UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (No. 3) ACT, 1931.

– in the House of Commons at on 27 November 1931.

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Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying that the Regulations made by the Minister of Labour under the Unemployment Insurance (No. 3) Act, 1931, dated the 2nd day of October, 1931, be annulled. Yesterday we debated another Motion dealing with Regulations. That Motion dealt with what was called the means test, and while, yesterday, most of the House, or at least a large portion of the House, were agreed on one or two points, I cannot say that to-day we shall find the same amount of agreement. I know that to-day I have a somewhat more formidable and difficult task in moving the abolition of these Regulations. That is so for two reasons. In the first place, it was a Labour Government that passed the Act, and, secondly, there appears to be a surface case for a certain part of the Regulations.

These Regulations set out to deal with four classes of workers—first, the short-time workers; secondly, what are called intermittent workers; thirdly, seasonal workers, and, fourthly, married women. I am not going to deal to-day with the short-time workers, because, so far as that section of the Regulations is concerned, the Act has been defeated. When the first part of the Measure, dealing with short-time workers, was discussed in the House, I think I can claim without undue egotism to have made the initial speech in helping to smash the short-time Section. That Section might as well not be in the Act at all, and it could be withdrawn to-morrow without any harm to anyone. The number of persons coming under it will always be nil; I can hardly imagine one person being affected by it.

The case of the intermittent workers is slightly different, but that Section has not yet been put into good working order. When the Act was framed, it was supposed to abolish anomalies, but the short-time work Section left a loophole so wide for the intermittent worker that any such person who cared to do so could put himself outside the scope of the Act. When the Bill was before the House, some of us thought that it would create other anomalies, as, indeed, the Regulations that we are now discussing may very well do. Here is one of them. An intermittent worker, if he works long enough, that is to say, two days per week, will be automatically disqualified from benefit; but, if that same intermittent worker can get his employer to work him for three days a week without giving him a single penny more for the third day, the man who would be disqualified if he worked two days a week will receive benefit because he works a day extra for his boss for nothing. That is the effect both of the Regulations and of the Act now.

There is no doubt that, if a person works regularly two days per week, he is automatically disqualified from benefit, or will be when his case is reviewed; but should that person have the sagacity to go to his employer and say, "I am working on Friday and Saturday; bring me in on Thursday. Allow, my kind employer, me, your poor wage slave, to give you an extra day's labour for nothing"; and, if his employer employs him one day for nothing, the State rewards that kind employer and that workman by paying three days' unemployment benefit. That is the anomaly that we set out to rectify under the Anomalies Act. So far as the intermittent workers are concerned, if they be sagacious enough and if they have a thorough understanding of the Act, few need be caught within its four walls. Therefore, I dismiss the cases of intermittent workers and short-time workers, and come first to the class that affords the most formidible weapon against me in this discussion, that of the married women. On this class the whole case for the Act rests.

If I remember rightly the whole case for the Act was argued on married women. I will deal later with the group of persons whom I take to have been mainly responsible for the passing of the Act, but there is no doubt that, when the Bill was introduced, the one case that the authors could produce was that of the married women. It was said that the wife of a dentist was drawing benefit, and I will say a word or two later about that case. It was said that it was shocking that she should draw benefit. I have seen in the Press a picture of the wife of one of the chief persons who used that kind of argument, sitting with a telephone instrument at her ear. He receives £1,800 a, year; her real income is only known to the Income Tax authorities. I refer to the wife of the present Lord Privy Seal, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was one of the instigators of the Measure.

Another type of case that was mentioned was this, and I make my opponents or critics on both sides a present of it. They said in effect that this was what they wanted to prevent. A married woman leaves to be married, or, as is much more common, she is dismissed on marriage. The evidence before the Royal Commission proved this if it proved anything, that there was a growing practice on the part of employers to dismiss women immediately on marriage. The two cases that I have to meet are those of women who leave to be married, and those of women who are dismissed on marriage. It was said that the reason for these regulations was to stop that type of women from drawing benefit when they had no intention of working at insurable employment. I think that is a fair summary of the case. Since then it has been stated that large numbers of that type have been found. The whole case for the Bill rested on the assumption that there was a large number of women who either left or were dismissed on mar- riage, who had no intention of working and whose husbands could afford to keep them.

I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary what proportion of the 70,400 odd married women who have been refused were in the position that, when they left employment, their husbands could be taken to be reasonably capable of keeping them. They never had any case in the matter of the seasonal workers. They had only this case of the married women, and on that they hang a peg to attack other sections. The Regulations issued by the Ministry lay down, in effect, that a woman who leaves or is dismissed on marriage can have benefit if she has 15 stamps in the first six months after marriage, or, failing that, if she has eight stamps in the preceding quarter. If neither of these conditions is fulfilled, she must fulfil another condition that, looking at the district in which she lives and looking at the chances for work, it can be reasonably expected by the court of referees or the insurance officer that she can secure employment.

In making out the case for the Act, some hon. Members opposite argued logically and others only logically as far as it suited themselves and, when it did not suit them, they dropped their logic. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) and the Minister of Labour attempted in some degree, as far as the Cabinet allowed them, to argue it logically. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland also was one of the few who did it, but he will go west with the rest. Their case was that a person who has insurance qualifications and who has all the necessary stamps ought to be paid upon an insurance basis. Yesterday and the day before it was argued that you ought to have an insurance basis for prolongation of insurance. Almost every married woman that you are attacking to-day is on an insurance basis. The Regulations would never have been required if it had not been for the married women with insurance qualifications, because the Minister had all the powers he cared to wield in the case of women without an insurance qualification. In effect, to-day every married woman that we are discussing has the insurance basis that all Conservatives love.

Photo of Mr George Knight Mr George Knight , Nottingham South

Surely the basis of insurance is risk, and, if a woman ceases to face the risk, she ceases to be insurable.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

Surely, it is not fair to take subscriptions from people who after a certain date are not going to run any risk.

Photo of Mr George Knight Mr George Knight , Nottingham South

I am glad to have an opportunity of dealing with this, because this sort of argument has been used all over the country. Claims are made in respect of risks so long as the persons are employed and have to face those risks, but, having left the risks by not seeking employment, the right to insurance ends.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

I hope it is not offensive, but I must say it because it is in my mind, and I have made it a general practice to say what is in my mind. The hon. and learned Gentleman used to be a barrister. He has been promoted to King's Counsel. If each promotion lessens his wisdom as this one has done, I am afraid his employment will not get him any insurance benefit, He says, in effect, that a person must seek work. As a matter of fact, the Parliamentary Secretary pointed out that there is no such thing now as a person being forced to seek work in that sense. I come back to my point. It is that everyone is an insurance life. Everyone of them satisfied the insurance conditions. The Minister says, in effect, that it is not sufficient for a woman dismissed in order to be married to satisfy the ordinary insurance conditions. She must he put into a much more onerous position and satisfy other conditions as well. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary in what way he justifies the conditions in regard to a married woman? He must bear in mind particularly that working-class women think of marriage, and it is not wrong that they should do so. Apart all the time from following their employment, almost every one of them looks forward to being married sooner or later. What right have you to take subscriptions from those persons upon whom, after their marriage, you are going to place conditions which are incapable of fulfilment? I could understand it if the Minister said, "We have taken your insurance, but, after your marriage, we can no longer carry the risk. We will refund your contributions and say that the risk is now ended." That would be a mutual bargain. What they do is to take the subscriptions of single women week by week and then in the great mass of the districts put on such restrictive conditions which it is impossible for the great mass of the married women to fulfil. I ask the hon. Gentleman if he thinks that that is fair?

11.30 a.m.

The case of the dentist's wife has been mentioned many times, and perhaps I may be forgiven for referring to it. What is it that keeps the dentist's wife in benefit? In the city of Glasgow the better off women have the best chance of securing benefit under the Regulations, and I will explain why. A woman must have 15 stamps after marriage. The great mass of Glasgow employers, about two-thirds of them, dismiss women on marriage. The co-operative society which is easily the largest employer in Glasgow, dismisses them immediately upon marriage. What happens? The woman who marries a comparatively well-to-do man has influence. She has married a man who has some standing in a social capacity. The poor type of woman who is in greatest need usually marries a man of her own social standing who irks no influence. The well-to-do woman has influence, and she sets to work to use her influence in order to get 15 weeks' work, which she succeeds in getting because, perhaps, she is related, say, to a magistrate or to a member of the town council. [Interruption.] Yes, and I find that sort of thing happening now. I put it to the Minister that such a woman is comparatively comfortably off. Generally speaking, the poor women marry men more or less in their own station of life. The woman who marries a dentist has probably married a man in her own station of life, and, as a result owing to influence, obtains 15 weeks' work, though she needs it less. Yet that woman which the Act was brought in to stop is, under these Regulations, the only type of woman who obtains benefit. Let me take the other point about the married woman. How can you tell the genuine married woman and the non-genuine, if I may use that word, on the 15-stamp basis? Take a woman who can get 15 weeks' work. I could never understand the Labour party introducing this system. A woman working in a mining village marries a miner. Her need for a job is great because her husband's wages are so low. Nobody would deny that. Her need is extraordinary, and her desire is great. We have miners' wives from the county of Lanarkshire coming into Glasgow to work. Because these women live in a mining village, their opportunity for work is less. In Lancashire the need may be less because the wage of the husband may be better. But because a woman marries a man in Lancashire, not because her need is greater or her desire for work is greater, as against a woman marrying a man in Wales, she can qualify for benefit, whereas the woman in Wales cannot do so.

Yesterday, we had the Labour party complaining about lack of uniformity in the administration of the means test. I agree that those anomalies need some explaining away. Let us take the present case. The right hon. Gentleman who was largely responsible for the Act was then the Member for Burnley. He said that he knew of the case of a dentist's wife in his division, and, of course, the Labour party thought that there were about 100,000 dentist's wives, and that they must bring in an Act. Let me take the case of Burnley. In Burnley at the beginning of these Regulations there were 6,900 married women signed on the register. In the South Side Exchange at Glasgow, where there are no dentists' wives, there were 1,800 signed on at the same date. When the Regulations were put into operation, 42 cases out of the 6,900 at Burnley were reviewed and out of that 42, 27 were refused benefit. At Glasgow, Out of 1,800 signing, no fewer than 1,100 were reviewed. At Glasgow, I repeat, 1,100 out of 1,800, and in Burnley 42 out of 6,900. Uniformity, why, the percentage would almost worry a bookmaker in trying to make it up. Just imagine, 42 cases reviewed out of 6,900 at Burnley, and in my own exchange 1,100 out of 1,800. "Ah, but Lancashire is different from Glasgow", it may be said.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

I am glad to hear an echo. It is different from Glasgow to the extent of 42 cases reviewed out of 6,900 compared with 1,100 reviewed out of 1,800. Is there anybody who can say that that sort of thing is in any way defensible when you consider the proportion in Glasgow. I do not know whether the hon. Lady has been to Glasgow. We have mills there. We have the biggest biscuit factories in the world and the biggest carpet factories, and we have calico print works. We have almost every kind of works in the city. Take the figures for the whole of Glasgow. They show, roughly speaking, that out of about 12,000 married women in the city of Glasgow, over 4,000 have been refused benefit. Every one of them has paid and qualified for insurance. Under an insurance scheme in regard to which everyone says that people should be dealt with equally on an insurance basis, we find totally different treatment in one part of the country from another. It is not only that the treatment varies in different parts of the country, but it is within the same city that different treatment exists. I asked the hon. Member the other day for the figures in regard to Glasgow—Glasgow Central Exchange and Glasgow South Side Exchange. In Glasgow South Side of over 1,100 cases only about 30 have received benefit. In the Central Exchange which is a halfpenny car-ride from my constituency, about six times the percentage have got benefit. Why the difference?

Under the Act a woman has to show that she has a reasonable chance of securing employment. What is the attitude of the court of referees on that matter? I have spent years in going to the courts of referees, and I pride myself that I can argue a case. I have been going to the court of referees for nine years, but, really, it is no use going there. What one chairman says is this: "Has the woman got a line from an employer to say that she is to start-work? If she has a definite line from an employer she can get benefit." That was at the South Side Exchange. Then I go to the Central Glasgow Exchange, and the chairman says: "No, I will not have that. It is too rigid; too severe. I want the matter put in a slightly different form." Here are two courts sitting and in one court you find a woman with a white form refused benefit, while another woman with a green form gets benefit.

Take the case of married women. In one case a, woman who had been sepa- rated from her husband for 16 years was refused benefit as a married woman because she could not give definite proof that she was starting work. In another case a woman who was co-habiting with her husband was regarded as a single woman and drew benefit. That is in contrast with the woman who was separated from her husband and maintained herself, and was refused benefit because she was a married woman. It used to be the principle in Scotland that it was a good thing to be married, but under the Anomalies Act that has been reversed and the motto would seem to be: "Do not get married, and then the Employment Exchange will give you benefit." In Scotland the law is that if a woman is separated from her husband for four or five years and she can prove that she has been seeking him, she is deemed by the Court of Session as being virtually in the position of a single woman. I ask that women who are bona-fide separated from their husbands for a period of time may be deemed to be single women for the purposes of unemployment insurance.

Let me say a few words about the seasonal worker. There are no seasonal workers who are in receipt of big incomes. The seasonal worker has to prove that in the preceding two years, in addition to having worked at a seasonal occupation, they have had a substantial period of work in what is called the off-season. There have been 5,000 refusals of benefit in this connection. Yesterday, the Labour party debated the means test. What is the position of the seasonal worker in regard to the means test? The seasonal worker to my knowledge is usually a neat, clean, not bad-looking woman. She gets a certain period of work but she does not qualify for benefit, and, if she cannot get a substantial period of work in the off-season, she gets no benefit at all. My hon. Friends on the Labour benches have criticised the means test, but the test for the seasonal workers is worse than the means test. There is nothing at all for them; not one single copper coin unless they can show a substantial period of work in addition to their seasonal work. Because these women may have been born, say, in Ross-shire and follow the calling of their mothers, they are disqualified from benefit, not because they are not genuine, and not because they are bad. The fact remains that the Labour party deprived them of every penny of benefit. That is true. It is true that the benefit is being taken away from the most attractive type of women. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will not begin to tell me what the Labour party did. I hold no responsibility for them; I say that without bitterness or rancour, of the Party of which I used to be a member.

It may be said by them that this is due to bad administration. That is partly true, but only partly. They should remember that every one of those Regulations was agreed to by the three members of the Trades Union Congress who sat on the committee which drafted the Regulations. There was only one alteration made, and that was in regard to the seasonal workers. The Minister suggested three years, the committee suggested two, and the Minister accepted their suggestion. Their people have made all these recommendations. There was no minority report. The courts of referees are the same chaps that I saw parading under the Ministry of Labour, and the umpire is the same. Every person is the same. It is not sufficient to say that administration alone is responsible.

I am not going to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour to annul the Regulation. I am not pleading with him to annul it because he will not do it. His orders are to save money and where the saving of money for this Cabinet is concerned, if human souls are at variance with that aim, money must come first. These married women may have a shilling or two more, but I defy anybody to say that they have spent that shilling or two otherwise than on making their children and themselves happy. If it is not possible to do something for the married women, is it not possible, at any rate, to do something for the seasonal worker? I beg the Government not to throw these decent young women on to the scrap-heap, or into a temptation that will be loathsome to them, during this winter, which is their off season. I hope that the masses outside will take note of this discussion, and will exercise their pressure, whenever they can, to make sure that the scandal is ended at the earliest possible moment.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

I beg formally to second the Motion.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

I am in a little difficulty owing to the absence of the Minister. I was going to speak later, but I cannot speak twice.

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

With the permission of the House, Sir, might not the hon. Gentleman speak twice?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I suggest that it might be convenient for the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) to say what he desires to say now, so that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, can speak later.

Photo of Mr George Knight Mr George Knight , Nottingham South

I did not intend to intervene in this discussion, but I had a short passage with my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), and I desire to make a brief comment. The hon. Gentleman has just said that the advantage of this discussion is to inform the masses outside. The masses outside have recently voted on these matters, and have sent a considerable number of Members to this House because the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Acts has resulted in a mass of abuses which it is the duty of this House to deal with. I have reason to believe that the contention that the hon. Gentleman advanced is one that has been used throughout the country for several years, namely, that the Unemployment Insurance Fund is a sort of slate club, and that, if you pay into the Fund, you are entitled somehow or other to get out of the Fund what you have paid in. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Gorbals has advocated this view, but I happen to know that in other parts of the country it has been advocated. I do not know whether he himself has done so; he does not deny it.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

I think I have advocated something much worse.

Photo of Mr George Knight Mr George Knight , Nottingham South

I do not suggest that I was taking into exclusive account the contentions of the hon. Gentleman. Throughout the discussions in the last Parliament hon. Gentlemen advocated to the workers that the Insurance Fund is a device for the redistribution of wealth, and that the workers were to use the Fund to get everything out of it that they could. There was an hon. Lady who I regret to see has now disappeared from among us, with whom I had some contention in the last Parliament, and who systematically held the view that the Insurance Fund should be used for the redistribution of the national wealth. It was a way of getting a fair share of the national wealth from which the workers had been debarred. I am not going to detain the House with an exact account of all the arguments that hon. Gentlemen have used.

I come back again to the point on which the hon. Member insisted, and which excited my intervention. He put forward a wrong view of the Insurance Fund, depending upon an entirely inaccurate view of what insurance means. He continually used the phrase in his admirable speech "insurance basis." What is an insurance basis? [Interruption]. I suspect he understands it as well as I do. The worker pays into the Insurance Fund against the risk of unemployment, and when that risk accrues he is entitled to draw from the Fund the assistance which the Fund provides against that risk. That is the only insurance basis of the Insurance Fund. It follows from that that, when the worker is no longer facing the risks of unemployment and is not in employment, it is a misuse of names to describe that person as running an insurance risk. The claim that the worker has upon the Insurance Fund is exhausted when the risk is not there. I take advantage of the opportunity to stress that view, because the contrary view, stated by the hon. Gentleman this morning, is a wrong view. It has misled scores of thousands of decent men and women workers outside this House, and I submit that at this time of day, after the experience we have just gone through, it is a mistaken view which should no longer be stated by hon. Members in this House.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Charles Barclay-Harvey Lieut-Colonel Charles Barclay-Harvey , Kincardine and Western

In common with other Members I have listened with great interest to the Mover of this Prayer. I do not intend to follow him altogether in some of the details with which lie dealt. The important point that we have to remember to-day is that we are discussing an insurance scheme and not a scheme of public relief. The question we are dealing with is whether it is right that certain classes of people who have come into an insurance scheme should or should not continue to draw benefit. The two classes to which I want to refer particularly are, first, the seasonal workers, and, secondly, the class with which the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) has dealt at such length—the married women. Take first the seasonal workers. As I understand this scheme the object is to provide means of assistance to people who, during the normal course of their employment, cannot get work. Seasonal workers are people who normally are employed during a certain portion of the year only. Therefore, surely it is right that people who are working for only a certain part of the year should not be qualified to draw unemployment benefit for a period of the year during which they would not in any event be working and during which they actually have no intention of working at all.

After all, their interests are protected, because now, if they can prove that for two years beforehand they had made efforts to find other employment or have been in other employment, apart from their normal work, they can still come under the scheme. Having said that, I would like to add a statement in which I dare say I shall have the support of the hon. Member. I think there is a psychological factor to be considered. A man may well feel it hard that, whereas he has to pay his contributions week by week throughout the year, he can draw benefit only for a limited portion of that year. I can understand the state of mina of a man who feels that there is some hardship in that. I am not arguing that there is a hardship. But there might be some method by which a different means of collecting his unemployment insurance could be enforced, so as to get rid of that feeling of hardship.

12 n.

Then we come to the question of the married women. Here again you have a type of person who has gone out of insurance. The hon. Member for Gorbals referred to the question of insurance policies, and the hon. and learned Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight) went into a detailed description of the law on the subject. As a Scotsman I prefer to be logical. Surely the process is precisely on a par with that in the case of a woman who, as an unmarried woman, insures her property. She pays the premiums, it may he for a period of years, seven or eight, before her marriage, and during that time she has no necessity to call upon the insurance company for any payment because she has had no loss under the policy. When she marries her husband covers all her goods under his insurance policy. Surely that woman would have no right to claim two years later, after she has ceased to pay premiums, against her old insurance policy, when she has any loss? It seems to me that there is a very real difference.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

But the married woman could go on paying her premiums for her own policy. The difference is that the married woman here is not allowed to go on paying. She is automatically stopped.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Charles Barclay-Harvey Lieut-Colonel Charles Barclay-Harvey , Kincardine and Western

The married woman referred to under this scheme has a right to continued benefit if she can prove that she has been in work for a certain period after marriage, as the hon. Member has said. The hon. Member claims that women who marry husbands who are well off may possibly be in a position to use influence with their friends and get work, whereas people who marry others in less happy conditions are not able to do so. Surely the people who marry men who are comfortably off would be the last people who would want to get work, because their domestic duties would keep them busy, and, I hope, happy, and they would not have the same necessity to find work. Therefore they would not have the same need to find work, and they would be far less likely to try to get work. That is a fair argument from the other point of view.

What we have to remember is this: The difference between us in this matter is not only a question of detail; it is a question of principle. The hon. Member admitted that during the election he argued that this is one of the methods whereby the people could assist the redistribution of wealth. That is where we differ. We on this side have every bit as much sympathy with the people who are out of work and are in need of assistance as have hon. Members opposite, but we do not believe that the best method of helping these people is by giving them unlimited public assistance. We believe most fundamentally that one of the chief reasons for the election of the present Government was that it should play its part in trying to put the trade and industry of this country back into such a position that it could provide work for the people who are now out of work. One of the chief difficulties that the country was faced with was the fact that the insurance scheme was so seriously out of funds that it had to borrow large sums. The late Government passed an Act with a view to helping to right the financial situation of the fund. We believe that one of the ways in which we can help to put people back into work is by bringing this fund back as nearly as possible to a state of solvency. We believe that in supporting the Government to-day and in resisting this Prayer we are taking a step, it may be only a small step, to assist in the revival of the trade and industry of the country.

I think there is a feeling among certain hen. Members from Scotland sitting opposite that they and they alone represent what people sometimes refer to as the working class. I, for one, wish to combat that idea. I am sure that hon. Members who sit on the benches above the Gangway opposite will support me in doing so. We appreciate and realise the sincerity of the hon. Members who sit on that bench below the Gangway opposite. We know that they have the interests of these people at heart but other people in this House, Members who sit on this side and Members who sit opposite as well, have the interests of all these people just as much at heart as the hon. Members to whom I have just referred. We do not agree with their methods. We believe in other methods of dealing with the situation. We believe that we can give more help to what is frequently known as the working-class by employing them, by giving them work, than by giving, them indiscriminate public assistance. We shall back up the Government in resisting this Motion because we believe that in so doing we shall be helping the Government to restore trade and industry and thereby doing something to put these people back into work. I am certain that hon. Members opposite would agree that that should be the first duty of the House of Commons.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Charles Barclay-Harvey Lieut-Colonel Charles Barclay-Harvey , Kincardine and Western

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) does not agree that the first thing which he ought to do is to find work, but I certainly cannot agree that the first duty of the House of Commons is to keep people unemployed. I believe our first duty is very different and it is for that reason that I am supporting the Government and shall if necessary go into the Lobby to defeat the Motion.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

Members sitting on these benches intend to support the Prayer, first, because we feel that the Minister in making these regulations has missed the spirit of the Anomalies Act and secondly, because we are convinced that the method of administration is wholly inconsistent with the intentions of Parliament in passing that Act. I wish to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary particularly to two phases of these regulations, namely the effect in the case of married women and the question of their administration. The hon. Gentleman is, I am sure, aware that not only the report of the Royal Commission but the Anomalies Act itself clearly indicated that when dealing with the question of married women very great care would have to be taken lest in removing one anomaly we created half a dozen others. The Royal Commission dealing with the question of married women said: Regard must of course be paid to the fact that many women work after marriage especially in those districts and industries where they are customarily employed in large numbers. If that was the feeling of the Royal Commission on this subject, after having listened to all the evidence submitted to them, it seems to me that the Minister in making these regulations has not only missed the spirit, intention and purpose of the Labour Government, but has also missed the spirit, intention and purpose of the Royal Commission. May I recall a. statement made my the then Minister of Labour, Miss Bondfield, in this House on 15th July last. I want to repeat—and this is all I have to say because I gave my reasons fully on Second Reading—that this is not a differentiation against a married woman because she is married. The regulations will make that differentiation solely on the ground that since marriage she has ceased to he in the employment field."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th July, 1931; col. 675, Vol. 255.] The Attorney-General in the same Debate said: A form of words cannot be devised to apply all over the whole country which will not act with very great injustice to some parts. …A regulation drawing a distinction between different places will be needed."—[OFFICAL REPORT, 15th July, 1931; col. 695, Vol. 255.] The Attorney-General of the Labour Government who made that statement is the Attorney-General to-day, and he ought perhaps to have been consulted before this very loose and wide regulation, on which ten thousand different interpretations can be placed, was made. The particular wording to which we offer objection is in paragraph 4 (ii) referring to the new conditions which must be fulfilled by the married woman applying for benefit and the offending words are: and the industrial circumstances of the district in which she resides. That is very loose wording, and I would remind the House that in paragraph 18 of their Report the Advisory Committee warned the Minister of the possibility of a very wide and general interpretation, which would deny the right of the married woman who is definitely still in the industrial field, to receive that benefit to which she is clearly entitled. On the Advisory Committee there were three employers' representatives and three representatives of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress. That Committee, having some knowledge of the diversity of occupations involved and the lack of uniformity, suggested that unless suitable wording were provided, say by such a person as the Attorney-General, the injustices following on the application of the regulations would be as many as the anomalies on the side of the unfortunate married woman previous to the Anomalies Act being introduced. The Advisory Committee, with its knowledge of various industries, and classes and portions of industries, with its knowledge of the diversity of occupation even in one district or one area, recommended instead of the words I have just quoted other words which we feel would have been infinitely more suitable and would have met the case better, namely: The industrial practice of the district in which she resides in the occupation in which she has been accustomed to work. Those words are not elastic enough, but they would be preferable to the words which the Minister has embodied in these Regulations. We know the effect in those cases which have already been before various courts of referees. We know about Glasgow with its 5,000 disallowed, and we know about the effect in Stockport and Wigan and Preston and in districts where it is generally recognised that married women consistently remain in industry after marriage. One begins to fear the ultimate effect of these regulations unless the Minister as quickly as possible acts on the suggestion that these regulations should be carefully watched. The Advisory Committee suggest that: after a convenient time a report on the working of the regulations should be laid before Parliament by the Minister. I hope the hon. Member will tell us something about that to-day. May I recall an incident in 1930, when, because of a misfortune while following her employment, a partially incapacitated person had for a number of years been imposed upon because of the state of the industrial market. The intention was that if, owing to injuries, a person could not find employment, and his pre-injury employer refused to find him employment, that employer ought to be called upon to provide full compensation. A county court Judge subsequently determined that while the injured person was incapacitated, but was fit to perform some light work, and was ready and willing to find such work, but could not find it, he was unemployed not because of his accident, but because of the state of the industrial market. That denied the right of thousands of injured persons to obtain either work or compensation, and if this Regulation is not watched very carefully, the state of the industrial market is going to be an excuse for denying unemployment benefit to tens of thousands of married women who are definitely in the industrial field, because of the state of the market.

We are informed that in certain districts women have been denied benefit because they are unable to give an approximate date when they are likely to find a job. Surely that was never intended by the House of Commons or by the Advisory Committee. That could not have been intended by any Member of the House when the Anomalies Bill was here. We recognised even in the Act itself that not only were there areas where conditions were diverse, but in the same district you might have weavers or spinners or women in the woollen textile industry who were intermittently employed according to the prosperity or depression of their particular industry. But if one Regulation is to apply uniformly over the whole field, then clearly the Act itself is superseded by the Regulation, and the intention of Parliament is superseded too. Might I recall to the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary Section 1 (4) of the Anomalies Act, which reads as follows: The regulations made in pursuance of this section may apply either generally to all the persons specified in sub-section (2) of this section, or to any class of those persons, or to any portion of such a class, or with respect to them or any of them in any specified area. Clearly those words were embodied in the Bill to allow just as much elasticity as was possible in order to meet all the diverse cases that one meets with in different areas and industries and services throughout the country. Even the Royal Commission, referring to anomalies, stated on page 38: It is difficult to make provision in an Act of Parliament for unanticipated problems, and it is not surprising that the general provisions of a scheme which is designed to deal with the normal type of unemployment should, in their application to an infinite variety of individual circumstances, operate in some cases in a way which was not within the intention of the Legislature. That warning seems to have fallen on deaf ears so far as the Minister is concerned. He has taken no note either of the Royal Commission or of the Attorney-General, and I should like to ask whether the hon. Gentleman would be good enough to tell us, before finally and definitely approving of this Regulation, whether the Law Officers were consulted as to the wording, and whether they had any opportunity or privilege of giving the value of their experience in finding such words as would give the necessary elasticity to meet cases such as the one with which we are now dealing. That seems to be the main point of contention between Members on these benches and below the Gangway and Members sitting on the Government benches.

We recognised when the Anomalies Bill was introduced that anomalies did exist, but we also recognised that they arose out of an Act which was passed for the purpose of removing what we conceived to be greater anomalies still. We had the not-genuinely-seeking work Clause. Tens of thousands of unemployed people were denied the right to receive benefits to which they were legitimately entitled, and in the process of passing one Measure to avoid a continuance of such anomalies as existed under the 1927 Act, other anomalies grew up, slowly but surely. The Labour Government were satisfied that the anomalies existed and had to be dealt with; hence the Bill that they introduced some time during this year, and we have no apologies to offer at all. We recognise that certain anomalies did grow up and that they had to be reviewed, but we also want to state, equally clearly and emphatically, that while we were anxious to remove the anomalies that were known to exist, we were unwilling to allow other anomalies to be created, where the victims, whether men or women, who were attached to industries, would become displaced.

I notice with some degree of apprehension that, although the Government have only been in office for 10 minutes, they have practically carried out every suggestion of the Royal Commission. They have reduced benefits, they have increased contributions, they have adopted the 26 weeks rule, and they have accepted the wards of the Commission when making this Regulation; and apparently no matter what the Commission cared to recommend, the present Government are willing to give effect to it at the earliest possible moment if there is any chance thereby of producing any economy. If that spirit of sweet reasonableness that I know exists on occasions in the mind and heart of the hon. Member who is about to reply, still exists to the extent that I should like to see it exist, I hope he will tell us that this Regulation does not meet even the desires and aspirations of the Minister himself, and that he is going to see to it that while anomalies shall be removed, no other anomalies will be created, and that women in all parts of the country who are definitely known still to be in the industrial field will not he denied benefit because of the state of the industrial market. If he will tell us that, and intimate that he will follow the advice given him by the Advisory Com- mittee, namely, that day by day and week by week the Regulations should be carefully watched, that a report should be brought to Parliament at the earliest possible moment, and that revision should take place where injustice is known to be done, we shall feel that the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) rendered a signal service to the House when he put this Prayer on the Order Paper.

Before concluding, I want to say to the hon. Member for Gorbals that the question of a miner's wife entering into industry does not apply to Yorkshire. If I know the average miner or his wife at all, they would deprecate any suggestion of a miner's wife going out to work and leaving the miner either to prepare his own food or to perform the domestic duties. In this particular circumstance there can be no such thing as uniformity. We know that in Lancashire some women work at the pit-top. A Yorkshireman's wife would be appalled at the suggestion that she should do it. On the other hand, if the wife of a Lancashire weaver or spinner who works at the colliery surface were asked to enter into domestic service, she would equally be amazed at the thought of that suggestion. Therefore, there is no possibility, in this particular sense, of securing uniformity throughout the country, and I would suggest to the hon. Gentleman that all the speeches, including that of the Attorney-General, indicated that in removing these anomalies elasticity ought to be injected into the Regulations so that each kind of case could be dealt with on its merits, instead of in the broad, general sense of terminating benefits in Glasgow and various other parts of the country. Unless the hon. Gentleman can tell us that this Regulation is going to be withdrawn or made more consistent with the terms of the Act and with the intention and purpose of Parliament, we shall have no alternative but to vote for the Prayer.

Photo of Miss Eleanor Rathbone Miss Eleanor Rathbone , Combined English Universities

The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) has put the case for the married woman with such a rugged eloquence, and such a minute knowledge of the facts, that I do not need to say a great deal to supplement what he said. I think that it is a very good thing for the working people of this country that the hon. Member for Gorbals did not go down in that deluge which swamped so many of his party. As long as he is here, we shall always know that no grievance affecting any class of wage-earners in this country is likely to go without an advocate, and an eloquent advocate. But I was surprised to see that the hon. Member seemed to take the nod of assent that I gave to the proposition that the circumstances of Lancashire were somewhat different from those of Glasgow as an indication that I was out of sympathy with his general proposition. He really had no need to shake his gory locks at me, because when the Anomalies Act was about to be passed, I was one of those who joined with him in pointing out to the hon. Lady who then occupied the position of Minister of Labour the very grave dangers attaching to discrimination against married women as such, and I reminded her that it might not be very long before her place was taken by a Minister of a different party, a different class and a different sex, who might interpret the Act in a very different spirit from what she intended it to be interpreted.

12.30 p.m.

It is too soon to express a very dogmatic and final judgment as to how the Act is going to work out, but I would say that I think there is not a body of organised women in the country, and probably scarcely any honest working woman who is not as anxious as any Member of this House can be, that abuses by married women should be dealt with, because such abuses bring discredit on the whole body of working women. At the same time, we are bound to be alarmed by the number of married women who are being disqualified in shoals all over the country. I want to point out to the House some of the dangers and some of the indications. The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) has pointed out what is, to my mind, the real crux of the matter. He said that he was given assurance last Session that this Act was not intended to set up any discrimination against the married woman as such, but I would point out that these draft Regulations do that exactly. No one objects to married women being disqualified because they are not, as the phrase goes, genuinely in insurable employment, which means, in effect, that they are not genuine seekers for work. The Press of the country, however, is assuming that all married women who are being disqualified under this Act are being disqualified for that reason. Let me give an instance. There was a paragraph in one of the most responsible and widely-read papers the Sunday before last which gave the figure of those who have been disqualified all over the country, and which, first of all, made one singular, ignorant blunder by assuming that they had been disqualified under the Economy Act, and went on to assume that they had all been disqualified because of malingering—not genuinely seeking work. That is not the case at all.

Really, these draft Regulations enable married women to be struck off benefit if they do not satisfy three conditions, which are disguised as two in the draft Regulations. First of all, a women has to prove that she is normally employed in an insurable employment, and that she will normally seek to obtain her livelihood by means of insurable employment. That is the condition to shut out the woman who merely pretends that she wants to continue in work after marriage, when she does not really want to do so, and, perhaps, is not able to take it because of domestic conditions. But having satisfied that condition, she has also to show that having regard to all the circumstances of her case and particularly to her industrial experience.… she can reasonably expect to obtain insurable employment in that district. It means that a married woman may want work after marriage, but if she lives in a district, or is engaged in an occupation in that district, where it is the general custom not to employ married women, she has not a reasonable prospect of obtaining such employment, and she cannot be legitimately regarded, however needy she may be, as a suitable person for benefit under an insurance scheme. She is not a person who is unemployed for reasons which appertain to an insurance scheme. But what I do object to is the third condition. She has also to show, that having regard to … the industrial circumstances of the district in which she resides she can reasonably expect to obtain insurable employment in that district. I defy the Minister or anyone else to say that that does not set up discrimination against married women qua married women, because there are thousands of single women and thousands of men who have no reasonable opportunity of obtaining work because of the industrial conditions of the district, in other words, the exceptional depression of trade. In the mining and textile districts that particular qualification applies just as much to single women and just as much to men as to married women, and I agree with those who have brought forward this Prayer that it is really going beyond the intention of the Act, though I do not dispute that it is legally possible, because the Act is so loosely framed that almost anything might be possible under it. It is clear that the Advisory Committee felt that difficulty, and, having felt it, they looked it in the face and passed it by. They definitely point out that the Act might of interpreted in either way; that it might be interpreted to enable married women to be excluded if they do not belong to a trade or a district where it is normal to employ married women, or to enable married women to be shut out because of industrial depression. Then they say that in view of the close balance of argument, however, we have thought it right to leave the matter without a definite recommendation to the decision of the Minister. The actual decision in the first instance is perhaps less important than that the working of this Regulation.… should be closely watched with a view to revision, if it appears after experience either unduly lax or unduly harsh. That is, at any rate, strong prima facie evidence that this Regulation is working to enable courts of referees to exclude masses of married women—and their cases are very rapidly dealt with—if they do not satisfy all three of these conditions. I was talking the other day to a woman who has had great experience on a court of referees, and she told me that the average time taken in dealing with these claims in her court was two minutes per case. How can a court in two minutes find out whether a woman is genuinely seeking employment and is normally insurable, whether she has a reasonable chance of obtaining work because of her industrial experience and the custom of the district and the trade with regard to the employment of married women, and whether she has a reasonable chance of obtaining it in view of the industrial depression. The courts have these three distinct sets of circumstances to take into account and to decide the facts. How can they decide them with the rapidity which it has been shown they have been dealt with in the first month?

It only confirms the judgment which I expressed when we were discussing the Act last July, that it is a very dangerous thing to give a power to any committee with three representatives of the trade unions upon it and with representatives of the Ministry, but only one woman, which enables them to make especial discrimination against married women. The married woman is liable to injustice because nobody particularly loves her. She is subject to jealousy all round. When has the Trades Union Congress ever shown itself a friend of the married woman worker? The traditional opinion of the Congress about married women is that their proper place is in the home; and many would like to sweep them out of industry altogether if they had the chance. The married woman is regarded—and I do not particularly blame the trade unions—as a potential blackleg. If she is working it means two wages going into the same house, so they look upon her with jealousy and suspicion. Therefore, the Trades Union Congress is a very unsuitable body to help to interpret the Act so far as her interests are concerned.

The Minister's object is not to avoid unpopularity, but to do justice, and if he feels, as a Minister ought to feel, that he ought to be specially vigilant in guarding against injustice to those who have not many to safeguard their interests, then I ask him to revise these Regulations and to bring forward others which will make it clear that this special Clause affecting married women does not affect them because they are married women, but because there is something in their industrial position appertaining to married women that makes them not properly to be regarded as in insurable employment.

Photo of Mr John Train Mr John Train , Glasgow Cathcart

I wish to congratulate the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) and his colleagues on the splendid fight they have conducted to stake their claim to the seats on the Front Bench below the Gangway. Now that they have come through that great tribulation, they have given their attention to something in the nature of a treasure hunt; we might call it money grabbing. This week we were treated by them to a number of speeches on the reduction of rents. Yesterday we had them backing very nobly the Opposition in their attempt to get more money out of the Unemployment Insurance Fund through the transitional benefit. Now we have them suggesting that the Anomalies Act is full of anomalies, and they have presented a Prayer that it should be wiped out altogether. The hon. Member for Gorbals put his speech under four heads, but he discarded three of them, and confined his attention particularly to the -married women. He had a complaint a-bout somebody who was not a married woman getting relief and a married woman not being able to get it. That is no new thing in Scotland. Only within the last ten or eleven years has it been legal in Scotland to give an able-bodied man or his wife relief at all.

We have got so accustomed now to giving money for nothing, that there is a tremendous howling immediately any attempt is made to put the Insurance Act on an insurance basis. Nobody says today that we have got to the stage when this Act is upon an insurance basis. I can well remember when the Act was put-on the Statute Book. The Press was loud in its praise, and the hearts of many of the working classes were uplifted because the Act gave them some security when they were out of a job—at least, it gave them something to keep body and soul together until they could find a job. What is the position of those people today? I will tell my Labour friends that in the election they lost many votes of the working people because of the state of the Insurance Fund. People began to see that there was no security in it. Now my friends from Glasgow—I am glad to say that the hon. Member for Gorbals is one of my constituents, and as such I am very proud of him—are again putting up a case to us that the Anomalies Act should be cut out altogether.

The hon. Member quotes the case of the married women in Glasgow. I asked the Minister of Labour yesterday how many married women in Glasgow have been put out of benefit through the operation of the Unemployment Insurance Anomalies Act. The reply was that out of 5,406 married women, 4,434 had been disallowed. There has been a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction in Glasgow about the number of women getting married to men who could support them and keep them very comfortably and drawing insurance, and I have no doubt that when it was known that 4,000 had been refused benefit, there was great satisfaction indeed. Nobody grudges the genuine case relief.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

Can the hon. Member defend this? His division and mine are covered by one Exchange. Can he go down to Glasgow and defend a regulation under which 27 are refused benefit in Burnley, while in the area of his own exchange, with a third less number, more than 1,100 have been refused benefit?

Photo of Mr John Train Mr John Train , Glasgow Cathcart

I think I can easily enough defend the action of Glasgow. I will leave Burnley to defend their own action. I am informed that the Parliamentary Secretary will reply to the questions put by the hon. Member for Gorbals in his speech, and therefore I will leave him to deal with the point. Is the hon. Member going to tell me that married women in Glasgow who did not need benefit but have been getting it under these anomalies are suffering any injustice now? At any rate he would not persuade me of it, and he would not persuade the very many people who have told me of these anomalies. There are cases of husbands getting £7 a week and the wives have been drawing benefit.

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

Nobody works for you at £7 a week!

Photo of Mr John Train Mr John Train , Glasgow Cathcart

I hope that the Government, having heard from the hon. Member for Gorbals how easy it is to get round some of the phrases in the Act dealing in anomalies, will bring in an amending Measure to make it even tighter—not to refuse benefit to those who are genuinely in need of it, but to prevent others who have been in the habit of drawing money for nothing from continuing to do so. As I said before, that is a treasure hunt to get money from the State. It is not work that is wanted, but money—money without work. If we have an insurance scheme it should be put on a sound actuarial basis, and we cannot pretend that it is so now. If we can stop a lot of these anomalies we shall make a beginning in that direction, and therefore I hope the Government will refuse this petition.

Photo of Mr David Logan Mr David Logan , Liverpool Scotland

I have rather enjoyed the dialogue between two Scottish Members on the subject of finance, but I will leave aside the problem of trying to get something for nothing, except to say that I am in full sympathy with the action of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) in bringing these anomalies to our attention. I am one of those fortunate or unfortunate people who has been in entire disagreement with the whole of the Measure, and my opposition to it is not weakening. When the late Minister of Labour was introducing it I had one or two pertinent questions to ask him, and they are just as opportune to-day. He told me that these difficulties would be dealt with by Regulations. I went into the Lobby against the Measure because I was not satisfied with the answer I received, was not satisfied that the Regulations would meet the case. This question of anomalies concerns two classes, married women and seasonal workers. Some hon. Members, including the hon. and learned Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight), have pointed out that this is an insurance Act. We are all fully aware of that fact. The hon. and learned Member put the point, most illogically I think from the standpoint of insurance, that when persons went out of insurance they had ceased to follow their occupation, and therefore had no further right to insurance benefit. I take it he meant that they had left employment and had no intention of resuming work again. If that were so, it would be a logical view, but it would be most illogical if he were assuming that although they had left the employment with the intention of going back to that employment they still had no insurable right.

Take the ease of the vast body of women workers in Preston and other Lancashire towns with which I am fully conversant. There has been a great slump in the cotton trade and those people, through no fault of their own, are put out of employment. In that case how can it be said that their normal employment had ceased? They may perhaps have paid into the insurance fund for seven, eight or nine years and have received no benefit, and how can it be said that they are not entitled to benefit when their employment fails them If I understand the Act, it was not based on actuarial calculations, it was to cover this particular risk which would be run by bona fide employés, and when, through circumstances over which they have no control, trade falls off in a district, what right have you to say, because their normal occupation has failed them, that they cannot properly qualify for benefit?

Their normal employment being no longer available, these people are now being offered seasonal employment, and in my city many young women have taken on seasonal occupations. I have always declined to agree to that practice. I shall always hold that it is immoral to ask daughters who have lived all their lives at home to go to work in the Isle of Man, or Blackpool, or Southport, away from the bosom of their own families. Those girls have never left home. They are girls whose normal occupation has closed down, but they have a desire to work, and when it is suggested that they should go to other work in the Isle of Man or elsewhere they say, "Yes, we will go," because they feel that if they do not accept the Employment Exchanges will exercise the right of stopping benefit. They are thus forced into casual employment. I say there is no hon. Member who could go to any district and say to a father or mother. "Your daughter must leave home and take seasonal occupation," with all the tragedies that follow in many cases when a girl leaves home who has never left home before. I say that is wrong. I say that a man or a girl whose ordinary occupation has failed has a right to find employment in a similar occupation, and it was never intended that anything so drastic or so Draconian as these Regulations should be brought into existence. I mention these difficulties, not simply with a desire to make a speech, but only for the purpose of urging the necessity of having something a little more elastic for these classes. I thank the hon. Member for Gorbals for the mariner in which he has dealt with this matter, and I think he deserves the thanks of the House for the admirable way in which he has explained the position. I hope the Minister will be able to bring in another Regulation more in conformity with the opinion of the majority of the Members of this House.

Photo of Mr Harold Balfour Mr Harold Balfour , Isle of Thanet

As one who represents a constituency in which there are more seasonal workers and greater unemployment than most other constituencies, I wish to ask one or two questions concerning these Regulations. Like the hon. Member for. the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan) I am grateful to the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) for bringing this matter forward, because it is very likely that we may not have another opportunity of debating it, and expressing our views in relation to the Regulations issued under the Anomalies Act for some time. I have no quarrel at all with the main provision as regards seasonal workers. It is always easy to criticise and to offer public money, and induce people to support you at the poll by offering to fill their pockets and to satisfy every need of the moment. It is easy to say that these Regulations are unfair, but in the main, when we remember that this is an insurance scheme, and that the chief job of the National Government is not to make unemployment more easy but to help employment, we must realise that sometimes one has to be unkind and harsh to those who are out of employment in order to give some hope of employment in the future.

1.0 p.m.

I understand that the applicant who is a seasonal worker has to fulfil two conditions in addition to the statutory conditions. The first condition is intended to prevent this Fund being used as a form of State subsidy during the winter months. You may say that there should be some form of State subsidy, but you must not allow the insurance scheme to be used during the winter months for that purpose, and it should be provided for by other methods than a system of insurance. As regards Regulation (b) I want to put a question to the Minister. If hon. Members read that Regulation it will be seen that the applicant for benefit under the seasonal workers Regulation is being induced to enter into a sort of stock exchange gamble in futures. Regulation (b) provides: Having regard to all the circumstances of his case, and, particularly, to his industrial experience and to the industrial circumstances of the district in which he is residing, he can reasonably expect to obtain insurable employment in that district during a substantial period of the off-season. The position of the applicant is that he depends on the conditions of his particular trade and his ability to obtain work, and I think that Regulation is putting on the applicant a condition outside his control. It is an unfair condition, and is one that is likely to bring about friction and misunderstanding of the Regulations. I think that these Regulations in that respect ought to be cleared up. In my own constituency 80 per cent. of the men and 90 per cent. of the women who have been under revision by the court of referees have had their seasonal benefit stopped. How many of those cases would have been dealt with in that way if the trade conditions of my constituency had to be taken into account? I would like to know what view the court of referees took in regard to penalising, during the off-season, the insured men in seasonal trades. Here you have men in an insured trade working in a seasonal trade during the off season, and they are not allowed to draw benefit, in spite of the contributions which they have paid during the summer season, whereas men employed in a non-seasonal trade in the same district can draw benefit throughout the winter because their trade is non-seasonal. In the other case a man who may have paid more contributions, and is sound, actuarially, is penalised in other trades during the winter. The report of the Advisory Committee in paragraph (5), says: One suggestion we considered was whether the payment of contributions by seasonal workers during those times of the year when they had little or no risk of being unemployed should not give them a right to draw a limited amount of benefit during the off-season. That suggestion was not adopted by the committee, and the Minister has not adopted it. By taking that course the Minister has definitely deprived actuarially sound subjects of the right to draw benefit, while other subjects in non-seasonal trades are entitled to benefit. I think the smooth and fair working of this insurance scheme for seaside resorts depends very much on the solution of the problem which lies largely in the hands of the Minister of Labour and the Parliamentary Secretary. We are suffering from dumping in our seaside resorts, which are carrying a population greatly in excess of what they can carry. The continued unemployment in industrial areas during 12 months in the year has caused men from those areas to go to seaside resorts, where they can obtain work during the summer months, and they go on benefit during the winter. The result is that we have increased our Employment Exchange difficulties, and the local shopkeepers and ratepayers are suffering in consequence.

You cannot prevent men going from one part of the country to another, lout, when the little work that is available during the off season is taken up by men from industrial areas who have no local connections at all, it amounts to a form of human dumping in the seaside resorts of this country, and these Regulations as to seasonal workers are bound to bring hardship, both to those who have come from industrial areas and to those who are native to the seaside resorts, until there is an industrial revival which absorbs in the industrial areas that surplus of population which now rests on the seaside resorts. I suggest to my hon. Friend that this aspect in connection with seaside resorts should be taken into account, and that there should be some form of special communication service between the Employment Exchanges in the seaside resorts and his headquarters, in order that, while there might be a more than ordinary transference of labour from one district to another, a particular watch should be kept so that vacancies in industrial areas, which we hope may occur in the near future, shall, if it is not possible to fill them locally, be referred primarily to seaside areas, to which men who might be capable of filling them have now gone.

In the long run, the acceptance by the great majority of unemployed men of such Regulations as these rests on the fairness of the regulations and the justice of their administration. I hope that the small points which I have raised will be taken into consideration by the Minister, in order that the National Government may mirror all its actions in such a way as to give a reflection of fairness to those who seek to see their effect. We have had given to us a. free hand with regard to policy, and I would ask that this free hand in policy should also be a free hand in fairness, a hand outstretched in sympathy and justice to the very poorest in the land, and not the hand of one who closes a door and says, I have made a Regulation and I will not alter it." I am not asking the Minister to alter his principles in any way. All that I would ask is that he should apply those principles in a spirit of resilience, in the spirit of saying that they are not hidebound and unalterable, but flexible according to the needs of any and every particular district.

Photo of Lord Eustace Percy Lord Eustace Percy , Hastings

I should like to say one or two words in support of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain H. Balfour), and on the same subject. I am sure my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will agree with me that this is a much more important and serious discussion in the long run than the one that we had yesterday, because here we are dealing, not with people who have exhausted their insurance, but with people who are in insurance, and we are modifying, rightly or wrongly, the benefits for which the premiums of those contributors have been paid to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. If we desire to make, as we all do on this side of the House, the Unemployment Insurance Fund a real insurance fund, we should be very careful to proceed on principle in regard to any matter which affects the insurance rights of contributors who have not exhausted those rights. This question of seasonal workers is a serious one from that point of view, and it has a grave effect, as my hon. and gallant Friend has said, on certain areas in this country which are not generally regarded as areas where unemployment is serious, but where, in fact, unemployment to-day is growing as it has never grown before, and for obvious reasons. These areas are economically parasitic areas, and the effects of prosperity and depression reach them long after the rest of the country.

I desire to examine this problem of seasonal workers from the insurance point of view. These seasonal workers are of two kinds. There is a class—I think only a small class—of whom it may be said that the wages which they receive while they are in employment during a part of the year are abnormally high, because their employment is recognised as a seasonal one. That, I think, is a rare case. The classic instance of that kind of case outside this country would be the dockyard worker in a port like Cleveland, who receives enormously high wages during the summer season, quite sufficient to support him during the whole of the year. I do not think I need say that that class, obviously, is not properly entitled to draw benefit during the off season, when the wages received are equivalent to those of a full year. After all, however, the vast majority of our seasonal workers do not belong to that class, and they rely during the off season on such odd jobs as they may pick up, and on the general hope of getting some fair and regular employment during the off season.

On what insurance ground are these men refused benefit? They are refused benefit, of course, on one ground, and on one ground only, namely, that they are such bad risks that no insurance fund can possibly accept them in respect of the, not risk, but certainty, of recurrent- unemployment. That is the real ground on which this regulation is made. Logically, every insurance fund or company must have the right to reject had risks; hut the grave question a-rises whether it has a right to accept these "bad lives" for the purposes of contribution and to refuse to accept them for the purposes of benefit. That raises the whole question, on which I should like some information from my hon. Friend the Parliamentry Secretary, as to the conditions and circumstances under which certificates of exemption can be applied for and obtained by these people.

I put that question only as a temporary makeshift in connection with this very difficult problem, but I should like to make a second suggestion, which is the only permanently constructive suggestion that can, I think, be made on this subject. An unemployment insurance fund has to refuse "bad lives" to a far greater extent if it is financed from a flat rate of contribution from all contributors, irrespective of their receipts. It would be out of order for me to go very far on that line of thought, but I should just like to express the hope that we all realise, as I am sure the Government realise, that these Anomalies Regulations can be nothing but a makeshift to tide us over until we can have an insurance system which, in regard to the rates of contribution from different classes of workers in proportion to the wages they receive and the risks they represent to the Fund, will, by provisions of that kind, cover all those persons in this country who are proper subjects for insurance, and will exclude, far more strictly than we exclude at the present time, those who for one reason or another should not fall within an insurance fund.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

May I commence by saying that we fully understand and sympathise with the action of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) in putting down this Prayer, because he and his colleagues, at least, have always been perfectly consistent in this matter? I will not suggest what their philosophy is, but, at all events, in the House they have always been consistent in resisting any measure or regulation which would tend to cut off from benefit anyone who was in receipt of it. But I find a little more difficulty in understanding the action of the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). I was a little astonished when I heard that he was going to support the Prayer. I was also a little disappointed, because his action in supporting it justifies me in recalling the fact, which I should not otherwise have done, that the party that he was speaking for this morning was responsible for the Act under which these Regulations are being issued. I am going to suggest that these Regulations will, in effect, exclude considerably fewer people than the Minister in the late Parliament had in mind when she first introduced the Bill. She said the whole point of the Bill was whether certain categories of persons were or were not receiving benefit for which they had no claim, benefit which, under the Act or under any public opinion, whether it was the workers' public opinion or other bodies' opinions, no one ever contemplated that they would receive. That is what the Labour Government were officially prepared to do when they introduced the Bill.

As the hon. Member for Gorbals pointed out, the first Regulation under this Act is, in effect, nugatory -owing to changes made by the House during the passage of the Bill and, whereas the late Minister of Labour contemplated that the first two classes would result in a saving of somewhere between £2,000,009 and £2,500,000, we shall not obtain anything like that figure. But although the hon. Member for Gorbals mentioned the com- ment of the Advisory Committee that it would be impossible to find that anybody would be cut off under the first Regulation, in practice I believe we have managed to find five people in the whole country who have been disallowed.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

They will all be in Glasgow.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

In any case, the numbers which have been, or can be, disallowed are substantially below the numbers contemplated by Miss Bondfield. I turn to the question of married women. I should like, first of all, to point out that the arguments of the hon. Member for Gorbals and the hon. Member for Don Valley cancelled each other out. The hon. Member for Don Valley complained that numbers of married women in Lancashire had been disallowed benefit, and he said how terrible it was that this should happen when it was well known that Lancashire -held out many opportunities of industrial employment for married women. The hon. Member for Gorbals said it was scandalous that so few married women should have been disallowed in Burnley as compared with what was happening in Glasgow. The only conclusion that I draw is that the courts of referees in Glasgow and in Lancashire have been fulfilling their duties extraordinarily satisfactorily and that they have actually been taking account of the difference in industrial circumstances in those two areas.

But, lest it should be thought that Glasgow or the Lancashire area have any particular grievance one against the other, I will give figures from larger areas up to 9th November, the latest available date. I find that, taking the North Western area, which includes Lancashire, there were 11,799 cases considered, of which 10,239 were disallowed, a very different proportion from that which was indicated in the figures given earlier in the week, and it shows that, taking a large area into account, there is no substantial difference between disallowances in that area and disallowances for Scotland as a whole, because the figures for Scotland as a whole are 12,331 considered, and, 10,697 disallowed. In other words, the proportion of Scotland comes out rather better than the North Western area. I think that is sufficient proof that on the whole the Act is being adminis- tered very fairly. The hon. Member for Don Valley, quite inadvertently I am sure, slightly misquoted the comment of the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee in, their report to the Minister on the draft Regulations which he submitted did not recommend a different wording instead of "industrial circumstances". They said that in view of the very close balance of argument between the expression "industrial circumstances of the district" and "industrial practise" they could come to no conclusion, and they thought it right to leave the matter without a definite recommendation to the decision of the Minister. The Minister in his discretion thought it was best to incorporate the words of the Royal Commission, which were "industrial circumstances of the district".

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

I do not know personally, because I was not in the Department in those days, but I assume that the competent legal authorities of the Department were consulted.

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

I presume the hon. Gentleman means that the Law Officers were not consulted.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

Frankly, I do not know whether they were or not, but, anyway, the competent legal authorities who advise the Department undoubtedly were. But that has really nothing to do with the case at all. The whole case is that we were left as a Department by the Advisory Committee to use our best judgment. Our best judgment was to adopt the words of the Royal Commission, and the Advisory Committee pointed out that these were experiments and that it would be necessary to keep a very close eye on what was happening in order to secure as much uniformity as possible. On this point of uniformity, let me again emphasise what the hon. Member for Gorbals said. He said that uniformity in this matter was deliberately put on one side and rejected by the late Labour Government. They deliberately said that the people to decide these cases were the local courts of referees, who knew the local circumstances of the district and were in a position to say whether or not it was fair to consider that a particular woman was or was not at work. The Minister has no power at all to review their decisions. A certain amount of uniformity is obtainable in practice owing to the provision for appeals to the umpire. Several of these appeals have been made, and I understand that the umpire's decision on various appeals is expected in the course of the next few days. It is his decision on which, after all, the exact interpretation of the meaning of "industrial circumstances" depends. The Umpire is the person who has to decide what those words mean. As soon as he has given a decision the officers concerned in the various Exchanges will review the cases which have already been considered and decided. In any cases where they think a decision of the court of referees was based on a misapprehension in the light of the subsequent decisions of the Umpire it is intended to reopen them, which, I think, is all that in fairness can be demanded.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Where it is found that the routine operating in one Exchange is different from that operating in another Exchange, will steps be taken to see that there is similarity of routine in examining the cases?

Photo of Miss Eleanor Rathbone Miss Eleanor Rathbone , Combined English Universities

When the court makes a decision does it put on record the reason for disallowance? Does it put on record whether cases are disallowed under the normal-seeking-employment Clause, or whether the application is disallowed on the question of industrial experience or on the question of the industrial circumstances of the district.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

As far as I know—I am almost sure that I am right—the court gives the reasons for its decision, and in any case my hon. Friend knows that an applicant before the court has the right of being represented by an official of her trade anion, and therefore has every opportunity of making sure that the court of referees fully apprehend the circumstances of the particular case.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

We intend to keep the whole matter under very close review, and we shall submit, in due course, a report to the House on the operation and working of the particular Regulation. I wish to clear up a point which seems to be worrying the hon. Lady. She appeared to think that we had brought in these Regulations under the Anomalies Act to serve some special bias against married women. That, of course, is contrary to the facts. What we did and what the Anomalies Act did was to restore the position as it existed before the 1930 Act. The 1930 Labour Act gave a definite bias in favour of married women. That was fully explained in the speech which Miss Bondfield made on the Second Reading, and all that we have done is to remove that bias in favour of the married women and to put them back on to the same basis as the rest of the insured part of the community. As regards the point made by the hon. Member for Gorbals about women who have been separated from their husbands, I will certainly have the matter looked into and let him know the position. The hon. Member for Don Valley raised a point about men receiving compensation. He was here last night during the Debate when I said that these cases were matters of very great difficulty and undoubtedly would have to be considered when the Royal Commission made a report.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

The hon. Member must have misunderstood the point. I merely illustrated the possible effect of the Regulation by quoting the case of the partially incapacitated workman for compensation purposes in relation to the state of the industrial market. I suggest that unless this Regulation is improved or is withdrawn thousands of women may meet the same fate and lose their benefits because of the state of the industrial market.

1.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

The answer to that, if I understand the point correctly, is: that brings up very closely— and I am glad the hon. Member raised it—a point in which we have gone, in the Regulations, considerably beyond the recommendations of the Royal Commission in the matter of the married women. The Royal Commission recommended that those tests should be applied to all married women. We have merely said that the additional conditions with which a married woman has to comply if she wants benefit shall only be applied in the case of women who have not 15 stamps within six months after marriage or have not got eight stamps in the previous benefit quarter. We have said that these additional tests shall not cover the case of a woman whose husband is incapacitated or whose husband, not being at work, is not in receipt of benefit. Therefore, I think that we have met in advance the point raised by my hon. Friend. In any case, I would point out that we have gone in these Regulations much further than the Royal Commission recommended.

Photo of Miss Eleanor Rathbone Miss Eleanor Rathbone , Combined English Universities

The hon. Member seems to have misunderstood our objection. Does he deny that the Regulations permit a married woman to be disqualified although she is normally seeking work and her occupation is one in which married women are normally employed, and that simply because of the industrial circumstances of the district the Regulations are making something apply to married women which does not apply to anyone else.

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

May I put the point which my hon. Friend was putting. He was giving the illustration that prior to the last Session the House of Commons unanimously passed a Bill—

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

Oh, no. The hon. Member is not quite following what I am saying. I am dealing for a moment with the illustration of workmen's compensation.

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

Last Session the House passed a Workmen's Compensation Act because of a prior determination which had been given that the industrial circumstances should be taken into account in deciding Whether a partially injured workman should get full compensation or not. The courts had decided that under the pre-existing law you could take into account the industrial circumstances, that is to say, whether the market was open or not. The House unanimously came to the conclusion that that was not right and proper, and they altered it by the Act of last Session. It i4 exactly the same position with regard to married women. The words which the Minister of Labour, having been given the choice by the Advisory Committee of two sets of words, has adopted, are words which he must have known would be interpreted by referees to include the condition of the industrial market, whereas the other words which he was offered would have excluded that from the consideration of the referees. We say that, with that example of the workmen's compensation and the action of this House in the last Session, he ought to have chosen the words which definitely excluded the state of the industrial market. I refer to the words put forward in paragraph 20 of the Report, where the two sets of words are given by the Advisory Committee and the distinction between them pointed out.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

We are fortified by the words used by the Royal Commission. Although I have never taken up the line that any report of a Royal Commission or of a Departmental Committee is absolutely sacrosanct and must be followed in all circumstances, we are entitled to get what support we can from the fact that those words were regarded by the Royal Commission as substantially meeting the difficult cases upon which they were reporting. It is obviously one of the points which we shall bear in mind and which we shall no doubt bring out in the report to be laid before Parliament.

May I deal very briefly with the point in regard to seasonal workers? In the old days of the Unemployment Insurance Act, when it was first brought in and was based on a real actuarial basis, the test laid down was not only of a certain maximum number of days on which a person could draw benefit in the year but it was also limited to one week's benefit for every five contributions.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

It varied. Once you got away from that limiting clause of saying that a man was only to draw benefit in proportion to his contributions, you destroyed the whole insurance basis, and it is not open for hon. Members to argue, or to base an argument now on the idea, that this is an insurance fund. We are hoping to put it back on to an insurance basis when we have got the advantage of the Commission's report. Meanwhile, I am not prepared to admit that the country must be put in the posi- tion of saying: "We are willing year after year to take 10, 11 or 12 weeks' contributions from a man and to pay him 40 weeks' unemployment benefit year after year." That is what was involved before the Anomalies Act was brought in to remedy that state of things. Under the Anomalies Act a man will still be insured against the ordinary risk that he has to meet. He will be insured against becoming unemployed during the season when he would normally have work. To that extent he will be paying the insurance contributions against a contingency which may well arise. Therefore, he is still insured, and we are justified in insisting on his paying insurance stamps.

I would point out that it is open to the man, providing he can show that he is employed for less than 18 weeks normally in the year, to take advantage of the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1927 which came into force in 1928. I would remind the House of the evidence in this connection that was given before the Royal Commission on which the Anomalies Act was based. The Commission were told that no fewer than 2,500 certificates of exemption were issued and were current until the corning into force of the Labour Act of 1930. The result was that large numbers of people who had claimed exemption, as soon as they realised, and they were perfectly justified in thinking it, that under the new law they could claim benefit for the rest of the year, although they had no chance of getting work, immediately applied for the exemption certificates to be cancelled. It was that sort of thing that justified Miss Bondfield in bringing in this Act. We are not prepared to revert to that situation, but anyone who wishes to claim exemption in the circumstances of that particular Section is perfectly entitled to do so, and I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend will issue the necessary exemptions. Of course, the exemption certificate does not exempt the employer from paying contributions. I hope the House will reject the Prayer.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

Did I understand the hon. Member to say that it is the intention of the Minister to revise Section 2 of the Regulation, referring to married women?

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

No. I said that we were keeping it under particular review and that we intended to present a report to Parliament. It may be necessary to review it, but I cannot say that in advance. We are keeping the matter under continual review, and eventually, as suggested by the Advisory Committee, we shall present a report.

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

When are we likely to have the report? It is rather important in view of the results of this experiment.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

Seeing that the first umpire's decision under the Act has not been given it would be unreasonable to expect that the report should be brought out in the near future. Therefore, I cannot give any promise. The report will be brought out as soon as we find it is desirable.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

I do not want to delay the House, because I understand that it is anxious to come to a decision. I am satisfied, however, that it will come to a wrong decision. I claim that the Minister has not come anywhere near to answering the case that was put up by my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). He was prepared to wander over the very wide range of innocuous territory that was opened up by subsequent speakers rather than deal with what I regard as a very serious charge against his Ministry in the operation of the Regulations. The hon. Member who spoke from the Labour Front Bench said that these Regulations did not represent the spirit and intention of the Labour Government when they introduced the Bill. A man has not to be long a Member of this House before learning that we do not get any credit for our spirit and intentions. It is only what is down in the Act that matters. In the case of the social services we can always say that, while our spirit and intention may be of the very highest, the interpretation that is given by some of the permanent officials is always the meanest. If there are two possible alternatives of a given phrase, some of oar permanent officials always choose the worst for the applicant.

I am not now complaining about the Act, because that would be out of place at this stage, but I do resent the suggestion of the Minister that we want the harsh treatment that is being meted out to the people of Glasgow to be meted out to Burnley. We do not want to get money for the working-class without their working for it; we do not want to take benefit away from women in Burnley who are now getting it, but we do want to see a decent standard of administration in the operation of the regulations throughout the country. We do not want anyone in Burnley to be deprived of benefit, but we do want to know what are the different circumstances between Burnley and Glasgow, which take benefit away from 26 in Burnley and from 4,000 in Glasgow.

I thank the hon. and learned Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight) for explaining to us again what insurance means. We have been having that explained for something like nine years by hon. Members, by hon. and learned Members, and by right hon. and learned Members, and it seems to make confusion worse confounded when the hon. and learned Member becomes the high pinnacle in that direction. To talk about insurance in connection with this Unemployment Insurance Fund is, as the Minister said, bunkum. Where is there an insurance system where the company that is running the insurance is also the heaviest premium payer, the maker of the Regulations and the judge in the courts? What happens under this unemployment insurance is that the company says: "We are not going to play the game by the people who have insured with us. We are going to run away from our responsibility." That is not insurance. That is defalcation. That is dishonesty.

Photo of Mr George Knight Mr George Knight , Nottingham South

You do not say that in the country.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Yes, I do say it in the country. That is the one thing that distinguishes me from my hon. Friends; I have not two speeches, but only the one. I say in the country, quite definitely, that this Anomalies Act, and the Regulations arising out of it, were the result of a mean-spirited agitation that went on the whole time the Labour Government were in office. It was a mean-spirited agitation, and that Government were soft enough to surrender to it. There was no other intention than to defraud a whole number of the working-class out of the possibility of a living in this country The Noble Lord the Member for Hasting (Lord E. Percy) said that he only regards this as a scheme to tide over until we can get a proper unemployment insurance scheme. My hon. Friends on this bench look upon the present, unemployment insurance system as merely a makeshift to tide over until we have a social scheme wherein there is no unemployment. To accuse us of wanting to get money without work, as some hon. Member did, or, as another accused us, of money grabbing—I think it was the hon. Member for Cathcart (Mr. Train)—well, if we are out for money-grabbing it has not been for ourselves. If we are trying to grab money, it is for people who do not possess more than enough already.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

And that cannot be said for him.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

I am not making that suggestion. Presumably, having made his speech, he is now on the way to Scotland, where all of us wish we were going. Our desire is to have a social organisation in which everybody works, and in which everybody is paid. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite are co enthusiastic about such a system of society as we are. We do not want unemployment; we want everybody taking a share of work. We have not such a social system, and it is therefore a responsibility upon the State to see that the poor devils who are unemployed are not wiped off under these Anomalies Regulations. We will defend them as best we can.

While it is not within the scope of the Debate to-day, to discuss the whole social system, or as to whether the Anomalies Act was right or wrong, it is within our scope to insist that this evil Act in an evil system shall be operated with the minimum of injustice throughout the length and breadth of the country. We make the allegation that that is not being done, and that the Act is being regarded by the Ministry of Labour, not as a method of adjusting anomalies between one unemployed person and another, hut as a means of throwing the maximum amount of saving into the national coffers. It is an economy device, and it is part of the general policy of the present Government which aims at restoring prosperity by a widespread scattering of poverty. It is the policy of the National Government to get everybody down on to their barest rockbottom of existence, so that they can say that there is prosperity throughout the land. It is madness. To interpret this Measure in that way, is certainly not to interpret it as some people intended, and is not what the House of Commons meant when it passed the Act. We insist that, its administration, and the framing of Regulations for the administration, shall be such that they make for completely decent treatment—so far as we can talk about decency in this connection—and for equality of treatment between the people affected, seasonal workers, married women, and intermittent workers, wherever they may be found.

In Burnley, in the case of the textile workers, it has been much more the practice that married women shall go out to work than it is in colliery and mining districts. It is easy to deal with well-marked communities like that, or with such as colliery districts, where it has not been the practice for married women to go out, but what about mixed divisions, like my own or like that of my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern)? We have our textile communities, quite definitely marked off inside the wider community, with practices and habits and customs very much of the same kind as in Lancashire. Under these Regulations, because they are in mixed divisions, the unemployed people are to be put up for review by the employment exchange and rejected to the extent of 90 per cent. although they are cotton operatives. In Lancashire, when cotton operatives' cases are hauled up for review, they are also rejected, but in a very much less proportion and in not such a high percentage as in the case of our divisions. But in Lancashire, they are not even called up for review. From the figures given by the Parliamentary Secretary, in the absence of the Minister who has not been able to be present to-day, we see that in the Lancashire community of Burnley there were 6,900 married women signing on at the Employment Exchanges. All of those might have been called up to have their cases reviewed, but only 42 were called up. The position had been decided in their favour and in their absence, without a review of their cases. But no textile workers were called up to the extent of nearly 100 per cent., notwithstanding the fact that textile conditions in Glasgow are similar to textile conditions in Lancashire. The Minister has not explained that, and nobody has explained it for him.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

I cannot allow the lion. Member's statement to go out in regard to the textile workers in Glasgow. I have not yet got a complete explanation, but it seems likely that the discrepancy of figures between Glasgow and Burnley is due to a difference in the percentages. The responsibility rests upon the court of referees, and not upon the Government.

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

When the Parliamentary Secretary says that the courts of referees decide this matter, I would like to ask him if they have not to decide in accordance with the Regulations.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

In each case they act on the same Regulation.

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

The Regulation simply says that the Minister has practically instructed them in that case, and therefore they have no alternative.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

I am not blaming the courts of referees. I am merely saying that they are taking the circumstances into account, as they were instructed to do. The view of local circumstances may differ between the court of referees in Burnley and the court of referees in Glasgow. I do not know. I am having an inquiry made to try to find out.

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

Let us get this point clear. The position of the courts of referees under this Regulation, in reviewing cases, is altogether different from what it is under the Act of 1930.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Every time someone tries to elucidate something I get into a greater fog. How do they review the cases that have not been called up? When the Minister issues instructions under the Act to the courts of referees presumably he sends similar instructions to all the courts? Who is it in Burnley

or in Glasgow that decides that cases are to be reviewed? Has that person more power than the Minister and the Government of the day?

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

The person who decides whether a case is to come up in the first instance before the court of referees is the local insurance officer. He would do it in Glasgow just as in Burnley.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

So he is the dictator of the proletariat as it were, and neither the Parliamentary Secretary nor the Minister nor the Government has power to interfere. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. And are we simply helpless? I take it that the Minister, from his reluctance to reply, has not the faintest idea of the situation.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

The hon. Member must not assume that.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

The Parliamentary Secretary is very ready with an answer every time he has an answer ready. Presumably he has not got one now. But I will not pursue the matter any further. I leave it just where it is, and I think we are fully justified in voting that these Regulations be rejected until this House has some satisfactory explanation from the persons responsible to it, that the people throughout the country are to have a fair deal even under this most unfair Act.

Question put, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying that the Regulations made by the Minister of Labour under the Unemployment Insurance (No. 3) Act, 1931, dated the 2nd day of October, 1931, be annulled.

The House divided: Ayes, 34; Noes, 230.

Division No. 22.]AYES.[2.0 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)Groves, Thomas E.Maxton, James
Attlee, Clement RichardGrundy, Thomas W.Milner, Major James
Batey, JosephHall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)Parkinson, John Allen
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Price, Gabriel
Cocks, Frederick SeymourHirst, George HenryRathbone, Eleanor
Cripps, Sir StaffordJones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Thorne, William James
Daggar, GeorgeLansbury, Rt. Hon. GeorgeTinker, John Joseph
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)Lawson, John JamesWilliams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Leonard, WilliamWilliams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Duncan, Charles (Derby, Claycross)Logan, David GilbertWilliams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Edwards, CharlesMacdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)McGovern, JohnTELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Mr. Kirk wood and Mr. Buchanan.
NOES.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.Allen, Maj. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd, W)Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Gluckstein, Louis HallePercy, Lord Eustace
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)Goodman, Colonel Albert W.Petherick, M.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M.Grattan-Doyle, Sir NicholasPickering, Ernest H.
Barrie, Sir Charles CouparGrimston, R. V.Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada
Beaumont, M. w. (Bucks., Aylesbury)Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.Pike, Cecil F.
Beaumont, R. E. B.(Portsm'th, Centr'l)Guy, J. C. MorrisonPowell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Belt, Sir Alfred L.Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Power, Sir John Cecil
Benn, Sir Arthur ShirleyHanley, Dennis A.Procter, Major Henry Adam
Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest NathanielHarris, Percy A.Pybus, Percy John
Bernays, RobertHartland, George A.Raikes, Hector Victor Alpin
Birchall, Major Sir John DearmanHeilgers, Captain F. F. A.Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Blaker, Sir ReginaldHerbert, George (Rotherham)Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Bossom, A. C.Hillman, Dr. George B.Ramsbotham, Herswald
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.Hornby, FrankRea, Walter Russell
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)Howard, Tom ForrestReed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Brass, Captain Sir WilliamHowitt, Dr. Alfred B.Reid, David D. (County Down)
Briant, FrankHudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Broadbent, Colonel JohnHudson, Robert Spear (Southport)Remer, John R.
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Hume, Sir George HopwoodRentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)Renwick, Major Gustav A.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. (Montr'se)Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Burghley, LordInskip, Sir Thomas W. H.Ropner, Colonel L.
Burgin, Dr. Edward LeslieJoel, Dudley J. BarnatoRoss Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Butler, Richard AustenJohnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)Runge, Norah Cecil
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)Ker, J. CampbellRussell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)Kerr, Hamilton W.Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Caporn, Arthur CecilKimball, LawrenceRutherford, Sir John Hugo
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Kirkpatrick, William M.Salmon, Major Isidore
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.Salt, Edward W.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)Knebworth, ViscountSamuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Chalmers, John RutherfordKnight, HolfordSandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W)Leech, Dr. J. W.Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgbaston)Leighton, Major B. E. P.Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Selley, Harry R.
Clarry, Reginald GeorgeLevy, ThomasShakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Clayton, Dr. George C.Liddall, Walter S.Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Cobb, Sir CyrilLindsay, Noel KerShaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Colville, Major David JohnLlewellin, Major John J.Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Cooke, James D.Lloyd, GeoffreySinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)
Craddock, Sir Reginald HenryLymington, ViscountSkelton, Archibald Noel
Craven-Ellis, WilliamMacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.McCorquodale, M. S.Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)
Crooke, J. SmedleyMcKeag, WilliamSmith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)McKie, John HamiltonSmithers, Waldron
Cross, R. H.Maclay, Hon. Joseph PatonSomerset, Thomas
Crossley, A. C.McLean, Major AlanSomervell, Donald Bradley
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel BernardMcLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Curry, A. C.Macmillan, Maurice HaroldSpencer, Captain Richard A.
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.Magnay, ThomasStanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Maitland, AdamStanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland)
Dawson, Sir PhilipMakins, Brigadier-General ErnestSteel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Denman, Hon. R. D.Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.Strickland, Captain W. F.
Dickie, John P.Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Donner, P. W.Marjoribanks, EdwardSugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Doran, EdwardMarsden, Commander ArthurSutcliffe, Harold
Duggan, Hubert JohnMartin, Thomas B.Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel JohnTodd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Ednam, ViscountMills, Sir FrederickTodd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Elliston, Captain George SampsonMitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Emmott, Charles E. G. C.Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)Moreing, Adrian C.Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)Whyte, Jardine Bell
Everard, w. LindsayMuirhead, Major A. J.Wills, Wilfrid D.
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Nail-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Ferguson, Sir JohnNathan, Major H. L.Wise, Alfred R.
Fermoy, LordNicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)Withers, Sir John James
Foot, Dingle (Dundee)North, Captain Edward T.Womersley, Walter James
Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)Nunn, WilliamWood, Major M. McKenzie (Banff)
Fraser, Captain IanO'Connor, Terence JamesWorthington, Dr. John V.
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.O'Donovan, Dr. William JamesYoung, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Fuller, Captain A. E. G.Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Galbraith, James Francis WallacePalmer, Francis Noel
Ganzonl, Sir JohnPatrick, Colin M.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnPearson, William G.Commander Southby and Mr. Blindell.
Gledhill, GilbertPeat, Charles U.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

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

Adjourned at Nine Minutes after Two o'clock, until Monday next, 30th November.