Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [16th February]:
That this House welcomes the Report of Sir William Beveridge on Social Insurance and Allied Services as a comprehensive review of the present provisions in this sphere and as a valuable aid in determining the lines on which developments and legislation should be pursued as part of the Government's policy of post-war reconstruction."—[My. Greenwood.]
May I respectfully ask, in view of the fact that there is no official Opposition and that the Labour Party is in the Government by virtue of its leaders being associated with the National Government, why the Conservative Party should be forced to vote on an Amendment put forward by the Labour Party?
I beg to move, in line I, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add:
expresses its dissatisfaction with the now declared policy of His Majesty's Government towards the Report of Sir William Beveridge on Social Insurance and Alliea. Services, and urges the reconsideration of that policy with a view to the early implementation of the plan.
We have reached the third and concluding day of this very important Debate, and before the Sitting closes we in the House of Commons will have to make a decision which is of immense importance to the future of this country and to what remains of this tremendous conflict in which we are engaged and upon the victory in which we are at one. This is the first Debate in which we have been called upon to make a decision upon the shape of the post-war Britain. I would beg hon. Members in every part of the House to realise what this first decision upon reconstruction means to the people of this country, to the House of Commons, to the whole democratic system and to the Government. The Beveridge plan has become in the minds of the people and the nation both a symbol and a test. It has become, first of all, a symbol of the kind of Britain we are determined to build when the victory is won, a Britain in which the mass of the people shall be ensured security from preventable want. Almost every speech which has been made in this Debate and every comment that has been made in the Press and on the platform since the Report was issued, the widespread interest taken in it and in its proposals, and the almost universal support given to it, are clear indications that the Report and the plan meet a
deep-felt need in the minds and hearts of our people. That is well understood.
Our people have memories of what happened at the end of the last war, memories of the period of depression, memories of the unemployment, frustration, poverty and distress into which large masses of our people were thrown. In public, and much more in private, at the fireside, men and women are asking: "After this, what? After victory, what? A return to the old days, a return to those years in which never less than 1,000,000, and sometimes 2,000,000, and at one time 3,000,000 of our people, were allowed to rust on the streets, unwanted in this country? There is a deep determination among the mass of the people that we must in the years that are to come build up a Britain in which, if there is want which we can prevent, we shall collectively prevent that want and give our people a real opportunity in life.
In addition to being a symbol, this plan of Sir William Beveridge's has become a test, a test of the sincerity of our professions and our promises. I believe it is going to be much more. In this House we are democrats, proud of democracy, proud of the part Britain has played in building up democracy, and I believe that in the generation that lies just ahead democracy will face its biggest test. Under democracy we have secured for the people of this country religious liberty and political liberty, and I believe that the great task that awaits democracy in the next generation is to add to that religious and political liberty the liberty without which they can become meaningless, and that is economic liberty and economic freedom. I would therefore say that there rests in our hands, I believe, the future of democracy, and I hope that by the end of the day we shall send out from this House of Commons a message that we intend to use this great democratic instrument to provide the economic freedom which it is in our power to build.
Let me say a word to Ministers, and I say it as one who from the beginning of the war has been loyal at all times to the Government and has supported them in their great task and the tremendous responsibilities which they have carried. Ministers have made speeches, and so have we. The other day the Leader of the House made a speech which was widely reported and widely acclaimed, in which he said, "There is no going back." I want to suggest to the Government, to the Leader of the House, to hon. Members and to the country, that the one thing to prevent going back is to plan a forward march. I believe that we can begin to plan now for the problem which is the problem nearest to the hearts of our people and about which they feel most keenly.
It is not only the working class who dreads insecurity. Members on the other side—I have heard it during this Debate—sometimes refer to the middle class as if we on this side had no relationship with them—not always but sometimes. If there is one section of the community which now, in consequence of the war, feels a sense of insecurity for the future, it is the middle class. One of the remarkable and significant things about the Beveridge Plan is the wide and cordial acceptance given to it by the middle class. I say that this is a test. We have said there is no going back, Ministers have said there is to be planning forward. Believe me, if we are to be believed in the country, we must start that job to-day. It is deeds, not words, which will count from to-day onwards. I say therefore that the decision we have to make to-day is of tremendous importance, and I hope that we shall, at the conclusion of the day, make what I am convinced and what my hon. Friends are convinced and what the nation is convinced is a right decision in this Debate.
What we have to decide is whether we will or will not accept the principles and the structure which we call in our Amendment the plan Sir William Beveridge has placed before us. Let me remind the House that my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) invited Sir William Beveridge to undertake this task with a Committee which was associated with him. What was he invited to do? He was not invited to and not provided with a microscope to go through our social services and find out whether 6d. could be added here and 3d. there and something somewhere else. What he was asked to do was to look at this great service. It is a great service, this social service. We have built it up piecemeal, adding bits now and again, but there it is, a very fine service, but full of anomalies, full of inadequacies, not unified. It is a very fine service, but it suffers from the fact that it has been built piecemeal. Sir William Beveridge was asked to investigate and report upon the possibilities of weaving all those bits and pieces into a coherent, unified plan, so as to provide social security from want in adversity. That was the task, and he has fulfilled that task with ability, and his Report is, I believe, the best Report put forward yet for doing what land others in this House have urged for many years, and that is the weaving of this into a real, bold pattern.
Let me say a word about the plan. The plan has, among others, these three great merits: First, it is comprehensive. It brings within the range of social insurance practically every citizen in this country. It brings them all in instead of dividing the country into sections and saying that one section shall be brought in and another left out. The second great merit is that it provides security from want in adversity by guaranteeing a minimum subsistence income, whatever the cause and however long the period. Lest there be here or, in the country any idea that Sir William Beveridge is proposing that people shall be given such a standard of life that they will be tempted to become malingerers, I would point out that what he proposes is a subsistence income, an income upon which people can subsist, and by the instrument of insurance he provides that the subsistence income shall be related to need and based upon standards which he outlines in his Report. He ends the anomalies by which the benefit which people get in adversity depends not as now, upon the need the adversity creates, but upon how the adversity arose. The plan proposes that a minimum subsistence income shall be provided for people in adversity, whatever may be the cause and however long the period. The third great merit of the plan is that it consolidates our social insurance and allied services into a single scheme under the direction of a single Ministry and with unified administration. Therefore, it does completely fulfil the task which Sir William Beveridge was asked by my right hon. Friend to undertake.
There is the plan, and what we have to decide to-day is this: Are we going to accept this plan and this structure, or are we not? Believe me, it is by acceptance or rejection of the plan that we shall be judged by this nation. There will be time enough later on for crossing "t's" and dotting "i's", but there can be no doubt that what has appealed to the people is the fact that here is a comprehensive plan to meet all contingencies and to provide this minimum income for everyone. It is because we are convinced that the nation wants this plan and that the nation ought to get it, and that we can afford it, that we have put down this Amendment.
Let me say a few words, very respectfully, upon the point that we can afford it. I suggest that the question which we ought to ask ourselves is not whether we can afford the plan, but whether we can afford to face the post-war period without it. Can we, indeed, afford to do without it? My view is that we cannot face the future, with all the colossal readjustments which it involves, without this plan. We have no right to ask our people to face those readjustments without this plan. We have made claims upon them, and since the war began we have been increasing those claims all the time. We have called our youths to the Services, and we have called our men to work. We have all joined in doing so. Let me say a personal word upon this. In the town which I am privileged to represent, thousands of men have been asked to go-away from the area. I have gone there and have asked them to do so, and I have given them a pledge which I must not break. I have said to them, "You are asked now to leave your homes and your work and your community—to leave everything for the sake of the country. It is my pledge to you that when the war is over, I will do my best to see that you are put back into decent jobs, and if decent jobs are not available, that you shall be guaranteed an income that will save you and your family from want." We have called for sacrifices, and that is our responsibility. The response of our people has been wonderful, beyond praise, and I hope we shall remember that we owe these people a debt that we must honour and that we shall begin to honour that debt to-day.
We have put down this Amendment because we believe that the House ought to speak to the country to-day in clear and unmistakable tones. From to-day onwards, believe me, we shall all be judged, not by what we say, but by what we do. What is the good of any of us going to the country and saying that after the war this shall be done and that shall be done? In that way we shall only add to the cynicism already prevailing among the people of this country. I, frankly, am alarmed. I have had something to do in my own county, and in an advisory capacity, with the youth movement, and I have mixed among the young people and talked to them. Last night my hon. Friend the Member for Spenny-moor (Mr. Murray), at a very late hour, when most hon. Members had gone home, quoted a letter which I hope hon. Members will read to-day in the OFFICIAL REPORT. It was a letter from the Eighteen Plus Club, a youth club, in his Division, in which the members expressed their views about this plan. If, to-day, we do not send out a clear and unmistakable message to our people, the cynicism of youth will grow apace, and, believe me, we shall pay a thousand times more than the cost of the Beveridge plan, for that cynicism at the end of this war.
Let me now turn to what has been said on behalf of the Government. We say in this Amendment that we are profoundly dissatisfied, as we are, with the pronouncements made by the Government. I am a comparatively new Member of this House, but I would venture to say that the Government in this matter have missed a glorious opportunity. They have really missed the finest opportunity that has presented itself since the war began—an opportunity of giving this country a new message of hope at the beginning of this year 1943. We all know what 1943 is going to mean to our people—the fourth year of the war, with its stress and strain and work and worry. Frankly, I am terribly disappointed at the fact that the Government have not risen to the opportunity offered to them this week of giving a real message to the people of this country.
What has been said on behalf of the Government? I begin with the speech of the Lord President of the Council, and I call attention to these words in the first few sentences of that speech:
It is, indeed, a bold and imaginative conception, and any Minister who could come down to the House and announce that the Government accepted the plan in its entirety and would immediately take steps to bring
it into operation must justly feel both proud and happy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1943; col. 1655, Vol. 386.]
I call attention to those words "accept the plan in its entirety" and "immediately take steps." The right hon. Gentleman said that any Minister who could come down to the House and announce that, would justly feel proud and happy. We, too, would justly be proud and happy. The nation would justly be proud and happy. The Lord President is not in his place at the moment, but I want to put this question to the Government. Presumably, the Lord President and the Government would like to come to the. House and make that announcement. Who prevents their doing so? Who stops them from doing what they say would make them proud and happy? I want to ask a question or two on that point. Is it the Government as a whole or part of the Government? Is it the Treasury? Is it someone inside the Government or someone outside it? I ask these questions, plainly, bluntly and frankly. They are being asked in thousands of homes in this country to-day and will continue to be asked.
Is it the House of Commons which prevents the Government doing what would make them-proud and happy? If the Government feel that the House of Commons is preventing them from implementing this plan, then let the House get its way to-night. Let it vote—a free vote—and I believe there will be an overwhelming maojrity for what would make the Government and the Lord President proud and happy, and would make us proud and happy too. Is it the Press that is preventing them? Has anybody discovered a single friend in the Press for the Government this week? If the Press are interpreters of public opinion—and I do not claim that they always are—[Interruption]. I say they may not be interpreters of public opinion, but hon. Members quote the Press when it suits them to do so, and I claim the same indulgence. If the Press does interpret public opinion, the fact is that the Government have no friends in the Press of this country to-day upon this issue. Is it the country that is preventing them? If there is one proposal, one plan, about which this country is unanimous, apart from parties, apart from sections, apart from political differences, it is this. The community is at one, there is unanimity about this plan and its acceptance, and its early implementation.
If we do not accept the plan, we may have reasons or excuses to offer in justification of our refusal to accept it in its entirety—in the words of the Lord President—and to implement it immediately. We may have reasons which satisfy ourselves, but what will the people of the country say? That is very important—as important as what we think and say. I will put what I am sure countless millions of them will say. In a recent speech, the Minister of Aircraft Production said that he was alarmed—I am quoting from memory—and anxious about what he heard everywhere among the common people all over this country, when there was any suggestion or talk about what we were going to do in the future. Ordinary men and women in the country would turn to him and say, "Ah, but they will stop you doing it." Believe me, one of the things I am sure of is that if the House turns down this Amendment, if we send the wrong message back at the end of this Debate, it will be read in the country as "Once more the House of Commons, the Government and 'they' have stopped this thing." [HON. MEMBERS: "Who are 'they'"?] Yes, who are "they"? I am interpreting the mind of the people of this country as far as I can. Let me narrow it down.
I will speak the mind of the people among whom I have worked all my life, the miners. By "they" among the miners is meant the vested interests which, for centuries, have robbed the miners, and which robbed them of the promise of a new Britain at the end of the last war. The Lord President of the Council, having said what I have already quoted, went on to say that before he sat down he would have been in a position
to give quite a number of fairly definite assurances."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th Feb., 1943; col. 1655, Vol. 386.]
We have our views as to the definite assurances given by the Lord President of the Council. There are two which seem beyond cavil. They were that the Government had agreed to introduce a system of children's allowances at 5s. per child for every child over and above the first. The second assurance was that the Government accepted the main principles of the plan. It was put vaguely. Then
there is the specific acceptance of-death benefits as an integral part of the plan. It was worked out in the review which the Lord President gave. There were undertakings, but they were hedged round about with all kinds of conditions and qualifications, so that they were not precise, specific or definite. Yesterday came the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and whatever was definite and specific in the Lord President's speech became indistinct and remote.
I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer intended to give that impression, but hon. Members came to me afterwards and said that all the Chancellor of the Exchequer did, and the whole effect of his speech, was to say, "We shall consider the matter in relation to everything else. We shall consider the plan in relation to other problems and calls, such as the calls for defence, housing, civil aviation and agriculture." [An HON. MEMBER: "Which would you give up?"] I am making ray own speech just now. The Chancellor of the Exchequer went on to indicate that the Government would go into the question of the adjustments necessitated by the adoption of children's allowances, such as adjustments in Income Tax rebates and so on. Then, he seemed to say, when we have gone into those matters, at some time or other unspecified and in the future, we shall have the whole agenda before us. Then we shall decide, in the then circumstances and the financial condition of the time, what we shall do.
It may be very wise, but let me say very sincerely that it seems to be the beginning of pushing the Beveridge plan into the remote future. The Government come down one day and give specific assurances, and the next day they hedge and qualify them. This is democracy, in 1943, and we want something infinitely more specific than that from this House of Commons. Where do we stand to-day? We have no unqualified commitment to the plan or, so far as I can see, to any part of the plan. There is no undertaking to set up a Ministry of Social Security. The important thing about that suggestion is that it would be a symbol that the Government intended to begin this matter and to go on with it. At the end of two days' Debate the House of Commons and the country do not know beyond doubt where the Government stand on this matter.
In times of great stress and great conflict we must speak plainly to our people. I have spoken plainly to them in all the vicissitudes of the war. Whenever a call has had to be made the Prime Minister has spoken plainly, and I pay him my tribute for having done so. When he began his Prime Ministership he promised the country nothing but blood, sweat and tears. Now we are beginning to speak to the country about post-war Britain. I say to the Government, "Do not speak to this great people in 'ifs' and 'buts.' Speak to them in plain and simple terms, and give them this plan." I have heard discussions as to whether we can afford the Beveridge plan. One disturbing thing is that everybody seems to assume that one of the reasons why we cannot say "Yes" to the plan now and may not be able to say "Yes" to it later, is because of the difficulties in the way. If we cannot say it now, we shall not be able to say it later. Lots of people in this country, and I share their view, believe that if we cannot start this reform during the war, there is not much chance of its being started after the war.
I have heard suggestions about the difficulties of the export trade. I have had some experience with the difficulties of the export trade. I am not a business man—it has been my lot to be a trade union leader in South Wales—but, believe me, I know something about the export trade and its difficulties. I know who pays for the export trade. It is not the Bank of England and not the Treasury. It is our men who pay for it in poverty, distress and misery. I represent the people who paid in full measure for the export trade.
And our people pay for the export trade in lack of food. I went right through that period of difficulty with the export trade. What is the cost of the Beveridge plan? What is the cost to the employers in industry? I will put one simple test. In South Wales, the employers' specific contribution is 6½d. a ton. We went right through the last depression paying 8½d. a ton in royalties without any protests from coalowners or anyone else. Less than the cost of royalties throughout that period—that is the cost. But why talk of it as a cost? The Beveridge scheme will fit our people for the days ahead, give them security, if you realise what security will mean, the energy it will release, the hopes it will give, the assurance it will give. Do you think a democracy can be built on fear? It is Hitlers who have built on fear. I believe that this Beveridge plan and all its provisions, made in a unified way, will enable the men with whom I live to face all the dangers of the pits, knowing that if they fall by the wayside no one will ask why or how they failed. However they failed, they and their families will be guaranteed subsistence.
I wish to say this about the export trade. Members who have been speaking about it—I may be wrong, and if I misinterpret their views I apologise—seem to look beyond the war into the future as a period in which we shall have a tremendous struggle for export trade. May I ask whom you are going to struggle with? Your Allies? What becomes of the Atlantic Charter if you are to begin a trade war with the Allies with whom we are now fighting? We tried it at the end of the last war. We tried it for 20 years. I know something about it, that game of "beggar my neighbour." There is no hope in that for the peace of the world; it lies in economic co-operation, not in competition. I say finally to this House, Today, by our decision, let us send a message to the British people and say to them that together we will go on until victory is won, and when victory is won we will go on to another victory which will guarantee to all the social security which our people deserve.
When my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) appointed Sir William Beveridge to be the principal figure in the investigation which he has now completed it was time, and more than time, for a survey and overhaul of our social services, social insurance schemes and allied services and for their improvement. I cannot begin these few remarks without, like so many others, expressing my deep appreciation of the great service which Sir William Beveridge has done for this country. His Report is not only a mine of information which we shall all preserve; it is a document of conspicious integrity, and inspired right through by a spirit which is worthy of its theme.
I regard it as a very great privilege to-day to follow the sincere and forceful speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). When I say that, I do not wish to weaken in any way the expression of my conviction that it will be most unfortunate to divide the House against the Government on this major issue of policy at this stage. I believe that the inclination, more than an inclination, in that direction is due in some measure, in large measure, to misapprehension both of parts of the scheme and of what has been said, not perhaps with all the force some of us would have liked, with regard to the Government's proposals. I myself am not without criticisms, and shall not be without suggestions of, I hope, a constructive character, but I shall regard it as a tragedy if on this, a major issue if ever there was one, anything should happen which would create any rift in the national unity which has been so unique during the whole period since May, 1940.
On this third day I would not address myself to the scheme in general. I would not address myself to particular items in the scheme. I would rather in the main address myself to the issues which have emerged, and emerged sharply, in the course of these three days. They really are differences with regard to spirit, with regard to approach, with regard to future steps, more than with regard to the actual proposals of the Government. These differences arise from a feeling of disappointment, from a feeling of lack of confidence in the Government's determination, a feeling of dissatisfaction which has been expressed by many Members on the other side of the House, and by a considerable number on this. The suggestions which I shall make will not be on the major questions of whether we can afford it or whether we can afford not to afford it They will rather be on the manner in which the proposals which the Government have accepted, and those they have promised to examine, should be dealt with in the immediate future.
Before I come to this, there are two or three points arising on the Debate and on the Report to which I would shortly refer. First, I would make a request, and appeal, to my hon. Friends opposite not to stress in their pressure for the implementation, as it is called nowadays, of the plan points which either are not in the plan at all or which Sir William has said are independent of the plan and can be left out without damage to its integrity. I refer to two points in particular. I think everyone will remember a particularly bitter interruption by the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell), whose name is among those to this Amendment, when the Lord President of the Council made an observation with regard to the position of voluntary hospitals. Surely that issue should not be brought into this Debate. The position is expressly safeguarded by Sir William, and there is a major issue which of course divides many of us, but it should not be debated on this Report. The second example is with regard to the proposal about the Industrial Assurance Board. That surely can be left on one side, as Sir William himself has said it can be left, for settlement at a later date. May I go to one or two points on the Report itself?
I think my hon. and learned Friend has done a great injustice to the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell). It was the Minister who brought in the question. I asked him a question. He told us that negotiations were going on now between the Government and the voluntary hospitals as to their future. My hon. and learned Friend's remark was meaningless when he suggested that the hon. Member for Seaham was irrelevant.
I am sorry that my Noble Friend should find any observation of mine meaningless. The Lord President said—and I think he was correct—that what he was saying on this matter in the course of his speech added nothing whatever to what had been said on an earlier occasion by the Minister of Health. It was an observation not with regard to the Beveridge plan, but concerning a subject which Sir William himself expressly left open for discussion.
Then there is one matter with regard to the Report itself on which I would like to make some comment. It is a matter on which I venture to criticise Sir William Beveridge himself. My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) quoted a passage in which Sir William indicates very clearly three steps which he says can be taken now. I believe that that passage, perhaps more than any other, has led to the correspondence, which we have all received, using the phrase "implementation in toto." I think that in that passage Sir William makes it sound too easy. A very little analysis of those first steps which he says can be taken now, proves that.
The first decision which he says—on page 168—can be taken now is:
A decision to introduce a unified comprehensive scheme of social insurance embodying the six fundamental principles set out in paras, 303–309.…
I will read only the first of those: "flat rate of subsistence benefit." Do my hon. Friends on the other side desire that to be implemented in toto? I do not believe that they do. I believe that I can in three minutes point to three major points of difficulty with regard to the first phrase in the first principle which Sir William Beveridge says can be accepted now. It would in fact require very considerable further examination. If that is so, the difficulty of an entire and immediate acceptance of the plan—as to which my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly asked what was the difficulty—becomes apparent. May I mention three points only, on that first principle?
Do my hon. Friends opposite agree with the principle of a flat rate of subsistence benefit for industrial pensions under workmen's compensation? I do not think for a moment that they do. In that summary Sir William Beveridge does not refer at all to the industrial pensions proposals which occurs elsewhere in his plan. The Lord President indicated a very real difficulty: Is a flat rate of contribution to bring about a varying rate of industrial pensions?
May I take the second point? I know little about the difficulties of workmen's compensation, but I have had something to do with the difficulties of housing in London in the last two years. As is well known, there was strong controversy between Mr. Seebohm Rowntree and Sir William Beveridge with regard to what was described in the Report as "the problem of rent." Do hon. Members opposite really desire a flat rate of subsistence benefit, irrespective of the problem of rent? The figures are set out in the Report, and I believe that many of my constituents who write asking for implementation in toto have relied on summaries, and not on the Report itself. I took days to read the Report the first time, apart from further study. When one studies the table showing what is called the average rent for a standard household, one finds that it varies from 16s. in London to 4s. 7d. on agricultural holdings. Surely it is clear that the first phrase in the first principle set out by Sir William Beveridge cannot possibly be accepted either entirely or immediately. This problem must probably be solved not by an allowance for individual rents but on a regional or occupational basis. As one whose constituency covers the arbitrary line of the postal area, so that some of my constituents get the 3s. 6d. London rent allowance and some do not, I know the difficulty.
When the hon. and learned Member suggests regional treatment of this differential element called rent, does he imply that there must be a guarantee of the differential rent out of the Government Fund, irrespective of the amounts involved or relation to the person's contribution?
I hardly think it is incumbent on me to attempt now to solve in detail an extremely difficult problem, which is not solved in the Report. I incline to think that in the country the stamp should be smaller and the benefit smaller, and that in London the stamp should be larger and the benefit larger. But the matter is extremely difficult to work out in detail.
Do hon. Members opposite want to accept a still more curious feature of the Report, in respect of which I think the Government have improved on the plan? Have my hon. Friends really taken into account the proposals of the Report with regard to old age pensions? Have they realised that the Report does not propose a flat rate of subsistence benefit until 1965, and that there will be the gravest inequalities, under the Report, during the whole 20 years until that date? Do they realise that a single pensioner now in receipt of pension, or with five years of insurance behind him, will receive, under the Report, a pension of only 14s.? Is that a flat rate of subsistence benefit? Do they realise that new classes, at present uninsured, including all people working for themselves, not under a contract of service, will not, under this Report, qualify for any pension whatever until 1955, and then only for 14s.—for the rest of their lives, with no increase? Are those the proposals my hon. Friends want accepted entirely and immediately? If so, I disagree with them.
No, Sir, I am for improving the Beveridge Report; and I am entitled, in my respectful submission, to ask these questions, as the Amendment calls for the early implementation of the Report. There are many features of the Report which I do not desire to see implemented, though there are more which I do desire.
I am not sure how you bring in a report as a whole.
May I pass to the decisions of the Government—because I regard them as decisions in spite of the reservations? I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) that the
Government are committed up to the hilt on a number of matters. The hon. Member for Llanelly omitted to mention one of the most important. I would refer to only three of these matters. The Government have said that the general lines of development of the social services laid down in the Report are those which the Government would wish to follow. There we have a very wide acceptance of the Report in principle. May I go further, and quote the words of the Lord President, on a matter to which my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly hardly referred. The Lord President said that the Government in principle accepted
the introduction of a comprehensive medical service and the institution of a system of children's allowances."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1043; col. 1659, Vol. 386.]
Those words of the Lord President mark a revolution. They will be a landmark in our social history. There is no reason whatever to say that no message is going out to the people of this land from this Debate.
I meant to say that my hon. Friend had said very little about the comprehensive medical service. I shall be very happy to deal with any interruptions that he desires to make. I would call attention to what Sir William Beveridge himself has said about one of these decisions. He went straight from listening to the speech of the Lord President, and made a speech himself. He referred to the matter of children's allowances, and the author of this Report himself said that he thought that a very remarkable forward step. I agree with him, and I welcome it profoundly. I welcome it not only from the point of view of the children. There is a long way still to go. I want to see these children getting school dinners. My own children get their dinner at school. It is a good social training; they get better food; and it makes things far easier for the working class mother. In this connection I do not think anything has been said about the Government's attitude on the proposed maternity grant. That is, to my mind, of very great importance, and I hope it will be accepted.
Now I come to a matter on which my hon. Friend said absolutely nothing. It is the third point that I shall refer to. The Lord President said that the Government
are clearly of the opinion that sickness and unemployment rates ought to be the same.…and the Government would hope that it would be found possible to fix rates not widely different from those in the Report."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1943; col. 1669, Vol. 386.]
What immense progress from the present lamentable situation with regard to National Health Insurance! Not one word was said about that by my hon. Friend.
But how? and when?. Those are the questions which I believe are most disturbing to the House. Before this war a mass of legislation was prepared in time for 3rd September, 1939. It was not all well drawn. It could not be fully discussed. But now what we must be prepared for is the peace, with all these schemes ready to come into operation immediately. I would remind my hon. Friends opposite that Sir William does not contemplate any of the plan coming into operation before the Armistice. Three times in his Report he says that we must be ready for the peace—in fact, on page 9, he says:
for the peace, or shortly after it.
The duty of the Government is to be ready to welcome our boys and our girls back, with this scheme ready to come into operation. The Government must hurry, because we can hope—although we cannot be confident—that the war is not going on for ever.
I have felt anxious for some time about the coherence and grip of home policy in the Government, and it is in that connection that I desire to make some suggestions. I am anxious about these reports. It is months since Lord Justice Scott's Report came out. We have not heard a word of Government policy about it. I am very anxious about the important post-war housing conditions in our great cities. I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health—in another capacity I am one of his servants—and I should not be surprised if he is anxious too. When I consider the number of people who cannot come back to their homes in London, it is clear that very serious steps need to be taken to deal with them. It is only a week or two since I expressed my dissatisfaction on Town and Country Planning policy. But here is the opportunity for the Government to make clear what is their organisation on these home policy matters. May I remind the House that a year ago the House was anxious to find out about the organisation on strategical matters, and after a good deal of pressure a White Paper was issued on "Organisation for Joint Planning"? It is time that we had clear information on the organisation of immediate practical post-war planning.
I am not enamoured of the proposal to appoint a Minister of Social Security immediately. We have 37 Ministers of Cabinet rank already, 32 of them in this country, and I think they should be able to do the job without any more additions to their number. The bulk of the work will have to be done by existing Departments, a great deal of it by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health's Department, but there are others as well. These nuclei of co-ordinating officers under a Minister who has none of the weight and experience of an established department behind him do not carry the influence carried by the old departments. That is the trouble of my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister without Portfolio, and I am not at all happy at the idea that this Beveridge plan should be under his organisation. I want a clear, definite set-up. Out of seven members of the War Cabinet in this country, four sit on the Defence Committee; there are three others who do not.
On the Defence Committee. Associated with those four members on the Defence Committee are the Service Ministers. We want something of the same kind for Home Policy. I make bold—delay has been so long, otherwise I would not be so bold—to suggest the layout, for this purpose. This matter of the Beveridge Report wants to be dealt with by a Cabinet Committee of great weight and strength, which will inform the House of the duties which have been placed on the various departments with regard to the development of the plans. I would go as far as to suggest the personnel for the main structure of that Committee. It should include the Lord President of the Council, the Home Secretary and the Minister of Labour—the three members of the War Cabinet who are not on the Defence Committee. To be added to these, I suggest the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Minister of Health, the Lord Privy Seal (Lord Cranborne) and probably the Secretary of State for Scotland, with power under varying conditions, as in the case of the Defence Committee, to bring in from time to time the President of the Board of Education, the President of the Board of Trade, the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Town and Country Planning. None of these 10 or 11 Ministers of Cabinet rank is closely or intimately connected with the direction and conduct of the war. It is in that way that we shall get strength, grip, and decision on these questions of immediate policy.
I make two other smaller suggestions, but they are of some importance. I have said that I am not in favour of an immediate new Ministry, but the Government might well decide and announce that this scheme, immediately it is set up, will be in the hands of a Minister, and I still cherish the hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be called the Minister of Social Insurance rather than the Minister of Social Security. I have not yet fallen for that term in spite of the Atlantic Charter. They should also accept the recommendation of Sir William Beveridge that associated with him, there should be the Social Security Statutory Committee to assist, guide and inform him, and watch the working of the scheme. That is an integral part of the scheme and should be accepted. With regard to children's allowances, the country wishes, I feel sure, to have some earnest of this scheme coming into operation. This assumption has been accepted. To put it into operation within a few months would not be overwhelmingly expensive. Masses of the children of serving men are already getting children's allowances and I see no reason why that should not be introduced as a separate measure. I was surprised yesterday to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer describe it as part of the scheme, quite in contradiction of the Lord President on the previous day, who stressed that it was a wholly independent policy.
These are, I hope, constructive suggestions. I believe that the decisions already taken by the Government are larger than many of my hon. Friends and the public have realised, and I hope that this Debate will not finish with a Division.
I feel a trifle diffident at venturing to take part in this Debate as I know that it is the considered opinion of His Majesty's Government that no soldier is sufficiently adult to be permitted to discuss the daring and dangerous thesis of social security. Indeed I have little doubt that when the recent Ministerial custom of interlarding their speeches with extracts from the better known and more easily accessible anthologies of verse becomes more prevalent we shall be entranced by the rousing spectacle of the Secretary of State for War, who I am sorry to see has just left, declaiming with ardent fervour those noble lines in which Lord Tennyson informs the British Army that it is:
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die.
Interesting and no doubt admirable sentiments, if slightly dated. But I hope the House will forgive me if I do not quite observe that implication. This Debate seems in many ways to be the most crucial of the war. We are frequently reminded when addressing the House that in so doing we are speaking not only to hon. Members and to our fellow countrymen but to a far vaster and wider audience of our friends and of our enemies overseas. This reminder, always true and always salutary, seems specially applicable during these three days. Whether we like it or not and whether it be entirely fair or not, many millions of men and women not only in this country but abroad are using this Debate as a yardstick with which to measure the sincerity of our frequent assertions that we are fighting this war to secure a better world and not merely to return to the old.
I must confess straight away a feeling of deep disappointment at the Ministerial announcements in this Debate, not so much at their substance, for their concessions are substantial, and indeed amount to the greater part of Sir William Beveridge's proposals, but at the manner and spirit in which they have offered us these things. This is a most important point, because to-day it is only by that manner and spirit that we can judge of the likelihood of their being implemented by the present Administration with vigour. I would like to say a few words on this subject and to make a few concrete and, I hope, constructive suggestions. Why is it that these proposals for social security for the British nation have been of absorbing interest in recent months not only to ourselves, the principals, but the whole of the civilised world? The reason is a simple one, but it is evidently so simple that the Government do not yet fully appreciate it. Surely the reason is that now in the fourth year of the war we are the first member of the United Nations to produce our post-war aims. For three years of war Europe and the occupied countries have had hammered into them the Nazi new order and the Nazi peace aim, but apart from rather vague outlines such as the Atlantic Charter they have been told nothing concrete at all about the world which we intend to build. It is the year 1943, in which this Report is being considered, and three and a half years of war make it absolutely necessary that we should face up to this Report fairly and squarely now. We know as has already been pointed out that later on this year we shall be returning to the Continent of Europe, and that this will require infinite sacrifice and devotion. We have to make sure that our Forces and people are inspired for that necessary sacrifice and devotion by a realisation that the world after this war is going to be a new one and that it is not merely going to be empty phrases and pious platitudes such as they received after the last war.
I was much interested yesterday when listening to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—who I am sorry not to see here at the moment—by his reference to his obvious interest in the subject of social insurance with his reminder of the part that he took in 1911 when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) introduced his legislation. I was so interested that I hastened to look up the references in Hansard. While, yesterday, I was in a state of some doubt as to what the Government meant, after reading the speeches in 1911, I was even more anxious. I noticed that the leader of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's party of that day under whom he worked, when speaking in the Debate used a most remarkable sentence which entirely sums up a large part of the speeches of the Lord President
and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said, when speaking on social insurance:
We will neither say 'yes' nor 'no.' If we say 'no' they may believe we are opposed to the principles of this Bill. We do not say 'no.' If we say 'yes' it implies we approve of the Bill as it is presented to the House now. We do not say 'yes.'
In this Debate it seems that the Government have not really made up their minds what they mean, and that, I think, is treating this House with scant courtesy. They issued this Report. It is a Governmental Report called for by the Prime Minister and instituted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood). Not only were they responsible for its publication, but they had its details broadcast in every language, even in Arabic, so that the Bedouins could understand what we were trying to do for our people and to convey to the people of the world the British attitude to the peace, and all this at a time when no other member of the United Nations had said anything about their intentions after the war. We hold the stage alone. By this Report we have secured a position in international affairs of vastly increased importance compared with three months ago. I would ask the Government to do this. Three years ago, when this administration took office, they spoke for this country at war. The Prime Minister, with an eloquence which will go down to history, expressed the feelings of every one of us. What has disappointed me in this Debate is that I expected to hear from the Government a new British declaration of the rights of man. I expected to be told by the Minister what our attitude to peace was going to be, told not with shilly-shallying or with political cleverness but in words that the people of this country and overseas could understand. So far we have had nothing of the sort, and I trust that when the Home Secretary replies to the Debate later to-day he will commit himself considerably more than the Government have done up to now.
There are one or two specific and concrete suggestions which I would like to make. First of all, I cannot understand the Government's attitude towards the Report as a whole. I do not know whether the idea proceeds from the Admiralty, but their attitude is what one might call that of convoy enthusiasts— "You must have the whole Report and not introduce it piecemeal. You must wait for months until all problems have been investigated before you can apply some of the matters about which we already possess full information." As the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Croydon (Mr. Willink) pointed out, the subject of family allowances is a non-controversial issue on which all parties are agreed and full information existed long before the Report was completed. Why do we have to wait for these things while negotiations are going on with the medical profession on a certain subject or with the Prudential Insurance authorities on a totally different matter? The people of this country do not want a blue print; all they are demanding is a reasonable assurance from the Government that it is doing its best to bring about a new world and to be assured of that they need concrete achievements now. The introduction of family allowances is one which ought to be brought about without delay.
On the question of a Ministry of Social Security, I know that there are many administrative arguments against such a Department being set up now, but it seems to me that the Government have led people, not only of this country but of the world, to expect something immediate and concrete out of this Report. People abroad and in this country do not read the OFFICIAL REPORT; they are not politicians; they cannot understand innuendoes; they are fairly simple people who can understand only plain facts, and difficult though it might be to have a Ministry of Social Security now, the political value throughout the world of a sign that we intend to honour our pledges in this Report would be of inestimable value. I noticed one argument that the Chancellor used against it yesterday. He remarked that comprehensive medical services must be negotiated by the Ministry of Health and the Department of Health for Scotland. But on looking up the Beveridge Report I see that Sir William says, on page 146:
The Ministry of Social Security will not be responsible for medical treatment which will fall within the sphere of the health Departments.…
Therefore, that argument against the institution of such a Ministry falls to the ground. It is of paramount importance now, before the second front opens and
while the Germans are reeling in the East and are being driven out of North Africa, that we should make Britain's attitude clear. We owe a responsibility to Europe, and Europe expects it of us. This scheme of social security, as Mr. Raymond Gram Swing remarked the other night in a broadcast from America, is "The best article of export which Britain has produced in this war." What I would like to be certain of is that it is not only intended to be an article for export or a piece of British propaganda to impress other people, but is genuinely an article for home consumption.
We can only convince our people of our determination by fulfilling, matters such as family allowances, which are possible now, by appointing a Ministry of Social Security and a Minister responsible to this House. It may be argued that no such man exists, but I differ from that opinion. I feel that the man who originated this Report ought to be appointed to the position of Minister. I can see no reason why Sir William Beveridge, a proved administrator who has spent many months working on this Report, should not be given the responsible task of implementing it. By his appointment we should prove to the world that we intend to carry out our pledges. Lastly, I would say this: This Debate has been, and is being, carefully followed throughout the world by many peoples. What are they looking for? They are looking for an answer to one question and one question alone—whether we are gathered here this week as a society of antiquaries to regret the past, or as an assembly of legislators to design the future. If the answer is the former, then there is no hope for civilisation, but if the answer is the latter, the future may indeed be bright.
The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), who spoke in the Debate yesterday, paid a deserved tribute to the Lord President of the Council when he suggested that the underlying reason for the dissatisfaction which was aroused in the House by the Lord President's speech was my right hon. Friend's fundamental honesty, which made him so extremely anxious not to mislead the House or the country in making his statement on behalf of the Government on Tuesday. The hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), who opened the Debate to-day, told us that there were few people in this country who had forgotten the years after the last war, years of disillusionment and dissatisfaction due very largely to the specious promises made by the then Coalition Government to soldiers, farmers and many other members of the community—promises that were made but not kept. I hope and believe that the present Government are extremely anxious that nothing should be said in the course of the Debate that would mislead the people and lead to that same state of disillusionment and disappointment, which, as we all remember, was so very prevalent among all classes of people towards the end of the last war and in the years that followed.
I cannot help feeling that a great mistake has been made in giving so much publicity to this Report, not only in this country, but, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member of Berwick (Captain Grey) has just said, in our overseas broadcasts. That is the responsibility of the Minister of Information, because the very general impression has been created that this question of social security must be the first claim on our attention after the war. I recognise, and every hon. Member recognises, the immense importance of improvement in our social services, but I cannot believe that it should be our first consideration. I have always felt that the most important thing to which we should direct our attention after the war, or even before the war is over, is the matter of our national defences. I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House does not need to be reminded of how thankless a task it is to endeavour to implement a foreign policy without adequate forces at one's command. There will be a heavy responsibility on this country for the pacification and resettlement of Europe after the war, and unless we have really effective Fighting Services at our command during those years Europe will suffer. We know that these large Forces cannot be available in this country without some form of compulsory military service; a declaration to this effect must be made by a responsible Minister at the earliest possible moment. This must inevitably constitute a drain on our financial resources, but it will have the advantage of providing a great deal of employment for the men who are serving their time in those Forces.
Housing must occupy a leading position in our post-war considerations. None of us who represent industrial constituencies, and who have been able to see for ourselves the disgusting conditions under which so many of our people are obliged to live and bring up their families, are prepared to tolerate a continuation of that state of affairs. We shall have an enormous amount of work to do after the war, not only in the rebuilding of houses that the enemy has destroyed, but in rebuilding those which we ought to have destroyed many years ago. This is a policy which, again, will entail a considerable strain on our financial resources but will also have the advantage of providing a considerable amount of employment. Reference has been made in the course of this Debate to our post-war financial position. We had two days' Debate on this question about a fortnight ago. I must confess that I did not learn very much from that discussion. It seemed to me that at the end of that Debate the only conclusion reached by this House was that our post-war finances would largely depend on international co-operation and that nobody was quite sure whether that co-operation would be forthcoming, although we were hoping for the best.
I feel that in the past the argument against any step forward in social reform that we could not afford it is one that has been used too often by elderly gentlemen whose ideas and arteries are hardening in the course of time. Because that argument was rather overstressed we became rather tired of it, and we do not want to pay too much attention to it to-day. But there does appear to me to be a danger in going too far in the other direction. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), I feel, went rather far in this Debate when he described pounds, shillings, pence as "meaningless symbols." It is essential that we should pay some consideration to the financial aspect of any advance which we all hope to make, but I hope the middle course between over-caution and extravagance will be the course which the Government will adopt. I, like other hon. Members generally, welcome the proposals contained in the Beveridge Report, because there is no question that they will prove to be of enormous advantage to the people who most need to have their standard of life raised and because it seems to be a businesslike proposition to have our social insurance under one hat. All our social services have grown up piecemeal and are in many respects unrelated to one another, It will be an enormous advantage for a man to pay one contribution and to know that by that one payment most of the ordinary risks of life are covered and that the benefits he will get when he is in misfortune will be paid on the same basis.
I have always felt that the injured workman has, generally speaking, had a pretty raw deal under the Workmen's Compensation Act, and I very much welcome the proposal in the Report that injury should be compensated by means of a weekly pension and not in a lump sum. I think that in making that proposal Sir William Beveridge is falling into line with the practice of the Ministry of Pensions, which has for many years past set its face against disabled soldiers commuting their pensions. I am not sure whether they have altogether stopped the practice now, but at least they have made the terms so unfavourable that few pensioners are willing to commute their pensions. I may say that a few years ago I endeavoured to commute my own pension, but I found that under the terms my expectation of life, as estimated by the Ministry of Pensions, would have meant that my wife would have drawn her funeral benefit about 18 months ago. I am very glad that workmen's compensation is to be on a weekly pension basis and not a lump sum, which very often is wasted or frittered away by the injured person.
I want to say a word or two about a Ministry of Social Security. I think the only consideration that should be present in our minds is whether the establishment of one Ministry of Social Security would be an advantage to the scheme or not. I must confess that I do not see what advantage it would be, as there are two completely diverse functions which the Ministry of Social Security would have to undertake. One would be the payment of cash benefits and the other would be the provision of employment. I cannot see what relation to one another those two important functions have and why they should not be performed by the appropriate Ministries—probably by a branch of the Treasury and by the Ministry of Labour.
The proposal in the Report that unemployment should be compensated for by means of weekly payments seems to me a defeatist attitude. I think I can say I know the working man well enough to be able to say that the only compensation which the average working man wants for the loss of employment is another job. It is essential that the Government should endeavour to set up machinery which would make it possible for a man not to be unemployed for those long periods which he has experienced in the past, but should be able to place him in another job at the earliest possible moment. I suggest that for this purpose the Ministry of Labour should be entrusted with this function. I am not at all sure that I would have thought this a few years ago, but under the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour the Department has grown enormously in importance. It is now one of the most important Departments of State. The work which my right hon. Friend has done in his Ministry during the last three years has qualified the Department to deal with the provision of schemes for employing men who have been displaced from their own jobs.
There is no question at all that among all hon. Members, irrespective of party, and among all sections and classes of the community, there is a very genuine desire that we should make a great step forward in our schemes of social reform at the earliest possible moment. That is a really genuine desire, and I am satisfied that the Government wish to meet it. This is the kind of work which very likely would have been put in hand before now had it not been for the war in which we are now engaged. If there is one thing by which Mr. Neville Chamberlain will be remembered, it will be his work as a social reformer. All of us who served under Mr. Chamberlain can feel that in supporting the Government in their schemes for social improvement we shall be helping to carry on the work which lay so near to Mr. Chamberlain's heart and to which he devoted so great a part of his life. I had hoped that this Debate might have been conducted in an atmosphere more free from controversy. It is my firm conviction that something better might have been done during these three days of Debate than we have in fact achieved. I had hoped that we might have been able between us to evolve some definite proposals that would meet with general con- sent, so that the Government could have gone forward with an agreed measure for the improvement of social conditions throughout the country. I am sure that if that had been possible we would have achieved something which would have stood to the credit of this Parliament and earned for us the gratitude of all classes, of the community.
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I have on the Order Paper an Amendment which calls on the Prime Minister for a declaration of policy, as the head of the Government. In view of the fact that the Prime Minister has not yet been able to come down to the House during the Debate, can you indicate whether it is your intention to call my Amendment during the Debate?
I should like to join with the hon. and gallant Member for Preston (Captain Cobb) in the hopes with which he concluded his speech. On this side of the House, certainly as far as concerns those who have put their names to the Labour Amendment, we hoped most earnestly that this Debate might take place without controversy and that the Debate might have offered something constructive to the country. The hon. Member seems to think that the responsibility for the controversy rests with tins-side of the House. I will attempt to show that in that he is quite wrong, No one on this side expected miracles, no one expected that the Government, after 10 weeks of consideration, would be able to say their first and last word on this voluminous Report; but the reason for our Amendment, the reason for the anxiety on this side of the House, is that after ten weeks of consideration, after two days of Debate, and after hearing two Cabinet Ministers speak in the Debate, we still have not one unqualified promise from the Government as to their intentions. The hon. and learned Member for North Croydon (Mr. Willink), who made an excellent and constructive speech in discussing the actual framework of administration, said that the Debate would be remembered for the landmark which the Government had set up, and he pointed to the pledges given regarding children's allowances as an example of what he meant.
From a careful reading of the speeches of the Lord President of the Council and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is clear that we have no unqualified promise even about children's allowances. At first it appeared from the Lord President of the Council that this was so. I had better add here that I and many of my colleagues did not feel committed to the figure of 8s. Many of us would say most freely that if the Government intend, as the Lord President suggested, to extend the welfare services, we might consider this a better proposal with a sum of 5s. than a proposal of 8s. without any assurances about children's welfare services. But the Lord President, in summing up, apparently made it plain that even this instalment of the plan, which, as the hon. and learned Member for North Croydon indicated, might stand outside the plan, cannot be implemented until the Government have considered the whole plan. The Chancellor then told us that there is a further qualification, which is that the Government when their survey is completed must still consider the costs of their intentions in relation to the existing financial circumstances. Thus, apparently, the claims that various Government speakers have made that the Government are accepting the principles of the Report are inaccurate and untrue.
The Government still have to tell the House what they mean to do about any one proposal of the Beveridge Report and about the Report as a whole. I would like to observe that in at least three points made, with these qualifications, by the Lord President of the Council, the principles of the Beveridge Report are negated, or at any rate pushed off by the Government. I would like also to refer to one part of the Report which, I accept, quite frankly, as not an essential part in the proposals of the Report, but from which the Government have fled, and that is the proposal relating to industrial assurance. The Lord President and the Chancellor quite properly prefaced their remarks by indulging in great caution about costs and very improperly both of them ran away from this proposal, the only one which, if it would not have put money directly into the Exchequer, would have saved the community a considerable amount. It is a dreadful thing when one sees the big stick of big business being so blatantly effective across the backs of the Administration.
There is no industry in the country for which there is a clearer case for rationalisation. There is no industry where apparently there is greater extravagance. There is no kind of allied aspect of social insurance which could planly be run so economically from a central national machine as this, and without any explanation or any argument, except that the Government already had too much on their slate, and without any apology to the House, this proposal is dumped overboard. Many of us on this side are very suspicious about the inference that we must deduce from that attitude. During this war we have seen the machinery of credit controlled for the purposes of war, and we hoped we were going to see a Government bold enough to declare that they would continue to control this same machinery, and perhaps extend the control, for the purposes of peace, but if the Government are afraid to face up to the Burial Barons, there is not much reason for us to suppose that they will face up to the men who behind the scenes manipulate bank policy, the price of money and the direction and flow of credit and investment in time of peace. I agree, however, that that is not factual and is not native to the discussion.
The Government have claimed that they have accepted the principle of the Report. The Lord President of the Council made it plain that the Government will not accept the principle of a subsistence allowance in connection with any of the pensions or insurance schemes. The essential base of this whole series of propoals is to wipe out want, and if they say they cannot accept subsistence as the criterion, obviously no real attempt is being made to tackle want. I should be dishonest and cheap if I suggested that it was a simple matter. It is not a simple matter. There are difficulties, but they are not insoluble. There are Members on this side who think they know the answer. Even if we are not going so far as to say it can be done by the taxation of land values it must become a very real consideration for the House, with the increasing proportion of houses which will have to be an Exchequer and local government responsibility, if there is not a very strong argument for going the whole way and saying the State should become the only landlord of all domestic residents. Moreover, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Croydon, and I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and certainly the Lord President, referred to the fluctuating figure of the cost of living and said, "If you are going to attempt to define subsistence, you must relate subsistence to this fluctuating figure," and they said they could not commit themselves to anything but a flat rate for contributions and for scales of benefit. But we have already had a scheme which to some extent varied in relation to the cost of living, and the Minister of Health can tell us, though he had some slight difficulty in the House from Members, particularly on this side, about the Assistance Board scales. They have not worked so badly. There are at least three great industries which vary their wages from month to month. What is the impossibility about variation in response to cost of living fluctuations? That is not a sufficient alibi for running away from this fundamental conception that your scales must be based upon subsistence.
The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Croydon assumes that the interruptions in the Lord President's speech about the status of the voluntary hospitals were not relevant to our consideration. If he meant that doctrinal assumptions should have no place in our considerations, I agree with him, but if he was suggesting that the voluntary hospitals and private practitioners can remain unchanged despite the commitments which the Government have assumed to develop a comprehensive medical service, he is under an obligation to tell the House more about how he would devise this scheme, because the Minister of Health has told us three times, as far as I can read his speech and hear his words, and examine and cross-examine his answers, that there is nothing sacrosanct about any type of institution within the medical framework just now and that, by agreement if possible, with discussion always, a comprehensive service will be made available, and there can be no interest that can stand outside and say, We are immune from any changes that you may make.
I should not like to seem a fan of the Minister of Health, but I fear there is a substantial amount of truth in the hon. Member's interruption.
Now, Sir, there was, to my mind, a most sinister phrase used by the Lord President when he said the Government would not commit themselves to the setting-up of a Ministry or a Statutory Board, I say, speaking for myself—my party has not addressed itself to the subject—we shall be running a very great danger indeed if we even flirt with the idea of a Statutory Board. The hon. and gallant gentleman the Member for Berwick-on-Tweed (Captain Grey) suggested that the author of the Report would make an excellent Minister. I disagree. I think he would do the greatest service to the country if he keeps outside, prodding and advising, but unless we have a Minister we cannot have this prodding. It is a great tribute to the vigilance of the House that the fiction of the Assistance Board has been pierced and that there are in the House two Ministers who answer for the respective functions of that Board. But when the Government of 1931–35 tried to push that conception across the House the idea behind the proposal, freely expressed, was that this matter of assistance and supplementation should be put outside the area of politics. When the House and the people of the country admit that they want the matter of social security lifted outside the realms of representative government, they are inviting the House to close its doors.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to the fact that this scheme has been exploited as a piece of propaganda. That is a most important point. I am told that yesterday the German News Agency, commenting on the first day's Debate, said it was plain that we had never been in earnest about the Beveridge Report. I have tried to-day to find out what the American reactions were. I know what the hopes of the people in my own shipbuilding division are, and I know that their reactions will be typical of the reactions of the workers in Europe and in America. We have made great and valuable use of this as a piece of propaganda, and if, by running away from it, we allow our enemy to counter our propaganda we shall suffer a setback as real as a battle and kill the kindled hopes and determination of many of our potential Allies inside the occupied countries of Europe. When I listened to the brilliance of my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) I remembered that when he and I were studying the coal figures for the second, third and fourth years of the last war, he showed me that the output continued to sag until it was plain that the end was coming, and then there was a jump. You cannot expect other than that now, in the fourth year of our war, production of all kinds will sag but, if the Government give any earnest of their intentions, we should see now a reaction in our own people and alike among these other people that we have been talking about.
There is nothing more dreadful than a mother making an end of her child's life. For two days we have seen great and able men producing every kind of qualification and every kind of ingenious excuse to try and bury this child which Sir William Beveridge, on their instructions, has offered them. I clearly would not be so unreal as to argue that whether or not the Government warmly declares for this Report matters everything in terms of winning or losing the war. I am not going to be so mad as to suggest that this determines the end. It does not. But it may have a great deal to do with the date, and it will have everything to do with the peace. This is the first time the Government have been asked to face up to any real implication of the Atlantic Charter and this is undoubtedly an implication. It is clearly and explicitly an implication of Article V of that Charter. The Government will be doing a wicked and cowardly thing if they allow our enemies to say that the Atlantic Charter is also a scrap of paper
I hope that it will not be considered an impertinence on my part, as I come from Northern Ireland, to say a few words in this Debate. I do so because this wonderful Beveridge Report has not only taken up the time of this House but has fastened itself on the minds of the people in the most extraordinary degree. It has had a kind of psychological influence on the people. Without understanding the plan or perhaps without even reading the Report, they say to themselves, "We want the plan, the whole plan and nothing but the plan." Indeed, some of the speeches that have been made during the Debate have appealed to the Government for the whole plan. A plan of this character cannot be confined to the shores of England, Scotland and Wales. The reason why I take part in the Debate is that our Prime Minister in Northern Ireland has told the people there that whatever the British Government do, they are prepared to follow suit. Our people in Northern Ireland are prepared to do what they can to adopt the Beveridge plan so far as the Government here may put it into operation. I was particularly struck by the speech of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) yesterday. He referred to tuberculosis in Scotland and the difficulties caused by lack of hospital accommodation. Forty years ago in my own country I made a speech at one of our county council meetings. I said then, and I believe it still, that you may erect all the sanatoria that money can produce, but unless you provide the people with proper housing accommodation you will never do away with tuberculosis. I said then that if more money were spent on the houses of the people and if all the beds that were saturated with the bacilli were destroyed, there would be a better position in regard to this disease.
In order clearly to understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman's argument, may I ask whether he is putting forward a housing programme as an alternative to the Beveridge plan?
I was only putting my point of view on a matter that was referred to by the hon. Member for Gorbals yesterday. He also made a comparison of pensions and referred to a man in Scotland who had retired at 52 on a pension of £300 a year. I wish him luck of his pension, and I am sure there is no doubt that he has earned it. We all want to see old age pensions increased, but when we talk of certain pensions and leave other pensions undisturbed, we are not treating the country fairly. I have time and again asked various Chancellors of the Exchequer why they do nothing to increase the pensions of members of the old Royal Irish Constabulary who are living on £50 a year in misery, want and despair. The Government, who are responsible, do nothing.
The speech in the Debate that appealed to me most was that of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Croydon (Mr. Willink). It ought to be distributed throughout the length and breadth of the land, for it dealt with the whole subject in a masterly way. I would like to congratulate the hon. and learned Gentleman. The speeches of many hon. Members have left the impression in some minds, and will leave the impression on the people of the country, that the Government are not prepared to do anything. That is not the correct view to take, and I do not think that hon. Members really mean that the Government are not prepared to do anything. I was intensely interested in the Chancellor's speech yesterday. It was the best type of circumlocution I have ever heard. It could all be summarised in the last sentence:
We are asking the House to see that all these schemes are placed on a sound and solid financial foundation."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th February, 1942; col. 1836, Vol. 386.]
Is that not common sense? It is the one sentence that explains all the Chancellor said before and the sentence on which the Government are building the foundations for the Beveridge plan. Is not a sound, solid financial foundation all that we want? When we come to consider that foundation we have a right to ask ourselves how it is to be secured. It is suggested in the Report that men should contribute 4s. 3d. and women 3s. 6d. In my opinion it is on that foundation that hon. Members are building some of the prospects of the finances of this scheme. We must not forget, however, that when a man pays 4s. 3d. his payments do not end there. We are told that hundreds of millions will be contributed from the Exchequer. Let us get into our minds that the Government or the Exchequer have
no money except what they take out of the pockets of the people. There are many additions to the 4s. 3d. which is contributed by the man. Before he can fill his pipe with tobacco he pays across the counter the inland revenue demanded by the Government. He also has to pay through his spirits, local taxes and Customs duties. All these things are collected from the people of the country.
Let us look at this plan from a common-sense point of view. How is it to be adopted immediately? How is it to be done during the war? How is it to be carried out when we are spending £14,000,000 a day on the war? I was glad to hear the speech of the President of the Board of Trade the other day. Some Members are inclined to think that it did not contribute very much, but I have the opposite opinion, because we must have our preparations made beforehand so that we shall be ready when the peace comes. After the last war the various Departments flooded the markets with the materials they had made, and this prevented industry getting into operation for some years. For each Department it was a question of sauve qui peut.I understand that arrangements are now being made so that this will be prevented and that the President of the Board of Trade is getting in touch with all the industries of the country.
The success of the Beveridge plan largely depends on employment after the war. The plan is based on an unemployment of 1,500,000. If that can be secured, the Government might very well go ahead with their preparations, but I would ask the House to consider what chance there is of unemployment being stabilised at anything like 1,500,000. We have all the various factories producing war materials which were not accustomed to such material formerly. How long will they continue to produce those materials after the Armistice? It will not be for long. It will not be long before the people now working there will be looking for positions and jobs. Where are they to get them? It will take the factories a long time to get back to working with their old machinery in their old trades. In addition, the soldiers, the sailors and the airmen will be coming home looking for jobs. Instead of an unemployment figure of 1,500,000 it is more likely that it will be 3,000,000 for some time aferwards, and then the Beveridge plan will be blown into the air; and yet hon. Members, at least some of them, are asking the Government to put it into operation now. How can they possibly do it? The Chancellor of the Exchequer was quite right when he said that a sound financial foundation must be laid before we can promise anything. I hope that at the end of this Debate the members of the Socialist Party will take a common sense and reasonable view of the situation and give the Government an opportunity to bring the plan into operation when they consider it financially possible.
It has been a singular feature of this Debate that hardly any speaker has referred to the Motion which we are about either to put upon the Journals of the House or not. If hon. Members refer to that Motion, I think they will conclude that the Government have been dealt with rather hardly. It is a Motion which is sponsored, we are told, by Members of all parties supporting the Government. That is not quite an accurate phrase. I should prefer to say that it was sponsored by Members of all parties who have deposited hostages on the Front Bench. That Motion does not even ask that the Government should accept the Beveridge plan and bring it into early operation. I realty should be ashamed if the House were to approve that Motion after the Debate we have had. We in our party ventured to put down a Motion of our own which I believe far more accurately represents the feelings of the whole House. We ask that the House should approve of the
unification and development of the social insurance and allied services on the lines of the Beveridge Report, and calls upon His Majesty's Ministers to introduce legislation and to design the necessary administrative framework without delay, so as to bring the scheme into being, with such improvements as further examination suggests, as soon as may be after the war.
That, I believe, fairly represents what most of us want, and it not unfairly represents what the Government offer could be made to mean. When I listened to the speech of the Lord President I was, indeed, impressed by the magnitude of the scheme he was unfolding. He did accept ail the main outlines of the Beveridge plan, with some diminutions which I rather deplore and with a great many things which were appropriate to
detailed examination later, but it was the greatest acceptance of a scheme of social security which this House has ever heard. I agree that it was not followed up yesterday with that enthusiasm that one would have wished, but having got that amount of acceptance I do hope that we shall not go back on to the Motion moved by the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood). I do not suppose any of us recollect what it says. It welcomes the Report
as a valuable aid in determining the lines on which developments and legislation should be pursued.
What a monstrous phrase. What is wanted is the acceptance of the Report not as an aid, but as laying down the lines of development. What is the use of the word "pursued"? The Government have themselves to blame for the fact that the word "pursued" has practically no meaning at all for us. They have pursued a reconstruction policy for a couple of years and have not yet introduced one major reconstruction Bill. We are still awaiting the first Bill that will implement even the Barlow Report. I can only say of the word "pursue" that if Montgomery had pursued Rommel with the same zeal and energy with which the Government have pursued legislation for reconstruction our 8th Army would still be in Egypt. "Pursuing" is no use. "Effecting" is required. What we want, and what has inspired the Amendment of hon. Members opposite, is some much more definite assurance that a scheme will be devised and brought into effect. No one who has the vaguest imagination of what is implied in this scheme can think of it as coming into operation at once. There are months and months of work in it before the machinery can be got ready; indeed, the actual administrative machine could not possibly be set up during the war itself. We are to have a system of offices of social security throughout the country. How are we to get the buildings and the staff in war time? What we do require, and I hope that the House will insist upon it strongly, is that as soon as possible the administrative framework shall be designed, so that when the war ends we shall be ready to bring the scheme into operation on an appointed day, so many months after the end of the war. That is the utmost we can ask, and also, I think, the least that we can insist on.
We must all be brief now, and I want to refer to only one other subject which was dealt with by the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). He said that the more we feared poverty at the end of this war the more essential it was to have this scheme. That is profoundly true. The longer this war goes on, the poorer we shall be. I picture us at the end of this war in a state of poverty rather, perhaps, like the condition of the Russians in the early stages of their five-year plan, when they had quite deliberately to sacrifice the production of consumption goods to the production of capital goods. They had to assent to a lower standard of life in order to achieve a steadily rising standard. They have now got through. At the end of the war we shall be in a somewhat analogous position. We shall be so impoverished that we shall have to start on a lower scale of living than we had before the war, but I am sufficiently optimistic and confident to believe that we shall be able to rise out of that fairly rapidly if we plan our economic life wisely. The point is that the more we fear that kind of poverty the more essential these minimum standards become. When we are all well off, when there is plenty of bread and cakes for everyone, unequal distribution matters relatively little, but when there is scarcity we must be sure that all have bread. The poorer we are, the more essential it is to have these minimum standards. It really is almost impertinent to have to be repeating this doctrine in these days. We were all brought up on them by the Sidney Webbs at the beginning of the century. The doctrine of the minimum standard is surely a common property in the political thought of all parties.
Do I understand the hon. Member to say that the poorer we are, the more we should pay to those who are doing nothing, and that those who are doing something should have less?
What I said was that the poorer we are the more essential it is to have minimum standards, and I stick to that. I wanted to quote something which the Trades Union Congress said in certain evidence which they gave some two years ago, but I have not the actual report with me. In effect they said that we can no longer afford the waste of the muddle and confusion of the present in- adequate social services. That was said a couple of years ago in a statement they made to the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland, and it is absolutely true. I advocate a well-designed scheme of this kind as an economy which will avoid the waste of ill health and unemployment which cause so serious a loss of energy and power in the life of the country. I ask the Government to have more faith in the wealth-producing power of the people and to get on with this job. I ask them to provide an efficient machine, under a Minister whom we can question here, who will produce the necessary legislation and provide the necessary framework for the operation of the scheme as soon as may be after the war ends
Although I have been privileged to hold a seat in this House for a very long time, I have acquired no reputation for long speeches. I welcome the competition to address the House which has been displayed during the course of the Debate, and I welcome it so much that I shall stand for only a short time with what I have to say between hon. Members and their opportunity. The Report which we are considering submits to us a set of general principles at this stage of our discussion, and we therefore need not travel outside the region of general principle before this Debate is concluded. The details of this Report are its substance, and those details must be separately considered in the course of discussions which, I hope, will take place during some period of this Parliamentary Session.
One reason why I intervene to say a word or two in favour of this Report is a personal reason. In the middle period of the last war my duties as Food Controller brought to the aid of the nation the services of Mr. Beveridge, as he then was, and I have every ground for personal thankfulness to Sir William Beveridge for a ceaseless supply of sound ideas in the harassing work of the Food Ministry at that time. Sir William has not since belittled his reputation by other public services, and for one who has only quite recently come before public notice, he has a remarkable record of faithful and very valued service to the country. In my view, he has now submitted to the country a most arresting array of acceptable proposals. There may be a little criticism and a little fault finding here and there, but there has been no general avowal of hostility to these proposals.
It is a most remarkable and indeed, an unprecedented Report. Not only has Sir William Beveridge built up this Report after heavy labour, but any man who can turn such a Report into a best seller and compel the attention of the world by submitting it to the world, has indeed achieved a very great thing. What has struck me about the Report in looking back, say, to the first year when I sat in this House, now some 37 years ago, is the way it illustrates the revolution in attitude of mind which has taken place in the intervening years. As to why that change has taken place is now no matter. We need not seek for the causes; we are happy in the thought that that change is here. Some 37 years ago a few men startled the House of Commons by insisting upon a demand to give old-age pensions to necessitous people of 70 years of age, and they dared not begin to demand more than 5s. a week. Now we find that people who are, not 70, but 60, and in some cases even 55, are asking for a weekly pension of 30s. That change in our outlook upon social problems and in the industrial and financial position of the working masses is very welcome indeed. We were told at that time that to find £13,000,000 a year for old age pensions would mean national bankruptcy, but we do not shrink now from finding every day, to meet the pressing and supreme necessity of military and Service expenditure, a sum approaching the annual cost formerly proposed to provide old age pensions.
Notwithstanding those proofs of progress in the realm of thought, we are not yet without our prophets of gloom, who are weaker in their glow but still survive. In the course of this Debate we have heard allusions to the cynicism inside this House and even more so outside it, to the decline in Parliament and to the Government's refusal to make the best and fullest use of a great opportunity. My own feeling is that the Government have missed the most magnificent chance ever offered to a modern Ministry, not merely to secure the good will and favour of the people, but to build up a great edifice as an essential social structure, for the future well-being of the masses of the people. All the same, I do not go the whole way with the pessimists and the cynics. The only argument of substance that can be adduced against fulfilling every part of the Report is the expense. Any other argument can be swept aside as secondary if not as wholly unimportant. Every, step to be taken in this Report involves some expenditure. Therefore, the question is, "Can we meet the cost?"
I would like to put forward a quotation which appeared in "The Times" leading article only two days ago. I will leave out for the moment the question of whether the State or the employers can afford it. The employers and the State can afford anything if they can get the money out of the work of the masses of the people. Taxation is paid through labour. State revenue in all forms is derived in some measure, if not completely, from the labour by hand and brain of those who serve. The question is, "Can the workers pay?" This is the answer of "The Times":
It is…significant that, although the finance of the scheme in general has not passed unchallenged, no substantial body of opinion, certainly no organisation with any claim to represent the manual workers, has seriously objected to the high price—in terms of compulsory weekly contributions—which wage-earners will be called upon to pay for the greatly extended range of benefits provided under the scheme.
Nobody has objected. No resolution has come from local authorities and no protests from public meetings. The conclusion of the worker is that, whatever his future may be, his position will enable him to face the financial strain that may be imposed upon him.
It is indeed not only a serious thing, but remarkable that the worker should look with composure upon a commitment of—what is it?—17s. a month in respect of the contribution for many forms of insurance. That 17s. will be not just spent; it will be well invested. The workman has come to understand that the money will flow back to him in several forms when he is in greatest need. It is good that the Report carries a message of encouragement to the masses of the workers to put as much as they can aside for this sensible purpose.
I want to urge upon whoever may reply later for the Government the view that Parliament can with little delay, and certainly within this Session, take the necessary steps to give legislative form to the main body of these proposals. Ministers are busy, I know, but a few of them, worthy and representative, as well as capable, men, can be deputed to attend to this side of the House of Commons service, while other men are serving in the larger sphere of the activities of the war. We would also remind the Government that some of our Friends have great expert knowledge and would be competent to deal with these questions, if Members of the Cabinet are too busy in other forms of activity. The Government have, judged by their utterances, failed to note how this Report has caught the spirit and stirred the imagination of the people. We are expressing their demand for early fulfilment of promises, and not the kind of failure which so dispirited the mass of the people following the last war.
For the moment, I do not see the Home Secretary present, but I understand that he is to reply for the Government. Perhaps such views as I have on this point will be conveyed to him. I hope that the Home Secretary, in uttering the final words for our guidance on this matter, will say the rallying and inspiring word that yet has not been uttered by those who have spoken for the Government. We want him to be at least definite as to when the Government are going to do something, allowing a large margin, as there must be a fairly large margin in view of the preoccupations of public and Parliamentary leaders. At least, if the Government are not definite in telling us exactly which are the precise parts of the Report that they must reject and that they can support, let them at least go so far as to say that the House of Commons can guarantee the Parliamentary time and the necessary general support to a Ministry of Social Security to give effect to the Beveridge Report.
I undertake that I will keep the, House only a very few minutes, but before I say anything else—and I feel that I shall be expressing the feelings of the House—I must welcome the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) back to the Opposition Front Bench. It seems so long since we heard him speaking from that Bench, and I can assure him that he was certain of a welcome from every quarter of the House. I should like to join him in appreciation of what has been said about this Report and about its author. I do not need to repeat it, as it has been said so often. I agree that this is a monumental work of tremendous importance, coming at a time, an almost critical time in the history of social progress in this country, and has caught the imagination of the country in a most remarkable way. I think also that it is true to say that if the House of Commons fails, so far as possible and practicable to see that the Report is carried out, the country will feel a real sense of frustration.
I want to make it clear that I desire to see the Report carried out so far as it is practicable, and I carefully govern that expression of my view by that phrase. I want it done as soon as possible, but I think it is unreasonable to expect the Government to come to an immediate decision upon a document of this scope and character. In the first place, there are suggestions in the Report which in themselves are not definite. Nobody has been clearer than the distinguished author of it, as to certain of the provisions, upon the necessity for their further examination, and the discussion of possible alternatives. It seems clear to me, therefore, that it is unreasonable to expect the Government to give an immediate answer as to when this Report will be put into operation. Indeed, there are certain matters in it which I am sure hon. Members opposite would not like put into operation in the exact form in which they appear in the Report. If I wanted to, which I do not, as it would take too much time, and if it had not been for the most excellent speech of the hon. and learned Member for North Croydon (Mr. Willink), I would feel it necessary to refer to certain of those matters. Some of these matters however were so ably put by him that I do not think it necessary to repeat the arguments.
I am particularly concerned with a House of Commons aspect of the matter, and I want the House of Commons to consider it. When the recommendations of this Report are carried out we should be entering into nothing less than a definite contract of insurance with a large part of the population of this country. It is not for me to defend the speech of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I agree with what my hon. Friend beside me said, that the foundation of this Report must be sound finance, and it would be absurd for the Government to put forward any definite scheme unless they were perfectly sure this country was going to be able to carry it through. Just think what the effect would be if, from circumstances unforeseeable now, the State could not discharge its part of the bargain; and, let us remember—the House of Commons knows it well—we are in no position to bind our successors. Yet we are putting forward here a scheme in which we are guaranteeing certain payments in 1965. There will be very few of us here, I fancy, in 1965, and it is well to realise that if by any chance there had to be any defaults in subsequent years, the effect on the population of this country would be disastrous indeed. I do want Members to realise the tremendous importance of this aspect of the plan. We, the House of Commons, are making a contract, not an insurance company with which an individual may make a contract if he thinks their standards and their reserves are good enough. We are making a contract for the State to the effect that we are going to make certain payments in certain events based on certain assumptions which we have no guarantee will in fact be in operation when the time comes.
I do not want to delay the House. This is a very much greater question than this Government or House has ever been called upon to deal with. This arrangement, this plan, is based on two assumptions, on an assumption about unemployment which has already been mentioned and on an assumption regarding the cost of living after the war. These assumptions there is no statistical foundation for at all. None of us know what the conditions will be. My hon. Friend beside me said that there would be unemployment of 3,000,000. I do not take that view at all. I personally believe that if we have our financial and economic policy in order, there will be no real unemployment at all. I do not mean, of course, that there will be no moving from one sort of employment to another. I believe we can do these things, but after all we do not know. Take the second assumption, the cost of living. The plan is based on the cost of living of 1938 plus 25 per cent. We have no idea whether that will be the position of affairs then. I am not criticising Sir William Beveridge. These problems were not committed to him, and he was bound to have some foundation on which to build his plan. He makes it perfectly clear that these are mere assumptions which may be very far from the facts when the time comes. It is because of these things that I think it is essential that the Government should have time to consider the proposals in their entirety and bring out a definite plan.
I think the Government themselves are very largely to blame for the present position. They have bungled this Debate so far. But that after all arises, to my mind, from the difficulty of trying to carry on the positions of Prime Minister and Minister of Defence in one person. Whether that be so or not, the fact of the matter is that this Debate has not been conducted in a way which would give confidence to the country that the Government really intend to put the plan in operation to the greatest extent which they find it financially possible to do so. More than that we cannot ask, but that has not yet been made clear. I make this suggestion to the Government and to the Home Secretary, who, I understand, is to speak for them. I would ask the Government to tell us this. This is a Debate to let the House of Commons give its views upon the Report.
It has certainly done that very widely. Let the Government now say, "We are prepared, within a reasonable time, say two months or by the end of April for example, to issue a White Paper or have another Debate in which we will tell you exactly how far we can go." They are entitled to have time. This is a tremendous problem, but let us have a definite date when the Government can tell us how far it is possible, in their view, to put the plan into operation. I should be entirely satisfied to-day if they were to say that. I do not want them to give the country the impression that they are lukewarm about it. That is the impression I have got. If the Government would give us an assurance of that kind, it would do away with a good deal of the feeling in the country that they are not genuine in their feeling to put the plan into operation.
The Chancellor's last remark was that it must depend on the financial situation, and I should be very glad indeed to deal with that aspect of the matter if I felt it right to detain the House to-day, but I am perfectly sure that the Government would put a much clearer case before us if they had time to consider it.
With the last part of the speech to which we have just listened I find myself in agreement. The hon. Member was asking for a definite statement here and now. On the first part of his speech, I can only say that I was considerably surprised at the attitude he took of looking at this as a financial problem. I should have thought he would have looked at it as an economic and not mainly as a financial problem. But the surprise that I have expressed with regard to the hon. Member does not matter. What matters is not even my astonishment at the utterances we have heard from the Government speakers, but the intense disappointment that must be felt throughout the country to-day when people come to think out what has been said from that Box. But what is much more important is the disappointment that will be felt throughout the world.
Let us consider how this Report came to be. It started on the high hopes expressed in the Atlantic Chanter, the words of which were coined by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, and we have heard, not only in this House, but throughout the country, expressions of admiration for the sentiments that were expressed in that Charter. They have been the foundations not merely for propaganda throughout the world but the foundation of all which we are fighting for and calling upon the democracies of the world to join in with. To-day what we have to face is that the Government do not intend to deal with one great matter mentioned in that Chanter, the abolition of want. In that Charter is mentioned the abolition of fear. I wonder whether, when concrete suggestions are put before His Majesty's Government with regard to the abolition of fear, they will reduce it to a question of figures and finance and tell the smaller nations of the world, "We have nothing to offer except the old system, which was in existence before the war, and that old system may continue. We cannot afford any new one."
Let us consider what it was that was in the mind of the Government at the time when they called upon Sir William Beveridge to consider this Report. He himself has analysed it when he says that these are the evils with which this country has to deal—want, idleness, ignorance, squalor, disease. He said that unfortunately with regard to disease—[Interruption.]—As the hon. Member has seen fit to interrupt, I would say that disease is due to the fact that we have not dealt with the other four. If we had dealt with them as they should have been dealt with, disease would have been easier to deal with. Sir William Beveridge was only asked to deal with the problem of want. Is there anyone who will deny that there are throughout this country inequality, poverty, suffering? It is a terrible thing, which so many of us have called attention to before the war, that even the Prime Minister, when he went to Scotland, had to say that in Scotland, for the first time, Scottish people, many of them, were having three solid meals a day. That is when a war has broken out, but before the war there were families living below the poverty line, owing to inequality, and living in cities where, as all the inquiries-have shown, the bulk of the people were above the poverty line. The minority were below the poverty line.
This scheme is put forward as a scheme to deal with want as a complete problem. I was disappointed when I heard the Lord President of the Council, in his speech of the first day, saying that of course this could be regarded as one whole, but that it was not proposed to do the whole thing to abolish want now, that we would pick up a little bit here, a little bit there and a, little bit somewhere else. But the problem will remain unless we deal with it as one composite whole. Great as was my disappointment with him, somebody has said that at any rate he gave 70 per cent. of the Report. What is the good of talking percentages, as though this is a conglomeration of bits of sticks, and you pick up one to fill a hole? This is one complete picture. If you like to change the analogy, it is one piece of furniture, and it will no more stand on its feet than a four-legged chair will stand on three legs, although I could be told that with three legs there was 75 per cent. of it there.
But the greatest disappointment of all came when the Chancellor of the Ex-chequer spoke, because what did he say? He said a great deal, a very great deal, and that is why I want the House to consider what he has said. He said that the Lord President of the Council had made a number of promises. We got the Lord President to admit that they were tentative promises. We were not quite sure what those tentative promises meant until the Chancellor came on the second day and said: "These we will inquire into. We are now setting up the machinery to negotiate. We will see how far we can get. But when we have collected all our information, when we have got everything ready, we reserve to ourselves the absolute right to look at the financial situation of the country; and then, and then only, to come to our conclusions." That is the death of the Beveridge Report. There is not one of them who will dare to stand at that Box and say that he is against the Report. There is not one who will go out into the country and say so. Their official candidates, representing the three-party machines, say, "We are in favour of the Beveridge Report." But they say that they will postpone further consideration until it is perhaps too late to do anything. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Does it not mean that? Do you want to abolish want? Then here is the scheme which will do it. The Beveridge Report means no more than this—it is a rationing scheme, based on the 1938 figure; and it says, "Granted that those figures will continue, if you ration the national wealth between us all you will be able to lift the families above the poverty line."
It deals with these things in their turn. First, unemployment, whether it is due to anything in the man himself, to disease or accident, or whether it is due to something else outside. It deals with insufficiency, whether because the families are too large and the incomes too small, or because the people are too old. It says, "Let us ration the national wealth and give them a chance." Why are you against it. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is accepted by the Chancellor."] What the Chancellor says is, "We will consider, on Revenue, whether it is possible"; not, "We will consider whether, out of the national wealth, it is possible." They are approaching this not in the spirit of the Atlantic Charter but in the spirit of the Poor Law of Queen Elizabeth, saying, "How much can we afford to give and still maintain our old system?" I heard them yesterday talking about the main problem being unemployment, and saying that you had to tackle that as a priority consideration. Be it so. Are you prepared when it comes to facing facts to do the things that will abolish unemployment; which may mean a complete change in our present form and structure? It is so easy to say, "I believe in those things in principle; I believe in the abolition of want; I believe in the abolition of unemployment." But when we come down to hard concrete suggestions, you will say, "No, we must not change the old system; we must not alter our financial system. We must consider this as a question of finance." This is a great moral principle: it is a great economic principle. Do not disappoint the people of this country. You will one day be meeting the peoples of other countries face to face at the table. You will be asking them to join with you in raising the economic standards of the world. Go into that conference with your own policy at home as a guide to all the other countries.
I have no hesitation, in reply to the appeal of the hon. and learned gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), in saying that I think the Beveridge Report as a whole is a very bad Report. It is very badly written. In no place do you get a convenient summary of the proposals. They are not properly arranged. The proposals and the arguments are all mixed up. [Interruption.] I am entitled to say it. People have been pouring sugar on these proposals for the last three days, and it is as well that somebody should say something different. The right hon. gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), whom we were all glad to hear, brought in "The Times" in support. What is the good of bringing "The Times" in? There is on "The Times" a gentleman called Mr. Carr, who is a great friend of Sir William Beveridge, and they have run the racket together.
The Times" is to-day the threepenny edition of the "Daily Worker." "The Times" is the organ which tried to bring in the perfectly stupid Beveridge scheme for rationing fuel.
I do not care whether it supported Munich or not. That is no reason for being a silly ass about something else. I quite understand the way this campaign has been run. The moment the Report appeared there was a well-organised Press campaign to persuade the people of this country that this was a heaven-sent idea, and a bewildered public thought it was all right. There was nothing put on the other side. For the first time, when we have had a Report from a Committee appointed by the Government, the Chairman of the Committee has gone stumping about the country in suppprt of his proposals. That is a new thing, and it is something we have got to stop. I have not observed Mr. Justice Scott going about speaking in support of the Scott scheme, or Mr. Justice Uthwatt speaking in support of his proposals. That is not good enough. We might have won the war, to judge from the attitude of many people. Personally, I wish the Tunisian situation were brighter. When that is cleared up we shall be better able to consider these proposals. I know why right hon. and hon. Gentlemen behind me are so anxious to get the Government to adopt these suggestions now. The moment we return to economic sanity and realise that money does not come out of the printing press—
Hon. members on this side have had a good run, and they might sit quietly while they are being caned. If the scheme is postponed until six months after the termination of hostilities, the then House of Commons will reject it by a very large majority. I would remind the House that 12½ years ago the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting, with the assistance of the right hon. Gentleman the member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), and with the assistance of the Deputy Prime Minister, asked the then Government Whips to go into the Lobby in support of a proposal that the allowance for children of unemployed people should be, not 3s., but 2s. That was the level of the majority of the Labour Party 12½ years ago. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is not true."] You have only to go into the Library and look up the division lists. You voted—for your conscience or against it; and if it was against your conscience, it was even worse—that 2s. was better than 3s. It is no good saying, "We did not do it." It only proves that when the Labour Party are in office they take into account financial considerations.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stock-port (Sir A. Gridley), in his very interesting speech, which I had the misfortune not to hear, but which I have since read, on the opening day of the Debate indulged in some reasoned speculations as to the nature of our post-war Budget. I do not know, nobody knows what it will be. I have tried to induce the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give some kind of estimate of the nature of our post-war Budget. It is obvious that we shall have a heavy burden of debt interest which we cannot repudiate. No hon. or right hon. Member of this House who has been on the platform in connection with savings campaigns can be associated with any repudiation, and, in any event, if you do repudiate you will be on the lamp-post anyhow, so that will not matter. In addition, we have already committed ourselves to increase social expenditure by legislation during the war which is adding, I believe, about £60,000,000 to our expenditure, compared with our pre-war Budget. We have as yet no indication of the cost of war pensions. I hope it will be much smaller than the burden of the last war. Up to now we have been incredibly lucky as far as casualties are concerned as compared with the same period in the last war, but obviously there will be a heavy debt, which must have priority over all other claims and which will have to be met as handsomely as possible. I regret more than anything else that after this war there will be a scale of Defence expenditure substantially in excess of that which prevailed before the war.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for West Fife is not a fatted calf. I suppose that in future we must leave out the adjective. I was trying to make this forecast. We are going to be faced with a scale of military expenditure which will be a tragedy, because all military expenditure is economic waste. We are going to be faced with it for many years after this war. How are we to carry these burdens? My hon. and learned Friend said he regretted that the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir J. Ward-law-Milne) had referred to financial and not economic problems. After all, they are only expressions of the same thing.
Money is a convenient thing which people invented in the very early days of civilisation because barter was stupid and uneconomic. Money is not represented, fundamentally, by pieces of paper. It is a means of exchange, a measure of value. It is one of the most efficient things in the world for saving time. When you talk about finance it is merely a convenient measure whereby you can establish some relation between, say, tomatoes and bars of steel. Unless you bring in money you have no common relationship. Some people think that money has something to do, in a mysterious way, with the City of London. It is the common denominator which enables you to compare the value of the lunch you may have had, with the value of the cigarette you may smoke later in the afternoon. That is not finance. It is only the measure, the foot-rule, you use in economics. There is a limit to the amount you can divert to consumption from the purchase of capital goods. The higher the rate of taxation, the lower the rate of saving, and the lower the rate of saving, the less capital goods we can buy, and if we do not create capital goods which bring about employment and production we shall go down to disaster. Anyone surveying the history of this country, from the crash in the autumn of 1920, to 1939, when we had that incredible and deplorable period of unemployment, will find that unemployment was the outstanding characteristic of industries producing capital goods—
No, Sir. No one gives way more frequently than I do but it is not fair to be asked to give way in the middle of a sentence. In the industries making steel, and most capital goods, unemployment outstandingly existed. In other words, not enough money was being saved and used for the purpose of making capital goods.
The hon. Member should not contradict me. I am making a serious statement on the facts. Challenge my conclusion, but do not challenge the facts unless they are wrongly stated. It is true that the outstanding unemployment was in industries producing capital goods, and everybody before the war held a view that excessive taxation caused a higher level of unemployment We are proposing in this scheme to place upon the people of this country a level of taxation which will, inevitably, cause unemployment quite apart from the question of the export trade. We must not forget that unemployment is largely related to the export trade and that it may be at such a level that we shall have a catastrophe even worse than that experienced in the distressing period of 1921. Two-thirds of the Members who sit on that side of the House owe their election to the crisis of 1931. [Interruption.] It was their leader who resigned, not mine. He was never my leader. I voted against him too often. There was that financial and economic crisis. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that if Parliament at this moment were to adopt this scheme, there would be a financial crisis even worse than that. Hon. Members must not run away with the idea that this scheme is particularly popular. I have had no hesitation in bluntly criticising it in my own constituency. I did not find any hostile reaction to blunt criticism of the scheme. This is a Debate in a vacuum. People are thinking that money does not matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield said pounds, shillings and pence did not matter. That is just lunatic talk. I do not know of any place where money does not matter. I have not found anywhere where I could get commodities without putting down pounds, shillings and pence.
I rejoice that the Government have not been stampeded too far, but they have been stampeded a bit. There is only one sound attitude to take to this scheme and that is to say that, until we know what our resources and our burdens will be after the war, we refuse to commit ourselves in any shape or form whatever. Having regard to the tentative advance the Government have made in the right direction, I shall, on this occasion, do my best to support them in the Lobby.
The Beveridge Report has certainly focused public attention on the social problems with which this House will have to deal if we are to achieve social security. A great many Members have asked for the plan, the whole plan and nothing but the plan. I am not in agreement with all the recommendations of the Report, although I am in agreement with its main principles. As a woman who tries to reflect the opinion of the working-class women of this country I feel that I should use this opportunity to state my views about the recommendations of the Report with regard to aged people and widows. I do not intend to cover the whole range of subjects in this Report. As a mother of four, with four granchildren, I could deal with family allowances, but I notice that practically all those who speak in this House and outside on the necessity for such allowances as means of stimulating the birth-rate, are usually bachelors or spinsters or those who do very little for posterity.
For once, I agreed with the Lord President of the Council when he said on Tuesday that the Government would have to give more careful consideration to the recommendations in the Report in respect of widows because they believed that the proposals were harsh. I agree entirely with that description and I hope the Government will carefully consider the whole question before bringing forward any legislation to implement the Beveridge proposals in regard to this very human problem. At the present time widows have pensions as a right, due to the fact that their husbands had paid into various schemes in order to secure pensions, but under the Beveridge scheme, widows' pensions would be abolished. I want to draw the attention of this House to the fact that widows are the only section of the community whose condition would be worsened since they would lose their pension right. A case can be made out for the abolition of pensions for young, childless widows, but the percentage of these widows is very small and a large number of the childless widows are elderly women, many of them of middle age. If the Beveridge recommendations were implemented it would mean that in future working class childless widows would not only lose their husbands but their homes, because they would have no opportunity of keeping their homes going on the miserably inadequate wages which the average woman earned in peace-time industry.
However, I am more particularly concerned with the widows who have children. The Report says that all widows should receive 36s. a week for 13 weeks and then training benefit for 13 weeks at 24s. a week. If a woman had dependent children she would receive 24s. a week guardians' benefit plus children's allowances, but if she augmented her income by earnings then the guardians' benefit would be subject to a partial reduction. I want to protest against such a scheme. Among the working-class in general, I find that people are opposed to the means test. I do not understand why it is suggested that widows should always be kept on a bare bones subsistence level. It is an injustice to them. I am also concerned about the proposal that when the youngest child ceases to be dependent the guardians' benefit should be stopped. If the woman desires, she can accept training benefit but she is then turned out into the world in order to earn a livelihood. I want to protest against that suggestion because I feel it would constitute a great hardship on a deserving class of the community. I can picture the plight of middle-aged women who have spent 25 to 30 years in their homes, looking after their children, being expected, when they are over middle age, to leave that work and become cogs in the industrial machine at a time when their children need greater care and guidance than ever.
I am speaking under a time-limit, but I hope that whatever criticism I have made in respect of the question of widows, will not detract from the position I take up as to the implementation of the proposals in the Beveridge Report. Men and women who are doing their bit in every sphere look to us to lay the foundations for a better social order. We have heard much from Ministers and others about a brave new world. I feel that the recommendations of the Beveridge Report, in the main, give us an opportunity to put into operation those principles whereby we can achieve the abolition of poverty and want. Some months ago, speaking in the House on the important question of widows' pensions, I advocated the equalisation of such pensions. If a woman is a war widow or a civilian war widow she is entitled to higher allowances than those paid at present. What we want to do is to build up on that system, which is now in operation under the Ministry of Pensions and try to work out a scheme whereby we can remove from widows' homes the spectres of fear and want and give them a chance to rear their families in decency and above the subsistence level. I hope and trust that the Government will set up a Ministry of Social Security and will do their utmost to implement, as speedily as possible, the main recommendations of the Beveridge Report. I agree that further consideration will have to be given to the plight of the aged who are sadly disillusioned and disappointed by the recommendations of the Beveridge Report. We shall have to work out properly a scheme which will retain the principle of widows' pensions as a right, and add something to the happiness of this important and worthy section of the community.
I think I must count myself fortunate, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that I should have caught your eye in the same Debate in which my colleague the Senior Member for Sunderland (Major Furness) has also caught your eye, but I hope the House will not think it unfair that both of us have done so, because I am sure that Sunderland will think it is most fitting. We have a saying there, "If London was not London, Sunderland would be." They will, therefore, think it quite fitting and proper that both the Sunderlands should have expressed views in this important Debate.
There are very many things I should have liked to say about the comprehensive insurance scheme, but we have now reached the stage in the Debate where we have to apply our minds to whether or not we are satisfied with the pronouncement that has been made by the Government. Therefore, I intend to devote my few remarks to one particular problem on which I am a little dissatisfied with what the Lord President of the Council said, and then to deal with the general question. I want first to refer to assumption B, the creation of the health and rehabilitation service. I am very glad that the Lord President devoted so much of his speech to this subject, for I fear there has been a tendency to treat this as one of the matters that can be shelved. It cannot be shelved. The useful preparatory work which has been done by the Ministry of Health, the Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust, the Rushcliffe Committee on Nursing, and the Tomlinson Committee on Rehabilitation, must be intensified, so that a start can be made with implementing a real health and rehabilitation service. It follows logically from any decision to institute a comprehensive insurance scheme with a high rate of benefit that we must take every possible step in our power to reduce the number of claims due to illness and to reduce the length of the claims by remedying illness and by the rehabilitation of the injured.
On the general pattern of the scheme, I agree with what the Lord President had to say, but there is one particular matter on which he caused me some apprehension. I must say I found myself in disagreement with his statement that it was intended to put the ultimate responsibility for the health services on the local authorities. My disappointment is not due to any hostility to the local authorities' administration of the health services. I have a great admiration for much of their administration and for many of their hospitals, but I feel that if we are to get that co-operation between the public authorities, the voluntary hospitals, the voluntary agencies, and the medical profession of which the Lord President spoke, it will not be easily attainable if one of the partners in that co-operation has overriding powers. The decision to place the ultimate responsibility upon the local authorities spells delay, because it will require the complete reorganisation of local authority areas. A health service must be based upon an area which is not co-terminous with any present local authority area.
I am coming to that. A health service must be based on an area which is seldom co-terminous with the local authority area. It must be centred upon a key general hospital, very often a teaching hospital, where there are available research, consultative, specialist and technical facilities, and from which the service will radiate out through the other general and lesser hospitals and health centres to the general practitioner and his patient. Already, under the auspices of the Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust, the local authorities and the voluntary hospitals have formed in many areas regional councils which co-ordinate hospital policy and take action in matters of common problems, without interfering with the day-to-day administration or the individuality of the constituent hospitals. I feel that by some extension of this system, by the widening of the representation upon those councils, by the granting to them of some measure of authority, we could contrive a more flexible administration of the health services and a more workable partnership than by placing the whole responsibility upon the local authorities. That is all I wish to say on that subject.
May I turn now to the general question? I want to say a few words about assumption C, which deals with unemployment. We have heard a great deal during this Debate about that assumption, for it is fundamental not only to the plan we are discussing, but to all our post-war plans. But there is this difference between the plan to defeat want and our other plans. Our power to defeat the other giants depends almost entirely upon the total of our production in goods and services—whether there is enough to go round. But with the giant of want, it is not enough that there is sufficient to go round; it is a question, having got enough, of distributing it properly. I think we have to admit that before the war our distribution of wealth was faulty. The social surveys, to which reference has already been made, clearly prove that though, in spite of the last war, in spite of the chaos in which our trade was after the war, our real wealth has grown, there have been faults in distribution which have meant that, while the great bulk of families had substantially above the minimum, there was a considerable number below the bare minimum of subsistence. When we realise that in East London the surplus enjoyed by working-class families alone who were above the minimum was 30 times the deficiency of those who were below the minimum, when we realise that in York, where a higher standard of comparison was taken, the families above the minimum had eight times the deficiency of those below the minimum, I think we have to admit that some form of redistribution must be attempted.
I make no attempt to deny that the position after this war will be more difficult than after the last war. Our overseas investments will be less, our shipping will have more difficult problems to face. On the other hand, co-operation, and not competition, should be the keynote of international trade. I hope, too, that all we have learned in the control of our finance, in the control of our industry, in the control of our imports, will be turned to increasing the real wealth of the country. Therefore, I think we are justified in feeling that the British people will, once again, show their adaptability and will secure for themselves whatever measure of prosperity is going.
We must plan now the proper distribution of our national wealth for, on the evidence before us, want amid plenty is indefensible and must be abolished for every citizen—this is fundamental and must be enforced wherever necessary—who is willing to serve according to his powers. The question we have to ask ourselves is: Are we satisfied that the Government, have shown a willingness to plan and to plan promptly? The Government have accepted comprehensive insurance. They have accepted family allowances. They have accepted a health service. Those are the spearheads of the attack upon want. But the manner of their acceptance has been such that it has left many of us in great doubt whether the attack will be prompt, whether it will be determined and whether it will be on the basis of meeting want.
Then, too, the Government have not accepted the Ministry of Social Security, without which many of us believe progress will be slow. There will be no progress while Ministries are free to contend for the responsibility of adminstering the scheme. There will be no progress while Ministries are free to build up vested interests in portions of the scheme. Progress will be made only when there is a Minister with status and powers which will enable him to override any vested interest wherever it is found, whether in Ministries, in local authorities, in voluntary bodies or in companies. I hope, therefore, that the Government, even at this late hour, will make it plain beyond all doubt that they are determined to press home the attack against want so that we may go forward as, a united House to support them. It was Edmund Burke who said:
Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants. Men have a right that those wants shall be provided for by this wisdom.
I trust that we shall all contribute whatever wisdom is ours to the attainment of our common end, so that when we pray for comfort and succour for all those who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness or any other adversity, we may do so with a clear conscience that we have done all that is within human wisdom to provide for human want.
During the course of the Debate we have heard very many remarkable statements, and the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) has in my view made some of the most remarkable. He said the Government did not intend to deal with the problem of the abolition of want and were approaching this problem in the spirit of the Poor Law during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. I think those expression's are very great exaggerations and show no appreciation of what we have heard from the Government only yesterday and the day before. On Tuesday, the Lord President of the Council, in a single speech, announced Government intentions of social reform of a magnitude which has never been equalled in this House in its long history. I imagine that if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) had come along with that brief in his portfolio, he would have electrified the House. He might almost have gone to the country on a programme of that description. I agree that in many ways what the Government said was perhaps said not too well, but let us examine what they did say. First of all, they said they intended to strain every nerve to ensure the fullest employment. The employment horse should come before the Beveridge cart. Secondly, they promised a comprehensive medical service for every man, woman and child. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] Sir William Beveridge himself does not intend that this scheme shall come into operation to-morrow. He envisages that it will not come into operation until July, 1944. Therefore, some hon. Members are too impatient. Thirdly, the Government have accepted the principle of children's allowances; fourthly, the adoption of a universal scheme suggested by Sir William Beveridge embodying every gainfully occupied person; fifthly, vast improvements in unemployment and sickness benefits, bringing them up to rates not widely different from those suggested by Sir William himself; sixthly, the inclusion of death benefits; seventhly, an indication that they are prepared to consider widows' pensions on a more generous scale than that indicated in the Report, and lastly, the unification of our social services. These are, as I see them, what the Government told us on Tuesday and yesterday and I do not think we should lose sight of that.
Perhaps yesterday the issue was somewhat clouded. [Interruption.] Hon. Members may feel amused, but I am trying to be sincere in this. This is one of the greatest issues that have ever been debated on the Floor of the House and we should be in earnest about it. It is not a matter for levity. Is there a single Member of the House who would have stood on the Floor 12 months ago, just after the fall of Singapore, and dared to forecast what has come from Ministers? Of course not. We have heard from the Government measures of social reform which are very extensive in character. What I want, and what I hope we shall get from the right hon. Gentleman who speaks for the Government, is a clearer picture of the immediate intentions of the Government. We shall see what he gives us. If he will clarify the points that have been promised by the Government I believe that we shall have within a measurable distance of time some of the greatest social reforms and a large portion of the Beveridge Report. I hope that as an earnest of their intentions the Government will set up a Ministry of Social Security. I acknowledge that it may in practice make very little difference, but it will create a favourable impression in the country and will be much to the good. I hope, too, that they will reconsider the question of workmen's compensation. I understand that there are some 250,000 firms which have not insured against the risks of industrial accidents and disease, involving 2,000,000 people. If those figures are correct, and I have good reason to believe them, there is a vast number of our workers liable to interruption of earnings who will have no guarantee of compensation. Therefore, that matter warrants some investigation. I am sure that the people of this country have set their minds on social security. Let us not wreck the plans either on the rock of impatience or on the iceberg of lethargy. Above all, I plead with all Members not to allow the scheme to founder on the shifting sands of political controversy.
Having listened to most of the Debate, I am not yet satisfied that the Government really mean business in this matter. That view is shared by many hon. Members, and it will be shared by many thousands of people outside, unless we hear a different approach from the right hon. Gentleman who will wind up the Debate. When I heard the Lord President I came to the conclusion that he had a good case but that it was not very well presented. Still, he did make port. He gave us 70 per cent. of what I hoped we should get. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) made great play with the fact that if you had 70 per cent. of what you wanted it was like having a chair with only three legs; it would not stand up. I would point out, however, that you can sit on a three-legged stool and can milk a cow sitting on it. [HON. MEMBERS: "What sort of cow?"] I regret I have not time in which to develop the theme as to whether it should be a Socialistic or a capitalistic cow. When I heard the Chancellor I found him most depressing and discouraging. He had a very smiling face, and I asked myself whether it was concealing a bleeding heart, but I came to the conclusion that it was concealing a flabby heart in this matter. He reminded me of a man who says to you, "I hope you will spend a weekend with me, but of course my wife may die before you come, or the trains may not be running, or we may be invaded, or a tree may fall down and block the road." After all those provisos you come to the conclusion that after all the man is not very keen on your spending the weekend with him.
Of course, the Government cannot do the impossible, and it is obvious that the scheme is dependent on economics and finance. Will the Government tell us that what is possible in the plan will be put before us as rapidly as possible? The suggestion of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne) would meet the wishes of many people in the House who, like myself, are in a state of real, honest doubt as to whether or not the Government are being serious about the implementation of the plan. If we cannot have those doubts removed, it will be our duty to go into the Lobby against the Government. I hope that will not be necessary, but if it should be, I hope we shall not be told that we are voting against the Government on their general conduct of the war. That argument will not wash. There is not the-slightest reason why the Government, having heard the views of the House in a Debate in which they asked for those views on their stated policy towards the Report, should not, if they find that a substantial body are against those views, think again. Perhaps they have already done so. Therefore, I await the speech of my right hon. Friend with anxiety, but not altogether, with hope, that he will do his best to meet the wishes for more clarity and vigour which have been expressed by many Members of the House.
The House will, I hope, grant even a Minister of the Crown some indulgence to-day, for two reasons. One is that there is an Amendment to the Motion before the House, and if it were carried, it would obviously raise constitutional and Parliamentary issues of a serious order for His Majesty's Government. I do not say what the effect would be, but obviously serious questions would arise. Therefore, the task I have to discharge is one of some responsibility. The second reason is—and I wish to help the House as far as I can in reaching what the House considers to be a right and proper decision—that I am in the embarrassing situation indicated by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Commander King-Hall). He said, I thought very unjustly—and there have been other observations to the same effect—that the Lord President was not a bad sort, but he was not at his best on this occasion, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was worse; would the Home Secretary, therefore, be kind enough to try and improve on both of them? It is an invidious situation, and if I were to get up with the sole ambition of doing better than my right hon. Friends the Lord President and the Chancellor, I should feel that I was not acting in the true team spirit as a member of His Majesty's Government. Therefore, I feel that the occasion is one of some responsibility and the personal circumstances not without difficulty.
I have listened to all the speeches to which I was able to listen, I have read others, and I have had others reported to me. I have listened also to the speeches of my right hon. Friends the Lord President and the Chancellor. It is true that different people get different impressions about speeches. I was listening with great care, knowing that I was going to wind up this Debate. I listened to the factual statements that were made by my right hon. Friends, and I am rather mystified at the extensive belief—and it is no good denying it is there—in some quarters of the House that the Government are trying to evade this issue and that they are seeking, instead of forwardly planning, as my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said in moving the Amendment, to go backwards. These statements have been made, and, as far as I can tell, they are believed by quite a number of Members in the House.
I can only say that people's impressions of speeches differ. I listened to those speeches with great care and it seemed to me that through those two Ministers His Majesty's Government had committed themselves, indeed the Lord President
said so, to a favourable view of the principles of the Beveridge Report—I quite agree, subject to certain reservations and considerations; but they committed themselves, broadly speaking, to the acceptance of the principles of the Beveridge Report. I shall have to be repetitive in my speech in order that we may get it absolutely clear. There are two ways in which you can say that you accept the principles of a Report subject to reservations. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) quite reasonably and properly referred in his opening speech to a resolution which had been passed by the National Council of Labour. I will not read it all, but the essential part, as I see it, is this:
The National Council therefore approves the principles laid down in the Beveridge Report, and while detailed proposals must necessarily be subject to further scrutiny it welcomes the effort to safeguard the standards of life and health of the nation.
If you like, but I thought that was the essential part;
The Council particularly accepts the emphasis of Sir William Beveridge upon the importance of giving effect to the general policy of the Report before the end of the war, and therefore calls upon the Government to introduce the necessary legislation at an early date.
I am not sure that that is a correct account of Sir William Beveridge's Report. The Report was received with warmth, and there have been a number of references to it in which it has been suggested that Sir William Beveridge himself urged that the machine should work with a view to the implementation of this Report in legislation. But, in fact, he clearly contemplated that it would not be operative until the end of the war. That is in the Report itself. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, with great respect. It would be a good idea to read the Report. The 1944 and 1945 dates in the Report are not dates for the commencement of the operation of the scheme administratively, as Sir William Beveridge himself very fairly stated. In his Report Sir William has been very fair in the way he has stated these problems; he has not dodged awkwardnesses and difficulties; he has faced them like a man, and I admire him for it; and I say that the House of Commons must face the difficulties like
men—and the Government also, and we will; make no mistake about that. Sir William made reference to the 1944 and 1945 dates because he had to get some dates for statistical and actuarial purposes, and for the purposes of statistics and actuarial argument and for estimating he took the first collecting date as, I think, 1st July, 1944, and the first paying date as, I think, 1st January, 1945, or at any rate the beginning of 1945. Therefore, hon. Members are wrong in saying that Sir William Beveridge recommended that that should be the date of the beginning. He was on another point. That, I think, clears that point. [Interruption.] I go farther. It not only clears the interruption; it demolishes it.
I again call attention to the point from which the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) succeeded in taking us. I quoted the statement that the National Council approved the principles laid down in the Beveridge Report and said that while the detailed proposals must necessarily be subject to further scrutiny, it welcomed the effort to safeguard the standards of life and health of the nation. What does that say? It says, "We welcome the principles of this Report subject to reservations." And that is what I have said. A very sensible general decision. The National Council of Labour is a body for which I have great respect. I sat on it for many years. It considered the Report in a good deal of detail and with thoroughness, I believe, before it came to that conclusion, but it was not faced with the task of the Government, which was, if they could, to state their position provisionally and specifically on each one of the items of the Report. It is much easier to pass a resolution in general terms—I have framed a good many myself—which says, "We accept a principle subject to reservations" because thereby you accept the principle but are thereafter free to argue as much as you like on every item contained in the Report.
No, the Government have done better than that. On two matters the Government have "beaten the clock." The Government have beaten the National Labour Council clock, because they have published pretty specifically their provisional conclusions about the points of this Report. I do not know that anybody else has done that. It may have been done. Plenty of people have been sharpshooting at the Report, but I believe the Government are the only body so far that has delivered judgment upon the points of the Report point by point, and made reservations. It is true we have said that before there can be a final conclusion certain other considerations must be taken into account, but the Government have stood at this Box and through two Ministers—and now through a third—committed themselves to a whole series of items in the Report, subject, of course, to further consideration.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) is alive and kicking, I am glad to see. He says we have no right to reserve it for financial consideration. [HON. MEMBERS: "He did not say that."] He pointed out that we were making reservations in relation to financial considerations, and the implication was, I thought, that he felt it was rather a doubtful thing to do. Let me be absolutely frank and blunt about public finance: I have handled some in my time, though not on the scale that His Majesty's Government do in this war. I have been leader for some years of a great municipality with an annual budget of something, like £50,000,000, and I always refused, when I sat on that Opposition Front Bench in this House, to be any more loose—even when I was in Opposition—about the finances of the country than I was prepared to be loose about the finances of the London County Council. I will not do it. There has been too much of parties in Opposition or semi-detached Opposition giving reckless undertakings and making, rather wild promises and then not carrying them out when they are in power. I will not be a party to any such political jiggery-pokery. On the Council we had exactly the same problems. We had members, my own political friends, on the Council naturally demanding that we should do this, that or the other; it was what they were sent there for. Somebody wanted free milk for all the children in all schools; somebody else wanted free meals; somebody else higher rates of public assistance benefit.
And we said, as any well conducted municipality or Government ought to say that those items were desirable things, but they had to be looked at in their relativity. They had to be compared with one another, and we said, "You must communicate, you chairmen of spending committees, with the chairman of the finance committee, and at the end we will have"—and we did have—"a planned financial policy." That financial policy commanded the confidence of the people of London, even though we put the rates up 20 per cent. during the first three years, and it takes a bit of doing, to get away with that without its being noticed. I cannot understand this ignoring of the financial question. When an hon. Member fights an election, his election agent looks after the financial arrangements. It is a very good thing for Members that agents do so. We must watch financial matters. We must consider these priorities. Sir William Beveridge is far too responsible a person, and would be the last man in the world, to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the War Cabinet have no right to look at financial considerations.
May I recall to the House, with very great respect, the fact that we did not expect in December that my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would, in this Debate, state those specific things that they have stated? It was not understood by the Minister without Portfolio or by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield. I will show hon. Members how we have beaten the clock. The Minister without Portfolio, then the Paymaster-General, said:
Why should not the Government come to the House"—
this was prophesying this Debate—
not shirking the issue, but asking the House to help us by telling us what their experience is of this difficult problem, and, in the light of that discussion, coming to the conclusion which they think right.
That is to say, there was to be a noncommittal Government listening to speeches of Members and considering the matter afterwards as indeed we had done on previous occasions. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield then said this:
May I put it this way, because this is what I would prefer—that early in the new year there will be a fairly reasonable opportunity, before the Government have made up
their mind, for the House to express its considered opinion, after giving the matter proper thought."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December, 1942; col. 1078; Vol. 385.]
Therefore, with my right hon. Friend opposite and my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister without Portfolio it was an assumption, indeed a very generous assumption, that the Government would not be in a position to make specific observations on the Report in this present Debate, early in the new year.
We have considered the matter. I believe that my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield thought about it afterwards, and wondered himself whether we ought not to try to make better progress. We thought about it because we were both involved in that idea. There is no debating point in that at all. I certainly took the view, and my colleagues of the War Cabinet took the same view, that it is not dignified for a Government to have a three days' Debate on a great Report of this kind and in effect to sit back and say nothing about it at all. We thought the House had a right to know where the Government stood as far as they had got.
After all, this Report was published only in December. [HON. MEMBERS: "2nd December."] In that short time, far from losing any time, I assure the House that Ministers have really worked exceedingly hard on the subject. Remember, we have got a war on our hands, which also has to occupy some time. I assure the House, for myself, and the experience of every other Minister concerned is exactly the same—and finally the War Cabinet itself—that we have had to master this thing and to read many factual and commenting documents. We have been to a whole series of meetings. The one who worked hardest among us, with drive and speed, and pressed us to get to conclusions in time for this Debate—and no man was more energetic and competent or more capable—was my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council. Therefore, we have beaten the clock again, and now we are having this Debate. That is why it is so very unfair. We have stated our conclusions, subject, I agree, to certain things, with a precision that, I venture to say, nobody in this House expected when that Debate took place last year.
This Report is a great State document, and I agree with the complimentary things that have been said about it and its author. It is a very fine production, well knit together, well combined, well tied up, and it faces difficulties with great honesty and courage. It can be classed as a great State document that will live long in our social and economic history. It is the culmination of 32 years of social insurance development. This Report is a logical outcome of tendencies, it must be remembered, that were being worked out ever since 1911, but so complete and thorough is the working out that this evolutionary Report, this Beveridge Report, is itself a landmark, not only in Britain but in the world. Whatever the subsequent fate of particular elements in the plan, the Beveridge Report has made history. Thinking, about these subjects, will never be the same after as it was before. The country and the Government are therefore under a great debt of gratitude to the Report and to the outstanding public servant who was the architect of this great document.
It has been before us—before the country, before Parliament and before Ministers—for 12 weeks, since the beginning of December. The Government have considered the various items in it. Not only that, but we have got farther; we have considered the future procedure in dealing with this very big and important Report, with its various proposals. Sir William Beveridge himself suggested that three kinds of decisions would be needed, decisions of principle, decisions of execution and detail, and decisions of amount. Already, although this Report was published only on 2nd December, decisions of principle have been taken on the great majority of the many issues of the plan. For decisions of execution and detail Sir William Beveridge allows a considerable period, as he properly had to do, assuming a certain time and date at which the war will end. I am sorry that I myself and the War Cabinet do not know when that will be. Decisions of amount, he suggested, must wait until the post-war price level is known. Therefore, he had in mind that this plan must be taken in stages. He is an experienced administrator and would be expected to know about these things. Stages in this respect must be an inevitable part of the process of government before this scheme is finally dealt with. On all these points the Government agree. They agree, though without committing themselves to be ready with plans for execution at any particular period. We should be misleading the country and the House of Commons if we stated a particular time when we were going to be exactly ready, because of the uncertainty about the course and duration of the war, among other things.
What was the effect of the speeches of my two right hon. Friends on the proposals in the Beveridge Report itself? Sir William Beveridge summed up his proposals in 23 suggested changes. Of these, the Government have, for the time being, rejected one, which Sir William says is not necessary to the plan, that is to say, industrial assurance as a public utility. Of the other 22, six are left wholly or partly open for further consideration in the light of this Debate and such other representations as we may receive, the general implication being that the Government will take action upon them, though whether or not exactly in the Beveridge form is a point left open. The remainder of the changes are accepted. On a Report published on and December that is not a bad record, and honestly I cannot follow why my hon. Friends, from whom naturally I thoroughly dislike to differ, have got it—quite sincerely—I accept that—firmly in their heads, that the Government are doing them what in technical language is called a "double-cross." The Government have no wish to do a "double-cross" at all. We are in earnest about this. The Government's provisional decisions have, therefore, been announced in the way I have stated, and summing up these acceptances and non-acceptances it can be stated that one non-essential change is rejected, six held up for final judgment, and 16 are accepted in principle.
There were six fundamental principles in the Beveridge Report on which the plan itself is based. These principles were—flat rate of subsistence benefit, flat rate of contribution, unification of administration, adequacy of benefit, comprehensiveness or universality, and classification of beneficiaries. The Government have accepted the whole substance of these, save for one point, the subsistence basis, and while not accepting this in principle, the Government have intimated their aim to fix a benefit for unemployment and ill-health on the same basis as nearly as possible. My right hon. Friend the Lord President added that while we reserve the right to deviate from the actual figure recommended by Sir William with regard to unemployment and ill-health, he did not anticipate that we should move materially from the figures recommended. Whence comes this illusion that the Government have, in fact, almost rejected the Report, which one gathers from the way some people have spoken and written? Honestly, I cannot follow that belief. I want to try this out in every conceivable way. I have tried it on the 23 changes, I have tried it on the six fundamental principles. I mention now the three assumptions—maintenance of employment, a comprehensive health service and children's allowances. All those three assumptions were accepted by my right hon. Friend in his speech, so I do not see that he could have gone much further than he did on that occasion in that respect. I will examine the matter in rather more detail. I am sorry to weary the House with these details—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO. Go on"]—but they must be driven home, because I am sure that nobody wants to misrepresent the Government and nobody wants to misrepresent the Debate, and I want the House to follow these points. There was one recommendation—I called it a detail, but that is quite wrong—in favour of a comprehensive health service. That has been accepted and that is a big thing to accept. It is a great and significant social change; it is on the basis of universality, free benefit, no means test, medical reorganisation, free hospital treatment, and so on.
I am not sure what my hon. Friend means. We had better not pursue it. I would say though, as one who has had a good deal of relationship with voluntary hospitals, starting on the principle that one rather wished to take them over, that this is not a country in which you are going to get everything on a uniform dead level pattern. [Interruption.] My hon. Friends are assuming that Socialism accepts that basis. It does not do anything of the kind. How often have we condemned our Conservative friends for saying that we wanted to bring everybody down to a dead level? Therefore, I beg of my hon. Friends not to confirm that charge. This is a country in which it is well to understand that there will always be a lot of voluntary effort of one sort and another—voluntary effort, voluntary social service, voluntary public service. If it dies in this country, British democracy is dead.
That is not to say that voluntary hospitals ought necessarily to be preserved. They could all be taken over by the municipality. I nearly had the offer to take them over in London, but I found they were doing good work and that for me to take them over, would cost the ratepayers a 1s. 6d. county rate. Being a good financier I said that could be postponed. But is a voluntary hospital necessarily wrong? There are voluntary hospitals in mining communities to which the miners often attach the utmost value even to the point that in one case they did not appropriate the Poor Law hospital under the Public Health Act, because they did not want to injure the voluntary hospital they had been running. Therefore, it is not necessarily a crime if voluntary hospitals—[Interruption.] The Government thought it right that they should intimate that they did not propose to destroy the institution of voluntary hospitals, and I can assure the House that if the Government declared that it was going to destroy them, then indeed some controversy would develop over this matter. So we are going to have a big comprehensive health service, and that is a very big change to which subject to reservations the Government have committed themselves.
I will come to them as I go along. I come to children's allowances. This is an enormous social change. It has been advocated by propagandists and public-spirited people for a good many years and has been the subject of great controversy in the Labour movement in which the President of the Board of Trade took a minority part in favour of the policy for quite a long time. Recently, they have accepted it—the Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party—and this Report brings it along. The Government, on a basis that I will explain, propose 5s. a week, which was the figure commonly advocated. The figure was lifted by Sir William Beveridge, for reasons which I understand, to 8s. The Government have accepted the 5s., plus—and to this I attach no less importance than to the 5s. itself—the development of a charter of child welfare, plus a greater freedom for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health to go ahead with his maternity and child welfare scheme, which he will do. He will exploit the situation. So will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. Then there is the development of the education services: of school meals and that sort of thing, which it seems to me under this new order of things will have to be on the basis of universal free service. Thereby we shall get rid, I hope, of a factor which is not an easy one in relation to these school meals, by the elimination of the test for necessity. These are no mean changes. These are big social developments. It is highly probable that Sir William Beveridge's 8s. will not be far short of accounted for before we have done with the development of the social services. The development of the social services has this to be said for it—that we know that the child is to get the benefit of it. I am more keen on the social services than on merely distributing money, although in this case I think that the distribution of money is right and that it will be valuable. The Government have indeed moved very fast in their readiness to accept changes so considerable and so novel.
I will now go through the list of principal recommendations, so that the House may see which are accepted and which are not, in accordance with a request made by my Noble Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). Universality is accepted. Rates of benefit are to be looked at in the light of my right hon. Friend's statement on health and unemployment benefits, for which there might have to be a modification, but not a material modification of the figures as recommended by Sir William Beveridge. Then there is the question of compulsory training. Training in the labour sphere has been accepted for a long time, and will be developed; but there is an element of consideration as to whether it should be used, as I would prefer, as a positive means of helpfulness for workpeople, and not as a means of punishment. There is, of course, a problem about attempts to cheat public funds on the part of anybody, no matter to what section of the community he belongs. It is my view, and I have acted up to it in public administration—and it becomes more important as you increase the benefits—that you must take adequate steps to see that benefits of this sort are not improperly obtained. It is important, not so much for the money involved but for the public morale, to which we must attach great importance. Disability benefit is accepted; but, because the Government propose to make long-term sickness benefit the same as the unemployment benefit level, which will mean a substantial increase, some protection against abuse is necessary.
Old age pensions, we propose, shall be contingent upon retirement, and rising according to the retirement age; which is a good thing, because we had better not go on the basis that the sooner people leave off employment the better, as we have tended to do in times of stress. We ought to think that the longer people work, the higher the standard of life may be. That, of course, depends upon certain rectifications of the social order, into which I shall not go at present. [Interruption.] I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Seaham is thinking how much better he could have made this speech than I am. Old age pensions I have mentioned. The Government, on the other hand, rather prefer fixed commitments and benefits, and may thereby be able to better the Beveridge proposals at the beginning.
I appreciate, as we all do, the strong case that Sir William had for his old age pension proposals. There was a strong case and a lot to be said for it. Indeed, it fitted in very well with the scheme. But there would have been a difficulty, which I am sure the House would have found troublesome, if we had started at the relatively low level that Sir William recommended at the beginning and had not got to the maximum until 1965. There is a great case for it, but we thought that it would not stand up, and that we had better increase it at the beginning, even if we had to make an adjustment the other way at the end, but the figures are not yet settled.
As to workmen's compensation, everybody is wise in being cautious about this subject. My right hon. Friend the Undersecretary at the Home Office has just very ably pioneered a Bill through this House dealing with three amendments to Workmen's Compensation law. They were got through all right, but there was some trouble. There was considerable argument behind the Chair, as there usually is about workmen's compensation, which is a complex and difficult thing. My own feeling about it is that the legislative and historical structure behind the whole business is thoroughly out 'of date; it wants to be modernised and administratively put into a different set-up. There are many points to be considered about the proposals and I am certain that the trades unions—the Trades Union Congress and probably the Mineworkers' Federation will have something to say about it and will certainly want to be heard. It is, however, a matter of great urgency and I can assure the House that I want to get the policy settled as quickly as possible. I would like to clean up that business while I am at the Home Office, because I feel that the whole administrative and legal structure is somewhat out of date.
The Government have intimated that in the circumstances it looks as though approved societies will inevitably have to be superseded but the door is open for the consideration of agency proposals. A funeral grant is accepted. The State can do this much more cheaply and effectively as a social benefit than it can be done by even the great insurance companies of the country. That is my view and we accept that principle as part of the social service associated with this Report. On the question of widows' benefit the Government are inclined to seek a solution, such as would be desired by my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mrs. Adamson), somewhat less harsh than the Beveridge proposals, though we must be mindful of the need to keep up the numbers of the working population. Unification of administration is accepted.
Here I come to a point about the future. Some hon. Members argue that the test of the Government's genuineness is their willingness, immediately, to estab- lish a Ministry of Social Security. I know that some of my hon. Friends, particularly on this side of the House, are interested in it. I am sure that we are all grown-up enough in this House of Commons not to want to establish an empty shell with "Ministry of Social Security" on the door and with a formidable number of civil servants employed in it. We would not like to do that. We are getting a little into the habit of everybody who is keen on a special subject wanting a special Ministry of his own. It is natural; it always happens. I remember that my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) changed the name "Local Government Board" at the end of the last war to "Ministry of Health." Everybody agreed that that was the right and a good thing to do, but the name of the Ministry does not necessarily alter the effectiveness of its work. It is the work and policy that really matter. We cannot very well, forthwith, establish a Ministry of Social Security.
We cannot do that until the answers to these questions are positively made, without reservation, because if we tried to set up such a Ministry now, we should not know what work to give to it. Some hon. Members may remember that we had Debates in this House in the course of the blitz in which my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay), and others, advocated a Ministry of Civil Defence in which my Ministry would absorb all the bits and pieces, relating to Civil Defence, of anything up to perhaps 20 other State Departments. I explained then that it was not wise to do that. The Minister of Health can look after health services much better than I can so far as he and I play ball with each other and co-operate, as we do. The same thing applies to other Ministers.
You can have two conceptions about this Ministry of Social Security—incidentally, Members would not believe how hard I am trying not to call it "the Ministry of Home Security." The first conception is that the absorption of the various bits and pieces of the functions of a series of State Departments, relating to social security, would mean that part of the Ministry of Health's functions would come over to the new body and that part of the Board of Education's functions would do the same. But when you had done it, I can assure you that within five years you would be debating a Motion in this House condemning this cutting-off of bits and pieces of State Departments and asking that they should be put back where they belonged. It is far better that the functions of health administration should be conducted by the State Department that is already looking after health. It is better that the feeding and medical inspection of school children shall be run by the President of the Board of Education, who is running the schools, and that the training of labour should be carried out by the Ministry of Labour, which is skilled and experienced in this business. I am not, however, delivering any conclusive view on the part of the Government about this, because we shall consider the views which have been expressed. But I thought it only fair to put to the House the reasons why we have doubts about it.
What remains? There remain the collection and distribution of insurance moneys and the consolidation and coordination of all these insurance funds, which the Government accept. That can be put either into a separate Ministry or it can be put under a Commission of Social Security or a suitable board which can administer it, not as a matter of policy, but of considered administration under the Statute or Regulations, or you may have a Ministry of Social Security. There, then, are the pros and cons. I think I shall have the whole House with me when I say we are not short of State Departments or Ministers. They are growing fairly frequently, and while I think it is inevitable in war-time, I do not think it is too healthy to have too many Ministries, with their Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries sitting in the House of Commons and so on. I think the position ought to be watched.
Unification of control is essential for these insurance matters, but if you cut off part of the Ministry of Health and put it somewhere else, instead of having unification of health services, you will have the reverse. Moreover, if a Ministry of Social Security was set up now, it would cause inter-Departmental conflict of a quite unnecessary character. However, I will deal with the action which the Government have taken.
The decisions of the Government were not lightly made, nor could they have been lightly made. The House will realise that no Government could rightly commit themselves publicly to such decisions of principle unless they meant business as soon as definite action was practicable. To suppose that our attitude was otherwise, to suppose that we gravely made these announcements and did not mean business, is to suppose a fantastic degree of duplicity on the part of the Government and a gullibility on the part of the British people which I have never noticed. May I say that not only have we been working hard to get to this point, but we are now working hard to get to the next stage. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has already done a fair amount of unification of the health services in Scotland, will to-morrow meet his Medical Advisory Council in order to discuss the Beveridge Report with them.
Heaven forbid that I should enter into arguments about Scottish government. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health is likewise going ahead straight away with his negotiations. So will other discussions and consultations go ahead—and not only with doctors. We had better not think that there are only doctors in the health world; there are local authorities who will want to be heard; voluntary hospitals and all sorts of people, including the trade unions, will quite rightly want to be consulted. The right of review there must be, but when we have made the review in the light of all the financial and other circumstances, and in the light of arguments that deputations and others may advance to Ministers, we will come to the House and give our account and report, and the House will get an opportunity of reporting. Therefore, we will go ahead, as fast as ever we can.
What are the next stages in the consideration of this matter? A great scheme of this kind cannot be brought into exist- ence by the mere waving of a wand or the passing of a Resolution in the House, or anywhere else. There must be consultation and negotiation. This is a country in which if you do things without giving reasonable opportunities for consultation with the persons who are affected—I am not talking about the vested interests necessarily, but about organised labour and the professional associations—they will be very cross, and there will be trouble. I speak feelingly. I was accused of not consulting my trade union friends when I brought in the compulsory Fire Prevention Order, on which I was in rather a hurry, because the country was in danger of burning down. But they complained, and not without justification entirely, that they had not been consulted. The word "consultation" is a very blessed word in the administration of British democracy. Therefore, when people say that "they" will stop it, that really is beside the point. We shall consult with all sorts of people, including some interests, including some people to whom I and my hon. Friends might refer on suitable occasions as vested interests; but people have to be consulted in this country, and it is a good thing to do. Let me say this, however, that the Government will be the Government, and will take orders from no interests, whether vested or otherwise. We will come to our own conclusions. So much for the negotiations and consultations.
Then there are the administrative preparations, at three levels, and they are going on. There are administrative preparations in the Departments concerned, which is the quickest thing one can get done. As the Lord President said, we shall arrange for a limited but special staff to be concentrated on the general work of preparation. Moreover, the matter will be kept under observation and review, and people will be required to report to a Committee of the War Cabinet which will take a close and active interest in the matter.
Will the right hon Gentleman, after the necessary consultations and the setting-up of the necessary administrative machiney, undertake to bring in the necessary legislation?
I was coming to that. All these preparations lead up to the pre- paration of the Bill or Bills. I cannot go further than what has been said. We cannot give a date when the Bill will be produced. We are not going to do it. We cannot put a ring round a calendar date, but we are going to lose no essential time, subject to the prior claim on our labours, which is the successful prosecution of the war. I will go further and say that before the Bill is produced, when we have got through these discussions and negotiations, when our administrative preparations are so far completed that we know where we are better than we know now, and when we have considered the finances of this in itself and in relation to other claims and in relation to the general financial situation, we will not wait for the Bill, but will report to the House what our conclusions are, and, if the House wishes, we will give it an opportunity of debating the situation at that point. I do not think I can make a fairer offer than that. We must consider the financial priorities that I have argued about in relation to other claims, and we must put Defence first. The maintenance of the level of labour is supremely important, because much of this depends on the maintenance of the level of employment, and then we will take into account this social security scheme, together with other claims upon the nation's purse, come to conclusions, and report them to the House, and the House can then come to its judgment upon them.
Also let us not think that this scheme is the whole business of social security. It is a great scheme. The man who wrote it deserves full credit and thanks from the nation, but much of it—not all of it—is what you do to help people who, through social disorder or other difficulties, have become unemployed, or who, through bad health services, have become sick. The greater problem remains, which I hope we shall not forget. It is not how much public money we can distribute here and there. The basic thing, the big thing, is how best this community can get its living on a reasonable standard of life. I believe there is a great field for political and economic debate and struggle, and I need not tell the House on which side I shall be. Those things must not be forgotten in all the arguments about this notable and important Report. I believe that, when the time comes along and things happen, we shall be thanked and respected as a Government and not vilified for being cautious and for refusing to make reckless promises. We have refused to make any reckless promises to the House to-day, and I reaffirm that refusal. We will not do it. We are not going to have any repetition of what some people thought happened in the last war, of soldiers coming back with a promise of a paradise which they did not get. We will work for that paradise. I will tell the House something else. By the way the Government are moving there will be infinitely more preparation for after this war than there was for after the last war. We have learned a good deal from that experience and from that time.
The House is possibly—I do not know—going to a Division. I have spoken for a united Government, a Government in which each of us has taken his responsibility, each of us has had his arguments. I am not going to say that in all the discussions in the Cabinet and Cabinet Committee we have at once agreed. Of course we have not. There are sometimes different angles, sometimes different temperaments and sometimes new facts which somebody has brought up which we had not thought of. There has to be give and take. Is the Report merely to be presented to the Government for them to be told, "Here it is, sign on the dotted line"? We are not going to do that. [Interruption.] That really is what much of the argument has been. We are not going to do it. We reserve, and must reserve, the right of examination. I think that the Government have acted with speed. We have reached among ourselves reasonable agreement with a big progressive outcome. I would appeal to the House to realise that it also will have its pros and cons of arguments, that there are many constituent elements of the House, not all of the same temperament and outlook. I would like the House of Commons to solve this problem of want and destitution in the same spirit of give and take and with the determina-
|Division No. 7.||AYES.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Astor, Lt.-Col. Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)|
|Adams, Major S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Bernays, R. H.|
|Agnew, Comdr. P. G.||Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Bevin, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Balfour, Capt. Rt. Hn. H. H.||Bird, Sir R. B.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Baxter, A. Beverley||Blair, Sir R.|
|Alexander, Bg.-Gn Sir W. (G'g'[...], C.)||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.||Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.|
|Allan, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Beattie, F. (Cathcart)||Boothby, Fit.-Lt. R. J. G.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Bossom, A. C.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. (Sc'h. Unlv.)||Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'ts'h)||Boulton, W. W.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Beechman, N. A.||Bower, Norman (Harrow)|
|Assheton, R.||Beit, Sir A. L.||Bower, Comdr. R. T. (Cleveland)|
I can say no more for His Majesty's Government. I only want to say that I hope hon. Members who take part in the Division will take part in it in the light of what I have said, in the light of what my right hon. Friends have said, in the light of the facts and with the recognition of the responsibility that rests upon them. We are not only debating a great Report. We are at war, and I am not sure that either the Services or the general body of citizens of the country, in the light of the statements that Ministers have made, will think lightly of Members of the House who take a decision that may have serious political consequences. This is no moment for any such action to be taken. I believe that anybody who votes against the Government in this Division will be acting contrary to the facts that have been established in this Debate. I appeal to the House to think about it calmly, to examine their own minds and consciences quietly and to ask themselves in these circumstances, even though we are tending to have victories instead of defeats, whether, with the war on our hands and the responsibilities we have, this is the moment, and whether the issue is big enough and clear enough to warrant hon. Members in taking action which may precipitate serious political difficulties.
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Garro Jones, G. M.||Maclay, Hon. J. P. (Paisley)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. B.||Gates, Major E. E.||Macnamara, Lt.-Col. J. R. J.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose)||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'broke)||Magnay, T.|
|Brass, Capt. Sir W.||Gibson, Sir C. G.||Maitland, Sir A.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Gledhill, G.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E.|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Gluckstein, Major L. H.||Mander, G. le M.|
|Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Glyn, Sir R. G. C.||Markham, Major S. F.|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham)||Goldie, N. B.||Marlowe, Lt.-Col. A.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Gower, Sir R. V.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Medlicott, Colonel Frank|
|Bull, B. B.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Mills, Colonel J. D. (New Forest)|
|Burghley, Lord||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Mitchell, Colonel H. P.|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Grigg, Sir E. W. M. (Altrineham)||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Grigg, Rt. Hon. Sir P. J. (Cardiff, E.)||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Butcher, Lieut. H. W.||Grimston, R. V.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Morgan, R- H. (Stourbridge)|
|Cadogan, Major Sir E.||Groves, T. E.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Caine, G. R. Hall||Guest, Lt.-Col. H. (Drake)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Universities)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley)||Gunston, Major Sir D. W.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Campbell, J. D. (Antrim)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.||Morrison, Major J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Cary, R. A.||Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Mott-Radclyffe, Capt. C. E.|
|Cazalet, Col. V. A.||Headlam, Lt.-Col. Sir C. M.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.|
|Challen, Flight-Lieut. C.||Heilgers, Major F. F. A.||Nicholson, Captain G. (Farnham)|
|Channon, H.||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G. (Leicester, W.)|
|Chapman, A. (Ruthergien)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Henderson, J. J. Cralk (Leeds, N.E.)||Nunn, W.|
|Christie, J. A.||Hewlett, T. H.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Hicks, E. G.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C.||Higgs, W. F.||Paling, W.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Conant, Major R. J. E.||Holdsworth, H.||Peat, C. U.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Holmes, J. S.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hon. A. Duff||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Peters, Dr. S. J.|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Petherick, Major M.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Peto, Major B. A. J.|
|Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir Stafford||Hudson, Sir A. (Hackney, N.)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S- (Southport)||Pilkington, Captain R. A.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hulbert, Wing-Commander N. J.||Ponsonby, Col, C. E.|
|Crowder, Capt. J, F. E.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Procter, Major. H. A.|
|Dalton, Rt, Hon. H.||Hutchinson, G. C. (Ilford)||Purbrick, R.|
|Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd)||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. G. I. C. (E'burgh)||Pym, L. R.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||James, Wing-Comdr. A. W. H.||Radford, E. A.|
|De Chair, Capt. S. S.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Raikes, Flight-Lieut. H. V. A. M.|
|De la Bère, R.||Jennings, R.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Jewson, P. W.||Rankin, Sir R.|
|Denville, Alfred||Johnston, Rt. Hn. T. (St'l'g & C'km'n)||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Dodd, J. S.||Johnstons, H. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Raid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Doland, G. F.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k Newington)||Rickards, G. W.|
|Donner, Squadron-Leader P. W.||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Robertson, D. (Streatham)|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt. Comdr. Hn. L. W.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Drewe, C.||Keir, Mrs. Cazalet||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Rowlands, G.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Kerr, Sir John Graham (Scottish U's.)||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)||Kimball, Major L.||Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)|
|Duggan, H. J.||King-Hall, Commander W. S. R.||Salt, E. W.|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. (Kens'gt' n, N.)||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Ede, J. C.||Lakin, C. H. A.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Schuster, Sir G. E.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Leach, W.||Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h & Solk[...]|
|Elliston, Captain G. S.||Lees-Jones, J.||Selley, H. R.|
|Emery, J. F.||Leigh, Sir J.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Levy, T.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Lewis, O.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A.|
|Errington, Squadron-Leader E.||Liddall, W. S.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Linstead, H. N.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Etherton, Ralph||Little, Sir E. Graham- (London Univ.)||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||Lloyd, C. E. (Dudley)||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Everard, Sir W. Lindsay||Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Loftus, P. C.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B.|
|Findlay, Sir E.||Lyle, Sir C. E. Leonard||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Foot, D. M.||Lyons, Major A. M.||Stanley,- Col. Rt. Hon. Oliver|
|Fox, Flight-Lieut. Sir G. W. G.||Lyttelton; Rt. Hon. Oliver||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Fraser, Capt. Sir Ian (Lonsdale)||Mabane, W.||Storey, S.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Furness, Major S. N.||McCallum, Major D.||Strickland, Capt. W. F.|
|Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.||MaCorauodale, Malcolm S.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (Northwich)|
|Galbraith, Comdr. T. D.||Macdonald, Captain Peter (I. of W.)||Studholme, Captain H. G.|
|Gammas Capt. L. D.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Summers, G. S.||Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Sutcliffe, H.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)||Willink, H. U.|
|Sykes, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir F. H.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.||Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.|
|Tasker, Sir R. I.||Waterhouse, Capt. C.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Taylor, Major C. S. (Eastbourne)||Watt, F. C. (Edinburgh Central)||Wise, Major A. R.|
|Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'd'ton, S.)||Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. H. (Richmond)||Womersley, Rt. Hon, Sir W.|
|Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||Webbe, Sir W. Harold||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir K. (W'lwich, W.)|
|Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'mpton)||Wedderburn, H. J. S.||Woolley, W. E.|
|Thomson, Sir J. D. W.||Wells, Sir S. Richard||Wootton-Davies, J. H.|
|Thornton-Kemsley, Major C. N.||Weston, W. Garfield||Wragg, H.|
|Thurtle, E.||Westwood, J.||Wright, Group Capt. J. (Erdington)|
|Toucho, G. C.||White, Sir Dymoke (Fareham)||York, Major C.|
|Tree, A. R. L. F.||White, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Wakefield, W. W.||Williams, C. (Torquay)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Walker-Smith, Sir J.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)||Mr. James Stuart and Mr. Whiteley.|
|Acland, Sir R. T. D.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Murray, J. D. (Spennymoor)|
|Ammon, C. G.||Grenfell, D. R.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Grey, Captain G. C.||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Barr, J.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Parker, J.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Gruffydd, W. J.||Pearson, A.|
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Islington, M.)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Guy, W. H.||Poole, Captain C. C.|
|Bevan, A.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Price, M. P.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hardie, Agnes||Pritt, D. N.|
|Broad, F. A.||Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.||Reakes, G. L. (Wallasey)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Harvey, T. E.||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham (St. M.)|
|Brown, T. J. (Inn)||Hayday, A.||Roberts, W.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey, W.)|
|Buchanan, G.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hollins A. (Hanley)||Shinwell, E|
|Cape, T.||Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)||Silkin, L.|
|Chater, D.||Horabin, T. L.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hughes, R. M.||Sloan, A|
|Cocks, F. S.||Kendall, W. D.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Collindridge, F.||Key, C. W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Kirby, B. V.||Stephen, C.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Lawson, J. J.||Stewart, W. Joseph (H'gton-le-Sprin'g)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Leonard, W.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Leslie, J. R.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lipson, D. L.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Dobbie, W.||McEntee, V. La T.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||McGhee, H. G.||Thomas, I. (Keighley)|
|Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich)||McGovern, J.||Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)|
|Dunn, E.||Mack, J. D.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)||MacLaren, A.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Walkden, E. (Doncaster)|
|Edwards, Walter J. (Whitechapel)||MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)||Watson, W. MoL.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||McNeil, H.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Foster, W.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Frankel, D.||Martin, J. H.||Windsor, W.|
|Gallacher, W.||Maxton, J.||Woodburn, A.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n)||Messer, F.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. (Rochdale)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Granville, E. L.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Mr. Charleton and Mr. R. J. Taylor.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Mort, D. L.|
That this House welcomes the Report of Sir William Beveridge on Social Insurance and Allied Services as a comprehensive review of the present provisions in this sphere and as a valuable aid in determining the lines on which developments and legislation should be pursued as part of the Government's policy of post-war reconstruction: