow shall be entitled to a widow's ordinary pension. It has transpired that certain widows of policemen have pensions. They have pensions if their husbands joined the police force after the first day of September, 1918, and completed five years of approved service. The first point that arises is, that if the policeman died before five years' approved service had been completed, the widow gets no pension either under this Section or under any other Act. I seek to have that widow brought in. There is another category of widows, namely, widows who became such before the Police Pensions Act, 1918. Everybody knows that the pre-War policeman served under more arduous conditions than the present-day policeman. He served for a very small emolument, and at the end of it his wife received no pension. His emolument was 35s.; to-day the emolument is over £3 a week, and the policeman has a very good pension. Everybody would wish to bring in the police widow who became a widow before 1918. She did not come in under the principal Act because the employment of her husband was an excepted employment under the principal Health Insurance Act of 1911.

In Part II of the First Schedule of that Act there are excepted those persons who are in employment under the Crown or any local or other public authority, where the Insurance Commissioners certify that the terms of the employment are such as to secure provision in respect of sickness and disablement on the whole not less favourable than the corresponding benefits conferred by this Act. In those days there were no pensions for widows under a health insurance scheme. Therefore, those widows were excepted, and are at this moment without pension. My object is to make certain that those widows will get a pension. In the first place, I desire that the widows of men who have completed five years' service under this Act will get a pension, and, secondly, I plead for the whole of the pre-1918 widows. My object is to get them a pension, and not to score any advantage in a party Division which might leave some of them out. I want an assurance from the Minister either that they are in or that by the Report stage he will bring them in. If he will make that declaration, I shall be perfectly satisfied. My object is to bring these widows in. Surely, that is a perfectly legitimate object, and everyone who has the cause of these widows at heart will want to be satisfied.

I want to acknowledge the courtesy of the Parliamentary Secretary—an hon. Lady who has not only won a just reputation for her skill in Debate, but has taken a great deal of pains outside this House to convince me that these widows are in. She has written me upon the subject and asked me to interview the permanent officials. It is clear, however, that a Ministerial declaration is not an Act of Parliament, and one wants to be satisfied that the Act of Parliament is going to cover these people. Earlier in the Debate we discussed whether or not the Minister should be a Mussolini or not, and we decided that the Minister's decision is to be final and conclusive. If his decision is to be final and conclusive, subject to an appeal to the court of referees, nobody is going to appeal against his generosity. They are only going to appeal when he is not generous. If he will solemnly assure me that all these persons to whom I have referred are within the Bill, I should be perfectly satisfied, but, if they are not, I want him to assure me that between now and the Report stage he will make sure that they will be covered before the Bill goes any further.

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

There are two categories of police widows to which the hon. Member has referred. As the Bill stands, without this proposed Amendment, the position is that a policeman who served with the police force before the Police Pensions Act of 1918 was a person whose normal occupation would be such as to entitle his widow to a pension, and, indeed, if he died within three years after leaving the police force. That is so far as the widow of the pre-Police Pensions Act era is concerned. They are, I am advised, well within the Bill. In the case of the later widows, the position is different. From 1918 onwards there was a Police Pensions Act, and there was another Act of 1921, under which certain conditions were laid down. What the hon. Member is asking me to do in this second category is something which really is not my business. He is asking for an amendment of the Police Pensions Act, 1921.

It would be very difficult, where there is a definite scheme laid down, the conditions of which are known to all policemen when they enter the police force, to come in with entirely different conditions covering them as well. Moreover, it would be a serious thing, and I am sure the Committee would never entertain it, to give a pension to people who had been dismissed the police force for some reason or other. There have been notorious cases recently. Clearly, that was not contemplated by the principal Act and is not contemplated now. I feel that I cannot touch the question of the post-Police Pensions Act widows because they have their own scheme which is run quite independent of this Bill. The hardest case is that of the pre-Police Pensions Act widow. These widows are within, the Bill, but I cannot give an undertaking to bring within the Measure all the people who have fallen through the meshes of the 1921 Act because they should be dealt with by an Amendment of that Act and not by any change in this Bill.

Sir F. HALL:

I am delighted to hear that the pre-Police Pensions Act, 1918, widows are included in the Bill. I have not been able to find the particular Clause by which they are covered and, although I naturally accept the statement of the Minister of Health, I should be very grateful if he would point out the particular provision in the Bill which covers them. I raised this matter in 1919, and have done so ever since, because I have always thought that the widow of the pre-September 1918 policeman, who had served 19 or 20 years in the force and had carried out his duties in a perfectly satisfactory manner, ought not to be deprived of her pension because he left the force before the 31st August, 1918. The change which came on the 1st September, 1918, provided that if the policeman had served for five years only then his widow got a pension. I am not desirous of detaining the Committee and, although I have no doubt these widows have been included, I want to make perfectly certain that such is the case. I am sure that hon. Members in all parts of the House will be desirous of seeing that the pre-Police Pensions Act, 1918, widows come under the Bill.

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

I want to emphasise the point put by the hon. and gallant Member for Camberwell (Sir F. Hall).

Lieut-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN:

It has been answered.

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

If the hon. and gallant Member for East Rhondda (Lieut.-Colonel Watts-Morgan) wishes to address the Committee I am perfectly prepared to give way. I have taken no part hitherto in the discussion and I am certainly entitled to put a question now, and I have every intention of doing so however much the hon. and gallant Member may interrupt. The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) brushed the matter aside by saying that the Minister's decision was final and, therefore, that you should abide by his decision. That decision surely must be limited to exactly what is in the Bill. I am asking on what the Minister bases his contention. If it is Sub-section (i, a, ii), seeing that the police were definitely excluded from the principal Act, I cannot see how they could be brought in under that definition. In point of fact, the police before 1911 would not have been in insurable occupation and could not have been brought in under Sub-section (1, a, ii). I am perfectly satisfied that the Minister must be right, but I should like to know exactly under what provision the police are brought in under this Bill.

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

May I explain this point? Policemen are out because the Minister has given a certificate. Post-Act policemen are out under Section 9 (1) (iv) of the principal Act. They are out because the Minister had given a certificate that they had equivalent benefits. That is the only reason that keeps the post-War widow in these cases out of the 1926 Act. If it had not been for the equivalent benefits, they would be in under the 1925 Act. The policeman would be in under that Act if the Minister had not given a certificate that they were covered. The police are out of the Act by virtue of his certificate. The widows of police who died before 1918 were widows of people who were not covered by the certificate, and who were in exactly the same condition as any other insurable persons. Therefore, those men who died before 1918, being insurable persons and not covered by statutory exemption, come in under Sub-section 1 (a, ii) of this Bill. I think that has made the point clear.

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I should like to ask one question for information. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say, with respect to the widows of those policemen who died before the 1918 Act, that they would come in under paragraph 2 but only if they had died within three years after leaving their occupation. The question I ask is, if that be correct, where is the provision made which imposes that condition? There is nothing about it in the Bill, and it must be by virtue of some other provision. I should like to know where the reference is.

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

My point is that the widows of policemen who died before 1918 are in exactly the same position as any other widows, service in the police force being insurable for this purpose. If a policeman should leave the force and take up a non-insurable occupation after a certain time, he would be out, but his service in the force counts as an insurable occupation for the purposes of this Act, and every condition with regard to the other pre-war widows applies to the widows of policemen who come under paragraph 1 (a, ii).

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

That is not an answer to my question. The Minister said that the pensions could only be claimable by those widows whose husbands had died within three years after ceasing to be policemen. I am asking what was the provision of the Act which imposed that particular condition.

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

No. In the case of pre-Act widows, their husbands have to be in insurable occupations within three years of death. The police service counts as an insurable occupation exactly as if such men had been carpenters or bricklayers.

The men who served in the police are in exactly the same position as those in any other insurable occupation. If they leave their insured trade and take up another trade, which is not insurable, they get away from the terms of the Measure altogether, being uninsurable persons. If one bears in mind that the policeman is in an insurable trade everything becomes clear. If he leaves the police force, however, and takes up the position of, shall we say, a bank manager, he is out; but the police force is, for all these purposes an insurable trade and every provision with regard to widows applies to them.

Photo of Lord Eustace Percy Lord Eustace Percy , Hastings

There is one eventuality to which the hon. Lady did not refer. What about the policeman who retires on pension and dies after five years? Has his widow no claim?

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

What pension did a pre-1918 policeman get?

Photo of Lord Eustace Percy Lord Eustace Percy , Hastings

Of course, a policeman retiring before 1918 after a certain period of service got a pension, and, no doubt, an adequate one. If a policeman retired on pension before 1918 and spent five years in retirement—doing nothing but living in retirement—would his widow have no claim at all?

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

If the man left his insurable occupation and did not take up another insurable occupation within three years, then, of course, he would be just like everybody else under the same conditions.

Photo of Mr John Jones Mr John Jones , West Ham Silvertown

I appreciate the great sympathy for policemen expressed by hon. Members opposite. Having been in their hands once or twice I have an equal sympathy with them. But this Bill deals with a contributory pensions scheme. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Perhaps hon. Members will allow me to finish. It takes a long time for Conservative Members to understand what we are saying. In this instance we are dealing with pensions for those who have contributed hut the principle has 'been extended to those who were not contributors. The point has been raised about those men who, having served in the police before 1918, may have left the police and gone into other employments, and the question is whether they have joined contributory employment or not—whether they belong to the class of people whose widows are entitled to benefit under this Bill. [Interruption.] I know exactly what hon. Members opposite mean and it is not what I mean. They want to give policemen special privileges as against dock labourers.

11.0 p.m.

If a dock labourer who has been a contributor and paid in for years, since the original Act became law, leaves the docks and goes into other employment which is not insurable, he does not stand a ghost of a chance of coming in afterwards. Why this love for the policeman and neglect of the docker? It is because hon. Members opposite always look to the policeman to help them to break a strike. Give them all the same treatment. A docker leaves the docks and gets some other kind of employment which is not insurable, and no one proposes that his widow should get a pension. There is no Amendment down for the docker. I am looking forward to the time when we shall have an all-inclusive pension scheme, a non-contributory pension scheme, under which it will not be a question of who you are, or what you are, or how you are, but of getting pensions just as the Lord Tom Noddies get their pensions. We have some of these people to-day who have been drawing pensions for over 100 years and who will keep on drawing them, and no contributions expected, yet when we ask for the same treatment for the common workman, we are told we are asking for something for nothing, by the experts, who have never done anything for nothing in their lives, and have been taking something for nothing ever since they were born. Give the policemen's widows pensions if you like, but there are other workmen entitled to equal if not better treatment than the police. Plenty of my friends are policemen, and if we had not been so friendly, I might not have been here so often. We want fair treatment all round for every man and woman who works. When pensions are being discussed, I suggest that to raise the question of what trade you are in is ridiculous. Every useful worker in the country is entitled to a pension, and the only people who ought not to get a pension are those who never work and never intend to work.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

On a point of Order. The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) submitted to you, Sir, in submitting this Amendment, that policemen in two classes should be brought in; first, the pre-1918 policemen, and then the policemen covered by the Act of 1921. My point of Order is with regard to the second class, that either it is out of order or it would be in order for us also to move an Amendment bringing in the shopkeeper. I understood that you ruled it out of order to extend it to spinsters and others because it would widen the scope of the Bill and was outside the original Act.

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

As far as I understand the Amendment, I do not see that I can rule it out of order. The Amendment is not broken up in the way the hon. Member has explained to the Committee, and it is for the Minister to say which part he will take.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

You say that the Amendment is not broken up, but, as it reads at the moment, it includes policemen, an important class which, in my view, are by Act of Parliament deliberately excluded. I ask: Is it in order to bring in a class which is deliberately excluded, and, if so, would it be in order to bring in shopkeepers as well?

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

My hon. Friend is labouring under a misapprehension. The Order Paper is evidence in another place that it would be in order to bring in the widows of shopkeepers or any other class. There is an Amendment shortly to be moved by the Minister of Health himself in regard to the Navy and Army which will bring in people who were normally shopkeepers and have joined the Services. We are dealing, not with pensions for policemen as my hon. Friend seems to think, but with police widows, and they belong to the same insurable class as any other section of the community, for it was feared, unless he moved the Amendment, that they would be ruled out, and they would be the only persons in this class of the community who would be, through no intention of the Government or anybody else.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Shakespeare Mr Geoffrey Shakespeare , Norwich

One point worries me. The Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) would, in effect, have brought in all the widows of policemen who became widows before the Pensions Act of 1918. I understood from the Minister that his Amendment was not necessary because they were covered by Sub-section (1, a, i). Suppose that a policeman left the force in 1908 by retiring, and he died any time between 1912 and 1918. His widow is not allowed a pension under this Sub-section. Am I right or wrong? If I am right, as I think I am, it surely is not a sufficient answer to my hon. Friend that the case of the pre-Act widow is covered by Subsection (1, a, i). There must be a large class of those who died and left a gap of four years between their retirement and their death. If this be true in the case of the policemen, how much more true must it be in other cases. Many of us objected to those words, "who died within three years," and we were not allowed to move an Amendment. Not having been allowed to move an Amendment, we found that in the very next Amendment a large class of persons were excluded whom we wanted to get in.

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

The Amendment on the Paper, so far as I understood it, included a number of people about whom we were doubtful. I therefore did not rule the Amendment out of order.

Photo of Mr John Remer Mr John Remer , Macclesfield

I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary a question with regard to the widows of policemen. I will give a specific case. There is a widow of a policeman in my constituency who had been a contributor to the Police Pensions Fund for three years. The policeman died while he was still in the force. His wife was a young woman about 45, and there were children of school age. As I understand it, under the Act of 1925, that widow, if her husband had been following any occupation than the police force, would have received a pension. Under the 1925 Act, owing to the fact that the police were allowed to contract out, she did not do so, because the contributions were less than the Government's scheme and because the benefits were more than the Government's scheme. There was, however, this qualification, that before she could qualify, the policeman had to be a contributor for, I think, not five years but seven years. The point I want to put is: Where, in this Bill, is it provided that the 1925 widow, if I may use that expression, who was brought under the Act, the widow with school children, will now receive a pension? I cannot find it anywhere, and I shall be glad if the hon. Lady will answer that specific point, because it is quite clear from the answer which she gave that a widow of that class is not dealt with in any way. I am only bringing this forward, because I think that there are other cases of