I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
May I, through you, Sir, in the first place express my thanks to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour for having given me the opportunity of piloting this portion of the Measure through the House of Commons? I should like to draw a picture, if I can, of what has been taking place, in order that the Bill itself may be seen in its right perspective against a background which will enable its provisions to be clearly understood. In the Report of the Inter-departmental Committee on the Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Disabled Persons, presented to the House in January of this year, an attempt was made for the first time to treat the subject of rehabilitation and resettlement as a single problem and a continuous process, Medical science and industrial knowledge and experience, it was felt, might both be used and might be found complementary to each other instead of, as so often has been assumed, their being antagonistic. Experience in the working of the interim scheme soon convinced us that this assumption was correct, and the knowledge that we have gained as a consequence of the past two years' work has strengthened our belief in its value. To contact a person in hospital, for instance, shortly after an accident, in the presence of the medical adviser, when the patient is feeling down in the mouth and perhaps worrying about his future, and to let such a person know that someone is interested in his recovery, waiting to assist him to take up his work again when better or, if unable to undertake such work, ready to train him for some other kind of work which his disability will not prevent him from doing—psychologically the bringing of hope to such a one may assist more than anything else in making the skill of the surgeon effective.
Nor is this bringing of hope as an effective ally of the doctor confined to
cases of accidents. Whatever the disability may be and wherever it may have been incurred, in industry, on the battlefield, however it may have arisen, I believe the first step to rendering assistance must be to convince the patient that help is possible and, if the help can appear in the shape of a promise of economic independence by the patient's own efforts, it is doubly effective. Just how important is the factor of creating and inspiring hope in the mind of the patient I think it is impossible to over-estimate. There is an old maxim that says "while there is life there is hope," but how true it is that life itself often depends upon the retention of hope and, lest someone should come back to me and suggest that "hope deferred maketh the heart sick," I want to say that that is the reason for bringing in this Bill. It was because of this, too, that quite recently, when the repatriated prisoners of war were brought home, my Department issued an instruction to all its local officers asking them to contact such persons in their area with a view to rendering assistance. Sometimes in this House criticism is made of the way in which our local officers carry out their duties and interpret headquarters Regulations. May I read to the House one letter that was sent out by one manager to all the men in his area when this instruction was received?
Dear Sir, Your name has been passed on to me by the Lord Provost as that of a prisoner of war who has just been repatriated and I wish to offer you on behalf of my Department a hearty welcome on your return home. I do not know whether you are yet discharged from the Army but, if you anticipate being discharged in the near future, I should like to place at your disposal the full services of this office. We should be happy to arrange for your re-entry into employment if you so desire or, if you should consider that a course of training would be helpful to you, we would be glad to give you full particulars of our training courses. If you wish to avail yourself of our offer, can assure you that we will consider it a pleasure to do our utmost to be of service to you and, if you care to call at the above address and inquire for Mr. Blair, Room 19, he will be available to discuss the above with you in a private interview.
He was commended on that letter, and the reply from him, that is, the exchange manager, was:
We have had several replies from the men concerned thanking us for our letter but advising us that they do not expect to be discharged as yet and will therefore defer their call. Five of the men concerned, of whom
two are disabled, have called for interview. We are in process of effecting places in respect of these men and hope to be able to fix them all up at an early date.
I am one of those persons who believe that the value of such action at the right moment cannot be over-estimated.
The second thing the experience of the interim scheme has taught us, or is teaching us, is the value of training for a new occupation whenever the disability prevents return to the previous occupation. We are all more or less creatures of habit and circumstance, and the shock to the disabled of learning that he or she will not be able to follow his or her usual occupation can only be effectively countered by convincing them at the earliest possible moment that they can be trained to undertake some other task. Again, it is the effect of instilling hope, when hope seemed to have gone, which can and does work miracles of healing. And, as must be the case, where individuals differing so widely from each other are concerned, each case must be watched until satisfactory re-settlement has been achieved. To the extent that it has been possible in wartime, we have endeavoured, with assistance from many quarters, to give this individual attention, but, of course, with the demand for labour far exceeding the supply, as it does to-day, it is inevitable that so far as the disabled are concerned, as indeed is true of the able-bodied—some round pegs will have been placed in square holes—and for post-war purposes further training will probably be needed, maybe of a different kind.
The object of rehabilitation, as is probably well known, is to fit a person for employment which he can obtain, and keep in normal competition with his fellows. As a matter of fact the most perfect form of rehabilitation consists of restoring the disabled person concerned to the position he previously occupied. Perhaps the story of the patient of one of my friends who runs a centre here in London will illustrate what I mean. A man was brought into this centre one day with a broken back and two broken arms. He was more dead than alive and my friend thought he would probably die. He then set to work upon him, put him in a plaster cast, fixed his arms, and after a few months he began to show signs not only of remaining alive but of responding to treatment. In seven or eight months' time he was beginning to take exercise and then my friend said to him, "We did not think you would live when we brought you in here, but we are sure now not only that you are going to live but that you will be able to return to the job you previously did. By the way, what were you before you came here?" The man said, "A burglar." Though one is not condoning the offence of burglary and treating it as a reasonable occupation, the fact that the man had been brought back to the position in which he could carry on the work he was doing previously meant that at any rate the surgeon had done his job. He was rehabilitated in the true sense of the word.
In other words, to rehabilitate, is to bring back into the human circle, those whom disability has placed outside, and enable them to live a full, free and happy life. It would be folly to assume that this can be done in all instances, but that which has already been accomplished in so many cases should lead us to pause, before we decide in any particular case, however difficult, that nothing can be done.
In the treatment of fractures for instance we have made rapid strides, and in the general run of surgical cases great progress has been made. Physio-therapy and occupational therapy have been introduced into many of our hospitals and rehabilitation centres with amazing results. That which was regarded as outside the bounds of possibility 20 years ago, has become common-place to-day. The fractured spine, which meant then, spending the remainder of one's life on one's back on a bed of pain, to-day responds to treatment and within the past six weeks I have seen men taking part in strenuous exercises within six months of having had a broken back, and what is more remarkable still returning to their place in the pit where the accident had taken place, well inside a year. Fracture clinics have been multiplied under the Emergency Hospital Schemes of the Ministry of Health and the value of this specialisation is unquestioned.
Let me give just one illustration of the value of specialisation. Some six weeks ago I visited a hospital in Birmingham that is dealing now with accident cases only. There in the hospital was a young lad of 18 who had been injured in a rolling mill. His fore-arm and his hand had been stripped back and front. He was taken from the place where he had met with the accident to a cottage hospital. They examined him and came to the decision that the arm must be amputated. The employer of the boy, however, had heard of the surgeon in this hospital at Birmingham and wired him asking whether he would see the lad before they decided to take off his arm. He saw the lad and he was brought to that hospital. On the morning I went they took off the bandage and there was the back of a new hand that had been taken from the lad's thigh. He was going into an occupation centre for three weeks in order that the muscles of the hand might be strengthened, and then from the other thigh was to be taken sufficient flesh to cover the inside of his hand. I have not the slightest doubt from what I saw that that lad will be as good as he was previously when the surgeon has finished his work. Had it not been for the knowledge of the employer of the skill of the surgeon in Birmingham, the crime of removing that lad's arm would have taken place. As I looked at him I wondered how many such crimes have taken place because of the lack of specialisation.
The work of the limb fitting specialists under the auspices of the Ministry of Pensions at the centres established for the purpose, are beyond praise; whilst the development and perfecting of the Artificial Limbs themselves have won the admiration of the world. I could give you many examples of the way in which limbless people have overcome difficulties, when fitted with artificial limbs and trained in their use. Some of you have been privileged to witness demonstrations, in the precincts of the House itself, where skill and adaptability of a high order have been manifest. Perhaps I need only mention two cases, one of a man who had lost both arms, was fitted with artificial limbs, trained, and is now at work as a clerk in a local government office, carrying out his duties to the satisfaction of his employers; and the other a boy who lost both legs at sea, fitted with artificial limbs and trained as an inspector in one of our large engineering works.
The splendid work of Rehabilitation carried out by the services during the war, should be of inestimable value to us in facing this problem for the future. I would not, however, wish to give you the impression that equal progress had been made in all branches of medical science. It hasn't, and we must remember that the greater number of cases of disability with which we shall have to cope are in the sphere of the medical as against the surgical cases. Some hon. Members may have difficulty in distinguishing between the two. The story is told of two boys in a London hospital who were discussing this problem. One said to the other, "Are you a surgical or a medical?" The other said, "I don't know; what's it mean?" The first boy replied, "Were you ill when you came here, or have these blighters done it?" Before I came to this House one of my duties as a trade union secretary was to take the responsibility for the administration of national health insurance in a small district. I never received a certificate from a person who was in middle life which said that he was entitled to disablement benefit without feeling that the certificate itself was a sort of deferred death certificate. So very seldom do the people who come under our national health insurance disablement schemes recover. In the field of medical cases—asthmatic, bronchial and cardiac cases, and rheumatism in all its forms—these reveal the need for research and for that specialisation which has already taken place in the case of fractures. Our experience in dealing with those who are suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis gives us hope, too, in dealing with this problem, which covers a large number of disablement cases. The experience we have gained at places like Papworth shows that under medical supervision, with the doctor determining the number of the hours the individual shall work, undoubtedly that work under supervision can aid recovery in many cases. That is one of the primary reasons for something, to which I shall come later, for which we are asking in this Bill.
Another section of the disabled community who have always won the sympathy and the help of our people are the blind. I remember when I first went to work, for the princely sum of 2s. 3d., that on pay-day there would be a man at the door wanting a copper of that 2s. 3d. because he was blind.
No, 2s. 3d. per week. We have travelled a long way since then, and a gradual consciousness of what should be done for the care of the blind has grown up. During the war we have learned many things which we did not know or refused to acknowledge previously. Many local committees upon which I have sat appear to have developed the brush-making or basket-making consciousness in caring of the blind. The only idea at the back of their heads—and I must plead guilty to being one of them for many years—was that the blind could be taught to make baskets or to make brushes. During this war, owing more than anything else perhaps to our need of man-power, questions were asked about what the blind could do. Out of 11,000 people who were interviewed in the first instance it was found that 800 were capable of being trained for jobs other than those which they had done before. In no less than 27 categories of engineering the blind are being used to-day. One employer who was anxious to get labour came begging to one of our employment exchanges. He said "The job is not much, as a matter of fact I could do it with my eyes shut." "Very well" said the exchange manager, "try one or two blind persons." The employer was sceptical. He took two at first, then increased the number to five, and to-day 27 are doing that job, and it is exclusively a blind person's job. What can be done under the stress of war we believe—and it is emphasised in the provisions we are seeking to make to-day—can be done in peace. The blind, who hitherto have been regarded as subject to limitations in the way of training, are to have further opportunities granted to them.
Another section of the disabled who do not receive much sympathy, I am afraid, are deaf people. Deafness can be and often is a great disability. How to overcome it will need a great deal of research, but that ought to be undertaken, among other things, to prevent the exploitation of the deaf, who seek any method of relieving their disability. One way which I suggest, as it is suggested in the Report, is by the development of lip reading. In my early days, owing to the noise in the mill in which I worked, I was compelled to send and receive messages by lip reading, and I can testify to the value of it. It has its advantages in more respects than one. For the benefit of hon. Mem- bers opposite, I would say that anyone who has been brought up in a weaving shed has little difficulty in seeing—not hearing—what his opposite number across the Floor of the House is saying to his party when the comments are not just what they ought to be.
Then there are the cases of neurosis and psychosis, probably the most difficult of all. Though we have gone a long way in our study of the problems of these diseases, we still have a long way to go. What has been discovered at places like that at Leatherhead run by the War Services Welfare Society has demonstrated unquestionably that, in the right atmosphere and with careful and proper treatment, it is possible for the nerve-shattered to live a reasonably normal life. Mental cases are always difficult. I have never been able to understand how it was that in this country mental disease has carried with it a sort of stigma, but it has. I see no stigma. There ought to be no stigma attaching to the individual who is suffering from mental illness any more than there is in the case of the individual suffering from an ordinary bodily illness, and I hope that our efforts to deal with this problem will bring new hope to a section of the community who have hitherto had little hope held out to them. Then there are the great number of industrial diseases, which account for so much disablement. They should be specially kept in mind. Research into the causes of them, in order to prevent them, may be just as important as the rehabilitation and resettlement of the victims of those diseases. The progress we are making in all these directions and the difficulties we have overcome reveal more clearly than anything else the need for this Bill.
What is it we are proposing to do? The Bill is based upon the principle that disability is a handicap, not a barrier, to employment, and that the great majority of people ordinarily regarded as disabled are capable of useful and productive work. The handicap varies both in its nature and in its extent with every individual, and this variation does not arise solely from the disability. Other factors, such as character, intelligence, age and experience, are often more important than the disablement itself in determining capacity. There is need, therefore, to consider what the disabled persons can do rather than what they cannot do, and so, on that basis to create the greatest possible opportunity for the disabled to take their places in the ordinary economic life of the country.
The proposals of the Bill are designed with this object in mind. The Tomlinson Committee summarised the position in paragraph 9 of their Report in the following terms:
The only satisfactory form of resettlement for a disabled person is employment which he can take and keep on his merits as a worker, in normal competition with his fellows. The chief and continuous aim of a resettlement scheme must be to secure such employment for the greatest possible number of the total group of persons classified as disabled; and the Committee believe that the realization of this aim is practicable for the majority of the total.
That is the important part.
In a highly industrialized country such as Britain, the number of separate occupations is so large and their demand on physical activity is so varied that it is possible to find occupations within the physical capacity of all save a small minority of the disabled.
War-time experience has confirmed this view. The Bill, while based substantially on those recommendations, contains provisions of a permanent character, to come into operation as soon as possible after the end of the war. It is no part of the Bill to make provision for medical rehabilitation, which is part of a comprehensive medical service and is being developed in that connection. The Bill deals with such phases of rehabilitation and resettlement as are necessary in addition to medical treatment.
The proposals may, I suggest, be divided under three main heads: First, courses of industrial rehabilitation and vocational training to assist those whose disability prevents or handicaps them from returning to their normal occupation or undertaking some other form of satisfactory employment. The vocational training courses are to enable disabled persons to learn a new occupation which is suited to their disability and which makes full use of their capacity. This is needed. It will enable them to be satisfactorily settled. Industrial rehabilitation courses are for conditioning or toning up disabled persons who do not require further active medical treatment so as to make them fit to resume employment or to have a vocational training course, as the case may be.
The second is a statutory obligation upon employers, designed to assist disabled per- sons with or without previous training to get employment in the ordinary field of industry or commerce and to provide some measure of security in that employment. The third head is the creation of special facilities for the minority whose disablement prevents them permanently, or for a substantial period, obtaining employment of the ordinary kind and who require some shelter from the strain of competitive conditions. The first of these proposals is covered by Clauses 2 to 5 of the Bill. The second, dealing with the statutory obligations upon employers is covered by Clauses 6 to 14, and the third by Clause 15. The remaining Clauses of the Bill, 1 and 16 to 32, deal with definition, administration, and application.
Now a word as to the scope of the Bill. In Clause 1 will be found a definition of disablement. I suggest that disablement involves the community in a double loss. It reduces productive capacity, and it involves expense in maintenance and remedial services. From this point of view alone, leaving the human aspect out of account, the restoration of the disabled to productive employment is an economic advantage. A permanent scheme should, therefore, be comprehensive and should provide for all forms of disablement which constitute an economic handicap. The war has intensified the problem in the Fighting Services and in the civilian population. Let us not forget that peace has its casualties no less than war. The Bill is, therefore, not directed solely towards the war problem. It is intended to be a permanent addition to the country's social services. The wide range of the Bill is apparent from Clause 1, which defines in the broadest sense the terms "disabled person" and "disablement." It is necessary to exclude minor disablements which do not affect employability, and the Clause defines disablement as something that constitutes a substantial handicap. For the purpose of vocational training and industrial rehabilitation this definition is sufficient. For the employment provision, something more is required, and this will be found in Clause 7, which contains the additional condition that disablement must be such as is likely to continue for six months. The definition in Clause 1, governs the whole of the Bill and, with the addition in Clause 7, determines its scope.
Now I come to a question which has caused some little heartburning, and that is the question of preference for service or other war disablement. Eligibility under the Bill is determined by the fact of disablement, without regard to its cause, and therefore no distinction is made between those who have suffered disablement in the Armed Forces and those whose disability is due to industrial or other accident. This is the right principle for a new social service, designed to meet a permanent peace-time problem. Furthermore, in the circumstances of this war, it is not easy to find a satisfactory definition of war service or war disablement. Any attempt is bound to raise invidious comparisons between the value of different contributions to the war effort. The hardships and dangers of war have not been limited to those in uniform. Many civilians are also in the front line, and certain categories of them could not be left out of any preference that might be applied. The national obligation to the war disabled is clear and unmistakable, and the Government believe that it will be fully discharged under the proposals of the Bill.
The Bill is designed to enable war disabled persons, like other disabled persons, to take their place in the economic life of the community and, with such aid as the Bill provides, to hold that place on their merits as workers. If the Government had any fear that the war disabled could not be adequately helped by this scheme, they would have proposed special provision for them, but the Government believe that the Bill will make satisfactory provisions for all the disabled. If that can be achieved, there will be no need for preference for any one group. The special claims of the war disabled will be kept constantly in mind, and there will be no hesitation in introducing such measures as may be necessary to ensure that their needs are first met, if, contrary to expectations, the needs of all are not adequately met. Now with regard to vocational training and industrial rehabilitation, dealt with in Clauses 2 to 5, not all disablements prevent the return to the previous job or to useful employment, but there are many that do. This is particularly true among ex-Service men and women whose Service experience has given them a new outlook on life. For those disabled through industrial or other accidents a complete change of occupation may constitute their best chance of making a fresh start. Without this there is a danger that they will drift into a second-rate occupation in their old industry.
Any scheme of rehabilitation for the disabled must include full facilities for vocational training. The importance of training is that it can be directed towards an occupation that is suited to the disability. Industry can and should provide much of its own training, but the task cannot be left to chance. As a matter of fact industry is already in many instances providing this training, the provision of which we are now seeking to make in addition in other ways. The practicability of training when organised on proper lines was shown on a small scale after the last war and in the interval between the two wars. The experience of this war, both in the munitions scheme and in the interim scheme, has proved the value of vocational training, and for the disabled this must be developed on broader lines than have hitherto been possible. The Report to which I have referred emphasises the need for the closest co-operation between the Ministry of Labour, as the Department principally responsible for the training, and employers and workers. It is unnecessary to make special provision for this in the Bill, but it is the Minister's intention to apply in the administration of the training provision the principles set out in that Report, and the co-operation of industry is confidently looked for in giving to persons who have passed an accepted training course full recognition along with other workers. The other kind of course for which provision is made in this part of the Bill is the industrial rehabilitation course. These are designed, may I repeat, to follow up medical rehabilitation where something more is required to complete the restoration of physical fitness. This must be done in many instances before return to work or before entering upon a vocational training course is really possible. These facilities are provided by Clauses 2 to 5 of the Bill.
Now a word as to the size of the problem. In Clauses 6 to 8 hon. Members will find the means whereby it is intended to set up a register. It is not possible to make even an approximate estimate of the present number of disabled persons who will qualify under the Bill. The number at the end of the war is still more uncertain. Further, there is no information as to the different types of disability and the extent of their handicap to employment. Proposals in the Bill depend on the collection of detailed information of this kind, and it is therefore proposed to set up a register for the purpose. The register will be formed by applications from disabled people who wish to claim the benefits provided by the Bill. The decision on registration will be made by the Minister, but in doubtful cases he will have the advice of a representative district committee. It is a condition of registration that the individual should not only be substantially handicapped by his disability in obtaining employment, as in Clause 1, but that the disability is likely to continue for at least six months. The period of registration will be determined on the facts of each case but in order to prevent prejudice to an applicant whose registration would otherwise terminate in the course of a period of employment, registration will be continued for as long as he remains with that employer. Special provision is made for the disability pensioners from the 1914–18 war who have for so long enjoyed the protection of the King's Roll. All such men who are still in receipt of pensions can be registered without formal application.
No, I cannot give that, but the hon. Member must know that, for what it has been worth, the protection of the King's Roll has been afforded to these people, and in any legislation now contemplated I cannot see the House of Commons taking away the protection which was there from the people who have had it. Registration is an essential feature of the scheme upon which depends the working of the later provisions in the Bill for the quota, for designated employment and also for employment under special conditions. Without registration it would be impossible to visualise either the size or nature of the problem with which we were dealing. It has been suggested that registration under this proposal will label a man and will have the effect of putting the disabled into a class apart from others. There is no reason why this should be a consequence. A man will be given a certificate of registration so that he can produce it to a prospective employer and so that he will count for the proposed quota, but, apart from this, registration will not constitute a label any more than the holding of a pensions book already does.
With regard to the quota scheme in ordinary employment, after the last war the King's Roll scheme was devised to assist disabled ex-Servicemen to obtain and keep employment. This was a voluntary scheme, and it achieved a considerable measure of success, but it did not cover the whole of the employment field and its results were not evenly spread. Yesterday morning I received a letter from the Chairman of the Sir John Priest-man Hospital for the Disabled which has been established at Finchale Abbey, near Durham. The Chairman was formerly a Member of this House. He wrote to tell me of their experience in the hospital itself, which has only been established some few months. He said in his letter:
As an old Parliamentarian, the information will be of use if you are speaking on the Second Reading.
This is the interesting thing to me, at any rate in connection with the question of the King's Roll and its substitution by a quota: there are the names of seven men who are now being trained in this hospital as gardeners. He gives the names of the men. They are all ex-Servicemen of the 1914–18 war, and their average employment from 1926 to 1943 was three and a half months each. [Interruption.] No, three and a half months in the whole of the 17 years. In spite of the advantages of the King's Roll, it has not worked as we visualised it; and the Government have come to the conclusion that for a permanent service, covering the whole of the disabled, the voluntary method will not suffice, and that statutory compulsion is necessary. The Bill imposes a general obligation on employers to employ a specified quota of persons registered as disabled, and, although failure to do that will not itself constitute an offence, it is hoped that employers will look upon it as a duty which they should do their best to discharge, in the national interest. An offence against the quota provision will arise only in connection with the engagement of new workers, or the discharge without reasonable cause of existing employees who are registered, at times when
the employee is below his quota or in circumstances which will put him in that position. This will prevent employers having to turn out their existing workers in order to make room for disabled persons—a very invidious process. The provision applies only to the ordinary turnover of labour, which is, of course, very considerable. The provision applies to all employers of 25 or more employees, and special provision is made to safeguard the position of persons with reinstatement rights, either under Statute or otherwise. The quota will be on the basis of a percentage of disabled workers to the total number of employees, and there will be special percentages for particular classes of trades or employers. The percentages will be fixed after consultation with both sides in industry, and there is ample provision for safeguards to meet exceptional circumstances. There will be no attempt to force an employer to accept a registered person who is not suited to fill a particular vacancy, and where there is no registered person available, a permit for the engagement of a non-registered person will be issued.
Let me say a word about designated employment, under Clause 12. This proposal, which is permissive only, is a useful supplement to the quota provision, but it is not fundamental to the general scheme. It provides for certain employments to be designated for the exclusive benefit, as vacancies occur, of registered disabled persons. It is intended to apply to certain types of employment which, although ordinarily undertaken by able-bodied persons, can be done efficiently by certain groups of disabled persons. The Tomlinson Report contemplated for this purpose a small number of employments, mostly of minor importance and requiring little skill. It mentioned, for example, lift operators, messengers, etc. But it may be possible, in the light of experience, to cover other employments of a higher grade. The provision will require careful administration, and it is proposed that it shall be brought into force only after full consultation with both sides in industry. The prohibition is not upon the employment of able-bodied persons in the designated employments, but only upon the engagement, as vacancies occur, of such persons after this Section of the Act comes into operation. There will be no interference with existing employees in employments of this kind.
It is provided that persons employed in designated employment shall be excluded from the quota provisions, because an employer who happened to have an unusual number of designated employments in his establishment might be able to fulfil his quota obligation by the employment of disabled persons in such employment, and thus escape his duty for the employment of registered persons elsewhere in his establishment. This is a necessary provision, because of the underlying assumption that the designated employments can be undertaken with full efficiency by disabled persons selected for the purpose.
With regard to employment under special conditions, foreshadowed in Clause 15, despite all the efforts of medical science and despite special measures for rehabilitation, there is bound to be a certain number among the disabled whose disability is such as to prevent their finding a place in ordinary industrial activity. This number will be only a fraction of the total, and the disability may not be permanent, but it will be necessary to assist such people to get employment on their own account under conditions which protect them from the ordinary strain of competition. Provision should be made which will either assist them in getting ordinary employment in due course or constitute a permanent and useful livelihood. Under Clause 15, the Minister may provide special facilities for this purpose in two ways. One is by the employment of a non-profit-making company, under the Companies Act, 1929, and the other is through an association or body similarly constituted and recognised for the purpose. The Clause enables the Minister to give the necessary financial aid to either the company or the other body providing the facilities, and to the individuals who are benefiting thereby. The facilities will be limited to persons who are registered under the Act.
Yes; all employers under whatever guise. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Government?"] Yes, the Government also, as employers, are prepared to undertake everything that is imposed on other employers for this purpose—again, under whatever guise.
No, I think the effect of this upon superannuation can safely be left to be discussed when the Measure comes into operation. Those difficulties can be overcome.
A far-reaching scheme of this kind will not merely call for careful administration, but will call for the assistance and advice of people with experience in its many aspects. These include the Services, in connection with the special problem of disablement through service with His Majesty's Forces, the medical profession, organisations of employers and workers, and the societies and individuals who have interested themselves for many years in the disablement problem. The Bill provides for the establishment of a National Advisory Council to advise the Minister on the scheme as a whole, and for district committees both to advise and to undertake in their respective districts other duties specifically mentioned in the Bill. May I emphasise this fact that there is some provision in the Bill for retaining the interest and the good wishes of those people who have hitherto done what it is now proposed should be done by the State? Under the Schedule to the Bill the chairman and members of these bodies will be appointed by the Minister and will include, in addition to representatives of employers and workers in equal numbers, such number of other persons as the Minister may determine.
The committees will be directly associated with the employment exchange service, and with the aid of panels which may be set up for such purpose, will cover such areas as may be found to be convenient. The King's Roll scheme together with its National Council will continue in existence until the new scheme has begun to function, and the position will then be, reviewed. It is hoped to appoint to the new Council and committees some of the members of the King's Roll Council and its committees in order to preserve continuity and to take advantage of their special experience.
Clauses 21 and 22 deal with the question of Northern Ireland and the date of operation. The Bill will not apply to Northern Ireland, but provision is made in Clause 21 for the establishment in Northern Ireland, should that Government see fit, of a scheme on similar lines to that proposed for Great Britain and for the two schemes to work in co-operation.
Is this Bill to apply to Wales, which it does not mention? I do not know whether it is an oversight, but Scotland, England and Northern Ireland are specifically mentioned in the Bill, and Wales is not mentioned. May I ask whether it is intended that the Bill shall apply to Wales and, if so, why is Wales not mentioned in the Bill?
I cannot for the life of me answer the question as to why Wales is not mentioned, but it is not only assumed that it applies to Wales, it is taken for granted, and I would have thought, in view of some of the Clauses, that it had specific reference to dealing with the problems of Wales. In any case it means the whole of Great Britain apart from Northern Ireland. It will probably not be desirable to bring the full scheme of the Bill into operation from any given date. Certain of its provisions, in particular the register, should start well in advance of others. Clause 22 of the Bill provides, therefore, that it should come into operation by Order in Council and that different days may be appointed for different purposes and different provisions.
I am sure that the House will not only give a Second Reading to this Measure, but that it will take pleasure in placing it upon the Statute Book. It is an attempt to do the right thing by the people who are deserving of right. In a gathering I attended some days ago a gentleman, speaking on the work of the Tomlinson Committee, said, "I have read your Report. I have looked through it again and again, and I cannot find a word of good will in it." I said, "Maybe the good will is between the lines of the Report, but perhaps you found something, which to me is more important than good will, and that is justice." We are doing no less than justice in seeking to make this particular provision, and I have great pleasure in moving that the Bill be now read a Second time.
May I ask the hon. Gentleman a question, because if there is not an answer to it I may feel obliged to move the rejection of the Bill on Second Reading? Under this Bill we of the engineering industry will be forced, under penalty of imprisonment, to employ disabled men in the industry. There are very few jobs except skilled jobs which are suitable for disabled men. If I, in carrying out the provisions of this Bill, train disabled men for skilled jobs in the engineering industry, I am liable to prosecution under the Restoration of Trade Practices Act and to be fined £50 in respect of each man for each day I employ him. Therefore, what is the position in the engineering trade? Are we to be impelled, under the threat of imprisonment, on the one hand, to employ these men, and under the threat of a fine of £50 a day under the Restoration of Trade Practices Act not to employ them? I want an answer, otherwise I must move the rejection of the Bill.
If the hon. Member will read the Bill, he will find that the proposals that are before the House do not conflict with the proposals he is speaking about in another Measure, and where they do so provision is made for them.
I am sure the House would like to congratulate the hon. Gentleman upon the speech with which he has just introduced this important Bill. He handled a very sombre subject with understanding and, I am glad to say, with some amount of humour, for which we wish to congratulate him. The Bill itself is founded upon a Report with which his name is associated, and every Member of the House who has read that Report will also wish to congratulate him upon it. It is not often that a Minister leaves his name so definitely attached to an important Report, and my hon. Friend can at least find satisfaction in the fact that there have been Cabinet Ministers who have passed through this House and have hardly left their footprints on the Parliamentary sands of time. He at any rate has his name attached for all time to a Bill which is going to affect profoundly the lives of millions of people in this country.
I find very great satisfaction in the fact that the Government have mobilised all the experience of both war and industry and have linked the soldier with industry in this matter of training and the finding of work. It has been my experience to serve on the King's Roll Committee for many years, and, while giving credit to many employers for good will, I do not think that anyone who has served on that Committee would say that it gave satisfactory results from the point of view of the disabled man. Indeed, at meeting after meeting some of the quietest and most moderate-minded men have been heard to express themselves on this subject in language which would scarcely be allowed in this House. In spite of the fact that thousands did get work by the percentage method employed under the King's Roll Scheme, the one thing which stood out was that as a method of getting work for the soldier alone, it failed to do what the House and the country wanted. Apart from that, I am pleased that the soldier is to be linked with the industrial worker, as well as with the children, in this great remedial, benevolent and just measure. After all, the bulk of the soldiers who come back will go into industry.
After the last war the Ministry of Pensions was just getting its experience, and one good thing about this Bill is that we have started during the war to do the job, instead of leaving it until after the war. I congratulate the Minister of Labour on taking time by the forelock in dealing with this matter. I remember when I was in a position of industrial responsibility at a mine and the question arose of providing work for men who had been shell shocked—I mean really shell shocked and I know the distinctions—and who were apparently incapable of work and men who had been badly wounded and could walk only with the aid of sticks. The manager of the colliery and I had a talk about getting these men into work. He said: "What is to be done with them?" He was most eager to do what he could for them, but they seemed to be incapable of work. Finally, we agreed that these men should go into work even if they did nothing for a week or two, just in order to get them back into the main human stream, and among their fellows again. One man who had been badly shell shocked was, within six months, hewing coal at the face and one who had to walk on sticks was able to perform quite difficult work within a few months.
The main point is to get the men back into the working habit along with their fellows. That is the foundation, I think, of Ministry of Pensions work and of all this kind of work apart from specific and specialised training. I suppose that people have been surprised at what is called nowadays "psychiastry" or something like that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Psychiatry."] I do not want to learn the word. As far as I can gather, the more skilled and the more educated we become, the more difficulty we have in finding a simple word for a simple thing. I apprehend that these gentlemen after the war will be coming to this House and talking about the Incorporated Society of something or other, and they will get away with it. All you want is understanding and sympathy and there is no skill about it, and I wish the War Office would call them just sensible fellows, instead of calling them by this queer name that is now applied to them.
As I say, I am pleased that the soldier is to be linked with the industrial worker. I know that the soldier submits himself to a grim life and a dangerous life which at certain periods has no comparison with industry, but there is another fact to be considered. Let any hon. Member look up the Statistical Abstract for any given number of peace years, and he will be staggered at the number who are injured in industry. I looked it up the other day for the period after the last war and I find that 20,000—a whole Army division—were killed in the mines alone, and as many others in the factories. You have also shipping and heavy industries like engineering and docks, and a large range of other industries. I should think it would be right to say that the totally and partially disabled in industry, between the two wars, amounted to hundreds of thousands. I would recommend anyone who seeks to contest this principle that the soldier and the industrial worker should be linked together under this Bill, to look at some of the statistics available in the Library. In the face of that evidence one must feel very humble. I should say also that the soldier himself will be very pleased and indeed proud to be linked with the children in this good work that is being done by the Ministry to-day.
I do not want to take up much time, because I know that many Members wish to speak on the Bill. But may I say that I am pleased to see that there is compulsion instead of the voluntary principle and that we are to have no more of this nonsense of begging and praying that people should be employed? It is a grim world in which we live and in which we shall be living after this war. Everybody knows that an employer is harassed and has his own difficulties. Everyone knows that it takes a strong man to get a job and that those who are under the handicap of disability have very little chance. So I am glad that we are to have the principle of compulsion and of quotas. I do not know whether the Ministry are quite sanguine about the operation even of the compulsory provisions. The modern worker has to face difficult things to-day. He has to have a medical examination. There are the insurance companies, and, from what I know of the operation of the law of compensation, particularly as applied to the worker partially disabled, I sometimes wish we could have a full day or two on insurance companies as applied to compensation premiums. It sometimes seems to me that in modern life there is a kind of devil which manages to turn our blessings into curses. It is, of course, necessary to be efficient, but that need for efficiency has a very grim effect upon great masses of workers who happen to be partially injured.
I met a friend of mine the other day limping down the road on a stick. I stopped the car and offered to take him with me, but he said, "No, I want to walk." He told me he had just missed death in an explosion in Yorkshire and had come back to Durham, but that he had lost two or three of his toes after a short while in Durham. I said to him, "I have seen you walking on this road," and he said, "Yes, I am exercising my foot, because I want to go back to work, but not on the partial side." The man was doing his own therapy—I think that is what they call it nowadays. I have a down on this kind of thing: the man not afraid of his accident, but of the fact that he was not likely to get back to work if he showed any sign of his accident.
What I am asking the Ministry is this: Are they quite sure that they will be able to baulk these insurance companies, to handle the question of medical examination, which I think is too frequent now, and, also, to deal with the situation of the penalties that are sometimes put upon a worker obtaining work as a result of the application of compensation conditions by the insurance companies? I want also to ask the Member one or two questions about training. I understand that the bulk of the local authorities, through the education committees and the various sections of local authorities, exercise, under the Blind Persons Act and that dealing with defective school-children, their rights of training, and that there is to be a kind of interweaving of the experience of the Ministry of Pensions, the Ministry of Labour and these local authorities, but that they are to be left to do the training themselves as in the past. What amount of co-operation is there going to be between the Government Departments and the local authorities? The Ministry of Pensions and the Ministry of Labour have an experience in training far beyond anything that the local authorities have, and I am speaking as one who respects local authorities very much indeed. Is this co-operation to be merely formal? I want to see the experience of these great authorities turned over to the local authorities and, indeed, the voluntary bodies, too, who have very little knowledge, I should say, of the vast improvements that have taken place. I want to see active co-operation.
My hon. Friend described some of these voluntary bodies as limiting themselves to basket making. They have been so limited by force of circumstances. Their experience is limited. Is the Ministry going to use this combined experience for the purpose of seeing that they are brought up to date in their training methods? Is the Ministry going to see that no lack of funds is allowed to interfere with efficient and effective training of those whom they serve? I would also like to ask what percentage, what quota, of workers will be employed. There is to be a quota—that was the statement, generally. We are very pleased that there is to be a quota, but what percentage of the workers employed is that quota to be? I think the House would like some information upon a matter of that kind, because we want to see just exactly what we are doing, and I expect the hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some information upon the matter while the Bill is going through its various stages.
It would ill become me, as I say, to take up much time to-day, because I know there are other Members who have specialised in this matter, and who have very great experience, who want to speak. It is a very tempting subject. I know it on the industrial side, and I know it on the side of the soldier, but I will content myself with saying that as far as we, on this side, are concerned, we have seldom had to consider a Bill to which we can give such wholehearted support, and we wish to congratulate the Government upon introducing it to-day. I think that the satisfaction which has been manifested in this House—there will be criticism too—will find deep expression throughout the country and that there will be general gratification that the Government are handling this matter before the war finishes. I think there is no subject which has caused the people of this country more heart-searching than the way in which the soldier was treated after the last war. There is no subject which has so moved people as the children who start life blind or deaf, or under some disability of that kind, and as to the great mass of industrial workers by whom we live in a material sense, the neglect of modern means and modern knowledge to rehabilitate them and bring them back into industry has not been to the credit of the country, to say the least of it. So on behalf of the party that I represent I have the very greatest pleasure in congratulating the Government on the Bill. It will be given an easy passage through the House as far as we are concerned. It is a very complicated Bill, and it will be necessary to examine its clauses, but we give the Government our congratulations and assure them of our enthusiastic support while the Bill is passing through its various stages.
I rise to give general support to the Second Reading. I think it has been most appropriate and generally acceptable to all that to the prime author of the Tomlinson Report has been entrusted the task of moving the Second Reading of the Bill founded on it. I, as I am sure all others did, thoroughly enjoyed the touches of humour with which he embellished the earlier part of his speech. I want to support the Bill from the point of view of the employer. He is sometimes referred to a little mercilessly on the benches opposite. There are occasions when the criticism may be deserved, but there are many others on which I know from my long experience that such criticisms are but little merited. But here is a prime opportunity for employers to render service. Indeed it is only those who are responsible for employment who are in a position to render the major services for which the Bill, when it becomes an Act, will call. I would ask that it should be made reasonably flexible in its application. I did not agree with what I think was at the back of the mind of the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson), who intervened just now, but it is true that some of the heavy industries, such as iron and steel, rolling mills, and such like, would find it difficult to employ as many disabled men as those engaged in the lighter engineering industries might find it possible to do, and there must, I think, in fairness be discrimination.
There is a very large body of opinion which, rightly or wrongly, has felt that preference should be given to those who have suffered in the Fighting Services, in the Merchant Navy, in the A.R.P. services and so on, and we may to some extent be reassured by what the Minister has said that as far as possible preference would be given to those specific cases, but in the course of our proceedings it may be necessary to ask for a firmer assurance in that matter than we have so far had. None of us would diminish our sympathy for a moment with those who have been disabled through other causes, and, if it is possible for industry to absorb the lot—we do not know what the quantity may be—I am sure employers would be only too glad to play their part, but, when all is said and done, the greatest debt that we owe is to those by whose self-sacrifice we are enabled to discuss our affairs in this House at the present time, and we should never forget that.
Some doubts have been expressed as to how these disabled men and women, when reinstated in industry, are to be remunerated. I understand that wage arrangements are, as is customary, to be left to negotiation between employers and the trade unions concerned. The allegation has been made—I think it is ill-founded—that those not disabled, but in their full vigour and strength, may resent it if they think that those less capable by physical disability are getting what they consider a higher rate compared with their own. But I believe their colleagues in the workshops will be as anxious to help the disabled as will the employers or anyone else, so I do not attach too much importance to that query, which I know has been raised.
I would also ask that special consideration should be given to those industries whose production is mainly for export. Te home industries, which are far more sheltered, can take care of themselves, but it is vitally important to the country, and not least in the interests of the workers themselves, that every effort should be made to expand our export trade as rapidly as possible after the war, and that will, as ever, depend largely upon the cost at which we can afford to sell overseas in competition with other countries. We do not know yet how fierce, or how much fiercer, the competition will be that we may have to face as compared with our past experience, but no one doubts for a moment the tremendous importance of recovering our export trade and largely expanding it, and therefore nothing should be done to make it more difficult to compete with other countries for overseas markets. I hope those responsible for the Bill, more particularly those responsible for its administration, will keep that very important point in mind.
The Bill provides for the training and employment, where practicable, of those of 16 years of age and upwards. That is the bottom limit. I am wondering about the top limit. Are disabled men of 55 and 60 to go into training? It may not be a substantial point, but it has occurred to me that there must be some top as well as bottom limit within which the Bill is to operate.
I do not attach much importance to it, but I should like to ask if men above 50 or 55 or 60 are to be trained. A man of that age may feel as young and as fit as I do at my time of life. I am a good deal older than that, but I feel 20 years younger than in fact I am, and I know that there are many who, although they grow old, remain physically young and fit.
We all hope that, in these arrangements for training the disabled, jobs will ultimately be found available for them. Is there to be any measure of compulsion upon them to accept suitable work? I ask the question not because I particularly desire compulsion. I hate it in most cases and would much rather see things done voluntarily, but it is in the best interests of the trained disabled person himself or herself that he should take the occupation, because there is nothing that keeps one's mind off one's physical infirmities than an occupation which you can thoroughly well do and feel that you are doing something really useful in life and making your contribution to the general welfare. I should like to know what is in the mind of the Government on that point.
The Department which will be responsible for the administration of the Bill when it becomes an Act are to consult with advisory councils and bodies. I want to make this plea. I suppose the association which has the greatest number of branches throughout the country is, perhaps, the British chambers of commerce. They are the most representative body in the big towns and cities. They contain representatives of large industries which may not be and indeed are not incorporated in other associations, such as the F.B.I., the Confederation of Employers and so on. Chambers of commerce include, for instance, insurance, banking, merchanting, and various other industrial activities in which there is large employment. Most of the chambers of commerce of which I have had experience in the provinces have important industries in the localities represented on these bodies, and I am sure that they would be of the greatest assistance if the Minister would be pleased to indicate that they were one of the representative associations which he proposes to consult.
I think this Bill will bring great hope to those who have suffered to defend this country in its great time of crisis. I remember having to go to France in March, 1918, on the business of the Ministry of Munitions, and while I was there for a few days I saw thousands of wounded men in the hospitals some of which were temporary and hurriedly brought into requisition because of the tremendous casualties that followed the March push. I went round one or two of the hospitals at the invitation of some of the surgeons. When I was asked whether I could face it, I said that I doubted whether I could bear to see some of the things which I knew I should see, because when I was in works in my younger days it nearly made me faint if I saw a man lose his finger. When I went to the wards and saw what these fellows could stand, disabled as they were, I said to myself, "You must be a first-class coward, being thoroughly fit and strong yourself, if you cannot face these things as bravely as the men do." What is uppermost in my mind was the ticketing of the stretchers of the men who had been thoroughly examined by the doctors and surgeons. Some were for "Blighty." You did not need to read the labels to know that; you could see it on the smiling faces of the men themselves. They were going home. Others were to remain in hospital. The third lot—and you could tell it from the frightened look on their faces—were for the operating theatre. This Bill will enable such men to say to themselves, "There is now some hope for my future. I know when I get back, even though I lose a leg or an arm or an eye, there is now provision to enable me to get back to useful employment." As the Minister rightly said, I believe that this Bill will do more good to hasten the recuperation of men in hospitals than all the skill of doctors and surgeons. Therefore, I commend the Bill to the House. It will have to go through criticism, and Amendments will be moved from one quarter and another, but on general grounds I commend it to the House and hope it will receive unanimous support.
My main object in rising is to welcome this Bill very cordially on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends. It is an essential and important contribution to any scheme of decent living when the war comes to an end. I want to congratulate my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary on seeing an important piece of work which he has done in recent years brought to fruition. It is a remarkable thing that in war-time the pace of action increases, but it is a very rare thing for a Departmental Committee or any other Government machine to report and have its work carried into law so quickly. Twelve years ago I spent the whole summer sitting on a committee investigating private schools. The inquiry reported in 1931. It will be 1943 or 1944 before the proposals are actually put before Parliament for action in a concrete form. I congratulate my hon. Friend, not only upon the work which he has done, but on the fact that it has come to fruition so quickly. It may be that his Ministry, having moved from their quarters in Whitehall to new premises, have not, owing to the difficulty of obtaining material and other causes, any pigeon holes in his Department. Whatever the cause may be, the whole House is glad that this important piece of work has been brought to us so promptly.
It is a very proper Bill. It involves the provision that total war calls for total responsibility towards all who have suffered in the war. It is a responsibility for the whole community, and in any scheme for a proper life in this country and self-respect for those who have been injured, a provision of this kind is necessary. If there is anything remarkable in this Bill, it is that in this day of grace Clause 18 and the other penal and enforcement Clauses should have been necessary at all. I hope that the standard of conduct which will develop in this country before long will be of such a nature that when we have Bills of this kind, it will be regarded as a common task in which we can all stand together to carry them out, and the Parliamentary draftsman will not have to exercise his ingenuity on penalties for what is a common duty which we all ought to carry out. I have looked at the Bill from the point of view referred to particularly by the hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley). It is a very comprehensive Measure, and that is its merit. It provides that no distinction should be drawn between those who have suffered from enemy action in any sphere. Administratively the Bill presents great problems. It will, however, be met with good will on all sides, and in the confidence thus created we know that the difficulties will be solved. Anyone with experience in the administration of the old King's Roll scheme will be familiar with the difficulties. There is no provision in this Bill for what may be called the geographical difficulties. What impresses me, however, is that that aspect has been so well considered that there is sufficient flexibility to enable us with experience to deal with all the difficulties that will arise. If that is found not to be so, arrangements can be made in Commit- tee to make such adjustments as are necessary.
From such experience as I have had and from such studies as I have been able to give to the Bill I have been struck with the fact that it is so comprehensive and flexible as to enable difficulties of all kinds to be dealt with. I am glad that my hon. Friend and others made reference to the imponderable values which will emerge. There is no doubt that the knowledge that there is a possibility of independence and a full and useful life is probably more important and more valuable in the remedial process than anything else that can be done. Hopelessness and knowing that there is nothing before one is a fatal handicap to the work of the physician. With regard to rehabilitation, I do not want to make any criticism of the Bill, and I have no criticism to make of those who preceded me, but I am not sure that I see eye to eye with my hon. Friend who spoke from the Labour Benches when he referred to psychiatrists. He seemed to depreciate a profession which is carrying on very valuable work.
At any rate, valuable work is being done by them, and I hope they will continue to be employed in doing it. The Bill is so comprehensive that my hon. Friend even assured us that a thief would not be debarred from going back to his occupation.
It is a strong feature of the Bill that no-one is excluded, and I am particularly glad to note that provision is being made to include those who are disabled by blindness. A great deal of valuable work has been done and is being done on behalf of the blind by large numbers of bodies in different parts of the country. It would have been a pity if they had not been included. If they had not, when the proposals we are considering are as successful as we intend to make them, it would not have been long before there would have been an irresistible demand for the blind to be included.
When we, as we are doing in the House now from time to time, are considering proposals for making a decent scheme of living in this country, whether it is in connection with social security or with these proposals for rehabilitation, or with the many other plans which come before us, I am struck all the time with the fact that they should not be regarded in isolation. So much of our difficulties in legislation, so much of the defects in our national organization, are due to the fact that our efforts have been too departmentalised and compartmentalised. I hope that the House of Commons, in the great tasks on which it has embarked, painful and difficult as they will be, will regard them as a whole task, as a complete job. In that connection we must inevitably remember that the task which we are setting before us under this Bill will be simplified and aided enormously it we set our hearts on establishing and building up a system of full employment. So many of the things we are doing will depend for their success on our success in that. While I congratulate my hon. friend on his opportunity, of which he has availed himself so well, I hope that we shall turn our minds to this Bill, both here and in our spheres outside the House, and do our utmost to make it a success.
I must at the outset associate myself with the congratulations that have been offered to my hon. Friend upon the manner and skill with which he submitted this Bill for a Second Reading. It was no small achievement to light up this gloomy subject with the lighter touches and the little glimpses of humour that he was able to throw into the illustrative parts of his speech. But congratulations can be the more seriously offered to my hon. Friend because it is no small achievement in Parliamentary life to begin this work by the issue of a Report so expeditiously presented, a Report made very clear and helpful to those who read it, and then—I daresay to his own little surprise—to find himself submitting a fairly long Bill covering almost every aspect of the matter with which the Report dealt and with every prospect of that Bill being unanimously carried. I have never known the like of it, and therefore congratulations may with double earnestness be offered both to the Minister and to his Ministry upon a notable achievement.
While offering congratulations, I would like to say with what pleasure I heard the hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) support this Bill. The spirit and terms of his speech exactly matched the mood in which a great human proposal of this character ought to be approached. I am certain that the real difficulties which the hon. Member pointed out, particularly with regard to our export trade, can be overcome through the medium of many agencies, and of one in particular, and that is the Advisory Committee which this Bill proposes. The spirit of the speech of the hon. Member for Stockport indicates that employers generally are willing to accept the additional obligations which this Measure imposes upon them. Indeed, they have reached a point, I believe, where they recognise that to be an employer is to incur a social function as well as an industrial obligation and duty. There is scarcely any Measure worth having now which does not make a contribution to the social as well as the industrial life of the people. I heard with very great pleasure what was said about the unhappy deaf in this country. Their disability is invisible; it evokes little or no sympathy; people do not know of it and they can scarcely believe that it is so severe a handicap as it really is. I have known men who knew their subject to say that, if they had a choice between blindness and deafness, they would prefer to retain their hearing; but that is a question into which I need not go.
The first justification for this Measure may be found in the fact that what we have tried to do along the voluntary path has not wholly failed, though it still has failed to cover anything like completely the ground covered in this Bill. Many of us attended in a room upstairs some months ago a demonstration by men, women and girls, disabled in various ways and from one cause or another, who were bereft of their full capacity to go on earning their living. I never had deeper feelings of sympathy with their handicap than were evoked by that fine demonstration, which was more convincing than any words could possibly be. We saw the proof of what could be attained by instruction, by training and by all the endeavours that good folk are making. I think my hon. Friend had the fullest justification in pointing out that this Bill is based upon justice. The first duty of alt legislators should not be so much the turning of words into law as grounding the law upon justice, making it a proof and example of justice.
We manifest our justice in full measure in this instance because what is being done concerns the most needy of our population. They have done their duty: I am thinking particularly of the men and women in the Forces, but we must not separate them too widely from those who are the victims of industrial service. Is there, then, any gratitude in law? If we want an outlet for our feelings this Bill affords an opportunity gratefully to acknowledge the services of these people by preparing for their future. The Labour Ministry may safely feel that it is building better than it now knows, for a very large proportion of the disabled members of our community will in future years be able, with dignity and without their feelings being impaired by the taint of charity, to turn to the law for the full satisfaction of their rights. Time was, as I am sure my hon. Friend opposite would acknowledge, when to a very great extent, though I will not say solely, employers were sustained by the view that they had a perfect right to do what they liked with their own. That doctrine is no longer a support for the employers of this country; indeed, in the main, they do not proceed upon any such selfish lines, and should they try to do so, the law picks them up very quickly and reminds them of their obligations. I am thinking now especially of how splendidly a very large number of employers behave in the matter of welfare work in factories and workshops. It is there where the finest forms of first-aid can quickly be given. I have seen many instances of what has been done, and I have come away from some of those factories feeling that, no matter what the social system or political life of the country, we could scarcely go further than many employers have done in providing for the well-being of the masses of their employees. It may be true, and I hope it is, that it pays them to do it, but, whatever the motive, really fine service has been done in recent days.
I can remember when, after the Boer War and lesser conflicts, men were sent home to us on crutches with a very small pension in their pocket and were left to look after themselves for the rest of their dreary days. Some of them got jobs as messengers, commissionaires or as handy men of one sort or another, but they took their chance. The State acknowledged no obligation, they had taken the shilling and faced the risk and come home. The world admired what they had done but then passed by on the other side. There are better prospects for the future.
I read a speech delivered two days ago in another place by the Noble Lord the Minister for Reconstruction in which, though he warned us of the possibilities of poverty in the years following the war, he said that at least in one thing we would be rich. We should be rich in reputation. That is perfectly true, and all of us may with pride share in the sense of enrichment as a result of what this country as a single unit has done in the world war. But the lame and the blind cannot live on reputation. However great be the glory, however great be the record of a country, that will not pay the rent; therefore we must see that some of the substance, as well as some of the shadow of the results, may be placed at the feet of those who have done so much to earn it. I do not think of the next war, though I have read a little of what other men have said about the possibilities of one. That is really going into the unknown, and we must trust to those who make the peace to avoid the risks of another war; but if there be another war I imagine it will be for the same reason that this is now being fought, and that is because there is in the world a conflict upon the question of how countries shall be governed. Will it be through the medium of democracy or through the agency of the untrammelled dictator, who is lifted even above the law and not merely on a level with the law, who has been raised, as Hitler has been raised, above the law itself. In any struggle where the contest is between freedom and slavery, I think we may trust this country to do its part.
The main purpose of this Bill is to help the man who can help himself only a little to lift himself to a level of normal life with his fellows. He cannot do it completely, but he can go far to raising himself to that level, and as my hon. Friend the Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Graham White) said, there is a very great deal in feeling a sense of dignity, a sense of personal pride such as every one feels in earning his own living or in going a long way towards doing so. To be self-supporting is to have a condition of independence and pride of outlook which exceeds in value even money itself. If that can be achieved in anything like good measure this Bill will have attained its principal purpose.
The blind have been referred to. I can recall, among my earliest and most feeble efforts when I was but a youth, taking some part in the work then being occasionally done to aid the blind in a few Lancashire towns by organising little efforts to help them to make baskets and to sell things in the street. Their supporters have grown into a very fine institution, with a sum total of human service that has as good a record as the best record in any part of the country. While institutions have done much, individuals have a great deal to their credit. One of them, the hon. and gallant Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser), a most notable Member of this House, has done a very great deal of good work indeed, under this heading. I remember reading that most moving and serviceable book not merely touching the position of the blind but referring to many other disabled people. In that book we find particularly what, from personal experience, can be written as to the value of assistance of this sort in the case of the blind.
So long as the blind man feels that he is living an average normal life, so long will he be normal—rowing, dancing, talking, walking and going to amusements such as theatres, concerts and lectures. In all those things his handicap is felt scarcely at all after the first bitter realisation of his blindness. So long as he can indulge in the things in which other men indulge, so long will he remain normal among other normal men. The greatest danger which besets him is that of being made to think too seriously and too long about his blindness, but that is not a life condition applying only to the blind. It applies to other disabilities if they are not properly covered by a law of this kind. They tend to leave a man in a state of isolation. He is not one of us. The main purpose of the Bill is to make a man who is disabled one of the common mass of wage earners in the various workshops of the country.
These are days in which representative men and people of great personal authority are talking about security, and very rightly so. Indeed, it is one of the objects for which this great war is being fought I suppose that never in the history of the world has a war been fought for such purposes as this, if we take the purposes as they are proclaimed. How can security be given to the man who lacks an arm, a leg, or an eye? How can you let that man take his chance in competition with the rest of those who are in full possession of their powers? I am glad to know that it will be an object of the Bill not merely to assist those who are obviously crippled but to help those who are deaf, or even may be in some degree mentally afflicted and on that account are not equal in getting a fair chance with their fellows in this life of struggle and competition. The Bill is a proposal founded, in my view, in justice, and resting upon the finest human doctrines, and it is a pleasure to think when one says a word in its support that it will probably receive the unanimous support of the House.
I join with the right hon. Gentleman opposite and previous speakers in offering my congratulations to the Parliamentary Secretary for one of the most admirably clear and comprehensive speeches I have heard in this House for many years. I congratulate him and the Minister himself on the rapidity with which the Report of the Committee over which the Parliamentary Secretary presided has been embodied in legislation. I am sure that the whole House approves the sentiments expressed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite and I am particularly grateful to him for acknowledging the extent to which employers have made their contribution to the welfare of their work-people in every branch of enterprise in the country.
I am grateful too for the reference made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the work which is being done in Birmingham at what was the Queen's Hospital but is now known as the Accident Hospital, to which he did us the honour to pay a visit some time ago. That hospital is giving a lead in the rehabilitation and restoration of injured and wounded men to make them fit for industry, and their work should be known throughout the length and breadth of the land. It is a particularly ambitious venture, which has received substantial support, and the success of its experiments has been remarkable. What has happened is that the Accident Hospital, under admirable control and direction, is in contact with various works, and as the process of restoration to working capacity goes on in the hospital, the men are gradually brought back into contact with the work in which they were engaged in the particular factory before their injury. Even before full capacity is reached, a man may be back at work, and his work may go on side by side with the work of restoration. I commend the work which is being done in that respect in that hospital, and I think that the great physicians of the country might very profitably visit it.
In my constituency is an institution known as the Haigh Home. It bears testimony to the patience and endurance and the spirit of sacrifice over the last quarter of a century of the poor people who are provided for in that institution, and any Measure introduced into this House which helped persons in similar circumstances, whether arising from war or from industry, would be a measure of real social usefulness. I hope that in this very striking Bill, of which too much cannot be said by way of commendation of the Ministry of Labour, there will be a means of providing facilities both for training and for the gentler processes of bringing men back into useful employment.
Reference has been made to the King's Roll. I had something to do with the promotion of the King's Roll, and in many respects it has been a very remarkable success in affording opportunities to public spirited employers to provide employment for a large number of men; but the voluntary principle which should be the guiding influence in that work was not successful. I congratulate the Minister upon introducing a compulsory element in that respect in the Bill. I have had a communication from the Council of Disabled Ex-Service men in which reference is made to the work of the King's Roll as it affects the employment of work-people in recent years. The statistics of the period just before the war are sufficient to show that the introduction of the compulsory element for the placing in employment of disabled men will be a vital factor in making it a success. I cannot personally vouch for the figures which have been provided for me by this organisation, but they show that at the end of 1928 there were 27,500 names of firms and local bodies on the King's Roll and that 377,000 disabled men were employed by them. At the end of 1936 it showed that the number of firms and public utility societies and other bodies had fallen to 23,500, while the number of disabled men employed had fallen to 318,000. In eight years, the King's National Roll lost 4,000 employers and 59,000 disabled persons. Those figures show how wise the Minister has been to embody a compulsory principle in relation to this kind of work in the future.
I do not think that the Minister of Labour and his Parliamentary Secretary will have any greater claim upon the verdict of history in work of a constructive and helpful social quality than the introduction of this Bill and its conversion into an Act of Parliament. Notwithstanding the criticisms that were made of the Minister of Labour in the early days of his appointment to his present office. I want to say to this House, as one who has had a great deal to do with industrial organisations all over the country, that he has achieved magnificent work in the direction of the Department since he took office. I make that full confession now, in this House. Notwithstanding the criticisms which arose in the early days of his administration, which beset many of us engaged in industrial enterprises in this country, the achievements of the Minister in the interests of the State and of all classes of people, in the interests of peace in industry and in the interests of the war effort, will, I believe, rank high in the history of our country as well as the history of the Department, and he will have deserved the gratitude of his country and its people.
I join with the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members in extending to the Parliamentary Secretary my heartiest congratulations on his presentation of this Measure. My congratulations may be more sincere, if that is possible, than those which have already been extended, because the Parliamentary Secretary happens to be a Lancashire man. (An HON. MEMBER: "None the worse for that.") None the worse; all the better. It was on 21st October last year that the Minister of Labour and National Service made a pronouncement or a declaration in this House. That declaration has stuck in my mind. He said:
Everything you do before a war determines largely what will happen in the war, while everything you do in the war will largely determine what will happen after the war"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st October, 1942; col. 3058, Vol. 383.]
I think what is happening to-day will largely determine what is to happen after this war. This Measure has been referred to as a ray of hope. As I view the situation, I see it as the dawn of a new day. I personally welcome the introduction of this Bill. I remember that when I went to the technical school after a day in the pit we were face to face with difficulties. The old professor, who was very encouraging, used to say to us, "Well now, my boys, difficulties are a means of progress if tackled in the proper way." And the difficulties with which both the Ministry of Labour and National Service and the Ministry of Pensions have been faced have, in my opinion, been tackled in the proper way.
I wish if I may just to refer to one case in particular which has impressed me very much. In spite of losing both hands in a gun explosion while serving with the Army in this country, a young man has made good in civil life. While at home he helps in washing up and can even nurse his child. Before being fitted by the Ministry of Pensions with artificial hands, he did clerical work by marking documents presented to him by holding a pen in his mouth. He is now chief clerk in a large Cardiff laundry, and with the aid of his artificial hands he is able to deal with correspondence in the ordinary way by using a pen almost normally, and to deal with the sorting of numerous index cards. His employers say that he is as efficient as any man with two natural hands. There difficulties have been faced up to, and success has attended the efforts made.
I said a moment ago that I welcome the introduction of this Bill. I designate it as a great humanitarian document, and I submit to the Minister of Labour that not only is it a great humanitarian document, but that if it is applied in the spirit and the letter and the motive behind the Department, it will become a great economic document. I think the Minister and his Department are to be complimented upon the speed with which they have moved since January this year. They are to be complimented, because in January of this year we had presented to us the Rehabilitation Report, which will go down in history as the Tomlinson Report. Now in the month of December we have presented to us the sister Measure to that very important document, and I think that these two months in this year, January and December, will stand out as historic months in the history of the Department. To them and to this House and to deserving persons, both military and civil, the first and last months of 1943 will stand out, as I said a moment ago, as historic, inasmuch as in the month of January we had the Inter-Departmental Committee's Report and now we have presented to us this Bill, which has adopted as its legitimate objective the placing of men who have been broken in civil life and the battlefronts of the war and who will, I hope, be trained under the rehabilitation scheme and be found suitable employment within the four corners of the Bill now before the House.
I designate this Bill, which I hope will become an Act of Parliament, as the Remembrance Act, which will compel this country to remember those who by their sacrifices on the field of industry and the battlefronts have brought this country so near to victory. In the past to a very large extent we have remembered them on one day and one day only, that is, 11th November, when we have had a two minutes' silence. Now we shall have to remember them, if this Measure goes through, as I hope it will, all the year and every year. Personally, I think the best supporting speech, apart from those that have been made in this House to-day, was delivered in the form of a postscript over the wireless recently by Mr. Noel Coward. May I be permitted to quote some of the salient points he made? Mark you, he had just returned from a tour in North Africa and the Middle East, where he had visited over 50 military hospitals and convalescent camps, talking to many thousands of sick and wounded men. He said:
In trying to express the quality and spirit of men and women in the Fighting Forces one must tread warily. It is something that is peculiar to the men and women to whom it belongs, something that above all any outsider must approach with discretion, reverence and profound humility.
What did he say?
We must never forget the men and women who have defended this country from the Nazi tyranny.
He also said:
I am not alluding to the dead. Sentimentalists always remember the dead with garlands and monuments, but they are prone to forget the living, especially if the living are a reproach to their consciences. We are a fine race and, contrary to some opinions a fairly imaginative one; but we have one great defect"—
which I think will be remedied by the Measure now before the House—
and that is, that we forget too easily. If in the future any of us, either individually or in unions or political parties, do anything to let down these men and women and all they have endured for us, I can only say that it will be to our eternal, everlasting shame.
The aftermath of this war, with its reconstruction difficulties and its inevitable economic and political changes, will be, as we are all aware—we do not need to delude ourselves—a pretty uncomfortable period for all of us. But however uncomfortable it is, it will be as naught compared with what our fighting men and women have endured and are enduring for us for the future and everything we believe in in this country. One is delighted to find in the Measure now before the House that the Minister of Labour and National Service has had the thought and vision to bring within the scope of this Bill those who were broken and bruised in the war of 1914–18, a very admirable thing to do, for after the last war—we have got to face it, whether we like it or not—we stopped thinking. Now at long last we are compelled to stop and think, and apply our thoughts to the alleviation of these men and women who have suffered from accidents and wounds causing great and small disabilities.
The question is being asked and will be asked: Is the scheme a practical one? Will industries be able to absorb the large number of men and women who have been disabled? Since the text of this Bill was made known I have heard murmurings expressed by the pessimistic employer of labour, but I want to assure him or her or them, if there be a number, that it has been tried out, and, after all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. May I be permitted to quote from two newspapers facts which have been published only this week? One quotation is from "The Times," dated 8th December. It is headed "Work for disabled Service men," and it says:
Disabled ex-Service men are being employed at a centre established by the Ford Motor Company, Ltd. for the packing of spare parts. At present 30 per cent. of the workers are ex-Service men who have suffered in this war, and as plans mature it is expected that more will be engaged to meet the demand. A figure of 50 per cent. at least has been mentioned.
But there is another very important point connected with this scheme which will
answer the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for the Moseley Division (Sir P. Hannon):
Wages and conditions are the same as in the main Ford factory.
There you have evidence of the scheme being put into operation. The next paper I want to quote from is the issue of the "Daily Herald" for 9th December. The heading is "Workshop for casualties." It says:
A scheme for getting war injured workers back to productive employment has been successfully tackled by the Austin Motor Co. in collaboration with the Birmingham Accident Hospital. Eight months ago a workshop was set aside and specially equipped for the employment of men injured on active service and industry. 'Now,' says the company, 'practically all the workers who have passed through the shop have been restored to full productive activity.'
Those are two cases which prove conclusively that we need have no fear in our minds as to the practicability of the Bill we are now discussing. I know to my sorrow that employers are always looking for 100 per cent. men. They have grown accustomed to it. I say to them, "If you cannot get a 100 per cent. man, then you must employ two 50 per cent. men, remembering—and this is a very important point—that the loss of full capacity is either due to accidents in the industrial field or due to wounds in war service."
May I be permitted to cite a case, among many that I have received since I came to the House, and before then? It is the case of a young man in my division. I received a letter from him a fortnight ago. The first part of the letter was couched in terms of bitterness, and the concluding part was pathetic. He has spent three and a half years in the Forces, the greater part of that time overseas; he had the misfortune to be wounded, and was discharged. He was sent to the training centre at Trafford Park. The Parliamentary Secretary will know that training centre. This man did 16 weeks' training; then he was considered fit for suitable light employment. He was sent to three firms, who, having the choice between a 100 per cent. man and it may be an 80 per cent. or a 90 per cent. man, all turned him down. Naturally, bitterness crept into his heart, and, driven to desperation, he wrote to me, asking whether I could help him. I immediately made contact with the supervisor and the deputy-manager of the employment exchange in Wigan, two very kindly-disposed men, possessed of the spirit of humanitarianism. They said, "If we can help this man, we will; will you arrange for him to come down on Friday or Saturday?" specifying the time and the committee room where they would meet him. I sent word to the man; he went down and was interviewed, and in less than five days he was placed in a job. Last week he commenced work at an iron works, as a fitter under the training scheme. He is in the seventh heaven of delight, because of the help afforded him by the employment exchange.
I know that there are difficulties, and that there will be imperfections, but, as I said some time ago in this House, where you find a perfect scheme it will become a perfect nuisance. It is our duty to remedy the imperfections as they appear. This scheme will depend very largely on the method by which it is approached. I cannot do better than quote from a speech made in this House by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) on 8th December—a speech containing great substance. He said:
Our problems are very hard ones, but there are no problems with which the great qualities of the human spirit cannot deal, the human qualities which we have learned on the battlefields of this war—idealism, confidence and comradeship. These are the things which saved us in our most difficult hour. We shall need every bit of idealism, confidence and comradeship in the years following the war. We shall not get them unless we are prepared to make concessions to the opinions of others."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th December, 1943; col. 1027, Vol. 395.]
That will have to be applied. I am one of those who have always believed that there is dignity in labour and degradation in idleness. If, by keeping them in suitable employment, we can prevent men who have served on the field of battle or men who have served in industry from becoming degraded, we shall have gone a long way towards bringing about that new world that has been promised us often in days gone by. I heartily support the Measure now before the House.
I am almost sorry to see the Parliamentary Secretary in his place, because he must be embarrassed by this unanimous chorus of praise and congratulation. I am sure the Government will be gratified at the unanimity with which this Bill is being approved. Having heard rumblings and grumblings in the country about the continuance of controls and compulsion in industry, I expected to have heard some sort of speech of protest, and I would have liked to reply to such a speech. As it is, I can only join with all those other Members who have welcomed the element of compulsion in this Bill. The best employers are already employing as many disabled persons as they can. There is tremendous ignorance on this subject, but good employers, as soon as they have made a study of it and know which way their duty lies, will follow suit. Too often in matters of this kind, when it has been left on a voluntary basis, the good people have shouldered the burden and the black sheep have backslid. Now the good employers will have the satisfaction of knowing that the black sheep are toeing the line—I have thought over that metaphor, and I think that, metaphorically, black sheep can toe the line.
I have spoken of good employers shouldering the burden, but that is not quite what I mean. I am sure that this is not going to a burden. There will be no imposition on employers in requiring them to take the disabled. The country does not realise the tremendous steps which have been made in the science and practice of medicine in this matter of rehabilitation and training. For some months I have been making some slight study of this question. Employers will find that the disabled, when they have been through these magnificent schemes which have been created for rehabilitation and training, will form a hard core of skilled workpeople who are among the most reliable, among the least accident-prone and among the least sickness-prone. In other words, employers who have tried and tested disabled workers will be coming back for more, not out of philanthropy but because they have discovered that these people are among the finest workers they could hope to employ. I do not think that employers generally are aware of the strides that have been made. They do not realise that now medicine endeavours so to restore the disabled that they regard themselves as normal and able to compete on level terms with the able bodied. Of all the speeches I have listened to so far, I have most enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. Tom Brown). He gave two very fine illustrations: the illustration of the handless man and the work of which he is capable, and the illustration of the man who has been trained under one of these schemes and whom employers, out of pure ignorance, would not at first employ. Obviously, a tremendous lot of education has to be done throughout the country.
My assertion that employers would soon find that the disabled were among the best workpeople in this country was very sweeping. I would like to quote facts and figures in support of it. I will quote from an article by Mr. Donald Norris in the "British Journal of Physical Medicine and Industrial Hygiene," dated September-October, 1942. The hon. Member for Ince has already referred to Henry Ford. Let me quote:
Henry Ford recently analysed the jobs carried out at his motor works from the point of view of physical requirements: out of 7,882 kinds of work only 949 (12 per cent.), required men of first-class physique";
Yes, but the Tomlinson Report does not contain all these figures:
moderate strength was called for in 3,338 jobs (43 per cent.), while the remaining 3,595 (45 per cent.), entailed very little physical effort.… At the time of publication of the survey, there were actually 9,563 physically defective workers in the Ford factory.
I think that that constitutes a reply to the interruption made by the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson). In the Ford factory there are obviously a great many highly technical engineering jobs, and it is shown that 88 per cent. of the jobs in that factory can be discharged efficiently by the disabled. I hope I have made it clear that not only must we have compulsion in this matter, but that compulsion will be no hardship upon anyone.
I want to look at this matter from the point of view of the disabled. If he will forgive me for saying so, I think the Parliamentary Secretary, although he touched upon this matter, slid rather quickly over it. In my conversations with the people who have made a profound study of these matters, and who in many cases have devoted all their lives to this noble cause of assisting the disabled, I find that there is tremendous consternation. It seems to be almost unanimous that, whereas medical science is encouraging the disabled to forget that they are disabled, the register in the Bill will to a certain extent tend, even if it does not actually, to label them. They will have that certificate of disablement in their pockets of which they must still be aware, and it will do something against the merits of science to retard. That is what they feel. That point of view must be represented in this House, because it is very strongly held by people who are devoting their lives to this problem. I am not quoting a personal opinion. I am careful to go to the highest source of information I can, and I am surprised to find this view so strongly held. It must be clear to the House that here are two solidly and diametrically opposed forces—on the one side, that registration is necessary, and on the other that the question of the register from the point of view of the disabled seems to be undesirable. To our gratitude and surprise the Government have not sat on the fence in this matter. They have come down with firm decision plump on the side of the register. The Government and the Minister will owe it to the House, and certainly to the country because of this feeling being so widely held, to explain exactly how this firm decision, which applaud—I applaud firmness of decision—came to be made and what were the arguments and considerations that led up to it.
That has been my main worry over this Bill which we are all welcoming so much, but I have one or two minor worries, one of which I would like to mention. I cannot quite see at the moment how the machinery of following these quotas is going to work, and I would appreciate a fuller explanation. Nobody can imagine, to take any given locality in the country, that the number of vacancies under the quotas are going to coincide with the number of disabled in that locality. Is there to be direction all over the country? We know, even under the stress and duress of war, that the one thing an Englishman dislikes is to be told to remove his home somewhere else. If there is to be direction of this kind, we must take it now and get accustomed to the idea. If there is not to be direction, I would like to know what the position is going to be of following the quotas and of employing the disabled satisfactorily.
In the past in this country there has been far too great a tendency, if a man has lost an arm, to say, "You are suit- able for employment as a lift man. There is a vacancy there for a lift man, you go and take it." I have shown that in the Ford works alone there are 7,000 odd jobs of various kinds that a man can undertake, and I think that modern medicine can prove that for a one-armed man to be a lift operator is practically one of the most unsatisfactory jobs that can be given to him. Magnificent work is being done in the United States of America by the Federal Rehabilitation Bureau. They have already found that the disabled are efficiently discharging no fewer than 20,000 different kinds of jobs. I am sure that we in this country will not lag behind the United States in any matter of rehabilitation or of training, and so, obviously, if medical science is given its head in this country, we shall have our disabled trained right up to the 100 per cent. mark in a vast number of different jobs. We must have machinery which ensures that a one-armed man is not ignorantly sent off to the first lift man's job that presents itself. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary agrees with me fully on this point, and all that I am asking for is some indication to the House as to how it is proposed and expected that the machinery will work. The whole of my speech amounts to a plea for fuller information and explanation. I believe that this Measure will be very successful, but it will depend for its success on the collaboration of the employers, of the disabled and of the rest of the population in the country. I do not think that that collaboration will really be forthcoming unless people understand this vast problem and what is required. They can only understand the problem if they get explanation, instruction and education in these matters from the Government, and frankly, on the Bill as it stands, I do not understand how it is going to work, although I do so welcome it in principle. I hope that as soon as possible the Ministry will embark upon a great campaign of helpful explanation of this Bill, which the whole country will welcome.
In listening to the discussion as it has gone on. I am wondering whether it would be right to say that I would like to take part in this Debate or join in this demonstration. Up to now it has been a demonstration by the House of good will towards the Measure and those who have brought it about. The Bill may be described in the same way as our educational system was described a few years ago as the three "R's," but in this case we have rehabilitation, re-training and re-employment, but in listening to the discussion I think we should add a fourth "r," and that is rejoicing. Apparently the whole House seems to be rejoicing that a Bill of this kind has come before it, and that all have an opportunity of supporting the Measure. But as the Measure goes through the House we should pause to look back beyond the Tomlinson Report itself, landmark as it is, to round about 1937, when the British Medical Association, in conjunction with the Trades Union Congress, discussed these problems. There was a member of the Trades Union Congress who holds a very high position in the State to-day who had a very great deal to do with the initiation of further discussions on the treatment of injured persons. They issued a report which was subsequently taken up by the Industrial Welfare Society, who convened conferences of employers, and arising out of the good will of these employers, ways and means were found to start some of these organisations, called rehabilitation centres. A young man named Watson-Jones spoke at one of these conferences, and if there is an individual in this country whose name should be linked with that of the Parliamentary Secretary in this connection, it is that of Dr. Watson-Jones.
Arising out of those conferences the first of the orthopædic clinics was opened at the Miller Hospital, Greenwich. The satisfactory results of this encouraged the Industrial Welfare Society to convene similar conferences. One was held in Hull and another in Glasgow. Although some people spend a good deal of time pointing out the faults of employers, we must sometimes pause and give them a pat on the back. Many employers looked upon the scheme rather from the point of view of a paying proposition than as a charitable thing. Institutions were started in Hull and Glasgow, and many others were started under various names. My hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. Tom Brown) mentioned something about the wonderful work done by the centre in Birmingham. They are all doing the same class of work. Another young man came into the field in support of Dr. Watson-Jones. He was Dr. Hugh Griffiths. They gathered round them a body of young
medical men, to whom we are looking now to carry on this work. The Government realise the value of this work. The Royal Air Force took the matter up. It will no doubt interest the House if I quote one or two sentences from an address that was given by Dr. Watson-Jones at the Queen's University, Belfast, in September, 1941, and which was published in the British Medical Journal, of 28th March, 1942:
In this country, at this moment—
that is, in 1941—
there are hundreds of injured men whose surgical treatment was concluded months ago but whose incapacity is still total because minor disuse-changes remain, or because confidence is lacking and morale has been destroyed. Their bodies have been treated, but not their minds.
A little later he said:
In December, 1937, the British Medical Association and the Trades Union Congress, in reporting these facts, recommended the development of rehabilitation services, including (a) functional treatment in hospital wards by regular exercises; (b) treatment in rehabilitation centres by physical and recreational activities designed to overcome residual disuse-changes, restore the confidence of patients in their recovery, and bridge the gap between the exercises of a fracture ward and the stresses of normal work; and (c) vocational retaining for the small proportion of men whose disability is permanent. These recommendations have not yet been generally adopted.
Dr. Watson-Jones in his report gives example after example of the positively fascinating results of the work that has been undertaken. It is so with regard to the work at the Mansfield Centre of the miners' unions and "fascinating" is indeed the proper word to apply. This is the final paragraph I wish to quote:
It has been argued that treatment in rehabilitation centres is unnecessary and wasteful because all injuries fall into one of two groups: (1) those from which full recovery is possible without rehabilitation, and (2) those which cause permanent disability despite rehabilitation. But no surgeon would advance this argument who had shared with me the experience of closely observing the recovery rate in a Service assisted by rehabilitation where 85 per cent. of injured men returned to full duty.
Since the short time we have been working in the Royal Air Force on this job, up to the date of the lecture, 85 per cent. of the injured workers have returned to full duty. When you consider those people who would argue under heads 1 and 2, it reminds me of the Cockney fellow who
says to his pal, "What's the good of anyfink? Why, nuffink."
The Glasgow Royal Infirmary published a report at about the same time, in 1941, and after giving a table of figures, with which I will not trouble the House, they make this comment:
While these figures are in themselves sufficient to amply justify the existence of the rehabilitation department, their bald recital does little to convey an idea of the wonderful work being performed in refitting injured persons to again play their part in industry, or to depict the excellent (one might almost say miraculous) results which in many cases accrue from the treatment given.
So this House, which is being asked to embark on this scheme by the Ministry of Labour, is not being asked to buy a pig in a poke. We have excellent examples of the value of the work. This rehabilitation and re-training has been commented upon to-day, together with the psychological value of it. My experience in dealing with a number of these cases gives me an opportunity of speaking on the matter from two points of view. For about 33 years I have been handling workmen's compensation in the printing industry. Many thousands of cases have passed through my hands, and, at the same time, representing a poor London division as I do, I have represented many people who were not in my union, were not in any union at all, and were in a difficult position to get service. Looking back over those years, it is quite clear to see what a difference it makes to a man who knows that when he meets with an injury he is going to get proper treatment and to get his job back.
I want to say here that in all those years, without trying to remember the thousands of cases I have dealt with in the printing industry, I have known only one case where the employer did not find a job for the injured man, and there were satisfactory reasons for that. If the printing trade can do it, others can do it. I cannot remember where a man in the printing trade has been injured and come along to us and we were unable to say to him from the beginning, "It is all right; you will have a job as soon as you get back." I have never known an employer to say he would not take a man back. I sometimes get a man coming to me who lives round the corner from my office and who is not in the printing trade. Perhaps he is badly injured and has no idea of the compensation he is entitled to, and, right from the beginning he starts with the feeling that he is down and out and done for, but the other fellow, the man in the printing industry, knows he is going to be looked after. The difference in the outlook of the two men, the difference in the conditions of their life, and the difference in the conditions for their wives at home is very great. An injured man who is worried about his position and has a "grouse" because of that must be a terrible sort of fellow to live with.
Those are the points that I ask the House to bear in mind, the tremendous value of starting off in the right frame of mind. I think the Minister himself would rejoice not only at having been the instrument behind this Bill, but because of the fact that he gave an opportunity to-day to his Parliamentary Secretary to do such a fine job and to convey to us the spirit that we all know. We know that the injured workman will rejoice. I know that the decent employer will be very glad to see it, for, as the hon. Member said who preceded me, it is the decent employer who has been playing the game all the time.
I do not represent the Trades Union Congress here, but I have been for some years a member of its Council and have had the privilege of serving on its Workmen's Compensation Committee, and I know that the movement which represents the organised workers of this country will welcome this Bill on to the Statute Book. I, personally, after many years of service in this matter, am a very happy man indeed to see this Bill go through. Outside Parliament we hear people in the trade union movement refer to a person whom I must not mention by name here to-day, but they refer to that person as George Tomlinson. They refer to the Tomlinson Report. We are going to try and see that this will be known as the Tomlinson Act, because it carries with it the spirit of kindness and helpfulness which that particular person carries with him to everybody with whom he is associated.
The organised workers of this country welcome this Bill. I can assure the Minister that when he calls on the working people in any section to give him service on the national and local committees he will not ask in vain.
Good sometimes comes out of evil, and there are a number of spheres in which the tragic consequences of war have stirred the imagination and accelerated tendencies, which have already been in people's minds, to action. This is a notable case and a case also where the poignancy of war injury is bringing a great measure of help to people who are not injured in the war. In a sense this Measure is a great social step forward, and it is typical of our English way of doing things. The voluntary agency, the individual thought, the private initiative, starts the idea going, builds it up, creates the public opinion, and then, after a considerable time, the State becomes interested and brings all its power to bear to complete and round off the project.
It is 100 years since private persons started to teach us that highly disabled people, such as the blind, could be employed and not have to beg in the streets. It is 30 years since St. Dunstan's showed us that blinded people could be employed in a great variety of ways. It is 20 years since the King's Roll and voluntary enterprise encouraged employers all over the land to take a percentage of disabled workers into their factories and made widespread the belief and understanding that these people could do useful jobs. Scant reference has been made to these voluntary agencies, and one or two people have even suggested that because their work was not so complete as the State was able to make it, they did not deserve well of the country. If we are now to replace some of these voluntary activities by the intervention of the State, let us praise the voluntary agencies for blazing the trail and for showing the State how the job ought to be done. Let me remind the House of this fact, particularly since my hon. Friend told of the cases from Durham who had only had a few months' work in many years. I might have interrupted to ask him what was the employment of fit men in that area during that same time. He would have found that among the fit and able-bodied there was twice as much unemployment as among the disabled in Durham at the time of which he complains. I have been looking at the figures, and I find that over one-third of a million disabled men have been employed under the King's Roll for over 30 years. Never has the percentage of unemployment among dis- abled men been as high as unemployment among the fit. Employment among the disabled has often been twice as good as among the fit and frequently one-third better. The fact is that when employment is good there is no problem. When unemployment is bad you have a great problem, but voluntary agencies over all these years have done much to mitigate the difficulties and, as I have said, taught the Ministry how to tackle the problem.
There are three classes of people who are affected by this Measure, and I think we ought, without emotion and without dwelling upon the matter at too great length, to see just how the Measure affects these three classes of people. First of all—not first in importance, but first because it suits the building-up of my speech—the employers. They are to be affected because they are to be compelled to do something which not all of them have done. If there is very great unemployment after the war and if the trade unions and the employers are all worried about their positions—the trade unions worried about their membership being unemployed and their subscriptions going down and the suffering entailed, and the employers worried because they do not like to see their people unemployed and they do not like to be unable to carry on their businesses and are threatened with bankruptcy—if you have that kind of atmosphere, you are going to have a real problem to operate this Bill, because you reach the position in which you cannot compel people to do things which in any way militate against the efficiency of their business. There are people—happily not to such a great extent now—who think that profits are altogether evil things and rejoice only when profits are not made. I am not one of those, because I realise that unless there is a margin of profit over and above the expenses of running a business, it cannot go on. But I do not want to provoke an argument here. The point I want to make is, first, this: The Minister must see that there is elasticity in this matter and that small, struggling businesses must not be asked to do things which increase their difficulties during the transition period. I do not make that statement because I, above all people, want to see any disabled man out of a job, but because I want industry to get back on its feet at the earliest possible moment, for I know that when industry is on its feet and when profits are being made that is the time when employment problems solve themselves.
Lord Woolton said the other day that all social services depend upon getting our people back to work. That means getting people back to full employment. In a way this Bill is something of a warning, for if there is to be full employment, then we need not worry quite so much about preference for anybody. Let us take warning from the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour, in whom we have so much faith in this matter, must realise the employment problems of the future or he would not come here with this Measure. The second group of people interested in this Measure are the civilian disabled—people who are congenitally deficient or acquire in early life, through disease or illness, deficiencies which hamper them. They are fortunate in the sense that the poignancy of the war disabilities is going to help them into a position of some privilege, some advantage and some preference over others. I rejoice that that should be so.
The Parliamentary Secretary has seen how many disabled people have been brought into full and useful employment during the last two years, but he will forgive me if I remind him that that is not because his Department thought of it or because there was any initiative in his Department. Such people have been placed in similar jobs for years by agencies all over the country. When his Department found there was a great deficiency in the supply of labour and found the great clamour for it and found they could not supply ordinary labour, then came their move forward to fit in as many disabled people as possible. Much good work has been done in his Ministry, and I can testify particularly to the work of a small department, the officials of which went out of their way to fit in individuals who could not be dealt with through ordinary channels. That kind of personal touch is very important.
I turn now to the third group affected, the ex-Service men, and first I would deal with the ex-Service men of the last war. Their rights to a voluntary preference under the King's Roll scheme are preserved to some extent by their being taken without further examination on to the register, but their rights are not fully pre- served. I think the House should understand this, though I do not necessarily make it a complaint. Without this Bill they have a voluntary preference of their own. Under this Bill they will share a preference with others. Nevertheless, let us say "Thank you" to the Minister for not having taken away the privileged position of these disabled ex-Service men of the last war. Now what is the position of the disabled men of this war, soldiers, naval men, airmen, and, I may add, merchant seamen? They undoubtedly lose a certain measure of voluntary preference.
Will the hon. and gallant Member allow me to interrupt for a moment? Does he not agree that this Bill gives to the ex-Service men of the last war a right instead of a privilege? They had a privilege without a legal right under the King's Roll. It was a sentimental privilege, to which regard was paid by good, decent employers, but it was purely voluntary, so that they will have a greater advantage under this Bill.
I do not think the ordinary man minds much how he gets his job so long as he gets a job. I was going to deal with the position of the ex-Service men of this war. They will get a preference whether Parliament passes any law or not. Everybody will feel that the men who have been away fighting should come first and be given jobs without question. Everybody will feel that. It is the instinct of our people. When the Minister has been making speeches about the country in support of this Measure, the newspapers have featured stories of how the Minister will find jobs for war disabled. It is true that if you read further you will find that in his speech he referred also to others, but it was the war disabled he put in front of the picture, and the war disabled got into the captions. Why? Because the whole nation is determined in its heart that soldiers and sailors shall come first.
May I examine the position of the war disabled and other disabled? The ordinary man who is disabled in industry has in many ways a great advantage over the soldier. He is disabled in a plant with all his mates around him. He goes to the local hospital, where they keep in touch with him. He comes back to a home next door to the home of one of his mates, and perhaps his foreman lives in the next street. It is a matter of inquiry in the works how he is getting on, and whether he is recovering. His mates hear that he has come out of hospital and was digging in his garden this morning. Contact is kept with him by good will, even if not by organisation, for common humanity dictates it. When he recovers and begins to dig his garden, a pal will go to see him, and he will tell that pal that he would like to get back to his job. The pal says he will speak to the foreman or the manager. In one way or another contact is maintained, and as soon as possible the man is given a chance. Particularly is that the case when he has been with a firm for some time or when he is the sort of chap who is liked by everybody round the place.
What about the young soldier who has never been in a job or at any rate has only been in a job as an errand boy? He joins up and is sent to Burma or the Middle East and is away three or four years. He has no industrial background. He is not the employee of any employer, he is not a member of any union, he is not the charge of anyone. He is the employee of the State, but he has no contacts to get him back into a job. Does he not need preference in order to make sure that he is not forgotten and not disregarded? The nation left to itself without legislation would rise up and say that men who fought in this war, who enabled us to get on with our jobs, men who took the greater risks and greater hazards, men who were away from home all these years, must have a job, whatever happens. It is felt that they were specially handicapped and must be specially helped. I think the House and the country will want to be satisfied that this Measure does not take away from ex-Service men, particularly during the next two or three years, the special claim they have now. If the Minister can satisfy us that this Bill does not do that, well and good, but if he cannot so satisfy us, then some of us will have to invite him to consider an Amendment in Committee which will make it clear that the voluntary preference which means so much to the ex-Service men is not excluded by this new compulsory allocation of work.
There are other points which by comparison are not so important, and I will not make any long reference to them, but I should like to refer to one remark made by the Parliamentary Secretary in his speech. He said that if it turned out that there was not work for all and that ex-Service men were not getting jobs, then other measures would be taken, because they must be looked after first. I think that is what he said, but hon. Members will be able to see in Hansard whether I have got the gist of it right. In that remark he conceded the whole principle. Let the Minister give an assurance that it is possible under the Bill for this voluntary preference still to be exercised and that it is not in fact taken away.
The only other thing I want to say really means speaking in another capacity. I have the honour to be National vice-chairman of the British Legion. That organisation is very much concerned about this Measure. The British Legion operate employment schemes and send their representatives to the King's Roll National Council. They feel, firstly, that this preference for ex-Service men should be assured, and, secondly, that the British Legion with its widespread contacts all over the country should be invited to take a considerable part in the work of these local committees, on which during the next year or two they can render most valuable service. They can render service also on the central committee. I think I can say that the members of the British Legion are not sorry but indeed are glad to feel that the sentimental urge to do something for the disabled that arises out of the war should be made the means of helping all disabled. That would be a matter of satisfaction to them, but they, and I believe many other people in the country and many Members of this House, want to be satisfied that in imposing this compulsory allocation of work for all disabled the Minister is not taking away the natural desire of people to give employment first to men and women who have fought our battles in this war.
I do not want to add any further to the embarrassment of the Parliamentary Secretary. We have met outside this House on grounds which show that both he and I are interested in the work which has already been done, as the hon. and gallant Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) said, by such societies as the Ex-Service Welfare Society. Indeed, the Minister has admitted, or his officials have for him, that he will be dependent to a very large extent in future on such organisations. I will only say, in adding my congratulations to those already expressed, that I am very glad that the Minister of Labour is forcing his point of view in the Cabinet and getting his way to a very large extent. Evidence of such vigour has not been so strong in the case of some other Ministers. Criticism has been expressed outside, and indeed has just been mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for Lonsdale, based on the fear that ex-Service personnel of the last war and this war may get the wrong end of the stick once again. They have had it particularly in Government Departments since the last war.
Major Sir Brunel Cohen, the Treasurer of the British Legion, once a Member of this House and member of the Committee which reported in 1922 on this question, has expressed publicly in the columns of "The Times" his feeling of doubt whether the rights and privileges and preferences of the ex-Service men are going to be neglected, not during the war—the nation dare not neglect their rights during the war—but after the war. This Report is evidence that the nation did forget very soon after the last war. Sir Beachcroft Towse, another eminent worker outside this House for ex-Service men, expressed views which differ from those of Major Sir Brunel Cohen. Many hon. Members who have spoken think that everything will be all right, but I suggest—I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will not take this as unfriendly criticism—that this Bill in itself will not solve this question, with which I am very intimately concerned, having fought in the last war and in this and knowing the comradeship and the sacrifice which those men have given, not for any big wage, but because of duty.
I think the Minister has taken the right line in linking up the disabled and the unfit of industry with the ex-Service man, but, if the time ever comes—I fear it may; indeed the Minister has an idea that it may, and all responsible people think it may—when there is going to be a scramble for jobs between those who have fought in the war, and saved all classes during the war, and without whose efforts we should not be able to do anything for the disabled of industry, and the latter, I come down on the side of preference for the ex-Service man. I hope that will never arise. I like to think that, if the Government take bold measures, such as they are doing to-day, such as they have not shown convincing evidence in certain other fields, I think we shall be able to provide for every disabled and unfit person whether he has got his disablement in serving in the Armed Forces or in industry or has been disabled from birth. My hon. Friend the Member for North Southwark (Mr. Isaacs), in a very informative speech, mentioned to the House his position in the Trades Union Congress, which now has a membership of 7,750,000, very few of whom come from the Services but mainly from industry. History has a habit of repeating itself; they had a very large membership during the last war, and it decreased when the members were not able to pay their levies. He said that not only had he acted in his capacity as a trade union official for members of what is more or less a sheltered industry, the printing trade, but that he had acted for some among his constituents who had no powerful trade union at their back. Let us never forget that the Army, the Navy and the Air Force have no trade union to speak for them and that the duty to speak for them lies here in this House. It may be, I hope it will be, that when these men and women come back they will join their trade unions. [An HON. MEMBER: "They are never out of them."] I am not so sure. Many of these young men and women have never been in a trade union, because they have either not had a job or because they were only youngsters and had very little knowledge of trade unionism. The duty is on this House not only during but after the war. Never let us forget it.
Some hon. Members have referred to the Ford factory. It has been stated somewhere that the Ford factory in the earlier part of the war was employing 10,000 partially disabled persons, and the head of the firm is reported to have said, "We do not prefer cripples, but we have demonstrated that they can earn full wages." That is a practical example of how we can deal with our disabled, not because of sentiment, even if they have served in the Armed Forces, but because disabled people can be put more or less on a par with fit people if only we have a little patience to train and rehabilitate them.
I should hope that the number had increased since then. There is an Amendment on the Paper about the liabilities and responsibilities of Government and local services. I hope the Government are going to be model employers in this respect. Those of us who have had to deal with some of the troubles of ex-Service men since the last war know that there has definitely been a certain bias against ex-Service men and, if we have seen disabled ex-Service men in Departmental offices it has generally been when we have gone to visit a Minister and then they have been more prominent in the lifts that have taken us upstairs than in some of the higher jobs.
The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I am saying that there has been what appears to many of us a bias in the Government Service against disabled ex-Service men, and it dates back for a long time, when the old soldier was considered either to be the responsibility of his regimental association or, if he could not get help there, he could sell matches in the gutter. It is only since the last war that we have made any serious attempt to deal with these people, and I am warning the House of what is likely to happen when public sentiment evaporates.
Now I wish to make one or two observations on the contents of the Bill. I think the duty of the House is not, in a cloud of complimentary speeches to-Ministers, to forget that we should examine very closely the Clauses of any Bill that comes before us. I notice that the 1914–18 disabled men are to be brought within this scheme provided that they are pensioners of the Ministry of Pensions. Why can we not extend that to all those who have suffered in the last war and have not been lucky in the draw for pensions? We say that the test for a civilian is disability, not that he is drawing some pension from his employer, or workmen's compensation. The mere fact that he
I should next like to refer to what occurs in almost every other Clause in the Bill, the phrase, "The Minister may by Regulation or by Order" do this that or the other. Anyone who has studied the Bill carefully knows that it is only a skeleton. The Ministry themselves do not know how wide the subject is. They say they would like the assistance, advice and guidance of voluntary societies outside in order that they shall be put in touch in many cases with those who are disabled about whom they do not know. Take the disabled who are now in hospitals. Can the Minister put his hand on his heart and say he has contact with every disabled Service man awaiting discharge in Ministry of Pensions hospitals, or E.M.S. hospitals? Many of these men have gone out of the hospitals to the employment exchanges without once having seen the Ministry of Labour's officer coming into the hospital and saying, "What would you like to do?" or, "What do you think you can do?" It is obvious that the Minister will be dependent to a large extent not only on his Central Advisory Council but, I hope, on hon. and gallant Members who have some special experience of ex-Service men and will utilise them in that capacity to the fullest possible advantage. [An HON. MEMBER: "And in other directions."] I agree. I am speaking in a special capacity to-day, because I have studied the question not from an industrial angle but from the ex-Service man's angle, and I do not apologise for doing that. The Ministry's own officer has said that the efforts of his Ministry could be materially assisted by voluntary bodies concerned with the care of crippled and disabled persons.
These societies have a special knowledge of the problem which Labour Exchanges cannot hope to possess and we look to them to assist in two ways in particular, first of all in drawing our attention to individual cases of whom they have knowledge and we have only incomplete or unsatisfactory records and, secondly, in drawing our attention to special fields of employment which offer opportunities to persons who are handicapped by a particular form of disablement. The Ministry will be only too glad to have the assistance of the voluntary societies in that respect.
The Minister is setting up a National Advisory Council in this Bill and local advisory bodies, and in both fields, disabled ex-Service men and the casualties of civilian industry, I urge him to accept
the offers of co-operation which will be forthcoming from Members of the House, because in allowing the Minister to make Orders and Regulations as he thinks fit we are to a very large extent surrendering our powers of detailed criticism when we part with the Bill, although I know that the Minister has to lay the Regulations on the Table, but we all know what that means.
There are several other points that I propose to develop in Committee, but I should like now to quote from the Report of the Select Committee on the Training and Employment of Disabled ex-Service men, published in 1922:
It is obvious that the sentiment in favour of preferential treatment and general sympathy towards disabled ex-Service men is on the decline, The reduction of the number of firms on the King's Roll is evidence of this. Witnesses have corroborated the fact, and it is the natural result of memory faded by the lapse of four years since the conclusion of the Armistice.
Are we going to depend on the fickleness of national sentiment, which is now expressed in bucketsfull by all sorts of people while the soldier is serving and suffering for his country, or are we going to be determined, we in this House, that the duty, wherever it belongs, whether to the Minister of Labour or anywhere else, shall be observed, and observed for longer than four years after the war has ended? The duty is incumbent on every hon. Member who has been elected to this House constantly to remind the Government, whether they like it or not—and sometimes they do not like it—and to remind the public, whether they like it or not, that promises made in war-time have to be implemented after the war has finished. We may fail in that job, as the Select Committee admitted that we failed four years after the last war, but at least we can do our duty, we who are the elected representatives of the people, who sought their favours and support and won them. That is our duty, not only to-day but for the next generation, during which the bulk of these disabled ex-Service men will be constantly knocking at our doors.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) and every other hon. Member who has spoken in the Debate, I welcome this Bill, which has been proposed with such obvious sincerity by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. The point I want to make is substantially that which was the main point of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw. It is the question of the employment and of the participation in the benefits of the Bill of the ex-Service personnel. I wish to press for priority of treatment for ex-Service men, priority of education for them in the vocational training centres which are to be set up, and priority of treatment in the rehabilitation centres which are to be formed. I also press for priority of selection of ex-Service men for employment when they have had the benefit of the previous treatment. I am not certain whether the Parliamentary Secretary gave a definite assurance, as my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) thought he did, of a substantial preference for ex-Service men. I quite see the point of those who say that the loss of a limb is the same whether it is the loss of an ex-Service man in the service of the country or the loss of a worker in a factory in the course of civil work. I suggest, however, that the ex-Service man serves his country for a very small reward in the pecuniary sense as compared with those who serve for substantial rewards in various civil departments of life. I suggest also that many ex-Service men went into the Service as volunteers at an early age before they had had a chance of a training or experience in business as other men who have remained in civil life, however important their occupation, have had.
On both these counts I think that the ex-Service man is entitled to preference. He is entitled to it, too, because his service, besides being very little rewarded so far as money is concerned, subjects him to a strain and to conditions which are very different from those experienced by men in civil occupations at home, however hard they work. There is yet another reason why a preference should be given to ex-Service men and women. The State must accept special responsibility for its own servants. These men are serving the State, and the State is responsible for seeing that they do not lose more than their disability may cause them to lose by having served the State. The State is responsible for doing everything it can to restore to them their health, their usefulness and such use as they may have of their limbs. There is another point which must be made as regards places in vocational establishments and rehabilitation centres. That is that there will certainly not, under present conditions, be room for all those who might wish to take part in the training and whom the State might wish to send there. I suggest, therefore, that the first places should be given to ex-Service personnel. Consideration should be given to two other categories, one of which should be on an equality with ex-Service personnel and the other placed next to them. The first is merchant seamen. They are not the servants of the State in the ordinary sense, but they undergo the conditions of active service in its most extreme and dangerous form. The second is Civil Defence personnel who have been injured. They are definitely serving their country and the State, and they are entitled to priority next after ex-Service men.
Having said so much and pleaded as well as I am able the case of the ex-Service men for priority of treatment, I would only add a word with regard to the Advisory Council aria the district committees which are to be set up under the Schedule. I hope that positions will be given on the Advisory Council and on the district committees to representatives of the great voluntary organisations which have done so much for the old Service man. I refer especially, not only to the British Legion, but to the Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Help Society, to the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen's Families Association, and to the National Association for the Employment of Regular Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen. All these voluntary associations have done and continue to do an immense amount of valuable work for Service men and their families. They have also a great amount of experience in dealing with all the questions with which this Bill so comprehensively deals. I have made the one point which I rose to make. I plead for a definite assurance that there will be a preference for ex-Service men, not only in the establishments for training and rehabilitation, but in the vacancies which may occur for employment.
The congratulations which have been showered on the Parliamentary Secretary have been well deserved, not merely because he was the Chairman of the Tomlinson Committee and that he is the Mover of this Bill, but because for many years he has shown what one may term a real human interest in the public activities with which he has been associated. I want to devote a few moments to certain points on this Bill which, I believe, to be of some importance and which have not yet been made. It must be remembered that the Bill does not immediately open the gateway. What it does is to offer a charter to the disabled. It gives to people an opportunity which, up to now, they have been denied if the Minister does his job. The Bill empowers certain things to be done. It does not say that they will be done. That is important. Everyone realises that it would be impossible for the Minister at this juncture to set up all the machinery which is required to carry into effect the intentions of the Bill. For one thing, there will be a need for greater personnel and staffs. There will be need for structural building. We shall not get very far in this work until there is a great priority in building. Rehabilitation might be broadly divided into two parts—the purely medical rehabilitation and industrial rehabilitation. If the significance of that is not immediately apparent to hon. Members, I would explain that it means that the physician or the surgeon may be able to get the patient to that degree of recovery where he is able to do something, but there is the need then for training him to do something.
Some features of the Bill fill me with great hope. Perhaps I am in a special position to refer to some particular cases. As a one-time secretary of an orthopædic hospital it was my experience to see some of the casualties of industry, not merely victims of accidents. I have seen miners who are hopeless cripples and who have never met with an accident, men who have been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis and various diseases which were contracted as a result of their occupation, and who if there had been a chance of remedial treatment, might have been saved from a future which was without hope. They have gone to the particular hospital of which I was secretary too late. We knew there were among them patients who, if this Bill had been in existence, would not have faced a future so hopeless as it then was for them.
Another thing I like about the Bill is that it will deal with people suffering from congenital deformity. It may be forgotten that there are children who, as a result of an accident in early life or having been born with some malformation, have never found themselves in industry, not because they might not have been able to render useful service if they had been given the opportunity but because no employer would employ them. One Member rather deplored the fact that disabled people were to get a certificate. I have met a large number of disabled men. Not one of them would object to having a job in exchange for a certificate. Is it to be imagined that disabled people want reminding of their disablement? Is it not true that their disability is always apparent to them as people who are shut out of the ordinary activities and recreations of life? They will not mind. Take the case referred to of the National Health Insurance member who, having had a period of benefit, then goes on to disabled benefit. Are not such people constantly aware of the fact that they are disabled because of the necessity of producing a certificate in order to get their benefit? Of course they are. There is nothing in that.
What I am concerned about is the administration. I want nobody to slip through the meshes of the net, and realise that it is in the Regulations that we shall find the necessary machinery to ensure that. I see that the Minister proposes to co-operate with other Ministers. In this Debate there has been a singular absence of any reference to the Ministry of Health. Unless there is close co-operation between the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Health there will either be a great redundancy and overlapping or the work will be inefficiently done. If under the new comprehensive health service a hospital is properly staffed with the right people, then every patient who could respond to rehabilitation could be registered at the hospital, and when the time was ripe for his discharge, or even before, notice could be given to the Ministry of Labour, who could then take up their task from their end.
It is a mistake to suppose that rehabilitation begins when a patient is discharged from the hospital, to imagine that rehabilitation is a bridge between discharge from hospital and entry into industry. Rehabilitation should be the object directly the patient goes into hospital. Rehabilitation can begin there in positive form. The first thing is to make the patient work conscious, not to let him get the idea that as a result of his disability there is no chance for him in industry again. Make patients work conscious. That can be done by bed-side occupational therapy. The trouble with occupation therapy at the moment is that too much of it is of a purely diversionary character. Occupational therapy in a hospital usually takes the form of doing anything to keep the patient's mind occupied, and that has psychological value, but it is easily possible to have the type of occupational therapy which, in addition to having a curative effect through exercises and by producing that flexibility which will be required for going into industry, also takes cognisance of a patient's aptitude for certain types of work. As soon as it is known that a patient can no longer go back to his ordinary work he can be prepared for another trade.
What will be required are rehabilitation centres. Some people favour the idea of every large hospital giving rehabilitation treatment, but there is no hospital that can completely cater for rehabilitation, because the range of industries, trades and crafts is so wide. What is required is a rehabilitation centre. I would like to refer to the very successful Gleneagles experiment. At Gleneagles what was first of all a purely miners' experiment was extended. There is a magnificent lay-out, where different types of rehabilitation are under the control of experienced people. There is rehabilitation for heavy types of work, for those who can go back to it, for masonry, woodwork and metal work. That experiment can be multiplied up and down the country, and something like that will be required if this is to be successful.
So rehabilitation will begin with the patient in bed and will follow the patient into the rehabilitation centre and then into the workshop. Reference has been made to the survey of the Ford factory. In that factory, in addition to one-armed men and to semi-blind men, there were no fewer than 1,000 tuberculous workers. Here, again. is an aspect of rehabilitation which the Bill will deal with and one which is very encouraging, for under the terms of it rehabilitation is not confined to those who are the victims of accidents or to those who are crippled from birth. In addition there are those who suffer from disease. Too little emphasis has been placed on this purely medical side. It has been assumed that what we want are massage departments, what is called physio-therapy. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) I prefer the word "massage" to physio-therapy. What we want is rehabilitation in its physical sense, and it is sometimes overlooked that there is a wide range of medical cases that will never be able to get back to their jobs but who can do some job. T.B. cases form a large proportion of them, and there are asthma cases. Some of the Sheffield cutlery workers will never be able to go back to their jobs because of the danger to life. Then there is dermatitis. A man may have learned a trade, perhaps been apprenticed to it, but contracts dermatitis. I know the point does not come in here, but I want to see an alteration of the law regarding workmen's compensation which will deal with dermatitis. I have never been able to discover the difference between industrial dermatitis and any other form of it. There are men and women who have been taught a trade who will never go back to it because, if they do, they will come into contact with materials which irritate their skin and there will be a recurrence of the disease; and, in addition, employers, knowing that they have once had dermatitis, will not employ them again; but they are fit for some other job and can be trained for it.
I am hoping that this Bill will fulfil all the promises which are contained in it. It has great potentialities. The worst thing about these cases is not the pain and suffering, but the knowledge of the patients that now and henceforth they will be unwanted, that they have been sentenced to industrial death. Relieve patients of that fear and a great blessing will have been conferred upon the unfortunate section of the working class who are the victims of any of these ills.
Reference has been made to the advisory committees. I think the Minister has done right to say that his national and local advisory committees will have on them representatives of employers and workpeople, and he has also done wisely in saying there shall be medical representation, but I ask him to remember that there are those—not necessarily represen- tative of organised workers and certainly not of employers, and not doctors—who may have a special knowledge of this problem, and they may be of use. I am thinking of people such as those who have taken an active part in the administration of Lord Roberts' Memorial Workshops, of those who have been engaged in this work in the Clyde Basin and at Gleneagles, of those who are engaged in rehabilitation under local authority auspices. To the extent that their advice and help can be of service I hope the Minister will not weaken his arm by shutting them out. Everybody has congratulated the Minister on this Bill. Let us hope the time will soon come when we see it put into operation.
No one could linen to the speech just made by the hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer) without a stirring of the heart and a feeling of admiration for his gallantry and efficiency. If we never had a more controversial Bill than this, how easy would be our Parliamentary procedure and what wonderful progress we should make, I imagine that it has come into being in consequence of the uneasy stirrings of the national conscience, which have been translated into action by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour and his most able assistants. There is no doubt that the national conscience on this matter has been stirring for a long time. While this is a Bill which may need some consideration during the Committee stage, I welcome the rather firm way in which it deals with the possibilities before those who may not play their part as they should in employing the disabled. What is this Bill, after all? I would like to define it as the price that we, as a great nation, have to pay for centuries of total disregard of normal, natural, and proper eugenic principles, which are only now slowly dawning on the consciences of our people. I would remind the House of the enormous significance of the definition of "disabled" in the first paragraph of the Bill. It includes congenital deformity and disease, and that bears out what I have just said. We must realise that in this country we have many of those cases. I do not know whether we have more or less than other countries have, but I do know that congenital deformity and disease are an altogether tragic business in great countries like India. In this country, the disabled can be counted in hundreds of thousands. The afflictions range from infantile paralysis and deformities to such diseases as tuberculosis, and the lesser but none the less crippling of capacity affections of eyesight and hearing.
This subject rather interests me. I cannot help reminding the House that mankind has brought the production and survival of the unfit to a state of tragic perfection, and that it is with that particular matter that the Bill will so largely deal. We must realise that the wild animal world knows nothing of these problems which so stir our hearts and now our consciences. The other section of immense importance among the disabled comes from the inevitable strife of war, which has produced, and I say will continue to produce for all foreseeable time, an immense number of disabled people. We have in fact a terrible toll, a gigantic price, to pay for those frailties and failings of mankind, but I feel deeply conscious, and I am sure the whole House has felt it too, that it is a burden which it is our bounden duty to face with every show of efficiency.
I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary, or whoever is to reply, one or two questions. The Bill makes it clear that assistance to the disabled will not take place until after the age of 16, although an immense number of disabled people are disabled before that age, and many from birth. It is not the concern of the Minister of Labour, but I hope that he is in intimate and powerful touch with the Ministry of Health and with the Board of Education, in order that the necessary link may be made between the facilities which are granted to those under the age of 16 and what they will get when they come, so to speak, to the Minister of Labour's kingdom. Another point which has been brought very much to my notice and I daresay of hon. Members is, how little co-operation there now is between the medical profession and the industrial side of employment. Cooperation ought to be much closer than it is, and the present position leaves a great deal to be desired. At any rate, in the Bill we have a charter of new life and hope for the disabled and the prospect of recovery and self-esteem for the sad instances with which we are familiar. Another question which I want to put to the ex-Chairman of the Tomlinson Com- mittee, which speaks in paragraph 104 of its Report about a comprehensive survey into the most suitable occupations for the purposes of the disabled, whether such a survey is being carried out, and, if so, how far it has got.
Now I should like to say a word about the magnitude of this problem and the numbers concerned. I am sorry that it was not possible for the Parliamentary Secretary to provide us with a sort of conspectus of the whole situation and of the numbers concerned. A few numbers have reached me, and from them the total seems to be colossal. One set of figures is that 250,000 people are discharged every year from the hospitals requiring, in consequence of sickness, accident and disease, remedial treatment. In addition to that, many other people are injured by accident who must be added to that number. Then, I believe, a very large number, approaching 50,000, require after-care and employment, as a consequence of tuberculosis. That means a huge number of over 300,000 in a year. How we are to embark upon the problem of training those people and making them fit for re-employment is something of a puzzle, but it must be faced.
I know of only four considerable training centres for the disabled, although there may be others, and I do not know whether they are able to train and turn out more than 3,000 a year. That estimate will give some indication of the work that the Minister of Labour has to face. A lot has been said by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) and the hon. and gallant Members for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) on the subject of the ex-Service men and priority. With every word that has been said so far, I am in entire agreement. I ask for some measure of priority for people who have been employed in the Services. I think I quote correctly the words of the Parliamentary Secretary when I say that he said:
The special needs of war disabled will be constantly borne in mind.
I only hope that that will be so, because the case is altogether unanswerable in favour of men who are serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Merchant Service. As to what was said by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw, I can never get out of my mind the attitude which is
so often met, and which was the product, I suppose, of the industrial revolution and of the fact that we live in an island with a safe and very successful population, and which engendered the idea that service in the Army and the Navy, as it was until 20 years ago, was something to be deplored, and rather despised. Although that attitude has largely disappeared, it has not completely done so, and I suggest that a duty falls upon the Minister of Labour to do everything possible to see that reasonable priority is given to the people I speak of.
I am delighted to see that the King's Roll is to be replaced by a compulsory quota. I want to make a final appeal that the Minister shall make it his business to have representation on the Advisory Council and the district committees of the interests which have been mentioned to-day, in order to look after the ex-Service people. My final word is that in the Bill we have the very best medicine and incentive to recovery for the disabled whether by accident or by sickness. This sort of medicine is always so much nicer when there is the assurance of a good job. I therefore most heartily congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on an admirable presentation of an excellent Bill.
I want to take a minute or so to speak on this subject from one angle only. First, I would pay my tribute to the Parliamentary Secretary for his very fine achievement to-day and to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, who has backed the Bill. I would like to make it plain at the outset that I hope we shall not witness a struggle between the Service man and the man from the industrial field. I do not know how we shall stop it, but I would point out that, apart from the war period, there is a record of accident and injury on the industrial field that is appalling. I pay my tribute, and I am behind no-one in doing it, to the men in the Services for what they are doing and will be called upon to do, and I do the same for the men and women in our towns who have been bombed and have shown by their fortitude and courage that they were fully aware of the need to win the war.
We have a big job to do. If the Bill functions properly, it ought to meet the needs of all of us. When I listened to the stirring story of the King's Roll and the talk about trial and error, I realised the need for meeting the situation with sympathy, but there is something more than that in the Bill. There is utility in it. All along I am thinking of the industrial field. We have allowed a tremendous reservoir of labour to be thrown aside and to be met by compensation, but we are rapidly approaching a point when we shall need all the labour we have in this country, in the post-war period. Therefore, there is a tremendous amount of utility, as well as sympathy, in the Bill.
We know the trouble we are having to get the mining industry stocked up with the number of men we require. The Minister of Labour has tried various ways and means of getting entrants into the industry, but we find that we are very far short of the number we want. The Minister has told us this week that he wants some 30,000 men by next May, and we are having to ballot to get them into the industry. It is not a delectable industry, or we should not need to ballot for people to go into it. It is not delectable very largely for two reasons. One is the nature of the employment. I would point out that fairly regularly the rate of accidents in the mining industry is nearly a quarter of the industry every year. It is quite true that those who are injured in the mining industry are not permanently injured in the majority of cases, but there is a large number, a very considerable number, who are down and out for the rest of their lives.
There is one aspect of the industry which I think is probably as tragic as anything we know in our industrial life. There are probably two, but the one I am most familiar with is miners' nystagmus. Silicosis is not peculiar to our Northern coalfields, but miners' nystagmus is found all over the coalfield. I know that when a man is certified as suffering from miners' nystagmus that man has had the brand of Cain, as it were, put on him. Can he get into the mines again? He has to sign a certificate that he has had it. If he attempts to get in again without that certificate and anything happens, the man is liable. I have known men who have endeavoured to get in. They have met every question put to them satisfactorily. The last question was, "Have you had miners' nystagmus?" If the answer is "Yes," then the man concerned cannot be employed. These men after a short period, after a number of medical examinations, are taken before the medical referee, who examines them. According to the law, he has to give his verdict on how he finds the man on that day. More than once I have heard a medical referee say, "I know what you were like yesterday, you may be worse tomorrow, but to-day you are able to do light work." I think I have mentioned it in this House before that such work is employment, for instance, as a postman, where the man has not any stooping to do. That man then becomes liable for light work compensation, which means 10s. or 12s. a week and unemployment assistance for 26 weeks and then the Assistance Board. Nobody wants that. It is a disease the very nature of which is such that the man ought to have work. By its very nature it eats into the soul of a man as he is going about. Unless work can be found for him of a nature that he can perform, that man becomes more or less a derelict, both mentally and physically. I am looking forward to this Bill as a means of helping particularly this class of man.
As far as miners' welfare in connection with the industry is concerned I believe that rehabilitation centres we are setting up under it will play a very great part in our mining industry in restoring men, if not to a full measure of capacity, at least to a very great degree of capacity. I think this is important. We are balloting for men to go into the pits. We have offered young men the opportunity to opt to go into the pits, but I would suggest that the trained miner who has had an accident, who can be rehabilitated and who goes back to the pit again will produce more coal much more quickly than either the ballot or any other means will achieve, because he is a trained miner.
My last word is with regard to quotas, the number of men who will be taken on by employers. As has been pointed out, we have a very high rate of accidents in our mines, and it is true that employers by and large have taken on a percentage of a quota of light-work compensation men. [Interruption.] Before the war. It was the practice in our collieries to take on light-work compensation men to do light work. Nothing was done to restore those men to where they were before, but they were found in many cases a job on the surface or something like that. There is provision in this Bill for special circumstances, for special quotas. I hope that so far as we are concerned in the hazardous industries, particularly in the mining industry, this Bill will meet us as far as special quotas are concerned where the rate of accident is very high. In closing, I would add my modicum of praise to what has been said. This is a charter. We have passed through the stage of trial and error, and I am glad we have, because I believe this Bill is born of long industrial experience and of the tragedies of broken lives that have happened because of accidents in the industrial field.
The House has to-day been thoroughly enjoying itself, as I have seen it often enjoy itself in the last 25 years. As the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Rear-Admiral Beamish) has said, the national conscience has got joyously to work today. I agree with him. Now, the way our national conscience works is this: When we go to our gates and see Lazarus sitting there, the dogs licking his sores, we say that our national conscience will not allow such things to continue. Therefore, as there are many of us and only one of Dives, we will pass an Act of Parliament and make Dives pay for Lazarus. That is the way the national conscience works. It is the method by which the individual shirks responsibilities which are incumbent on him, by forcing them upon other people by means of a majority vote. That is the national conscience as we see it operating in this Bill to-day. Speaking as an employer of labour, I have no objection to this Bill's particular way of working the national conscience stunt because, although it is a Bill to throw an obligation which belongs to the community on a small section which has not many votes, in actual fact it does not succeed in doing so, because the burden inevitably, although indirectly, falls upon the bulk of the people themselves, who fondly imagine that they have managed to shirk their own obligations to these men, whether from industry or the Fighting Services, by shifting the burden on to the shoulders of a few employers of labour. Though they have not achieved this, the general principle of embodying the national conscience in the form of Acts of Parliament has been observed in this Bill.
Let us get down to the actual working of this Measure if it becomes an Act. I ventured to put a question to the Parliamentary Secretary, a question of great practical importance in the engineering trade, and he was quite unable to give me a reply, making it pretty obvious that when this Bill was drafted this difficulty had never been considered at all. In my own case as an employer in the engineering industry I shall be bound to employ a certain number of disabled men. Now, anyone who knows the engineering industry knows that the number of jobs suitable for seriously disabled men in engineering is a very small proportion of the whole. For instance, with very rare exceptions unskilled labour in the engineering industry requires men in full possession of health and strength. Otherwise they cannot do such jobs as shifting heavy weights, dealing with crane slinging and the like, where a certain amount of quickness of action is the only way a man can keep himself free from accident, as in the mining industry. Hence, if we employ disabled men, we have a very small selection of unskilled jobs to which we can put them. We already have to provide for our own men disabled in industry or war. Any suitable unskilled job is booked up, and more than booked up, already.
I deny that. If anyone catches me joining the employers' federation, I shall be very much surprised. We have already provided disabled men with all the suitable unskilled jobs we have got. The residue of the jobs on which we can employ them are skilled jobs, such as machine-minding, where a lot of moving about or moving heavy weights has not to be done. We then say, "Right, we will take so many disabled men, we will train them to be really quite capable operators of these machines." What happens? We are prosecuted under the Restoration of Trade Practices Act and fined £50 per diem as a maximum for each man every day he is so employed. This is the sort of way we legislate at the present time. Within a period of about one year we get two Bills before Parliament, one of which tells me that if I employ these men I shall be liable to £50 per man for each day I employ each man. The other tells me I shall be sent to prison for three months if I do not employ them. If you legislate on the lines of what I call the national conscience instead of legislating on decency, truth, and honesty, that is the sort of legislation you get. In actual fact a fine does not harm me at all, because the burden goes direct on the men I employ. But I shall be confronted with this dilemma: Shall I go to gaol myself for three months, together with my co-directors and all the officials of the firm (which will bring the whole thing to a stop), or shall we make the men pay £50 a day for each of the men for whom we are liable? It is very selfish of me, but, to tell the honest truth, I am afraid I and my fellow directors will be prepared that our men should pay the fine rather than that we should go to gaol. What I want to say to the Minister and his colleagues is this: It is perfectly hopeless going on with bundles of legislation which are founded on sobstuff and sentiment without any regard to facts, for, do what you will and shirk your personal obligations to the best of your ability, the obligations always, in the end, come home to roost in some way or other.
It is too late for me to make a speech, but I want to ask one or two questions. My hon. Friend the Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson) will forgive me if I do not follow the line of thought that he has developed, as it would require a book to answer him, and this is not the moment. I am a little worried at the size of this problem. In going around the hospitals, curiously enough, in connection with Army education, I have discovered that a substantial part of Army education is occupational therapy. Officers and a number of sergeants are doing this work. It is staggering to see men literally coming to life again through what is a new tech- nique, as described by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary in what I regard as the best introduction to a Bill which I have heard in tins Parliament, so clear and authoritative was it. Where are these centres for this vast number going to be? The experience in the Army as I have seen it in these centres is that they are run by medical personnel, and, as the hon. Member said, you would hardly think that the Ministry of Health were in this. On the Tomlinson Committee the Board of Education, the Ministry of Health anti the Ministry of Pensions were represented.
I have had some experience of the training centres run under the Ministry of Labour. The Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but is it not the experience that it is on the whole better to train in the works than in centres, and are not centres being closed down? I was on a Committee 18 years ago dealing with training for migration. We found then that the Ministry of Labour have not got in their organisation the experience to deal with this problem. That is why I was very glad to see that every help is to be given to the many voluntary and education agencies who have years of experience of this work. What part are education authorities going to play and should not the lower age limit be 18, not 16? Is it a good thing to have men trained separately from the other trainees? The problem of re-training after this war is going to be colossal, Half a generation have never had a job; they have gone straight from school or from blind-alley employment into the Services, and they have never joined a trade union. Many of these people will be disabled, many will want fresh treatment. I share the doubts that many Members have expressed about mixing up the problem of these ex-Service men with the vast mass of other misfits, as regards employment. I do not want to separate the training of other personnel and ex-Service men, but ought we not to pay more attention to the whole preventive service?
I welcome what the Minister of Labour has done in trying to link up medicine and industry. He has taken a very great personal interest in this side of the work. Somebody suggested a rehabilitation centre for every populous area. I hope that these centres are not going to treat only disabled, but ordinary people as well. One of the best ways to help a disabled man to get well is to put him alongside ordinary people who are also being trained. I have had experience this year of trying to get wardens and cooks, mostly ex-Service men, for camps. Many men think they are all right, but after a few weeks some old trouble crops up, often a psychological or mental trouble. When we come to the Committee stage, I want us to define what we really mean by training. You cannot tell a man in my part of the world to go to a reconditioning centre; he roars with laughter, because of the experience before the war. Unless there is a pipeline from the training centre to a job, training is useless. Everything depends on the administration. I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work he has put in in visiting these centres. I have been to some of the centres after he has been there, and I know the work he has done. This Bill, as my hon. Friend said, is potential. Everything will depend on sympathetic and flexible administration. I hope that in Committee we shall exercise critical judgment on these smaller points, and that we shall look at the Bill closely, because to-day we are giving it a general blessing, which it richly deserves.
I think that as the Debate has gone on we have got more critical of this Bill. If I can put the objection in one sentence, it is that under this Bill the cat burglar of whom the Parliamentary Secretary talked, who was climbing along a roof and fell through a skylight and lost his leg, is put in the same position as a soldier who gets his leg shot off by a German shell. The country would never tolerate that.
If the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister can deny that a burglar falling through a skylight and losing his leg is not covered by the Bill, I will withdraw; but, otherwise, an injustice is being done to the Service men of this country. I am all in favour of the King's Roll being made compulsory, and of the Merchant Navy and, if you like, the Civil Defence Services, being included, but until I know whether cases from industry, congenital or from accidents, are included, I shall not be satisfied. Nobody has talked about road accidents, but there is a great number, as I remember from the dim days when I practised at the Bar, and those people are being swept in and given the same chance as the soldier who has served his country. If some of these congenital cases and these road accident and industrial accident cases are coming in somebody has to step out of industry. Who is that to be? The other day we were discussing demobilisation. When that comes along some industries are going to say, "We are very sorry, but we have got to the stage when the next man we take has to be a congenital or a road accident case, or some other form of disabled man." I hope that on the Committee stage, we shall alter this Bill.
When the Parliamentary Secretary was introducing this Measure, I thought of my early associations with him in a part of Lancashire, when we together saw men injured or in some way crippled by industrial diseases or accidents. There was no legislation at that time—nor is there any now, until this Bill becomes law—to say to employers that they must find these men jobs. We tried to agitate in the industrial areas to cause the workers to recognise that the victims of industry were indeed a social responsibility, and that employers had some responsibility to the nation for such injuries. Then came the last war. Many of us fought as soldiers together, and some of our colleagues were injured in the field of battle, some on the high seas, and a few in the air. We returned, and in the British Legion, of which I have been a member for nearly a quarter of a century, we met many of our fellows, crippled or made ugly in some way or another. There was a considerable amount of patriotism among decent employers, and, generally speaking, the public were anxious to help these men to get a job. In this they were backed by the King's Roll, which some employers were glad to use on their notepaper, to show that they were good patriotic citizens. But the chance of a job began to disappear. That Report, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) referred, indicated that the tide of patriotism in war-time recedes quickly when the war-drums cease to roll. I have been very concerned about the lack of recognition of that code of honour which is associated with the King's Roll, under which employers were expected to engage a quota of ex-Service men. Some have done so. There are decent employers, but there are bad one as well, and some do not recognise any form of human decency whatever.
When I heard what was said by the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson), who is not with us at the moment, concerning the number of jobs in engineering which can be done by disabled workers, I would have liked to offer him a ticket for a film which I saw some years ago, called "Modern Times," in which Charlie Chaplin appeared. In that film Chaplin used various kinds of gadgets, and a man did not need any arms or legs; he did not even need brains. The job was mechanised throughout. In some of our factories 96 per cent. of the jobs are done by women who knew nothing about them six months ago. Why should he argue against good employers prepared to subscribe to the code of honour laid down under the Bill or against the quotas, when we can do this with good will all round? He knows that we can do it if we can only get good will and understanding on the part of every intelligent and reasonable employer throughout the land.
The Parliamentary Secretary, in his closing words, said that he hoped the House would take pleasure in placing this Bill on the Statute Book. As an old colleague of the Parliamentary Secretary and a loyal colleague of the Minister, I hope everybody will interpret it in the best sense of the term, but I would like the Minister to keep in mind that in the Tomlinson Report, and throughout the Bill, while they have referred to T.B. cases, they have not shown how they propose to deal with them. I beg of the Minister to take a look at the T.B. case victims. I have 11 T.B. victims out of the Army in my Division, eight of whom are receiv- ing pensions. There are jobs to go round for the time being, but when the war is over, I would ask the Minister whether he believes that, either under this Bill or as the result of the Tomlinson Report or the Papworth experiment or any other scheme, there will be many employers who will employ, or offer a job to, a victim of T.B. Even co-operative societies have refused to recognise that they have a responsibility to ex-employees who suffer from tuberculosis. Good employers have turned them down. We, as trade union officials, have appealed for this class of victim, but we cannot shift the employers from the attitude that it is not their responsibility but a social responsibility. If there is a note of criticism that I am inclined to make, it is that the T.B. case has not up to the moment had a fair hearing or examination, even by the Parliamentary Secretary. I hope that the Minister will give a reasonable explanation of the kind of scheme he proposes to put forward to deal with any number of T.B. victims.
In the short space of time which I have I want to make very few points. I completely support the objects of this Bill, and I hope that they will be carried out and that the widest possible publicity will be given to the effect which we now know this vocational training and other training has on disabled persons. I am sorry the Minister has not profited by the recent experience of the Minister of Pensions. This Bill confers a legal right on the disabled. Parliament has given legal rights to pensions for war injuries, and the Minister of Pensions found, however judicial he was, that there were a number of persons aggrieved by his decisions. The Minister of Labour has to decide whether a person is substantially disabled or not. It is a most difficult decision for him to make. However fair he is, he is bound to give dissatisfaction, and I ask him to consider whether he should not adopt the procedure which was found satisfactory by giving an appeal from his decision to an impartial tribunal. This point must, I think, have been in his mind, and I apprehend that quite recently on one of these milk feasts of which we have heard, he to-day discussed the matter with the Home Secretary, for one sees in the Bill a principle adopted similar to that with regard to 18B, a setting-up of an Advisory Committee to which the Minister can refer a case of doubt. I hope he will appoint an impartial tribunal to deal with these matters. That is my first point.
My second point is that I hope also that he will extend the automatic registration to those getting disability pensions from this war as he has applied it to those from the last war, so that there will not be a single case of a man in the Forces, the Civil Defence or Mercantile Marine who is getting a pension and who is not included in the disablement register. The third point I would like him to clarify is that a lot of people disabled for years will take a great deal of convincing that a better world lies ahead for them. Those in receipt of workmen's compensation or pensions may be very loath to embark on this new venture unless they have some assurance that if they fail they will not, because they have embarked on it, lose the right to pension or continuance of workmen's compensation. This Bill will have far-reaching effects and is some provision for that security for the future in this country which is so universally wanted.
As I anticipated when this Bill was designed, it has received a very hearty welcome in this House, and on behalf of my colleague the Parliamentary Secretary and myself I desire to thank the House not only for its welcome but for the suggestions which have been made and for the indications of what is in the minds of hon. Members. Many of the points that have been raised are Committee points, and it will be necessary to discuss them when we come to that stage and to explain and examine them carefully then. I have not time to refer to every hon. Member who has taken part in the Debate, so I have tried to classify in my mind the various points that have been raised, but before referring to them I would like to make one or two observations. This Bill is serving two purposes. It is curative, it is true, but I hope that it is going to be a contribution to prevention as well. I assure the House that in considering preventative work for which my Department is responsible under the Factory Act and other Acts we will find that this Bill will be complementary to those Acts in the preventative field. Every employer and workman knows that it is better not to have an accident than to be cured from the effects of one. That is the spirit in which we hope the Bill will work. If I may give an illustration, a good deal has been made of the fact that we have provided in the Bill for the congenital case. I would ask hon. Members to consider how much congenital disorder there is in the world through the failure to rehabilitate the fathers. One of the biggest causes of congenital cases in succeeding generations has been the lack of proper treatment of the parents. Therefore, I look upon this Bill not merely as curative for persons who are injured but, I hope, as a preventative for the succeeding generations.
As to the relationship of the Service man and the civilian, I hope the day is not far distant—and this may come surprisingly from me—that the division between our responsibilities for the defence of our country and, the enjoyment of our citizen rights will be no longer a division in the body politic. I hope that this is one of the steps towards removing it altogether. We have had conscription in this war, and every citizen in this country is liable to do what he is told, and it is very difficult to draw a distinction as a result. I am asked to give preference to the soldier—I do not want to be misunderstood—but what am I going to say to the man whom I took out of an office in the city and put into a T.N.T. factory and ruined him for ever? Is not that man's service a war contribution?
I really cannot see that. It is difficult if you have taken a person who would have preferred to go to the war and whom you may have prevented from going to the war, as Minister of Labour, by saving, "You shall not be an airman, a sailor or soldier." To give another illustration, I am taking lads from school now and putting them into the mines. Suppose I send a young man there when he does not want to go, but wants to go into the Army, and he is injured, how can I, when I have directed him to another place, draw this distinction? It is a frightful difficulty, and I ask hon. Members to realise the difficulty with which I am faced in this matter. But even with that difficulty in mind, I recognise that I cannot ignore the psycho- logical factor involved, and I do not intend to do so. I propose if I can to deal with it administratively; it is not in the Bill. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) asked whether an employer would have the right to give preference to an ex-soldier. Certainly. We do not propose to take a lot of disabled men from the register and say to an employer, "You have to have John Brown." We shall give him a selection, and if an employer says, "I want an ex-soldier," we shall send him an ex-soldier off the register. Alternatively if unemployment should, unfortunately, become such a problem as it was between the two wars, then administratively we shall see that strict regard is paid to the claims of the ex-Service men.
I hope that I may meet the hon. and gallant Member for Lonsdale on those two points, which, if I understood him aright, he was putting to me. I want to meet them. When I was on Liverpool Docks not long ago, I saw men who were being sent down to salvaged ships directed to that work, I understand, by my officials. They were literally working up to their chests in water, trying to get a valuable cargo needed for war purposes out of a ship that had been torpedoed. The man who was doing that kind of work would not have been doing it if there had been no war and if the ship had not been torpedoed. I must say that I admired those men as I looked down at them. My hon. Friend the Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Graham White) knows a lot about this and how those men went to work to secure that valuable cargo. Those men were risking their lives there as much as they would have done on the battlefield. It was an urgently needed cargo. And they got it out, although we expected them to be blown up any minute. How, if paralysis or some disability comes to a man who has done work of that kind, can I say that his work was not a part of the war? I cannot do so, and I do ask hon. Members to svmpathise with me in the task of administering these difficult matters in a war like this. The hon. Members who have spoken to-day have reminded us constantly of the fact that it is total war that we have to contend with this time, and those cases to which I have referred should also be kept in mind. With that explanation, I think I have met the main point.
It was put to me that it was the poignancy of war which had led us to introduce this Bill. I would say at once to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lonsdale that I personally do not admit that soft impeachment. I have laboured with every Government that has been in office for 36 years to try to get something like this Measure on to the Statute Book of this country. The most wretched job that a trade union official has to do is that of trying to assess the compensation for an injury. How is one to know what all the circumstances are? I must in my time have settled thousands of cases. You get all the medical reports before you, and then you may get the man £1,000 or £2,000 and the man goes off with the cheque, but very often in such cases I have been left with a heavy heart. I have not known what would be the final result of an accident, and may I tell hon. Members that very few of the doctors have known either when they have given me the certificates? But in many cases months or years afterwards I have seen these men crippled in our streets, and I have had it on my conscience that I did not do the right thing in the settlement just because I did not know.
I have worked on this matter in connection with the Trades Union Congress with my hon. Friend the Member for North Southwark (Mr. Isaacs). He has worked for many years on the committee dealing with this subject of which I believe I was chairman before him. We struggled with this difficulty. No, it has not been the poignancy of war which has led to this; it has been the terrible cost to the nation and to the individual that has forced this matter upon our minds. I saw the other day a note in one of our papers to the effect that this Bill was going to cost £3,000,000. It will add to the national income by many hundreds of millions. It is an investment. It may be a charge on the Exchequer, but, as I said yesterday in another respect, the thing that influences my mind in all these problems is how many man-hours of production I can get to add to the total national wealth. The more man-hours of production I can get the more is added to the total national wealth, and then with the help of my Conservative friends in dividing it equitably, we can raise the standard of living. The terrible loss of skill which was involved was impressed upon me when I took office and found that nearly 200,000 people had been written off in cold blood by local committees as no good to society and a permanent charge on the Assistance Board. Those men were marching up twice a week to parade their misery and their suffering, and yet by measures of this kind in this war that number has now been brought down to 18,000. What has been the effect of that in this total war? With that example before us I suggest that there is proof that this is an investment which can be used to raise the standard of living in peace-time as well.
Therefore I repeat that I welcome all the contributions that have been made today. I would remind the House, however, that a Committee went into the question of the King's Roll in 1919 or 1920, and the Committee then recommended that should be a statutory provision. That recommendation dealt with ex-Service men and I wish it had been put into effect then even if limited to ex-Service men and that the national obligation had been accepted wholeheartedly at that time, instead of forcing those dear souls who have worked so hard during the intervening period to rely on voluntary efforts.
Would my right hon. Friend allow me to say that I did not mean to imply that he did not work for this for years? I know that he has done so, but the remark which he has just made put the emphasis upon the fact that a committee asked for this 20 years ago. It is however the poignancy of war which has secured this Bill.
I will not go into that again. I do not detract from what has been done and please believe me when I say that there is no attempt on my part to claim any personal virtue in introducing this Bill. I know that this a subject which has been boiling in the body politic for some time. All that has fallen from my hon. Friend and from myself to-day has been with the object of crystallising the desire for action and putting it fully before hon. Members in a Bill which will, I hope, remove for ever a blot from our national life.
That brings me to the point of those great agencies to which reference has been made. I am convinced that it will be a mistake if we do not utilise those agencies and institutions which exist. Let me mention one or two. It would be fatal if we did anything to injure the work of St. Dunstan with which my hon. and gallant Friend has been associated. It has built up a tradition, gained great experience and tradition counts for a lot. It is not my intention to start competition with the institutions in existence but those institutions have had to proceed on a voluntary basis with voluntary funds and if I find that their facilities for the treatment of the blind for instance are not all that is necessary, I would rather use them as an agency or institution in combination with ourselves to help to develop that treatment. I would say the same with regard to Papworth and so on. There is one thing I must not do. I should get right back to the institutional conception if I tried to regiment the treatment of the disabled and we must not regiment it. Variety is a very special feature of all these institutions which have been brought into existence whether for neurosis or anything else and there is the question of selection. Some men might like one place and not like another and I hope to introduce that spirit in the administration of this Measure.
I have been asked what about the size of the quota. Frankly I do not know and I do not think hon. Members can expect me to. If I may use it as an illustration, we were debating yesterday the subject of pensions. I remember people coming to this House saying that pensions were going to cost so many millions, but they soon discovered there were more old age pensioners than they thought. I think the responsibility will be a very heavy one for the next 10 or 20 years, but I think the peak will be reached in that time. This scheme will dovetail very closely—this answers the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Rear-Admiral Beamish) into a subsequent scheme for the national health services. It will dovetail very closely into the new Education Act dealing with children and medical services, and it will dovetail very closely into the treatment of the adolescent. It is designed so that it can be fitted into the general pattern of subsequent legislation. That, of course, I must not anticipate, but the House is well aware that we are dealing with the medical services. I have been asked why there are not to be independent tribunals, and I have been compared with 18B. I do not know whether we can rehabilitate a phlebitis patient or not, but I can state why tribunals are not provided for in this Bill. I have to receive a person from the curative centre. He is handed on to the Minister for training after having been in the hands of the medical fraternity. I do not know how a layman, even the hon. and gallant Member for Daventry (Major Manningham-Buller), could tell me whether that person is a six months case. I must rely on the medical treatment up to that point. The build-up of the matter is that I come to the training and employment of a man when a medical specialist hands him to me as being fit for me. I do not desire to avoid the tribunal, but I do not know how a tribunal of laymen could determine that. They could only read the medical report, and I do not see how they could bring greater judgment to bear on the matter. I am sure the House would not ask me to bring in another body of consultants, not even from Harley Street, to determine whether the diagnosis at the rehabilitation centre was correct.
I will look into that point. It is not intended to give the Minister arbitrary power. I have not set up an Advisory Committee like the Committee under Regulation 18B, but I want to bring sympathetic souls on to an Advisory Committee, people not only from the British Legion but other people interested in these problems, employers, trade unionists and hospital people. I shall make these committees as local as I can. The idea is to keep as close as I can to the case and to have people to help me who are really interested and who want to help. It will not be a legal body. We have conceived a Bill which we hope complies with the desire of the country, and I want to get that translated into administrative action, so that people will take pleasure in trying to help deal with this problem. I hope that I have not missed any points of a general character, and I think that the other points raised are capable of being dealt with in Committee. I look forward to laying the foundation of a great human administration which will not only fit into the rest of the social services but will help men who are injured, not only in industry but in street accidents.
Let me say a word about street accidents. Suppose an hon. Member is knocked down by an omnibus. He is a man of ability and can contribute to the national life. Ought I not to try to restore him to health and get his services contributed to the national pool? It is not enough merely to say that this country is going to be poor and that we shall need the services of everyone to restore our work. We do need that. This country will not be able for the next 50 years to afford an unemployed man or to allow a man to be kept away from industry because he is fit or injured. If you do allow that waste of man-power, you will have lost the war, in spite of all the victories we have gained on the battlefield. It is because I appreciate the importance of this question of vital man-power that I commend the human qualities of this Bill as a means of preserving the virility of the nation and the productive capacity of every human being we have at our disposal.