Orders of the Day — New Clause. — (Payment of benefits in respect of persons under sixteen.)

– in the House of Commons on 10th December 1929.

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The benefits payable under this Act in respect of any person who has not attained the age of sixteen years shall be payable to the claimant's mother (if the mother shall by notice in writing to the insurance officer so require) in such manner as the Minister by regulations made under the principal Act shall direct; provided that in cases where the claimant does not reside with his mother or where the Minister is satisfied that for some other reason the payment of benefit to the claimant's mother is undesirable the benefits shall be payable to the claimant or to such other person as the Minister, having regard to all the circumstances, shall by regulations authorise.—[Mr. Hore-Belisha.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

This is the Clause on which the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) rather prematurely spoke just now. I hope that as the subject in which he is interested is now before the Committee he will give us the benefit of his enlightenment at a later stage. This new Clause is a permissive Clause. It enables the benefit, in certain circumstances, in respect of children under 16, to he paid to the mother. I submit that it is a suitable appendage to the Clause which lowers the age of insurance to 15. I realise that on a first view there may seem to be very valid objections to the Clause. Many of ray hon. Friends in this Committee have proud recollections of the day on which they first brought back their wages to their mothers. I am sure that I can include my hon. Friend the Member for Silvertown in that number.

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

Hear, hear! Two-and-a-tanner for eighty hours.

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

That is a grave reflection on times past. I hope that the two-and-a-tanner was taken back in solid form?

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

I quite agree that no recollection could be more poignant or sentimental than the recollection of the first day on which a boy took back his wages to his mother, but I hope that no confusion of thought will arise on account of that. We are not dealing in this Bill with the disposition of the first wages of a boy. We are not dealing with his first employment. We are dealing with his first unemployment. I think that no Member of the Committee could be so individualistic as to maintain that it was a matter of indifference as to what the child did with this money. If you look at recent legislation you realise that we have safeguarded the child under 16 with a particular care. Only a fortnight ago, under the Contributory Pensions Bill, we raised the age from 14 to 16 in respect of which an allowance might be paid to the mother for her child. Why should you differentiate within a fortnight between the child in respect of whom a mother is to draw a pension under the Contributory Pensions Act and in respect of the child that comes under this Bill?

The Children Act, for which my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) was responsible, made it a penal offence to sell spirits to a child under 16. The child under 16 is not allowed to buy tobacco or cigarettes. Special Courts, the juvenile Courts, are established for young persons, who are not allowed to be tried either in the same place or at the same time as older offenders. They cannot be conveyed to and from the Court in the same vehicles as older offenders. This Bill is professedly introduced in order to spare the child from unpleasant contacts, but what contact could be more unpleasant than the contact of a child with the grinding machinery of the Employment Exchange? It is in order to spare the child that contact that I have drafted this Clause. But I go further in reference to past legislation. The legal responsibility for maintaining a child rests upon the parents; a Board of Guardians can require the parents to contribute to the support of a child. Why should you make an exception in this Bill? Surely the benefit ought to be paid where the responsibility rests?

What happened on the Second Reading of the Bill? Where did the whole weight of the argument lie? My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) made a very passionate and moving speech, in which he talked about the responsibility of parents in maintaining their children. This Bill does not bring a penny into the pockets of the breadwinner, of the head of the family. It enables benefit to be paid to a child of 16. That does not enable the persons about whom my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton was talking, to purchase more books or more food for their children. The Bill simply puts money, without condition, in very unfortunate circumstances, into the pockets of children. What can be the objection to this Clause It may be said that the decent child already takes the money home to his parents. Are you going to give a legislative advantage to the child who is not decent, to the child who stops on the way home and, although he knows that the larder may be empty, prefers not to take that money home? The decent child, anyhow, will take the money home. I want to secure that the money shall go into the home in all circumstances, whether the child be good or be bad.

What is another objection to the Clause? It is said that wages are paid to the child when it is in work. Certainly they are. What did the Minister say? She said she wished to inculcate habits of independence in the child. What could be a greater stimulus to the child than to know that if it gets a job it will be able to enjoy the pride of taking its wages home, whereas if it does not get a job, its mother will get the money, and if it is a proud thing to take home the wages that you have earned, who can say it is an enviable thing to be able to take home a dole which you have not earned? Would hon. Members opposite who have told me how proud they were to take home their wages have been equally proud to take home something that they have not earned? What credit could possibly rest upon the child for taking home something that was doled out to it in the Employment Exchange?

Hon. Members have to make up their minds. They cannot talk about the deprivation of the home and reject this Clause. If their desire is to give the mothers the benefit of the money, so that they can keep their children in good health and good condition, they cannot vote against the Clause, for it has nothing to do with money that is earned. It is to do with money that is unearned. Some hon. Members opposite suffer from the delusion that they can redress the inequalities of society by giving 6s. a week to a child, or any other sum of money to any other human being. The inequalities in this social world of ours arise, not because of an uneven distribution of wealth, but because of an uneven distribution of opportunity. What differentiates the child who leaves the council school at the age of 15 from the child who goes to Eton at 15, is not 6s. a week, but an entirely different, opportunity. I want to establish 'this principle, that maintenance grants shall be paid to parents, so that you will create no vested interest in unemployment, but will rather create a vested interest in raising the school-leaving age to 16. I wish hon. Members opposite had taken the great opportunity that presents itself to them of raising the school age to 16 and thus doing away with the gap, rather than lowering the age at which the child is stamped with the brand of Cain. Therefore I move the Clause with great confidence, because it secures that the money you are giving to the child shall be spent in the best interest of the child and because, also, it is a recognition of the responsibilities of motherhood.

10.0 p.m.

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

On a point of Order. There is an Amendment in my name to the First Schedule on similar lines to this new Clause. I should like to have your ruling, Sir, whether, if this Clause is defeated, my Amendment will be in order, especially as it was on the Paper long before the new Clause was put down.

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

I am not cognisant of the time when new Clauses or anything else were put on the Paper. We are discussing this Clause at the moment, and, if the other Amendment covers the same ground, it is not likely to be called.

Photo of Mr Jack Lawson Mr Jack Lawson , Chester-le-Street

When hon. Members first raised this point, I failed to understand on what ground they based their demand for the principle of the Clause. I now gather from the hon. Member's exceedingly able speech, dealing with a very difficult subject, that the real position is that they want to keep the boy from contact with adults at the Exchange. The boy never comes in contact with adults, for he is paid at a different department. The hon. Member has assumed that the juvenile is getting something for which he has not paid. He made the point that he could understand the great pride the boy took in giving his first wages to his mother. If any mother was to suggest that she should go to the pay office and take the boy's wages because he was not fit to carry them home, there is no Member of the Committee who would have any respect for such a mother who had not sufficient trust and faith and admiration for her boy.

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

Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that we would no longer respect a mother because her son did not take the money home?

Photo of Mr Jack Lawson Mr Jack Lawson , Chester-le-Street

I think we should not have much respect for a mother who had not sufficient faith in her boy. As a matter of fact, it is not true that the boy has not earned the money. He only gets what he is entitled to and, therefore, it is not true at all to assume that the boy is getting something which is charity, or what is called the dole, instead of something for which he has paid.

Photo of Mr Richard Wallhead Mr Richard Wallhead , Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr

Is it not a fact that the other side have suggested that the boy is paid too much?

Photo of Mr Jack Lawson Mr Jack Lawson , Chester-le-Street

My hon. Friend is right, because there are Amendments down suggesting that the boy is paid too much and that the amount should actually be reduced. But, apart from that, I submit that there is not a Member who would not have felt that it was a reflection upon himself as a boy if he had not been allowed to carry the money home, and he would certainly have felt that it was a grave reflection on him if his mother suggested that he was not sufficiently capable and honest and reliable to carry it home.

Photo of Mr Isaac Foot Mr Isaac Foot , Bodmin

Is not the point being strained in saying that it is a reflection upon the boy? I do not know that a father would look upon it as being a reflection on his boy if an arrangement of this kind were made that the mother was to receive the money. May there not be a proper pride on the part of the boy that where there is this need in the home he is conscious of the fact and that there is being directly contributed to the means of the home the six shillings, partly provided for by his own contributions? Why should that infer some humiliation to the boy? It is an assurance that the six shillings, which was intended for the upkeep of the home, should always go in that direction. Is there no danger that it may go in other directions? [HON. MEMBERS "No!"] I think those hon. Members who say "No" are some of the beardless bachelors on the other side. When the suggestion was made just now that the boy did not take his money home, I think it was suggested that there might be the brand of Cain, only "Cain" might not be spelt in the usual way in that connection. I ask hon. Members opposite to take that into consideration.

Does it necessarily mean humiliation to the boy because this arrangement has been made, probably with his own consent? Why not? It does not necessarily mean that the mother is going to act over the head of the boy and contrary to his wishes. This Amendment may contemplate an arrangement that is made in the home, that the money shall be paid direct to the mother instead of to the boy, and I think the advantage of the proposal is that we shall be able to ensure that the money that is needed for the upkeep of the home shall go, to the extent of every penny, to the upkeep of the home, and to the advantage of the boy himself. I ask that the Amendment shall not be dismissed as being an irrelevant and unimportant Amendment. It contains an important principle. Hon. Members opposite will appreciate that throughout the country there is a great deal of apprehension as far as the application of this scheme to boys between 15 and 16 years of age is con- cerned—perhaps greater apprehension than they at present realise—and I think that that apprehension will to some extent be removed if this Clause can be introduced. It does not make it obligatory, but it makes it possible, after family arrangement, that the money should be paid direct to the mother.

Photo of Mr Edward Marjoribanks Mr Edward Marjoribanks , Eastbourne

Before an hon. Member on these benches speaks on this Amendment he has to assume a great deal. After having assumed that it is a good thing for these juveniles to be brought into the atmosphere of the Employment Exchanges, and after having assumed that there will be sufficient juvenile unemployment to justify any such daring experiment, I think we can say on these benches that there is no harm in this Amendment. I think every hon. Member in this House has appealed at some time to the cause of youth and has tried to move election audiences by appeals to young people for their support and by promises to support them, and I think every hon. Member is sufficient of a psychologist to know that the age between 14 and 16 is probably the most important in the spiritual, moral, intellectual, and educational development of the young citizen. Everybody knows that at this particular age, the age of adolescence, when these members of our population are no longer children and not yet young men and women, when they are on the threshold of their experience of life, we should be most careful in dealing with them.

One would have thought, therefore, that the Government, in approaching this problem in relation to unemployment, would at any rate have used all the skill and care and scientific knowledge that they possess to deal with it properly, but what do we find? We find, on the one hand, that the Government are prepared to extort these contributions from these juveniles without any relation at all to the risk of juvenile unemployment. On the other hand, we find that they are prepared to expend what they collect from the individual members of the juvenile population without any regard to how it is going to be spent, and this seems to me to embody an attitude at once mercenary and careless. On the first occasion on which they had the opportunity, the Government resisted the only possible excuse for bringing these juveniles into unemployment benefit, which was to make payment of benefit dependent on training. They really persisted in their refusal to-day, but one would have thought that they would have taken some steps to see that this money was properly spent. After all, legislation must be considered with reference to general rules and not to exceptions. As a rule the vast majority of these young people who are going to benefit under this new Bill will be living with their fathers and mothers.

I think that hon. Members opposite have taken an entirely optimistic view of human nature in this matter. I am sorry, but I say that it is in the nature of young children of all classes not to know their own interests in relation to money. Certainly it was my own experience. I had the great privilege of being educated at Eton, but the pocket money which I received from my parents was not very great, and I confess that it was invariably misspent. I say that quite frankly, but I do not think I am so entirely different from all other young people in England as to be an exception in wickedness. I think that throughout the whole population it is in the nature of young people not to know how to spend their money. The famous German philosopher Nietsche said it was in the nature of children to prefer sweetmeats to bread, but after all sweetmeats are comparatively harmless things.

The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) introduced a very high ideal at the beginning of these Debates, when he said that we should act as politicians as we would act as fathers, and in introducing that analogy to family life he was only following the example of another great political philosopher, the philosopher Plato. Hon. Members on all sides will probably agree that if we could possibly bring that analogy into our political life we should be achieving a great deal. Is this really going to help family life at all? There is no guarantee that this money which is going to be brought in to the children will be properly, sensibly, or evenly decently spent. I think there is a very serious danger that it will only reach the pockets of the purveyors of cheap amusements, and I think very likely that these new payments, which will not in any way help the family in a number of instances, will lead away the children from their families and from their families' influence as surely as did the Pied Piper of Hamelin. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen seem to think that a reference to poetry means a peroration, but that is far from being the case with me.

The first and second Clauses of this Bill, without this new Clause, will show the recklessness of unscientific expenditure in which the largest party in the State indulge when they embark on important legislation. Let me refer again to the great principle which was enunciated by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton, that we should act in this matter as politicians as we would act as fathers. If we could embody that principle into every piece of legislation which we attempt to pass, we should become Christian statesmen of the highest type. Let us apply it to this one new Clause, for, after all, he who is faithful in small things is faithful in great. Imagine a father of a family with six shillings which he can barely snare would it be wise to hand that six shillings to his child as pocket money? Would it not be wiser for him to keep that six shillings and spend it on his child's food or clothing, or, perhaps, even save it for the child? Would it not be a better way of giving the child a better show in life, as the hon. Member for Bridgeton wishes us to do? If we cannot; act thus as fathers in this matter, how much less can we act as statesmen of a great nation? Why should we hand out this money to young children? If we do it, we are really doing it in a cause which may very likely pauperise and demoralise the children of this country who are our special care.

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

The charming and poetical oration of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Marjoribanks) has brought me to my feet, but I would refer him to the description of the speeches of Gratiano by his friend Bassanio: His reasons are two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff. I have had the advantage of taking wages home at the age of 10, and the hon. Gentleman's remarks are quite undeserved. In 99 per cent. of the cases coming under this category, the child will have earned wages for at least 30 weeks and taken these wages home. Is there any reason to assume that that child is not as capable of taking his benefit home as he is of taking his wages home? Those of us who began life as child workers and took their wages home think that there is no earthly necessity for this Clause. It deals with a very simple matter, and there is no need for the hon. Member for Eastbourne to wander through the philosophy of Plato and quote the Pied Piper of Hamelin to show whether a boy of 16 is or is not able to take his benefit home, or whether his mother should be sent for. It is a matter of common sense and common experience, and common sense and common experience say that the boy is quite as capable of taking his benefit home as he is of faking his wages home. See what the new Clause says. It lays down the administrative duty, literally, of finding out whether the claimant's mother is undesirable when she makes the application. Apparently an investigation has to be made as to whether she herself is a desirable person to have the money.

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

If the hon. Member instead of being studiously insulting—

HON. MEMBERS:

Withdraw!

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

Order, order. I did not hear the expression. If hon. Members would be quieter, one could listen to the speeches. The Table did not hear the expression, and therefore I cannot interfere.

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

On a point of Order. [HON. MEMBERS "Sit down!"] Is the right hon. Gentleman entitled to misquote the terms of the Clause so as to cast a reflection on the mother of a claimant.

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

Order, order. I must ask hon. Members not to interrupt.

HON. MEMBERS:

It is not a point of Order.

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

I cannot hear whether it is or not. I want to hear it.

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

May I put my point of Order to you again, Sir? The question is whether the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to misquote the terms of the hon. Member's Clause so as to cast the reflection that the mother of the child is an undesirable person, because there are no such words in the Clause. [Interruption.]

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

The point raised by the hon. Member is not a point of Order. If an hon. Member misquotes anything, he may be asked to correct it. It does not come within my province to correct misquotations.

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

Take your gruel like we have to do. Sit down!

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

I rise to a point of Order. Is the right hon. Gentleman in order in asserting that an hon. Member has made a speech in a studiously insulting manner, and is it not a fact—

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

May I complete my point of Order?

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

I have already said, and I am perfectly honest, when I repeat I did not hear the expression. The Chair did not hear the expression—[HON. MEMBERS: "We did!"]—and therefore I cannot interfere.

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

I think we must allow the right hon. Gentleman to explain.

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

May I explain that certain hon. Gentlemen opposite were not in the Chamber when I made the reference to the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha), and consequently they have not the slightest idea what was said.

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

I am sure that the Secretary of State for War, occupying the position which he does, would not wish to do an injustice to an hon. Member who is a colleague of his in this House. The right hon. Gentleman characterised my speech as being "studiously offensive." [HON. MEMBERS: "So it was."] I ask hon. Members opposite, is it fair to say that to an hon. Member who has been charged with something? I am within the recollection of the Committee and of every honest Mem- ber in it. I said nothing that was studiously offensive—[An HON. MEMBER: "You did."]—if I did, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be good enough to specify what; otherwise, I can only attribute his remark to the evidence of his own courtesy.

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

When the hon. Member made his previous speech, he said "the ex-Minister for Labour has come down to the House. I do not know what he has come for, nor does anybody else"—[Interruption].

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

I want to ask you, Mr. Dunnico, whether it is in order for a right hon. Gentleman during the discussion of this Clause, to refer to a speech which he had an ample opportunity—[Interruption.]—I desire to have your Ruling, Mr. Dunnico, on the point whether the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to refer to a speech which was made on a previous Clause, a speech to which he himself listened, and to which he could have replied had he been able to do so.

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

That is not really a point of Order. It is quite a common practice in these discussions to refer to speeches made the day before, and therefore I could not say that that is out of order. May I appeal to the Committee. If remarks are made to which hon. Members take exception, they are bound to lead to retaliation. I appeal to hon. Members on both sides to try and conduct this Debate without referring to one another in offensive terms.

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

I am asking for your protection, Mr. Dunnico, from the most indecorous language of the right hon. Gentleman. I am unconscious of having—[Interruption]—some hon. Gentlemen are—been studiously insulting to the right hon. Gentleman. I want to direct your attention to Erskine May's "Parliamentary Practice," on page 325 of which it is stated that The use of temperate and decorous language is never more desirable than when a Member is canvassing the opinions and conduct of his opponents in debate. The imputation of bad motives, or motives different from those acknowledged; misrepresenting the language of another, or accusing him, in his turn, of misrepresentation; charging him with falsehood or deceit; or contemptuous or insulting language of any kind— all of these are stated to be unparliamentary, and would., of course, be ruled out of order. I am charged with using studiously insulting language, and I ask you, Mr. Dunnico, as Chairman of this Committee, whether, had I done so, you would not have ruled me out of order, and whether, you not having ruled me out of order, it is in order for the right hon. Gentleman to accuse me?

Photo of Mr William Mackinder Mr William Mackinder , Shipley

On that point of Order. May I remind you, Sir, and the Committee, that last week the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) studiously and deliberately accused the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills) of selling the children?

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

I wish that the paragraph which the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) has read out from Erskine May might be printed daily on the Order Paper. I have already said that I did not hear the remark of the right hon. Gentleman, but, if that Expression were used, it is at least an undesirable expression, and I am perfectly certain that the right hon. Gentleman would not desire to say anything which was undesirable.

HON. MEMBERS:

Withdraw!

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

I come now to the new Clause

HON. MEMBERS:

Withdraw! [Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

On a point of Order. [Interruption.]

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

Does the hon. Member rise to a point of Order?

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

Yes, Mr. Dunnico. I wish to ask you, in view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has admitted that he used that language, whether he should not be desired to withdraw it?

Photo of Mr James Moses Mr James Moses , Plymouth Drake

On a point of Order. As regards the expression that was used in the first place, was not that an insulting expression towards the Secretary of State for War?

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

The right hon. Gentleman has not admitted to me that he made use of the expression.

Photo of Sir Patrick Ford Sir Patrick Ford , Edinburgh North

Am I in order in asking the right hon. Gentleman to state definitely if he used that expression?

HON. MEMBERS:

Withdraw.

Photo of Sir Patrick Ford Sir Patrick Ford , Edinburgh North

On a point of Order. May I have Ruling from the Chair as to whether the right hon. Gentleman did use that expression or not.

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

I have already informed the Committee that I did not hear the expression.

HON. MEMBERS:

Withdraw.

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

I would ask the Committee to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of proceeding with his speech.

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

Is it in order for hon. Members above the Gangway on the other side to say that you, Mr. Chairman, did hear what the right hon. Gentleman said?

Photo of Sir Patrick Ford Sir Patrick Ford , Edinburgh North

On a point of Order. May I point out—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—that we are not saying that you heard anything, but that we are asking the right hon. Gentleman himself if he used the expression.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte , Tiverton

On a point of Order—[Interruption.]

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

No further point of Order can arise. The Secretary of State for War.

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

The last part of this new Clause

HON. MEMBERS:

Withdraw.

Sir H. SAMUEL:

On a point of Order. I am sure that the whole House desires to terminate this scene and to get on with business. The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha), in the course of his speech, made an observation which was not, I am sure, intended to be insulting, but rather to be an amusing observation. I am sure that my hon. Friend and the Committee are exceedingly glad to see the Secretary of State for War in his place, and we all cordially welcome his intervention in Debate. My hon. Friend made an observation which was, I am sure, intended to be of a semi-humorous character—[Interruption]. I am only trying to pave the way to a resumption of business. Upon that, the Secretary of State for War commented in very severe terms. in terms which, I understand, the Chairman would have ruled, if he had noticed them, as having been undesirable. That being so, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that my hon. Friend behind does not desire to make any observations to hurt the feelings or arouse the wrath of the Secretary of State for War, nor does the Secretary of State for War desire to make any observations which the Chair would think undesirable. I am sure that the hon. Member for Devonport will agree that I am expressing his mind, and I hope that in these circumstances the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War will not insist on his rather severe observations.

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

If the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) says that his remarks were not meant to be insulting in any way, I will at once consider the question of what I can do—[Interruption].

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

I am sorry, Mr. Dunnico, if it should fall to me to teach the right hon. Gentleman how to behave himself.

An HON. MEMBER:

You dirty little pig.

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

A remark was made somewhere in that corner which was entirely unparliamentary, and it was an expression which ought never to have been used in this House.

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

On a point of Order. I would put it to you, Mr. Dunnico, that whoever made the remark had considerable provocation—[Interruption]. Is it in order—[Interruption].

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

No matter what the provocation may be, an expression of that kind should never be used in this House.

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

Is it in order for the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) to talk about the manners of hon. or right hon. Members on these benches? Is that in order? May I ask for your Ruling?

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

The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has taken the unusual course of saying that he will consider whether he will with- draw his expression. I can only repeat now, what I said at the beginning, that I would unreservedly withdraw any insulting observations that I ever made in this House. I have never in my life intentionally made an insulting observation. I did humorously remark—[HON MEMBERS: "Oh! Withdraw!"] I did humorously remark—[Interruption]. There were only about 20 hon. Members opposite when it happened. Why, therefore, are hon. Members opposite so persistent in their interruptions? I did humorously make an observation which has been considered perfectly legitimate in all quarters of the House, that the right hon. Lady was conducting her Bill without assistance. I pointed out that the Secretary of State for War was sitting by her side, and did not come to her assistance. [Interruption]. That is a perfectly accurate statement, as everybody in the Committee knows. Why are hon. Members opposite so eager to interrupt me? I asked why the right hon. Gentleman was here at all. I have since learned why he was here.

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

I shall now proceed to discuss the new Clause.

HON. MEMBERS:

No! Withdraw!

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

I thought that the hon. Member for Devonport stated that he meant no offence, and that he did not intend to be offensive.

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

I thought that that statement might relieve the position and that we might get on with the business. I thought the hon. Member would respond to the appeal of the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel).

Sir H. SAMUEL:

I made an appeal to my hon. Friend to make such a statement, and I appealed to the right hon. Gentleman also to withdraw his rather harsh observation. Unfortunately, the right hon. Gentleman said that, if my hon. Friend would withdraw, he would consider what action he would take. That is not the usual course in this House. The usual course is for an hon. or right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench in such circumstances to say: "Of course, if the hon. Member withdraws his remark, I will withdraw mine." If the right hon. Gentleman will give that assurance, my hon. Friend will immediately withdraw his observations.

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

Unqualified withdrawal on both sides, Yes.

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

There is not nor has there ever been any question about that. I certainly reciprocate what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

Photo of Mr Thomas Shaw Mr Thomas Shaw , Preston

I agree to an unqualified withdrawal on both sides. Turning to the new Clause I suggest that the last part of it is undesirable, complicated, and unnecessary. See what the onus is which falls on the Minister. First of all, the Minister has to say whether the payment to the claimant's mother is desirable or not and then to decide how the particular benefit is to be paid. A complicated mechanism is set up which is totally unnecessary and wide of the mark and likely to lead to inquiries as to whether the mother is a person who ought to be given the control more than anybody else. I admit at once that there may be some boy who might draw his benefit at the Employment Exchange and not take it home. That boy might have been taking wages, and there is no reason to assume that in this case a complicated mechanism and a bureaucratic control is any more necessary in order to ensure that in, say, one case in a thousand, a boy should be prevented from going home without the money he has drawn from an Employment Exchange. The new Clause is totally unnecessary and practical experience of working-class life would prove it to be so. It would lead to 10 times more complications, and I suggest that it should be withdrawn.

Viscountess ASTOR:

I do not see any harm in the Clause. It is no reflection on either the child or the mother. It is really a protection. All mothers and children are not alike, and the conditions here are quite different from the case of a child who is in work and bringing his wages home. The child might be out of work for weeks and weeks, and everyone knows that nothing is more demoralising for grown-ups than being out of work. In the case of the child, it is five times as demoralising. I cannot see what is the Minister's objection. I speak from the point of view of having a good many sons, and I am perfectly certain that, whereas it might not affect one child to be out of work for a long time, another might be of quite a different disposition and if I, as the mother, had any control over his money, I would rather do it. The hon. Member is perfectly right in bringing forward this Clause because I am perfectly certain it will help many cases which the right hon. Lady will want to help. There are hon. Members in this House whose wives would be very wise to take their salaries before they get them.

HON. MEMBERS:

Withdraw!

Photo of Mr Fred Lindley Mr Fred Lindley , Rotherham

Is the Noble Lady referring to hen. Members on her own side of the House?

Viscountess ASTOR:

The hon. Lady is not the Secretary of State for War; she knows when not to say who she is referring to. [Interruption.] I do not think—

HON. MEMBERS:

Agreed!

Photo of Reverend Herbert Dunnico Reverend Herbert Dunnico , Consett

If the hon. Member for the Sutton Division of' Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) will address the Chair we may keep some semblance of order.

11.0 p.m.

Viscountess ASTOR:

My heart aches; and certainly I am not going to add to your burdens, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, tonight, but when hon. Members opposite, gentlemen in silk hats, Socialist in silk hats, say that we do not understand working men and women the temptation, Mr. Dunnico, is sometimes too much. This Amendment guards the position in every way. There was the case the other day of a woman who had slaved to give her boy a good education and now that he is in a position he is not sending one single penny home. He is not very old. That is normal; but we do not want this Amendment for normal cases. In the ordinary case the mother will not say a word about it, but there are other cases where it will be very demoralising and we think a child should be guarded, and the parent also. I hope the Government will not reject the Amendment on the ground fiat they consider it is an insult to the child or the parent. Why should they assume that all parents are alike and all children alike? Hon. Members of this House are not all alike. We on this side are practical people and realise that very often the children of the same parents are not alike. I cannot see why the Government should refuse to give help where it may be very much needed. Once more I ask the Government to take a practical point of view. Hon. Members opposite have shown throughout this Bill that they little understand some sort of women, whether they are rich or poor, and I ask the Committee to take the advice of a Woman who knows children. I am certain that hon. Members' wives, if asked, would say that they would rather have this safeguard. It is rot to ride off on the class conscious cry. We are told that on this side we do not understand the working man. We say that hon. Members on the Government side do not understand the working man. We are not insulting the working man.

Photo of Mr Henry Haslam Mr Henry Haslam , Horncastle

On a point of Order. Is it in order for an hon. Member in the Gallery to be standing all the time?

Viscountess ASTOR:

I think that the new Clause shows an amazing understanding of women, and that the Minister of Labour in opposing it shows a real lack of understanding. I plead with the Government to accept the Clause.

Photo of Mr John Potts Mr John Potts , Barnsley

After having listened to hon. Members opposite I cannot for the life of me understand why they should have talked as they have done. There can be only two things to which they refer. Either they are unwilling to risk allowing a young boy to take a few shillings home to his parents, or they do not want the children of the working classes to mix with other people in connection with the receipt of unemployment benefit. Let me deal with the question of not being able to trust the young boys, and let me say where I stand. I have had over 40 years' experience in dealing with the children of working people. My experience is that these children almost universally can be trusted to take their wages to their parents. The argument that they cannot be trusted is as hollow as any argument can be. If hon. Members opposite think that young boys and girls cannot be trusted, it only goes to show that in their minds they believe that young boys and girls of the working classes are dishonest. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish!"] I hope that the Amendment will be pressed to a Division. Why should you ask the mother to get a few shillings from the Exchange? It is a reflection upon the children of the working classes.

Photo of Mr Jack Lawson Mr Jack Lawson , Chester-le-Street

rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but the CHAIRMAN withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

Dr. VERNON DAVIES:

I have had a long experience of people in industrial life. We have heard to-night of one or two cases of the very important age of 14 to 16, the adolescent age, when the child is growing mentally, psychologically and physically and how very important it is that at that age nothing should be done to upset the child in any way whatever. We have in the industrial districts the rule that a child of 15 is paid his wages and is entitled to take them home. What would be the effect on the child if sonic one turned round and said, "We cannot trust you to take your wages home. We cannot trust you to take your unemployment money home." That is immediately going to put into the child's mind a feeling of resentment and suspicion either that the people surrounding him do not trust him or, worse still, that his mother does not trust him and, therefore, I think a great deal of the argument that has been used on this side is really rather irrelevant, and I agree in the main with the arguments used by the Government. I think even those arguments are quite irrelevant. The money would be paid at the unemployment office to the child unless the mother in writing demanded it. I am sure there is no one opposite who would object to that. If the mother for some reason, probably a good reason, states that it is not in the child's interest that he should draw the money, and she went to the trouble of writing to that effect, I imagine every father in the Committee would say the mother was justified in her action and, therefore, this Clause is important. The question of not trusting the child does not arise and, therefore, all the opposition that has been offered has been quite unnecessary. But I should like to associate myself with the Members of the Government in their trust in the boys of the working class.

Photo of Mr Jack Lawson Mr Jack Lawson , Chester-le-Street

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

Question put accordingly, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 133; Noes, 243.

Division No. 86.]AYES.[11.13 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut. -ColonelForestler-Walker, Sir L.Muirhead, A. J.
Albery, Irving JamesFremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew HamiltonOliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Aske, Sir RobertGibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)O'Neill, Sir H.
Astor, ViscountessGlassey, A. E.Penny, Sir George
Atholl, Duchess ofGrace, JohnPeters, Dr. Sidney John
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.Granville, E.Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Balniel, LordGreaves-Lord, Sir WalterPybus, Percy John
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Greene, W. P. CrawfordRamsay, T. B. Wilson
Bird, Ernest RoyGriffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Rathbone, Eleanor
Birkett, W. NormanGunston, Captain D. W.Rawson, Sir Cooper
Blindell, JamesHacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Remer, John R.
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftHamilton, Sir George (Ilford)Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Boyce, H. L.Hartington, Marquess ofRoberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Bracken, B.Haslam, Henry C.Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Braithwaite, Major A. N.Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.Ross, Major Ronald D.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd'., Hexham)Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John WallerRussell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Brown, Ernest (Leith)Hore-Belisha, Leslie.Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Burgin, Dr. E. L.Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Burton, Colonel H. W.Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Butt, Sir AlfredJones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)Savery, S. S.
Carver, Major W. H.Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)Scott, James
Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth,S.)Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonJones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Colville, Major D. J.Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Conway, Sir W. MartinKnox, Sir AlfredSmith Carington, Neville W.
Courtauld, Major J. S.Lamb, Sir J. Q.Smithers, Waldron
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Crookshank,Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro)Little, Dr. E. GrahamSpender-Clay, Colonel H.
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. GodfreyStuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)
Davies, Dr. VernonMacdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Duckworth, G. A. V.Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)Todd, Capt. A. J.
Eden, Captain AnthonyMander, Geoffrey le M.Turton, Robert Hugh
Edge, Sir WilliamMargesson, Captain H. D.Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Edmondson, Major A. J.Marjoribanks, E. C.Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
England, Colonel A.Mason, Colonel Glyn K.Wells, Sydney R.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s.-M.)Meller, R. J.Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Everard, W. LindsayMillar, J. D.Womersley, W. J.
Ferguson, Sir JohnMitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Fielden, E. B.Mond, Hon. HenryWood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Fison, F. G. ClaveringMorris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Foot, IsaacMorrison-Bell, Sir Arthur CliveTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Major Owen and Viscount Elmley.
NOES.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Broad, Francis AlfredDenman, Hon. R. D.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Brockway, A. FennerDickson, T.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. ChristopherBromfield, WilliamDukes, C.
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.Bromley, J.Duncan, Charles
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')Brothers, M.Ede, James Chuter
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Edmunds, J. E.
Alpass, J. H.Buchanan, G.Edwards, E. (Morpeth)
Ammon, Charles GeorgeBurgess, F. G.Egan, W. H.
Angell, NormanCaine, Derwent Hall-Freeman, Peter
Arnott, JohnCameron, A. G.Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)
Attlee, Clement RichardCape, ThomasGardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)
Ayles, WalterCarter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)Gibbins, Joseph
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Charleton, H. C.Gill, T. H.
Barnes, Alfred JohnChater, DanielGillett, George M.
Batey, JosephChurch, Major A. G.Gossling, A. G.
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)Clarke, J. S.Gould, F.
Bellamy, AlbertCluse, W. S.Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodCocks, Frederick SeymourGreenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Compton, JosephGrenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
Benson, G.Cove, William G.Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Bentham, Dr. EthelCroom-Johnson, R. P.Groves, Thomas E.
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. MargaretDaggar, GeorgeGrundy, Thomas W.
Bowen, J. W.Dallas, GeorgeHall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Dalton, HughHall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Shillaker, J. F.
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)MacNeill-Weir, L.Shinwell, E.
Hardle, George D.McShane, John JamesShort, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonMansfield, W.Simmons, C. J.
Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMarcus, M.Sinkinson, George
Haycock, A. W.Marley, J.Sitch, Charles H.
Hayday, ArthurMathers, GeorgeSmith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Hayes, John HenryMatters, L. W.Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Maxton, JamesSmith, Rennie (Penistone)
Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)Melville, Sir JamesSmith, Tom (Pontefract)
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)Messer, FredSmith, W. R. (Norwich)
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Mills, J. E.Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Herriotts, J.Milner, J.Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)Montague, FrederickSorensen, R.
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)Morgan, Dr. H. B.Spero, Dr. G. E.
Hoffman, P. C.Morley, RalphStamford, Thomas W.
Hollins, A.Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)Stephen, Campbell
Hopkin, DanielMort, D. L.Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Horrabin, J. F.Moses, J. J. H.Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)Strauss, G. R.
Isaacs, GeorgeMuff, G.Sullivan, J.
Jenkins, w. (Glamorgan, Neath)Muggeridge, H. T.Sutton, J. E.
John, William (Rhondda, West)Murnin, HughTaylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Johnston, ThomasNaylor, T. E.Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Noel Baker, P. J.Thurtle, Ernest
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.Oldfield, J. R.Tinker, John Joseph
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)Toole, Joseph
Kelly, W. T.Palmer, E. T.Tout, W. J.
Kennedy, ThomasParkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Turner, B.
Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Perry, S. F.Vaughan, D. J.
Kinley, J.Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Viant, S. P.
Kirkwood, D.Phillips, Dr. MarlonWalker, J.
Lang, GordonPicton-Turbervill, EdithWallace, H. W.
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. GeorgePonsonby, ArthurWallhead, Richard C.
Lathan, G.Potts, John S.Watkins, F. C.
Law, A. (Rosendale)Quibell, D. J. K.Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline).
Lawrence, SusanRaynes, W. R.Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Richards, R.Wellock, Wilfred
Lawson, John JamesRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Welsh, James (Paisley)
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)Ritson, J.West, F. R.
Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Roberts, Rt. Hon.F. O. (W-Bromwich)Westwood, Joseph
Lees, J.Romeril, H. G.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Lewis, T. (Southampton)Rosbotham, D. S. T.Whiteley, Wilfrid (Blrm., Ladywood)
Lindley, Fred W.Rowson, GuyWhiteley, William (Blaydon)
Lloyd, C. EllisSalter, Dr. AlfredWilkinson, Ellen C.
Longbottom, A. W.Sanders, W. S.Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Longden, F.Sandham, E.Williams Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Lovat-Fraser, J. A.Sawyer, G. F.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Lunn, WilliamScrymgeour, E.Wilson. J. (Oldham)
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)Scurr, JohnWilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
MacDonald, Rt. Han. J. R. (Seaham)Sexton, JamesWinterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)
McElwee, A.Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)Wise, E. F.
McEntee, V. L.Shepherd, Arthur LewisYoung, R. S. (Islington, North)
Mackinder, W.Sherwood, G. H.
McKinlay, A.Shield, George WilliamTELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
MacLaren, AndrewShiels, Dr. DrummondMr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
Paling.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and agreed to.