I beg to move, in page 1, line 7, after "widows," to insert "and to the children."
I propose to try to explain the purpose of this Amendment in as few words as possible, in order that the subsequent Amendments may have adequate discussion and that we may terminate the proceedings in a short time. If hon. Members will refer to the similar Amendment to the First Schedule, they will see that it explains this Amendment.
Our proposed Amendment to the Schedule is, in page 5, line 23, at the end, to insert:
Provided that the trustees may, in any case where there is no widow to whom a grant would have been payable under this Schedule, make instead a grant for the benefit of any children of the deceased member.
If a Member of this House has at the present time no income but his £600 a year, he may, with great difficulty, be saving perhaps £20 a year to make provision for his dependants. Under the Bill he will have to pay £12 a year into the Members Fund and it is reasonable to suppose that he will be likely in the future to be able to save only £8 a year instead of £20. If that Member happens to die and leaves no widow but possibly an infant daughter for whom he would wish to make provision, he will, as a result of this Bill, be able to save only £8 a year instead of £20, and, as far as I can see, his daughter would get no benefit whatever from the fund to which he has had to contribute. It cannot be the intention of the House that a Member who has no other resources outside his £600 a year should have to contribute towards a Members' Fund which in certain circumstances would be of no benefit whatever to his dependants when he dies. That is the case at present, and it is the reason for the Amendment. I did not vote for the Second Reading of the Bill, and I did not regard it as a particularly well discussed Bill. I regard it as a purely domestic matter for Members of the House, and if they desire to adopt it I should wish to make some small contribution towards making it a better Measure.
It seems to me that there is a good deal of force in my hon. Friend's suggestion, and, from such inquiries as I have been able to make in different parts of the House, I think it represents a feeling that is widely shared. While it would be a mistake to attempt to include in this scheme, which is a modest scheme as regards the amount involved, large classes of persons, I have in mind the case which I think is in my hon. Friend's mind, of orphan children. You might have the case of a Member's widow who has small children as well as herself to look after, and, while the Bill as it stands would make it possible for the trustees to make a limited grant to the widow, yet if she died and the infant children became orphans, they would at once cease to have any possibility of support from the fund. Or the mother of the children might die before the Member who was her husband, and he might be left with young children. If we are trying to devise a plan for the granting of a sum where the Member leaves a widow, it would, I think, be entirely consonant with our general feeling to try to include the case where, although he does not leave a widow, he leaves small children.
Therefore, without discussing the details—there are certain drafting points to be considered—if I might offer to the House advice on this matter, in which we are all co-operating and in which there is no question of pressure on anyone, I think it would be right that we should insert, after the word "widows" in line 7, the words "or orphan children." I should not contemplate a grant both to the widow and to the children at the same time; that would be too heavy a drain on the funds with which at any rate the scheme would be started; but I think it would be right to insert these words, so that the orphan children would occupy the same position as the mother would if she were alive. No doubt other Members may desire to indicate whether they take that view, but if it is shared in different quarters of the House, and if my hon. Friend is prepared to move the words in this form, I would advise that they should be inserted, leaving it to the Report stage for the draughtsman to provide us with whatever are the necessary adjustments in the Schedule.
I am glad that this Amendment has been brought forward. Obviously, whether one likes the Bill or not, now that we have it one wants to make it the best Bill one can. I hope that we shall be able to make it possible that the children will not lose because it happens that their mother is not alive when a Member of this House dies.
I do not want to oppose any reasonable Amendment, but the Committee ought to realise exactly what it is doing. The amount of money to be raised by the Fund is £7,000 and it permits 18 awards, on the average, to ex-Members and their widows. I am doubtful whether widows should be provided for in this way at all. The amount at the disposal of the Fund is limited. It envisages18 Members who can receive these pensions, but by the inclusion of the widows, and, still more, of the children, it may happen that the number of widows who may be indigent will be above the number of 18. The widows may receive these pensions to the exclusion actually of the ex-Members of Parliament.
My hon. Friend ought to cross-examine Members of the Committee who were responsible for putting the suggestion forward. There are 18 pensions available, but it is a little difficult to find out how that number is arrived at. The pensions ought to be paid to ex-Members of the House first.
I support the Amendment to include orphan children. I think it is the wish of the House to make provision for these children in the event of their being left without the mothers' support. There is considerable force in the argument, but the difficulty is that the Fund is limited in amount. It may well be that the pensions given to ex-Members will have to go on to their widows and then to their orphaned children. In that way the scope of the Fund will be extended to such an extent that we shall be unable to pay pensions to those whom we desire in the first instance to help, those Members who fall on evil times. This is a point that the Committee might well keep in mind.
I agree that orphaned children ought to be entitled to receive a pension in certain circumstances, but I cannot follow that this assistance should be limited to orphans. A widow who has a child dependent upon her is in a much worse position than a childless widow, and while I welcome the suggestion to pension orphan children, I should like all children of deceased Members to been titled to consideration. As was pointed out by my hon. Friend, it is necessary to have an age limit beyond which children could not expect to be pensioned. It seems to me that the limit must vary according to the sort of education the child is undertaking, and the kind of employment for which the child is destined. Some children would start to earn their living much earlier than others. This must be carefully considered on the Report Stage. I rose really to ask whether it would not be better, wiser and more humane to make it possible for all children of deceased Members to have a chance of consideration by the trustees.
In view of the statement of my hon. Friend the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick) that 18 beneficiaries appear to be contemplated as a maximum, would one of the promoters of the Bill explain how that figure was arrived at. If the maximum amount that can be paid in any case is £150 there must be sufficient money available for at least 50 beneficiaries, and as, in many cases, the amount would be less than £150 it should be possible to have more than 50.
There is not enough to provide both for retired Members and for children of Members who have died. Later on the Order Paper I have an Amendment which would very considerably augment the Fund, and, therefore, I cannot help feeling that there is an argument in favour of the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery).
Mr. Gurney Braithwaite:
I think that the Debate on the Amendment has already gone far enough to show that it is a matter which requires very careful consideration between now and the Report Stage. I would like to ask my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because of his great legal knowledge, whether it is possible to accept the suggestion which has been made by my hon. Friend below the Gangway that payments should be made to children, with an age limit? Where it is possible for such moneys to be paid to minors, arrangements will have to be made by which money is paid to guardians of these children, and if hon. Members are not very careful these pensions will go into the pockets of solicitors. I suggest to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and I hope he will not feel that this is by any means a flippant suggestion—that machinery may be found for the Fund to be administered by public trustee, if pensions are to be paid to children who are minors. But I must say, as a loyal supporter of the Government, that I believe that this Measure has been ill-considered.
I should like, if the Committee will allow me, to move the Amendment in the manner suggested by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I very much hope that the Committee will not insist upon putting on any restriction as regards age limit or anything of the kind. The whole matter is in the discretion of the trustees, and I feel that it would be far better to leave it at that.
It will certainly be necessary on the Report stage to include in the Schedule one or two more detailed provisions to indicate one way or the other whether there is any limit of age, whether it is 16 or whatever it may be. There are one or two other things which must be adjusted, and it is, I think, desirable that we should, if that is the view of the Committee, put them into the Bill now, and I will explain why. If we do not make any Amendment of the Bill at all there will not be any Report stage, and if we make an Amendment by inserting "or to the orphan children," that will not finally commit us or the House but will make the basis upon which we can consider the matter.
Are there likely to be many Amendments to this Bill? Why should we now put into the Bill words which are not satisfactory in themselves? Why should not we leave this matter, as is the invariable practice of the Government in any ordinary Bill, until the Report stage? The Amendment should be withdrawn, and inserted in proper words and passed by the House on the Report stage.
I think there has been some misunderstanding. The words originally proposed were right for the purpose of enabling grants to be made to persons, and the widows of persons, who have been members of the House of Commons. I should have thought "and to children" would be the right words in Sub-section (1) and the words proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer would come in Sub-section (2), where the actual payment is to be made.
This proposal largely extends the scope and intention of the scheme. There may be one, two, three, four or five children from the age of one to 16, and that means extending the period to an enormous extent.
I beg to move, in page 1, line 18, to leave out from "to" to "the" in page 2, line 1.
It may be for the convenience of the Committee to serve to shorten the proceedings if we consider the Amendment together with that which stands in my name to the First Schedule. These Amendments cover the taking out from that Schedule of paragraphs 1, 2 and 5. You will see, Sir Dennis, that the words which are sought to be omitted from Subsection (2) of the Clause are subject to those at the beginning of the Sub-section, and which are:
Subject to the provisions of the first Schedule to this Act.
Further, I would ask that we should be entitled to discuss the matter of the omission of the words of Sub-section (2) along with the proposed omission of the paragraphs of the First Schedule.
The terms of the words which are sought to be omitted are all subject to the provisions of the First Schedule. I submit that they are very necessary for the understanding of the words that are sought to be omitted.
I am obliged, Sir Dennis, because that is what I want to do in order to make the meaning of the Amendment clear. I should like to tell the Committee the object of the Amendment; it is to widen the powers given to the Trustees and not to make a hard-and-fast rule which would not enable them to do justice to a case of hardship. The Fund is not static. There are powers for the Fund to be increased by private gift, or otherwise, and the Fund may well be, ere long, in the position that would make it unfair to limit the benefits of it, as is done by the Clause, and as is explained in the First Schedule. The Clause imposes a serious means test of a particular sort, because it is absolute. There is no relief from it. The right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) said that the Bill was being advanced to relieve hardship, but if you want to do that you have to look not only at a man's assets but at his liabilities.
If you cannot look at the liabilities you cannot do justice to the Member. I am bound to say that on the Second Reading of the Bill I waited with interest to have this point brought forward by hon. Members opposite, because I understood that they had distinct views against the imposition of any test such as this. I think a means test is sometimes necessary, but where it is, as in the case of the unemployment assistance schemes, something ought to be done to find out what the liabilities are, to ease the test. The test in the present case will operate with the greatest hardship. In a particular case where the Fund is able to pay and the Trustees are anxious to give, you may find that the terms of the Bill will prevent them. [Interruption.]
If hon. Members opposite will permit me, I will give a case of serious hardship; this is not an example based on conjecture or guess, but an example of a Member of this House who not only gave me permission to mention the facts but actually asked me to do so. The facts of the hardship in this case are: The hon. Member made a settlement on his wife, from whom he was separated some years ago. He subsequently lost, as any hon. Member may do, the rest of his means. If he ceases to be a Member of the House, and applies to the Trustees of the Fund, he will have to say how much his income is, and he will have to give, as part of his income, the amount which he is liable to pay his wife every year. That amount will be so much that it means that he will get no payment out of this Fund at all. It is all wrong that the Trustees should not have discretion to say, in a case like that: "We have the Fund, and we are going to use it to help this Member."
Hon. Members opposite also think of the cases where a widow is left with children and where the maximum sum of £75 is obviously quite inadequate to meet her requirements. I think that the trustees will require to exercise their discretion by making certain rules, but as they operate the fund, so their experience will grow, and it will be found that they can be trusted to work the fund for the proper benefit of the Members of the House. I want to test the question on the supposition that the matter is left to the trustees. What will they have to do? They will have to decide how much can be paid out of the fund, because, as the Committee will remember, they will have to have regard to the resources and commitments of the fund. They will then have to decide what are the hard cases, and, if they have complete discretion, when they have found out the number of applicants at any given time, they will then have to make the rules meet the cases, so that the fund can be made as useful as possible. On the Second Reading of the Bill there was a free vote, and I am bound to say that I had expected that more than one hon. Member would raise this point. I respect the hon. Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. B. Smith) for having had the courage to raise the point. The hon. Member said, in the clearest possible terms, what he thought about the question. I do not think I can do better than repeat his words. He said that the Bill
establishes for ever the miserable and hateful means test.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th July, T939; col, 2566; Vol. 349]
I hope that hon. Members opposite, when they come to vote on this Amendment, will remember that the Bill could be worked so as to enable the trustees, with much wider discretion, to do much more good. I ask the Committee to consider the Amendment, not as a frivolous Amendment—for I assure hon. Members that it is not so intended—but as an Amendment to make the Bill more effective in the amount of good it can do.
I wish to say only a few words in support of this Amendment, the effect of which is to abolish the means test and trust the trustees. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in introducing the Bill, in winding up the Debate on that occasion, and also when speaking on the Private Member's Motion last February, pointed to the suggestion that this Bill would be in accord with the dignity of the House. It is following that suggestion that I think we might regard the idea of trusting our fellow Members who are going to be trustees as being in accord with the dignity of the House. From a broader point of view, I should like to say something with regard to this Amendment and also with regard to other Amendments, to which I shall not refer specifically, standing in the names of my hon. Friends and myself. The same inspiration underlies all of them, and we want, if possible, to make it accord with the sense of justice of Members and also with their just pride.
I rise to oppose the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend. Hard cases make bad law. My views about this Bill are well known. I cannot believe that it can be right, whatever one's views about the means test may be, to take the means test out in a case which deals with Members of this House individually and at the same time retain it when public assistance is given, in those cases where, in my opinion quite rightly, some test of means has to be taken before public money is paid out. It must be the duty of trustees, whether they administer public funds or a fund such as this, which is a domestic affair of the House of Commons, to ascertain before payments are made whether the circumstances of the beneficiary do or do not entitle him to assistance. This is neither the time nor the place to argue whether a means test is good or bad. We might try to keep acrimony on that subject out of the Debate, but I believe that the sense of hon. Members opposite would be that in this particular case at any rate it is essential that there should be some inquiry into the means of the recipient or the applicant for the benefit. My hon. Friend, with whom I disagree, made a case for an individual example where hardship would result. I suggest that that case could be met by altering the Schedule to the Bill to give discretionary powers to the trustees to take into consideration, when investigating the case of an applicant, all the circumstances of the case. I think that that is the appropriate way out of it. But to remove the question of a means test from this, is, in my opinion, wrong, and I, personally, shall oppose it because I cannot find it in my conscience to remove the means test from something which has to do with Members of this House and at the same time retain it, as I think it should be retained, in other cases outside, where the public are concerned.
It is a great pain to me to differ from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby), but I feel that the question of conscience is on the side of those who have moved this Amendment. In certain circumstances a means test must exist, and where you are dealing with public funds, you have to consider certain matters, but the Prime Minister told us on the Second Reading of this Measure that public funds are in no way affected. I naturally bow to the wisdom of the Prime Minister and his colleagues on that point. If public funds are not being affected, then you have a private scheme, a scheme of compulsory benevolence which is nevertheless private, and which, if hon. Members press certain Amendments, which I hope they will, will have large funds. It seems to me unnecessary to be too pernickety in looking into the household resources of men who nave served the State for years and who, in their old age, call upon Parliament to give them some fair return for their labours in the past. If you have the means test insisted upon, it can be said, not only in this country but outside, that an ex-Member of Parlia- ment is worth only £3 a week as a maximum for the rest of his life. I can see that gibe running throughout Europe. Why should it? The Fund will have a reasonable amount of money in it. You have trustees who presumably are reasonable men; there are some reasonable men in this House. I suppose we shall endeavour to find these trustees among those reasonable men, and they will deal with every single case rather according to the funds that they possess in this Fund than in any other way.
No ex-Member of Parliament is going to appeal, in the rather undignified way which this Measure suggests, to unknown trustees to get money for himself or his family, nor, if he is dead, is his widow going to appeal for it unless there is real financial hardship. If, which is very unlikely, there should be a flagrant case of fraud, the reasonable trustees would be able to deal with it, but in the ordinary case why not give the opportunity to the trustees to give the amount which the fund makes possible in any particular year for those who require it? If you do that, you get away from the gibe that any hon. Member is worth only £3 a week. You have not got to deal with public funds, and you also, if this Amendment is passed, give the unusual spectacle of hon. Members opposite and on this side joining together in voting against a means test in cases where a means test is totally unnecessary. I have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment.
Perhaps I may take this opportunity of informing the House how this matter has struck me. I am not sure that everybody appreciates just what this proposal really is. A number of arguments have been used which, I think are really outside the proposal. The Bill provides that trustees, in discharging their duty, should have regard to the financial circumstances of the persons to whom payments are made. The proposal of my hon. Friend is that we should exclude those words. I ask myself, Is it really intended that the trustees should not have regard to the financial circumstances of those persons to whom payments are made? Most of the hon. Gentlemen who have made speeches in support of the Amendment assure us that they think the trustees should do so. I should have thought that was very good sense, and if that is so, what would be the objection to the trustees having regard to the financial circumstances of the persons to whom payments are made? That is all that we are discussing on this Amendment. The hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Hely-Hutchinson) observed that he considered that this was a case where we should trust the trustees. No doubt we should trust them, but let us also not make their task too difficult. It really is necessary to put some regulations in this Bill. You cannot simply say to Members of this House, "You shall be trustees. Here is a lot of money. Now deal with it as you think fit." It is only due to the trustees that we should lay down reasonable lines of guidance, and I hope the Committee will reject the Amendment.
I hope the Committee will reject the Amendment. I regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has just spoken, because he went over the first part of the short speech that I intended to make. But I think that the Chancellor might have gone a little further and told us what this Amendment would do in certain circumstances. It would certainly render every Member of this House eligible for a pension, but it would give the trustees no power to inquire as to whether a Member was in need or otherwise. This is the operative part of the scheme which gives the trustees power to inquire into financial circumstances. If you take these words out, you circumscribe the powers of the trustees to make inquiries. If you do that, you might just as well go the whole hog and come out on the side of colossal pensions, which apparently we should have, according to some of the speeches which have been made.
I think that on this particular occasion my hon. Friends are ill-advised. It seems that the only justification is the fact that there are necessitous cases and that if you take this particular form of words out of the Bill, you take away the whole core of the Bill. I think you could, if these words were removed, allow any trustees to make payments to anyone they liked, and I am sure that is not what the Committee intends. We may think to-day that the trustees who would be appointed would be men of judgment and discretion, but we are also dealing with the future. Therefore when we are dealing with trustees whom we do not know, we should provide for dealing with necessitous cases and not leave words out which might allow them to deal with friends or people with whom they were on friendly relations.
I feel myself surprised and somewhat grieved, yet I feel bound to support the Chancellor of the Exchequer. My hon. Friend the Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Raikes) said that as there were no public funds concerned, therefore it was not necessary to have trustees in strict supervision. Does anyone think there will not be public funds in five or 10 years' time? We all know that hard cases will come up, that the Bill will be extended, and that there will be a large charge on public funds. Of course there will be. I also feel strongly that it is not possible for us to support a means test for the unemployed and refuse a means test on ourselves in a matter of this kind.
I am against the Amendment, but I wonder whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer could say a word about the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby). At the moment no discretion is granted to the trustees at all to meet the case put up by the hon. and gallant Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Erskine Hill). The trustees are tied down by actual financial limits in the Schedule. I wonder whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer could suggest some sort of provision being made to meet hard cases? It should be made, although I am against the Amendment, for reasons which were given by the Chancellor.
I think my hon. Friend will see that that arises on the Schedule. I should have thought that it would be rather difficult to go further in the way of discretion than it does.
Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer explain whether the words taken from Sub-section (2)—" subject to the provisions of the First Schedule "—apply to the whole Clause? It seems that the words which it is sought to omit depend on these first words and that, therefore, one must take into consideration the terms of the First Schedule in considering them.
I must say that I hope the Committee will not pass the Amendment. I have great respect for my hon. Friends, but I think that in the present Amendment they are on rather a bad wicket. I cannot see how it is possibly logical to defend a means test for a public service outside the House and to oppose it in these circumstances. I admit that one can depend too much on logic, as she may be an extremely indifferent wife although frequently an excellent mistress. The hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) said that he hoped that no acrimony would be introduced, and it would not be my intention to endeavour to introduce such an undesirable element. I agreed with him when he said that it is very difficult for the Committee to come to a really satisfactory and carefully considered conclusion when all the advice given has come from one side. We have had many acrimonious debates in the past on the means test, and hon. Members opposite have given us the benefit of their most careful advice on that subject. It is very difficult for some of us to make up our minds on the merits without their help. I know their numbers are rather small, because we were deprived of the presence of some of them owing to a rapid exodus a few minutes ago, but I see some experts on this subject over there. I think it most difficult for Members such as myself who are groping to try and arrive at the truth to do so without having the benefit of some advice to which we feel as a Committee we should have access. Therefore I hope, seriously, that we may have some help from hon. Members opposite, particularly Members on the Opposition Front Bench, who, we know, are real experts on this matter.
Mr. Gurney Braithwaite:
I want to make a suggestion to the Committee which I think would expedite business and dispose of the Amendment. There may be Members, such as myself, in some difficulty. I appeal to the movers of the Amendment to get me out of the difficulty by withdrawing the Amendment and allowing the matter to be rediscussed when we reach the Schedule. I make that suggestion for the reason that at this stage of the Bill I am in this difficulty about voting. Firstly, the Government have just made what appears to be an extremely surprising and generous concession by including the children of ex-Members. I do not know whether the Fund is going to be strengthened by the acceptance of a later Amendment—1 hope it is—but I am in a difficulty as to how to vote on this Amendment. If the hon. Member could see fit to withdraw the Amendment at this stage, so that we may have the matter redebated when we reach the Schedule, I think it would help matters.
There has been one point raised here, namely, the question of the means test. So far as that is concerned, I, personally, and hon. Friends of mine, will be consistent over this. We have continuously been in favour of a means test when it has had to do with the administration of public money for other persons, and surely we must be consistent when it has to do with the payment of money to ourselves, because any one of us here may in time to come be recipients of money from this Fund. For that reason I very much regret that this Amendment has been moved. There is another point in regard to it. If it is carried, the extent of the payments that the trustees may have to make would be very much enlarged. When the Bill was discussed on Second Reading, from all over the House the question was brought forward as to whether this Fund would be sufficient to meet the cases which will arise under this Bill. We have already dealt with two Amendments, and I do hope the Committee will realize the effect of these two Amendments. Under these Amendments we have added "children" to "widows." There is no question of its being "widows or children." The Committee has done this in spite of the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested that the word "children" should be altered to "orphans." If the word "orphans" had been put in the Bill, then the expenditure of money would have been to some extent limited, but, unanimously, the Committee ignored the suggestion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we should have the word "orphans" put in; unanimously, the Committee added the word "children" to the word "widow," and now under this Amendment the direction to the trustees is taken away so that further sums may be required under this Bill. For these reasons I very much hope that this Amendment will be rejected.
I am taking no side in this matter; I wish to speak as an elder statesman. I feel very strongly that the Committee should get further and better guidance, more particularly from the Opposition parties. I also think that some other Member of the Government should give the Committee guidance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made an admirable speech, but he is now a refugee in the Tory party, and a most acceptable refugee from the point of view of the Government. But I think we ought to have the advantage of the opinion of the Chief Whip, who has been seen consorting with the Opposition Whips from time to time. He has, in fact, been the leader of the House for many years, and that he should choose on this occasion to be silent seems a rather curious matter. I feel very strongly about this question of guidance, because I have taken no sides in this matter. I am perfectly prepared to support the side which puts forward the best possible arguments, but really it is absurb that a very large section of the Committee should remain in dumb, mute, and inglorious silence. The hon. gentlemen who sit on the Socialist benches have a perfect right to speak in this matter, and I think they could put forward an extremely good case from their point of view, but surely it would be misrepresented in the country if they remained silent, and they will certainly misrepresent us for our vocal efforts. I feel that it is quite impossible to proceed tonight if we have this great, solid, mute block of hon. Members sitting mute and dumb in the House, willing to benefit from this Amendment and yet afraid even to cheer the proposition that you are putting forward that there should be no adequate means test. So I do very much appeal to the Patronage Secretary, whom we rarely have an opportunity of hearing in this House. I ask him, speaking for the Tory party, to give us a little guidance in this matter. I have followed him through the lobbies, with intermissions, for years, and I look forward to his giving us a little guidance. If he will get up and guide us clearly in this matter, I, for one, will hesitate very long before I fail to give him support.
The right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) favoured us in the Second Reading debate with a very interesting speech on the Bill. He is very interested in it and is exceedingly anxious to speak, but he seems shy tonight. He did get up once, but he did not catch the eye of the Chair. I hope he will have the courage to stand straight up and disregard anything that the Patronage Secretary may say to him.
The reason I did not take part in the debate was that I am anxious not in any way to extend the time of the debate more than is essential. If my view is asked for on this particular Amendment, I will say that I think this is not a perfect Bill, but it is the first Bill of its kind that has been introduced, and I think it is essential that it should be a practical success when it is administered. I think this Amendment would make it more difficult for the trustees to make it a practical success, and for that reason I cannot support it.
We have had an expression of view from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has had considerable experience in this House, and the right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), representing the Opposition front Bench, has also given expression to his opinion, but I do feel that this Committee is entitled to some guidance from the back benches. Speaking as a younger Member of the House, I hope that men of my age will all let us have their help in this very difficult matter.
Is it not about time to stop this fooling? This is a serious Bill, and I am amazed at the lack of decorum shown by hon. Members of this House who ought to know better. It may be very good tactics; it may be the rule at Eton or Harrow for the rich, orthodox— (Hon. Members: "Order").— I am quite in order. It might be good tactics.
But I suggest we are making complete fools of ourselves by that lack of—I was going to say good manners—but I will say, lack of deportment on a serious matter. We know of hon. Members of this House in the past who almost in a moment, perhaps through some deadly microbe in the blood, have lost their health and died. leaving widows and children.
The remark which I intended to make was that if this Amendment means anything at all it means the discussion of the vexed question of the means test. During the ten years I have been a Member of this House I know that we have spent hours and hours on this very topic of the means test. We have spent a whole night's sitting on it, and the most active part has been taken in it by hon. Members opposite especially the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) who is exceed- ingly quiet to-night. Surely we are entitled to spend an hour or more to-night on the very same question as regards the distribution of money among ourselves.
It seems to me that my hon. Friend the Member for Denbigh (Sir H. Morris-Jones) has fallen into the same error as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They both appear to think that this Amendment deals with the question of whether or not there shall be a means test. I submit that that is not really the purpose of the Amendment. When my hon. Friend started this discussion by moving the Amendment he made the suggestion that we should consider at the same time as this Amendment two later Amendments to the Schedule. You, Sir Dennis, ruled that that was inappropriate, and, therefore, the discussion has been rigidly confined to the particular Amendment before the Committee at this moment. But it seems to me that whatever might be the case with regard to the Amendments to the Schedule, which no doubt do raise the question of a means test, there is no doubt that this one does not do so.
This Amendment is merely concerned with the question whether or not the financial position of the applicant shall be taken into consideration. That is not, I submit, the application of a means test. A means test, if it means anything, surely means that the means of the applicant shall be rigidly defined as so much a year or so much a month or week, as the case may be. But the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer just now stated that he considered that, although this was not a perfect Bill, it was necessary for the purpose of the working of the Bill when it becomes an Act that there should be a means test applied to the recipients of these pensions. I suggest that that is wide of the mark in the present discussion. It will be extremely pertinent and much to the point when we reach the discussion—in fact, I expect two discussions on the Amendments to the first Schedule; but at the moment all we are discussing is whether or not the means of the applicant shall be taken into consideration. The Socialist party, we know, are strongly opposed to the imposition of a means test, but even they must be prepared to agree that this phrase or condition in the Bill that before a pension shall be awarded to an applicant regard must be paid to the means of that applicant is a very wide one.
I am extremely sorry to have to interrupt the conversation which is going on the Benches around me. I hope that whatever I have said will be given due weight by those hon. Members who are still in doubt as to which way they shall cast their votes on this particular Amendment, and, although I, for one, regret extremely that we have been favoured with so meagre an amount of advice from those on the Opposition Benches who profess and call themselves experts on the question of the means test, I have definitely made up my mind that the Amendment should be resisted and the particular words referred to should be retained in the Bill.
The hon. Member for North Paddington (Mr. Bracken) made an eloquent appeal for guidance from both sides of the Committee and that appeal was responded to by a few words from the right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), but there is a quarter of the Committee from which, I think, hon. Members can well receive valuable guidance. The Amendment under consideration has to do with widows and children, and I think it would be of great benefit to the Committee if an hon. Lady Member were to give her opinion to the Committee on this very important matter which does concern them after all. I would like to suggest at this juncture, we should have some special advice from some hon. Lady Member present in the Committee.
If there are hon. Members who seriously wish to challenge a Division I will put it again. I do expect a little more—if I may put it in that way —decent compliance with the ordinary traditions of the House, and that hon. Members who wish to challenge should challenge at the proper time.
|Division No. 255.]||AYES.||[1.15 a.m.|
|Acland, Sir R. T. D.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Paling, W.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Parker, J.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Grentell, D. R.||Pearson, A.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Petherick, M.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Griffiths, J. (Lianelly)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Groves, T. E.||Poole, C. C.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Price, M. P.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Hannah, I. C.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Harbord, Sir A.||Quibell, D. J. K|
|Barr, J.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Radford, E. A.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Beaumont, H. (Batley)||Hayday, A.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Bevan, A.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Riley, B.|
|Bottom, A. C.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Ritson, J.|
|Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Broad, F. A.||Higgs, W. F.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Brooke, H, (Lewisham, W.)||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Holdsworth, H.||Rowlands, G.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hollins, A.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hunter, T.||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Isaacs, G. A.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Cape, T.||Jagger, J.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Shinwell, E.|
|Cary, R. A.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||John, W.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Chater, D.||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Keeling, E. H.||Sloan, A.|
|Cooks, F. S.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Colfox, Major Sir W. P.||Kjrkwood, D.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Collindridge, F.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Colman, N. C. O.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Lawson, J, J.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Critchley, A.||Leach. W.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'ld)|
|Daggar, G.||Lee, F.||Stephen, C.|
|Dalton, H.||Leonard, W.||Stewart, W. J, (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Liddall, W. S.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Lindsay. K. M||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lipson, D. L.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Sulcliffe, H.|
|Day, H.||Logan, D. C.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lunn, W.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Dobbie, W.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Thurlte, E.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Tinker, J. J.|
|Duggan, H. J.||McEntee, V. La T.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||McGhee, H. G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||McKie, J. H.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||MacLaren, A.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Maclean, N.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Ede., J. C.||Magnay, T.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Edge, Sir W.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Markham, S. F.||Westwood, J.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Marshall, F.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Mathers, G.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Maxton, J.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Emery, J. F.||Messer, F.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Milner, Major J.||Wilmot, John|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Montague, F.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Frankel, D.||Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge)||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C. York C|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, s)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H,||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Commander Sir Archibald|
|Gibson R. (Groenock)||Oliver, G. H.||Southby and Sir Irving Albery.|
|Brooklebank, Sir Edmund||Hambro, A. V.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Holmes, J. S.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L.(Hull)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Wragg, H.|
|Fleming, E. L.||Lewis, O.|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.|
|Gledhill, G.||Marsden, Commander A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOESߞ|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Mr. Erskine Hill and Mr. Hely-Hutchinson.|
I beg to move, in page 2, line 2, at the end, to insert:
Provided that no payment shall be made to a person entitled to a pension under the Political Offices' Pension Act, 1869.
The case contemplated is where an ex-Member has a choice of going on this fund or else obtaining a pension under the old Act. I want to be sure that he shall not come on to our fund where he comes under the Political Office Pension Act. I may say that it is not unlikely that he will prefer our fund to the older Act, because one has to remember that our fund is secret and payments from it are not publicly known, whereas every payment under the Political Offices' Pension Act is published, and a man might prefer the method of secrecy to that of publicity. I should not trouble to move this were it not that in dealing with the Prime Minister's pension a couple of years ago we made an analogous provision to prevent overlapping between the old Act and the new. It seems to me that this proviso should be made here.
It does net seem to me that this insertion is really necessary. T quite recognize that technically what my right hon. Friend says might be justified, but these are the actual circumstances. There used to be a limited number of what were called political offices' pensions. The first class, I think, was £2,000 per annum, the second class was £1,200 per annum and the third was £800 per annum. It is quite true that they are expressed in the Act as pensions not exceeding these sums, but it has always been the case in the past history of these pensions that whether the pension was the first or second class, it was the amount I have mentioned. Except for one award, which was surrendered within six months, no pension under that Act has been awarded since 1905, and there is no pension being drawn under that Act now. I do not think I am going too far when I say that I think the view more recently taken is that that Act ought not to be employed. It is quite true that we did put a reference to it in the Act two years ago, but then we were dealing with a retiring pension of £2,000 a year. Here we are dealing with a scheme which might come to the assistance of persons as long as their total income including what they get under this scheme does not exceed £225 a year. It seems to me, therefore, that it would be carrying the matter rather far to say "provided always that a person is not getting more than £225 a year or shall not be drawing one of these political pensions."
On a point of Order. May I ask your guidance? There is an Amendment in my name and that of certain other hon. Members, and another Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Hely-Hutchinson) both of which seek to raise the issue of whether the contributions to the fund shall be compulsory or voluntary. I wish to submit to you respectfully that this is a very real issue, and a very important issue. It does not appear that any other Amendment raises it, and I want to ask if you will re-consider your decision and call one or the other of the Amendments.
I am afraid that the Amendment has not been selected. Those considerations which the hon. Member gave were present to the Chair when the Amendments were considered. After all, the Second Reading governs the selection, and the principle was decided there. Therefore, I am afraid that the Amendment cannot be selected.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 7, to leave out "twelve pounds," and to insert "two per cent."
I would start by assuring the Committee that this is an absolutely serious Amendment. I only regret there are not more members of the Cabinet present, because I hate to have to do behind their backs, metaphorically speaking, what I would rather do before their faces. The whole assumption of the finances of this Bill is that between Member and Member there shall be an equal payment. This amendment is directly aiming at making a truth of that assumption. I would most strongly assert that a flat rate payment of £12 between Member and Member is not an equal payment. If I may give a small list of examples: Take £12 at the very top of the scale, the salary of the Prime Minister. It is under one-eighth per cent. On a Cabinet Minister it is under one-quarter per cent. On the salary of the Leader of the Opposition it is just over one-half per cent. On the salary of a junior Minister it is under one per cent, and on the salary of an ordinary Member, a backbench Member, it is exactly two per cent. I apologise for the fact that I cannot give exactly what it is on the salary of the Chairman or Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means, but possibly some concession might be made on that point. That is an obvious demonstration of the unfairness of the incidence of this tax ßž and I decline to call it anything else but a tax, whatever dodge the Exchequer likes to hide behind in its nomenclature in this deduction from Members' salaries.
That is not the only unfairness, because whereas at the top of the scale the Prime Minister is only to pay Income Tax on one-eighth per cent, on what he does not receive, the ordinary private Member is to pay Income Tax on two per cent, of what he does not receive. There is yet another point I would make. Equal sacrifice is very different between a rich Cabinet Minister and the poor back-bench Member. In all our principles of national legislation—and here I am sure I shall receive the support of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and hon. Members opposite —in all our principles of financial legislation we have an ascending scale. The smaller income pays less, the higher income pays most, and the House will judge that we are being generous in that all we are asking in this Amendment is that the payment as between every Member of the House shall be in equal proportion to the amount of money he receives. I do not think that there is anything more I need say on this Amendment. It is a very simple and very fair Amendment, and if hon. Members apply the standard to it which hon. Members opposite apply to every other form of financial legislation they will say we are not pressing enough on Cabinet Ministers. I think this Amendment would help to improve what I believe already is regarded as a very time-wasting and untimely Bill.
On the Second Reading of this Bill I said it seemed to me that we were to have a forced contribution as distinct from a contributory fund. That those who have the most should pay most is the principle admitted in the other forced levy—Income Tax. Hon. Members opposite who have always held that the well-to-do should pay most can hardly depart from that opinion when it comes to this Fund. There is one point I would like to raise. I think I am right in saying that in certain circumstances ex-Cabinet Ministers are entitled to a pension, and it is obvious that for these pensions they would never have contributed anything at all. I do not know what the regulation is, but if that is the case it seems that those whose emoluments are higher than those of the ordinary Member are perhaps in a privileged position in which their ordinary confreres are not. It has been argued that the pool is too small. I think it is. It was too small when you were considering Members only who fell on hard times, and it certainly will be now you have brought in widows and orphans. It seems all wrong to suggest that this Fund should be augmented by generous gifts, the idea that one should come down on Viscount Nuffield for £50,000, and it cannot be right that that should be contemplated. It was said that generous contributions would be given by men who desired to help. I am certain it is not right that the Fund should receive contributions of that kind. Therefore, it does seem to be an argument in favour that there should be some difference in contributions between those who have large incomes as against those who have only small incomes.
It may be invidious and indelicate for me to make observations on this matter, but the hon. and. gallant Member has suggested a position which is not correct, and which I wish to correct at once. I believe there is a common impression among certain people that Cabinet Ministers after- they retire are entitled to pensions. There is no provision in the law which provides that Cabinet Ministers after retirement should have pensions. The Political Offices Pensions Act which was spoken of on the last Amendment was the only source from which anything of that sort could have been derived, and, as I said, that has fallen into desuetude. I believe there is no case of it being used, and I think it is contrary to practice to use it. The natural consequence is the step which hon. Members joined in taking quite recently, which did provide a pension for an ex-Prime Minister. That pension, and the pension provided for a Lord Chancellor are, as far as I am aware, the only pensions which exist in our system in respect of anybody who has been a Cabinet Minister. I am making no sort of complaint of what my hon. Friend said; it is very natural that he should have mentioned the point, but I think it would be well if it were thoroughly known outside that there is no truth in it at all, and nobody who has been a Cabinet Minister, except the cases I have just mentioned, is drawing any pension from the State in respect of that matter.
It rests with the Committee what to decide on this proposal. No doubt it can perfectly well be carried by a majority of private Members in this House, but I think it is none the less a proposal which, on reflection, the Committee will not be disposed to accept. As the hon. Member who moved it said, it would be so drafting the Bill that the Prime Minister, whoever he happens tobe—I am not speaking of any particular Prime Minister—shall contribute £200 a year. We shall see whether that is the view of the Committee as a whole. There was the increase of the payment to hon. Members of this House to £600 a year. We did not apply that to Ministers of the Crown, because as they already received considerable salaries it was thought that it would be right to treat that £600 as being, as it were, embedded in that sum. You do not go far wrong if you say that a Minister of the Crown receives £600 a year as a Member of this House, plus a further sum which makes up his total salary. That is not stating it very inaccurately. What is proposed would not be fair in the case of a Minister of the Crown—a Member of this House—whose salary as a Member of Parliament is treated as being included in the larger payment. The larger payment he receives for special work. He has to give up all other work to do it. If it is thought at any time that such salaries are not at the right level, there are proper ways in which they may be reviewed, but it would be turning this scheme all upside down if we were to say, for instance, that the Chairman or Deputy-Chairman, who are members of this House and who certainly have very special work to perform, should contribute, not £12 a year, as the Bill says, but an amount which is to be a percentage of the remuneration which they receive for being Chairman and Deputy-Chairman. That seems to me to be taming the arrangement all upside down.
Does the Chancellor really suppose that all sorts of private Members give up lucrative employment to become Members of the House? It is surely a monstrous thing to add on to the argument the suggestion that hon. Members in all parts of the House do not give up all sorts of lucrative employment. It is putting too light a construction on the dignity of hon. Members of this House.
I hope I am not doing that. From my own experience as a private Member of this House I know that all hon. Members may give up the whole of their professional salaries while they are Members, in order to do public work. I know that very well. There are many cases where that is done, but actually a man who becomes a Minister is not able, as an ordinary Member is, to go on earning his ordinary livelihood in the ordinary way. I am not saying that on behalf of one particular Minister or the other. It is in the very nature of things and applies to all. What I am suggesting —and it is for the Committee to decide —that in the circumstances to treat everybody as having a salary of £600 as a Member is fair.
I apologise to the right lion. Gentleman for interrupting him, but is it not a fact that Ministers are not considered by the Income Tax people as receiving £600 of their total salary as Members of Parliament, because, in fact, Ministers have to pay Income Tax on the whole of their salary, and they cannot make deductions like other hon. Members of this House from their £600 on account of expenses?
I think that is the exact point in mind. I was going to mention it. I will only say that the point just made does not seem to me to make the position of Ministers more exclusive. It means that they suffer a disability which hon. Members do not suffer. A Minister, say, a Junior Whip, gets £1,000 as salary, and is not entitled under the Income Tax laws to deduct a single farthing in respect of the work he has to do as the representative of his constituency. He has to pay on the whole amount of his salary, whereas a private Member with a salary of £600 is entitled to deductions. Yet it is said that this Amendment should apply to the actual amounts received, and in the case of a Minister the contribution should be a fixed percentage. I submit to the Committee that in fixing this contribution it is fair to treat every hon. Member of the House on an equality in the sense that they get £600 as members, though, as a matter of fact, Ministers have very heavy duties cast upon them. I should be sorry if it were thought that it would be an improvement that a Prime Minister should contribute £200 instead of the £12 which the Bill proposes. This is not a personal matter but a question of providing for the proper framing of the scheme. If Ministers as a class want to provide some fund from which they are going to assist ex-Ministers, be it so. That, no doubt, would be based on the salaries of Ministers, but in this scheme I should have thought it was right to devise a contribution of say, roughly, £12 for each hon. Member.
I regard it as a little hard that my Amendment should come under the umbrella of this Amendment which we are now discussing because mine seeks to do precisely the opposite from that which the present Amendment proposes to do. The present one seeks to take a larger deduction from certain salaries but mine seeks to make a smaller deduction where the salaries are less than £600. There are two cases which I have in mind, one which will be familiar to many hon. Members. We had a 10 per cent, reduction in our salaries and instead of getting £400 we got £360. It seems to me it is clear that if we have to have a cut in our salaries, the figure should be based on a proportion of the deduction. Then there is the other case where hon. Members are receiving less than their salaries. It would mean that they would pay a proportion of the salaries rather than a fixed sum of £12. My Amendment suggests that there should be a deduction of one-fiftieth of what they receive. That seems a reasonable method. I cannot possibly support the Amendment which has been moved because it is precisely the reverse of my own Amendment.
1 was interested to hear the Chancellor's speech in opposition to this Amendment. It all boils down to this: the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that in his view it was not fair that one Member in this House, because he is a Minister, should pay more pounds per year than another Member who is not a Minister. I suppose it is all a matter of opinion and point of view. It seems to me that that is exactly what is fair, that each of us should pay to the fund—if indeed this fund is to be set up—in proportion to the amount which each receives by way of emoluments for the work we do in Parliament. I cannot see why the Chancellor of the Exchequer should say that this is unfair. After all, we have in a recent Amendment agreed to the principle of a means test for the recipient of the pension. It seems to me just as fair that we should have a means test operating in the reverse direction to decide how many pounds each individual should subscribe to this fund for the benefit of impecunious Members and dependants. The suggestion is that everybody should subscribe, not the same number of pounds per year, but the same proportion or fraction of his emoluments, and, to my mind, there could be absolutely nothing fairer than that, granted, of course, that the scheme is to be set up, which I deplore altogether. Since we have already agreed to the means test in one direction, it seems to me only right, proper, and fair that we should establish a means test in the other direction and should not expect the poor, impecunious Member on the back Benches to pay as much to this fund as the plutocratic Member on the Front Bench. I therefore support the Amendment.
I confess that I was not impressed by what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said. He has pointed out that once a man holds office, he has to thrust aside any other work. But he left out of account that anyone on the Front Bench, when he goes out of office, has a far better chance of making money in the City. There the two classes of Ministers—members of the Cabinet and Under-Secretaries. The Under-Secretaries get the humble salary of £1,500 a year, but, either fortunately or unfortunately, Parliament is more or less a one-way street, and an Under-Secretary at a reasonable age, even though he may make a "bloomer," may almost certainly count on getting into the Cabinet at some time.
I assure the hon. Member that it is far too late in the night to consider "the Rake's Progress," but I venture, in all seriousness, to point out that the Minister mounts slowly up from being an Under-Secretary to the position of an upper Minister, and in the ordinary turn of political fortune the Front Benchers change places. Then the Cabinet Minister has every opportunity of being extremely comfortable in some other sphere of life. His Cabinet rank has made his name. He has shown the powers that be that he has sufficient intelligence to make the House listen to him. What about the wretched private Member who has to pay £12 a year out of his salary of £600? He may have had to give up the whole of his professional or business career in order to be a useful Member of Parliament, and he gets nothing out of it. Later on he may lose his seat. He may have to pay £12 for innumerable years for innumerable other people. Members of the Front Bench, with the advantage they have can very well afford to pay rather more to the fund than the man who may have sacrificed everything for all time and who pays £12 out of the only money that he possesses or is likely to possess. I hope my hon. Friend will press his Amendment.
I hope the Committee will forgive me for repeating what I have said on a previous occasion, that in organisations where contributions are paid in respect of unemployment pay, sickness benefit, or pensions everybody, irrespective of the wages received, pays the same contribution. But I would ask the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Crossley) whether he is prepared to add 2 per cent. of his income in respect of his contribution. That would be a real means test, and if the proposers of the Amendment are prepared to carry a means test to its logical conclusion, they will get many adherents.
I think that most of the hon. Members who have supported this Amendment have been Members who oppose the scheme in to but I am one of those who supported the Bill on its Second Reading, and I want now to support this Amendment. I seem to have heard of some slogan, "Each according to his means, and to each according to his needs." The question of need should be fully considered, and I think I am not illogical if I ask that need should be considered.
I think the hon. Member's suggestion will receive very little support. I have listened with the greatest interest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer answering the points put in favour of this Amendment, and, as I see it, he started off by saying that the movers of the Amendment wanted to take £200 a year from the Prime Minister. I do not think we want to bring- any personalities into this discussion, but he wanted to make some point about the fact that £600 a year was not added to the Minister's salary but was embedded in it. I do not see that that has very much to do with it. If he has his salary plus £600, he may well give two per cent, of it. I recognise that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer chose politics in preference to the Bar he gave up a great income, but if I was offered by him a seat on the Front Bench, I would sacrifice my small practice. The Chancellor also made some point about Income Tax, which, if I understand it, was that he was not allowed to claim deductions which hon. Members are allowed to claim. It struck me as very strange to hear that he was complaining, as the remedy lies in his own hands. This Bill is apparently to bring about a change in the Income Tax laws. I was not impressed by the strength of the arguments that he used against this Amendment, and I hope the Committee will support the Amendment.
The hon. Member who moved this Amendment said he hoped the Committee would believe him when he said he was bringing in a serious Amendment. I always have some doubts when I hear someone say that. It is unnecessary when a thing is serious to point out how serious it is. When we were young we all enjoyed the sport of baiting the masters, and it seems perhaps that when some of us are older, we enjoy the sport of baiting the front Bench and our elders in Parliament. Personally, I do not think that it is exactly fair to raise this Amendment. (Interruption.) I am going to try and explain, if the hon. Member, who has had his say, will let me. It seems to me that this is a benevolent fund and a benevolent fund for the institution of the House of Commons where people pay equal contributions and expect, if they get into circumstances which warrant benefit, to receive equal benefit. I have never heard of a case where people are forced to pay different contributions for the opportunity of receiving the same benefit. Furthermore, to suggest that a Cabinet Minister, who possibly has no other income but what he earns as a Cabinet Minister, should pay two per cent, of that total income into this fund while- the private Member, such as the hon. Member who introduced this Amendment, has the opportunity, which he readily takes, of enlarging his income outside and need not pay on the proportion of that income which he earns outside, seems to be greatly unfair. There are only two ways of making this fair, and one is that that two per cent, should be taxed on the total income of all Members of Parliament as ascertained by Income Tax charges, which would bring in a considerable sum, but would materially alter the whole conception of this Bill, or else to tax Members on that portion of their salary which they earn as Members, namely, £600 a year. I am somewhat in sympathy with the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman), but I would seriously put to the Committee, if I may, that to make this suggestion at the present time is to try and wreck the whole Bill.
I would suggest to the Committee very seriously that this is rather an unfair suggestion and that we should have equal contributions for equal Members to benefit, as in every other benevolent fund set up in the Kingdom, and we should not support this proposal.
I think the speech we have just listened to is really deplorable. A numbers of charges have been levelled at my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Crossley), who moved the Amendment, which seems to me one of the most important Amendments on the Bill. He has been characterised as foolish, unserious and reckless. Anybody who listened to the speech of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment knows that he is none of those things, and much the most foolish thing we have had so far is the speech just delivered. No doubt the hon. Member was affected by the result of the recent match at Lords, and perhaps thought that he was once again back in his schooldays. — [An Hon. Member: "Debag him."]—An opportunity perhaps may arise at a later stage for that. I must say that I am deeply grateful to the Chief Whip that he has brought forward the dis- cussion of this Bill at this hour, because those of us who are speaking on it are certainly not delaying any Government legislation. I know that he must be the first to feel that those of us who are speaking on it are obviously deeply moved on this question and, like the hon. Member for North Paddington (Mr. Bracken), he must feel that those of us who always have supported him are continuing the good work of being Members of the House to the best of our ability.
I must say that I was very deeply disappointed with the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and from a rather different angle from that which has been expressed so far. As I see it, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by not accepting this Amendment, is making the division between the front Bench and the back Benches very much deeper than it is already— [An Hon. Member: "Impossible."] —Perhaps the Chancellor can perform the impossible. My hon. Friend the Member for South East Essex (Mr. Raikes) gave examples about how to get on to the front Bench as an Under-Secretary and how gradually, by a long process, to attain Cabinet rank. He ought to have started lower down, because nobody becomes an Under-Secretary unless he has first been in the Whips' Office, with a few very notable exceptions. One in particular is more notable for the speech that she delivered last week than almost any other. But the point is that once a Member gets on to the front Bench, he is gradually weaned away from all his associations on the back Benches. This is becoming worse and worse, as the National Government look forward to at least another 25 years in power. Therefore, as I see it, by not accepting this Amendment, the Chancellor is laying up very grave troubles for future Governments from this side of the House.
I was much impressed by reading the other day that members of the French Cabinet had voluntarily agreed among themselves to levy from their own salaries a certain percentage to be given for national defence. That made a vast impression upon the Chamber of Deputies. I believe that if the Chancellor had said that, even if he could not accept this two per cent., he would accept something on those lines, so that Ministers' salaries, which have been raised in the lifetime of this Parliament, should be asked to make a greater contribution towards this Fund, then I believe he would have made a very great impression upon the House of Commons. It would at once have brought together the front bench and the back benches. I think it is a terrible mistake for a Cabinet Minister or for an Under-Secretary to forget that they are primarily Members of Parliament. It is much more important that they are Members of Parliament than that they are Cabinet Ministers. When, you are dealing with a fund which is a Members of Parliament Fund, then anything that Cabinet Ministers can do or say to accept the responsibility of a Member of Parliament because they are Cabinet Ministers should be done.
When it is suggested that my hon. Friend might have extended the principle of the Amendment, well, why not? There would be no very great difficulties about it, except that again you are going to run into the trouble of the means test on income. But when the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. McCorquodale) suggests that it is not fair that this Amendment should be put forward, I really cannot understand why, when we are discussing a domestic issue of salaries, it is not fair to question whether the front Bench should make an added contribution to this Fund. You may get a Cabinet Minister who falls upon evil days and will have to go to the Fund. He has enjoyed for many years a far greater income than any back bencher, and he has made only the same contribution. I feel myself that it is perfectly fair to raise this point. The analogy is already there, in taxation. You have already got scale taxation in death duties and Income Tax. On the other side, you have also got things like unemployment and national health insurance where you draw a certain line and say that nobody may enter the scheme above a certain limit, and nobody may get benefits unless they contribute. I would ask whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not reconsider this question and whether it is not possible for the Ministers who are getting much bigger salaries to make a greater contribution. If they do, I believe it will be doing something very desirable in the interests of the House as a whole.
I would not have intervened if the hon. Member for Bolton (Sir J. Haslam) had not suggested a pension scheme where there were different rates of contribution. May I draw attention to the report of the Departmental Committee on Pensions for Members? In Appendix 3 it is made quite clear that the French Members of Parliament are allowed to pay double the contribution into the fund, and, if they do that, they become eligible for double pension. I would like to ask the mover of this Amendment whether he has any idea that when Cabinet Ministers pay a higher rate of contribution they should, if found to be in need, be entitled to a higher rate of pension from the fund.
I cannot see that there is anything unfair about this Amendment. I should have thought that Ministers on the Front Bench would have welcomed it. It seems to me that they have received a much larger amount of money from the State than ordinary Members, and if they do come on to the rocks, I think they must have been extremely unwise to have reached such a position. I should have thought that if they had been foolish enough to dissipate their resources and they had a conscience at all, it would be a great source of satisfaction to them to feel that when they came to ask for a pension they were in a position to say that they had contributed more than others. For that reason I have to support the Amendment.
I desire very briefly to approach this matter from an angle which will at least be familiar to the Chancellor, because during recent weeks on the Committee stage of the Finance Bill we have heard the right hon. Gentleman get up time and again from that Bench and regret the fact that it was necessary to increase the taxation in one form or another. The reason that he has always given is that national expenditure is up, and it is his duty to find the money for the purpose of that expenditure. Since the Committee stage started to-night the extent of the scheme has gone up to a degree which it is extremely difficult to calculate, by the inclusion of children through the acceptance of the first Amendment. I want to suggest to the Committee that the analogy of Income Tax and Surtax is hardly correct in this matter. The analogy is surely that of the levy, and in all levy schemes set up by the Government — and I am thinking of the milk scheme and the 3d. per gallon provision whereby whoever sends 50 gallons will pay half as much as will he who sends 100 gallons —
I do not quite understand the hon. Member when he says that the extent has gone up as a result of the first Amendment. Surely the amount of money paid into the Fund every year is limited. It is 12 times 615. There is only that amount to spend, and you cannot spend any more.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his interruption, because possibly I did not make myself clear. If the extension of the scheme to children is to be of any value, it is obviously necessary to increase the amount available for distribution. I suggest that it is necessary to obtain from Cabinet Ministers, not £ 12, but £ 100,and from the Leader of the Opposition £ 40 per annum, because by that means, on a rough calculation, we shall increase the annual amount available by between £ 1,500 and £ 2,000 per annum, which will make it possible to give the account a real value for children.
There has been a powerful speech from an hon. Member behind me, and another flow of rhetoric from another hon. Member opposite, and the two seem to have clashed together. But once again we have had a "mute, inglorious" silence from the Benches of the Opposition. There was a time when they made statements about equal pay for equal work, but there is not a word about that now. On this occasion I praise them for their silence. I cannot see that there is any case for the Amendment at all. We have had a series of speeches about the wonderful incomes of Ministers, how they get more money than other Members, and how they can retire and buy country parks. But all those hon. Members who have taken the trouble to look through the rather pitiful wills of those gentlemen who have been working for years in the public service will know that no Cabinet Minister ever makes anything out of politics. It is all very well to talk about vast incomes of £ 5,000 a year compared with the £ 600 of an ordinary Member, but does anyone ever consider the expense attached to the post? I am not talking now about Parliamentary expenses. But in the case of a Cabinet Minister, directly he becomes a Minister he is expected to contribute greater sums to his local charitable associations.
I can tell the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Liddall) that he will never have any practical experience of the problem. I think it would be a great mistake if it went forth that Ministers make money out of politics. The story is quite absurd. Whether he be Liberal, Socialist, or Conservative, he makes nothing out of politics. There is another argument, that when they are Ministers they can command plums in the City. I can assure hon. Members that that is not the case. That might have been true of by gone times, but it is in no sort the case now. While I am in agreement with many of the observations which have been made, I think it would be unwise to adopt the Amendment.
I support the Amendment, which I regard as constructive. It must be clear that in all cases a Minister becomes richer as a result of being a Minister. Those Ministers who are not Members of this House will not be called upon to contribute to the pool under the Amendment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a point that Cabinet Ministers had to give up their careers upon assuming office. It is true in many cases that they do have to make sacrifices. Equally it is true that there are certain posts which are still open to them, and in some cases I believe there is nothing to prevent a Minister still being a director.
|Division No. 256.]||AYES.||[2.30 a.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Cape, T.||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Cary, R. A.||Eckersley P. T.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Ede, J. C.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Charlston, H. C.||Edge, Sir W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Chater, D.||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J.(Armagh)||Cluse, W. S.||Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)|
|Ammon, C. G.||Cooks. F. S.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Collindridge, F.||Emery, J. F.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Colman, N. C. D.||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Barr, J.||Court hope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)|
|Beaumont, H. (Batley)||Critchley, A.||Findlay, Sir E.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Daggar. G.||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R T. H.|
|Bevan, A.||Dalton, H.||Frankel, D.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Fyfe, D. P. M.|
|Bracken, B.||Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Gardner, B. W.|
|Broad, F. A.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Garro Jones, G. M.|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Day, H.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Denman, Hon. R D.||Gibson R. (Greenock)|
|Buchanan, G.||Dobbie, W.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Burke, W. A.||Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)|
I have no wish to make statements which are incorrect. I was under the impression that it is perfectly in order for a Minister to be a director of a private company, but I only make that point in passing. There are many sacrifices which private Members have to make — big sacrifices of time. It has been suggested that all Members should give 2 per cent, of their total income to the scheme. But the House of Commons cannot say what outside income has to do with services rendered in this House. There is another point, which was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton (Sir J. Haslam) that this Amendment was fundamentally unjust because it demanded unequal contributions from Members. I suggest that this scheme seems to resemble largely a staff pension scheme. In many cases staff pension schemes have different rates of contribution from different members of the staff, according to their income.
In my experience I have not come across a scheme where different contributions are excluded. There has to be a certain amount of give and take. I feel that the movers of the Amendment have made out a very good case, and I hope the House will support them.
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||McCorquodale, M. S.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Sexton. T. M.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||McEntee, V. La T.||Shinwell, E.|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||McGhee, H. G.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||McKie, J. H.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Groves, T. E.||Maclean, N.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Magnay, T.||Sloan, A.|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Marsden, Commander A.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Harbord, Sir A.||Marshall, F.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Mathers, G.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Haslam. Sir J. (Bolton)||Maxton, J.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hayday, A.||Messer, F.||Stephen, C.|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Milner, Major J.||Stewart, W. J, (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Montague. F||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge)||Summer skill, Dr. Edith|
|Higgs, W. F.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Thurtle, E.|
|Holdsworth, H.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Hollins, A.||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Isaacs, G. A.||Oliver, G. H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Jagger, J.||Paling, W.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Parker, J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Parkinson, J. A,||Watson, W. McL.|
|John, W.||Pearson, A.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Patherick, M.||Westwood, J.|
|Keeling, E. H.||Pathick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Poole, C. C.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Kirkwood, D.||Pries, M. P.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Pritt, D. N.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Groydon, S.)|
|Lawson, J. J.||Procter, Major H. A.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Leach, W.||Ramsbotham, Rt. Hon. H.||Wilmot, John|
|Lee. F.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Leonard, W.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Lewis, O.||Ritson, J.||Wright, Wing-commander J. A. C.|
|Lindsay, K. M.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Locker-Lampion, Comdr. O. S.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||TELLERS FOR THEAYES. —|
|Logan, D. G.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir Assheton|
|Lunn, W.||Rowlands, G.||Pownall and Sir Francis|
|Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Samuel, M. R. A.||Fremantle.|
|Acland, Sir R. T. D.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Markham, S. F.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Hambro, A V.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Hannah, I. C.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness)||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Hepworth, J.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Holmes, J. S.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Colfox, Major Sir W. P.||Hunter, T.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Wragg, H.|
|Duggan, H, J.||Knox Major General Sir A. W. F.||York, C.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES —|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Liddall, W. S.||Mr. Crossley and Lieut.-Colonel|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Acland - Troyte.|
I beg to move, in page 2, line 18, to leave out from "Commons" to the end of the Subsection.
It is not very easy to see why these nine lines should have been put in. If I understand it aright, the reason is that where an hon. Member is not drawing his salary the State steps in and gains thereby. We have been told by the Prime Minister with great definiteness that the State is making no contribution towards this Fund, but in the case of a man who receives nothing, this makes the State pay on his behalf. By leaving out these lines we should, at any rate, be enabling the Prime Minister to repeat with greater accuracy than before that the State will then be making no contribution.
As the Committee know, provision is made every year by vote that each Member of the House may draw the salary of £ 600 a year. The proposal is that £ 12 should be put to this fund in respect of each Member, even though a Member may not be proposing to draw his salary. That is treating every Member alike. I cannot agree with the view that the effect of that is to make a charge on the public funds.
Surely, whatever the Chancellor of the Exchequer may say about this, the fact remains that the Exchequer will be worse off than under the Amendment. A Member might well be content that his salary should be returned for the benefit of the Exchequer. He might not desire to return it partially for the benefit of the fund. I think it is most undesirable that in this Bill there should be any provision whatsoever which involves a deduction of income or putting the Exchequer in a worse position than it would otherwise be.
I feel bound to make an observation on this matter from an entirely different point of view. It is rather unfortunate, if the result of this Amendment is to be that those who do not draw their salaries make no contribution what-so-ever to the Fund. It would be far more in accordance with the traditions of the House that the salaries that were not drawn should be given in to to the Fund in order to make it a more successful and more effective Fund. I am bound to protest against any effort in any quarter of the House to take away money which might reasonably, and without any sacro-fice, be placed in the Fund to the benefit of the poorer Member.
|Division No. 257.]||AYES.||[2.52 a.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Ll.-Col. G. J.||Hambro, A. V.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Hannah, I. C.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Hepworth, J.||Petherick, M.|
|Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness)||Higgs, W. F.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Holdsworth, H.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Holmes, J. S.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Horsbrugh, Florence||South by, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Colfox, Major Sir W. P.||Hunter, T.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Crossley, A. C.||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Duggan, H. J.||Keeling, E. H.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Lewis, O.||Wragg, H.|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||York, C.|
|Findlay, Sir E.||Mac Andrew, Colonel Sir C. G.|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Marsden, Commander A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES. —|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Mr. Hely-Hutchinson and Mr. Raikes.|
I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider between now and the Report Stage what has been put forward by the hon. Member for South-east Essex (Mr.Raikes). If he could see his way to bring forward an Amendment whereby any salary or portion of salary not drawn by a Member could be given to the Fund, I think it would meet with the approval on both sides. I do not like the pension scheme, but if we are to have one, let us do the best we can for the Fund.
I think it is the wish of a large number of Members that we should carry this through. I should urge hon. Members to co-operate with me in this matter. There are a number of points which we have discussed, and I think we ought now to get through.
|Acland, Sir R. T. D.||Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Adams, D. H. (Poplar, S.)||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Paling, W.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dart lord)||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Pearson, A.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Grenfell, O. R.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Poole, C. C.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Groves, T, E.||Price, M. P.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Barr, J.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Ritson, J.|
|Beaumont, H. (Batley)||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Hayday, A.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Bevan, A.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Rowlands, G.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Sexton. T. M.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hollins, A.||Shinwell, E.|
|Burks, W. A.||Isaacs, G. A.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Jagger, J.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Cape, T.||Jenkins, A, (Pontypool)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Sloan, A.|
|Cary, R. A.||John, W.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Charter, D.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kirkwood, D.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Collindridge, F.||Lawson, J, J.||Stephen, C.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Lee, F.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Courthope, Col, Rt. Hen. Sir G. L.||Leonard, W.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Critchley, A.||Liddall, W. S.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Daggar, G.||Lindsay, K. M.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Dalton, H.||Logan, D. G.||Thurlte, E.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Lunn, W.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Tomlinson, G.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||McEntee, V. La T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Day, H.||McGhee, H. G.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Dobbie, W.||McKie, J. H.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||MacLaren, A.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Maclean, N.||Westwood, J.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Magnay, T.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Ede, J. C.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Edge, Sir W.||Marshall, F.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Mathers, G.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Maxton, J.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Messer, F.||Wilmot, John|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Milner, Major J.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Fletcher, Ll.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Montague, F.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Frankel, D.||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Sir Francis Fremantle and|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Mr. McCorquodale.|
|Division No. 258.]||AYES.||[3.10 a.m.|
|Acland, Sir R. T. O.||Barnes, A. J.||Burke, W. A.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Barr, J.||Butcher, H. W.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Beaumont, H. (Batley)||Cape, T.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Cary, R. A.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Bevan, A.||Charleton, H. C.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A, V. (H'lsbr.)||Bossom, A. C.||Chater, D.|
|Allen, Ll.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Broad, F. A.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Cocks, F, S.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Buchanan, G.||Collindridge, F.|
|Colman, N. C.D.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L,||Holdsworth, H.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Critchley, A.||Hollins, A.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Daggar, G.||Isaacs, G. A.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Dalton, H.||Jagger, J,||Ritson, J.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||John, W.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Day, H.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Dobbie, W.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Kirkwood, D.||Sexton. T. M.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Shinwell, E.|
|Eckarsley, P. T.||Lawson, J. J.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Ede, J. C.||Lee, F.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Edge, Sir W.||Leonard, W.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Logan, D. G.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Lunn, W.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees (K'ly)|
|Emery, J. F.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||McEntee, V. La T.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Fletcher, Lt.Comdr. R. T. H.||McGhee, H. G.||Stephen, C.|
|Frankel, D.||MacLaren, A.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Maclean, N.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Magnay, T.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Garro Jonas, G. M.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. B.||Thurtle, E.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Marshall, F.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Mathers, G.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Maxton, J.||Viant, S. P.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Messer, F,||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Milner, Major J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Montague, F.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Morgan, J. (York, W.R, Doncaster)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge)||Westwood, J.|
|Groves, T. E.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N;)||Neven-Spence, Major B H. H.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Harbord, Sir A.||Paling, W.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Parkinson, J. A.||Wilmot, John|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Pearson, A.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Hayday, A.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Poole, C. C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Sir Francis Fremantle and|
|Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Price, M. P.||Mr. McCorquodale|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Hambro, A. V.||Petherick, M.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Hepworth, J.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness)||Higgs, W. F.||South by, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Holmes, J. S.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||James, Wing-commander A. W. H.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Colfox, Major Sir W. P.||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Keeling, E. H.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Wragg, H.|
|Duggan, H. J.||Lewis, O.||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Mac Andrew, Colonel Sir C G.||York, C.|
|Eastwood, J.F.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||McKie, J. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES. —|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Marsden, Commander A.||Mr. Hely-Hutchinson and|
|Findlay, Sir E.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Mr. Raikes.|
I beg to move, in page 2, line 28, to leave out Subsection (4).
I spoke in favour of this Measure when it was first introduced. Every Measure is ill-timed to some people. I said I thought we would not be taxed, but that is what the promoters of the Bill did not realise. They weakly gave way to the pressure of the strong opponents of the Bill. The promoters cannot fully have considered this. They have become intimidated by suggestions that it was going to be a charge on the revenue. But the promoters gave way to the claims of the opponents and said, "We will try to please both sides and put in a Clause to deal with it." I demur in common justice to paying tax on money we never see. It is very wrong. The Chancellor of the Exchequer comes along and says "Yes, you are all very fine fellows. You are paying £ 12 a year — some of you even less — but I will be generous," but then he says a liability must be paid which ought not to be paid. This is not taking anything away from the revenue. The revenue is simply taking less money and handing it over to people whom they could not possibly ask for Income Tax, namely, the recipients of the pensions, who would be very poorly off. If you want to subscribe to a charity, you make the subscription and you escape Income Tax on it. You pay it for a period of seven years and the revenue does not get any Income Tax; the charities reclaim it. Why should we be put in a position different from that of ordinary charities?
It is a shocking injustice. It is not so much the sum of money involved, as that you say "We are going to charge you £ 15 or £ 16." That is what it amounts to. It is not £ 12.It is deceiving us to say it is £ 12. It is between £ 16 and £ 17, and it may be more — it may be in the case of the Super-taxpayer, with huge obligations, who just comes above the level which brings him into the higher scale. It is not that any majority of hon. Members have any sympathy with Super-taxpayers. But why should we be deceived by it being said that we are paying £ 12? The thing is so fundamentally unjust. That is why I felt at the time that the whole thing was an anomalous proposal. I thought Members of Parliament, who had been 20 or 25 years in this House, really ought to get, if they received salaries at all, some form of pension. The thing should be provided out of general funds, though in times of stress like this we could not propose that. What the Bill proposed was a sort of half-way house of £ 12 a year.
What about the Opposition benches? I feel very uneasy on that point. They will be in a position to say to the country "We took no part in this. We sat and listened and all this is what the Tories have done." I am afraid political capital will be made out of it. I am told that at one of the last elections some political capital was made out of it and that the voters thought Members of Parliament were taking money out of the public funds. They are not taking any money out of the public purse, even if not paying Income Tax, The Chancellor might have said, "If these fellows can afford to give £ 12 out of their meagre salaries, they can just as well afford £ 24 or £ 50," and he might have put treble Income Tax on it. It is just as wrong to put single Income Tax on it, when we are not legally liable to any Income Tax at all.
However much hon. Members may support the Bill I hope they will vote against this provision and refuse to accept this weak concession made to the opponents of the Bill in order that the Government might say that not only is nothing coming out of the Exchequer, but that they are actually fining Members of Parliament. It is essentially a foolish position and that is why I have moved this Amendment. I would remind the Committee that the Prime Minister invited me to put it down, and I took that to mean that he had some sympathy with what I was proposing. It will not affect me. I am not to be very much longer in this House. I do think that in the interests of fair play it should be agreed that this is a very wrong proposal. That is why I have moved that this Sub-section should be deleted.
I heartily endorse what has been said by the previous speaker. It seems to me absolutely iniquitous that anybody should be required to pay a tax on money that he cannot under any circumstances receive. It would not be proper on this occasion to enter into a discussion on Income Tax as a whole, nor, indeed, would I be competent to do it because it is a very complicated subject into which none but real experts can enter. It has always seemed to me a most anomalous position that anybody should be required to pay Income Tax on what he does not receive, but, of course, this Sub-section has been inserted into the Bill very obviously in order that the general public may be told that no charge for these pensions will fall upon public funds. There is not the smallest chance that the general public will believe such a statement, nor do I really think it is a true statement, because when we read a little lower down we find that the trustees will be exempt from the payment of Income Tax on all the income of the Fund and on any investment thereof. Clearly the capital subscriptions by Members will have to pay Income Tax before they are received by the trustees, but as far as the invested surplus income from investments is concerned, it seems to me that there is no doubt that but for this provision that income would have to pay tax. Therefore it seems totally inaccurate to say that no charge will fall on the public funds because a certain amount, and possibly a substantial amount, of Income Tax will be remitted on the income derived from the investments of the Fund.
Possibly I have misinterpreted it and no doubt if I have the Chancellor of the Exchequer will correct me. But there is no doubt that this provision has been inserted in order that the general public may be told that no charge falls on public funds, though there is not the smallest chance of the general public believing it. Therefore it seems ridiculous to me that this gross injustice should be perpetrated on every Member of Parliament in an endeavour to create an impression which certainly will not be created, because all the general public believe now and will continue to believe, whatever they may be told by Conservative members and candidates — and of course, other politicians are not so careful in their statements— that we, as Members of Parliament, have at this time of national crisis and heavy local expenditure, taken up the time of the House to push through this proposal. I strongly support the deletion of this Sub-section.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted that under the existing law a Member of Parliament is not liable to pay tax on a statutory deduction from his salary. There is in fact a provision in the Income Tax law to that effect. I regret that at this hour of the night I am not able to recall the provision, but it does exist. But under this Clause of the Bill a Member of Parliament is to pay a tax which nobody else in the country pays; that is to say, he is to pay Income Tax and Surtax on a statutory deduction from his income. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said during the Debate on the Second Reading of the Bill:
I sympathise with his feeling that it is repugnant to pay taxation on income which we have never received, yet a good many of us have to endure that injustice, if it be an injustice, at the present time. The incidence of Surtax comes, not upon the reduced income after it has paid Income Tax, but upon the gross income before the deduction of Income Tax. Therefore, people have to pay Surtax on a certain amount of income which they have never received." — [Official REPORT, 13th July, 1939; Cols. 2571–2572.)
Surely that does not meet the argument. The law applies to every taxpayer whose income is above £ 2,000, but the
case under this Sub-section (4) is entirely different. This Sub-section singles out a particular kind of Surtax or Income Taxpayer for extra taxation —' namely, a Member of Parliament as such. It proposes to alter the Income Tax law to the detriment of Members of Parliament. That is the most extraordinary proposition in this extraordinary Bill. What is the reason for it? I suggest that the only possible one is that the Government are trying to please both the supporters of the Bill and its opponents. They are altering the law in order that the supporters of the scheme may be able to say to objectors that there is no charge on the taxpayers. I submit it is not right to twist the law for any such purpose, and that was the view of the Departmental Committee. You will find this Amendment is in strict accordance with the recommendation in paragraph 20 of the Departmental Committee's report, and I cannot understand how hon. Members can possibly wish to retain Sub-section (4).
I would like to ask whether a municipal servant who has to contribute to a superannuation scheme is charged Income Tax on the deduction made from his salary, and, if not, why should a Member of Parliament in a compulsory pension scheme have to pay Income Tax on the particular deduction made? Is it a fact that we are to be the only people in the country who are to be singled out in a particular way? Is not this being done in order that we can go to the electors and say nothing has been given out of public money. We ought to have a specific answer to that question before we vote on this Amendment.
Regret has been expressed at the amount of time devoted to this Bill. That is not our fault. Those Members responsible for the promotion of the Bill must have known, when they introduced it, that it would arouse strong hostility, and that consequently many hours of valuable time would have to be devoted to it. The time taken up must be charged to those responsible for the introduction of the Bill. With regard to the Amendment, I appreciate the point of view of those who support it, particularly that of the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten). The case is a strong one that hon. Members ought not to be obliged to pay taxation on money they do not receive. But most of us do feel strongly that the public should not be asked in any way to find money directly or indirectly for Members of Parliament in these bad times, beyond the salaries which are voted to them every year. Therefore, we should adhere to the Clause as it is.
It is intolerable that the Committee should have to deal with a Bill of this kind while a great body of Members do not dare to speak in the Debate. I think their party Whips will forgive them for interrupting because they dare not speak. I was very much impressed by the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) and I very much regret that he is leaving this House. I share his view about the Bill as I am neither for it nor against it. I am completely independent on this matter. I am impressed by the hon. Member who says that Members of Parliament are singled out specially and that there is no other class in the community who are taxed as we are now proposing to tax ourselves. I think we are regenerating the old order of the flagellating friars who attempted to commend themselves to the Higher Power by punishing themselves. As a matter of fact there is a great deal of humbug about this proposal. If you look at Sub-section (5) you discover something that is quite remarkable, and that is that if the trustees happen to be extremely lucky in building up a big capital profit on the proceeds of their investments they no not pay any Income Tax. In Subsection (5) the House of Commons on the one hand are trying to obtain a little synthetic virtue by adopting a course which does not cast any burden on the taxpayer, while on the other hand we are putting the trustees in the position that if they make enormous profits on their investments they are not to be taxed merely because it is a House of Commons arrangement. I want to appeal to the spirit of comradeship that exists here [Interruption.'] An hon. Member for one of the Nottingham divisions says "Nonsense." [Interruption.]
Well, he is either mouthing or breathing the word. [Interruption.'] There is another point, and that is that there is a small but worthy class of Ministers in another place, and those Ministers are no better and indeed no worse than the Ministers who sit on the Front Bench. Will the Government say why it is that in that particular Legislature the Ministers are not asked to contribute to the Members pension Funds. I think that this is a very important point and we ought not to do anything to differentiate between the two Legislatures.
I wish to appeal to the members of the Socialist party, for in this matter we are adopting a sort of spurious virtue. We are not actually sacrificing ourselves for the benefit of a few members who have fallen by the wayside. I should have thought that it was absolutely clear that there was no necessity for this particular act of abnegation on our part and I should say it is all humbug.
I recognise that this is an abnormal Bill and I think we are passing it with our eyes open for a good reason — that it is desirable that Members of the House who are in a special degree charged with considering public funds and public charges and are themselves forming what is a domestic fund or pool, should be particularly careful not to give any legitimate ground for the complaint that the revenue of the country is being used. I agree that it is anomalous. The hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holds-worth) asked me how the matter stood in the case of superannuation funds of local authorities. There is no doubt about it at all. I have been provided with the actual Section, which says that where, in pursuance of any general Act of Parliament, superannuation allowances or gratuities are payable to individuals holding offices on their retirement and such individuals are by any such Act required to make contributions towards the expenditure of providing allowances or gratuities, such maybe deducted from the amount of their emolument for assessment to Income Tax for that year. This is a provision made by Parliament, but the individuals concerned are not Members of Parliament who are creating for themselves a scheme from which some of them may benefit. I do not think those terms would apply to this case, but if you inquire what is the general principle of the Income Tax law I certainly would say the general principle of the Income Tax law is that if there is a statutory deduction made from salary you do not, ordinarily speaking, charge people with Income Tax thereon. Let there be no misunderstanding. If we adopt this Sub-section we are not doing what is in the ordinary channel of Income Tax law; we are making an exception, and that is the reason.
I gave the case of individuals in municipal service who pay part of their subscription to the superannuation fund and the ratepayers through the rates pay to that fund. The individuals concerned not only escape payment of Income Tax, but apart from their subscriptions they are being helped by fellow ratepayers.
I am endeavouring to say perfectly clearly that we are not applying the usual rule. But it does seem to me that there is good reason for making this exception in this case. I remember the discussions on this subject at an earlier stage, when we had the Money Resolution under discussion. I am not making a reproach to anybody about it, but I am sure I shall be confirmed when I say that one of the strongest objections raised by many hon. Members who are now actually objecting to this Sub-section was that the scheme was one which they must resist because it involved a charge upon public funds. They said with a great deal of force that if it was true of our scheme that, however well-devised in other respects, it could be said and proved to be a charge on public funds, that would condemn it in the eyes of many reasonable citizens, that they would be quite unable to defend it, and that on that ground the scheme was to be opposed.
I shall not argue the point, if the hon. and learned Member does not mind. I think we all know what we mean. I should have thought it was an extremely just observation to say that if, as a result of this; new provision, the amount of Income Tax paid in respect of members' salaries to the Revenue was reduced, the Revenue was losing something.
I have it in mind. I was merely saying that this is the way I regard it. I am not seeking for the moment to say that it is not a departure from the ordinary rule. If we were making a scheme for other people who are not legislators I should have thought there was a great deal of justice in the argument not to put in such a provision." It may be pernickety, it may be a scruple, it may be prudent.
I should be sorry to think that the majority of the House would view this as hypocrisy. At any rate, the reason why this provision is to be included in the Bill is that this is a Members of Parliament Fund. There is no other reason at all. My hon. Friend thinks that all that is contradicted by the provision in Sub-section (5). I do not think it is. There is this very obvious differentiation. The Fund is a new creation which is the result of the legislation we are proposing to pass. If we do not pass this legislation there is no such Fund. You are not depriving the Revenue of anything if you pass legislation which creates this new Fund. As a matter of fact the provision in Sub-section (5) is one which you will find applies in the ordinary way to any superannuation fund. I should have doubted myself whether it would have been absolutely necessary to put it in, because I think there would be a strong argument that in the eyes of the Income Tax law the Fund is a charity, but whether it is or is not, it is quite plain that we cannot be said to be imposing any sort of loss on the Revenue if we have first to create this Fund by our own self-sacrifice. I do say honestly to anybody who challenges me about it, that we have been very careful, as careful as we can be, in making this mutual plan, to secure that we, the legislators charged with protecting public funds, have not thereby reduced that which would otherwise have come to the public funds. For my part, I am not going to accept the ignorant assertion that I have been taking part in a plan which is going to make the public pay. I know it is not true. The hon. and learned Member knows it is not true and so do his hon. Friends behind him, and I would invite them to pledge themselves to tell everybody that it is not true.
A few hours ago when an Amendment was moved, the effect of which would have been to call for increased contributions from Ministers, my right hon. Friend argued that it was essential that all Members of the House should contribute exactly the same sum. Under this provision, if this Amendment be resisted, the contributions from different Members will not in effect be the same. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us why, if it was essential a few hours ago that the contributions should be the same from all Members, it is now no longer essential?
I shall endeavour to deal with the point. I do not know whether I shall satisfy the hon. Member and his friends behind him. I think a contribution may fairly be said to be the same if the amount which the Fund receives from each contributor is £ 12, neither more nor less. That I should call a contribution of the same sum of money to the Fund. On the other hand, I quite admit that we have in this country a law of Income Tax and a law of Super-tax which charge different rates according to the total amount of income, and I certainly agree that if this £ 12 belongs to a man within the scale of Super-tax he will in fact, in respect of this £ 12, be paying to the revenue a larger amount than some other people. Indeed, we may carry it further. I think it is also true that there will also be a good many Members of this House who are the poorer Members, wherever they may sit, who, although we are saying that they are to pay Income Tax, may get relief in various ways and will therefore be paying little or nothing by way of Income Tax. The difference is that you get an equal contribution to the Fund from everybody, but Income Tax and Super-tax are charged to people at different rates according to the amount of their income for Income Tax purposes.
I should not have thought of rising to speak on this Amendment had it not been for the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to the debate on 2nd February. He was seeking to find reasons why this Subsection has been put in. The fact really is that during the debate on 2nd February those of us who opposed the Bill said that in our view the contribution would in fact levy a charge, only a small charge it is levy a charge, only a small charge it is true, upon the national finances. If the national finances pay a man £ 600 but he receives only £ 588, then as far as the £ 12 is concerned the money comes out of public finances. The Chancellor resisted that, and he said in reply to myself:
It is agreed, is it not, that if this were done by voluntary arrangement there would be nothing paid out of public funds. How can it come out of public funds because there is an Act of Parliament to regulate the Fund?
That is perfectly true. It must be perfectly obvious to every Member that the contention we put forward was true in substance and fact. It would have been impossible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after due consideration, to have resisted the charge that to a very small extent public funds were being charged. To get over that this Clause has been introduced, but do not let us "kid ourselves that it has been introduced for any other reason than for doing away with the accusation. I think it is deplorable that in a debate such as this we have had no speeches from the other side to help us.
I leave it to the Committee to decide whether that is not a most insulting and disgusting remark. The hon. Member is the only Member on that side of the House who would make such a remark.
I say that this has been put in to put the matter right as far as the charge is concerned. If an hon. Member of the House, no matter on what side he stood, was in the habit of paying a premium of £ 12 a year, he would be able to put that £ 12, in his Income Tax return and obtain relief from Income Tax on it. This £ 12 is in effect only a small contribution and it is unjust that this contribution should have a tax levied on it. If it were a contribution for an insurance company it would not be so charged.
I hope the Committee is not going to be led astray by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this matter. He reproached me by saying that I had only just come in. I came in quite deliberately on this issue. There is no logical reason why this £ 12 should not claim exemption for Income Tax except for a certain cowardice in telling the electors. Suppose we adjourned the House and went to assemble in Westminster Hall and signed a mutual insurance contract? We are frightened of telling our constituents —
My hon. Friend is accusing some of us of cowardice. It is nothing of the kind. It is that we do not think it right to go to the country now and ask for any form of extra burden to be imposed for our benefit. It is right to tell them.
|Division No. 259.]||AYES.||[4.10 a.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Chater, D.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Cluse, W. S.||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)|
|Adamson, W. M.||Cooks, F. S.||Frankel, D.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Collindridge, F.||Fyfe, D. P. M.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Col man, N. C. D.||Gardner, B. W.|
|Amman, C. G.||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Garro Jones, G. M.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Daggar, G.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)|
|Barr, J.||Dalton, H.||Gibson, R. (Greenock)|
|Beaumont, H. (Batley)||Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Green, W. H. (Deptford)|
|Bevan, A.||Day. H.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Dobbie, W.||Grenfell, D. R.|
|Broad, F. A.||Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)|
|Buchanan, G.||Ede, J. C.||Groves, T. E.|
|Burke, W. A.||Edge, Sir W.||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)|
|Cape, T.||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)|
same way as the rest of the community. Why should they be put in a worse position than their constituents? There is only one reason and that is that we are afraid they will reproach us for doing this at an inappropriate time. We shall have a General Election within a few months and when it comes a lot of Members will not return here again; they are giving up. Many of them will be found in difficult circumstances. We are devising this so that our friends shall have protection after the next Election. We are all friends here and I hope we do not always think of each other in terms of political opponents or that one's £ 12 is going to help a Conservative, a Socialist or a Communist. I am certain we should not be fair to our constituents if we imposed on ourselves a charge that we did not impose on them. I demand that Members should be treated the same as any other citizen and what the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) is producing should be neither better nor worse for our constituents.
I find some difficulty in believing that the exemption will cause no loss to public revenue. If you create a fund and provide that the income shall be free of Income Tax, surely there must be a loss? It seems that the exemption is justified on the ground that this is a charitable fund. I think that is a mistaken view. I do not see how it can be charitable, because a charity ceases to become a charity when it becomes compulsory.
|Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Marshall, F.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Mathers, G.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Hayday, A.||Maxton, J.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Montague, F.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge)||Stephen, C.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Higgs, W. F.||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hollins, A.||Oliver, G. H.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Paling, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Isaacs, G. A.||Parkinson, J. A.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Jagger, J.||Pearson, A.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Petherick, M.||Viant, S. P.|
|Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|John, W.||Poole, C. C.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Price, M. P.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Pritt, D. N.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Procter, Major H. A,||Westwood, J.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Lawson, J. J.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Lee, F.||Ritson, J.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Leonard, W.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Wilmot, John|
|Logan, D. G.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Lunn, W.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Sexton, T. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES —|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Shinwell, E.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir Assheton|
|Maclean, N.||Silverman, S. S.||Pownall and Sir Francis|
|Magnay, T.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.||Fremantle.|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Acland-Troyte, Ll.-Col. G. J.||Emery, J. F.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Findlay, Sir E.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Fleming, E. L.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Bracken, B.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness)||Hambro, A. V.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Hepworth, J.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Holdsworth, H.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Holmes, J. S.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A, L. (Hull)|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Colfox, Major Sir W. P.||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Wragg, H.|
|Critchley, A.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lewis, O.||York, C.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.|
|Duggan, H. J.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||McKie, J. H.||Mr. Keeling and Mr. Hely-Hutchinson.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Marsden, Commander A.|
On the Question that the Clause stand part, there are one or two points to which I wish to call attention. The Clause provides that the Fund is to be maintained by contributions from Members of Parliament. It seems to me that this liability to contribute is one which should not be put on Members of Parliament. I suggest that for this reason: We in this House have no power to co-opt Members. We are not responsible as to who comes here. We cannot get rid of anybody whom we dislike. It may happen that some Member is very generally liked by his political opponents as well as by those who think with him, and yet we can do nothing to ensure at the next election that he will be returned again. It may be that, on the contrary, a Member may be very generally disliked, and yet there is nothing that we can do to prevent his return at the next election. Therefore it seems to me that we have no responsibility for who comes here or how long any individual stays. It is absurd that the financial burden should be placed upon us, arising from the length of time that particular Members may remain here. I can quite imagine that there are other people upon whom that burden might fairly be placed. If it was thought desirable, it might be argued with perfect justice that the constituencies in question should find the money. After all, they are the people who send the man here over a long period of years and who are responsible for him. It might equally be argued with considerable justice in some cases that the burden should be supported by the particular interests which a Member has represented in this House. It might be a trade union, or an industry, or an association of employers. These might, I suggest, in many cases fairly be asked to bear the burden. Also it might be argued that the burden is one which should fall on the State as a whole. Hon. Members are in a sense public servants, and if they grow old in the public service of the State, they should be entitled to look to the State for some support if they need it. But I cannot see that there is any reason whatever why the burden should be placed upon Members of Parliament to subscribe to this Fund.
The second point to which I should like to draw attention is the question as to whether the contribution, if it is to be made by Members of Parliament, should be made under compulsion or voluntarily. This Clause says that they should be compelled to subscribe to this Fund. I suppose, with the possible exception of the winner of a football pool, there is no one who gets more applications for charitable subscriptions in the course of a year than the average Member of Parliament. There are no doubt many Members of the House who subscribe to a considerable proportion of the charities they are asked to support. Even if that may be found to be somewhat burdensome, it is at least alleviated in this way, that any hon. Member can choose whether he will or will not subscribe to a given charity. Now this Fund is a charity. No one under the Bill has any right to a pension or to a grant of any kind. It is a charity, and I must confess that to me the idea of a compulsory contribution to a charity is rather like the idea of a forced loan — a contradiction in terms. It is not a proceeding which is worthy of the traditions of this House or which is consonant with the system of government under which we live.
It is true that on the Second Reading the Prime Minister made a point that if contributions were voluntary, it would not do. He seemed to think we would not get the money. That does not seem to me to argue any confidence in the desirability of the Fund or in the reasonableness of the objects for which it is founded. The Prime Minister went on to say that unless you knew for certain what the income of the Fund was going to be, you would make the task of the trustees who had to administer it almost impossible. That is an extraordinary statement to make. There are plenty of charities which are quite uncertain what their income is going to be — charities which depend on voluntary contributions — and I cannot see that that is the serious objection that the Prime Minister sought to persuade us that it was. There are different opinions in this House about the scheme. Many think it is a good scheme. I have no doubt that if it were voluntary, many would gladly subscribe to it. If it were voluntary and it were found to work well, more might come in under a good voluntary scheme than under a compulsory levy.
There is another practical objection to this levy being compulsory, apart from the objection in principle. The sum of £ 12 is to be taken from a Member's salary. It is true that to many hon. Members, from the financial point of view, that is not a matter of importance. It is equally true that to many hon. Members that £ 12 represents an important sum. No doubt among those there are some who would say to themselves, "We may shortly hope to qualify for a pension, and although it is hard to give up £ 12 a year for a time, we shall in the long run profit by it". But there must be many hon. Members who have no reasonable expectation of ever drawing anything out of the Fund, and who yet have to bear what to them is the considerable burden of £ 12 a year. I say that that is an unreasonable burden to put upon them, and I, for one, am not prepared to vote for it.
I should be glad if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would elucidate the consequences of one decision made to-night in regard to the first Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery), proposing to extend the scheme to children of ex-Members of the House who come within the pension scheme. The right hon. Gentleman, in replying to the Amendment, indicated that in his view a word should be inserted on the Report stage which would confine such assistance to orphan children and that the matter would be dealt with at that stage of the Bill. However, when the question was put, there were no dissentient voices, and those words of my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend have been inserted in the Bill. I should be grateful if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could give us some indication of what we have really-done in extending the number of prospective applicants whom we may find coming for assistance under this scheme. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that a great number of the children for whom we have now provided are between the ages of40 and 50. Members who retire from the House at the age of 70 will leave behind them two or three children between the ages of 40 and 50. I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the haste of the party opposite to get this Bill, whether we have now made it essential that adults who have never come within 100 miles of the Palace of Westminster can appear before the trustees so as to benefit by this money. I should be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman would confirm my suspicions and also if the right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), who appears to me to be in semi-charge of the Bill, can assist me, for the Division lists will show that this Bill has been hastily pressed through.
This Clause, I think, is the one Clause which is the essential one of the Bill. I had intended to make a Second Reading speech on this Clause, or so near thereunto as I could safely get under your vigilant eye, Colonel Clifton Brown, but owing to the lateness of the hour I propose to concentrate on one or two points. I look on this Clause as being by far the most important Clause in the Bill as it at present stands. For the purpose of this Bill, you must either look upon the House of Commons as an institution of State — and, as an institution of State, it is the duty of the State to provide for the wives and children — or, on the other hand, you can look upon it as a sort of club, and, if you look upon it in the latter sense, the proposal seems to me to be rather absurd. Of course, it is a club which consists, not of an ordinary number of friends, but of five political parties which are sent here very bitterly opposed to one another. If you look at it from the latter point of view, it does seem rather foolish to put through a Bill containing a Clause such as this, which would pledge Members of all parties to give pensions to Members of other parties.
I am not making a party point on this, but there is one point which has not been mentioned by anybody. I am very surprised that no lady Member of the House has raised it. I cannot see any lady Member actually on the Floor of the House at the present time [Interruption.]. There is one present, but technically she is outside the House, although physically she is in it. Under the Clause a fund will be set up for the purpose of enabling grants to be made to all the wives and children of persons who have been Members of the House of Commons. For quite a considerable period now we have had lady Members of the House, and no mention is made of widowers, and it does seem to me possible that a lady Member may have a husband who is indigent or old and who is entirely dependent on her for bringing the money into the house. This is a perfectly serious point. If there are equal rights for men and women, we have to consider this point. I have looked for an interpretation Clause in this Bill, but I have not found it, although we have them in other Measures. In some agricultural Acts and in some measures for dealing with our dumb friends we find in the interpretation clause that "horse" includes "mare." I should be very interested to find out whether a widow includes a widower, and I think we ought to look into this matter before the Report stage. We have a Member who is going to be married next week. It may be that a lady who marries dies after a period when she has been a Member of the House for 10 years, and her husband is left entirely destitute. I believe that this matter should be considered, and I hope those who are responsible for the Bill will look into it.
I have not wasted any time to-night, and, therefore, I can claim to say a few words at this hour. I would point out that, being a countryman, this is the time at which we normally rise and start out to work. I think the hon. Member who has just spoken has raised a very interesting point which has escaped notice up to now. There is a further point which has not been dealt with in the Bill and which might cause great hardship, and that is the case of the mothers and fathers of Members of Parliament. (Laughter.)Hon. Members may laugh, but it is just as serious for a mother as for a wife. I think the mother and father should be looked after by this House as well as the wives and children, who have already been mentioned. The Clause does not mention them now, but I hope it may possibly be extended in the future. My main objection to this Clause, as indeed to the whole Bill, is the fact that we are being reduced, or elevated, if you like, to the position of civil servants. I must admit that for all the financial benefits that I get out of my job as a Member of Parliament, I would infinitely prefer to be a civil servant, but I am here, and I hope that my main objective will always be, as it has been in the past, to benefit the public service. Therefore, I feel it a great blow that I should be asked to support a Measure such as this Bill, which reduces my amateur status. I sugest that the whole of this Clause does nothing but upset the status of Members of Parliament, and that it should not be accepted by this Committee.
There is another point which this Clause brings out, which has not been fully dealt with, and that is in regard to the position in which hon. Members will find themselves when they review their life insurance policies renewable, say, next January. If this Clause is passed, and the Bill is passed, we shall get to the point when we shall be paying out £ 12 each year without any deduction for Income Tax, plus Income Tax on the £ 12, which will presumably be there to greet our penniless old age if we are unfortunate enough to be reduced to penniless circumstances in our later years, and then, at the same time, we shall be asked to make a further drain upon our resources to keep up these insurance polices which we have been paying during the past so many years. I myself would be a sufferer under this particular point.
That is a matter of opinion. If the hon. Gentlemen opposite have shown the size of their thoughts by their vocal utterances to-night, I have a little more than they. I believe that this Clause is far too limited, and I implore the Government to withdraw it, or, at any rate, if they will not withdraw it, to allow their friends on the opposite side of the Committee really to express their own opinions. It has produced nothing but rancour and a certain degree of bitterness, with a great deal of rudeness, which I, as a young Member, have been very shocked to hear. I did not think it was possible to hear such language as was addressed to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby), and it has all resulted from the Government trying to force down the throats of their own loyal supporters a Clause which they are loath to accept and will fight as long as they possibly can.
I intend to vote against including this Clause in the Bill. The more I listened to the arguments to-night the more convinced I was that it is badly thought out. I cannot help asking, why is this being rushed through? We are now past dawn. We have been sitting all night. The Opposition want this Bill. In the last division 138 voted in favour of the Bill. Of that number only 17 were Government supporters and the rest were members of the Opposition. There were 52 members on this side who went against the Bill.
On a point of Order. Is it in order to analyse the characteristics of those who have participated in divisions, and if so shall we be in order in following this speech by analysing the wealth and other characteristics of those opposing the Bill?
I will leave that matter and go to another point which has been raised, and that is the reason why widowers are not included in the Bill. When the matter was first mentioned three Lady Members were standing behind the Bar. There is still one there. Perhaps she will come into the House, and we may hear what her views are on this subject. We hear a great deal about equality and I think it right that widowers should be included in the Bill. As the evening goes on we are adding more commitments to this scheme. We suggested a way of raising more money, a 2 per cent levy on all salaries, but this has been turned down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Another mistake is that Members of the Government in another House are not also to make a contribution. There has been a lot of muddled thinking through the Debate. At midnight we had the Chancellor telling us that every Member should pay the same amount into the Fund. At four o'clock we have the Chancellor telling us that the Members ought to pay different amounts. [Hon. Members: "No."] The Chancellor ought to say that on the Report stage he will move an Amendment to the effect that the amount which comes out of each Member's pocket shall be exactly the same in every case. I do not wish to delay the Committee, or go into the arguments again on that point, but I think it requires very careful consideration before the Report stage. Another thing which one cannot help noticing is the curious silence of the Opposition.
We have often listened to hon. Members opposite on the inequalities of the means test. They usually give us an all-night sitting about this time of the year, carefully organised to discuss the means test. To-night we have seen a miracle happen.
I do not propose to detain the Committee for long. The fact remains that Clause 1, the Clause we are discussing, is the kernal of an extremely important Measure and I regret that we are obliged to take this matter so early in the morning. But I feel bound to put forward certain observations with regard to this Clause. First I want to put a point with regard to Members who do not receive a salary or do not take it. In the Measure as it stands those Members who do not receive their salaries will have £ 12 deducted.
The two Members have not taken their seats but if they were to take them they would at once receive all the salaries that have been accruing to them in the course of the last four years.
I was pointing out that hon. Members who do not take their salary have £ 12 deducted from their salaries. I am trying to help the Committee. I suggest that salaries which are not received and which are not taken by hon. Members could be placed in the Fund. This could easily be done and I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer might consider that. It would undoubtedly swell the Fund and at not one penny cost to anyone. That suggestion is merely made for the purpose of making the Fund larger. I am opposed to the principle, but if we are to have it I do believe in getting as much money as we can reasonably get into the Fund.
There is a further point, and that is that under any form of insurance scheme no one is expected to contribute to the scheme unless he has some form of ascertainable benefit. It appears, as we are today, that if any Member is in receipt of a substantial pension paid from public funds he would be unable in any circumstances to receive any more than if he retired from Parliament under the Bill. Before resuming my seat I must enter one caveat against what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Lewis). He suggested that it was a great mistake that under Clause 1 you could not have this matter done on a voluntary basis by Members. I am quite convinced that if you are to have a scheme of this character contributed to by hon. Members for pensions as a whole, you cannot make that a voluntary scheme for the reason that, although it is invidious, it would be even more invidious if hon. Members had to decide voluntarily whether they paid £ 12 or not. I am sure they all would, but if anyone was in a difficulty and did not pay it would put him under an extremely invidious scheme. You must have a compulsory scheme.
In conclusion I make an appeal to hon. Members opposite. I see the right hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn) on the front bench. I have always listened to him on grave matters with deep attention. I hoped that since the party opposite has made no contribution to the important question of Clause 1, he would help us just a little.
I am very grateful to hon. Members opposite for their very kind welcome. I look upon this Clause 1 as the worst Clause in an extremely bad Bill. It contains a very great number of points which are extremely questionable, but at this late period on Tuesday's sitting — [Hon. Members: "Wednesday's."] At this late period of Wednesday's sitting I am sure hon. Members would not wish me to animadvert on the evil qualities of the Clause, but there are two points in particular about which I believe we are entitled to have some information. The most important point is the finance of the thing. I am not a mathematician and actuarial calculations are a long way beyond me, though they are certainly not beyond the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his advisers. But why is it, I should like to know, that the finance of this scheme embodied in Clause 1, differs so radically from the finance of the corresponding scheme in France? Under our scheme, as contained in the Bill, every Member of Parliament is to be required to pay £ 12 annually, and then, after ten years minimum qualifying period and at a minimum age of 60, a very limited number of people, subject to a rigid means test, will be entitled to receive an exiguous pension. [Hon. Members: "No."] Well, they will be entitled to apply, and then, if they pass a very rigid means test, they will be entitled to pension, if there is money in the kitty. Under the French scheme, however, the contribution will be approximately the same, although it is to-be paid out of a very considerably less salary and then a pension will be the right of every member at the minimum age of 55, as compared with our minimum age of 60, after a qualifying period of eight years service, compared with our ten years.
My point in going into details of the French scheme is really to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will explain the basis on which the actuarial calculations embodied in Clause 1 have been arrived at, because they differ so very widely from the results of what must, after all, have been a very similar actuarial calculation in the case of the French scheme.
In that case, of course, I will bow to your Ruling and leave that point. There is another point of considerable substance which I should like to bring to the notice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Earlier in the course of the debate, sometime last evening, we were discussing the question whether the contributions payable by Members should be at a flat rate or at a percentage rate. The Chancellor of the Exchequer upheld the argument that it should be at a flat rate because he said it was necessary that every Member should pay the same amount. Later in our discussions he grudgingly admitted that owing to the operation of the Income Tax laws and the laws relating to Surtax, the effect of this Clause and the effect of taking from each Member a flat rate sum of £ 12 would be that varying sums would, in fact, be taken from different Members. What I want to ask him is whether he would be prepared at a subsequent stage in this Bill to insert an Amendment to the effect that, taking into account the operation of the laws relating to Surtax and Income Tax, a definite sum — £ 12, if you like or some other similar sum —shall be inserted, so that, in fact, each Member will pay the same, although the amount which reaches the Fund will not be the exactly the same number of pounds per Member? I hope I have made my point clear. It is rather a difficult one.
Will the hon. Gentleman excuse me? I have followed his reasoning as closely as I could; it is a little bit loose, I admit, but could he explain what he means by "£ 12 or some similar sum "?
The point is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that it is of great importance that each Member should pay the same amount, by which I take it, in logic at any rate, he should mean that each Member should have in his pocket to spend out of his own resources the same amount less than he would otherwise have had. Let me, for the sake of clarity, describe that amount as X pounds. Then it would not be extremely difficult for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his able mathematical advisers to devise a Clause under which each Member would be mulcted of X pounds. That does not mean that in the case of every Member exactly the same amount would reach the pool, because the X pounds would in each case be subject to the correction necessitated by the operation of the Income Tax and Surtax laws.
No, I do not agree, because this would not be any alteration in the Income Tax and Surtax laws at all. We are, in fact, making an alteration in the Income Tax laws by this Subsection (4). I agree that that is deplorable, but I was not proposing to touch on that because already the time is getting on. The proposal I was in course of making and endeavouring to illustrate would, of course, not be any departure whatever from the existing law, and it would, I suggest, make for much desirable equity and justice, because it would embody the principle laid down by no less an authority than the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, namely, equality of sacrifice as between one Member and another. Therefore, I would ask him if he would kindly consider the suggestion. I hope he will give the undertaking that at a subsequent stage in the discussion of this Bill he will himself move a suitable amendment to carry that idea into effect.
After the learned statement from the hon. and gallant Member for West Dorset (Sir P. Colfox) I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to what I regard as a much more important matter. I would direct attention to the wording of the Clause which says "and to the widows of." It clearly suggests that in the case of a deceased Member more than one widow might be benefited by this scheme. I suggest that, while nothing is done for the widower, you might have more than one dependant of a deceased Member. We know the excellent work and assiduous attendance in this House of the lady Members and it seems to me there is no reason at all for excluding a widower. If we are going to extend the benefits of this Act, as we have done, the Clause could be further improved if in the case of Members whose sons may have predeceased them — there might be grandchildren — something might be done for them. I would like to see the trustees given the widest powers possible to render assistance. We all know that some Members live to a ripe old age. There are sometimes criticisms in the press that most Members of the House are old men. I do not think that is altogether true. It is clear that many Members have grandchildren. It is equally clear that in some cases they will outlive their children and have grandchildren dependent upon them. I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will not consider giving wider powers to the trustees, who would be people of great ability and wise administrators. Why cramp the scheme? We are now committed to a fairly wide scheme. I submit that we could well improve the ambit of the scheme by giving the trustees greater and wider powers.
The difficulty which I have in supporting this Clause is that it is calling for a compulsory premium without any guarantee of benefit. A Member of Parliament gets £ 600 a year, and he is now being asked to give £ 12 out of it. May I take for comparison the case say of a factory employè receiving £ 300 a year, or £ 6 a week. Every employè in the factory is asked to pay £6 a year, equal to 2s. 6d. a week, if he is receiving that wage. When he is asked to pay it he says "What am I going to get?" and the reply is "Nothing is guaranteed." If he falls into ill-health, nothing is guaranteed; if he dies, nothing is guaranteed. Application may be made to a committee, but nothing is assured. In such a case, I have no hesitation in saying that no trade union would agree to any such scheme on behalf of those who were to subscribe to it. Those of us opposing the Bill may be in a minority. We have the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Patronage Secretary against us. We have Gog and Magog sitting there and we have the Band of Hope sitting opposite. Well, we have done our best to oppose the Bill. We realise we are up against irresistible forces.
The Clause has been discussed from almost every conceivable point of view. The debate has been interesting and instructive. I cannot hope to deal with every point mentioned. Some of them have been discussed on the Amendment. I have been asked a question with regard to the ultimate shape of the provision for the benefit of children. I think it was the intention of the mover and supporters of that Amendment that it should apply to orphan children. I should hope before the Report Stage of the Bill to be able to put down an Amendment to explain that it would be a provision for orphan children who have lost their father who had been a Member of the House and for their mother also. There would have to be limitations with regard to age — say 16 years. I should have thought that the general plan would be to carry on the provision made for the mother and apply it on behalf of the children. That is the kind of scheme which it appears to me might be the subject of decision by the House, and before the Report Stage I will undertake to see that it is put down in proper form.
It has been suggested that there is some inconsistency in my explanation of the Clause. I do not think I have been inconsistent. What I emphasise is that it seems to me the contribution should be a level and equal contribution from everyone of us. The Fund would consist of 615 times twelve. A wholly different question is the one affecting the change in Sub-section (4) as to whether each generally will make the same contribution in respect of Income Tax and Surtax. People pay Income Tax and Surtax according to the size of their income and I do not see any inconsistency. I say, in conclusion, that I have thoroughly grasped the statement made by the hon. and gallant Member for West Dorset(Sir P. Colfox), and I clearly appreciated what he was proposing.
|Division No. 260.]||AYES.||[5.23 a.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Pearson, A.|
|Adam son, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon, A.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Grenfell, D. R.||Poole, C. C.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Price, M. P.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Allan, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Groves, T. E.||Reed, A. C, (Exeter)|
|Amman, C. G.||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Richards, R, (Wrexham)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Ritson, J.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Barr, J.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Beaumont, H. (Batley)||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Hayday, A.||Sexton. T. M.|
|Bevan, A.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Shinwell, E.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Broad, F. A.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hollins, A.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Burke, W. A,||Isaacs, G. A.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cape, T.||Jagger, J.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Cary, R. A.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Chater, D.||John, W.||Stephen, C.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Stewart, W. J. (H'ghl'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Collindridge, F.||Kirkwood, D.||Thorneycroft, G. E, P.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Thurtle, E.|
|Daggar, G.||Lawson, J.J.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dalton, H.||Lea, F.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Leonard, W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Davies, S. O. 'Merthyr)||Logan, D. G.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Day, H.||Lunn, W.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Dobbie, W.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Wolsh, J. C.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Westwood, J.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||McEntee, V. La T.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Maclean, N.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Ede, J. C.||Magnay, T.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Edge, Sir W.||Margesson, Cant. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Marshall, F.||Wilmot, John|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Mathers, G.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Maxton J||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Montague, F.||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Frankel, D.||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Don caster)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES. —|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir Assheton|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Oliver, G. H.||Pownall and Sir Francis|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Paling, W.||Fremantle.|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Eastwood, J. F.||Mitchell. H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Findlay, Sir E.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Fleming, E. L.||Petherick, M.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Bracken, B.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness)||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Hambro, A. V.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Higgs, W. F.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Holmes, J. S.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Colfox, Major Sir W. P.||Keeling, E. H.||Wragg, H.|
|Critchley, A.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||York, C.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lewis, O.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES. —|
|Duggan, H. J.||McKie, J. H.||Mr. Hely-Hutchinson and Mr. Raikes|
|Duncan, J, A. L.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Division No. 261.]||AYES.||[5.32 a.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Eastwood, J. F.||Petherick, M.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Findlay, Sir E.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Allan, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Flaming, E. L.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Bracken, B.||Hambro, A. V.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness)||Higgs, W. F.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Holmes, J. S.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Jonas, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Keeling, E. H.||Ward, Irena M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Colfox, Major Sir W. P.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Wragg, H.|
|Critchley, A.||Lewis, O.||York, C.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Duggan, H. J.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Mr. Hely-Hutchinson and|
|Duncan, J.A. L.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Sir Gifford Fox.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Pearson, A.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Grenfell, D. R.||Poole, C. C.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V- (H'lsbr.)||Griffiths, J. (Lianelly)||Price, M. P.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Groves, T. E.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Ritson, J.|
|Barr, J.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Beaumont, H. (Batley)||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Hayday, A.||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Bevan, A.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Shinwell, E.|
|Broad, F. A.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hollins, A.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jagger, J.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cape, T.||Jenkins, A- (Pontypool)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cary, R. A.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Charleton, H. C.||John, W.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Chater, D.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Stephen, C.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Kirkwood, D.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Collindridge, F.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Lawson, J. J.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Daggar, G||Lee, F.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Dalton, H.||Leonard, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Logan, D. G.||Tinker, [...]. J.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lunn, W.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Day, H.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Dobbie, W.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Dugdale, Captain T, L.||McEntee, V. La T.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||McKie, J. H.||Walsh, J. C.|
|Eckersley P. T.||Maclean, N.||Westwood, J.|
|Ede, J. C.||Magnay, T.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Edge, Sir W.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Marshall, F.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Mathers, G.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Maxton, J.||Wilmot, John|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Montague, F.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Frankel, D.||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge)||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES —|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Oliver, G. H.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir Assheton|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Paling, W.||Pownall and Sir Francis|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Parkinson, J. A.||Fremantle.|
I want to ask one question. There is power to appoint a public trustee and I want to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, if a public trustee is appointed, he will not have to be remunerated and whether it is not necessary to have some provision to empower the trustees to remunerate the public trustee?
There are one or two questions I would like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think it is a little undesirable, in dealing with a purely House of Commons matter, that it is necessary to bring in a public trustee. But I think there are difficulties, and probably the public trustee must be appointed. There are three questions. Firstly, with regard to the appointment of the trustees, I imagine there will be some arrangement on an all-party basis. I should like to know how the appointments are to be made. Is it to be entirely from the front benches or are the back-benchers to be appointed? If so, how are they to be appointed? There are in this House representatives of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Again I see difficulties arising if all the trustees should be English. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr Batey) raised the question yesterday with regard to the appointment of two Scottish Members to the Ministry of Health. It would be undesirable if there should be questions as to why there were no Scotsman or Welshmen acting for the Fund. If the Chancellor can answer I shall be very much obliged.
If the hon. Members keep quiet they will be able to hear. Hon. Members opposite have taken no part in the Debate but have done what they have been told by the Whips. There seem to be some appointments in this Clause which require careful explanation. I want to know how people are going to be removed, what qualifications they must have and for what reason they may be likely to be removed. In subsection (2) it says that the trustees shall not be more than seven in number. In view of the fact that they now have to consider a larger number of persons than was the case under the original plan, it is doubtful whether seven will be enough, as we have to consider the orphans and the widows. I think it would be necessary to have a woman trustee and I think we should try to make sure that one of the lady Members is a trustee. I see it is provided that the public trustee or a corporation may be appointed. There seems to be no way of removing the public trustee or the corporation. It is provided that trustees may make directions whether other trustees are there or not, but surely that is undesirable. I hope the Chancellor will give an explanation.
With the permission of the Chancellor of the Exchequer I should like to draw his attention to one or two points. I take it that the intention was that the managing trustees should be a continuing body and that if one dropped out another would take his place. I wonder if he appreciates the fact that as the Bill is drafted all managing trustees will be swept away by the Dissolution of Parliament. Sub-section (3) says that no person shall be appointed to be a managing trustee unless he is a Member of the House of Commons and on ceasing to be a Member of the House of Commons a managing trustee shall vacate his office. On the dissolution of Parliament we all cease to be Members of the House of Commons and therefore all managing trustees will be swept away by the Dissolution. During the period of the election for such time as would elapse until the new Parliament was appointed and until fresh trustees were appointed there would be none at all. Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer appreciate that and see any objection to it?
I am sure the Committee are indebted to the Hon. Member for drawing our attention to this matter. It is not difficult to envisage one trustee being swept away by the dissolution. There might be a situation in which a managing trustee would appear as a mendicant before another trustee after the Dissolution. My hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland) referred to the appointment of trustees. I gather that they will be appointed in much the same way as the Kitchen Committee, and no doubt they will perform their functions with the same efficiency with which at this moment the Committee are performing during this sitting. He also raised the question of the geographical areas which will have to be covered. We are indebted to the fact that there are private Members so vigilant in the study of complicated Bills as my hon. Friend. I had not noticed this point. We must examine the remaining sub-sections with even closer scrutiny. The question of providing representatives of the various areas brings us to an even more important matter. I am surprised that hon. Members opposite have not put down an Amendment to Clause 2 to safeguard the position of applicants. Has it occurred to them that unless we insert the necessary words it is possible that all applicants — ex-Members, widows, old parents, children — who are now being brought within the scope of this Measure may have to come from places like London or Northern Ireland?
My hon. Friend has performed a great service in pointing this out. I am sorry hon. Gentlemen opposite have not raised this question themselves. They are supposed to be helping to shape this Bill as private Members — from the Welsh valleys as well. I hope we shall see to it that there is inserted in the machinery of this important Measure some method by which applicants in far distant areas such as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, can attend before local trustees in those areas without having to incur heavy travelling expenses.