That the Bill be recommitted to a Committee of the Whole House in respect of the Amendments to Clause 3, page 2, line 34, and Clause 3, page 3, line 6, the new Clause (Supplementary schemes) and the Amendments to Schedule 1, Part II, page 64, line 32 and Schedule 1, Part II, page 64, line 36, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. James Griffiths."—[Mr. James Griffiths.]
I beg to move, in page 2, line 34, leave out from beginning to end of line 41, and insert:
The Amendment is consequential upon the National Insurance Bill, which requires that the contribution shall be paid in respect of any week in which there is remuneration. This Amendment is consequential upon the words which were included by the first Amendment which was agreed to, and which gave the requirement that where any wages are paid in respect of a day on which the person would normally work and was not prevented from working by reason of injury or sickness, then the contribution will have to be paid.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This new Clause gives power to the Minister to approve supplementary schemes that may be submitted to him by bodies of persons claiming to represent insured persons and their employers and desiring to have a scheme in order to supplement the benefits provided under this Bill. There is a similar Clause in the new National Insurance Bill, and it has been indicated to us that, both in regard to the benefits provided under this Bill and those generally provided in the National Insurance Bill, there may be bodies of persons who would desire to supplement them. We have, therefore, decided to incorporate this Clause in this Bill. With minor modifications, it is exactly similar to Clause 27 in the National Insurance Bill.
It provides that, if a body of persons submit a scheme to the Minister, the Minister is charged with making investigations to find out whether those who have submitted scheme do represent, by and large, the majority of the people concerned. There will be provision by which any persons who feel aggrieved, or who feel that they ought to object, can object to the scheme, and finally the Minister can adopt it and bring it before the House for an affirmative Resolution. The effect of that will be, firstly, that statutory sanction will be given to the deductions or contributions towards any such scheme, and secondly that the Minister, in any scheme approved by Parliament, will be able to give aid by administering it and charging the cost of administration to the scheme itself. It has been represented to us that we shall be able considerably to assist persons who may feel it desirable to have supplementary schemes, if through our organisation, we administer such schemes and charge the cost to them. That, I think, is a tribute to the efficiency and cheapness of State administration. We shall be able to handle such schemes more easily and efficiently than anyone else. We therefore fell it desirable that there should be such a Clause in this Bill as in the other, and I am glad to say that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and some of his hon. Friends, feel the same about it. They had a proposal of their own down in approximately the same terms, so I do not think there will be very much argument about it. It is a very desirable Clause in this Bill, as in the other.
By a curious coincidence the new Clause in my name, and in similar terms, appeared on the Order Paper on the same day, as the Clause put down by the right hon. Gentleman opposite I have always maintained that, in this new scheme for industrial injuries insurance the Bill should provide for a reasonable basic payment, taking into account that every employed person, whether man or woman, will be covered by the provisions of the Bill, and that in those trades or industries where it is felt desirable, a higher standard of benefits should be provided by means of supplementary schemes emanating from the two sides of the industry, jointly if possible. I was therefore delighted to see, in the National Insurance Bill, a Clause providing for supplementary schemes, and I wondered why the Minister had not included such a Clause in this Bill in the first instance. However, the transposition of this Clause into the Bill will enable supplementary schemes to be made and, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, the effect of making supplementary schemes statutory will be that their provisions may be enforced against an unwilling minority, and their accounts will become subject to proper audit by the Minister of National Insurance. I was a little puzzled by the right hon. Gentleman's reference to administration. As I understand the Clause, no cost may fall upon the Exchequer, and therefore the administration of these schemes will, in the ordinary way, be left in the hands of the bodies jointly representing the employers and workpeople. I assume that it will be only in the matter of advice as to the working of the schemes, the keeping of accounts and so forth, that the Minister will come into the picture.
When I first contemplated this idea of supplementary schemes, I thought it possible that one could be devised for the coalmining industry. As a result of this Bill, the coalmining industry will be relieved of something like five-sixths of the present charge upon it, for the expenses of industrial injuries. That is the result of pooling the risks of industrial injury over the whole population. I had thought that some part of the savings effected by this plan might, therefore, reasonably be devoted to the provision of a supplementary scheme for the mining industry. Now, however, it has been decided that the coalmining industry is to pass under national control, and I very much doubt whether, when that occurs, it will be possible for the State to say, at one and the same time, "We enact by Statute a certain level of contributions and benefits under the industrial injuries scheme for the population as a whole," and "We, as the State, say that a substantially higher level of benefits is appropriate to the coalmining industry."
It seems to me that the State will be placed in an impossible situation if they are to pick out one class of workers, who happen to be working in a nationalised industry, and say that for them a higher rate of benefit is necessary and justifiable. For example, what about the comparison that will be made with the shipping industry, which is just as dangerous as, and in fact has a higher proportion of fatal accidents than, the coalmining industry? Therefore, keen as I am about the provision of these supplementary schemes, I am afraid that the nationalisation of the coal industry means " good bye" to the prospects of any supplementary scheme in that industry. I therefore warn hon Gentlemen sitting behind the Minister that, if they anticipate that the demand in what is called the Miners' Charter for much higher rates of industrial injuries benefit is going to be met, I am afraid they are likely to be disappointed. I do, however, warmly welcome the Clause, and I am very glad that the Minister is including it in the Bill.
I am sure you will agree, Mr. Speaker, that this would not be the proper time to discuss what is likely to happen when the mines are nationalised, but as one who took a very strong attitude about the 45s. basic figure for total incapacity in this Bill, I want to say a word of thanks to the Minister for including this Clause. We recognise that even as mine-workers we' cannot make out, for a supplementary scheme, a case which is limited only to those engaged in the mining industry. This Clause makes it possible for any body of insured persons to make representations to the Minister with regard to a supplementary scheme entirely on merit. Whether that merit is due to the particular accident risk or not is a matter for future discussion. I think I can say that, this Clause has gone a long way towards removing the little discontent there was about the 45s. basic figure in the Bill, and I want to say a word of thanks to the right hon. Gentleman for moving this Clause.
I beg to move, in Part II, page 64, line 32, leave out paragraph 1. I have another Amendment, consequential to this, in line 36, to leave out the word "other." May I suggest that we take the two Amendments together? These Amendments deal with the question of employment as a member of a police force. The original intention was that the police should be covered for sickness and other benefits under the National Insurance Bill but not for industrial injury benefit. It has been found that such an arrangement will involve considerable complication. It has been decided to bring the police within the industrial injuries scheme. The police after full consideration have desired to come within this scheme, and I move this Amendment to make it possible for them to be received into this scheme.
This Act shall, in its application to members of a police force within the meaning of the Police Pensions Act, 1921, and persons employed in any other prescribed employment being employment in respect of which benefits are payable under that Act as extended by or under any enactment have effect subject to such modifications as may be prescribed.—[Mr. James Griffiths]
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time." This new Clause relates to the police. As I indicated when we were dealing with this subject in Committee just now, there has been the fullest possible consultation with the police, and it is their desire, after those consultations, that they should be brought within this scheme. The new Clause is proposed in order to bring the police within the ambit of this Bill.
I must confess I am not very happy at the new Clause which the right hon. Gentleman now proposes. Very much thought and discussion were given during the preparation of the original Bill to the position of the police force. It was finally decided, after a great deal of consideration, that it would be wiser to exclude the police from the ambit of the industrial injuries insurance scheme, and that for more than one reason. In the first place, the police, of course, do stand in a totally different relationship from that of other persons covered by the provisions of the Bill. The Armed Forces are, naturally, excluded from the provisions of the Bill. The police are a disciplined force whose position is very analagous to that of the Armed Forces of the Crown, at any rate, in peacetime. Moreover, policemen have to take special risks, and the Police Pensions Acts provide for differing rates of pension according to how the injury, resulting in the pension is incurred. Specially high rates are given to members of the police force who are injured in the course of their duties. We all know that the better the constable, the more risk he is prepared to take. It follows that the risk of the police is substantially higher than that of the average of the general level of the population. These things were, of course, well provided for in the Police Pensions Acts, which this House passed over a long period of years.
In other respects too, of course, the police are in a very special position. There are under this Bill provisions for local appeal tribunals, and on those tribunals are to sit representatives of employers and representatives of workpeople. Those tribunals are not to be functional in character. That is to say, you will not have a ship owner and a shipping employee sitting, on every case where the injury has been incurred by a merchant seaman. Not at all. You will have tribunals dealing with all categories of workpeople. On these local tribunals will be sitting representatives of employers associations on the one hand, and of trade unions upon the other. You cannot imagine a more inappropriate set-up than that for dealing with appeals by members of the police force. I hope that whoever says a further word from the Government benches on this subject, will give us some indication. of the form of tribunal contemplated, where appeals by members of the police force are involved It is quite obvious to the House, I think, that the tribunals as established by the Bill will be inappropriate.
I should like to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Home Office, whom I see sitting on the front bench opposite, how it comes about that the Home Office have won every battle but the last upon this matter When I was occupying the position which he occupies today we were successful in maintaining the exclusion of the police from this Bill. The police themselves, we were told, at that time, did not desire inclusion in the Bill. They were much better provided for, and at much less cost to themselves, under existing arrangements. I hope, therefore, we shall have some explanation from the hon. Gentleman who represents the Home Office of how it comes about that the walls of Jericho have now collapsed.
I am rather surprised at the manner in which this new Clause was moved by the Minister. Obviously, for the cogent reasons which my right hon. Friend, who has just spoken, put before the House, this has been rather a vexed question. The Minister must have given very careful consideration to whether the police should be included or not. For a long time, the policy has been to exclude them. Now we are suddenly met with a complete reversal of that policy. I am by no means disposed at the moment to oppose the right hon. Gentleman. He may have a very good case, but I think that we are entitled to be told what it is.
That is not a very sound argument. Anyone who has children knows that what people want is not necessarily good for them. All the right hon. Gentleman has said is that the police want it. I accept his word, but I should like to know some of the circumstances—whether discussions have taken place, and what views were expressed by the Police Federation. I should also like to know whether this is a matter of compromise, or whether the police have expressed a strong desire to be included in this scheme. If he can satisfy me that there is a perfectly good case, and the police desire to be included, I should not feel disposed to oppose him, but I feel that the House is entitled to be taken a little more into the confidence of the right hon. Gentleman and to be told the arguments in favour of his case.
I am in favour of the police being brought into this Bill. I do not think there is anything in the constitution of the tribunal to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred which militates in any way against the police being brought in. We shall have a tribunal, constituted of two or three men of fairness and common sense, who will not be dealing so much with police matters, as with the benefit which ought to be conferred for the particular accident that has occurred. I do not think that is a very great difficulty. There are, in my view, more serious difficulties about this matter. No doubt the Minister has taken them into consideration and will inform the House with regard to them. The Police Pensions Act, 1921, is an important matter. It is a sort of separate code which provides for policemen in particular in regard to pensions, allowances, gratuities, etc. I want to be helpful, but I do not see how the new Clause is going to carry out what is, apparently, the intention, namely, to bring the members of the police force into this Bill in a complete and satisfactory way. There is nothing in this particular Clause which operates, as I understand it, to amend or get rid of the Sections of the Police Pensions Act, 1921.
It is very important that that matter should be considered. If it involves the question of benefits under this particular Bill being in addition to the benefits that are derivable under the 1921 Act, that would be another matter. I ask the Minister whether the new Bill, when it becomes a Statute, is going to be in substitution for the 1921 Act or not. If it is to be in substitution, I can see nothing in the repeal Schedule repealing the 1921 Act, and I can see nothing in this new Clause which safeguards the provisions already made under that Act. If the Minister has not considered that point I should like him to do so, and if he has considered it, I should like him to assure the House on these particular matters. It is perfectly true that within the ambit of this Clause it is stated that the Police Pensions Act, 1921, is to be modified accordingly. That is a rather curious matter, because anyone who knows the Police Pensions Act, 1921, knows that it makes elaborate and important provisions affecting the police, and the idea of that Act being abrogated or amended in any way—
I do not know, but it is desirable that there should be no doubt. If I have some doubt about it, there is no reason why someone else should not also have doubt about it. These matters ought to be cleared up beyond any dispute. It would seem to me that the Minister would want to take into consideration the very grave matter of altering that Statute by a stroke of the Ministerial pen. If there is any risk of that, something ought to be done to protect and clarify the position. I would ask the Minister to consider this and give some indication of what it is proposed to do.
There is another matter which seems to make it very awkward to work in this particular provision. Under Section 13 of the Police Pensions Act, 1921, there is power to reduce a pension where there is misconduct. One of the provisions of this Bill is that the element of misconduct is not to be brought in at all. It is very important to reconcile these things. I would not be prepared, speaking with all respect, to leave this matter to the caprice of any particular Minister, and I think that some very clear statement must be made with regard to it. Under Section 13 of the Police Pensions Act, 1921, the element of misconduct has to be taken into consideration. Under the present Bill, the element of misconduct has not to be taken into consideration. I want to know how the two are to be reconciled; whether it is proposed to do so by Order in Council, or whether some Ministerial intention exists to regularise the matter in proper Statute form. Under the Police Pensions Act, there are matters such as forfeiture and suspension of pensions. There is nothing like that in this Bill
Then there is another matter which must be taken into consideration. In the Police Pensions Act it is indicated that disablement is based on the degree to which ordinary capacity is affected, which is the very opposite to the doctrine interwoven into this Bill. The question there is the loss of the joy of life and so on, as we have been told by the Minister, but the test is not based on the degree to which ordinary capacity is affected, whereas under the Police Pensions Act, it is Anyone who is acquainted with the 1921 Act knows it is a code in itself, and it is not reconcilable with the provisions in this particular Bill Therefore, I would ask the Minister to consider whether it is possible within the purview of this new Clause to enact the machinery necessary to obtain the results that he is seeking. My final word is this. I doubt very much whether, in this form, it is desirable to do it because I think it is calculated to lead to a lot of trouble which may not have been apprehended.
The hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) has referred to what he calls an inconsistency between the present Police Act and this Bill. Obviously, when this Bill becomes an Act any inconsistency which may appear between the two Measures will be corrected, and I have no doubt, in my own mind, that such provision is already in contemplation. It would indeed be a strange matter, if under this Bill misconduct formed no part of disqualification of benefit, and the Police Act does, in fact, include such disqualification. We should indeed have two very inconsistent statutes, but the very purpose of bringing the police under this Bill is that it is desired not only that they should participate in the benefits which the Bill provides, but also that the conditions governing the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) should apply. The reason why the police were excluded in the first instance, was due to the fact that the scheme under which they were provided for was certainly better than the Bill as originally contemplated. But the benefits now are much better than those originally contemplated. Of course, the police themselves and the Scottish Council have made it clear that they desire to come within the ambit of this Bill. Every care has been taken, and I believe there has been no substantial deviation from this point of view that it will be to the advantage of the police to come within the Measure. They have asked to be so included, unless there was some substantial ground for excluding them, it would be merely churlish to say "You ought not to come in." In administration there would be this difficulty, that whilst they were included in the National Insurance Bill they were excluded from this industrial injuries scheme. Therefore, there seems to be no good reason, as far as the Minister of National Insurance can see, why they should not be included in this Measure. It is at their own request that they are included.
Before the hon. Gentleman resumes his seat may I put one point to him? He says this will be corrected if it is found, as I have said, that if there is misconduct benefit may be lost. Do I take it from him, that he regards misconduct on the part of police in exactly the same way as misconduct by an industrial worker?
I think there is one point we must ask the hon. Gentleman to clear up. This new Clause is drafted in a very peculiar form. When the right hon. Gentleman introduced it, he gave the impression that as a result of this the police came under the Bill, but if hon. Members look at this Clause they will see that is not correct. Here, of course, I differ from the hon. Gentleman. I hope he will explain it, but I take it that the reference to the Police Pensions Act is used merely as a descriptive term for those coming within the benefits itself, and that we are now discussing how it applies to these people, but subject to these very important words
subject to such modifications as may be prescribed.
In other words, it is not this Bill but this Bill plus any alterations which the Minister may choose to make and of which we are not informed. Obviously, these words could not be in, unless the right hon. Gentlemen concerned had an idea of what alterations they intended to make in the Bill. Therefore, I think it
is only right, before allowing this Clause to pass giving these wide powers to the right hon. Gentleman, that we should be told what they have in mind in regard to the last words. What are the modifications it is intended to prescribe before applying this Clause to the police force?
I can only speak again by leave of the House. As I understand the matter, under the Police Pensions Act there are differences in benefit according to the nature of the accident met with by the police officer. As a result it will be necessary for the purposes of applying the Bill which is now being considered, and which authorises uniform benefit for certain injuries, to make modifications in the police Measure to make it clear that if a police officer meets with an accident, he will be treated as a civil or industrial worker is treated, and that there would be no distinction. I am informed that under the Police Pension Act it is not the injury alone which is considered. How the injury arose enters into consideration, and for that reason in order to apply this Measure to police officers, modifications have to be made to the scheme.
Will the hon. Gentleman say a word or two on the question of the suitability of the local appeals tribunals, as constituted under the Bill, to members of the police force?
Again I must ask the leave of the House to speak. It does appear that if a policeman meets with an accident he is in no way in a different position from any other person who meets with an accident. Is the tribunal completely inadequate because a policeman is knocked down by a motor car, and is it in a different position from the tribunal which has to consider the case of a civilian worker who is knocked down in the street? If it is necessary for an investigation to take place, I should have thought that the tribunal was as adequate to deal with the complaints of a police officer, as with the complaints of any other person.
Where the Minister is satisfied that the deceased had been living with a woman as man and wife for a period of not less than five years immediately prior to his death and that he was wholly maintaining her at the time of his death or would, but for the relevant accident, have been wholly maintaining her, she shall be regarded for the purpose of this Act as being the widow of the deceased—[Mr House.]
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This Clause is, to a large extent, self-explanatory. In effect, it asks that.I woman who has been living with a man, as his wife, for not less than five years prior to the man's death, should be regarded as a widow for the purposes of this Bill. I have had considerable experience, as a trade union official, of the working of the Workmen's Compensation Act. I have had to look after men employed in the iron and steel industries who have sustained accidents, and in certain fatal cases, when I have called at a man's home to talk about a lump sum payment, I have been astonished to find that the woman thought to be the man's wife had to disclose that there was no marriage certificate. In a particular case I have in mind, just before the last war, a close friend of mine was killed. I had visited his flat for many years. He was living in eminently respectable conditions with a woman whom I presumed to be his wife. This woman was looking after my friend and his children extremely well. Then my friend was fatally injured, and when 1 talked to the woman about compensation she disclosed that there was no marriage certificate. That sort of case is tragic. Under the Workmen's Compensation Act. and the present Bill, it is intended that that sort of person shall have assistance. I have no doubt about the good intentions of my right hon. Friend, but he may say there are administrative difficulties. If he says that, I would like to reply that this Clause is based on the grounds of justice, and from that standpoint ought to be accepted, and that if there are administrative difficulties I respectfully submit that it is his job to overcome them.
I beg to second the Motion.
I envisage some possible difficulty in operating the Clause as it now stands, but there are few Members of the House who would not be in sympathy with its intention. The fact that by Clause 21 (2) we intend to give benefit to the illegitimate son or daughter of a man who is killed by an industrial accident, indicates that the Minister had in mind the sort of case to which my hon. Friend the Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. House) has just referred. It seems invidious to make a distinction between a mother who bore an illegitimate child, and the illegitimate child itself. If we think it proper that an illegitimate child, dependent on its father, should receive some benefit under this Bill, then it is difficult to make out a case for non-receipt of benefit by the child's mother. Those of us who have had experience of these matters realise that there are many such tragic cases— far more than many people would be ready to believe. A visit to a court of summary jurisdiction in a working-class area, or to a county court, will soon make the onlooker realise that the case referred to by my hon. Friend is by no means an isolated occurrence. I appreciate that there might be difficulty in operating this Clause. For instance, it may be that the workman is fully supporting his legitimate wife, possibly through the operation of a police court order, While he is fully supporting the woman with whom he has been living for a period of not less than five years. In those circumstances, if the Clause, as drafted, is accepted, both the legitimate wife and the woman with whom the man has been living would be entitled to benefits under the Bill. It would require the judgment of Solomon to apportion the benefits, but with great respect to the Government and my right hon. Friend I doubt whether they would attempt what Solomon once attempted. But the sympathy of the House will certainly be with the Mover of this Clause. We ought not to be stopped by practical difficulties from seeking to achieve the purpose we all have at heart.
While it may be that many will approach this matter from a sympathetic point of view, the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Solley) has himself pointed out the utter impossibility of the Clause as it stands. It would raise an impossible position, because Clause 19 already provides for the support of a widow, and if the new Clause were incorporated in the Bill there would be no limitation on the number of widows the State might be called upon to support.
Indeed this Clause, as it now stands, does not even limit the benefit to one woman who has to be maintained. Any number of women can come under this suggested Clause, and in fact a man may be living with half a dozen, which means that the hon. Member apparently would expect the State to support the lot of them. In those circumstances I do regard the new Clause as quite unworkable, and the argument put forward by way of analogy, with respect to provision for illegitimate children, has, of course, no relevance whatever. There is, in this country, no limit put upon the number of children you may have, but there is a very fixed limit to the number of wives a man may have. For that reason I regard it as quite impossible for the right hon. Gentleman even to consider the Clause.
The hon. and learned Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) may know more than I do about the number of wives one can have, but this problem is one which must be faced. We faced it in Committee in a rather delicate manner. Nobody wants to weaken the marriage tie, and I think that observation applies to all parts of the House. Under the Workmen's Compensation Act employers were not concerned with morals but with the loss of earning capacity. Under the Act it is true that in certain circumstances with a couple living together, unmarried, the man could get workmen's compensation, but the woman living with him could not. As I read it,
if a woman is living with a man unmarried, and he dies as a result of an accident leaving the woman to look after his child or children, she receives benefit. Paragraph (6) of Clause 24 (1) reads:
A female person not being a child was residing with the deceased and had the care of the child or one or more of the children;
and the Subsection proceeds:
she shall be entitled to death benefit if she was being wholly or mainly maintained by the deceased at the said date and was, or would but for the accident have been, so maintained throughout the said period.
What does the suggested Clause do? One can picture the case of a man and woman living together who bring up children beyond the dependent age. If they are living together and they have no children, she can get nothing. It is for this reason that I think the problem is one that must be dealt with. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister knows full well, with his experience of mining areas, that we have had to meet these cases many many times over. While the Clause is, if I may say so, with respect, not quite well enough worded to meet the situation, I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman will, in another place, insert some words which will meet this point and make the Bill work a little more smoothly.
I rise to support the eloquent appeal made by the hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. House). I believe this matter was discussed at the beginning of the war, when those who were described as "a man and woman living together '' were considered with regard to dependent allowances. I cannot remember whether or not they were called acting wives— [Hon. Members: "Unmarried wives."] Well then, unmarried wives, but as I say I cannot remember whether they were accepted by the War Office for the granting of separation allowances. But surely if the State, in one case, accepts the position for people fighting in the Forces, there is no reason why the analogy should not be followed in this instance. Therefore, I add my plea to those already made to the right hon. Gentleman, to give his serious consideration to this Amendment.
We had a very full and frank discussion on this problem in Committee. All the Members who took part in it appreciated how very difficult it is. It is delicate, it is dynamite, and one requires to step very warily if one does not want to get into trouble. Under the Workmen's Compensation Act there is no claim, if I can use the language common in these circumstances, unless the marriage lines are produced. There are many hard cases, and during the Committee stage we considered all kinds of alternatives. I would like to say what conclusion has been reached by the Government and myself in this matter. As the Bill stands, there is provision for a pension to be payable to a widow, and for a pension to be payable to an unmarried wife living with a man who has the care of his children, but the second pension would not be payable if the widow is qualified. Therefore, in the case where there is a married wife separated from the man, and an unmarried wife living with the man, if the legal wife claimed and sustained her claim, there could be no pension for the second woman. The change that we propose later in the Bill is this: where the wife is separated, and where there is an unmarried wife, both pensions will be payable in certain circumstances. Where there is an unmarried wife having the care of the children of the deceased, there will be a pension so long as the children are of school age and not pensionable. In addition the separated wife will be able, under the terms of the Bill to claim a pension as well. There are limitations, but in this very difficult matter which has puzzled, worried and divided the House, and even created feeling on many occasions during the time that I have been a Member, I think we have now suggested a solution which is reasonably fair. Naturally, no one wishes to do anything which will weaken the marriage tie, but I do not feel that I can accept the new Clause for the reasons that I have given to the House. I repeat that my colleagues in the Government and I have done our very best in this delicate matter, and for this reason I hope the hon. Member will not press this Motion to a Division. If he does, I shall be forced to ask the House to reject it.
The next Amendment I have not selected—the next is out of Order at might increase the charge. There was a manuscript new Clause handed in. I thought that I had made it clear on a previous occasion that while this is in Order by Sessional wartime Orders, this was not the previous practice and I have now decided to revert to the peacetime procedure and cannot accept manuscript new Clauses on Report.
I beg to move, in page 5, line 40, after "travelling," insert "as a passenger."
The effect of this Amendment is to exclude from the benefits of Clause 9 any person who is not operating the vehicle concerned. In this Clause we are making special provision to cover those who are injured while travelling to and from work in certain circumstances. Obviously the driver would be on duty, and would be covered. It is desirable that the words "as a passenger" should be included and I hope, therefore, that the House will accept the Amendment.
We had a full discussion in the Committee with regard to this question and we then asked the Minister to consider whether a person waiting to board a bus for the purpose of proceeding either to or from his work should be regarded as travelling and be entitled to injury benefit in case of accident. There have been many cases in court in which the question has arisen whether injuries received by a workman on the employer's premises arose out of or in the course of his employment, but I do not think that there has ever been a case that touches the circumstances we had in mind when we moved the Amendment in Committee. I have carefully looked up the case of Weaver versus The Tredegar Colliery Co., 1940, and while that to some extent clarifies the position, it does not meet the circumstances which I believe will arise from our putting into a Bill, for the first time, something that definitely legalises transport to and from work in a vehicle either owned or hired by an employer.
It is as well to bear in mind that these vehicles are not ordinary public transport but vehicles supplied by the employer, either directly, or hired by him for the purpose of conveying his workmen to and from work. The kind of case I visualized was that of men, assembled at a given point at five o'clock in the morning for the purpose of boarding a vehicle to go to work, and receiving injuries, from a falling tree, for example, or from something falling from a building. Many men have been injured in this way to my knowledge. Under the strict wording of this Clause men so injured would be excluded from the industrial injuries benefit, but had they actually boarded the bus and been injured by a tree falling across it while they were proceeding to their work they would be entitled to benefit. We were trying to establish that a person waiting for a vehicle, as defined in Clause 9 of this Bill, should for the purpose of industrial injuries benefit be regarded as being on transport.
The learned Solicitor-General will remember that in the Committee he put a novel point of view. He suggested that if half or more of a man's body was on the vehicle and an accident occurred, he would be covered, but that if less than half his body was on the vehicle he would not be entitled to benefit. I maintain that when we are legalising this question of transport we should go to the extent of saying that a person who is assembling for the purpose of going to or from work on a vehicle which complies with the provisions of this Clause, should be regarded as travelling for the purpose of industrial injuries benefit. I think the Minister will agree that he promised to look into this between now and the Report stage, and I hope that before the Bill goes to another place he will reconsider the matter and see whether he cannot remedy an injustice.
We had a long discussion on this point as my hon. Friend has said It is a very difficult matter and is a question of where to put the dividing line between an accident that happens as the result of an industrial risk and one that happens as the result of an ordinary risk. I was very impressed by the point put by my hon Friend with regard to persons gathered together to wait for a vehicle. The point arises whether they are assembled on the employer's premises or outside. We shall get into grave difficulty if we say that an accident is industrial if it happens to persons who are being taken to work, and that it is a non-industrial accident otherwise. This will destroy the dividing line between this Bill and the major Bill. I understand the point about men waiting for a vehicle on their employer's premises and it was my intention to cover that with an Amendment if necessary, but I have been advised that it was not necessary, and that the Weaver judgment covers this. If my hon. Friend asks me to look into it again, I will, and if the point is not covered 1 will put down an Amendment. If men are waiting for a vehicle on their employer's premises that is a risk which is run by them because they are employed on those premises, and this comes within the Bill. Once we begin to make a distinction I think the dividing line will break down.
I am satisfied that generally, if an accident occurs on the employer's premises while men are waiting for a bus, that will be covered, but the point I have in mind is when men are away from the employer's premises, assembled at a given point agreed to by the employer for the purpose of proceeding to work, and meet with injury. They should also be covered while waiting legitimately to go to work. In reconsidering this matter will my hon. Friend look into that point?
Another matter in connection with this Clause troubles me a little. The insertion of the phrase "as a passenger" might have a consequence which, I feel, may not have been considered. A man may start by being a passenger and, during the course of his transport, something may happen—the driver or conductor may leave the bus— and the man himself may voluntarily take over the driving. It might very well be argued in those circumstances that that individual has ceased to be a passenger and has become a driver. It might be said that if he is a driver he will be covered because it is work that he is doing and if there is an accident it will arise out of his employment. But as taking over the position of driver is a purely voluntary act that would not apply at all, and therefore the man who started as a passenger and, in what might be very proper circumstances but without the direction or permission of his employer, may take over the character of a driver or even a conductor, may cease to be a passenger and then, by the insertion of these words, he would be deprived of the benefit to which otherwise he would be entitled.
On the point raised by my hon. Friend above the Gangway may I ask the Minister whether he would look into the arrangements we had during the war when Civil Defence pensions were payable? I think the same principle operated there as my hon. Friend seeks to establish here, namely, that during the course of an air raid when a call was sent out for staff to return to duty, or where the staff telephoned to their depots to know whether their services were required, they were then regarded as being on duty from the moment they accepted the call, either at home or in the telephone box, and were entitled to receive pensions or benefits in respect of any injury which they received while proceeding to duty, even if it were a cycle accident or something of that kind. I think that the principle was established, and that this is the point that my hon. Friend is putting to the Minister. I hope that the Minister will agree to look at these Regulations again.
There semes to be a spirit existing like there was before we ever introduced insurance legislation. We still seem to be looking for all the legal points and being very much afraid in case we extend benefits just a little and create perhaps a little bit of difficulty more than otherwise might be the case. I would remind my hon. Friends and the Minister that we are here as legislators for the people. We have extended into this scheme something which has never been introduced before, because we are now making people pay half the amount of money that has to be paid. I appeal to the Minister from that angle to look at the subject more generously and not to be afraid of difficulties, legal or otherwise.
If a man has to go to a job he may arrange to assemble at a particular point. If an accident then happens to him, what is the chief cause? It is the fact that he has had to be there because of his work, and his presence, as well as the accident, was incidental to his work. I feel that it is up to us to cover that point before it is too late. Difficulties of administration would not be so great as some people are trying to make us believe and I am sure of this from actual experience. With the rest of my hon. Friends I feel that the Minister should on this occasion try to meet the House and the people whom we represent.
I have listened with interest to the speeches which have been made and I cannot help feeling that the balance of argument is definitely against the Government. The hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) has great knowledge of these matters. It must be a matter of common knowledge that there are assemblies of people by the roadside to go to work, waiting for a 'bus to pick them up. I gather that here is a gap in our insurance programme. I thought this was to be a total insurance policy. Several excellent speeches from the other side of the House have made the same point, but the only thing the Government have done has been to turn it down, and add "Another place." The Government are always referring to another place in an airy way. Surely, we are the people who ought to decide these matters. It must be clear that at some place the line has to be drawn in regard to people who are travelling in these circumstances. The person may be standing outside the factory, awaiting for whatever conveyance has been arranged. If we are trying to cover travel insurance, when the person has once got to that point should be the time for his insurance to begin. I am not a lawyer and there may be obscure legal reasons why that cannot be done. The hon. Member who last spoke shares with me the idea that lawyers, for some mysterious reason, always seem to be trying in legislation of this sort to chip little bits off the benefits. That is the position at which the Debate stands up to now.
These travelling habits are developing, and they are likely to develop more in a normal time, especially if we get satellite towns. I am not expecting to get very much guidance from the Law Officer of the Government as to how we stand, but I think I am entitled to ask my own Leaders on the Front Opposition Benches where they stand on the subject. I believe that this is largely an agreed Bill, but a point of considerable substance has now been raised, and hon. Members opposite may possibly divide against the Government. What am I to do in those circumstances? I am entitled to some guidance on the matter. I may not get it, but I am always hoping. Perhaps I might ask the Government to try to meet the obvious views of the House in this matter, especially now that three or four of their supporters have asked them to do so. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is not here, so the Minister in charge of the Bill need not fear that he will get into any trouble.
I would ask the Minister to look at this matter again. I should hate to be in the same position as the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), but I approach this matter from an entirely different point of view. Case after case has happened in the past involving accidents, and they will not be brought into the Bill by the Amendment now proposed. The insertion of the word "passenger" does not meet the problem at all. Employers, time and time again, make arrangements to get workmen to take vehicles provided by them to go to and from their work. Perhaps a man joins the bus a bit further up or a bit lower down than the place where it was arranged for the workmen to get on. I know the position is difficult and sometimes it can be almost impossible under the Regulations when an accident takes place in such circumstances. However, I hope that the Minister will look at this Clause again to see whether he cannot clarify the matter by putting in some further words in two or three places.
My hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) will certainly get the guidance from me to which he is entitled. I must tell him that I was waiting with interest to see how the battle on the benches opposite was developing before making my own observations upon this Amendment. Those of us who took part in the proceedings in the Standing Committee will remember that there was a great deal of criticism of this Clause, and that hon. Gentlemen opposite, in particular, pressed the Minister to widen its terms and increase its scope. Some of my hon. Friends also were a little disturbed as to the phraseology of the Clause. At any rate the right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of the Bill promised, in order to get on with the Committee stage, that he would carefully consider everything that had been said with a view to introducing an Amendment on the Report stage. It is interesting, therefore, to observe that the Minister, having considered all the arguments in favour of increasing the scope of the Clause, comes down on Report stage with an Amendment which narrows it.
One of the cases raised in Standing Committee was that of the cyclist, and this Amendment is put forward in order definitely to exclude the cyclist from the benefits of the Clause. Take the boy who rides on his employer's cycle to deliver newspapers in the morning. He proceeds on his employer's bicycle from his home to the place from which he picks up the newspapers. Under the Clause as we discussed it in Standing Committee, that boy would have been covered but, if this Amendment is carried, that boy will be excluded if he meets with an accident proceeding on his employer's cycle, from his home to his place of work—
—because it surely cannot be said that you travel as a passenger upon a cycle. It is only upon a bicycle made for two that one or other of the two riders can travel as a passenger, and I do not think we need consider that case. There is another case in which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) and I were particularly interested, that of the men waiting at their colliery for a bus provided by their employer to take them home, and they wait outside the pit-head baths on premises belonging not to their employer but to the Miners Welfare Commission. As the hon. Gentleman and I understand the Clause, those people will not be covered if they meet with an accident whilst they are waiting for the bus.
It all turns, in the view of the hon. and learned Solicitor-General, who helped us greatly on this Clause in Standing Committee, upon whether the weight of the workman is upon the bus or whether it is upon the ground. Of course, it is possible, and indeed probable, that waiting in the dark as these men often do, they might slip on entering the bus and injure themselves, and very difficult questions would arise as to whether such an accident arose in the course of their employment. Therefore I have watched with interest the reactions of my hon. Friends opposite to the Minister, who promised to consider arguments for widening the Clause and then comes down on Report stage with an Amendment which definitely narrows it. I would be inclined to advise my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay that if this is pressed to a Division he should resist the Amendment in the Lobby.
It is a Government Amendment which I would certainly oppose. With regard to my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), whose pleasant references to my Party I appreciated, I would point out that far from following him and his friends—though sometimes we have done so when they have acted properly— the truth is that the first progressive movement towards social reform was made by my Party. Seriously, I want to put this to the right hon. Gentleman. I represent a part of the country where coalmining is of supreme importance, and it so happens that coalminers in that area, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) will bear me out, not only use buses and vehicles, but hundreds of them cycle long distances to the pits. Therefore, I would like to insure that these men in the course of their travels are properly protected. If there is some doubt about this bicycle case, or about whether a man is or is not on a bus, it is really for the Law Officer to make it absolutely clear. It is obvious that those of us here today are not clear on it, and without any doubt we must pronounce without any dubiety that men travelling in their employer's vehicle, at their employer's wish, within the terms of their employment, are fully covered by this Measure. I do not feel that is so, and the right hon. Gentleman really must clear up the matter.
There seems to be some misapprehension in the House as to precisely what we are discussing. Suppose Clause 9 were not in the Bill, the position would be that as from the point when you can fairly say that the workman starts on his duties to his employer within the meaning of the earlier section in the Bill he is acting "in the course and arising out of ". Clause 9 does not in any way limit that, it extends it. The reason for Clause 9 is really that in the well-known case of the St. Helens Colliery Company it was held that when people were riding on a vehicle, unless it could be said that in some way they were discharging a duty because they were made or told to ride on that vehicle by their employer, they were not covered. The object of this Clause is to extend the cover in that direction; that is to say, it, does not lessen it from the commencement of the beginning point of the duty, but extends it to the case where a person is travelling on a vehicle which the employer provides but is not doing so in response to any specific request or demand by the employer that he should so do. So we must approach this Clause from the point of view that this is an extension of the normal cover.
Suppose the Clause were not there at all, and one were considering the position, that all sides of the House want to give the fullest and most ample cover. It is apparent that one must draw the dividing line somewhere; as from some particular point it can only fairly be said that the workman is undergoing no risks other than those that are undergone by ordinary members of the public, close to whom he finds himself, whether in a crowd or in a queue or on the pavement. So at some point or other you have to make a dividing line from the point where he is undergoing risks common to every member of the public and the point where he enters on his duty to his employer and is subject to risks incidental to that employment. From that point the cover does apply to him; but before that the cover, of necessity, cannot apply. That is the position on Clause 9 which extends the cover in the sense I have indicated.
The Amendment before the House introduces the words "as a passenger" and does not lessen the cover given apart from Clause 9 but simply says that when extra cover is given to workmen travelling on vehicles, it shall apply to them only if they are travelling as passengers. In reply to the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake), if a man is riding a bicycle, I do not think it can fairly be said that he is riding as a passenger. Similarly, if a man is riding in a motor car as the driver of the motor car, I do not think he could be said to be a passenger, and therefore he would not be within the cover under Clause 9. On the other hand, if a cyclist is riding to fetch some newspapers to deliver, he comes within the general cover independently of Clause 9 and, similarly, if in the course of his duties, a man has to drive a motor vehicle, he would come within the general scope of the cover because he would be performing his duty as a driver.
I did not want to convey that impression, if I did so. What I meant to convey was that supposing he is at a shop and the employer says he is to collect newspapers from such and such a newsagent and deliver them on his round on his bicycle, in so doing he is acting in response to a direction from his employer, and would be covered because he would be acting in the course of his employment The persons whom the right hon. Gentleman had in mind who rode to their work would not be covered.
I suppose he would be covered because that would be a specific order to come to him urgently. That would be quite independent of Clause 9, and he would be in the same position as he would be under the Workmen's Compensation Act which this supplants. We must approach this problem bearing in mind that the Clause is additional cover.
May I endeavour to secure clarification about the miner who goes to work on his bicycle? Let us suppose that the bicycle is the property of the colliery company, and the man goes from his home to the colliery company each day in precisely the same way as other employees go in a colliery bus. Each of those two groups of men are moving on a vehicle provided by the colliery company. In one case the man is covered under this Clause, and in the other according to what the Solicitor-General has just said, he is not covered.
I think that is so, as the Clause is drawn with the Amendment in it. It is not as unfair as it might seem at first sight. Supposing a man is walking along the pavement, he is in a similar position to the man who rides a bicycle, even if it is provided by the employer, and the man who walks along the pavement could not be said to come within the ambit of the Act. But when we come to a vehicle provided by the employer the position is clear. It is a congregating point, a collective means of conveyance specifically brought within the cover by way of Clause 9 and by way of extension of the general cover provided by the Act. It is not at all unfair, always bearing in mind that one has to provide some arbitrary line somewhere. One would like to make it as extensive as it could be, but it is not practicable to go beyond a certain point and beyond that point it is not feasible to say that a workman is subject to a risk beyond that to which the general public are subject. In answer to the right hon. Member for North Leeds, who referred to the Weaver case—
Under the Workmen's Compensation Act—and this is additional to that Act—the man was covered if he was using a conveyance "designated by the employer." If the employer provides a bicycle, that is a "designated conveyance."
No, that is not quite correct. It was designated if it could be said that the man was travelling
in that designated vehicle "pursuant to instructions." There had to be something by which one could infer that he was travelling in the discharge of his duties, and specifically to remedy that position and remove the necessity for some express or implied instructions Clause 9 was introduced into the Bill. That is made clear in the words—
if—(a) the accident would have been deemed so to have arisen had he been under such an obligation;
The whole object of the Clause is to remedy that position, which was the position in regard to the St. Helens Colliery case.
The Weaver case was mentioned by the right hon. Member for North Leeds and the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith). That was a case in which workmen congregated at an assembly point in order to board a vehicle. There was a great deal of discussion in the Committee on the apparent illogicality of a man being covered as to the time he gets his weight on the vehicle, but not up to that fractional second. Apparently there is an illogicality about it, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. The Weaver case depended on an interpretation of the Act as it stood. It was a case in which workmen met at an assembly point on a platform to board a railway train run by a railway company pursuant to an arrangement with the employer. The platform was not on the employer's premises, but could be fairly said to be a private access to the employer's premises. It was held in that case that the workmen were not covered. On the analogy of that case I do not say that every case is covered and if a workman is standing in a queue with ordinary members of the public on the pavement he would not be covered.
In all the discussions on the Committee stage, and here in the House, there has been a clear differentiation between the workman standing with ordinary members of the public waiting for public transport, and what Clause 9 provides, transport provided by the employer and not used by the general public.
The Weaver case extends to cover workmen who are congregating at such a point in certain circumstances, notwithstanding that that point is not on the employers' premises. In that case it was a railway platform constructed outside the employer's premises but it was in a place where it could be fairly stated that only the employer's workmen would have access. It was a sort of private access to his premises. I do not say that it would cover every sort of congregation point, but it would cover some. As the Clause and the Bill are drawn, with or without the Amendment, they would certainly not cover workmen who are in an ordinary assembly place, an ordinary queue, with members of the public. On the other hand, they would be covered at a number of assembly places as a result of the Weaver case, even though the assembly place is not on the employer's premises if it is clearly connected with those premises and the assembly points are assembly points for the purpose of boarding transport provided by the employer.
It is difficult to answer that without qualification, much as I wish to do so. If the premises can be fairly said to be connected with the employers' premises in the sense that they are either an annexe, or are in close juxtaposition, or form some sort of private entry or premises to which persons engaged in those works or adjacent works can come, they would be covered; otherwise not.
Where there is a welfare organisation of this kind, the point seems to be important to these men. Could it not be made clear that where men assemble on welfare premises for miners' welfare they would be covered, because that is the natural sequence of events?
Perhaps my right hon. Friend will say a word on that, if the House give him leave. If I may answer the legal problem put, which is more peculiarly within my province, one cannot give an unqualified answer. It depends where the points are and their physical geographical relationship to the works where the man is employed.
On the general position I would ask the House to say that this is fair. I know the feelings of my hon. Friend the Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith). My right hon. Friend the Minister has carefully considered the arguments. They have not been brushed aside or treated with any sort of disrespect, but one is always faced with the problem that there has to be some limit. This has been thought to be a fair limit. It is not as though those persons not within the limit are without protection. They are within the protection of the general law or the insurance scheme, as the case may be. I ask the House to say that the limits, as extended by Clause 9, are fair, and that it is extremely difficult to extend them without getting into the realm of uncertainty which would perpetrate an even greater injustice, because a workman would never quite know whether he is within the limit or not. It would create a state of uncertainty rather than put the workman within a specific boundary so that he knows whether he is entitled to compensation or not. I hope the House will agree that this Amendment meets the case.
I very much regret what the learned Solicitor-General has just said. He will recollect that the Standing Committee which dealt with this matter had the advantage of his attendance at a great many Sittings, and, in particular, the advantage of his advice on the point raised today by my right hon. Friend, that of the boy on the bicycle provided by the employer to get him to or from work. When that point was raised by a member of the Committee the Solicitor-General in his reply said:
Whether driving that bicycle can be fairly said to be operating it on behalf of his employer would be, I should have thought, a matter of some doubt. That is a point I might look at and consider more carefully. It is a point of importance."—[Standing Committee A, OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1945; c. 66-7.]
I understood, and I am perfectly certain other Members of the Standing Committee understood, that it was the Solicitor-General's intention to look at that point so as to secure that if the boy on the bicycle were not covered he should be. We are presented this afternoon with
an Amendment which the Solicitor-General has quite rightly advised the House will eliminate the boy on the bicycle. I conceive that it is possible that if the boy on the bicycle picked up another employee and put him on the pillion, while the boy on the bicycle could not recover any compensation there would be some doubt whether the boy on the pillion was covered. That is obviously fantastically unsatisfactory. I feel it is a little discouraging for Members of this House. and of a Standing Committee, when they raise a point of this kind, and get what seems a satisfactory answer from the Minister, to come to this stage of the Bill and find that any doubt whatever is wiped out, but wiped out in the wrong direction. The Solicitor-General said, to my mind very rightly, that the principle behind the cover of this Bill is that this cover should go to people who are running extra risks by reason of their employment. Where the vehicle, be it a 'bus or bicycle, is provided by an employer to get employees to work, surely the risks incidental to travelling upon that vehicle are extra risks run by that employee over and above the risks run by other members of the public? Therefore, my submission to the House is twofold, first, the very unsatisfactory result of the Solicitor-General's consideration of the point put to him in Committee; secondly, that it would undoubtedly be the effect of this Amendment, if it were carried, to exclude the boy on the bicycle other than the pillion rider. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that exclusion is justifiable, fair or equitable.
If I have the leave of the House, may I answer the hon. and gallant Member's point? I do not say it is a charge of failing to comply with an undertaking, and I am sure he did not intend to convey that. But I would like to remind him, if he would look at the Second day's proceedings, in the Committee, that I was specifically asked whether it was intended to cover cyclists. I said "No". The hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) said:
What is the Solicitor-General's intention about bicycles? Is it intended or not to cover them?
The intention was not to cover them."— [Standing Committee A, OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st Nov., 1945; c. 68.]
to which the hon. Member replied "Thank you," so that the intention is not to cover them and it was made clear that it was not the intention to cover them. I can only remind the House that there is only one Amendment on the Paper, that is, the Government's Amendment, which makes perfectly clear the position of cyclists in the sense in which the hon. Member indicated. I cannot accept any blame. It was made perfectly clear that cyclists were not to be covered.
If the hon. Member will cast his recollection back, he will remember that we discussed what was the meaning of "operating" We were all rather puzzled by the particular wording of the Section which we had not considered before and we were wondering precisely what its effect was. I said in that sense, I would think it over and try and give an answer as to what was the meaning in law. In the course of the same Debate I was asked whether we intended to cover cyclists and I said no, we did not intend to cover cyclists. I am pretty sure the hon. Member was present. There was nothing to stop him putting down an Amendment on the Paper if he was dissatisfied with that position. He has not done so and he has come to the House knowing that was the position. Really, I do not think he has any cause for complaint.
I should like to ask the Solicitor-General to throw some little light on this Clause so far as it relates to travelling to and from the places of their employment by railway men. Let me put it this way. A railway man goes to an assembly point, say Broad Street, and is told to proceed from Broad Street to Barking. In the course of his journey from Broad Street to Barking he meets with an accident and, as it may be, is killed. He is travelling in a vehicle provided by the railway company, but that vehicle is also operated as public transport. Other people are travelling in it As I read this Clause, that man, or his dependants, would not be entitled to any compensation of any kind because he would have been travelling in a public transport vehicle. That is my reading of the Clause and I would like the Minister to say whether or not that interpretation is correct.
I hesitate to intervene when so many of the legal fraternity are interested in this problem. I intervene, however, because I heard something said about the boy on the bicycle. I happen to be connected with the distributive trades, and I suppose there are more boys riding bicycles in those occupations than in any other. I would, therefore, like to get the point cleared up. I also sat on the Committee upstairs and heard a great deal of this argued. Some of my hon. Friends are very concerned as I am—because 1 am an ex-miner myself—with miners meeting with accidents as passengers travelling on a vehicle supplied by the employing company. If something should happen to one of those miners in the bus owned by the colliery company, I understand from the argument that workmen's compensations would be payable. In the distributive trades, however, a boy may get a bicycle provided by his employers and he may start work from his home on the bicycle. He may well keep the bicycle in his own home. What I would like to know is this: if an accident happened to that boy when he was riding from his home to his job on a bicycle provided by his employer, what would be the position and would be get compensation? The hon. and learned Gentleman suggests not. Let me put a hypothetical case to him. Supposing the boy is the son of a miner, as is very often the case in co-operative societies. His father, riding in a colliery company's bus and meeting with an accident, would get compensation: but the son, riding a bicycle provided by the employing co-operative society would not get compensation in the same circumstances. Am I right in assuming that? There is something wrong with this Clause if I am right in my assumption!
I confess I am considerably disturbed by this proposal. I was not a Member of the Committee upstairs and therefore I do not know whether anybody has any grievance in this matter but, whether anybody who was on the Committee has a grievance, I am certain that the boy on the bicycle, referred to by my hon. Friend, would have a very definite grievance. I understand that we have to draw the line somewhere. Of course we have to draw it somewhere, but why draw it in such a place? I should have thought there was no difficulty in saying that, once the workman has left his home for the employer's purpose, on a vehicle provided by the employer, for purposes incidental to his employment, if he has an accident in those circumstances he ought to be covered. That is a simple proposition and I cannot for the life of me understand why anybody boggles about it. It is true in a sense that the boy on the bicycle is responsible for the control of the machine himself whereas a man riding in a bus has no share in its control. Is that the distinction? It does not seem to me to be a very good one if that is what is intended. If that is not intended as the ground of distinction, then what in the world is the ground? The principle surely ought to apply if you are going to extend the cover to both. If the man is walking to his work, or if he is riding in a public vehicle, I can understand the case.
Of course, one could introduce all sorts of complications. If he was riding his own bicycle because the employer would not provide him with one, I do not see why he should not be covered. Of course, he would then be providing something for the employer but he would still be injured, in general terms, in the service of his employer, or associated with his employment. I believe he ought to be covered. I can quite understand if the Government were to draw a distinction between a vehicle provided by the employer and a vehicle provided by the man, but they have not drawn that distinction. They are penalising the boy riding a bicycle provided by the employer. Therefore, I do not understand the point of my hon. Friend's intervention.
My hon. Friend is helping me quite a lot. Can I ask him what would be the position if a boat is provided to take men from one side of a river to the other? Where do they come in under this proposal?
I am delighted to help the hon. Member. In the days when he occupied your place, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I did not find it so easy to satisfy him. On the point he raises, I should have thought those circumstances would involve the actual course of employment. The point we are now discussing does not arise. Of course, if an accident happens in any kind of vehicle, including the case put by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) when the employment has actually started, and the man is actually engaged on his work, no kind of argument arises.
My point is if a man lives on one side of the river and is provided with a boat to cross the river, just as he might in other circumstances be provided with a bicycle, where does he stand then?
I should have thought, subject to what the learned Solicitor-General said, that a boat was a vehicle. Subsection (2) states:
In this section references to a vehicle include references to a ship, vessel or aircraft.
But not a bicycle. What is the point of principle? I do not think it has ever been made clear to us in this discussion why there is this differentiation between a bicycle and all these other vehicles. I cannot see it. The Government have merely said that they had to draw the line somewhere, and they have done it in what seems to a good many of us to be quite an arbitrary place, involving anomalies and injustices and situations in which people would be deprived of benefit when commonsense says they ought not to be so deprived. Why in the world the poor humble bicycle should be left out of such a general list of vehicles has not been explained to us, and I hope the Government will explain it.
I think it will be agreed that this question of liability for compensation for injury whilst travelling to or from employment has caused more legal disputation than any other item in the compensation legislation, and this I take it, is an attempt by the present Government to extend the line further towards the man's home. This, inevitably, raises further complications. I mention one as an example. Take the case of a railwayman. Numbers of grades in the railway service are called out at abnormal times for special purposes. A permanent way man, for instance, may be called out at any time, night or day, when off duty, for fog or snow storm duty. A man may be called out at 3 o'clock in the morning and have to get up to go on special duty. He may have a bicycle to proceed to the place where he has been instructed to take up duty for that special purpose. He may walk or run there, or he may use his roller skates, or, again, he may use his bicycle. If by chance there had been a company's 'bus passing conveniently near just after the time when he was called, and it was convenient for him to get on that 'bus. which happened to be proceeding near the place where he was required to go, under the wording of this Clause, he would be covered for compensation, because it was the employer's 'bus. But, if he proceeded on his own cycle and sustained an accident between his home and the point where he was to take up duty, I conclude, from the wording of this Clause, that there would be no liability upon the employer for the payment of compensation. That is, of course assuming that the bicycle was the man's own bicycle.
But what if the bicycle was provided for that purpose of proceeding to special duty at any hour of the day or night by the company? Would the man then be due for compensation, and would the company be liable to pay, for any accident that was sustained by the man between his home and his point of duty? Quite candidly, I think there is only one way out of this very difficult and contentious matter, and that is to declare, in this new Bill, that a man in special circumstances, when called out for a particular duty, is at the disposal of the employer from the time he leaves his home and is covered for compensation.
If he is covered for special duties, why cannot we extend it, logically, to the case of a man proceeding on normal duties, because the accident may happen then, in exactly similar circum- stances, as in the case where the man is called out for special duties? If it is logical, right and proper, in the one case, why is it less logical, or less right and proper, in the other case where a man is proceeding on normal duty at normal hours and sustains an accident in the course of proceeding from home to work, whether he is walking, riding a bicycle or riding a public vehicle or his employer's bicycle? That is the problem—
I do not want the controversy to be extended to a ridiculous extent. Where it is reasonably clear that a man was using reasonable means of proceeding to his work, or leaving his work, I think the weight of justice should fall on the' side of the man, and I think that, in a Bill of this kind, the more generous the Government can be to the victim of such accidents, the better it will be both for him and the victim.
Like the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas), I was a Member of the Committee upstairs, and I am sure that it is in the recollection of all hon. Members of the Committee that, on Clause 9, we expressed the view that it was too narrow. The whole burden of our discussion upstairs was that we wanted an extension of cover for workmen proceeding to their work, and we rather understood that, when we came to the 'Report stage, Amendments would be put down by the Government that would provide for this extension. As my right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) has said, we find that the Government have put down an Amendment which actually narrows the coverage. That is my first point.
The second point is that I cannot see why we should distinguish between a man who is the servant of a rich company that can provide buses, and a man who is the servant of another company which will only provide bicycles. To carry the thing to its logical conclusion, if the employer gives a man his boots, he can be said to be walking to work in his employer's equipment; but that is really extreme. The principle of giving a special rate of allowance to those who are injured under this Bill, is that they are injured in the course of carrying out a contract. They are not injured while doing something of their own free will, like going for a walk on a Sunday morning. When a man is doing something under a contract made with his employer, he is then considered to have a right to a special level of benefit. One hon. Member opposite said that, in respect of some collieries, there were insurance companies which covered men from their homes to the colliery and back again. I see the difficulty of doing that. If a man stops the bus, or gets off his bicycle, outside a public house, and goes inside, someone may throw a bottle and he may get injured. Would he then be covered?
Supposing a man who has to go to work in the early morning to fulfil his normal contract, goes to a bus stop and an accident occurs before he gets on to a public vehicle, it would be very hard to justify not giving that man compensation when if the bus had a notice on it that it was hired by his employer, he would be covered. This is a most untidy Clause and does not do what the House would like it to do. I can only ask the Government to think again and amend it in such a way that both sides of the House will be satisfied that we are doing a good job.
We discussed this matter very thoroughly in Committee and have carefully considered it since. It is not an easy matter; it has a history. The question arose under the existing Workmen's Compensation Act and, as a matter of fact, Clause 9 was produced first by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) who has asked his hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) to vote against it.
I cannot spend more time trying to heal the difference between the Front and Back Benches of the Tory Party. Clause 9 is intended to deal with workmen who are travelling as passengers to and from work in certain conditions. If a person is travelling as the driver of a vehicle, then he is a worker and that is his work, and he is covered under the Clause.
Under the existing Workmen's Compensation Act, when a workman joins a vehicle provided by an employer and is under an obligation to travel by that vehicle, he must be paid compensation if he meets with an accident. If he joins a vehicle owned by the employer, but is not under an obligation to travel by it, he would not be entitled to compensation. Under Clause 9 it was intended to remove that. Therefore, in Clause 9 we say:
An accident happening while an insured person is, with the express or implied permission of his employer, travelling by any vehicle to or from his place of work shall, notwithstanding that he is under no obligation to his employer to travel by that vehicle, be deemed to arise out of and in the course of his employment…
and the workman will get compensation. In other words, if the vehicle is provided by the man's employer and he travels by that vehicle with the implied consent of the employer and an accident happens, he will get compensation under this Bill.
I have listened to every speech and I should like to be allowed to make my reply. Therefore, we have extended the protection to this kind of accident. Now we are asked to extend it still further, but no one has suggested where to draw the line. Is it suggested that if a workman is provided by his employer with a bicycle, he should then be compensated, but that if he is not provided with a bicycle, he shall not? The matter is open to all kinds of difficulties and anomalies. An anomaly of this kind is bound to arise so long as there are two schemes, one dealing with industrial injuries and one with accidents. I hope we shall be able to unite the two schemes at some time in the future. But, until that occurs, we have to draw the line somewhere. We have extended the provision as outlined in Clause 9 to cover those who travel as passengers on vehicles provided by employers even where there is no definite obligation for them so to travel. If we go beyond that, we shall get into greater difficulties and create greater anomalies.
For those reasons we have decided to make this a Clause which deals with workers travelling as passengers on a vehicle provided by an employer in the circumstances described in Clause 9. We have looked at it very carefully indeed and have tried to provide for all variants and possibilities. We have endeavoured to make the dividing line the place where a risk becomes an industrial risk and not one shared by all other members of the public. Therefore, I hope the House will accept this Amendment. There is one other point which my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General said I would deal with. Pit-head baths are part of the
|Division No. 79.]||AYES.||5.40 p.m.|
|Adams, H. R. (Balham)||Cobb, F. A.||Hicks, G.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Cocks, F. S.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Adamson, Mrs. J. L.||Collick, P.||Holman, P.|
|Allighan, Garry||Collindridge, F.||House, G.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Cooper, WingComdr. G.||Hoy, J.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Corlett, Dr. J.||Hubbard, T.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Cove, W. G.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Austin, H. L.||Daggar, G.||Irving, W. J.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Daines, P.||Janner, B.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jones, Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Baird, Capt. J.||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Keenan, W.|
|Balfour, A.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Kenyon, C.|
|Barstow, P. G.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Kinley, J.|
|Barton, C.||Dodds, N. N.||Lang, G.|
|Battley, J. R.||Douglas, F. C. R.||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Levy, B. W.|
|Benson, G.||Dumpleton, C. W.||Lewis, A. W. J.(Upton)|
|Berry, H.||Edelman, M.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)|
|Beswick, Fit.-Lieut. F.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Binns, J.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Blackburn, Capt. A. R.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Longden, F.|
|Blenkinsop, Capt. A.||Gaitskell, H. T. N.||McAdam, W.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Gallacher, W.||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Gilzean, A.||Mack, J. D.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge)||Gooch, E. G.||Maclean, N. (Govan)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Goodrich, H. E.||McLeavy, F.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||McNeil, H.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Grenfell, D. R.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Grey, C. F.||Mainwaring, W.H.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Grierson, E.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.|
|Burden, T. W.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)|
|Burke, W. A.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelty)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Guy, W. H.||Martin, J. H.|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)||Mathers, G.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hale, Leslie||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Chater, D.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Messer, F. '|
|Clitherow, Dr. R.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Montague, F.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Moody, A. S.|
Could it not be rightly interpreted that an accident sustained by a man proceeding to or from his employment is really something that arises out of his employment and therefore makes him subject to benefit under this Bill?
I have considered that very carefully. In the majority of cases, workmen go to. work by public vehicles. Supposing two men board a bus, one to go to work and the other somewhere else, and both are killed, there is bound to be a distinction. Whatever is done there are bound to be anomalies. It has been found impossible to find a dividing line elsewhere.
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Tolley, L.|
|Morley, R.||Royle, C.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Sargood, R.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Usborne, Henry|
|Morris, Hopkin (Carmarlhen)||Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Shurmer, P.||Viant, S. P.|
|Moyle, A.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wadsworth, G.|
|Murray, J. D.||Simmons, C. J.||Walkden, E.|
|Nally, W.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Skinnard, F. W.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Neal, H. (Claycrsss)||Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S)||Weitzman, D.|
|Noel-Buxton, Lady||Smith, T. (Normanton)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|O'Brien, T.||Snow, Capt. J. W.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Solley, L. J.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Orbach, M.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Paget, R. T.||Sparks, J. A.||Wilkes, Maj. L.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Stamford, W.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Palmer, A. M F.||Steele, T.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T.||Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Stross, Dr. B.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Pearson, A.||Stubbs, A. E.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Perrins, W.||Swingler, Capt. S.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Piratin, P.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Williamson, T.|
|Popplewell, E.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Willis, E.|
|Porter, E. (Warrington)||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Wilson, J. H.|
|Porter, G. (Leeds)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Ranger, J.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Rees-Williams, Lt.-Col. D. R.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Younger, Maj. Hon. K. G.|
|Reeves, J.||Thorneycroft, H.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Reid, T. (Swindon)||Thurtle, E.|
|Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Tiffany, S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Titterington, M. F.||Captain Bing and Mr. J. Henderson|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Hare, Lieut-Col. Hn. J. H. (W'dbge)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Prescott, W. R. S.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hope, Lord J.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Boothby, R.||Howard, Hon. A.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Maj. J. A.||Jeffreys, General Sir G||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Keeling, E. H.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Robinson, Wing.Comdr. Roland|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ross, Sir R.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Lindsay Lt.-Col. M. (Solihull)||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Lipson, D. L.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Carson, E.||Lloyd, Brig. J. S. B. (Wirral)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Challen, Flt.-Lieut. C.||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (I of Wight)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n,S.)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Digby, Maj. S. W.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. (Penrith)||Marples, Capt. A. E.||Vane, Lieut-Col. W. M. T.|
|Drewe, C.||Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodmin)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Maude, J. C.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Mellor, Sir J.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Erroll, Col. F. J.||Molson, A. H. E.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Neven-Spence, Major Sir B.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G.||Nicholson, G.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||Nutting, Anthony|
|Gammans, Gapt. L. D.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Grimston, R. V.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Mr. Studholme and|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Commander Agnew|
I beg to move, on page 6, line 11, leave out "used," and insert:
at which he is for the time being employed.
Hon. Members will remember that Clause 10 was very fully discussed in the
Committee when hon. Members on both sides were apprehensive about the case of workmen who go to the rescue of their friends when not actually on the premises on which they are employed. For example, we were given the case of workmen working at roof repairing and one going to the rescue of the other when he was about to
fall off the roof, and so on. The Amendment on the Order Paper is designed to provide for that position. It means that a workman who incurs injury when acting in an emergency shall be brought within the cover of the Act, even if he incurs that injury while not on the premises of his employer. That was the case which was discussed, and it was desired to bring it within the ambit of the cover. The result will now be that in such a case as that instanced a workman who, while working on some premises outside the premises of his employer, goes to the rescue of a companion who is in danger will be within the ambit of the cover, notwithstanding that the accident or emergency takes place not on the premises on which the workman is employed.
This Amendment is most satisfactory to my hon. Friends on this side of the House. It seems to indicate, taken with the three following Amendments that my right hon. Friend has tried seriously to meet points of importance raised during the Committee stage. It also seems to indicate that he pays more attention to arguments advanced from this side of the House than he does to arguments advanced from behind him.
Might I say a word of welcome to the Amendment which my hon. and learned Friend has moved? One recalls that in the Standing Committee it was pointed out that in what was then Clause 9, now Clause 10, the original wording certainly debarred many thousands of workmen, who are very seldom employed on or about the premises of their employer, from benefiting under this Clause. It was argued at that time that it was altogether unjust and unfair that a man, merely because he was engaged in a type of employment where persons contracted, and therefore whose main function whilst employed was away from the buildings and land which were owned by the employer, should be treated in a different manner from people who were employed in a static position on certain buildings. The insertion of the Amendment will certainly remedy that position. I merely rose to welcome this Amendment and to offer my hon. And learned Friend my very sincere thanks as I had something to do with bringing this matter to his notice.
I beg to move, in page 6, line 14, at end, insert "succour."
The Clause reads: "to rescue or protect persons" who are in a position of danger. If we add the word "succour," so that it reads "to rescue, succour or protect," the ambit of the Clause is widened. There may be many cases in which a workman is injured when he can be said to be bringing help to persons who are in peril, but when he cannot fairly be said to be either actually rescuing or protecting them. For example, suppose a wall collapsed upon workmen who became trapped underneath, if a workman climbed underneath it to give them something to alleviate their pain, or something of that sort, he would be succouring them although he would not be rescuing them or protecting them. The Amendment widens the scope of the cover.
I would like to thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for the kindly way in which he has moved this Amendment. The Government have done well and have not shown the arbitrary nature which the Minister showed just now when he refused to allow some of us to take part in the Debate. Apart from the humanity of widening the Clause with this Amendment, may I also congratulate him on using a word which is not often found in Bills, the word "succour"? It is a first-class word, and I feel sure that it is copied from one of the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) It is a great thing to see the Government, on the occasion of a Bill of this kind, using a really good English word rather than deviating into one of those queer Civil Service terms containing probably 15 or 20 letters with five or six syllables, and nothing like as good as the word the Government have brought in. I congratulate the Government on a little star of good sense.
I beg to move, page 6, line 16, leave out "seriously."
When this Clause was being discussed on the Committee stage a number of hon. Members expressed the desire that that word should come out because it seemed to be an unnecessary limitation and seemed to exclude the case of a person who was going to the aid of somebody in danger when it could not be said that he was seriously in danger or seriously in peril. This again widens the scope of the Clause.
I beg to move, in page 6, line 16, leave out from the second "or," to the end of the Clause, and insert:
to avert or minimise serious damage to property.
This Amendment is of a consequential nature. As the Clause stands, it reads:
or minimise serious harm whether to persons or property.
We propose to take out the words "to persons," with the result that the Clause will apply only to serious damage to property.
I beg to move, in page 6, line 22, at end, insert:
Provided that, subject to the provisions of this Act, an insured person shall not be entitled to injury benefit in respect of the first three such days, unless as the result of the relevant injury he is incapable of work during the said period on not less than twelve days.
In the original text of the Bill there was a provision for three waiting days, subject to a payment from the first day if the incapacity lasted for 24 days or more. An Amendment was proposed in the Standing Committee to delete that provision, and although I indicated that I could not accept the Amendment, it was carried. I indicated the reasons why I asked the Committee not to press the Amendment to a Division, and not to accept it. One was that we were at that time considering the National Insurance
Bill, and obviously in a scheme of this kind, closely linked with the other, it was desirable that whatever provision was made should apply both to the National Insurance Bill and the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Bill. I indicated that if we left out the Clause requiring waiting days from both this and the other Bill, a single day of sickness or incapacity would count for benefit, which would put us into the difficulty that we had no actual sound estimate as to what it would cost. In a scheme of this kind an estimate of cost is desirable, for we have to provide for it by contributions—this is an insurance scheme and has to be actuarially sound. Our second reason was that we had no estimate of the cost of administration, except that it would be very considerable. As a result, we came to the conclusion that, whereas an improvement was desirable, it was both impracticable, and in our view not the best way, to use whatever money we had to make provision of that kind.
The Amendment which 1 am moving proposes to replace the provision for waiting days which was taken out of the Bill, with two important modifications. The first is that a period of 12 days is substituted for 24 days, and the second is that the 12 days need not be continuous. In this Amendment we say that if 12 days or more are lost as a result of the injury in the injury benefit period—which is 26 weeks—there will be payment from the first day. That is in line with what we have done in the National Insurance Bill, where we have made a similar provision. The period is different, because in that Bill there is a period of 13 weeks, whereas here it is 26 weeks. We did not wish to incorporate the 13 weeks' period in this Bill, having decided upon an injury benefit period of 26 weeks.
During the Committee stage I was asked by hon. Gentlemen opposite, in connection with any proposal of this kind, whether I could give an estimate of the cost. We estimate that the cost of this will be an additional£300,000 per annum, over and above the cost if we had reinserted the original provision in the Bill. This, I think, is the best way out of the problem. We have now made reasonable provision, both in the National Insurance Bill and in this Bill, and the provisions are of a like character. I therefore hope that this Amendment will commend itself to the House and be accepted.
I am sorry that the Minister is not leaving the Bill as it is in this respect. I listened to what he said with regard to the necessity to co-ordinate it with the other Bill, but from my experience in this House in days gone by, this question of the waiting period has always worried people who represent working-class constituencies. I cannot for the life of me see why, if a person has an accident and is off for six days, he should not be paid for the first three days. To me it is quite irrational, and rather than put it in this Bill because it is in the National Insurance Bill, I would say that it would be far better to take it out of the National Insurance Bill, so as to make that the same as this is at present. Let us do away with this waiting period of three days. Why should a person who is injured have this penalty imposed upon him? Why should he be without income for the first three days of his illness, when he needs the money more than usual to help him to overcome his illness? I appeal to the Minister and to the Government that, having begun on this improvement on our social services, they should remove this thing which has always hit the working people in the most difficult circumstances. They should remove this injustice from our social insurance. I hope the Minister will reconsider this matter and not insist on any waiting period.
I am not unappreciative of the sentiments expressed by the hon. Gentleman opposite, but as one who voted against the Government in the Standing Committee, I feel that the Minister has at least attempted to arrive at a compromise between the two divergent views. The Bill previously laid down specifically that it was 24 days before the applicant could recover for his waiting days. Under this compromise, which has gone further than we anticipated, a loss of 12 days in 13 weeks will mean the recovery of the first waiting days. If a man has a second accident within the period of 13 weeks the three waiting days in respect of his first accident will carry him over into the period of his second accident, for which he will immediately receive benefit. I think the Minister ought to be complimented on the compromise embodied in this Amendment.
This is an important Amendment. The question of the waiting days is, I think, one of the most important questions raised by this Bill and by the National Insurance Bill. It has a very long history. The first Workmen's Compensation Act provided for no payment of compensation during the first fortnight of disability. That was amended in 1906, when the period of waiting was reduced to seven days, but there was a proviso that after 14 days disability a claimant could recover in respect of the first seven days. Experience of the 1906 provision, as was shown in the evidence given to the Holman Gregory Committee just after the last war, was that it did induce a certain amount of malingering. If, by staying off work for a very short period between the seventh and fourteenth days, a man could recover the full 14 days' compensation, there was a very big inducement to remain off work past the fourteenth day. As a result of that the Holman Gregory Committee reported in favour of three waiting days for everybody, but with no recovery of the compensation in respect of those waiting days. The Government, when they came to legislate, introduced the rule now in force, that is to say, three waiting days with recovery of payment in respect of those days if the disability lasts beyond the twenty-eighth day.
The right hon. Gentleman embodied in his Bill the same terms as the Coalition Bill upon this matter, which was three waiting days with recovery of the compensation after 28 days disability. That proposal was defeated in Standing Committee by his own supporters, and the Minister obviously had to face up to a very difficult position, in consequence. I think that the proposal which he now makes, that is to say, three waiting days with recovery of compensation in respect of them if the disability runs beyond the twelfth day, is a reasonable one. I do not think it will have the ill-effects which the Act of 1906 had in this respect. I do not think very many workmen will be induced by the prospect of recovering three days' compensation to stay off work longer than is absolutely necessary.
At the same time, I am a little concerned whether the Minister is, in fact,
making the same provision under this Bill that he is making in respect of sickness and unemployment under the National Insurance Bill. The Minister explained in Standing Committee that what he is doing in this Bill is to reduce the waiting days in the existing law from three days to two, because it is proposed that the day of the accident shall count as one of the waiting days; and, therefore, if an accident occurs late in a man's shift, he will in fact have only two days in respect of which he cannot obtain any insurance benefit. In the main Insurance Bill, of which we had the Second Reading Debate quite recently, the proposals with regard to waiting days are as follows—I read from Clause 11, Subsection (1, i)—
a person shall not be entitled to either benefit for the first three days of any period of interruption of employment.…
The expression "a day of interruption of employment "is denned lower down as meaning
a day which is a day of unemployment or of incapacity for work.….
So that if a man is sick, then a day of interruption of employment, of which he is to have three before he can draw any benefit, means a day in which he is incapable of work in respect of sickness. Then there is a further proviso in Subsection (3):
Regulations may make provision.…as to the days which are or are not to be treated for the purposes of unemployment benefit and sickness benefit as days of unemployment or incapacity for work.
We have got a fairly complicated set-out in the new Bill as to what are and are not to be treated as waiting days. The whole House will agree that it is extremely important that the same principles should apply, as the Minister said in his opening statement, to industrial disability, to sickness, and to unemployment. I should like to be reassured from the Front Bench before we part with this Amendment that whatever Regulations are necessary under the main Bill will make it quite clear that the same provisions will apply in that Bill as will apply under the Industrial Injuries Insurance Bill; because it is quite clear that there will be a vast amount of indignation and disappointment if the man on industrial injuries benefit has only two waiting days, whereas a man on sickness benefit has to undergo three. Subject to that point being made clear, I am dis-
posed to accept the solution of this difficult problem which the Minister propounds in his new Amendment.
I should like to support my right hon. Friend in his plea to the Minister to try to co-ordinate the position in regard to the 12 days as between this Bill and the other Bill. I should like to emphasise that because, in his opening remarks, there seemed to be something about an episode upstairs. As he raised the matter and did not finish it off, I think some Member of the Government might reassure us on the position as between the two Bills. I gather that there has been a spot of trouble about all this— not, as I understand it, here, but somewhere else, and I congratulate the Minister on the way he has got over it. If we can get together among the leading parties and try to make the law clearer in this respect of the waiting period, I think we shall be on the right path. I should like to say a word about the hon. Member who represents the I.L.P. in the House. He is naturally a good attender, unlike the Communist Member. He has to quarrel from time to time with the Government, as is only quite natural, and so far as I am concerned I do not mind so long as it does not lead to others on the other side following him on this particular Amendment.
I should not have intervened had it not been for the fact that an hon. Member on the opposite side attempted to link up the waiting period with the waiting period for sickness under the main Bill. I regret that there is a waiting period at all. My mind goes back to the original Bill. I believe that is the only point that has never been satisfactorily settled out of the six or seven points that raged in this country, and about which the friendly societies and trade unions took a leading part. The majority of trade unions, I believe, pay the benefit. The only objection to the first day is one of administration, and even that objection passes away once you pay sickness benefit or disablement benefit. I speak as one who has ' spent many years in this sort of administration. Whilst it is necessary to have two or three days in order to make up the books, once you have credited a person with an amount to be received the administration difficulties pass to one side. I can understand, of course, the Minister talking about the actuarial point of view so far as the amount of money is concerned.
I think that would have been legitimate had the position been as it was before in which the whole cost rested on the employer. But under these circumstances we are paying, and because we are paying, bearing in mind the thousands of pounds saved to the employer, I think it ought to be possible to pay for the first day of incapacity. The idea that there may be malingering so far as sickness benefit is concerned may be accepted for the purposes of this Amendment. It may be that a workman does not feel quite equal to his task, and he hesitates whether he will go sick or not. He probably decides to remain at his work because of the low standard of sickness benefit. He cannot afford to go sick. There is no doubt, however, in the workman's mind as to whether he shall attempt to malinger so far as an accident is concerned. It is impossible for the workman to become a malingerer by declaring that he is a disabled person until the accident happens. While congratulating the Minister, I feel that he ought to have gone the "whole hog" and not have been governed, as he appears to have been, by the conclusions of the Coalition Government.
I intervene just to emphasise the point raised by my hon. Friend. The Minister, I am sure, and hon. Members too, will be aware that when you try to co-ordinate the same period for sickness as for injury you are immediately up against a difficulty. An accident occurs in a moment of time and you know it. There are thousands of people in this country, on the other hand, especially those entitled to full wages during sickness, who cannot tell—not a single Member of this House of Commons can tell—when sickness actually begins. Consequently, the two things differ in that respect. My experience has been that thousands of insured persons do not claim on the funds immediately they feel ill; they think that they may be well in a day or two and never declare on the funds at all. But when one meets with an accident that is a different proposition.
I would like to say a word in passing as to malingering. I want to pay tribute to our people as a whole; my experience has been—I have administered these schemes for a number of years—that you can always rely on 98 per cent. of them to play the game towards these schemes. Indeed, if there were as much malingering as is sometimes alleged the funds could not possibly stand the pressure. I suggest again, if you try to co-ordinate these periods you must not compare an accident with sickness.
With the leave of the House, I would like to refer to one or two points which have been raised. The right hon. Gentleman opposite asked whether I could make certain provisions in this Bill and those of another Bill exactly similar. I do not think that I can. In the industrial injuries scheme we have a well defined period. The period of injury benefit is 26 weeks, and I thought that, on the whole, it was better to leave untouched its injury benefit period 26 weeks and make the 12 days continuous within that period. I think that the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) has answered the point as to the difficulty of counting the first day of sickness for benefit. With regard to accidents, I said let us count the day of the accident as the first waiting day. In some industries, the day of the accident is counted as the first waiting day—if it is before noon it counts; if it is after noon, it does not. There are all kinds of variation, and I could see great difficulties in administering a scheme of this kind, which has to be applied generally. I came to the conclusion that the simplest way was to say that the day of the accident is a waiting day in all cases. I think that we have made a real attempt to coordinate both schemes so far as that is practicable.
I beg to move, in page 6, line 33, after "be", insert:
as follows, that is to say:
This Amendment is to provide a new age group with the new benefits. Those between 17 and 18 years of age will get 75 per cent. of adult benefit, instead of one-half, that is to say,33s. 9d. I
promised to do this in consideration of the very strong claims which were put to me. This is intended to cover the very large numbers of boys and girls of this age who are doing adult work.
I beg to move, in page 8, line 36, at end, insert:
Provided that disabilities shall in no case be assessed higher than similar disabilities are assessed under the Royal Warrant concerning pensions for members of His Majesty's Forces for the time being in force.
There is a considerable amount of disquiet, which is not by any means confined to one side of the House, as to the relative and, indeed, absolute position of the Service pensioner under the Royal Warrant, as compared with a civilian under the present Bill and other social legislation. I would make it clear that it is not the intention behind this Amendment in any way to limit or curtail the benefits obtained by civilians under this Bill. What it is desired to do is to express the anxiety that is felt, that beneficiaries. under the Royal Warrant are getting relatively less than a square deal. The Amendment, in terms, deals with the schedule of assessment of disability, and it is obvious that if the same injury is assessed at a lower percentage under the Royal Warrant than it is under this Bill, the beneficiaries under the Royal Warrant will be in a substantially worse position than the civilian. Comparisons are proverbially odious, and I do not desire to enter into any comparisons of the merits of persons injured in industry and persons injured in the Services in time of war. Perhaps one may say, however, that if there is one class of men for whom this House has a greater responsibility than for any other, it is the men injured in war. After all, under our present methods of conducting a war such men in 99 cases out of 100 have no option as to whether they serve or not. The State compels them to serve and to run those risks.
Therefore, I say it is very much the responsibility of this House to see that such men are in no degree worse treated than are casualties in civilian life, and it is because a good many of my hon. Friends do feel that such men are, to some extent, being a little lost sight of, when compared with the casualties of industry that this Amendment has been put on the Order Paper. When the Bill was in Standing Committee some discussion took place on this point and, if I may say so with due respect, the Minister and Parliamentary Secretary tended to brush the matter aside as being no concern of theirs. It may be, from a strictly departmental point of view, that there is force in that contention, but, as both the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary represent the Government, it is the right of the House to ensure that the beneficiaries under the Royal Warrant are no worse treated than beneficiaries under this Bill. It is not right and proper for the Minister to slide out of it and say, "This is the responsibility of some other Department," because it remains a responsibility of this House to ensure that there shall be no undue disadvantage to the beneficiaries under the Royal Warrant, from the fact that the Ministers responsible for them are, perhaps, less energetic, less forcible, or less competent than the Minister of National Insurance and his Parliamentary Secretary in looking after the interest of those for whom they are departmentally responsible. I hope it may be possible for the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister, if he returns, to give us some assurances on the intentions of the Government. I hope he will not fall back on the plea that this would involve legislation because it would involve nothing of the sort. The Royal Warrant is a prerogative matter and the Government can amend it—
With all respect I was not doing so. I was anticipating a possible argument that might be put forward that the effect of this Amendment would be to limit the benefits to be obtained under this Bill, and I was pointing out with respectful submission that it was relevant to argue that this Amendment would not limit the benefits because it would always be open to the Government to prevent that by amending the Royal Warrant.
On that point of Order. With great respect I would point out that my hon. and gallant Friend was not, in effect asking for an increase in the pensions at all, but was showing what the procedure would be if the Amendment were carried. He was arguing that if the Amendment was carried, it would be open to the Government to modify the Royal Warrant by prerogative. My hon. and gallant Friend was showing the procedure which would be involved, and in my humble submission it is absolutely relevant and essential that that should be done, because if it were not done, I submit, the Government might properly complain of being put in a situation which in certain circumstances might arise, if we had not provided for it in the Amendment.
I am grateful for your guidance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker and I can only say on this point that if I erred in anticipating an argument which the Parliamentary Secretary might produce—and which I understand now would be out of Order if he did produce it—I apologise to him. There is a serious point in this question in the disparity which increasingly appears between the treatment of casualties in industry and military casualties. In this Bill the Minister has made a number of concessions, many of them most welcome, to the industrial casualties. We have not heard from the Government, of which the hon. Gentleman is an ornament, what is the policy of the Government in regard to military casualties.
I respectfully agree with your final observation, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I would urge that as this matter was ventilated in Standing Committee at some considerable length, the Parliamentary Secretary in his reply might give some indication of the Government's attitude towards this Amendment and the ideas embodied in it. I should be very grateful if he would do so.
I beg to second the Amendment.
I think I had better make it clear to the House what our purpose is in putting this Amendment on the Order Paper. I hope we shall not require to divide the House upon it, because we most sincerely desire to keep the position of Service pensioners as far as possible outside purely party political issues. At the same time, we are concerned and we know there is concern among ex-Servicemen, about the provisions of the Bill and the manifold concessions which have been made during its passage through the House by way of an increase of benefits. I am not going to advocate any provisions made by the Royal Warrant, but so far as it is within the Rules of Order I hope the hon. Gentleman, who replies to the Debate, will be permitted to state what has, in fact, already taken place in regard to the Royal Warrant since we discussed this Bill upstairs in Committee. He might possibly be permitted to indicate the intention of His Majesty's Government to bring the provisions of the Warrant into line with the provisions of the Bill. I hope that he will be allowed to make a statement upon those lines, because there is a depth of feeling in the House—
I shall abide by your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I shall not advocate any change in the Royal Warrant. I confine myself to saying there is some concern in the country and in the House in regard to the relationship between the provision for the pensioner under the Bill on the one hand and the ex-Serviceman on the other.
I do not provide for the Civil Injuries Scheme here although it is relevant to this issue, and we should like to see the Civil Injuries Scheme brought into line with the concessions which have been made in this Bill, and those concessions applied to the victims of the blitz, or enemy action. There is a specific point upon which the Parliamentary Secretary might be able to give the House a little information. He informed us in Committee that in relation to the method of assessment of disability, the question of what the rate of the disability should be—30, 40, 50, 60, or 70 per cent—was to be referred to an interdepartmental Committee, on which would be representatives of the Ministry of Pensions, the Ministry of National Insurance, and the other Ministries concerned with this issue. The purpose of this Committee, he said, would be to see that similar injuries, so far as possible, attracted a similar degree of assessment. That, I think, was about 10 weeks ago, and I invite the hon. Gentleman to tell us a little more, if he can, about the activities of the Committee, when he hopes to receive their Report, and whether the Report will be made public so that we all may be reassured as to the position of ex-Servicemen in relation to benefits which industrial casualties will receive under this Bill.
I desire to oppose this Amendment. Reference has been made to the fact that its purpose is not quite what would appear from the words on the Order Paper. I have been long enough in the House to remember the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) in connection with workmen's compensation, and my recollection is that he could be depended upon to try to limit in any way possible any charge on the employers—
The hon. Gentleman must be confusing me with another Member, or his memory must be at fault-. I never made a speech on the doctrine of common employment, or on workmen's compensation, until I became a member of the Government.
I am sorry if I have been doing the right hon. Gentleman an injustice, if I have confused him with another Member of the Tory Party. But certainly, when these Measures were brought forward, there were always Members of the Tory Party who were active in trying to restrict benefits for the unemployed who suffered injury during their unemployment. If the Amendment were to raise payments under the Royal Warrant surely it should be obvious to the right hon. Gentleman, with his experience, that this is not the occasion to deal with the Royal Warrant.
I do not want to discuss the Royal Warrant, but may I point out, Sir, that the Amendment states:
Provided that disabilities shall in no case be assessed higher than similar disabilities are assessed under the Royal Warrant concerning pensions for members of His Majesty's Forces for the time being in force.
I submit that it is evidently the opinion of certain Members that if the Amendment were accepted some payments under this Bill would have to be reduced. If that is not so, there is no point in the Amendment. Members cannot have it both ways. If the purpose of the Amendment is to see that there shall be equality between ex-Service and industrial cases, the supporters of the Amendment must be concerned about inequalities. Otherwise, they are wasting time. I always feel suspicious when I come across anything like this. If we wish to secure equality between ex-Servicemen and those who suffer industrial disability, this is not the way to do it. What we are concerned with today is to see that the victims of accidents in the workshop shall have decent compensation. Our business today is not with the victims of the war. I hope the Minister will not be led astray with regard to this Amendment. I am sorry I cannot pursue the subject in view of your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, because I would like to show how neglectful the present Opposition were in dealing with the new Royal Warrant, when it was coming into being.
I regret that the point of this Amendment should have escaped the understanding of the hon. Member below the Gangway. I should have thought that it was fairly clear. I am bound to say that in my long experience of the many and varied contributions which the hon. Gentleman has made to our Debates, I have never before noticed that he was obtuse in the matter of argument. I cannot help thinking that the explanation is that he is more concerned with making a Party point regarding the motives underlying the Amendment, than applying his mind to discussing this issue. The point is perfectly simple. The object of the Amendment is to secure a relationship between two differing types of payment.
I think the hon-. Member will find that he is mistaken. The re- lationship desired is one of equality. It is obviously not possible in this Debate, as you, Mr. Speaker, have already ruled, to discuss whether the Royal Warrant itself is excessive or not, having regard to the constitutional position of Private Members of this House. They cannot propose an increase of charge because that is the prerogative of Ministers. Hon. Members can only speak on that, by trying to force a position in which Ministers are compelled to come to the House to exercise their prerogative in that way. They cannot achieve it directly. Indeed it is not possible on any other occasion unless time is given to a Motion to discuss the proposals of the Royal Warrant. The only way in which hon. Members on this side of the House can secure their wish is by doing precisely the thing which this Amendment proposes. It is done by saying that relationship and equality shall exist, and by refraining from saying whether that equality should be achieved by the diminution of the one, or the increase of the other. The motive behind the Amendment has already been described, and anybody who now attempts to misrepresent the motive can only be doing so with the deliberate desire of misleading either this House or the country on what underlies it. I hope that hon. Members will not be under any delusion as to what we mean.
Is the hon. Member not aware that his hon. Friend who spoke earlier referred to being profoundly disturbed about the inequalities which existed in connection with these schemes, between what the serving soldier is going to get, and what men are getting under the industrial scheme?
I do not wish to enter into any discussion of what was or was not said, because that will be within the memory of hon. Members. I am submitting that the argument was a perfectly simple one. It was this. What was disturbing the country was not so much any actual inequality which exists, but the continued refusal of the Government, on one pretext or another, to give assurances which would disperse any doubts or anxieties which might happen to arise in any quarter. That, I understand it, was the argument put forward on the Second Reading and in Committee, and which is being presented to the House today. I only wish to add, that any misunderstanding that existed originally has now been increased by the failure of the Government to make any satisfactory statement on the matter, and by the inadequacy of the explanations which have been put forward on various occasions. The most inadequate was that put forward by the hon. Gentleman opposite in Committee when he said his Departmental responsibility terminated at the industrial stage and had nothing whatever to do with war pensions. The only answer to that was that the Government should speak as a Government, otherwise we should not get any suggestion of supra-departmental responsibility either.
The general charge brought against this Amendment is that it does nothing to decrease or limit the amount of compensation which is paid by employers. Of course most of us by this time, after a White Paper Debate, after a Second Reading Debate, and after considerable discussion in Committee, have come to realise that the whole purpose of this Bill is not to put any additional expense on the employers at all, but to provide an insurance scheme whereby the workers will be provided with compensation which would be adequate for their purpose. Therefore, any prejudice of the kind in which the hon. Gentleman is such a past master, which he has been displaying at the present time, and which is based on the situation as it at present exists is as silly as it is unfair.
Is the hon. Member not aware that if there are a lot of accidents and if the fund becomes insufficient to meet the cost, the employers contribution may be raised?
That is not the position under the Bill which we are discussing. The contributions from the hon. Member below the Gangway were, are and always will be prejudiced and never will be to the point.
After the plethora of Tory legal talent which has been engaged on this Amendment and the House having listened to all the hon. Members who have endeavoured to assure us about what they intend in this Amendment, I think their intention is perfectly clear from the wording of the Amendment itself.
Provided that disabilities shall in no case be assessed higher than similar disabilities.".
That is how it begins and the last words are:
for the time being in force.
I regret that we cannot refer to the Royal Warrant, but as far as I can see this is a limiting Amendment. If the words are not intended to limit the proposals made under the Bill to those contained in the Royal Warrant, then I do not know what they mean. I must say, having regard to the legal talent which has been engaged on this point, it that is not the meaning of the Amendment, then I do not know why they have troubled to put it on the Paper. I acquit them of any intention to obstruct in this case, although I do not always acquit them of that.
If I have said anything which is beyond the Rules of Order, I am perfectly willing to withdraw it. There are, however, two other elements on which I wish to say a word or two. One point I would emphasise is that I view this as a deliberate attempt to limit the benefits under the Bill. It is an attempt that we are going to defeat. The other intention on the part of the Opposition, as far as I can see it, is to take unto themselves, as they have done for so long, the role of defenders of the rights of the Services. They are trying to create dissent between the Services and the ranks of the industrial workers. They are going to fail because, for many years now, the party to which I have the honour and privilege to belong, has been the defender of the Services. It is the Labour Party and this Government who are making every endeavour to benefit the Services in every conceivable way. I strongly urge the Government to resist this Amendment.
My name is not down to this Amendment and I am not wedded to its wording, but it strikes me that no man who is honest with himself should be in any difficulty in realising what is intended. If it is, in fact, a case of proposing a negative in order to get a positive, let it be so. If, after this Bill becomes law, it is apparent to a Serviceman who has come home and has, for example. lost his sight, that he receives—whatever may be the legal explanations—a smaller pension than the miner who has lost his sight, then a burning sense of injustice will remain in that man's heart.
There is, unfortunately, a grievously long range of casualties, to soldiers and to workmen, and what I believe it is here desired to do is to ensure that whatever the level of this compensation, it shall be the same whether applied to a servant of the State in the Armed Forces or to those in industry. That, I should have thought, was a proposition with which the whole House would desire to be associated, and if the right hon. Gentleman who is replying to the Debate is unable to accept the actual words of the Amendment, he might give satisfaction to us all if he would give, in specific words, the assurance for which I ask, namely that men injured in the same way, or suffering from the same complaints, whatever their walk of life, shall be compensated both justly and at the same rate. If the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to give that assurance, I and my hon. Friends will be satisfied.
I must ask the House to reject this Amendment. In doing so may I call the attention of the hon. and gallant Member for Kingston (Major Boyd-Carpenter) to his assertion—if I understood him correctly—that if any one should be treated with generosity, or if this House had a greater responsibility to any particular person, it was to the Service casualty? On behalf of His Majesty's Government I would point out that there are no favourites where men and women of this country are concerned. They are all members of the community, and will get justice in every section of activity.
As the Parliamentary Secretary has quoted me he will, I know, give me credit for saying that the passage which he quoted followed a statement of mine that it was my own view that comparisons were proverbially odious, and that it was only if there was any inevitable differentiation, that such favouritism would arise.
The House will accept my assurance, I am certain, that equality of treatment will be given to all sections of the community. The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) and the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) persistently called the attention of the House to the motive that was behind this Amendment. May I say as a non-lawyer to lawyers that it is not the motive of an Amendment but what it says that matters. These words have a very definite meaning in so far as they are words strung together.
I would say, with the greatest respect, that the only point of substance that has been raised during this Debate was that made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr.O Peake) with regard to the statement in Committee by my right hon. Friend the Minister, that in order to secure uniformity of treatment and of consideration as between the Department for which he is responsible, and the Department for which the Minister of Pensions is responsible, a committee would be set up to consider the general question of assessments arising from injuries, and that that committee would be an inter-departmental committee The committee has been set up, and is already at work. I am afraid I cannot, at the present stage, say when their report will be presented, but, consistent with not harrying the committee at their work, they will be asked to report as quickly as possible, and the usual custom with regard to the report of an inter-departmental committee—whether this that it should come to the House I am not certain, but I am certain that the right hon. Gentleman will forgive my not knowing the procedure in that regard—will be followed in this case. A similar Amendment to this was moved in Committee and was rejected, and 'there' is no machinery in existence for giving effect to the Amendment, if it were carried, so in so far as the Amendment is now before the House, we ask that it should be withdrawn.
We have had a long discussion on this Amendment. I had doubts about calling it in view of its discussion in Committee, and I hope that the Debate on it will not be continued. The hon. and gallant Member for Kingston (Major Boyd-Carpenter) has, of course, the right of reply to the Parliamentary Secretary.
I beg to move, in page 9 line 16, leave out "need," and insert "shall."
It might be convenient, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, to discuss at the same time the next Amendment—in page 9, line 19, at end, insert:
and a percentage between twenty and one hundred which is not a multiple of ten shall be treated—
This Amendment arises from discussion during the Committee stage, when, on behalf of my right hon. Friend, I informed the Committee that the Schedule, as set out in the Bill which received its Second Reading in this House, did hot meet the full intentions of my right hon. Friend, and that there would be an Amendment at Report stage. This Amendment, in fact, is to give an even break as between percentages to the injured workman, whereas the effect of the previous Clause was that the workman lost everything all the time. Now, if a percentage is between 20 and 24 the workman will lose it; if it is 25 and above it will go to the next ten: in other words it will be in multiples of ten. This Amendment is in accordance with the general undertaking which was given during the Committee and had, I believe, the general acceptance of the Committee at that time
Further Amendment made: In page 9, line 19, at end, insert:
and a percentage between twenty and one hundred which is not a multiple of ten shall be treated—
I beg to move, in page 9, line 28, after "hundred," insert "and fifty."
This Amendment refers to the gratuity for under-20 per cent. assessments and it arises from the increase of the benefit rate from 40s. to 45s. for the over-20 per cent. assessments. An undertaking was given in Committee that the maximum gratuity for under 20 per cent. disablement, which then stood at£100, would be raised to£150. That proposal had the general consent of the Committee.
In page 10, line 11; leave out "said rates shall be halved," and insert:
rate for any degree of disablement shall be as follows, that is to say:
I beg to move, in page 11, line 31, at end, insert:
except in cases of exceptionally severe disablement, or forty shillings in any case.
The Amendment enables the constant attendance allowance to be raised to 40s. I am certain that Members opposite will have noticed that the Amendment is put
forward in order to keep the Bill in line with the White Paper by another Ministry in connection with injuries received in another sphere than industry. It makes possible the award of 40s. constant attendance allowance in the most severe cases of injury, where the normal allowance, 20s., is obviously inadequate. In order that I shall not mislead the House, which I am sure the House understands I would not wittingly do, I would explain that the normal constant attendance allowance will still remain at 20s. The 40s. is for exceptionally severe disablement cases only, which take a considerable amount of attendance and nursing.
The Amendment deals, as the hon. Gentleman has explained, with the constant attendance allowance, and is designed to bring the Bill into line with the proposal for amendment of the Royal Warrant. For that reason, the Amendment is acceptable to my hon. Friends and myself on this side of the House. I imagine that the cost of the concession will be comparatively small. I imagine that cases which attract the constant attendance allowance are not very numerous and that the number of cases which will attract the exceptional higher rate on account of exceptionally severe disablement will be even fewer.
I should like to be informed who is to decide whether a case is one for the ordinary maximum of 20s. or for the exceptionally severe disablement rate of 40s. I imagine that the decision will rest in the hands of an insurance officer, seeing that it is a medical question, and that he will have the guidance of some medical authority in forming his judgment as to whether a special case has arisen. I should like more information on those two points. I take the opportunity of suggesting to the Minister that, in view of the number of concessions which have been made at all stages of the Bill, he might prepare a statement for the Third reading to show his estimate of the cost of those proposals.
The constant attendance allowance will now be increased in exceptionally severe cases to a maximum of£2. The Ministry of Pensions have had very wide and long experience in the matter, and have come to the conclusion that it is desirable in some of the most serious cases to provide a larger amount than£1. We shall apply precisely the same principle. In the White Paper which will eventually become embodied in the Royal Warrant there is a provision to increase the allowance to£2 We shall make the same provision. The allowance is given at the discretion of the Minister. He decides what the amount shall be. In regard to the total cost, I will, at a convenient stage, perhaps during the Report stage but certainly on the Third reading, pre-sent a complete estimate of the total cost of' all the improvements we have made in the Bill.
I beg to move, in page 13, line 24, leave out from "was" to end of Subsection, and insert:
receiving or entitled to receive, or would but for the relevant accident have been receiving or entitled to receive, from him periodical payments for her maintenance of not less than the prescribed amount.
The Amendment is the result of the consideration which we gave to a problem which was discussed during the Committee stage. As the Clause stands, the pension is payable to a widow of a deceased man if, at his death, she was either residing with him or was being wholly or mainly maintained by him. Several hon. Members put down an Amendment calling attention to the fact that a separated wife might be denied pension because, although she was receiving payment from her husband during his life, the payment would not bring her within the definition "wholly or mainly maintained." I was pressed on Committee stage to consider changes in the Clause to cover that kind of case.
I considered the matter and I appreciated the point that was put. I think the Amendment covers what we were asked to do. It removes the "wholly or mainly maintained" rule in the case of the separated wife, and she will be qualified for pension provided that she was entitled to receive from her husband periodical payments of not less than a prescribed amount. We have in mind an amount of 5s. per week. Receipt of contributions over and above that sum will be regarded as entitlement. It will be possible to grant pensions in such cases, subject to the overriding maximum. I am sure the House will agree that the pension ought not to exceed the amount that was being contributed. I think we have fairly met the point that was put to us in Committee.
I beg to move, in page 14, line 11, leave out from "death" to end of Subsection, and insert:
the said weekly rate shall not exceed the aggregate weekly rate of the payments referred to in subsection (1) of this section.
There may be exceptional cases of two sums paid under a deed, or some other provision, and it was thought desirable to cover them. This Amendment enables us to aggregate the two sums.
I must confess I was extremely puzzled on reading this Amendment as to what was intended by the use of the phrase "aggregate weekly rate of the payments referred to in subsection (1)," because Subsection (1), as amended by the previous Amendment, speaks of "periodical payments for her maintenance." The Minister explains now that it is possible that a man may be making payments to his wife from whom he is separated in more than one sum. For instance, there may be a separation order coupled with a payment under, perhaps, some form of settlement or trust. I should have thought that such a case would have been covered already by the words "periodical payments for her maintenance," and I am not quite happy about the use of the words "aggregate weekly rate of the payments." I think they are a little confusing, and possibly the right hon. Gentlemen would consider whether he cannot improve this phraseology when the Bill goes to another place, because, reading this Amendment with a fairly considerable experience of reading Amendments, I must confess I could make nothing of it when I first saw it on the Paper.
I beg to move, in page 14, line 21, at end, insert:
(5) For the purposes of this Section—
These words are moved in order to define entitlement, and I understand that that is essential. I think this Amendment will commend itself to the legal Members of the House, as it did in Committee.
I beg to move, in page 15, line 2, after "daughter," insert:
of his who—
Where the parents are not living together, a child living with its mother normally counts as a member of her family within the meaning of the Family Allowances Act though, in certain circumstances it might, if the parents so elect, or the Minister directs, be treated as in the father's family. To avoid anomalies in the award of children's allowances the child of the deceased who is in the mother's family but not in the father's will be dealt with specially by this Amendment. It will have the effect of treating the child as if it was in the father's family. Under the Family Allowances Act they might be treated as two separate families, and therefore it is desirable to have this Amendment so that a child who for the Family Allowances Act had been treated as belonging to the mother's family, would be deemed for the purposes of this Bill to belong to the father's family.
I would ask the Minister to give us a little more enlightenment upon this because at the moment I am unable to understand it. The suggested insertion is:
daughter of his who—(i) at his death was a child of his wife's, but not of his family;
I find great difficulty in following those words because the original suggestion was that it was a daughter of his, but Subsection (1) refers to one who is not of his
family. I shall be grateful if the apparent inconsistency of the reference, to a "daughter of his," which is subsequently referred to as a daughter not of his, can be explained.
This is in a case where the parents are separated, and therefore for the purpose of the Family Allowances Act the child may have been deemed to be in the mother's family, but for the purpose here, which is in the case of death, you have to decide for the purpose of compensation that the child shall be deemed to belong to the father.
I beg to move, in page 15, line 13, leave out "wholly or mainly," and insert "to a substantial extent."
There are a number of Amendments here covering the whole question of parents' pensions, which is very difficult, I know. This Amendment enables death benefits—that is, either a pension or a gratuity, as is appropriate—to be paid to a parent of the deceased where the parent was being maintained to a substantial extent at the time of the deceased's death or would, but for the relevant accident, have been so maintained. The word "substantial" will be defined by regulations under Clause 35 (1) as amended, and therefore we hope to cover several points that were raised on this point in the course of the Committee. In the Bill as it stood, there was provision for giving a pension or a payment for both parents if they were being wholly or mainly maintained by the deceased, or would but for the relevant accident have been so maintained. There was another qualification in the Bill as it stood, which was that the parents were either residing with the deceased or, in the case of the father, was permanently incapable of self-support, or, in the case of the mother, was herself permanently incapable of self-support.
I was pressed very strongly on this in Committee and was impressed by the arguments put forward. It has been a very difficult matter in some respects to transpose into legislation of this kind the exact provisions under the existing Workmen's Compensation Act, where there is provision for compensation by way of lump sum subject to a maximum to be determined by the Courts. As the cases arise, the claims go before the county court judge, who determines as a matter of fact first whether there was dependence, secondly what the amount of the dependence was. He awards a lump sum and that is the end of it. Here we are bringing this into a new field of insurance and enacting new provisions. We provide that there can be a pension for parents, if wholly or mainly maintained, and that pension shall be 15s. for. one parent and 30s. for two. Now there was no provision in the Bill for parents who were partially dependent, and we had to find, if we could, some words by which we could cover them as well. It was pointed out to us that it was possible under the existing Workmen's Compensation Act for parents to go to court and, even though not able to prove that they were wholly or mainly maintained, if there was dependence then they were able to go before the judge and get compensation by way of lump sum settlement.
I said I was anxious to meet these cases and these Amendments are designed to provide for such cases. We have attempted in the White Paper which we issued to make clear to the House and to the people what the provision' is in Clause 22. We propose still to pay a pension where the parent or parents were wholly or mainly maintained, but if the parent or parents were maintained by the deceased to a substantial extent, but not wholly or mainly, we provide that there shall be a gratuity with a maximum of£78, if there are two parents and£52 if there is one parent. I hope that the provision we have made will be acceptable to the House as an honest effort to provide under this scheme benefit for parents which, taken by and large, will be very much better than under the existing Act.
Whilst welcoming this Clause, may I ask the Minister when he is fixing regulations to see that the interpretation of the word "substantial" shall be liberal? I can imagine cases where "substantial" would be merely akin to "wholly or mainly maintaining." The provision of parents' gratuity is a considerable advancement on the present Act. One of the tragedies has been that when we have had to deal with compensation in relation to boys killed in the pit we have found lawyers and arbitra- tion courts have argued that, so far from the boy wholly or mainly maintaining the parents,' on the figures they have put forward, the boy was mainly dependent on his parents and all we have been able to get is£15 with which to bury him. Under the 1924 Act, it has been terrible for trade union officials to have to tell parents of people who have brought up a lad from infancy to 14, 15 or 16 years of age, and who has been killed in the mining industry, that a generous nation could give them" only£15 with which to bury him.
I also welcome the intention of the Minister in this Clause, but I cannot welcome the uncertainty in which we are left. So much depends, as the hon. Member for Hough-ton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) has pointed out, on the meaning the Minister will give in the regulations to the word "substantial." In many instances 20 per cent. maintenance may be regarded as substantial; on the other hand, 80 per cent. may be what the Minister has in mind. We should have some indication from the right hon. Gentleman as to the nature of his regulations. If I understand the Clause rightly, the death benefit is not going to be graded according to the extent of the maintenance; it will be the same death benefit in all cases where there was a substantial degree of maintenance. For those reasons we ought to have far more clarification.
The right hon. Gentleman has introduced a very elaborate series of Amendments since the Committee stage of the Bill dealing with widows, parents and other relatives, and he has issued a White Paper, very wisely I think, to explain this highly complex series of Amendments. In providing for benefit in fatal cases, the aim of those who framed the original Bill was to provide pensions in all cases and to get away from the payment of lump sums, to make those pensions of a substantial amount, and to make them for life. A line had to be drawn between those cases in which a pension would be granted, and those in which a pension could not be granted. It did not seem to us that in an insurance scheme we should make detailed investigation into each individual case, such as is required under the old Workmen's Compensation Act where there is any dispute in an accident claim taken before a county court judge. Therefore, we provided that in the case of parents the test was whether the parent was wholly or mainly maintained by the deceased and either was resident with the deceased or was incapable of self-support. The purpose of those qualifications was to try to "draw a broad line between cases where there was some dependency and some probable need, and other cases where there was no dependency and very likely no probable need.
It is perfectly true that, with an insurance scheme drawn on broad lines, one cannot investigate the needs of the individual very closely, nor do I think it would be a desirable thing to do, because the whole purpose of an insurance scheme is to treat people similarly in respect of similar contributions. The Minister has departed from the scheme in the Bill in order to do something for a number of classes of relatives, including parents, who were entitled to make claims on the Workmen's Compensation Acts in respect of partial dependence. Wholly or mainly dependent, means dependent to an extent of more than 50 per cent. for the ordinary necessities of life. Partially dependent, of course, means something very much less. It may mean dependent to the extent of only a few shillings a week.
In order to meet the claims of the partial dependant, and to try to give something to everybody who might have been entitled. under the Workmen's Compensation Act, the Minister has introduced into the Bill a system of small gratuities. I confess that I do not care for the word "gratuity" even as much as I care for the words "lump sum." There was, I think, only one gratuity in the original Bill when I had something to do with its preparation; that was a gratuity for the woman who remarried, and thereby lost her pension. I cannot wax very enthusiastic over this proposal to reintroduce comparatively small lump sum payments to parents who have suffered to some small financial extent by the loss of a child It seems to me we are rather passing out of the era of a small degree of dependency. The Minister of Pensions has always resisted, and I think the present Minister of Pensions is continuing to resist. claims for parents' pensions in respect of the Service Warrant, except in cases of proved necessity. I therefore set my face against the pay- ment of small sums by way of what I think might inoffensively be called blood money to people who have lost some relative, but whose financial loss is quite inconsiderable.
I cannot be at all enthusiastic about the proposal the Minister is putting before the House. It is an attempt to make sure that nobody who would have got anything under the Workmen's Compensation Act shall go without a payment under the new insurance scheme. The payments will be of short duration. There is a provision that they may be paid by instalments, but I imagine they will be paid out quickly in the ordinary way. The payments will be quite small, and there will be great difficulty in deciding what is dependency to a substantial extent. I do not know what the Minister has in mind about that. He told us in connection with the previous Clause that a woman separated from her husband would be entitled to receive something if she were receiving a periodical payment of not less than 5s. It is quite possible that the Minister has the same sort of figure in mind so far as dependency to a substantial extent is concerned. If he has, then the lump sum or gratuity as it is to be called will be a very small and a very troublesome thing to assess. I hardly think it desirable to introduce these small sums which are nearly always frittered away, as the evidence before the Royal Commission showed. At the same time we shall not carry this matter to a Division. I know it is a matter to which hon. Members opposite attach some importance and although I am not at all enthusiastic about it I shall not be prepared to go into the Division Lobby against it.
In page 16, line 1, leave out paragraph (b) and insert:
(b) the amount of a gratuity payable to a parent under subsection (3) of this section shall be fifty-two pounds, so. however, that this paragraph shall have effect subject to the provisions of the Fourth Schedule to this Act limiting the benefit payable in respect of any death.
I beg to move, in page 16, line 8, leave out "Such relatives," and insert "Any such relative."
With your permission, I will deal with this and the following 10 Amendments to this Clause together They deal with the general question of pensions and gratuities to relatives It must be very difficult for Members of the House to follow exactly where each of these Amendments comes in, and for the benefit of those who have the White Paper, I would say that on page 8 the Clause is set out as it "will be if all these Amendments are carried. Their effect is that where a relative is being wholly maintained by the deceased, and that relative is incapable of self-support, there is an entitlement to a pension, and that pension is paid. A gratuity is paid, however, if that relative so entitled to the pension is debarred from it because someone else with a prior claim is awarded a pension. The gratuity, as in the case of parents, is really a commutation into pounds of a year's payment of the pension rate of 20s. a week. The general principle having been accepted in regard to parents on Clause 22, the same principle is here extended to the relative who has been maintained by the deceased,' and is applied in these first 11 Amendments.
What I said on the previous Amendment also really covers what is proposed on Clause 23 dealing with relatives. The only question I wish to ask the Ministers in charge of the Bill is whether, when they speak of prescribed relatives, they will, as I imagine will be the case, take for that purpose the degrees of relativity set out in Section 4 of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1925.
In line 12, leave out from "maintained," to end of Subsection, and insert:
In line 20, leave out from "for" to end of Subsection, and insert: "
such period as may be. determined at the time it is granted. but may, if the beneficiary or her husband, as the case may be, continues to be permanently incapable of self-support, or, in the husband's case, has died during the continuance of that incapacity, be renewed from time to time:
Provided that the said pension shall cease on the death of the beneficiary within the period for which it was granted and, in the case of a woman, shall also cease on her marriage or remarriage within the. said period or, where the pension was granted by virtue of her husband's incapacity, on the termination of their marriage otherwise than by his death or on their ceasing to live together within the said period, and shall not thereafter be renewed.
In line 27, after "be," insert:
I beg to move, in page 16, line 40, leave out, "or any person who is a child."
This and the subsequent Amendment are included within this Clause to cover the case where a child who would qualify for pension as a dependent relative but because in fact at the time of the death it is then a child, a pension is awarded to another eligible relative. This Amendment provides that if the child at the time becomes 16, the person having the claim is no longer alive, then this child, if in fact prevented from earning its own living by reason of physical disability, can get a pension. Where that child on reaching the age of 16 is unable to earn its own living for some physical defect, and is unable to have the pension because the person having the prior claim is still alive, then a gratuity is given to that child. With that brief explanation, I hope the House will accept the Amendment.
Further Amendment made: In page 16, line 44, at end, insert:
and any pension payable to such a relative under this section shall commence only from the date on which he ceases to be a child.
This Amendment deals with a very important question, and that is the liberty of the subject. As this Clause is drafted, the Minister is given power to make Regulations not merely for the purpose of determining whether the claimant for benefit has sustained injury by an accident, but also for the purpose of determining the treatment which is appropriate to his injury. Therefore, the Minister will presumably have the power to make Regulations obliging an injured person to attend before a doctor whom the Minister chooses, and that doctor will prescribe a course of treatment. In the subsequent provisions of this Clause the Minister has the power to oblige the injured person to observe that course of treatment. In subsequent Clauses he has the power to deprive the injured man of benefit if he does not have the course of treatment which the Minister's doctor has prescribed.
In another Clause he has the power to make Regulations which will, in addition, impose upon the unfortunate claimant for benefit the liability of paying£10 per day for every day during which he refuses to abide by the kind of treatment which the Minister's doctor has prescribed. The definition of "treatment" includes all kinds of treatment, including surgical treatment and amputations. It could also include inoculation, because this Bill applies not merely to injuries by accident but also to industrial diseases for which somebody may invent a vaccine or some other kind of treatment of that nature. I am not aware of any case in which the legislature has imposed obligations of this kind upon any citizen. Even those who are taken into the Army, Navy or Air Force and who are subjected to the most rigid discipline are given the option of refusing to have certain kinds of treatment, vaccines, inoculations, and so on. Under this Bill the Minister has power to compel people to undergo treatment of that kind.
I submit that this is a provision which ought to be altered; otherwise, we shall cause people to be obliged to take treat- ment in which they have no faith, to which they may have conscientious objection, and in regard to which they may have received other advice which they think is sounder. Under this Bill, they are placed at the mercy of the. treatment which is prescribed by some officer to whom the Minister, under the regulations, may refer them. I hope that my right hon. Friend will see that this is going far beyond anything which can possibly be regarded as reasonable. Under this Clause, a man might be compelled to undergo an amputation, although the benefit might be, in his opinion, extremely doubtful. He may be compelled to submit himself to other kinds of operation, and let me also point out that, under the Clause relating to penalties, he can, presumably, if he disagrees with this treatment, have his home sold up and every stick of furniture and every atom of property which he has taken away from him as a means of compulsion upon him to undergo a course of treatment with which he conscientiously disagrees. Not only will he lose his benefit, if he takes that view, but his wife and children also will be deprived of their benefits, and, therefore, the most painful and most distressing compulsion of all will be imposed upon him. It is on those grounds that I beg to move this Amendment.
I beg to second the Amendment.
As my hon. Friend the Member for North Battersea (Mr. Douglas) has pointed out, this Amendment proposes to deal with the imposition under the suggested regulations of compulsion on a man to follow a form of treatment to which he might be opposed. The Clause lays down that injured persons should be required from time to time to submit themselves for medical examination—examination by a registered medical practitioner. I have no objection to an injured workman being examined from time to time by a registered medical practitioner, but I strongly object to the imposition being laid on the injured workman to undergo treatment of which he does not approve. The British Medical Association have recently issued a small pamphlet, in which they are seeking freedom of choice. They want freedom of choice for the patient to choose as between one registered medical practitioner and another, and they also ask for freedom of choice for themselves. They want freedom to enter either into Government service or private practice.
I am asking, on behalf of the injured workman, that he shall have freedom of choice, but the freedom of choice which I am seeking for him is that the injured person shall be able to attend either a registered medical practitioner, on the one hand, who is generally described as an orthodox practitioner, or, on the other hand, an unorthodox practitioner. By unorthodox practitioner, I mean osteopaths, naturopaths, and herbalists, etc. I wish to make it quite clear that I speak entirely as a layman, and that I am not connected with practitioners of any kind at all. I have had considerable experience with orthodox medical treatment and with unorthodox treatment. I have had experience, over a long period of years, of the unorthodox treatment which is described as natural healing, and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind which is the true form of healing.
I have a daughter, a girl of 21 years of age, a fine, strong and an athletic girl, who, in my opinion, would have died when six months old when she was under the treatment of an orthodox practitioner, had I not changed her over to treatment by an unorthodox practitioner. I am perfectly certain that that girl would not be alive today had she been treated by an orthodox practitioner. I am not wishing to decry the noble work done by orthodox medical practitioners and by the surgeons in our hospitals, but I am saying that a strong case can be made out for the right of a workman to choose as between an orthodox practitioner and an unorthodox one. I should like to refer to some instances where patients have been cured, after a long series of failures during long periods of treatment by orthodox practitioners, by unorthodox practitioners. I wish to refer to a few cases which have been mentioned in support of unorthodox practitioners, Here is one case:
My cousin, after a difficult tooth extraction, developed a non-healing wound in his mouth and, after years of tinkering by doctors and sundry surgical operations, it was pronounced to be cancer and radium treatment followed. Incidentally, his wife had died of ' cancer in the throat. Radium was applied, but the pain became acute and he had to be 'doped to get any sleep. His condition was desperate. It was then Mr. Thompson was called in, and, although this case was so very serious, his methods gave immediate relief from the acute pain and thereby natural
sleep. The patient, grateful for this, and eager to live, acted loyally up to every suggestion and restriction imposed and was completely cured after about two years of nature cure treatment. That was many years ago, and now, at 70 years of age, this man puts in a full day in commercial travelling, plays hard athletic games, and is one of the strongest swimmers in the local baths.
That is a case of cure of cancer after the failure of orthodox treatment. In the second case, a man is referring to his sister:
When quite a child, she developed bad nasal catarrh and attended a certain large Edinburgh institution for a period of 11 years, off and on. During this time, her condition gradually developed into Lupus Vulgaris. At the end of a long period of medical treatment, she was given up with only half a nose. In desperation, she tried various other methods of healing, and eventually was introduced to the Nature Cure Clinic in Edinburgh under the supervision of Mr. James C. Thomson. The advice was given here free of charge, and, under guidance and observance to instruction re diet, the disease was arrested. Since then, she has been accepted at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for a plastic operation, as in their opinion, there was now no further trace of Lupus. It is now several years since the cure, and there has been no recurrence of the symptoms.
In another case, the writer refers to his son:
He attended a public school in Edinburgh. One morning I was telephoned by a ' very agitated house-master and told that my son had been stricken with acute appendicitis, and that, in the doctor's opinion, an immediate operation was necessary. My reply was that I would prefer to have Mr. Thomson's opinion first, and I was informed that that decision must rest with the surgeon. I then telephoned to Mr. Thomson, and he agreed to see my son, but the doctor in attendance refused to allow him to see the patient, and, in this attitude, he was backed up by the school authorities. As a result, I had to travel to Edinburgh and take my son to a private Lursing home where Mr. Thomson, on examination "—
I am asking that the injured workman shall have freedom of choice. May I submit that what the Amendment asks for is the deletion of the words:
'' or the treatment appropriate to the relevant injury or loss of faculty.
In other words, we are asking that the patient shall not be compelled to carry through the treatment prescribed by a
registered medical practitioner, and I am trying to establish that treatment by registered medical practitioners is not always infallible. I am quoting cases where they have failed in their treatment.
If the hon. Gentleman will look at Clause 25 he will see that it says:
to submit themselves from time to time to medical examination for the purpose of determining the effect of the relevant accident, or the treatment appropriate to the relevant injury or loss of faculty.
Therefore, treatment cannot be discussed. That can be discussed later on, when dealing with the Amendment proposed on Clause 85, line 43.
May I respectfully submit that the Clause as it stands says that the medical practitioner shall determine the appropriate treatment to be followed? I am submitting that the patient should not be compelled to follow treatment prescribed by registered medical practitioners, and am trying to justify that point of view by quoting cases where they have failed to effect a cure and where the patient has gone to other forms of healers and been cured.
The words proposed to be left out simply mean that claimants will be liable to submit themselves from time to time for medical examination:
for the purpose of determining the effect of the relevant accident….
Therefore, the hon. Member cannot go into a long discourse on treatment.
On a point of Order. Surely, what we are discussing is whether we shall leave out the words:
or the treatment appropriate to the relevant injury or loss of faculty.
I respectfully submit that it would be in Order to point out, as the hon. Gentleman has attempted to do, that there are very often different opinions as to what is the appropriate treatment. If these words are allowed to remain, the choice or the decision as to the appropriate treatment will be taken away from the man himself and will rest only with the Government Department.
May I respectfully point out, in supplementation of what the right hon. Gentleman has just said, that we are not, in fact, discussing
the words to which you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, have just made allusion. Those words are not under amendment at all. We are discussing the words:
or the treatment appropriate to the relevant injury or loss of faculty.
because their deletion constitutes the Amendment. It would not be in Order to discussthe other words, but I submit, with great respect, that it must be in Order to discuss the words referred to in the Amendment.
This is all bound up with attending for a medical examination. The Amendment proposes to delete the words:
or the treatment appropriate to the relevant injury or loss of faculty.
All that can be discussed now is the determination of attendance from time to time for medical examination.
With all respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, may I draw your attention to the way in which this Subsection is framed? It provides for claimants:
to submit themselves from time to time to medical examination for the purpose of determining the effect of the relevant accident, or the treatment appropriate to the relevant injury or loss of faculty.
That is to say, for determining the treatment appropriate to the relevant injury. The governing word, surely, is "determining." The person who is subject to this Regulation, therefore, can have determined for him, against his will, the kind of treatment he must undergo.
Surely there are two points here. The patient will attend for medical examination:
for the purpose of determining the effect of the relevant accident or the treatment appropriate to the relevant injury or loss of faculty.
As I understand the Amendment, it is proposed to delete the words:
or the treatment appropriate to the relevant injury or loss of faculty.
The hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. House) is trying to advance his reasons for deleting those words and not for keeping the other words in. With great respect, how is he to do that without referring to the other words?
I realise that in the task I am trying to discharge— the justifying of the right of an injured person to attend a practitioner of his choice— I am up against the deep-rooted prejudice of the British Medical Association. I feel I cannot discharge that task effectively, or do anything to undermine the deep-rooted prejudice of the medical profession, unless 1 quote instances where they have completely failed in their treatment. Therefore, with your permission, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I will carry on with my quotation. I apologise to the House for taking up so much time, but I think the case is perfectly relevant and that it is necessary these facts should be known. 'I was saying:
As a result, I had to travel to Edinburgh and take my son to a private nursing home where Mr. Thomson, on examination, pronounced that an operation was quite unnecessary. After a few days nature cure treatment the lad returned to school perfectly well; the house-master thought it was his ghost? I am pleased to say that he has never had any abdominal trouble in the 15 years since.
They are very important instances where, had an injured workman been compelled to follow the treatment of the registered medical practitioner, he would have undergone, quite unnecessarily, a major operation with very serious results. May I crave the indulgence of the House to quote yet another instance? I particularly want to quote this because it refers to the experience of a registered medical practitioner herself. This is a case of a registered medical practitioner failing to secure a cure from her own colleagues. The statement says:
The claim that nature cure has a remedy for cancer had been attested by a woman doctor. Dr. Janet Morgan, of Stockport. She said that she had been in practice for many years. Her own experience was that she became a patient suffering from carcinoma (cancer) of the left breast. I consulted eight of Britain's leading specialists,' she said, ' and I was condemned to have a very major operation.
It was also suggested that I should undergo radium treatment and treatment by deep X-ray therapy. It is now over three years ago since ' I had that advice. I underwent none of these treatments, but had nature cure treatment by Mr. Thomson. One year exactly after I was
seen by specialists, I had a consultation with Mr. Shaw, who is head of the Cancer Research Department for Scotland, and he said there was absolutely no evidence of malignancy.… From my own experience I find that usually members of the medical profession are very hostile to nature cure ideas
That is the gravamen of the case which we have here. Here is a doctor, from her own experience, saying that members of the medical profession are very hostile to nature cure ideas. Imagine a manual workman who has had a serious injury and who wants to go to a nature cure practitioner. First of all, he has to attend a registered medical practitioner for examination, and that registered practitioner on the statement of one of their own school, is very hostile to nature cure ideas. The statement continues:
Asked if she had gone to any trouble to draw attention to ' the fact that there is a cure for cancer '… Yes, but I am afraid that so far I have always failed not so much with young medical practitioners, who seem to be a little more receptive of modern ideas. The specialists are very non-receptive and hostile to nature cure ideas.
Miners, iron and steel workers and other industrial workers sustain diseases to their eyes which can lead to blindness. Here is a case of blindness cured after failure of treatment by registered medical practitioners. The statement reads:
My father was a violinist. At the age of 17 he got cold in his eyes, neglected them and finally was stone blind for two whole years. After various' treatments under doctors, he entered the local hospital and was in about one year. They wanted to take his eye out, so he came out of hospital. His mother took. him to Dr. Bell Taylor, at Nottingham. His verdict was that he could do nothing for him, and he would continue to be blind. Just think how awful if this verdict had been passed on yourself. My father had an aunt living next door.… She said the doctors have failed, so I will see what I can do; I cannot do any harm. She gathered herbs, poulticed his eyes,. and in three months he could see to go about in dark glasses. In six months he could see to read music again. Admittedly he was shortsighted, but he could see. And the eye they wanted to take out was the best. They took him to Dr. Taylor and he said it was wonderful.… Unfortunately ray father died in February, 1944, aged 74. His eyes could see to the end.
In the case of a person such as myself, with my personal experience of natural healing for over 13 years, it would be brutally barbaric to suggest that I should have to follow the treatment of a registered medical practitioner. I conscientiously believe that I would be dead today were I not following the treatment of natural healers.
If I am an injured workman, under this Bill I am going to be faced with possible death, blindness and loss of a limb on the one hand, or starvation on the other. As the Bill stands, unless an injured workman follows the treatment prescribed by his registered medical practitioner, he runs the risk of forfeiture of benefit. I was rather sorry to hear the statement by the hon. and learned Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) with regard to the unmarried wife. He put forward a case in opposition to ours, without an ounce of sympathy in it and full of legal jargon. One has to be among the working class to understand the punishment of forfeiture of benefit. Only the working man who relies on his income week by week to make ends meet, appreciates what forfeiture of benefit means. The Bill says to an injured miner who may be receiving benefit of£4 10s. a week and who wants natural healing or unorthodox healing, "You face death, or loss of a limb, or possible blindness on the one hand, or forfeiture of benefits on the other hand." I ask, is that fair? I go further. A wealthy person who wants to follow unorthodox medical practice is free to do so by paying 5, 10 or 20 guineas. What is 100 guineas to a man if he can save his daughter's life—if he can afford it? A poor working man, under this Bill, could not do it. He is faced with starvation or possibly the loss of his own life. A logical case can be made out from this Bill of one law for the rich and one law for the poor. I have heard hon. Members opposite say that any person who desires to practice unorthodox treatment can do so by going through the medical schools. The other day I heard two doctors talking in the smoke room. One agreed with the other. They said the one necessary qualification for becoming a doctor is£2,000. It is not necessary for unorthodox practitioners to go right through the school of orthodox practice. That is quite true. Take the case of the Edinburgh clinic where there is a four years' curriculum which includes the study of anatomy, physiology and all the basic requirements to enable the students to go through their profession. I heard one medical practitioner say to an osteopath, "What about a tubercular joint? You would damage a tubercular joint if you manipulated it without the necessary knowledge." I submit that an osteopath would not run the risk of wrongly manipulating a tubercular joint.
We are not asking for what is unreasonable in this Amendment. I know we will be up against considerable opposition by the prejudiced school of the medical practitioners. I do not wish to be unreasonable. We are not submitting a case for quacks. I want to put that quite bluntly, because the natural response to the proposal that unregistered practitioners should have a right to treat injured workmen is that it involves quacks. I have been very closely associated with unregistered practitioners, and I know they are prepared to deal effectively and in an organised manner with the aspect of quacks. They are prepared to lay down a standard of education and knowledge, which they would generally recognise, and this Amendment seeks to protect the Minister on that particular point.
We only want such unorthodox medical practitioners to be recognised as can comply with whatever standard qualifications the Minister may set down. I know perfectly well that I shall be assailled by individuals wanting to support the registered medical practitioners with regard to very high standards of qualifications, the profound knowledge of the registered medical practitioners, claims to high knowledge and the study of the sciences, and so forth. In reply to that I say that the test of efficiency is the result, and it is the patient, the layman, who knows best whether he is entitled to the treatment of one school or another. From all the experience through which I have gone I know that I have a very strong inclination indeed. I support the unregistered medical practitioner. I submit that, unless my right hon. Friend the Minister gives this freedom of choice to the patient he will, in my opinion, be acting brutally and in a barbaric manner, having regard to the unfairness with which he would face the injured workman.