I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add:
But humbly regret that no mention is made in the Gracious Speech of an intention on the part of the Government to compensate civilian women equally with civilian men for their war injuries.
It is with very great regret that I feel obliged to raise this question here today. I make this proposal with regret for two reasons. First, we are, at last, after years of intense anxiety, celebrating victory. We are at last cheered by better news, and at a moment when we are mutually rejoicing one would not wish to voice criticism of the Government. Secondly, I regret having to move this Amendment because I think it deplorable that after three years of war anyone should have to rise in this House to urge upon the Government the necessity for meting out justice to injured civilian women. I could wish that justice had been meted out to them before pressure was brought to bear upon the Government. The scheme for compensating injured civilians was brought forward by the free will of the Government in September, 1939. We were told
that it was a unique scheme, and indeed this country might have been very proud of inaugurating such a measure. But from the first it was obvious that there were very glaring injustices in the scheme, and for three years we have been bringing this matter to the notice of the Government. The country was not informed on this question when first it was raised. There was very little interest in it, because there was very little knowledge of it. But that is not the case today. To-day, if this question were raised on any public platform, one would get a vote of at least 99 per cent. of the public in favour of the view which I am urging to-day. I can claim that when I move this Amendment I represent the will of the men and women of this country, and I would impress upon the House that this is not a fight for women. It is a fight for human justice and nothing else.
The Government, in opposing the proposal contained in this Amendment, have changed their ground very frequently. First, I was told that it was impossible to grant civilian women equal compensation because the scheme was based on the Workmen's Compensation Acts. I may say that it has no relationship whatever to the Workmen's Compensation Acts. The Minister of Pensions then chose another ground upon which to fight me. He said that the question was indissolubly linked up with the question of equal pay. I shall prove very shortly that the question of remuneration does not enter into this scheme at all. The Minister of Pensions has stood, first on one leg and then on the other, like a cat on hot bricks. I understand that, to-day, he proposes to remove himself from the bricks altogether and that it is the Deputy Prime Minister who is to edify us with a pas seul, I have tried to raise this matter in a constitutional manner on every possible occasion. Deputations representing many millions of women have been taken to the Minister. We have tried every measure. A short time ago I took a deputation to the Deputy Prime Minister from all branches of the women's movement, from all branches of Civil Defence and also representing the general public. The Government, having already considered this subject for over two years, then took eight and a half weeks before they were able to send me any reply, and because the Deputy Prime Minister is to reply to me to-day, I think
it essential that the House should hear his answer, which was the answer of the Government, to the representations made by our deputation. Here is his statement:
The Government have given careful consideration to the views expressed by the deputation which was received by the Minister of Pensions and myself on 9th September, on the question of equal compensation for civilian women for war injuries. The deputation confined its representations to the position of civilian personnel. It would, I think, be agreed that the position of women members of the Forces, where inequality also obtains, cannot be ignored. Moreover, so far as Civil Defence personnel are concerned, in many cases they are entitled, if injured either by enemy action or in the course of their Civil Defence duties, to full pay for a substantial period. This period frequently covers the whole of their absence from duty and equality of compensation when injured could only be secured by the grant to them in such circumstances of the men's rate of pay. Further, in considering the proper relationship generally between the compensation paid to men and to women regard must be had to the broad position in the matter of pay and earnings. In this field an undoubted measure of inequality still exists. The conclusion of His Majesty's Government is therefore, that equal compensation to civilian women cannot be considered in isolation but must be approached from the point of view of the general relationship of remuneration as between men and women. A considerable degree of differentiation still obtains in this respect and so long as this remains the position, the Government do not feel justified in accepting the principle of equality in the matter of compensation.
I think I have a right to claim that that is a complete change of front on the part of the Government, because when the Minister of Pensions first introduced this scheme, in September, 1939, he said:
The injury allowance will be definitely on a flat rate basis. … It will not be in any way determined by means or need."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd September, 1939; col. 243, Vol. 351.]
I may have an intelligence very much lower than that of the Government, but when I am told that a scheme will have no relation to means or need, that to me is connected with pay, and I think I have a right to claim, therefore, that in that respect the Government have gone back on their word, which they gave of their own free will, when the scheme was first introduced. As regards the question of the women in the Forces, the scheme which I seek to amend deals only with civilians. It is true that I myself can see no reason why a woman whose hand is blown off on a gun site should have less compensation for her hand than a man whose hand is blown off on a gun site, but that is not the question which is
before the House to-day, and the Government have no right to seek to confuse the issue. Men and women in the Forces are not equally compensated, and I believe I am right in saying that their pensions, in very many instances, are decided by their rank. Therefore, much as I may deplore these inequalities, I am not dealing with them here to-day, and a member of His Majesty's Forces is not a civilian. Therefore the two points have no connection whatever.
I will touch on the second point which is raised, that of members of the Civil Defence. That is a point of real substance. It is perfectly true that members of the Auxiliary Fire Service, the A.R.P. Services, and I believe in some cases the Civil Service, if injured by enemy action, do, for a certain number of weeks, draw full pay. In the case of women who are paid—again very unjustly, but I am not dealing with that here—the unequal rate of pay for exactly the same work, naturally for the period of their disablement, if they are drawing full pay, they are drawing less than the men. But while they are drawing full pay, that sum is very much greater than they could ever receive under this scheme, and until those rates of pay are equalised, as one day they will be, I am perfectly willing, and so are my hon. Friends, to accept that while a woman is drawing full pay, we will not ask for equality. We will only ask for equality when she goes on to the civilian rates for injury and her pay ceases. Therefore I deal with that point to prove to the House that this question has nothing whatever to do with rates of pay. I beg of hon. Members not to allow this to be confused with anything to do with Civil Defence or firewatching, because it embraces the whole of the civil population, from childhood to old age.
These rates of compensation are paid direct from taxation, and women pay the same rates of taxation as men. Indeed, married women are very badly treated under taxation, and I would point out that a certain concession has been made to married women with regard to Income Tax in the last few months. Was that made because it was right? No, it was made because you could not get the women to go into the factories while they found that they lost financially by so doing, and a concession had to be made, because they were needed. Is it realised by the House that there is only one other pension which is paid direct from public funds without any contribution, that is, the old age pension, and is there one single Member of this House to-day who would dare to get up, either in this House or on any platform outside, and suggest that an old woman should get two-thirds of the old age pension given to a man? If so, let them get up and speak in favour of that now, and face the country on it at a later date. Do hon. Members realise what this means, that two old age pensioners, while in perfect health, in possession of their senses and their limbs, are getting exactly the same income, but should a German bomb injure them—and many old people have been injured by bombs—from that moment they are given an unequal rate? Can any human being justify that—that old age pensioners draw 10s. a week each while in perfect health but the moment they are injured the man, in addition to his 10s. a week, draws, if he is completely disabled—100 per cent. for life—21s., and his income, therefore, because he is ungainfully employed, goes up to 31s., and that a woman who equally with him was drawing 10s., receives an income, if she loses both eyes and both legs, of 24s.? Will the Government answer on what basis they consider that just and on what basis they can link that with pay, and on what basis they justify this differentiation in payments which are made direct from taxation?
There is another point. If a man or a woman is injured or incapacitated under this scheme, they draw compensation, which includes allowances for their children, and they draw exactly the same amount for a little girl as they draw for a little boy. Until the age of 15 years no one has discovered that the needs of a woman child are less than the needs of a man child. Is it not rather an extraordinary thing that there is complete equality under the age of 15 years, and again complete equality over the age of 70 years, but that in the intervening period, when a woman is giving so much to the nation, when she is being conscripted to the factories, conscripted into the Forces, the age when she is rearing children and managing the home, that is the period of time that is chosen to treat her with utter inequality and injustice? Can the Government defend that to me? I have heard hon. Members in this House on so many occasions, when they recalled their childhood, pay very high tribute to their mothers and to their wives. There is no one in this House, whether or not their own home life has been happy, whether or not they have made of it a success or a failure, who does not know that on the mother and the wife in the home, the stability of this country to a very large extent depends, and certainly the happiness and the wellbeing in the home not only of the husband but of the future generation, upon whom we have already placed a very heavy burden. I ask the House to remember not only that people who earn money come under this scheme, but that people who are not able to earn money are all included. When they consider non-gainfully employed people, I beg the House to remember that a non-gainfully employed man is usually either a pensioner, or someone living on someone else's bounty, or a man of independent means, none of whom has a tremendous need for compensation. But the non-gainfully-employed woman is the housewife, who washes, who sews, who cooks, who cleans, who rears your children, upon whom you have relied for billeting, for salvage, for serving in your British Restaurants, for making your rations scheme work, for economising in fuel, for keeping up the morale of the country in days of difficulty—and there is no one who could say that the working women of Britain have not been a very great asset to this country in her hour of need.
Can anyone justify giving a man of independent means, or a pensioner, because he is not gainfully employed, 21s. a week for life if wholly disabled, and giving that housewife, who has worked and always will work, in similar circumstances only 14s.? Her need is infinitely greater. Indeed, a case might be made that a disabled woman needs a greater rate of remuneration and suffers greater disability than a disabled man. But I do not wish to make that case. I do not wish to appeal to this House on any grounds of sentiment. I have no need to do so. I base my claim on one thing only: I base it on justice. At last we think that we are beginning to see the dawning of possible victory. To-day, all over Europe, hearts that were downcast are beginning to have hope: all over Europe, people are waiting for the arrival of this country; and our Forces are said to be fighting for freedom, justice, and democracy. You will not be regarded with very great seriousness if you go out to fight for justice in Europe and are unable to give it to the stricken women of your own land.
I know it is no easy matter to vote against the Government. I have no wish to divide the House on this issue, but I intend to do so, because I have tried every other method. I beg Members to remember that this is not a party issue. It is not an issue between the sexes. It is an issue that is confined to justice: it is an issue on which we are fighting for women who are injured, and who are unable to express their own rights. I know I shall be told that this is not the time to divide the House. I have been in this House for over eleven; years, and I have never yet found the time which was the right moment, or the wise moment, to divide the House. There are always people to come and tell you that you will be doing your cause so much harm if you choose that opportunity. I would remind right hon. Gentlemen who sit, some of them luckily, I think, and some of them unfortunately, on the Front Bench, that they sit there, very many of them, because this House after the Norwegian episode had the courage to vote against the Government on a three-line whip. There were only 33 of us in my party who had the guts to vote against the Government on that occasion: it was not an easy thing to do, and doubtless it was a much more serious occasion than this, but 33 of us did it; and has the House or the country regretted it?
I read in my daily paper that the Government, having tried every method to prevent hon Members supporting me to-day—and I may say that some of their methods have not been very creditable; but I excuse that, because their case is so weak—are now going to offer me a Select Committee. It will be very easy for them to say, "Be reasonable. You have been offered a Select Committee; what more can you want?". After eleven years, I know how long it will take a Select Committee to report; and I know the kind of duplicity the Government will sink to. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I do, unfortunately. If they set up a Select Committee, I am certain they will link this question with the question of equal pay, and all the repercussions it will have. I am not willing to have it based on that. I ask the House to consider one thing only, the compensation of injured civilians. Let them not allow themselves to be led away by equal pay and by questions of the Civil Defence services. I have been told that it is not logical to ask for this reform now, because the Government have allowed concessions to women firewatchers. The concessions to women firewatchers were not made on this ground; they were made because most women, in addition to their factory work, have a hard day's work to do at home. I beg hon. Members, no matter what they came here prepared to do, to look into their own hearts and their own consciences, to forget party, to forget whether it is to their advantage or to their disadvantage to join me in the Lobby against the Government, for the sake of justice.
I beg to second the Amendment.
It is most regrettable at this time, when women are giving such magnificent service to their country, that it should be necessary for the women of this House to ask for some measure of justice for women. I feel that if the Minister of Pensions had listened more carefully and had given more consideration to the deputations which he has received during the last 18 months, this Debate would never have been necessary. We hear that a Select Committee is to be appointed. Perhaps there are new Members here who have never heard this question debated before. I want to assure them that behind the scenes we have done everything in our power to have this matter threshed out. We have taken one deputation after another; we have asked the Minister on countless occasions to reconsider his previous decision. Always he has said that the matter has been fully considered, and that the Government cannot see their way to alter the present Regulations. Therefore, are hon. Members surprised that the hon. Lady said that we cannot place much faith in a Select Committee? It is almost an insult to us. This matter has not come before the House as a question which has not been debated before. The Government have had two years to consider the problem. One paper this morning said the Government now are "stalling," and another, that they are trying to evade the issue. Of course they are. We women are not simpletons. I have not been here as long as the hon. Lady—I have only been here four years—but I am aware that it is possible to postpone an issue by setting up a committee.
There has been so much discussion on this subject that one would almost think that the women are asking for something of an extravagant nature, that we are, in fact, asking for luxuries. Let us, as sensible men and women, think of what we are really asking. We are simply asking that in the event of permanent injury a woman should have enough to feed, clothe and house herself without having to resort to public assistance. That is all it amounts to. Please do not think that the women are coming here to ask for privileges. Not at all. We are asking for redress, and that a woman should have enough in order to keep herself in comfort in the event of permanent injury. If a man is given this, why should a woman be denied it? I would remind the House of two cases. Think of a woman fire-spotter, a spinster of 40, with dependent relatives, working side by side with a bachelor of 20, living at home with his mother and father. They are both permanently injured by the same bomb. I think the amounts have been increased by 1s. or 2s. now, but only a month or two ago the spinster of 40 would get 28s. and the bachelor of 20 would get 35s. If he was a married man, he would get a family allowance, but no question of family responsibility enters into it. Is it fair? There is only one answer. Let me remind the House of the woman ambulance driver or nurse in a blitz. If she is permanently injured, she will get far less than a man in an underground shelter.
I realise that the House is going to be confused, because this is to be related to pre-war wages. How can you relate these two questions which I have described to anything in the pre-war days? How can you relate the position of these people fighting fire on a roof who are injured by a bomb to any wages which existed in pre-war days? How can you relate the injury of an ambulance driver to anything that the woman might have received in pre-war days? It is as irrational as relating the pension which a soldier gets to pre-war rates of wages. These women are fighting to defend their country, and if they are injured in defending their country, they should be treated as if they were soldiers righting in defence of their country. I am very surprised to find the Minister of Pensions still concerned with pre-war wages. Surely he remembers that the Standing Joint Committee of Working Women, who also represent the trade unions, sent a strong deputation to see him and asked him in the name of the trade union movement and the organised working women of this country to reconsider his decision. We in this House are always told that the Government, quite rightly, are guided by trade union decisions. Then why, because these trade unionists are women, is their advice totally disregarded?
Yesterday a number of Members of this House, including the Minister of Pensions, attended a demonstration of artificial limbs. I think that we shall never forget that poignant sight. I, with my medical experience, have never before seen 12, 15 or 20 limbless people sitting together. We were thrilled by the bravery and courage of these people, and the Minister of Pensions had the opportunity of seeing these men and women, injured by bombs in the blitz, demonstrating their artificial limbs. He saw a woman warden, not very young, walk down the room by means of her artificial leg. She had lost her leg in the blitz. Did she give up? Not at all. She was wearing her warden's uniform, and she had gone back to the post where she lost her leg. Can the Minister say, after seeing such a sight, that that woman is not as worthy as any of the men with artificial legs? Should not that woman feel that at least in her old age she will have security? But we know that she will not have security and that when peace comes, and perhaps unemployment problems arise, those who have been injured will have lost the chance of getting a job. These women, who have to exist on 27s. or 28s. awarded for permanent injury, blinded, with lost limbs, will know what their end will be—in a back room eking out their miserable existence on public assistance or living with some relatives in order to try and stretch out these few shillings. That is the human side of the problem. How dare the Government try to deceive this House and talk about pre-war rates? All that these women are asking for is justice.
The hon. Lady quite rightly discussed the question of Income Tax. Have women at any time during this war come forward and said, "Because we are being underpaid, we will refuse to contribute the same rate of Income Tax as men"? Have they at any time withheld their contributions? No, not one woman in the country has ever said, "We are not being pensioned equally and therefore we will not contribute equally." They are, in fact, paying their contributions to the Revenue, thus helping to subsidise the pensions of the men. The failure of the Government to recognise the justice of the women's case makes some of us a little uneasy about the post-war world. If the Government exploit the women when they are needed, we cannot anticipate that the principles expressed in the Atlantic Charter will protect them when they are not needed. We are promised freedom from want. What a hollow mockery to these women who have been maimed and blinded Freedom from want! Are you implementing the promise that you made in the Atlantic Charter? No. This Debate to-day is a reflection upon our country. The attitude of the Government is sufficient to arouse the suspicions of the whole world regarding the honesty of our purpose.
We hear the word "repercussions" bandied about. We are told repeatedly of the repercussions and the equal pay which might be asked for as a result. I go a little further than the hon. Lady who has just spoken, and I say to that, "Why not?" Why should we be afraid of repercussions? Women in the Services and in Civil Defence are being paid at cut prices. Our American Allies are paying their men and women equally, but we believe in cut prices for our women in the Forces. When people tell me that one of the repercussions may be equal pay in the Forces, I say, "Why not?" I have been on gun sites and seen these women working and defying danger. They are being used at cut prices by the Government. If there are repercussions, this is one which I would welcome. After all, what Measure ever introduced has not had repercussions? What reform has ever been introduced which has not had repercussions? If we were all afraid of repercussions, we should maintain the status quo. This is not a threat, but I know there will be repercussions. They will be repercussions of a kind the Government will not like. There will be unhappy repercussions which we may regret but which will be inevitable, because the Government cannot always impose their will upon the women of the country.
To-day we have a Coalition Government, and this Debate is one of the evils which has arisen out of a Coalition. No party would have dared to have done this alone. But a Coalition must stand together, a Coalition held together by bonds of prejudice and custom, a Coalition which, to-day, on this issue, is completely out of step with public opinion. The Government know full well that they can ignore this appeal. Why? Because the women of this country are not organised. If they were organised as well as the coal-owners or the drink industry [An HON. MEMBER: "Or the catering industry"]—or the catering industry, the Government would be on their toes. The Government know that the people suffering from these injuries are not organised. They know that there is not a crowd of injured women standing in the Lobby, and they take advantage of it. They also know that the women in this House are out of all proportion in numbers to our representation in the country. Therefore the Government feel it is safe to-day to play with this Amendment. I ask the House to consider the whole question simply on its merits and, if Members believe in justice, to vote for the Amendment.
I am intervening in this Debate for a brief time in order to make a statement as to the attitude of the Government towards this Amendment. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions will be speaking, I hope, later in the Debate and will deal with the matter in more detail. I think everybody will agree that the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment have made speeches of very great cogency. I could have wished, however, that there had been a little less attribution, apparently, of the lowest motives to the Government, because I should have thought that the points made created such an appeal that everyone would have thought "If these things are not so easy, there must be some reason for it."
I listened to the hon. Lady with great interest, but I listened with still more interest to the speeches of the ladies she was good enough to bring before me as a deputation. I think those speeches were extremely well delivered—
They were extremely good speeches, but were delivered without that tone of intense bitterness which the hon. Lady showed. This matter does, naturally, arouse great feelings, and it is possible to take particular cases and make a very strong point about them, yet ignore a whole range of other matters which necessarily have to be taken into consideration. The claim here is that where men and women are doing the same service and suffer the same injuries, they should receive the same compensation. That is an appeal which comes very strongly to all of us, and I would like to say that when I looked into this matter and heard the deputation, I was strongly persuaded. I have striven most earnestly to see how this could be accomplished. I want to see this accomplished, but it is not so easy as one would imagine from the speeches we have heard. It has been based on the principle of equal injury, but the trouble is that we have systems in this country that are based on a different principle—the principle in which compensation has reference to the earnings of the persons injured. It is no good in the least saying that these things can be separated. There I think my hon. Friend the Member for West Fulham (Dr. Summerskill) corrected the hon. Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) —
I apologise for interrupting, but is it not the case that in all other schemes where compensation is based on earnings they are contributory schemes, where the contribution of the women is lower than the contribution of men? This scheme is the only one, except old age pensions, which is paid for out of direct taxation.
The workmen's compensation scheme is not a contributory scheme. I think my hon. Friend the Member for West Fulham clearly recognised that it was not possible to deal with this question entirely in isolation. She recognised with great courage, I think, that there were deep questions involved.
It is one of the difficulties in dealing with these things that when you do what is a piece of justice to one lot of people, you set up a feeling of injustice in others. I and my colleagues have been trying hard to find out how we can get this matter dealt with on the basis of justice, having regard to the ramifications of the subject. I want to give the House one or two examples as to why I think an inquiry is needed. Let me say at once that this is not a question of an obstructive Treasury refusing a few pounds. I would ask hon. Members not to suggest that the people who are in the Government do not appreciate the points that are made but to recognise the fact that members of the Government have to take responsibility for administration and see where these matters lead.
I want to give one or two examples simply to show the need for examination. Workmen's compensation has been built up on the principle that the compensation has reference to earnings. It is true that at the top level of 35s., the amount is the same for both sexes, but below that there is a differentiation. One may disagree with that system, but it is in existence. Under the Personal Injuries (Civilian) Scheme, instead of putting a top level and then having an assessment with regard to earnings, the principle was adopted of taking for men the highest amount under workmen's compensation, 35s., and taking for women 28s., which on inquiry had been found to be the average level of women's earnings as compared with men's earnings. It must be remembered that compensation for Civil Defence workers is not always a matter of someone being hit by a bomb; it includes accidents while on duty, things which would ordinarily come under workmen's compensation, and there one gets the difference between two people who may be suffering in precisely the same way but who come under separate schemes. This at once introduces a differential factor, and those people get a sense of injustice.
Let me refer to another matter. It is quite true that this injuries amount has been laid down, but in practice the payments are made to men and women of the Civil Defence personnel on the basis of giving a maximum of six months whole- time pay, 74s. in respect of men and, 52s. in respect of women, because—it may be right or wrong—in fact, the pay of the people in those services is different. This is a method of compensation, because it is in respect of compensation that full wages are given. If one were to adopt the principle as it is put in the Amendment, one would have to say that this compensation must be equal. I know the hon. Lady the Member for Frome said that she was prepared not to press that point; I do not know whether she has authority to speak for every one on that matter; but the terms of the Amendment inevitably cover that question of compensation. The difficulties there can be seen at once. I imagine no one would want to reduce the rate for men, so that the women would have to be brought up to the men's level, and the women would be getting more than their actual pay when at work and the men would be getting the same. I merely point out this as one of the difficulties. But compensation is not given only in the form of an injury allowance. There is a pension for total disability. Pensions for Civil Defence workers and for members of the uniformed Services are the same in the basic grades, but they differ as between men and women. If it is proposed that the Civil Defence services should be in this respect brought up to an equality of the sexes, the same thing would have to be done for the Armed Forces. The hon. Lady the Member for West Fulham said, "I do not mind any of these things," but she will agree that those who are responsible for administering the Services must have regard to these things. I think everybody will agree that changes of such magnitude ought not to be made after one day's debate in the House.
There is yet another category of persons who come under this—the Personal Injuries (Civilian) Scheme, those who are non-gainfully employed. That comprises a great body of women, including a very large number of those who are doing work of the highest national importance in looking after the homes. They were brought in under the scheme. There was no criterion for the non-gainfully occupied. They were brought in, and there is a difference of rates. I say frankly that it is extremely difficult on any logic to defend that. I
think it is a matter which has to be looked into. But the difficulty is that if you alter just that one piece of the machine, it immediately throws the other pieces out of balance. There, again, I think it would be reasonable to say that the reference here should be to the nature of the injury, because there are not any earnings. The difficulty is that there are the two different bases in this country, one depending on the nature of the injury and the other on earnings. It is not so easy to link them up. It must be remembered that we are dealing with a very large number of people. It is not easy to make changes. The difficulty—I think the hon. Lady realises it—very clearly is that once one departs from that basis, one has to go on to a pure matter of personal injuries, and one throws over the wage consideration. If one goes on the basis of relating this to earnings, one is brought up against the question of the difference in earnings between the two sexes. That is a question one can answer one way or the other, but it will be agreed that it is a very big question to embark upon. It would have very wide results. I have given only a few instances—there are others—to show that this is a complex matter and that it really is not pure "cussedness" on the part of the Government. I went into the matter of how to try to get a solution and I was driven to the fact that one cannot consider this matter in isolation. It is not a matter of the future or of the time before the war, but of the existing conditions under which men and women are remunerated to-day. The Government's proposal is that there should be a Select Committee set up by the House with the following reference:
To examine and report on the effect of the proposal that civilian women should be compensated equally with civilian men for war injuries, on the general principles of compensation, and on levels of remuneration.
Yes, Sir, in the existing circumstances. What we wish is that there should be an examination by a Select Committee of the House which would put the facts before the House. They would not be asked to form a judgment—that would be a matter for the House—but to present the facts to the House. I do not see any reason why that should take a very great deal of time. It is not the Government's desire to delay this matter, and it is certainly not a question of putting it outside the power of the House, because inevitably the report of the Select Committee would have to be debated by the House and a decision come to by the House.
I have given one or two instances, and my right hon. Friend will give others, showing that this is a complicated matter and that the House ought to have full information I am afraid to use the word "repercussions"—on the ramifications of the question. It is not an easy thing which can be settled straight off on an abstract principle. You have to see its application. You have to see that you do justice and equity right the way round, or you may merely set in train a series of injustices which will be worse, perhaps, than those that you are trying to get rid of. If, as the hon. Lady says, there are no ramifications or repercussions this Select Committee will say so, and we shall be able to go ahead. If there are ramifications and repercussions, the House will have to see how to get over them, and it will make a decision. I suggest that the House would be well advised to accept the Government's suggestion.
I oppose the Amendment and support the suggestion of the Deputy Prime Minister in no spirit of levity but in one of deep conviction that it is a matter about which we should be very cautious before arriving at a conclusion. I listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) and the Seconder. I could not help thinking that there was a note of feminist opposition right through both those speeches. In fact, although I thought my hon. Friend's speech was an admirable rhetorical success, it was a miracle of feminist special pleading. I am not a bit impressed by the Amendment, and I cordially agree with what the Deputy Prime Minister says. There is a very great principle involved, and the lessons not only of economics but of history should be carefully considered before reaching a conclusion. I have received no letters on the matter since the war began, and I do not believe that women are suffering financially through the war. In past years several eminent lawyers have drawn comparisons between the law as it applies to men and as it applies to women, very much to the advantage of women. That is one of the advantage of women. That is one of the things that I hope women will bear in mind, and I hope they will not run the risk of losing those advantages by asking for too much. Women are better off at present than they have ever been, and an immense debt is being run up, not only by the women, but by the men as well, in consequence of war expenses. This Amendment would have the effect of largely increasing that debt, and that should make us pause before we accept too lightly the arguments which have been put forward. I cannot help thinking that the pure economics of the Amendment are on a par with those of the lady in the play "Claudia," who tore up her Income Tax demand on the plea that she could not afford such luxuries. It is no good mincing one's words in these matters. The hon. Lady certainly would not mince hers. Women already have the power to vote men down and rule the country, but, very wisely as I think, they have not used it. I sincerely hope that they will pause before they start another campaign and will leave government now to men.
I have, since I saw the Amendment on the Paper, been studying some statistics. I learnt from them that in the United States the women receive 70 per cent. of all the estates left by men and 65 per cent. of all the estates left by women, and these percentages left by men and women to women are increasing, and if the transfer of wealth goes on at the present rate, all the wealth in the United States will be in the hands of women during the lifetime of people who are alive to-day. It would be very easy to make similar investigations in this country. That is a significant fact, and it should be borne in mind by the investigation that the Deputy Prime Minister has suggested.
The question has been asked whether civilisation can raise higher the status of its women. What is certain is that civilisation will most certainly decline if a truer and proper balance is not kept. We are running the risk of upsetting that balance. If I may touch upon the historical aspect of it—I know it is very old-fashioned to do so, but it is none the less sincere upon my part, and I think it none the less true for being old—I realise that the Empress of Rome and two other women, Placidia, Eudoxia, and Pulcheria, who ruled or misruled it, completed the ruin of Rome which decadent men had hastened, and we should bear that in mind. It is so large a question, affecting such a vast population, that I hope we shall pause before accepting the Amendment. The comparison in the Amendment seems to me unfair and illogical and, above all things and most important, really incomplete. I have very strong sympathies with many of the points which have been put forward by the Mover, and, if sympathy solely was my guide, I might agree, but I say very strongly that no such alteration should be arrived at by a decision taken on the Address, and it should not be made without the fullest investigation and the fullest publicity of the economics of the whole question as it affects the whole nation, all the men and women, and also all the further demands on the taxpayer which this demand would at once produce if we were to pass it to day. That is important. When we realise that our debt, instead of being £10,000,000,000, will possibly run up to £20,000,000,000, it is time we thought of where we are to be carried by this rather reckless suggestion of expenditure. I am old-fashioned enough to say that the ultimate and greater responsibility in fire-watching, or in any other duty that has been forced upon us by the exigencies of the war, can never be the same for women or for men, and I hope it will never be the same problem for women as long as there are men about to accept those burdens.
I do not want to be obnoxious or offensive, but I must say that from time to time I am surprised at the attitude which is taken up by the feminist mind. It always gives me the impression that I am at a grave disadvantage in discussing these matters with them, because they appear to me to belong to a section of their sex which seems to be actuated by a mordant discontent with the limitations of their sex. All the arguments in the world will not shift me from the view that there are limitations and that they can never be removed. I cannot support the Amendment, and I hope that we shall not break away from the tradition of not dividing upon the Address. I hope that those who feel as strongly and sincerely as the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment will agree that the proper, democratic way is to accept what the Deputy Prime Minister has put before us, and to insist that the Select Committee be set up forthwith and that it looks into every detail which will be affected by the demand which has been put before us to-day.
Mr. Vernon Harriett:
I do not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Lewes (Rear-Admiral Beamish) into the question of the inheritance of estates in the United States or the behaviour of women in ancient Rome, because I do not believe that the ordinary person in the ordinary town or village in this country who happens to be one of the victims of bombing and who will follow this Debate with great interest will be very interested in those subjects. I would like to come to the speech of the Deputy Prime Minister. I must say with genuine regret that I am very sorry that he made that speech, because it seemed to me to be a complete justification for a policy of never making a reform of any kind in this world. He emphasised that any reform would to some extent dislocate the social structure. Of course, that is true, and the Government are right to take such matters carefully into consideration, but if the Government were really as anxious to meet the demands of public opinion as the Deputy Prime Minister suggested, they have had plenty of time to make a thorough investigation into the repercussions. The speech of the Deputy Prime Minister was an argument for the maintenance of the status quo, and I do not believe the people of the country will accept the argument he made in that sort of spirit.
The justice of the case has been brought out so convincingly by the hon. Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) and the hon Member for West Fulham (Dr. Summerskill) that there is nothing more that can be said about that. I would, however, like to make another point that has not been dealt with. One has seen a great deal in the newspapers in the last few days about vague hints that the Government would consider a defeat on this matter almost as a vote of no confidence. That method of trying to dissuade Members of Parliament from doing their job is very reprehensible and regrettable. We Members of Parliament are ordinary men and women who happen to have been given the job of representing our fellow men in the House of Commons. The Ministers are ordinary Members of Parliament who happen to have been given the job of sitting on the Treasury Bench. It is our duty as Members of Parliament, if public opinion feels that an injustice is being committed, to do everything we can as representatives of the public to see that that injustice is removed. We do not suggest in the newspapers that if the pressure of public opinion continues we will chuck up our particular war job in a fit of petulance. The Government's job on a matter like this should be to take the fullest account of the pressure of public opinion and to reject a demand for reform only if it can be proved that its acceptance in war time would be damaging to the war effort. I do not see that there is any danger of that in this particular case.
If the people of the country are prepared, as I believe they are, to face an increase of taxation in order to right this injustice—and nobody can claim that this differentiation is just—it is the people's responsibility, and it is the Government's job to give way. Instead of that, the Government are being intimidated by the angry growls of that fierce and terrifying gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I wish they would not be. I regret that almost the last act of the late Leader of the House was to adopt the incredible and unconvincing argument that there are not enough doctors to go round for pension tribunals for soldiers wounded in this war. It means that the Government's refusal on that matter will seep down throughout the country in the form of cynicism and discontent and reach every village where there is some Service man waiting to appeal to the tribunal. The injustice in this issue is much more dangerous and distinct, because, as the Deputy Prime Minister said, of the very large number of cases that would be affected if there were equality of compensation in this respect. I am afraid that if the Government insist on what I can only consider to be a negative attitude, the people of the country will feel that the Government are behaving with a rather childish petulance rather than face a question of obvious justice. In order that that may may be avoided I would like to ask the Government whether they can give a guarantee in two respects—(1) Will they ask the Select Committee to report within a certain and very short interval? and (2) Will they give a pledge to the House that on the Report of the Committee the Debate of the House shall be free and that there shall be none of those questions of party whips and of attempting to frighten people by the ghosts of party considerations? There should be a free discussion and a completely free vote of the House. Otherwise, I for one shall certainly vote against the Government in the House to-day, and I hope a great many other hon. Members will do the same.
Perhaps I ought to say, in the first place, that I am speaking to-day only for myself and not in any way for the party to which I belong. I should also like to say that I regret very much the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Rear-Admiral Beamish). I think it was somewhat reactionary, and it reminded me of days long gone by. I rise to support personally the Amendment moved by the hon. lady the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) and seconded by the hon. lady the Member for West Fulham (Dr. Summerskill). I think both of them eloquently made out their case. A discussion such as we have before us reminds me of the early days of the 1918 Parliament, when the slogans of the last great war promising security, fraternity and social and industrial equality were fresh in the minds and, as it were, re-echoing in the ears of its Members. That Parliament turned out to be a very reactionary Parliament, but it began very well. One of the first things it did was to give a unanimous Second Reading to the Women's Emancipation Bill—that was its Title. Everyone was then prepared to praise, indeed to magnify, the great services rendered by women during the last great war. The Members of the House at that time had every reason to do so, because they had just come from an election in which women had voted for the first time—not all of them, only some.
Whatever the services rendered by women in the last war, they pale into utter insignificance and unimportance in comparison with the services which have been rendered in this war and the things
they are now doing. I remember clearly that the speeches made by hon. Members on the opposite side of the House were as progressive, and in some cases sounded more progressive, than the speeches made by hon. Members on this side. I was taken to task by a sound Tory Member not for saying that I was in favour of organising the women in my trade union—he agreed with that—but for saying that I thought women ought to be employed in the engineering industry on the same terms as men, paid the rates for the job and made eligible for my trade union. To him, apparently, equality meant not equal payment for the work done but the right to enter a trade union irrespective of the rates and conditions of employment that might be imposed by employers on their women workers. I am afraid that a somewhat similar opinion remains with many Members to-day, that women should endure the same risks of war as men without sharing or enjoying the same awards. I wish to repeat what I said in 1919, with an addition:
There is no sign as yet, even in spite of the war, that the women who are in industry are going to receive from those who employ them, including the Government, equal pay for equal work.
I wish now to add "or for equal injury and sacrifice." I admit that I rejoice that much improvement has taken place in the economic status of women during the past 20 years, and thanks to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour a great improvement in this war compared with the last. As an honourable Friend near me says, there is room for more, but I am admitting satisfaction to the extent that improvement has been made. Nevertheless, I cannot refrain from saying that in my opinion the time has now come when the Government should admit, and give practical effect to the admission, that it is the work done and not who does, it, and the sacrifices made or suffered, especially during wartime, that matter, without reference to sex. As has been repeatedly said to-day, justice, apart from all abstract questions of equality, implies acceptance of that principle. In this war we are losing thousands of our young men, and the number may and probably will run into hundreds of thousands before it is ended. Given complete victory, the country will survive that loss and rehabilitate itself,
but were the loss of a similar number of women to take place, with all that it would mean to the family life and childhood of the country, then it is possible that the country would not be able to recuperate and would be lowered to the status of a second-rate Power. In that respect a woman is more valuable than a man. Therefore, when the same risks of physical injury and death are imposed upon women in the interests of national security, acknowledgment should be made without hesitation of the equal value of men and women.
The Amendment is a limited one. There is no attempt to alter, improve or advance the status of women by proposing legislation of a permanent nature in the laws of the country, respecting accidents. The proposal is for equal compensation for injury caused by and due to the war. When the war ends, the causes for this kind of compensation will also end. If there is no renewed and extensive blitzing, the number of war compensation cases will not be very large and will continually decrease. Surely, as the Deputy Prime Minister put it, it is not a question of finance which delays compliance with this suggestion. If it is, some members of the Government are—I will not use the opprobious term "blind guides"—some Members of this House as a result of the war, have swallowed more than one camel, although before the war it was habitual and characteristic of them to strain at a gnat. In so far as this is a camel, it is a diminishing one, and the extra expense can only be trifling, in these days. On the other hand, the expense of delaying compliance with the request will be irritation and dissatisfaction.
I know that some feminists want women to be allowed to work at anything and everything that a man does. They think that at all times women should undertake the duties, responsibilities and risks of men. In my estimation, that attitude is merely a reaction from the fact that down through the ages women have lived under harder and more unjust laws than have men. In these days, when we hear so much about and envisage freedoms covering the whole life of mankind, let us not forget the women. For far too long have we been working slowly up to the recognition of the principle of equality between men and women. We ought to accept that principle now. Let us reverse the process, admit the principle and then work down from it, debarring women from the equalities which are injurious to themselves and harmful to the State, such as working in mines, which I hope we shall never, even under war conditions, see established in this country.
I would summarise the reasons why I support the Amendment. Woman's life is at least as valuable as man's, and her physical and mental wellbeing are just as important. To set up an inquiry and to investigate a self-evident principle of economic justice would be more likely to increase than to diminish repercussions. I wish the House would remember that the two hon. Ladies have been pleading to-day for equal treatment due to the war. Women's war risks are just as great as the risks run by men, and therefore, with all that it entails, I wish hon. Members would remember the portion of the community for whom we plead. Although by sex women, in ability they have proved themselves men during the period of this war.
I wish to devote myself to five points: (1) the choice of Government speakers on this occasion; (2) the circumstances in which the right hon. Gentleman makes to us the recommendation that he does; (3) the merits of what he has to say in support of this proposal; (4) what would be the probable consequences of agreeing to it; and (5) the attitude that this House ought to adopt in regard to that recommendation. It would be ungracious if I were to begin without first saying how much the speech of the Mover of the Amendment pleased me. It was not merely that it was grand argument and, indeed, high oratory, but that also it embodied a degree of political courage which I would like to see emulated in every part of this House. I believe that every time a Member of Parliament puts first what he or she conceives to be right and subordinates the political expediencies of the moment, that Member does something to raise the prestige of this House in the eyes of the country. I would felicitate on my own behalf the Mover of the Amendment for the magnificent and courageous way in which she put it.
Now I come to the first of the five points, which is the choice of the Govern- ment speakers for to-day. Usually there is competition to speak in this House, but I imagine that on this occasion there has been tremendous competition to avoid speaking, on behalf of the Government. Indeed one can imagine the enthusiasm with which there has been adopted in Government circles the old Civil Service motto, "Passed to you, please" in regard to the job of defending the Government's proposals here to-day. I cannot conceal my scorn that, on this as on every other occasion when some just proposal which is made by a Member of this House and which is not to the liking of His Majesty's Treasury—what just proposal ever is?—and if ever an indefensible position has to be defended, the choice invariably falls upon a Labour representative in the Government, a member of a party whose whole career has consisted in trying to secure elementary rights for human beings and, not least among them, reasonable equality of treatment between men and women. The function which Labour Ministers discharge in the Government is to be the cloak and the alibi of reaction. We have seen that abundantly demonstrated here to-day.
In what circumstances—this is my second question—does the Deputy Prime Minister make to us the proposal that he does? Is there a Member of this House who believes that the proposal for a Select Committee on this subject would have been made except for the Government's profound uncertainty about what would happen in the Division Lobbies on this occasion? This is not a proposal of statesmanship; this is a device of political cowardice. But for the fact that there were 150 names on the Paper in support of this Amendment, but for the great courage of the hon. Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate), who, to my joy, announced that she did not intend to be sidetracked on this business by the device of a Select Committee, but for these two things I assert that there would not have been the remotest possibility of the Deputy Prime Minister making the proposal to us that he has made to-day.
What does he say in support of it? I ask the House to notice this, that at no stage in that speech, from beginning to end, did the Deputy Prime Minister question the justice of the proposal made in the Amendment. Indeed, he went so far as to say that he was in sympathy with the proposal. At no stage did he question its justice. What then was his line of defence? It was this: If you do something on this Amendment about equal compensation then we will be driven, by the inexorable pressure of repercussion, to do something about equal pay in the Civil Service, we will be driven to do something about equalising Workmen's Compensation rates; we might even be driven—oh, appalling prospect—to laying down the principle that a woman who does the same job as a man, and does it as well, shall get as much money for doing it. This vista, this avenue of prospects, grim and dreadful prospects, such as I have mentioned, led the Deputy Prime Minister to say, "Stop this end of the avenue, and do not go down that road." That really was the whole of his case.
I have three observations to make about it. I have had, in another capacity, as a trade union official in the Civil Service; movement, to deal with this problem between men and women over a period of 30 years. To do the men of my organisation justice, they have, from the time they became an organised body, supported the demand for equal pay between men and women. I have never known, in the whole of those 30 years, the Treasury defend their opposition to the claim for equal pay on any other ground than the kind advanced here today. You see the technique? If it is a Civil Service claim for equal pay between men and women, say, "We cannot have that because if we did we might have to have equal compensation for injury as between men and women." When the House of Commons says, "Let us have equality of compensation between men and women," say, "You cannot have that because if that were done there might have to be equal pay between men and women in the Civil Service." So we go on chasing each other round in a circle, never getting anywhere at all. "Repercussions" and "relativity" are two words which will be found written on my heart when I die, after 30 years' experience of His Majesty's Civil Service.
In all my life I have never known the Government fail to defend one injustice by saying "If you have to remedy that, you will have to remedy a lot more." So far from deterring me, that encourages me. If, as a result of getting this Amendment through—and it is going through—and getting equality for women with men in respect of compensation for injury, I can get equal pay for men and women in the Civil Service, and a greater equalisation of wages between men and women in industry, these are not deterrents; they are incentives for me to support the Amendment moved by the hon. Lady who represents Frame in this House.
That was the only case the Deputy Prime Minister made. I come to what he proposes we should do. We should have a Select Committee. Select Committees remind me very much of Royal Commissions. I would give the formula for the common property of the House of how to avoid ever doing anything on anything by means of a Select Committee or the Royal Commission. Take a limited number of Tories and set against them a limited number of Liberal and Labour representatives so that they cancel each other out. Next take a representative of the nobility, a representative of the middle class and a working-class woman so that they cancel each other out. To the mixture thus far developed add a couple of Treasury representatives to sit on each side of the chair to make sure that the chairman's pen should not falter in the momentous business of furnishing a draft of the report. Finally, choose your chairman with great care, and you may guarantee automatically that what will emerge from the report of the Committee is massive motionlessness. If I may say so, the Deputy Prime Minister intends that that shall be so. Did hon. Members notice that he commended the proposal to us on the ground that we ought to have a lot more information than we have got, that it would not be the job of the Committee to make recommendations to us but only to provide us with knowledge?
What we need here is not knowledge but will, will to do something. But our Deputy Prime Minister makes it perfectly plain in his speech that the whole weight of the Government in that Committee would be thrown against any changes. I do not care what promises he gives me about how long this Committee is to take, nor do I believe that any Member of this House will be in a better position two months hence, six months hence, or a year hence, to make up his mind on this matter than he is now, because, as the hon. Member for Frome said, it is not a question of mathematics but of justice. But I can very well believe that, in the interval, first, a good deal of time will elapse; secondly, an attempt will be made to terrify the House by the prospect of the reactions flowing from this matter; and thirdly, when the matter comes here we shall no more get a free vote on it than we are likely to get to-day. I await with great interest the reply of the Minister of Pensions in winding-up for the Government—an appropriate undertaker, if I may say so—to the very pointed query of the hon. Member who asked if, when this matter came before the House, we should have a free vote of the House. I can tell him the answer. The answer is "No."
In these circumstances, I come to my final point: What ought this House to do about this matter? The House should insist on going into the Lobby and affirming its endorsement of this principle of equal compensation for men and women. It ought to do so, even if the fate of the Government were at stake. A man who would vote against the Government only when the Government did not mind, might just as well never vote against the Government at all. As a matter of fact, there will not be an election if we do defeat the Government. There is a mass of vested interests behind the continuance of this Government which it would require more than one adverse majority to shake. But even if that were not so, I would face it. I do not regard the lifetime of the British Commonwealth of Nations as being necessarily coterminous with the lifetime of this Government. I have learned that there is nothing so dangerous in this world as playing for safety; and, recent as my election was, I would hazard my seat again and again rather than do somthing which I regard as being wrong.
As regards the Government, let me say this. In recent weeks it has been a blessing and a delight to turn on the 8 o'clock news in the morning and to hear something different from the melancholy tale of disaster that we have heard for the last three years. But the more our deliverance from the immediate threat of invasion and conquest becomes apparent, the more necessary will it be to hold our people together, to convince them that we are not fighting to maintain the status quo, either in Europe or in Britain. I regard the events of the last week-end as ominous. I interpret them, rightly or wrongly, as indicating that the Government are moving to the right, whereas, as I know, the country moves to the left. The development of a wide gap between Government and people, in my view, is fraught with the utmost danger to many things; and among them is the maintenance of democratic institutions in Britain. I say to the Government that they will do well, when these issues come along, one by one, in which the obvious sense of justice of the ordinary man and woman is against them, to defer to the sentiment of the people and bring themselves into line with that sentiment. To my hon Friends on the Labour Benches, I would say that I know the difficulties in which they are placed—I often disagree with them, but I understand their position—but one thing that I do not think that any trade union could do, or that I could do personally, or that the Labour party as a political whole could do, and that is to allow its association with the Government to lead it into a position where it is again and again called upon to vote against its deepest convictions. Nothing but harm can come out of that: harm not merely to the Labour movement, but to the whole democratic structure of things in Britain; because if people lose faith in the elected representatives of the workers, our democracy will suffer. I ask my hon. Friends not to be deterred by any threat to the Government from voting as they think this issue requires them to do. If the Government have said their last word to us on this matter, my course is clear. Even if the fate of the Government were at stake, I should go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment.
The House has had an opportunity of seeing democracy in action to-day in two different sets of circumstances. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House made a statement after Question Time showing how quickly things can be done in the interests of the effective prosecution of the war. It is no use my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister talking to us about possible repercussions and ramifications. The repercussions and ramifications are inherent in every decision that is taken; and on issues of great policy the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister, quite rightly, took the responsibility of making a decision and of standing by it. Now we see on this matter my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister adopting the old pre-war practice. I am not going to follow the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. Brown) into the composition of a Select Committee, but I am bound to say that there is no subject which could be studied in this House on which one could not look up the report of a Select Committee and find that its recommendations have not been implemented. The circumstances of this offer are not genuine. This matter has been under consideration for three years. I would have taken this offer at the beginning, and have taken it with gratitude. I would have taken it at the end of the first year. I would have thought there was a change of heart if the offer had been made by the Deputy Prime Minister in his letter to my hon. Friend the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate). But that offer was not made then. Now, what happens? There is an Amendment on the Paper. It is to be forced to a Division. What do the Government do? They offer a Select Committee. We are seeing this National Government, who have put Rommel to flight, fleeing themselves before the glorious army of women, and, as they go, they set the booby trap of a Select Committee. I hope that this House will make itself felt in all constitutional ways, and in all ways that are open to it, to show the Government that this is really not good enough.
I have great respect for the Deputy Prime Minister. I was one of those who, with the hon. Member for Frome, voted against the Chamberlain Government in May, 1940, because I thought that unless we got co-operation from hon. and right hon. Members opposite we should not get this war waged to a satisfactory conclusion. When I see my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister standing at that Box, using one of these pre-war party tricks, I say to him, "You were not invited to join the National Government to put up that kind of defence of this sort of thing." I believe that the Government will do well to withdraw this offer of a Select Committee. They know the feeling of the House, they see the names on the Order Paper, they have Whips in the smoking room, they are scared stiff of a division. Why do they not say, "We will accept the decision of the House? If it costs a lot of money, the people are responsible; and the people have to pay. They can pay for what they think right." But do not let us have these delaying actions. There is no sense in talking in this country about inconsistencies. We thrive on them; we love them. I know that there is inconsistency in demanding equal compensation. I know that in some forms of employment women are paid at a different rate from men. But in this House we have two lady Members holding office in His Majesty's Government, and I do not believe that their salaries are reduced. When women are compelled by this House to take their place in the factories and in the streets they are entitled to the same compensation as their brothers and fathers.
It is a very interesting fact that in the course of this Debate only one speech has been made against the Amendment, which was moved with such skill and force by my hon. Friend the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate). At least I say one speech, although I might say of the speech of the Deputy Prime Minister that if he is not with us, he is not against us. But it is a very remarkable thing and reflects accurately the public opinion outside, which, as the hon. Lady has said, is 99 per cent. in favour of the Amendment. In answer to that public demand, expressed with great vigour both inside and outside this House, the right hon. Gentleman offers us a Select Committee to examine into and to report upon the proposal of equal compensation. A Select Committee, as every hon. Member knows, is a favourite device of Governments when they get themselves into a nasty jam. It is the favourite device of procrastinating Governments who do not want to do anything about the matter in question.
As has already been said, this is no new issue. The facts are well known. Three years ago the scheme was brought in. It has been in operation. We have had blitzes, and we have had instances of the inequality of the working of this scheme. After all this experience, inquiry and knowledge, all we are offered is a Select Committee. The time has now—come I would say that the time has passed—when the Government should have the courage to come to a decision one way or another. The right hon. Gentleman said that we are to have an inquiry not only into the question of equal compensation but into the repercussions and ramifications. One of the matters that he raised was the question of equal pay. Repercussions on that might happen, but that has nothing to do with this particular question of compensation. It is not based on wages. The Minister of Pensions made that clear in the first speech that he ever made upon these Regulations when he said that they were not in fact based upon earnings or means. Therefore, in the words of Gilbert, this "has nothing to do with the case." The Government as a matter of fact have already come to a conclusion upon the policy of equal pay. They have accepted it. I would be very surprised, and I am sure that the women of the country would be very surprised indeed, to hear a pronouncement from the Government that they had altered their minds upon this vital principle. That has been decided. Therefore, I do not know what they are going to inquire into in that respect. The right hon. Gentleman is trying to compare two quite different and incomparable things. The compensation of which we are now speaking is a war measure. It is related to war conditions, and how you can inquire into other questions which have no relation to them, I cannot really understand. It is obvious, as I have said, that they are trying to sidetrack the whole issue.
I would like to get back to the real issue which is before the House at the moment. No one would get up in this House and attempt to defend these wide discrepancies in the rates that are paid under this compensation. The Minister of Pensions has told us that the rates are not based upon sex discrimination. He said that it is not a question of wages; it is a flat rate, and you get the same compensation whether you earn £3 or £5 or £8, unless you are a woman. That is what the right hon. Gentleman calls no sex discrimination. You do not pay more compensation because a man is the breadwinner of the family, because, as the hon. Lady has pointed out, dependants are not included in this scheme. I maintain that it cannot even be based on the need of the individual. I have never heard that there are special rents for women or that fuel costs them less or that there are special prices for food for women. It may be said that men eat more than women. I do not think that that is the case. You can only judge it upon the individual. In that case the Government have decided that in the matter of rationed foods there should be no differences between men and women. I cannot see, therefore, how you can possibly base this discrimination upon the actual need of the individual. The Minister of Pensions said in an earlier Debate—I think it was in May, 1941, when we last had the opportunity of properly discussing this matter in all its aspects—that if circumstances changed, and if it should be shown to him that the figure of compensation was not a fair one, he would always be prepared to consider the matter and recommend to the Government without any Select Committee that a change be made.
The right hon. Gentleman made that speech 18 months ago, and a very great change has taken place since then which strengthens the case of the women. An unprecedented step has been taken. For the first time in history women have been directed to employment in factories all over the country. They are taken, in many cases, from safe areas to vulnerable areas; they are directed by Government order into the very target area itself. That constitutes a very great change. Does not that fact in itself demand that there should be a revision of these scales? If a factory is, blitzed and a man and woman working side by side are both injured, I cannot see how it could be justified that the man should receive 35s. and the woman only 28s. They take the same risks. The other great change that has been made is that the compulsory fire-watching Order has altered the situation very materially. These things make the Minister's figures doubly unjust and they definitely qualify the undertaking he gave, that, if circumstances materially changed, he would be prepared to recommend that the figures be revised. I would like to base my claim upon the much broader basis that women have played in these intervening 18 months in the war effort.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Lewes (Rear-Admiral Beamish) spoke of the economics of the case. He said that you would be increasing the burden of the debt. We owe a very great debt to the women of this country. But you cannot calculate their service on an actuarial basis. The Minister of Labour said the other day in a very eloquent tribute which he paid to the women of this country that if they had not come forward there would have been a great gap. Women are very proud to have been able to fill the gap; they are glad to have had every opportunity to serve their country; they are very glad to take equal risks with men. As I have said, very remarkable figures have been produced lately, showing the extent to which the war effort in this country depends upon woman-power. Take, for instance, the iron and steel industry. Since the beginning of the war the number of women employed in this industry has been trebled. The percentage of women in Royal Ordnance factories is now 60, and even in engineering trades, where scope for them up to now has been considerably restricted, the proportion of women employed is between one-quarter and one-fifth. On the four main line railways 50,000 women are employed, and nearly 11,000 are employed by the London Passenger Transport Board. These women are working long hours, far too long in too many cases. When their work is over they go back to their houses and often have to do their housework. Now on top of that they have to do fire watching while somehow or other they have to fit in their shopping. These are the women to whom we are to say, "We are very grateful for what you are doing, but we must have a Select Committee to find out if your life is worth as much as a man's." That is the answer which this House and the Government are to give to the magnificent effort which women have been making and are making to-day.
I am not surprised that the Minister of Labour is not replying to this Debate. He has been responsible for mobilising the women of this country, and he knows better than anyone on the Treasury Bench how magnificent has been their response. Indeed, he has said so on many occasions. I would like to make one last point, and it is about this question of dividing on this issue. A great many Members have put their names to this Amendment on the Order Paper. It has been said that some of these signatories may feel unable to carry their support into the Division Lobby because this is an Amendment to the Address, is a special occasion and has special significance. I was very interested the other day to find out what happened last year to an Amendment which was moved by
the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery) in connection with Regulation 18B. Members who supported that Amendment took the same view as some hon. Members do to-day, namely, that although one might speak with great force and vigour, one should not carry the opposition into the Lobby because it is an Amendment to the Address. What view did the Government spokesman take about that then? The Government spokesman on that occasion was the Home Secretary, and this is what he said:
I would now urge upon the House that if there is material dissatisfaction with this Regulation … It would be better for the House to divide now in order that the country may know where we all stand on this vital issue, which I regard as one of security. Moreover, it is not right that I should be left in any uncertainty as to the opinion of the House.
The House may observe that the Home Secretary on this very important occasion said nothing at all about the propriety of hon. Members voting against the Government in the Debate on the Address. Indeed, it was the very reverse; he was anxious for a Division; he urged Members to carry the matter to a Division and went on to say:
It is sometimes difficult in these Debates without divisions, and from which the old party system is absent for the time being, for me or other Ministers or the country to be sure where the House stands on a particular matter. I therefore say that if there is a material challenge, it would be better to divide."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1941; col. 861, Vol. 376.]
There the Home Secretary was encouraging, almost inciting—if that is not an improper word to use about the Home Secretary—the House to divide on the Address. Therefore, whatever the Whips may say, I do urge Members to follow in this case not their advice but the advice of the Home Secretary, whose authority has grown in the last two or three days since he became a member of the War Cabinet. I urge them to follow his advice, so that the country and the House may know where they stand on this vital issue.
I have been very disappointed not to hear any answer or justification as to why women injured in an air raid should receive less compensation than men. I do not think there have been any speeches in answer to the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate): or against the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for the Isle of Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George). I hoped that there might be a very good reason why women should not be compensated on the same level as men who are injured in air raids. It is quite true that I myself could not see what the reason might be. I am very innocent in these matters. I have been in the House only 18 years, but I have generally found that Governments in the past have been able to tell us why we should do this or that. But I must frankly confess that I was very disappointed with the Deputy Prime Minister's speech to-day. He has offered us a Committee. Well, as has been said before, we all know how these Committees work. I do not take the view that this Committee would do no good. I think it might do a little good. I can quite see that when the Committee reports matters might go ahead a bit, but whatever the Committee reports, I do not think it can report in time to help the women who have been injured by enemy action in this country during this war. It is perhaps because I am frightened that the Committee cannot possibly act in time that I cannot feel that the proposals of the Deputy Prime Minister can be of much benefit to women who have been injured by enemy action.
The inquiry, I understand, is to go into repercussions which the giving of equal compensation may have and all the ramifications of the subject. When an inquiry has to do this, we can be pretty sure that it will be a very long inquiry indeed. I know considerable fear has been expressed by people who are in favour of equal compensation that if we have equal compensation it will eventually lead to equal wages. I do not mind that. I am not opposed to women getting the same wages as men provided they are doing the same work; but if I were a woman I think I would be opposed to it. As a man I am not opposed to it because it is very important after the war that men who have families to support should have a chance of getting back into industry, and I consider that, on the whole, the best way of getting men back into industry is to give equal wages to women. Therefore, I am not frightened by that proposition, but I feel that if there is an inquiry, and if in that inquiry every sort of repercussion that may arise is gone into, the very matter about which we are anxious may be shelved and forgotten. I feel that, as a result of such an inquiry, we should be in very great danger of not getting a solution of the problem before the war was over. In fact, if I were a betting man I would lay a bet with the Deputy Prime Minister that the war will be over before the Select Committee reports. It may be that I am a greater optimist about the course of the war than my right hon. Friend is.
I cannot see that this problem is bound up with wages. I know that hon. Members of the Labour party think it is; I know they think that, because of the Workmen's Compensation Act and so on, the matter is bound up with wages, and probably that is why they are so silent in this Debate. I am rather surprised that the Labour party have not given more vocal support to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Frome. But is this matter bound up with wages? I do not think it is, for the reason that many of the people who are injured are not gainfully employed. Surely, the whole problem is quite a different one. Like many others, I had the honour of going to the East End of London in the blitz and doing what one could. I do not think that anybody who saw the women then could really sit by to-day and refuse to go into the Division Lobby. I remember that at the time when the first lull had come I said to an old lady who had had her house bombed, "You must be very pleased you are not being bombed now." She replied, "No, I wish they were bombing us; when they are not bombing us, I feel they are bombing munition factories." That is a true story of the East End of London. Women who show that spirit surely deserve all the support that the House can give them. We have not had a single answer from the Front Bench as to why women should not be compensated for war injuries on the same basis as men.
The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. Brown) referred to voting. I do not quite agree with him in what he said. If one is a loyal supporter of the Government, one does not lightly go into the Division Lobby against the Government. We are fortunate in having in the new Leader of the House one whom we all admire for his great moral qualities; we know he is the last man who would ever reprove anybody for going into the Division Lobby to vote as his conscience dictates, for in the past my right hon. Friend has himself shown such courage on questions of conscience. The hon. Lady the Member for Frome made a magnificent speech, but as far as I know she was a little inaccurate perhaps and indulged in a little exaggeration when she spoke about the Whips putting on pressure and being up to their old tricks. In all fairness to the Whips' Office, I can say that, as far as I know, they have exerted no pressure in this matter and have behaved in a perfect manner, not using the party machine in any way in which it should not be used. In conclusion, I want to ask whoever is to reply to the Debate whether the Government will not reconsider their decision and realise that this is a matter of compensation and not of wages, and that the longer a decision is put off the greater will be the injustice done to the brave women of this country who have suffered from war injuries. I cannot see why a decision cannot be come to now; I ask the Government to give justice to these women.
I shall detain the House for only a few minutes while I make one or two observations on the Amendment, which I wish to support. I shall not go into details in order to make a case on the basis of the part which the women of the country have played in the war. Many hon. Members have already done that, and it is, indeed, well known to everybody that, even by comparison with all that women did in the last war, they have in this war excelled themselves in their contribution to the war effort. I am well aware that in the job which I hold at present in connection with fuel economy my task would be hopeless if it were not for the tremendous effort at fuel economy which the women are making at the present time. That is only one small part of their whole war effort. I believe I am right in saying that the last thing the women of the country wish is that this matter should be decided on the basis of making a cash payment for war services. That is not the attitude which they take towards their war duties, and even if they do not get to-day the justice to which they are entitled, it will not make the slightest difference to the effort which they are putting into the war.
The Deputy Prime Minister has invited the House to accept the compromise of setting up a Select Committee to investigate this matter and report to the House on the facts and the repercussions, as he described it, which the acceptance of this Amendment would entail With the greatest respect to the Deputy Prime Minister, I suggest that that is a misunderstanding of the functions of the House at the present time. It is not our business to wait for a report which, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Thornbury (Sir D. Gunston) said, may take a very long time to come, and which will certainly deal with other matters than the question of compensation; it is not our business to wait to get the facts and then get ourselves mixed up in a mass of administrative details and complications. The business of the House, I submit, is to decide two things. The first is whether the principle is right or wrong. I am absolutely convinced that the principle of equal compensation is right. The second thing which I suggest hon. Members should ask themselves is this. If the principle is right, is it reasonable to suppose that in the circumstances of these times it can be applied in practice? For example, is it hopelessly impracticable at present from a financial point of view? The broad question one has to ask oneself is whether the principle, although it may be right, is palpably absurd at the present time. I do not think it requires the labours of a Select Committee to deal with that aspect. I am certain it is not beyond the bounds of possibility to apply this principle at the present time. If, therefore, we feel that the principle is right, and if anyone whose name is down to support the Amendment feels that it is not beyond our financial capacity and that the details are not impracticable, it is our plain duty to do as I shall do if the matter is carried to a Division, and vote in favour of the Amendment.
I have listened very attentively to the Debate as it has proceeded, and up to now no one has been able to answer the strong case made out by the Mover. I think the House in general is convinced that the claim that is made is one of justice. I remember that when these proposals were first introduced in September, 1939, a few Members were present, when a number of Orders were going through, who ventured to raise the point that is being discussed now. The spokesman for the Government informed us that the basis had been fixed along the general lines of the procedure adopted in regard to the wages paid in industry in general. The point was raised concerning the position of the wife of a married man, and the injustice in that regard was also made clear in the speeches that were made. Other opportunities have offered themselves for raising the point again and again, and deputations have waited upon the Government, but we have advanced little or no further as far as the application of the principle is concerned. The proposals offered to the House to-day do not take us any further in that respect. Had the Deputy Prime Minister been in a position to inform us that the Government, having been persuaded of the justice of the claim, were prepared to make this concession in regard to compensation to civilians injured as the result of enemy action, and proposed that a Select Committee should consider its ramifications and the general application of the principle to other aspects of life, I feel sure that the House would have been prepared to accept it and thank the Government for the concession.
I can appreciate the apprehensions of the Government at this stage in regard to applying the principle in general, but all that we are asking for is that this principle shall be conceded in regard to civilian injuries arising from enemy action, and that at this stage it should go no further. I do not suppose there is a Member present who has any desire to vote against the Government, but they are none the less put in a most, unhappy position in this respect, that they want to do justice but they are being denied the opportunity of doing justice by virtue of the offer that has been made by the Government. I hope the last word has not been said. Is it not possible even at this late stage for a concession to be made on this one issue alone, and then allow a Select Committee to explore the application of the principle in other walks of life? If that could be done, we should still retain the unity of the House, and, what is more important, we should allay the uneasiness and apprehension which prevail throughout the country, more especially among the womenfolk, as to the injustice that is being meted out to them when they are injured as the result of enemy action. I should like to see the House cast its vote on the justice of this claim and leave the question of expediency aside. We are engaged in a war for justice. Here is an opportunity for a small concession being made by way of meting out justice to some who have already smarted and suffered as the result of injustice. It will help us to retain the integrity of the House and allay the apprehension that obtained throughout the country and, what is more important, keep the unity of the Government and Parliament.
I welcome the decision of the Government to set up a Select Committee to inquire into this matter. I think it is a wise decision, but I want to ask for an assurance that the Committee will also consider the disability pension paid to members of the W.A.A.F., the W.R.N.S. and the A.T.S. I have in my hospital, where serious eye cases go, a case of an A.T.S. girl who was blinded while driving in a London blitz, and several munition girls all totally blinded. They get 27s. 6d. a week. I do not think that is enough, and it seems to me impossible to consider the case of the munition girl without considering also the case of the Service girl. I ask for an assurance that the Select Committee will consider both kinds of cases.
I am disappointed to find that the one offer that has been made is that this important question is to be shelved, because I claim that that will be the position if we do not vote for the Amendment. In my opinion to refer this to a Select Committee will mean the death of the Amendment. The question of the equality of the sexes and equal pay is a very vexed one, and it would be a great mistake to allow this war-time problem to be shelved along with other questions upon which unanimity may never be achieved, because there are even sections of the trade unions which are dead against equal pay for women. I want to know why it is necessary not to have a vote to-day on giving equal compensation to women who are called upon to share the same dangers as we air-raid wardens in air attack. Machinery has been set up to deal with damage to war property. Why put human life on a different basis?
I have never known any question in my 25 years of political life that was so easy to defend as this question of equal compensation. It take only two minutes for a man or woman to make up his or her mind to vote for it. It is only where there is the curse of party politics that we get the question dealt with in this manner, with the result that Members of the House who are fettered to the party machine and, unlike me, are not free to vote according to their consciences, do not know what to do. They are being taunted, as I was taunted by somebody who did not know I was independent, that if I voted for the Amendment I would be embarrassing the Government. I do not care twopence about embarrassing the Government. I would rather embarrass the Government who are taking this line of action than embarrass the women of England who have done such wonderful service in the war and who are being called upon to shoulder the dangers of war. The most honourable thing would be to have a free vote of the House. As there were 130 signatures of men and women of all political persuasions to this Amendment, it indicates that there is a consensus of opinion that equality should be granted now. It is entirely a war problem, and once it is granted it need not be taken as a precedent for fogging the issues that may come up after the war with regard to equalisation of pay. I appeal to hon. members to throw off party shackles, to put justice before party, and to do something more than hand the women of this country bouquets of dead flowers.
I speak for the women in one of the worst blitzed areas of the country. I have seen them doing heroic work night after night. They cannot understand, when they are expected at election times to be clerical slaves to help to get a Tory into this House, why, when they are called upon to share the dangers of men, there should be this differentiation. They cannot understand it, and I have made no attempt to explain it to them, except to say that I am free to vote according to my conscience—as far as this matter is concerned; because I have mental reservations on other questions. It is hopeless for me to appeal to the Government benches, because their record of reaction and criminal complacency which have brought the war into a fourth year makes it a waste of time to do so. I appeal, however, to the Members on my right, who for many years have been supposed to be the champions of the people, without sex distinction, to live up to their past traditions and to redeem some of the pledges they have made on soap boxes and other places during elections. I appeal to them to break away from the tie that exists, which is more artificial than real, between the Government benches and themselves. There is something more than unity at any price. I believe in putting country before party. On this occasion let us put justice before party and vote according to our consciences.
I apologise for seeking to take part in a Debate the bulk of which I have not listened to, owing to circumstances outside my control. I have persistently declined to associate myself with the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate), and in reply to the considerable numbers of letters I have had on this subject, I have declined to look on this question as a matter of equality between the sexes. What is more serious in the Personal Injuries Scheme is the total inadequacy of all the benefits. I hope, therefore, that if a Select Committee is appointed, it will be empowered to examine into the whole problem. Yesterday the Minister of Pensions answered a Question which I asked about the Personal Injuries Act, which was introduced as a Bill on 2nd September, 1939. By special Order the Presentation and Second Reading took place on the same day. It was one of 20 or 30 Bills that we passed through almost without Debate. There was a little Debate on the Personal Injuries Bill, but none of that urgent legislation had the proper consideration which Bills normally receive. When we arrived here on 2nd September there was outside the Vote Office a pile of Bills to be introduced and passed through all their stages on that day in both Houses and to receive the Royal Assent. It happened that the Personal Injuries Bill had consideration on two days, partly because there was some Debate on the Second Reading and, I think, on the Committee stage. Therefore it took 36 hours to become law instead of the customary six or seven hours which was the practice with the other Bills. Under that Act the scheme was formulated.
I want hon. Members to realise that that Act contained a most iniquitous principle. It deprived the citizen of his rights at Common Law for compensation. Instead, a scale of compensation was submitted which is grossly inadequate for most of the people who have claims for compensation. I am not blaming my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions, because in these matters the decision is that of the Cabinet and the Treasury. In workmen's compensation, compensation is related to wages. In this scheme there is no such relationship. There is a complete denial of that principle. The man who is earning £6 a week gets the same compensation as the man who is earning £3. If he is killed the widow gets the same compensation. Having regard to the fact that people incur liabilities which have some relation to their incomes, there is not equal justice in compensation under this scheme. I have told my hon. Friend the Member for Frome that I will not support equality between the sexes because it would still result in gross injustices. What I want is a scheme which will result in some fairer measure of compensation.
The hon. Member has taken up the line that compensation should be related entirely to earnings. That is a consistent line, but may I ask him how he would compensate the housewife who while she does exceedingly valuable work, gets no wage whatever?
Quite properly the hon. Member for Frome raised the issue that there will be a certain number of people entitled to compensation to whom the earned income test will not apply, and I recognise that, but the fact that there is a difficulty is no reason why one should not endeavour to apply justice as widely as possible. If my hon. Friend's Amendment is carried, all that will happen will be the payment of 32s. a week in the case of death—well, I have looked at the document, and I cannot carry all the figures in my head, but it would still be a totally inadequate payment, and the bulk of the injustices would remain, and I think it is a good idea to submit the matter to a Select Committee so that the whole scheme under the Personal Injuries Act can be looked into in the light of the events of the present day.
I do not know what the experience of other hon. Members has been, but I have had only one complaint in respect of this scheme of compensation. In that case my right hon. Friend was able to do something by stretching the law a little, I think. It was a case in which out of the father, mother, children and nephews and nieces in a family, five, I think, had been killed. The father, the head of the family, was killed, and his wife lost a leg, and because she was receiving compensation as a widow she was denied additional compensation in respect of her own personal injury. That seems to be perfectly absurd. The one allowance is compensation in respect of the loss of the breadwinner and the other is compensation for personal injury. Under the scheme as it stands there can be no double compensation. I want that problem looked into. It is a curious thing that that is the only complaint which I have had since this scheme has been in operation, because, after all, Croydon was the first place to be badly bombed. We were bombed every night for three months and we had a large number of casualties. Though I do not know the actual number of fatal casualties, it was something in the neighbourhood of 1,000, I believe, and yet I have had only one complaint. Let that be put on record. It is also true that where there is a fatal casualty the compensation scheme as it now operates favours the widow as compared with the widower. In respect of all fatal cases more money is paid to women than to men, a fact which ought to be realised.
Surely the hon. Member is not using that as an argument that women gain under the scheme? A man who is injured or killed has his dependants provided for by the State. A woman who is killed by enemy action has no compensation for an invalid husband who may be entirely dependent upon her. Her children are provided for, but the invalid husband is not. You cannot argue that that is a gain for women; it is a gain for men.
All I was saying was that in fact more money is paid to widows' than is paid to widowers. More money is paid out to women where somebody dies than is paid out to men. I am only stating the fact. It is a fact. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
When the other night another hon. Member and I were doing our little turn of fire watching, I spent some time in the Library studying first of all the original scheme and then the supplementary scheme. It was a very long document, and I am not going to say that I carry all the details in my mind, but it is true, and I think the Minister of Pensions will bear me out, that where a woman is killed the compensation her husband may receive is less than she would receive if he had been killed. Therefore, in fact, where there is a fatality more money is paid to women than to men. [Interruption.]—Precisely, but it is the woman who gets the money.
I do not know whether she has legally obtained a penny or not. If she has earned money, it is her own, and under the Married Women's Property Act she can stick to it, and in fact women do stick to it, and to a great deal else besides—at least, that is my domestic experience, and I do not think my wife would object to my making that statement. But I am merely stating a fact, and it is no good denying what is a fact. I hope the Government will give a firm undertaking that whatever happens to-day they will appoint this Select Committee and that it shall have a free run over the whole of the Personal Injuries Scheme.
I intervene briefly in this Debate in order to place before the Government one or two points of view which have not been brought forward even during the long period on which representations have been made to them on this subject. Many of us on this side of the House would be quite agreeable to a committee being appointed and to its investigating the question that has been before us to-day, that question alone, if the Government stated, first, that they accepted the principle of equal payment or equal compensation and, secondly, if they would set a specific period to the inquiry. Hon. Members are always very suspicious of committees of inquiry set up by this House. We have had many bitter experiences of inquiries, like that into old age pensions, running on for years. No matter how much confidence we may have in a Government or how much we may recognise their difficulties, we feel that an inquiry is something that is resorted to after Governments have come to the conclusion that they cannot face the House on some issue and desire that there should be delay for a time. Why an inquiry into this question? Do not the Government fully understand the case which has been submitted to them during the past three years? Representations have been made to the Government by many hon. Members and by various organisations, the Minister of Pensions has gone thoroughly into the question time and again, and the Cabinet must have discussed it in the light of those representations. Why is it that now, when so many women are suffering permanent injuries, the Government decide that it is a question for a Select Committee? The Prime Minister has often said to Members, "Take your courage in your hands and vote for what you think is just and right," and I submit that it is only right that the Government should have come forward with a definite acceptance or refusal of the proposal which has been put forward after so many years of representation.
This question must be looked at in an entirely unbiased way by men and women. We must ask ourselves what it means to a man and to a woman to suffer permanent injury that will mar them physically for life. Speaking as a man, I say that permanent physical injury or disfigurement means very much more to a woman than to a man under the conditions in which we live our lives. We have often expressed the opinion that the work done by the housewife who is carrying on family life and home duties is most important to the welfare of the nation. Should she be injured seriously or disfigured so that life becomes a burden to her, she may have to be looked after by other members of the family. Why should she not receive proper compensation? If she is elderly, she might in a few years be receiving the old age pension; in that case she will be receiving equal compensation with men in respect of old age. Why should she receive less than men because of injury sustained during her war activities?
What is the outlook for a young woman under our present system of society? Young women look forward to marriage, a happy family life and to the rearing of children in the comfort of an ordinary home. What chance have the young women in the—if I may use the term—marriage market of the future, if they are disfigured or physically disabled? We may read romantic and sentimental stories about these things, but there is no doubt that the physical attractions of the girls play a very important part in their obtaining of husbands. What chance have young women in this respect if physical disability keeps them from enjoying their life, say, in the dance hall or in the various ways in which young women enjoy themselves? They are barred definitely. A great hindrance has been placed in their way of being selected by the men of the future to look after their homes and children.
I come to a very important aspect of this matter. Will the Minister state clearly in his reply on what basis he refuses this appeal of Members of the House of Commons, and whether it is with regard to cost? I would like to know whether the principle is refused because of the question of cost to the nation.
I am very pleased to hear that answer. On any other aspect of the whole of this question the Government have no case. After successive appeals to the Government, repeatedly the only case which they have submitted is that of cost to the nation, with regard to old age pensions and many other appeals that hon. Members have made for improvements in the condition of the people. The Government have always placed the question of the cost to the nation in the forefront. Now that that question has been eliminated, we are faced with the one question: Is it just or right, in view of all that women have to suffer because of disabilities incurred in their activities in assisting the war, or at home, that they should receive less than men who have suffered the same injury yet have a much brighter outlook in the future?
Weighing the whole position up, one comes to the conclusion that the case put forward for equal compensation for women cannot, in the name of justice, be refused by the Government. I would ask the Minister of Pensions whether the Government will forward to the proposed committee of inquiry a statement that they accept the principle of equal compensation, and, secondly, whether the Government will specify a period of one month for the inquiry, so that we may obtain a report within a reasonable time? If hon. Members object that one month is too short, I submit that committees of inquiry in this House have discussed and settled much more important matters and many graver issues in a matter of days, or of one week, and that it is therefore not impossible but quite feasible that this question should be settled in one month. I ask the Minister whether he will give those guarantees to the House.
I intervene for a few moments in this interesting Debate to suggest that it may be possible for the hon. Lady who moved the Amendment to see her way not to divide the House upon a Motion in relation to the Gracious Speech from the Throne. We all agree that the admirable case she presented to us is almost unchallengeable. The work accomplished during the war by the women of the country is above ordinary words of appreciation. In looking back upon the records of the troubles we have had in the war and recalling what some of our splendid women have done, I feel that we cannot express too much our appreciation of the services they have rendered. In cases of most exasperating difficulty, not only sisters but nurses have been of unqualified value during moments of crisis. In a hospital with which I am associated is a matron whose service has been of outstanding value not only because of her own spirit of sacrifice, but because she has made other people realise the importance of standing to their stations in moments of emergency.
We are all, I think, in full sympathy with the object of this Amendment, but I feel it would be of disastrous consequence in the conflict which we are at present waging against the enemy, if we divided in this House on an Amendment to the Address in these critical and difficult days. I do not think from the speeches we have heard to-day that the hon. Lady who moved the Amendment has anything to complain about regarding the sympathy of the House with the object she has in view. I could never understand why the life of a woman should be valued less than the life of a man. I could never understand why a woman who has stood up to the raids through which we have passed in recent times in this country, should be less valuable than a man who has been placed in similar circumstances and has suffered similar attacks. I feel very strongly that the Select Committee which the Deputy Prime Minister has suggested would find means by which equal compensation could be given to women in the case of injury inflicted upon them in the course of this conflict. I think in this House to-day we have had a full expression of sympathy with what women are doing in this war but I feel at the same time, in view of the concentration of thought all over the world on what is happening in this House, we ought not to divide the House on a question of this kind.
I hope the hon. Lady will accept the assurance given by the Deputy Prime Minister that the question she has raised, which is of profound importance to the whole of our social structure in the future, will be examined sympathetically and helpfully. I suggest that this matter might safely be left in the hands of a Select Committee such as the Deputy Prime Minister has suggested and that we could accept the conclusion at which such a Committee would arrive. I hope that it will meet the case of the hon. Lady, and that her adequate, able and touching speech will receive that measure of sympathy and support to which it is entitled. We cannot in his House endorse too strongly the work which women have done in this war—including nursing sisters in all our hospitals, and those who are looking after the welfare of people in industry. All have been rendering service of incalculable value. I sincerely hope it will become an accepted principle of this House, and that the Minister of Pensions will realise its importance, that there can be no differentiation between the value attached to the claims of a woman for compensation and that attached to the claims of the man in cases of disability caused by enemy attack in this war.
In view of the rather contradictory character of the hon. Member's speech, in which he praised the speech of the hon. Lady and said that he recognises this is a most important matter in national life, may I ask is he himself in favour of the Government stating that they accept the principle for which he speaks when he says that the matter should be transferred to a Select Committee?
I thought I had just said that I am entirely in favour of the Government accepting the principle of equal compensation for women and for men who are injured. I recognise the position in which the Minister of Pensions is placed, and I suggest the House ought to wait for the decision of the Select Committee which I hope will not be long, and that we should await, with confidence and hope, the bringing into practical effect of the principle when the Select Committee has made its report.
It is 18 months since this question was last raised in public Debate in this House. The interest at that time was comparatively small. Only 30 Members supported the hon. Lady the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) in the Division Lobby. My hon. Friend who has just addressed the House supported me in my appeal to the Government on that occasion to do something, but the Government had their way by 80 votes to 30. They refused the appeal which I made, and in which I was supported by the hon. Gentleman, and they claimed thereafter that the supporters of the proposal had been defeated and that they had no need to take any further action. Since that time very great interest has been shown in this question, not only in this House but throughout the country. In fact, there is a widespread feeling, not confined to women, as has been exhibited inside this House. The Amendment was originally put down in the name of over 100 Members of Parliament, and they included only a very few Members of my party, who, in fact, by a very large majority support the claim, and have asked me to voice their views in this Debate.
I believe that on the intrinsic merits of the proposal, as an isolated question, there would be a very large consensus of opinion in this House—almost unanimous—in favour of granting what is suggested in the Amendment. This is not a question of whether women do equal work with men on which I take very strongly a certain point of view though it may not be the opinion of everyone here. This is not a question of whether they should receive an equal money payment either for equal work or for a day's work, and it is not a question of compensation for the loss of their jobs. It is not a question of meeting the responsibilities of women with regard to a family—the bogy which prevents women from getting equal pay in the Civil Service. This is a matter of paying a smaller sum to women just because they are women. That is to say, in a purely human question of the value of a woman to herself and to the State, the Government have persisted in paying a smaller sum of compensation to a woman than to a man.
It may be argued, though some of us would disagree, that the economic output of a woman is less than that of a man. It may be argued it has a less value to the State, but it surely cannot be argued that the value of a woman, as a woman, to the State is less than that of a man, because that brings in questions other than those of an economic and industrial character. I do not know where we should be if the women of this country ceased to exist. The race would perish. The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I know that statisticians in thinking of the future of the race disregard us poor men altogether. Their criterion is whether the women of one generation are giving birth to, and nurturing and bringing to adulthood, as many women of the following generation as there have been in the generation before. Therefore, I suggest it ought to be beyond question that the value of a woman to the State is every bit as great as that of a man. It cannot be argued, on the other hand, that the needs of the woman are less, either as regards food, clothing or shelter, in order to maintain health. Therefore, the intrinsic case for equal compensation for civil injuries, which is the subject of the Amendment, has been amply demonstrated. In fact, with the possible exception of a single speech, I do not think it has been disputed by anyone here to-day.
The argument against this proposal is, therefore, not based upon any disagreement on the intrinsic merits: it is based on the alleged repercussions. It is said that if this admitted and proven inequality be rectified, it may bring about certain anomalies, and that other inequalities will be created about which there may be some argument. If you pursue that line of thought to its logical conclusion, it surely means that we can have no reform in this country unless, looking down the long line of possible repercussions, every one of those can be envisaged from the start: the enactment of one reform might be the peg upon which to hang a demand for removing other injustices. That is the "thin end of the wedge" argument. I thought that Lord Cecil, when he was a Member of this House, had disposed of that argument once and for all. It was said to him in regard to one matter that that would be to drive the thin end of a wedge into the British Constitution. To this Lord Cecil replied:
The British Constitution is stuck full of the thin ends of wedges that the good sense of the community has never driven home.
Let us have a reform which is admittedly due. If, in consequence of that, people discover other blots which they wish to remove, well and good; but if they find that, having remedied that particular injustice, others do not remain, let that stand alone.
As I pointed out at the beginning, the last time this was debated in the House the Government stood pat; they won the Division by 80 to 30, and they claimed that that settled the question. It has been suggested that this time the Government, in not standing pat, have only yielded to pressure. That is why I think that their move is of importance. If they had thrown out this proposal in their strength it might have been of comparatively little use; but they have thrown it out in their weakness. They fear the consequences of an adverse vote, and they say, "Although we are not prepared to give way to-day, we are prepared to make this definite proposal of the submission of the question to a Select Committee."
I want to examine that offer, to see its value. If the Government had made no offer and all those who support the principle had gone into the Division Lobby several Members have suggested that the Government might be defeated, and have asked what might be the consequences? I want to suppose the opposite result. Suppose all those who supported this principle went into the Lobby, and the Government won. The Government would go on for a long time saying, "We defeated you when this proposal came up in the House, and, therefore, we are not going to do anything." I think there is a great advantage in getting the Government to take a step. It is true that it is a very small and faltering step. I, and, I am sure, most Members, would have much preferred the Government to have made up their minds to accept the principle of this Amendment and to have said, "Hitherto we have resisted this demand, but we have come to the conclusion to-day that the country wants it, and therefore we are willing to concede it." They are not prepared to do that. But, although the step is small and faltering, I am not prepared to dismiss it in the airy way that some of the supporters of this proposal have done. It is made under pressure, and I regard a promise made under pressure as being of considerable value. I count it as a definite victory that we have induced the Government to move at all. I have always noticed that the first attitude, when a reform is demanded, consists in the Government brushing it aside, and refusing to have anything to do with it. The stage of victory begins when the Government make a very small, but definite, step. I have great faith in the French proverb which says: "C'est le premier pas qui coûte."
The second point is that this matter is kept within the purview of the House of Commons, as it is a Select Committee that will be called upon to express its view with regard to the whole of this matter. Further, when this Committee has made its report, that report will have to be considered by this House, and the Government cannot get away from bringing the matter to the attention of the House at that time. The Government case is that the House, in its enthusiasm for the principle, is not aware of all the facts, and it invites us, by means of this Select Committee, to become seized of the facts. My own view is that the House of Commons knows a great deal more about this matter than the Government are inclined to suppose, but I do not think that this House can ever refuse a proposal to enable it to be fully informed before it expresses its opinion. Therefore, when the Government come to us and say, "Let us appoint a Select Committee, so that all the facts which we have at our disposal, which incline us to take a contrary view, may be before the House of Commons," I think the House of Commons cannot refuse that offer. But, so far as I and those Members who take my view are concerned, if we thought for one moment that this proposal was made for the express purpose of shelving and defeating this issue, we would not be parties to the arrangement.
I am prepared, until it is proved to the contrary—which I believe it will not be—to accept this offer of the Government as a bona fide effort to thrash out this issue, to keep it within the purview of the House of Commons, and to enable us to come to an agreed decision. It is on that basis that I ask my hon. Friends to support the Government's proposal. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon), I would have wished that those who are sponsoring this Amendment could have seen their way to taking the same view. It would be better if we had unanimously accepted the proposals of the Government and thereby put it upon the shoulders of the Government to justify their action. I cannot believe that if that were done the Government could play fast and loose with this House, as the hon. Lady the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) seems to think that they intend to do, but it is not my business to offer advice to those who introduced this Amendment. If they choose to go into the Division Lobby then that must be so, but I would say to the Government that if we, believing in their good faith, accept for the present their proposal to form a Select Committee and do not cast our votes in favour of the Amendment, they must not for one moment take the figures in the Division Lobby as any indication of the measure of support that the proposal has inside the House of Commons. A great number will be going into the Division Lobby to support the Government because it is a question of the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech from the Throne, who equally strongly, with those who vote for the Amendment, believe in the principle, and who believe that the Government could and should give effect to it at the earliest possible opportunity.
Before I sit down there are certain questions that I want to put to the spokesman who is to wind up for the Government in order to bring out the facts whether this is merely, as some people think, a time-saving, face-saving way out or whether it is as I think a real attempt to get the issue properly debated and decided. The first question relates to the speed of the inquiry. An hon. Member sitting below the Gangway on this side of the House said he thought the war would end before the Select Committee reported. None of us knows how long the war will last, but assuming that it lasts into the next year, I want an assurance from the Government that no time whatever will be lost, that the Select Committee will be appointed at the earliest possible moment, and that, as far as the Government are concerned, they will take every step to accelerate its inquries so that its report comes if not before Christmas, at any rate, very early in the New Year, and that the House will have the opportunity at a very early date of resuming this discussion not as an Amendment to the Motion of an Address to the Throne, but on a genuine discussion as to the merits of this particular issue.
I am not certain how the terms of reference of this committee will work out. It may be that under the terms of reference that we have had read out to us it will not be for the Select Committee to express a definite view in favour of or against this particular proposal. I understand that it will be a fact-finding committee and that it will lay down the basis on which the House of Commons will be enabled to form a definite opinion. If that be so, when the matter comes to the House after the report has been published the House of Commons will then be in possession of all the facts. The second question I want therefore to ask the Government is whether in these circumstances the Government will accept the verdict of the House of Commons and not treat it as a matter of confidence. It seems to me to be inherent in this Government proposal to set up a Select Committee that they ought to promise to accept the verdict of the House of Commons when, after being in possession of the facts, it makes up its mind on the question.
The third question is this: Will the delay in coming to a decision, possibly favourable to women, prejudice the compensation that will be paid to women who have had an accident? If we had an assurance from the Government that in the event of the House of Commons coming to a favourable decision and their acting upon it the compensation that is paid will be the same as if the Government had taken action to-day, that in itself would be an earnest of the Government's sincerity in this matter.
My last word is this. There are those of us who are accepting this proposal at its face value and if in consequence of that support the numbers of those who vote against the Government in the Division Lobby are smaller than they otherwise would be, I beg of the Government not to think that, as a result, they can disregard this question hereafter. We speak in this matter to-day not for ourselves alone. Whether we have an actual majority in this House or not we shall not decide by the vote to-day but as to whether we have a majority in this country I think there is little doubt. The hon. Lady the Member for Frome has said 99 per cent. That may possibly be an exaggeration but there is no doubt whatever that the great bulk of people who 18 months ago were indifferent to this question have come to a very decided opinion at the present time. The opinion to which they have come by overwhelming majority is that this change ought to be effected and that as long as it is not, an injustice is being perpetrated upon women, an injustice which this country cannot regard otherwise than with shame. If the Government realise that, if they realise that any breach of faith in this matter will be visited upon them on another occasion with the serious displeasure of this House then I think that this Debate and its conclusion will not have been unsatisfactory. Although I have no wish to threaten, I am quite sure that the Government recognise that they cannot get away from a decision on a matter of this kind twice with a very short interval between. Those of us who are taking this line to-day would not hesitate on a later occasion to cast our votes to express thereby our determination that this reform shall be accomplished even if the Government are so foolish and misguided as to resist it and so force us to vote against them.
I want, first of all, to thank the Government for having afforded women an opportunity of giving a valuable demonstration of the working of our free Parliamentary institutions. We have been able to create in the country and in the House of Commons an opinion on a clear issue which the country can very readily and easily understand. The fact that events have been undoubtedly influenced by public opinion in the country and by the opinions expressed in this House has afforded to the world a demonstration that our Parliament is governed by public opinion. That is valuable not only to us but to the world.
I wish also to thank my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister for the suggestion to set up a Select Committee of the House and for the sympathetic manner in which he developed his arguments. I take it that, in expressing his views, he was informing the House that the Government are, in fact, in favour of the principle of equal compensation for civilian war injuries. I know he will forgive me if I say we have been perhaps a little suspicious of the proposal for a Select Committee because of the very long time it has taken to convince the Government that our cause is just. From the way in which my right hon. Friend presented his case this afternoon, it would appear that it was only after the deputation organised and introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) last September that the Government gave serious consideration to the views we had been expressing for a very long time. I would remind the House of the number of times we have made representations to various Ministers, the number of deputations we have taken to various Ministers, and the reasons that have been put forward by the Minister of Pensions for refusing to accede to our requests. All this has been going on for a period of very nearly two years.
Although we all welcome this statement that was made by the Deputy Prime Minister, it is a little difficult to understand this complete change of front by the Government with regard to their policy. Therefore, we have to be very careful in our consideration of the suggestions that were made by the Deputy Prime Minister. It would be idle to pretend that if the Government accept the principle there will not be certain repercussions. We have a very wide knowledge now of the working of the Parliamentary machine. I am glad my right hon. Friend recognised that there are many other aspects to be considered if the principle is to be conceded, but of course, we are all very glad to know that, after the fact-finding Committee have reported to the House, there will be certain inequalities in existence which will have to be put right, if the principle is accepted. We are very glad indeed to know that the Government will no doubt take the necessary action to remedy the whole series of injustices which we have known about for a very long time.
I want to draw my right hon. Friend's attention to two small points. The argument that the original scheme was based on workmen's compensation has been reiterated since we first raised the question but on two occasions, when it suited the Government, they altered the scheme. The original scheme was concerned with people who were gainfully employed, and it was widened to cover people who were not gainfully employed. Therefore, to continue to argue that the scheme is, so to speak, based entirely on workmen's compensation and the earning capacity of those who benefit by it is fallacious.
The other point to which I wish to draw attention is the differentiation in the basic scale between single and married men. If I remember rightly, originally it was 20s. for a single man, 33s. for a married man and 18s. for a woman. Owing to representations made, I think, by the National Fire Service the basic scale was altered. Married and single men were raised to 35s., and women to 20s. I am quoting the figures from memory. If, when it suited the Government, they were able to alter their own scheme, to insist on the argument that the whole difficulty arose from the original conception of the scheme will not hold water if very carefully examined. I am, therefore, a little surprised that the whole force of the Government argument is that because of the conception of the scheme it is very difficult to alter it without raising a vast number of issues. I should like the Minister of Pensions to state explicitly what the policy of the Government is. Have they, in offering this Select Committee, in fact accepted the principle of equal compensation? I was very grateful when the right hon. Gentleman said he approached the problem with sympathy and with a real desire to meet the requests that have been put forward. We want to know whether that represents the Government view and whether they believe in the policy of equal compensation.
We are very glad that the Government have decided to set up a Select Committee, but a great many of us who have been connected in small ways with the machinery of government have grown rather used to the fact that committees are not always used for the purpose for which they are set up. I need not tell my right hon. Friend my views on the question of committees, but sometimes we have committees which have no power and which act as a convenient umbrella for a Minister. Of course, I am of a suspicious nature. What I want to know about this committee is whether, when it has reported and when it has outlined, possibly, some real difficulties in relation to the instances which my right hon. Friend outlined in his speech, the House of Commons is then to decide its own policy, or will the Government formulate a policy on the committee's report and present it to the House? Will the Government then make it a matter of Government policy and a vote of confidence, or, when the report is presented, will the House be allowed a free vote? Are the Government offering us a Debate and a vote on the committee's report? Suppose the committee find a great many difficulties which, however, can be overcome, will the Government undertake to overcome them or will they find a variety of reasons why, if we overcome them, the pebble will be thrown into the stream and there will be more and more repercussions? If my right hon. Friend will elucidate what is to happen to the report it will clear the air so far as the House is concerned.
I understand that the Government hope that the committee will report within a reasonable time. One hon. Gentleman suggested one month, but I have no wish to tie down the Government on this. I am being sweetly reasonable because I realise that when one goes into an inquiry of this kind, it is difficult to estimate how many inquiries will have to be made and how many witnesses will have to be called. As the Government have told us that they themselves have no idea what the repercussions will be, I can see that it would be very difficult for them to set a time limit to the inquiry. We are trying to respond in a sweetly reasonable manner to the reasonable case my right hon. Friend put from the Treasury Bench. At the same time, we ought to be able to set some kind of time limit. After that the House will be able to judge whether the Government's intentions are honourable or whether they are really trying to lead us up the garden path. I am sure that I speak for the large majority of Members when I say that we are not in a mood to be led up the garden path. I shall be very glad if my right hon. Friend will make the position crystal clear. On his interpretation of my words "crystal clear" I think that the House will take its own decision.
I want to say a word about the question of a vote on an Amendment to the Address. I have no qualms about it at all. If I wished to vote for an Amendment to the Address I should do so with a clear conscience. Independent Members are inclined to think that they have the sole privilege of being independent. Curiously enough—and I know that my hon. Friends in the. Labour Party will not object to what I am going to say—I find it is much easier to be independent in the Tory Party than in probably any other party in the world. Therefore, I am not really worried by that question. In the years to come the success or the failure of our Parliamentary system will depend to a very large extent on how we conduct ourselves during these difficult years. We in the House of Commons are very well versed in Parliamentary procedure. We here know all the tactics of a Whip's Office and the Treasury Bench, we know the tactics of all the individual parties, but they are not known to the nation as a whole, and there is a feeling throughout the country that politics have ceased to be realistic.
I am sure that my women colleagues in the House would like me to pay a tribute to my horn Friend the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) for the way she has carried on this battle right through from the beginning. I know that the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench, and men in general, sometimes say that women are not stable, but as a matter of fact they have a great deal more pertinacity than a good many men. If we vote on this Amendment we vote on a matter of principle and we know that the country will accept it as a matter of principle. The public like realism in politics. The Whips are often anxious to explain to us the effect in his constituency of an adverse vote given by a Member of Parliament. I can assure the House that their psychology is all wrong, and as the country is now whole-heartedly behind the principle of equal compensation a realistic vote in the House of Commons will not hurt Parliamentary prestige. After all, the people who went through the blitzes in the East End of London and in places like Coventry, Liverpool, Clydeside and Tyneside do not know Parliamentary traditions and do not understand the technicalities connected with voting for or against an Amendment to the Address. All they realise is that here is a great principle, one that has been fought for by many Members in the House of Commons because there is very real support for it in the country, and that that principle has been opposed by the Government, and a realistic vote on such an Amendment, based on principle, would, I assure the House, have a stimulating effect on the country.
Therefore, I do not accept the argument that the country would not understand why, when a Select Committee has been offered to us, we still vote on principle. Principle still counts in the minds of the people. We should be very ill advised, in the greatest Parliament in the world, to weaken the belief of people in the fight that can be fought for justice in the House of Commons. I very much hope that my right hon. Friend will deal very fully with the intentions of the Government, and I hope that those intentions are as honourable as I am inclined to think they are.
I have no desire to detain the House, as I know that hon. Members are anxious to hear the Minister's speech. I think it is universally agreed that a Vote on the Address is generally inexpedient. The Debate to-day has shown, however, that this is not a matter of expediency but of plain and simple justice. I understand the offer of the Government to be that a committee should be set up to consider the repercussions and implications of the suggestion contained in the Amendment. What the House wants to know before it comes to a decision is this: In setting up a committee, are the Government proposing to give terms of reference to the committee which embody acceptance by the Government of the principle of equal compensation? If that is so, all that matters is that the committee should report exceedingly quickly and that, when it has reported, there shall be a free vote of the House. It is however essential for us to know whether the Government are telling the committee, "We believe in, equal compensation. Now work out the implications of it"; or whether they are telling the committee, "A suggestion has been made that there shall be equal compensation. We wish you to consider the matter and to report whether it is possible or not."
I wish to express to the hon. Lady the Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward) and to other hon. Members that on these benches we are by no means adverse on this issue of equal pay and of equal rights for equal citizenship. We know now what the repercussions will be, and we could write the report for the committee, if need were. We know that it means that industrial freedom has to be tackled. We know it means the whole of social insurance and everything relating to insurance policy, in fact everything that has gone on for the last few generations, to effect inequalities between women and men. I am wondering whether the hon. Lady the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) has ever contributed in the industrial world to lifting some of our girls out of those foul conditions which women have been permitted to endure, not during this war or during the last war, but probably for the last 30 or 40 years.
I have no qualms of conscience in going into the Lobby to-day in support of the hon. Lady's Amendment. I notice that the hon. Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) has just entered the House. She is Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Home Security. I am sure she will not mind my mentioning this: We are on equal terms as trade-union officials. The hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) challenged me a moment ago by asking whether any trade union paid the same rate of pay for men and women. The answer is very simple. The hon. Member for Jarrow and myself are paid the same rate of pay. In our trade union we are not concerned with sex. We pay for the job and not the person. We carry it a stage further. We say the same thing about our clerks as well. In the borough where I reside, I am glad to say that a woman who sweeps the road does not have the yardstick of sex applied to her. We go by the nature of the job that is done and not by the person. Women road sweepers are paid the same rate of pay as the men. We have also carried it a stage further, to salvage collectors. In many local authorities now we are not concerned whether men or women are doing the job. A woman who collects salvage at my door is paid the same rate as any man who might have been doing it.
I would like to make a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman for his reply. If he sent me, or my woman neighbour who might be injured by the same bomb, to a doctor, would the doctor begin to analyse or argue as to whether I was to receive one form of treatment or another and whether there were to be two rates of charge by the same doctor for the same kind of accident? Would there be two grades of treatment? If we had to go to the dentist, would he begin to argue with me as to whether there should be different rates for a woman and for a man? Furthermore, if it is a woman doctor who is to treat me, can I begin to argue that instead of charging me 7s. 6d. for a bottle of medicine, the charge should be only 5s., because she is a woman? It is perfectly ridiculous, as everyone knows. I ask the women Members who have been speaking on this issue, the hon. Member for Wallsend, the hon. Member for Frome, and the hon. Member for West Fulham (Dr. Summerskill), and the other Members who have put their names down to this Amendment, including employers of labour, to come out into the industrial field when this Amendment has been carried, and the Government have accepted the principle, and say to the employers of labour, say to everyone in industry, "This is a crusade for a genuine improvement for the womenfolk of this country, and there is no going back after the war," that instead of there being a rate of pay of 43s. for women munition workers, there shall be only rates for the job in munition factories and that the rates of pay everywhere else shall be rates for the job. I make this appeal, and I hope my right hon. Friend will have no hesitation in saying that, so far as his industrial colleagues in the Government and the Members we have sent into the Government are concerned, they are standing by the principle just as sincerely as we do.
I must say that, so far as we have gone, this Debate has been conducted in a very friendly manner, and we have had the pleasure of listening to some exceedingly good speeches. What will happen between now and the time we take the vote I do not know. I remember a very revered Member of this House, now gone from us, when we were discussing on one occasion this question of equality between the sexes saying that it had always been the greatest regret of his life that he had never been a mother. Therefore there can never be equality. I am glad we are not discussing sex equality as such to-day, but it cannot be altogether separated from the subject under discussion. In the first place, I feel that, as the Minister responsible for carrying out the arrangements made under the Civilian Injuries Scheme, making the payments and so forth, it is only just to me and my Department that I should make quite clear what we have been doing in the past, because I am astonished to find that a number of Members have not realised what we have been paying in compensation, and how we have been doing it.
Compensation under the Civilian Injuries Scheme is divided into three categories. First, there is what we term—the lawyers could not find a better term—the gainfully employed people; secondly, there are the Civil Defence workers; and, thirdly, a class that was brought in after we had had experience of the working of the original Civilian Injuries Scheme, and brought in because of Debate in this House and a demand from Members that they should be brought in, a striking example of the Government following the opinion in the House. This class is the non-gainfully employed. As regards the gainfully employed, I am here to say that there is equality as between the sexes, equality in this way: We were urged by trade unions and those who represented the workers of this country that we must relate the compensation paid under this scheme to workmen's compensation.
We had taken away the right of the employee to sue his employer if the injury was caused by enemy action or in repelling the enemy, and we had to substitute something of equal value. The original scales were not of equal value. It was also said that we had relieved the employer of his obligation to provide, through insurance and so on, for meeting any claims. The employer had a good argument, inasmuch as it would have been very difficult to find anyone prepared to take on such an insurance risk. Indeed; as I said when the scheme was introduced, it was unique. You were bound to experiment in the early stages, to find out how you could improve the scheme to meet the wishes of the people of this country.
We fixed the rates with a 35s. maximum for both men and women in industry under workmen's compensation; and we had to arrive at a proper figure so that the same rate of compensation would be paid to those in industry who were injured by enemy action as would have been paid if they had been injured in the course of their ordinary employment. We could have started on the same lines as the Workmen's Compensation Acts and have said that we would pay half wages up to 35s. a week for both sexes. That would have involved considerable difficulty for my Department. It would have meant a great number of people going around inspecting the wages books and so on, and it would have meant introducing a system which I thought undesirable, particularly in view of the fact that at that time, when so much blitzing was going on, it was essential for the people concerned that we should be on the job quickly. We decided that the fairest thing was to take the average of the half wages of those in employment, and we took that average from the Ministry of Labour Returns. It was shown that for gainfully-employed men the 35s. represented the average of half earnings at that time. As regards women, the average was much below 28s.—it was around 26s.—but we had to take into account that there was a tendency for wages of female workers to rise. We wanted to be on the safe side, and we made the figure 28s. I contend that, although we have certainly deprived a few women of what they would get under the half-wages system, we have given many others more than they would have got under workmen's compensation. We have to ask those women who have received a little less to make that small sacrifice on behalf of their sisters who would otherwise have considerably less. In paying out a Government allowance or pension, it is much better, I think the House will agree, to have a standard rate rather than a fluctuating rate, which would mean making a means test of earnings during the past 12 months. So far as the gainfully-employed are concerned, there is no dispute: there is equality between the two sexes. If the House wishes to carry the scheme out in the same way as workmen's compensation, it will make a great difference to the working of my Department, but we can do it, and then there will be no dispute.
When we come to full-time Civil Defence workers, we are up against a very great difficulty. As was explained by the Deputy Prime Minister, under the sickness pay arrangements the men and the women get 26 weeks' full pay if they are sick or injured. It means that, as the rate of pay for a man in the Civil Defence services is 74s. a week, and for a woman 52s. a week, by sticking to that system of paying for 26 weeks, you cannot possibly have equality unless the woman is to receive 22s. a week more when she is sick than she receives when she is working. That is a principle which has never been accepted by friendly societies, trade unions or the Government Health Insurance Department. That is a difficulty, and one of the many reasons why we have to have an inquiry. Take that section of the Civil Defence organisation who are not full-time but part-time and who are employed in some other occupation during the day. It was decided that they should receive 13 weeks' full payment of their wages up to these maximums of 74s. and 52s., and so they are provided for. Our experience in the case of the Civil Defence workers has been that there are far more claims for ordinary accidents than there are for accidents caused by enemy action or by repelling the enemy, and that the majority of these cases are cleared off the books before the 26 weeks have expired. We shall see what our experience of part-time workers is as we go along.
I contend that so far as these two categories are concerned there is nothing really in dispute between one section and the other in this House. It is a question of looking into the whole matter, and of examining it in the light of the facts which we and those who have moved this Amendment can bring to the notice of the Committee. But I agree that when you come to the non-gainfully employed you are again up against some little difficulty. That was introduced, as I have said, at the request of this House after a prolonged Debate, and actually a Division was taken. Although that Division was favourable to the Government at the time, I am glad to say that the Government took notice of the speeches that had been made during that Debate and gave a full and careful consideration to the position. I myself received deputations from various women's organisations, and at that time I did not receive any strong representations about the differences in the rates. That was not so apparent. We were not giving anything at all to the non-gainfully employed, but I received very strong representations on behalf of the married women of this country.
It was because of these strong representations that we introduced a scale for non-gainfully employed. That non-gainfully employed scale was fixed in this way. First of all, as there was a difference in pension rates as between men and women not only among civilians but among the Services, it was reasonable to say that there should be a slight difference as between the man and the woman in this matter. Whether that was right or wrong, I am submitting it to the House as the opinion which was expressed at the time. Now the position is as follows: Our experience has shown us that 85 per cent. of the claims of the non-gainfully employed are married women. The argument that was put up to us on behalf of these married women was that, although the married woman has a husband responsible for her support, was it fair to ask that woman to struggle on with her household duties, as many of them would do, although they were injured and suffering ill-health, and that at any rate we should provide something in the way of compensation so that, if necessary, outside help could be brought into the house. I thought that that was a very sound argument. I know from my own experience of working-class households that it is often the case that a housewife is so afraid of having to pay, out of her husband's earnings, someone else to come in that she will struggle and carry on when she ought not to do it and when she ought really to be resting.
We fixed a sum of money to meet this need, which should be given as compen- sation. We have had a good deal of experience of this now, and we know it has helped tremendously in the households where women have been injured and where men, receiving the ordinary standard rate of pay, could not afford to pay for this extra help. I have, had more letters commending the Government for having undertaken to meet this payment to women than I have had letters of complaint about inequality. I have had practically no complaints at all from the civil population, either about the rates or the question of inequality. I have had thousands of postcards, all printed alike, sent from different parts of the country, and I have taken notice of them, but I want to submit that we must not exaggerate the position. We must look at it as a matter of fair play and justice. That is my desire and the desire of the Government.
Yes, Sir. They are 21s. for a man and 16s. 4d. for a woman. But these rates do not affect this argument very much, because practically no men are claiming. As I have said, 85 per cent. of the claims have been made by married women whose husbands are able to support them, and this has been an addition to the income to provide extra help. In both cases there is free medical and hospital treatment. The question at issue is: What will be lost if you bring down the man to the women's scale? I do not think anybody would complain—
Well, in Scotland there used to be a song entitled "We all go to work but father," but I think that is dead now. However, we must come to the crucial question we are discussing to-day. I could have brought other arguments forward to give to Members on this subject, because I have been steeped up to the neck in it for many months. I have been trying to find a real solution to this problem. Believe me, I have my sympathies. One hon. Lady mentioned about our mothers. Well, I have said in this House before, and I repeat it, that I had the best mother in the world. Possibly I should not have come into this House but for the influence of my mother. [Laughter.] Well, the first time I ever sought the suffrages of electors for a seat on the council I was asked, "Are you Mrs. Womersley's lad?" I replied, "Yes," and I was told, "Well, you are all right then." So my mother did me a good turn then.
I can see the many difficulties that lie ahead, and I want this House to have full knowledge of the whole position before coming to a final decision. I submit that it is a reasonable thing to refer this subject to a Select Committee. I have heard hon. Members talk about the Select Committee as though it were something the Government would have in their pocket, but that is a grave reflection upon the Members of the House. The Members of a Select Committee are selected from all parties in the House, not because they take particular views on the subject either for or against, but—[Interruption]. If the hon. Member is a Member of his party organisation, he will have the right to have a say in the matter, I submit that to cast reflections upon a Select Committee is to cast reflections upon ourselves. Surely, there cannot be any fairer tribunal than a Select Committee.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) asked a series of questions which it was quite right and proper to ask. First, he asked about the speed of the inquiry. My answer is that no time will be lost—[Interruption]—perhaps hon. Members will allow me to continue and finish the sentence—in setting up the Select Committee. That is the Government's duty. Certainly, the Government will recommend the Select Committee to report as quickly as possible, and we hope it will be before the Christmas Recess. But can the Government or any member of the Government dictate to a Select Committee how long it shall take in its investigation? I want this matter to be quite clearly understood. It is not a laughing matter. It is not a question of trying to push the thing off. If a Select Committee is set up and asked to expedite the examination as much as possible, we are bound to leave it to the Committee and its judgment, and hon. Members can prod the Committee if it is not getting on with the matter as quickly as hon. Members think it ought. There will be no desire on the part of the Government to have any delay whatever. This is not a question of burking the issue.
The hon. Member has read the hymn book: so have I. I think I have cleared up that point. The next question asked by the right hon. Gentleman was whether there will be a Debate in the House when the Report is presented. Certainly, there will be. As has been stated already, it will be a fact-finding committee and when it reports on the matters covered by the terms of reference—[Interruption.] The terms of reference have been read three times in the Debate, but I will read them again in a moment or two. Certainly, it is most desirable that there should be a Debate in the House when the Committee reports. What is the good of the Select Committee sitting and taking the evidence—
There are methods of Parliamentary procedure by which these matters can be dealt with. [Laughter.] I cannot understand this ribald laughter. If hon. Members who are laughing had been in the Whips' Office for four years, as I have been, they would realise that the House of Commons is predominant, but that a minority of the House cannot be predominant. The Report of the Select Committee will come before the House for full discussion. The next question which the right hon. Gentleman asked—
I said that the Government must be responsible—the right hon. Gentleman, I think, will appreciate that; he has been a member of a Government—and that the Report would be brought before the House. The House could then express their opinion either in debate or in the Lobby if they decided to call a Division. That is as far as I can go—as far as I ought to go, I am certain. The next question was whether the payment would be retrospective.
The hon. Member has been in the House a little time, and before that for quite a long time. Surely he knows the method of conducting a Parliamentary Debate. I am answering the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh, who asked whether the Government would adopt a policy if that policy was laid down by the Committee.
We shall have to hear what the views of the House are. The next question is whether the payment will be retrospective. [Interruption.] I must ask to be allowed to finish my observations. I did not interrupt the hon. Member or anyone else. I was tempted at times, but I did not do it. These are very serious questions. Surely hon. Members are not going to make this into a variety theatre. [Interruption.] I am sure the hon. Member realises that it is not a branch meeting either. The question is whether it will be retrospective. That is a question that we shall have to go into, providing it is decided that the Committee reports that the payment should be increased. We will go into it very carefully, because it is a question whether it is practicable to do it. We will look into it and report later on. I have been asked to read the terms of reference. This is what was read out by the Deputy Prime Minister:
That a Select Committee be appointed to examine and report upon the effect of the proposal that civilian women should be compensated equally with civilian men for war injuries on the general principles of compensation and levels of remuneration.
I think that narrows it down to the terms of the Amendment. If the Committee want to make inquiries into matters that might be repercussions from this, that is for the Committee to decide within the terms of reference. I think those terms have been drawn up to meet the wishes of those who put down the Amendment. I may say further, for the benefit of many Members who do not seem to realise the powers of a Select Committee, that they have power to send for papers, persons and records. The Committee will be representative of every section of the House. I have given a pledge that it will be appointed without the slightest delay, and we shall ask them to make a Report as soon as possible. The Report must come before the House, and the promise has been given that there will be the fullest opportunity for full debate on the question.
I am satisfied that Members, after reading the evidence and noting the Report, will be in a far better position to cast their vote than they will be to-day. When I give a vote I want to be dead sure that I am not creating worse anomalies by removing one anomaly. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members may say "No," but if they had the job of administering a Department like mine, they would think differently. I was persuaded that it was a wise thing to give allowances to the non-gainfully employed, but that has raised more anomalies than anything else. People who get them say "Thank you," but many other people complain. On an issue such as this it is far better to have a Select Committee of Members of the House independent of the Government in order to examine the whole of the facts—facts brought by the hon. Lady and her supporters and facts that I should have to put before the Committee as the responsible Minister. After calm and careful consideration the Committee will report to the House, and the Report will give hon. Members the opportunity of knowing the case as it really is. I had hoped that the hon. Lady would withdraw her Amendment. I think that she would have been wise, because it would have strengthened her position and shown that she was in earnest in getting what is just, as the Government are.
The House will have to go to a Division if the hon. Lady decides to carry the Amendment to the vote. If it does, may I make an appeal to my hon. Friends? I have carried on the work in connection with the civil injuries scheme for some time. I have done my level best to make it a workable scheme. It is unique in the whole history of pensions and allowances, and I repeat what I have said before, that if I see any improvements that can be made, I shall not be afraid to come to the House and ask for them. Reference was made to that by the hon. Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George). I have been twice to the House for improved rates and conditions. I repeat the promise I made at that time. I ask the House to believe that we have at times to meet difficulties which are not easy to explain on the Floor of the House, but which can be properly sifted and inquired into in a committee room upstairs by the House's own representatives. If there is a Division, I ask hon. Members to support the Government, because I think the Government's offer is fair and just.
Is the expression that the Committee is to report as soon as possible in the terms of reference, or is that an expression of the right hon. Gentleman's own opinion?
How far would that carry us? We shall ask the Committee to expedite their inquiry, and I have no doubt that the Members who will serve on the Committee are here to-day, and they will understand what the feeling of the House is.
The hon. Lady says that she is going to a Division, and she had better go to a Division and not try to drag too much out of me before she does go. The point is that the Committee will have to consider the whole issue. If we state that we accept this and accept the other, what is the good of a committee of inquiry?
Suppose that in an ordnance factory there are a dozen women and one man working in a shop and there is an accident which injures them all 100 per cent. Under present Regulations what would be the difference between the compensation that the man would get and the women would get?
|Division No. 1.||AYES.|
|Acland, Sir R. T. D.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Poole, Captain C. C.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Granville, E. L.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Barr, J.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Barstow, P. G.||Grey, Captain G. C.||Reakes, G. L. (Wallasey)|
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham (St. M.)|
|Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)||Gunston, Major Sir D. W.||Roberts, W.|
|Beven, A.||Hardie, Agnes||Robertson, D. (Streatham)|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Harvey, T. E.||Robertson, Rt. Hn. Sir M. A. (Mitcham)|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T. (Cleveland)||Hewlett, T. H.||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Broad, F. A.||Horabin, T. L.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham)||Hutchinson, G. C. (Ilford)||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey, W.)|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. G. I. C. (E'burgh)||Savory, Professor D. L.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Comdr. Hn. L. W.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Buchanan, G.||Keir, Mrs. Cazalet||Sloan, A.|
|Butcher, Lieut. H. W.||Kendall, W. D.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Cadogan, Maj. Sir E.||Key, C. W.||Southby, Comdr. Sir A. R. J.|
|Chater, D.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Stephen, C.|
|Cove, W. G.||King-Hall, Commander W. S. R.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Kirkwood, D.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd)||Leonard, W.||Taylor, Captain C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Leslie, J. R.||Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Linstead, H. N.||Viant, S. P.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lyons, Major A. M.||Walkden, E. (Doncaster)|
|Doland, G. F.||McGhee, H. G.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Mack, J. D.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||MacLaren, A.||White, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Wilson, C. H.|
|Elliston, Captain G. S.||Maxton, J.||Wright, Mrs. Beatrice F. (Bodmin)|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Mills, Colonel J. D. (New Forest)||Wright, Group Capt. J. (Erdington)|
|Foster, W.||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Gallacher, W.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Owen, Major G.||Mrs. Tate and Dr. Summerskill.|
|Gledhill, G.||Parker, J.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Frankel, D.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Charleton, H. C.||Fraser, Capt. Sir Ian|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Cluse, W. S.||Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Cobb, Captain E. C.||Galbraith, Comdr. T. D.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Colegate, W. A.||Gates, Major E. E.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (So'h. Univ.)||Colman, N. C. D.||Gibson, Sir C. G.|
|Assheton, R.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Glyn, Sir R. G. C.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Cooper, Rt. Hon. A. Duff||Goldie, N. B.|
|Balfour, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. H.||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Gower, Sir R. V.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir Stafford||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Beattie, F.||Daggar, G.||Grenfell, D. R.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)|
|Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)||Davison, Sir W. H.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)|
|Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'tsm'h)||De Chair, Capt. S. S.||Grigg, Sir E. W. M. (Altrincham)|
|Beechman, N. A.||Dobbie, W.||Grigg, Rt. Hon. Sir P. J. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Benson, G.||Douglas, F. C. R.||Groves, T. E.|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E.||Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Drewe, C.||Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Hambro, Capt. A. V.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)||Haslam, Henry|
|Brabner, Lt.-Comdr. R. A.||Ede J. C.||Headlam, Lt.-Col. Sir C. M.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. B.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)|
|Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Edwards, Walter J. (Whitechapel)||Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N.E.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Elliot, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||Heneage, Lt.-Col. A. P.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Ellis, Sir G.||Hicks, E. G.|
|Burden, T. W.||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Higgs, W. F.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Holdsworth, H.|
|Carver, Colonel W. H.||Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Hollins, A. (Hanley)|
|Cary, R. A.||Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)|
|Channon, H.||Foot, D. M.||Holmes, J. S.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Fox, Flight-Lieut. Sir G. W. G.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Hudson, Sir A. (Hackney, N.)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Stanley, Col. Rt. Hon. Oliver|
|Hughes, R. M.||Paling, W.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Stewart, W. Joseph (H'gton-le-Spring)|
|Hunter, T.||Peake, O.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Hurd, Sir P. A.||Pearson, A.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Isaacs, G. A.||Peat, C. U.||Strickland, Capt. W. F.|
|James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Petherick, Major M.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray & Nairn)|
|Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Summers, G. S.|
|Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Peto, Major B. A. J.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Jewson, P. W.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Sykes, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir F. H.|
|John, W.||Ponsonby, Col. G. E.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Power, Sir J. C.||Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'mpton)|
|Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Thorneycroft, Major G. E. P. (Stafford)|
|Kimball, Major L.||Price, M. P.||Thurtle, E.|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Procter, Major H. A.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Pym, L. R.||Titchfield, Lt.-Col. Marquess of|
|Lewis, O.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Liddall, W. S.||Rankin, Sir R.||Touche, G. C.|
|Lloyd, G. W. (Ladywood)||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)||Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|McCorquodale, Malcolm S.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Rickards, G. W.||Waterhouse, Capt. C.|
|McKie, J. H.||Ridley, G.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. H. (Stockton)||Ritson, J.||Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. H. (Richmond)|
|Mander, G. le M.||Ross Taylor, W.||Wells, Sir S. Richard|
|Markham, Major S. F.||Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)||Westwood, J.|
|Marshall, F.||Salt, E. W.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Mathers, G.||Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h & Selk'k)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Shakespeare, Sir G. H.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Milner, Major J.||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Mitchell, Colonel H. P.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Montague, F.||Shinwell, E.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. (Rochdale)||Silkin, L.||Willink, H. U.|
|Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)||Simmonds, O. E.||Wilmot, John|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A.||Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir K. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Mort, D. L.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Muff, G.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich).||York, Capt. C.|
|Nall, Sir J.||Smith, E. (Stoke)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Nicholson, Captain G. (Farnham)||Smith, T. (Normanton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Oliver, G. H.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B.||Mr. J. P. L. Thomas and|