I beg to move, in page 20, line 22, leave out from "exceeding," to "twenty-two," in line 25 and insert:
This Amendment is consequential on the new Clauses which were included in the Bill yesterday to provide for the 17-18 age group.
I beg to move, in page 20, line 26, at end, insert:
(b) the provision of this Act excluding the right to injury benefit for the first three days of incapacity resulting from the relevant accident unless there are twelve such days during the injury benefit period shall, in relation to two or more accidents happening at intervals not greater than thirteen weeks as the result of each of which he is incapable of work on some day during its injury benefit period, apply so as to permit of there being taken into account, for the purpose of making up the said twelve days in the case of each of those accidents, any days which may be so taken into account in the case of any other of them,
This gives some relief in regard to waiting days in cases where two or more successive accidents are covered by the Bill, each of which causes incapacity and is
suffered by the same person at successive intervals of not more than 13 weeks. In such circumstances, the days of incapacity from each accident, count towards the total 12 days' qualifying period.
I beg to move, in page 21, line 29, leave out from "death, "to "in," in line 30, and insert:
by way of a pension, or by way of an allowance payable to her as having the care of a child.
This Amendment is a drafting Amendment, and is consequential upon Amendments which were agreed to by the House yesterday, in connection with the death benefit Clauses.
I beg to move, in page 22, line 25, leave out "that any person who fails," and insert:
for the forfeiture of injury benefit by a claimant or beneficiary for failure.
This Amendment is a drafting Amendment and is proposed for the following reason: In Committee, attention was called to the fact that Clause 32 (2) of the Bill, for some reason, used first the
expression "right to any injury benefit", and then the expression" forfeiture of benefit." It was asked whether there was any significance in the use of the word "right" in the first place, and not in the second place. There was no intention to discriminate between the two cases and the Amendment eliminates that distinction.
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, after "benefit," to insert "for a period not exceeding six weeks."
The object of the Amendment to the Amendment is to bring the disqualification provided by Clause 32 of this Bill into line with similar disqualifications provided in Clause 13 of the National Insurance Bill. Clause 32 (2) of the Bill before us provides that:
Regulations may provide that any person who fails without reasonable cause to comply with requirements of Subsection (4) of Section twenty-five of this Act in respect of any injury shall forfeit his right to any injury benefit in respect thereof for such period as may be prescribed…
Subsection (4) of Clause 25 is the one
we were discussing last night and it lays down:
Without prejudice to Subsection (2) of this Section, it shall be the duty of any person claiming or entitled to injury benefit in respect of any injury not to behave in any manner calculated to retard his recovery.
The forfeiture of benefit under Subsection (2) of Clause 32 is absolute. We compare that position with the provisions made in the National Insurance Bill with regard to unemployment and sickness and we find in that Bill?—1 quote from Clause 13 (2):
A person shall be disqualified for receiving unemployment benefit for such period not exceeding six weeks
under certain circumstances. Subsection (3) of the same Clause lays down:
Regulations may provide for disqualifying a person for receiving sickness benefit for such period not exceeding six weeks
if he is
(a) incapable of work through his own misconduct or
(b) fails without good cause to attend for or submit himself to such medical or other examination or treatment as may be required in accordance with the regulations, or to observe any prescribed rules of behaviour.
These words are identical with the words included in this Bill and we, therefore, suggest that it would be quite unfair that a man should forfeit his benefit wholly and totally if he fails to comply with certain provisions of this Bill, whereas if he makes a similar failure in respect of sickness he only forfeits his benefit for six weeks. I am not quite sure if my Amendment goes sufficiently far. There is a further disqualification provided in Clause 32, which is of a somewhat wider character and I wonder if the provision limiting a disqualification period of six weeks ought not to be inserted in another part of Clause 32 in order to bring the matter into line with the provisions in the National Insurance Bill.
We on this side of the House accept what has been put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake). If I may say so, I think we might land ourselves in a difficulty if we accepted the Amendment put forward. If you, Mr. Speaker, decide to call the Amendment to which I have referred in Clause 32, page 22, line 27, which is a necessary Amendment to make sense of the Clause, we would undertake, in another place, to bring about the object which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind. That will be put down in the form of a proviso and both objects which he has in mind would be embodied in the proviso, the limitation to apply to both kinds of disqualification. If we put in the proposed words, the Clause would not make sense, and the only way to make the Clause sensible is to accept the Amendment, which deals with line 27, because it is necessarily involved with the first Amendment, and then deal with the argument of the right hon. Gentleman by a proviso introduced in another place
I beg to move, in page 22, line 27, leave out from the last "of" to the end of line 29, and insert "the relevant injury, and."
I have already explained why we seek to introduce these words. The Amendment is consequential, and is necessary to make a success of the previous Amendment.
I beg to move, in page 24, line 15, at end, insert:
(3) Regulations under Subsection (1) of this Section may further provide, for the purposes of Sections twenty-two and twenty-three of this Act, that where—
By this Amendment we are enabled, by regulation, to determine what is to be paid to a parent by way of a pension or a gratuity, in a case of death by accident, involving two sons who have made contributions which will be aggregated for the purpose.
the parent or relative shall be treated as having received from such of those insured persons as may be prescribed contributions to his maintenance equal to the aggregate amount which they were together contributing before the accidents happened, and as having received nothing from the others.
I beg to move, in line 16, leave out Subsection (3), and insert:
(3) In the case of death benefit, except where the deceased at his death was, or would but for the relevant accident have been, wholly maintaining the beneficiary—
This Amendment is designed to give us power, by regulation, to make an adjustment in a pension or gratuity to the maximum limit which is fixed under the Bill. It re-words the Subsection in consequence of other changes which have been made.
Provided that in the case of a relative who was at the deceased's death a child, or is a posthumous son or daughter of the deceased, references in this Subsection to the weekly rate of the contributions aforesaid shall be construed as references to the weekly rate of the contributions which the deceased might have been expected to have been making to the' relative's maintenance when he ceased to be a child.
I think paragraph (a)of the new Subsection is clear. As I understand, it means that where maintenance has been less than total the dependants may receive, by way of contribution or allowance, a sum equal to the extent of the previous contribution from the deceased person. Paragraph. (b) is a little obscure. It states:
The amount of any gratuity payable to the beneficiary as such a parent or relative shall not exceed such multiple of the weekly rate of the contributions aforesaid as may be determined by or in accordance with regulations.
These gratuities are to be by way of a small lump sum where there has been dependence which is substantial, but which has not been dependence which is denned as "wholly or mainly dependant." I am puzzled as to why, when the Minister has fixed the maximum for these gratuities at£78 in one case, and£52 in another, he has not made his multiple 52 times the weekly rate of contribution. I feel sure that is his purpose, but why it should be necessary to have a separate set of regulations to do what might have been done simply in the Bill, without introducing confusing words about the multiple of the weekly rate, I do not know. Perhaps the Minister can explain the point.
I beg to move, in page 25, line 13, leave out sub-paragraph (vi) and insert:
(vi) how the limitations under the Fourth Schedule to this Act on the benefit payable in respect of any death are to be applied in the circumstances of any case.
This Amendment is consequential upon the new death benefit provisions which have been included in the Bill, and makes the Minister, and not the insurance officer, the local appeal tribunal, or the Commissioner, responsible for deciding between competing claims for-death benefit, subject to the provisions of the Fourth Schedule.
I beg to move, in page 31, line 1, leave out from beginning to "by," in line 2, and insert:
a person's right to benefit is, or may be, under the Fourth Schedule to this Act, affected.
This Amendment provides for appeals to local tribunals, and is consequential upon the Amendment of the death benefit provisions already included in the Bill.
I beg to move, in page 31, line 22, leave out from beginning to "by," in line 23, and insert:
whose right to benefit is or may be, under the Fourth Schedule to this Act, affected.
This Amendment provides for appeals to the Commissioner, and is also consequential upon the Amendments to the death benefit provisions.
On a point of Order. Are you not calling, Sir, my Amendment to this Clause in page 32, line 6, at end, insert:
1 beg to move, in page 34, line 45, at end, insert:
(3) Regulations under subsection (1) of this section prescribing the procedure to be followed in cases before a local appeal tribunal or the Commissioner shall provide that any hearing shall be in public except in so far as the tribunal or Commissioner for special reasons otherwise directs.
During the Second Reading Debate, and also in Committee, the opinion was expressed that it would be desirable to enable the hearings of the tribunals to be in public, and not in private. This Amendment provides that opportunity.
This Amendment is very satisfactory to those of us who have asked throughout these discussions that the local appeal tribunals should sit in public unless particular circumstances, such as the condition of the injured man, make it desirable that a certain part or possibly the whole of the evidence given should be taken in camera. We are grateful to the hon. Gentleman for moving this Amendment.
May I ask whether it is contemplated that where the injured workman, or his dependants or relatives, would prefer to have the case considered in private, provision is to be made accordingly? It is conceivable that whereas the commissioner may not know the facts associated with, or in the background of, a case, there may be instances where the injured workman or his relatives would prefer certain facts or features not to be disclosed. In a case of that kind does the Minister contemplate such a provision as I have suggested?
The commissioner or chairman of the tribunal would receive representations from those having a case to be heard and we are satisfied that the desire of the individual would be. respected. The decision rests with the chairman or the commissioner and on representations made to him from either side, the case would be heard in public or in private.
Do I understand that special consideration will be given by the commissioner or the chairman of the local tribunal and that the discretion as to a public or private inquiry rests with him? If the Parliamentary Secretary tells us that this is so, then it is very acceptable.
We are given to understand that it is necessary, for the purpose of the Bill, to place the responsibility for the actual decision upon some person. We have, therefore, placed it upon the. chairman or the commissioner, but it will be the purpose of my right hon. Friend to issue such directions as will make it possible for representations to be made from either side, for the appeal to be heard in public or in private, and the case will be heard accordingly.
I take it that, normally, the hearing will be in public, but that if there are any special circumstances the parties maysubmit them to the chairman or the commissioner, who will decide judicially whether or not it should be in camera.
I should have thought that that was obvious from the wording. It says that unless the commissioner or the chairman decides otherwise in relation to the facts before him, it will be in public.
May I add my voice to that of the right hon. Gentleman on the Opposition Front Bench in congratulating the Government on bringing forward this provision? I had the temerity, in a maiden speech, to criticise the Bill as it then stood for the absence of such a provision. I think the interests of the workman will often best be met by a public trial.
I beg to move, in page 35, line 18, at end, insert:
(2) Where by a decision on review or appeal a person entitled to death benefit is awarded
This Amendment arises from a point made by the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake), during one of his speeches yesterday, that a new provision in relation to death benefit is introduced into this Bill, that of gratuities to parents and dependent relatives. This new provision is included in this Amendment.
the decision on the review or appeal shall, subject to and in accordance with regulations, direct that any payments already made on account of the benefit originally awarded shall be treated as having been made on account of the benefit awarded by the decision on review or appeal.
I beg to move, in page 36, line 5, at end, insert:
except in so far as it has in pursuance of the decision on appeal been repaid or treated as paid on account of the benefit awarded by that decision.
This, again, is a drafting Amendment, enabling a payment already made to be taken into account in any subsequent payment that might be made, arising out of a successful appeal against a previous decision.
I beg to move, in page 40, line 10, leave out "three," and insert "six."
In the Committee stage my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) moved an Amendment to raise the point that, by a provision in the existing Act, a man can be suspended from his employment in a coalmine by a medical board, which holds the view that, although he is not at that stage disabled by disease, he is certain to become so if he remains at work, and perhaps suffer very serious consequences. It is very desirable, in fact essential, that everything shall be done to prevent men staying in the mines after the onset of pneumoconiosis or silicosis. The original provision was that when they were brought out, there was a tiding over allowance for 13 weeks. The matter was represented to me very strongly by the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring, and I agreed—the more readily because it so happens that my constituency is, tragically enough, the worst afflicted in the country by this dread disease—that it was desirable, if the scheme was to work, that men brought out must be given a sufficient interval of time to adjust themselves to new circumstances and to be trained for a new job. I think even six months is a short enough period, but I am sure the decision to increase the period will commend itself to the House. If we are to work this provision at all, let us make it of such a character that it will operate and will be to the advantage of the men concerned.
As one who took part in the discussions in Standing Committee on this point, may I, for our side, thank the Minister for the extent to which he has gone to meet what is a very serious problem and one which, in my opinion, will be accelerated when the mines have been mechanised? The six months' compensation will give a man a longer period in which to find a job to suit him instead of having to work in the pit and then, some day, find him a full rate compensation case for the rest of his life as a result of this terrible disease. It should be noted that the intention of the Clause is to try to get men to come out of the pits in the early stages of silicosis and pneumoconiosis. In my opinion, if the men are examined in the pits, that will mean that the numbers will be far in excess of what they are now and, with the shortage of man-power, will make the position in the pits more difficult. But I believe it is far better to bring men out in the early stages of this disease, so that they can enjoy a longer life, rather than to keep them in the pit and have the disease creeping on them so rapidly that they go to a very early grave. Therefore, on behalf of Members on our side of the House, I thank the Minister very much for the extent to which he has gone in making it six months instead of three.
From the point of view of those who are interested in this subject, whether it is a case of miners or, as occurs so often in my constituency, of potters who are affected by silicosis, we are very happy indeed to have an extension from three months to six. I am sure the Minister will agree, however, that if we wait until the first stage of silicosis is well established, and if we give only three or six months' entitlement, then we are not doing very much. The only remedy that would really count would be if the Minister would, through his Department, see to it that the periodical medical examinations are frequent enough and thorough enough to enable us to withdraw men at a very early stage, not when the first of the three stages is already well established. I remember that in 1928 I had to give a counsel of despair to the pottery workers in my area and say to them, "As to those of our members who already have silicosis in such an advanced state that we know their lives are doomed, that their expectation of life is very short, let us not press to pull them out of the industry in order to obtain "—as was then the case—"30s. a week for them to live on. Let them, if they still can walk, or even be dragged, go to their work, for they will not have their lives shortened appreciably, at any rate not by more than a week or two." Today, however, we are dealing with a very different situation. We are very much more conscious of this disease and we know that the true remedy is to prevent rather than to cure. That being the case, whilst I very warmly welcome this extra benefit, I beg the Minister—and I am sure I shall not do so in vain —to see that the medical inspections are thorough and frequent, and that the men come out in what the South Africans used to call the ante-primary stage.
1 also would like to thank the Minister for making this change, and to add to what the last speaker has said. I hope the extra three months will be used for additional medical examination. In my constituency, we have a bacon factory to which a number of men suffering from silicosis have been directed in the last 18 months. More than half of them have been quite useless, because they have arrived in too advanced a stage of the disease, and the general practitioner in this little town of Calne in Wiltshire said to me, "You must stop" this. These men have come here too late." I hope that this provision will prevent a recurrence of that sort of thing.
There seems to be some confusion as to what this Amendment, in fact, does and what the Subsection does which the Amendment affects. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will, before we part with it, make the position clear beyond all doubt. I only hope that my remarks will not add to the evident confusion on this matter, because it is a somewhat complex subject and one with which I have not had anything to do for some little time past. However, my recollection is that these payments were given under the Workmen's Compensation Acts as compensation for the hardship which a man suffered by being suspended from work at the pit, or wherever it might be, although he was able-bodied and capable of work. As the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr Blyton) said, and it is my recollection also, payments under the Workmen's Compensation Acts were given in addition to unemployment benefit and, therefore, the hon. Member for Hanley (Dr. Stross) who spoke of the man only getting 30s. a week is, I think, mistaken because there are the double payments under this scheme, or under the Workmen's Compensation Act plus the unemployment benefit.
Is the right hon. Gentleman telling us that payment under the Workmen's Compensation Act on a partial basis is made to a sufferer from silicosis pending light employment in a suitable industry, or is he telling us that additional payments of workmen's compensation are made whilst the man is in receipt of unemployment benefit?
That is exactly the point on which I was going to ask the Minister to make the position quite clear. I accept what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hanley said, that he was speaking of 1928 before this type of payment was introduced. As I understand it, these payments were for a maximum period not exceeding three months, as it stood in the Bill, and now they are not to exceed six months. I assume they will continue only so long under -this scheme, as they did under the Workmen's Compensation Acts, as the man is out of a job; that is to say, an able-bodied man who is suspended on account of pneumoconiosis, will receive both the payment under this Bill, and the payment under the National Insurance Bill of 26s. a week, at any rate in respect of himself—I take it there will be no duplication of the family allowances— on top of benefits provided by this Bill for a period which will not exceed six months, but will, in nearly every case, be substantially less, because both payments will cease as soon as he takes alternative employment. I hope I have made the position clear, and that being the case, the Amendment is not of very much consequence, because I hope that under conditions of full employment it will not be necessary for anybody to wait more than three months before obtaining an alternative job.
I wish to make a comment on this question from the medical aspect. I remember when doing research work in Cumberland in respect of silicosis, which was really pneumoconiosis, there was no limitation of time either for three months or six months. The men should be given their monetary payment by statute until such time as, by rehabilitation or the finding of another job they are perfectly fit to go back to work. When the medical evidence is sufficient to confirm suspension of the man, it means to me that the man has pneumoconiosis. Others may disagree, and many doctors say that a man has not got pneumoconiosis at that stage, but I have examined many patients with all forms of the disease from asbestosis to silicosis and byssinosis and many forms and degrees of pneumoconiosis downwards. A man who is regarded as fit for suspension, should receive a statutory payment until he is rehabilitated to the extent of finding another job at which he can work. This is a very good proposal, and I add my congratulations to the Minister who is most humane and is keen to do the work. But I hope he will bear in mind that finding the man another job and rehabilitating him, is much more important, than any extension of time given by the statute.
I know a little about this on account of the unfortunate experience of miners in Fife—probably not so serious in its effects as elsewhere, but which had unfortunate cases, and I have had from time to time to deal with them. Anything that can be done to assist to rehabilitate men troubled with these dread diseases so that they can move to other employment out of the mines is to be welcomed. But why six months? Why not five months, why not nine months? I seek some indication of the statistics behind this decision, because those statistics would be of interest to the House and to the whole mining industry. During the war the rehabilitation service for the miners was developed enormously. What is the experience of the Minister in this matter of taking men away from the mines quickly after they develop the disease? How long does it, take before the man is made fit for another job? We would like some information to show why the Minister has chosen six months rather than some other period.
Those who can recall the discussions we had in 1922 when the subject of pneumoconiosis was before the House, will remember one or two difficulties that had to be met. For example, after the Medical Research Council had made its report, future cases which were certified received compensation in a different way and we were faced by the fact that there were many cases with no entitlement to compensation. We had to institute a benefit scheme. There has been the most thorough examination of men working in coalmines in the past two or three years, indeed I think if there is one tribute which should be paid to the Ministry of Fuel and Power it is a tribute to the way in which they developed the examination system. Last year the figures were terrific. If a man working in the pit was examined and found to have a tendency to pneumoconiosis it was suggested to him that it would be better if he left the pit and did other work or rested. Then the point arose of what kind of payment should be made as an experiment, and three months was decided upon. Experience has shown, particularly in the South Wales coalfield, that three months is not quite sufficient and in the Standing Committee we asked for reconsideration of this point and as the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) says, six months, being better than three, is a good compromise.
But this question of pneumoconiosis is much more serious and tragic than the mere payment of six months' compensation. No medicine has been found for the disease, but while one cannot save the man, one can prolong his life and much is being done in that direction. I do not think any constituency in Britain has a more tragic record than that represented by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of National Insurance. But it has been found that pneumoconiosis is not limited to the anthracite industry; it has been found in steam coal districts and other parts of the country, and it has been found in my constituency. This is a subject in which there has to be the most close research. Everything which can be done should be done to prevent the disease and, in addition, we have to see that we prolong the life of these men as much as we can and the six months period is a help in early cases.
I am so tragically familiar with this matter that I am afraid I speak as if it were familiar to everyone in the House. This is a very important matter and I should hate to think that a wrong impression went out to the public and particularly to those men in the coalfield, if they misconstrued any remarks which I or other hon. Members have made. Under the existing scheme, there is provision by which men can be certified as disabled by pneumoconiosis and, if the Board is satisfied that they are so disabled, they are entitled to disablement payment, and would receive payment under this scheme. They can be certified as partially disabled, or totally disabled. What we discovered was that men were seen by their own doctor or went to the medical board and the medical board refused a certificate because they not merely had to find that a man was suffering from pneumoconiosis, but had to be satisfied that he was disabled to some extent. If the disease was not at the disabling stage no certificate would be given and the men would go back to the pit and, in another six months, come back to the board. For 20 years I have seen this happening; the man having been refused a certificate, going back to the pit and then, in six months, coming back partially disabled, or wholly disabled.
The employers, the coalowners, and the National Union of Mineworkers discussed the matter and there was agreement that it was desirable to provide for the case where a medical board examined a man and was satisfied that at that time he was not disabled to such an extent as to enable him to be certified, but that if he stayed long enough in the industry he soon would be. In other words, the man should be prevented from going back to the pit, and if we were satisfied that he would become disabled either partially or otherwise, the original provision was to give him "a tiding over" allowance for 13 weeks, the idea being to enable him to find a new life and to fit himself for a new job. Because of the representations that were made to us, we have now extended that period to six months, and we hope that this period will be sufficient to enable a man to train himself for a new life and a new job. It is perfectly clear that we shall have to judge the matter by experience, and if we find that even this six months is not sufficient then the question becomes one of much higher importance. In this connection I must mention the name of the hon. Member for Hanley (Dr. Stross) who has given a lifetime of service to this work, and to whom all of us are indebted for the assistance he has given in this connection. I agree that all we are doing is dependent upon a completely new and successful health service. There must be periodical examination of the men all the time. That will have to be done as soon as possible, but it cannot be done now.
It is here that a very important problem is raised. Generally speaking, these men who are suspended are told that they must not go back to the pit, because, if they do, they will soon be partially disabled. Getting these men into a new occupation means this, that I as the Minister, speaking for the Government, accept immediately that in these particular cases we should not at once train these men and then transfer them away from their homes. The Government do recognise that they have a special obligation to provide employment for these men near their homes. Already the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Fuel and Power, assisted by a working party presided over by the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) have done splendid work in my own area in this direction. I, therefore, want to make it quite clear that the intention of this particular Amendment is to save these men's lives while there is yet time, and to enable us, by the provision made in the Bill, to have examinations at six-monthly periods, during which we hope the men can adjust themselves to a new state of society, and do what they can to train themselves for a new job.
I want to be perfectly clear about this Amendment to the Clause. The Minister has referred to the men coming under certain schemes where they are certified as suffering from pneumoconiosis. Supposing a man is certified as suffering from pneumoconiosis by a specialist of standing, but not by a member of the Board, will that man then come under this scheme, with regard to the provisions for suspension. May I give the Minister an example? Pneumoconiosis in the foundry industry is not accepted, as such, at the present time.
Arising out of the speech which has just been made by the Minister, and his references to what has been done by the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Fuel and Power, may I say that while appreciating to the full what is being done in coalmining, I hope that he will also pay particular attention to the difficulties which exist in the area in which I live, where there is pneumoconiosis and silicosis in the slate quarrying areas.
With your permission, Mr. Speaker, may I make my point, with regard to this matter of certification, because it is very important, particularly to a man who is suffering from pneumoconiosis through the dust caused in foundries. This has not been accepted by the Government, on the ground that they have not yet sufficient evidence. It is my opinion that there is plenty of evidence but the Government have not yet come to the conclusion that it would be accepted under this scheme. What I would like to know is, if there is sufficient valid and authoritative medical evidence produced in a case of pneumoconiosis of this description to show that the man should be suspended from his industry, will that man come under the Clause with regard to the payment of benefits for six months.
I would indeed hesitate to give authority to suspend a man from his occupation to anybody except the board, which has power to do this and to which the power is granted by this Parliament. If we were to allow the power of suspension of men to be in the hands of an unauthorised person, we should indeed be getting into difficulties and I am afraid I cannot accept it at all. The power must lay where it now does. With regard to the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) I am very much aware of the difficulties in the industry to which he has referred and will give the matter all the attention I possibly can.
If the Board has rejected the case, there is provision, within the limit of five years, for a man again to ask the Board for an examination. If on a second or subsequent examination, they find that the man has reached the stage where he is either partially or completely disabled they can issue a certificate.
I beg to move, in page 43, line 37, leave out paragraph (c).
We all recognise that this Measure has to be carried out in the most efficient form, but I would suggest to the Minister that the inspector is vested with sufficient authority to do all that is necessary by paragraphs (a) and (b), and that paragraph (c) is unnecessary. I would go further than that and say that it gives power to the inspector that has not, so far as I am aware, ever been given before to anybody in this country. Let us see what it says:
to examine, either alone or in the presence of any other person, as he thinks fit, with respect to any matters under this Act, every person whom he finds in any such premises or place, or whom he has reasonable cause to believe to be or to have been an insured person or employed by the employer of any insured person, and to require every such person to be so examined and to sign a declaration of the truth of the matters in respect of which he is so examined.
I know the word "Gestapo" is thrown about a little too freely, but really, these are terrifying powers to put in the hands of an inspector. He may be alone with the person he is examining, and then there would be the word of the inspector against the word of the person, with the authority behind the inspector of the criminal law, which he can, if he wishes, put into motion.
No such power as this is given even to the High Court Bench. If they wish to examine anybody they must examine that person in public. No such power is given to a policeman. He cannot compel anybody to sign a declaration saying this is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This goes further than anything of which I am aware, although there might be something in the past of which I am entirely ignorant. But this Clause does invest the inspector with far more powers than I think should be given him. Then there is the position where, if the person in any way misleads the inspector, he again becomes liable to the criminal law. In ordinary matters, even in crime, the policeman has to take great care that he cautions the witness before he begins to interrogate him, and has to warn him—and the courts are most particular about this—that anything that he says may be taken down m evidence and used against him.
Here are inspectors—and it will be essential to have a great number of them to carry out the duties laid down in the Measure—who can examine anyone and then put a document in front of them and say, "Sign this." If a person says "I will not "sign this" provision provides something new. People can be compelled to sign a particular document which is put in front of them. I would not have raised so much objection to a general examination being included in this Clause if the Minister had not all the powers he wanted under paragraphs (a) and (b). He has power under (a)
to enter at all reasonable times any premises or place liable to inspection under this section;
Therefore he has power to enter the premises, and it will be noticed with regard to the entrance that the terms are that he is only supposed to enter "at a reasonable time." When it comes to examining these persons the inspector can do that at any time he likes, reasonable or unreasonable. Then, if one refers to paragraph (b), it will be seen that he is empowered
to make such examination and inquiry as may be necessary for ascertaining whether the provisions of this Act are being and have been complied with in any such premises or place…
That covers him pretty nearly. The paragraph continues:
or for investigating the circumstances in which any injury or disease which has given or may give rise to a claim for benefit was or may have been received or contracted ".
What wider powers does the Minister want to give an inspector? Why then give certain extra powers with which an inspector can confront some poor person, and say under the powers conferred by paragraph (c),"Come with me; you have to be here alone with me and I shall put these questions. If you do not, I will report you to my authority, and under the next Subsection you will be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding£10 in the case of a first offence and not exceeding£50 in the case of a second or subsequent offence." He can hold that over the head of almost any person, because these words say:
… every person whom he finds in any such premises or place…
As has been asked in the Committee as to what might take place with regard to an accident, is everyone to be kept there? It is said that no one would act in such an unreasonable way, but the inspector will really be more or less the judge of his own case as to what he thinks the right thing to do. I beg the Minister to withdraw this paragraph and be content with the full powers he has already under paragraphs (a) and (b)
In line 41, leave out from "be "to" and "in line 42, and insert:
in possession of any information which may assist him in investigating the circumstances in which any injury or disease which has given or may give rise to a claim for benefit, was or may have been received or contracted." [Mr. Peake.]
I beg to second the Amendment.
We went into the whole question of this Clause very carefully on the Committee stage. The Government gave the impression at that time, if my recollection is right, that this was the sort of thing that could be laughed off, that they did not intend to use these powers, that the powers were not as wide as they appeared to be—in other words, the usual arguments. I suggest to the Minister with all respect that there is a good deal of feeling about any Government taking such exceptionally wide powers as are conferred on inspectors in this Clause. They are wide powers, and I hope that the Minister will appreciate and admit that. I cannot understand, and I would like the Minister to give an explanation, why the inspectors under a Bill of this nature require greater powers than the police possess.. It seems a remarkable thing that in the case of industrial injury it should be sought to arm the inspectors with greater powers than we are prepared to give to the police. Does this mean that we are prepared to give the police these powers in the near future? If so, then we are denying some of the elementary principles of British justice. If we are not seeking to do that, why should these powers be given to these specially favoured people, the industrial accident inspectors?
This Parliament has a big job to do in the future in safeguarding the liberties of the subject. I believe that will be one of our main tasks; I do not mean just because we have a Socialist Government in power, but because, having entered upon a planned economy, there will naturally be a desire on the part of the Executive to have things tidy, to have things made easier for their inspectors as against the individuals in the State. It is the task of Members on all sides of the House to resist these attempts to encroach upon the liberties of the subject. I would ask for one specific answer: Why should these inspectors of accidents require greater powers than we are at present willing to concede to the police?
It is reassuring to those of us who sit on these benches to see hon. Members below the Gangway on this side at long last coming forward in defence of the liberty of the subject. I trust I shall not be indiscreet if I express the hope that their loyalty to that most important cause will flame steadily and not merely be an intermittent flicker. As the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) has pointed out, the powers taken, or proposed to be taken, under this Subsection are enormous, and the House is surely entitled to some explanation from the Government of the necessity which demands that inspectors under this Bill shall be given powers so wide, and, I hope, so exceptional. If it were some question concerned with the military security of the State I am certain there would be the greatest criticism, certainly from hon. Members opposite, about giving to any inspecting authorities such tremendous powers as are proposed to be given here. What necessity is there?
I hope the House will be told what danger is anticipated. What reason is there for giving these inspectors these tre-
mendously wide powers, which go further than the right to interrogate those whom there is reasonable cause to believe know something about the matter? Further, they can be compelled to sign a statement. Mere physical presence on the premises is sufficient to render a person liable to be held up and compelled to sign a statement. The House will appreciate that the paragraph reads,
… every person whom he finds in any such premises or place, or whom he has reasonable cause…
etc. There is, therefore, if I understand it correctly, a liability on any person who is physically on the premises concerned, with nothing else whatever to connect him with the cause of the trouble, to await the attention of the inspector. As has been pointed out by the hon. and learned Member, this is a matter of the criminal law, since under a subsequent Subsection a failure to comply with the instructions of these inspectors, however unreasonable, constitutes a criminal offence for which the man concerned can be brought before a court and fined.
I will say again that this House is entitled to an explanation of the reasons for these enormous powers. It would almost seem as if hon. Members opposite anticipate great trouble in the working of this Bill, since they think it necessary to support it with powers wider, in some respects, than those which the Home Office had during the war to maintain internal security. I should be grateful if the learned Solicitor-General could give the House some guidance as to how these powers compare with the powers of inspectors under the Factory Acts. The point was raised in the Standing Committee and, therefore, even if the learned Solicitor-General would have been taken by surprise by a reference to another Act at this stage—and I am sure he would not—he has been put on inquiry. I feel that it might be illuminating to see whether the inspectors under this Bill, whose functions are in some degree analogous to those of inspectors under the Factory Acts, are to be armed with wider powers.
It should not be thought that any hon. Member who raises the question of these powers is in any degree concerned to impede the legitimate working of inspectors under this Bill. We recognise that inspectors are necessary, we recognise that they will have important and valuable work to do. But there is surely an onus upon those who ask for extraordinary powers to demonstrate the extraordinary reasons which justify them. If I may express one further hope, I trust we may be spared the explanation which we have been given on this and on similar points in the Standing Committee, that it is not intended to exercise the powers. If I may repeat what has become an almost monotonous assertion from this side of the House, an undertaking by a Minister not to use the powers he is seeking is not an argument for giving him those powers.
In his Second Reading speech on the National Insurance Bill, the right hon. Gentleman looked forward to the time when the administration of social services would be regarded by all people as a friendly one. There is a natural disinclination to regard any Government Department, especially one with sanctions behind it, as friendly, but the right hon. Gentleman looked forward to the time when people would treat the central social services administration as a citizens' advice bureau. How, if there is such a Clause as this in a Bill dealing with the administration of social services, is it possible to expect citizens to regard the administration of such services as friendly? Surely, when an inspector goes to a house he should' be regarded as a friend, but if he goes armed with ' powers which will result in a fine of£10 the first time and£50 the second time being imposed on anybody who refuses to answer a question, how on earth is he expected to get satisfactory answers? How will he get co-operation? I fully agree with the points put by other hon. Members on this side of the House in regard to the protection of the rights and freedom of the citizen, and I would urge that, in order to get the fullest co-operation in the working of this Bill, the right hon. Gentleman should withdraw this Clause.
I join with my hon. Friend above the Gangway in congratulating the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) on having done the House the excellent service of moving to omit this paragraph (c) from Clause 61 of the Bill. Like my hon. and gallant Friend above the Gangway, it is for once in a while a great pleasure to me to agree with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery, whom I have known so long. Whenever he speaks, whether I agree or not with the substance of his remarks, it is always a great pleasure for me to hear him. For once in a while, we are this afternoon in complete agreement and,, if I may say so without offence, this afternoon I think he was following truly on the lines of Mr. Gladstone. I cannot think with what horror the celebrated Liberal leader of the 19th century would have regarded this House being asked by the Government to confer such powers upon inspectors as we are asked to agree to in the Clause as it is at present drafted.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery—and he is supported by my hon. and gallant Friend above the Gangway—is well versed in the law. I am only a layman, and I have no reason to question the accuracy of his statement nor have I any reason to suppose that the Solicitor-General is ambitious to blow to smithereens what the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery said. He said that under this Clause, as it is now drafted, the inspectors have conferred upon them powers such as even the High Court Bench itself does not possess. He is supported by his colleague the hon. and gallant Member for North Dorset (Lieut.-Colonel Byers). I was very interested in what the hon. and gallant Member for North Dorset said in speaking of this Clause. He took a wide sweep, and spoke of what this Parliament would be expected to do, and of the great vigilance that it would have to exercise continually over the Socialist Executive. I see that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne does not accept that.
I would be interested if the hon. Member could quote any occasion in the many years he has been in the House, when he has performed for any Conservative Executive the service he has performed for the Socialist Executive.
The Conservative or National Executives did not give me the same cause. But I have been led away. I have not yet been able to say what I was going to say about the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North Dorset. I was very glad to hear him say what he did, because he seemed to share the apprehension of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, who alluded to the famous Gestapo speech of the Leader of the Opposition and said that we must be continually on our guard about granting such powers as are proposed under this paragraph to this—and this will please the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne—or to any other Administration. I hope that he will see that his actions and his votes in this House are more consistent in future with the advice he has just given.
This is a very serious matter. There is no question about that. I hope that the Solicitor-General will have something to say about this, and will be able to explain why the Government of which he is such a distinguished Member and ornament, are asking for these exceptionally wide powers. Why, as the hon. and learned Gentleman for Montgomery asked, are they not satisfied, as they should be, with paragraphs (a) and (b)? Why are they going further and granting powers of this character to these inspectors? I remember speeches which were delivered by supporters of the Government when they were in opposition. I imagine that they should be very apprehensive about the kind of thing that these inspectors will do, under the powers which are envisaged in the Clause. I remember in the years gone by the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) and the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), now Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, speaking in very strong terms and tones about just this kind of thing. I hope that the Solicitor-General will be able to tell us whether this kind of power, or anything approaching it, has been included in Factories Acts which this House from time to time, and generally under Conservative administrations, has placed on the Statute Book. I feel sure that when the Solicitor-General replies, he will do so in the negative. I hope he will not simply reply very fully on the points that have been raised, but will also be able to say that no power such as this has ever been granted under various Factories Acts. I hope he will go further still, will accede to the eloquent plea of the mover of the Amendment and will delete the paragraph altogether. Failing that, I sincerely hope that the House will go to a Division on the Amendment.
I remember the hon. Member who has just spoken speaking only last week, when he made the greatest congratulatory address to which I have ever listened. I think that 649 constituencies in this country are to be congratulated that he is not their Member of Parliament. 'I would venture to ask the Solicitor-General for enlightenment on one or two points in the Measure which seem capable of misunderstanding. I have no objection to an inspector going into premises, because the function of an inspector is to inspect. If we could have a type of inspector who would examine the capacity of aspirants to political honours among hon. Members of this House, the result might be a better standard in our politics. I know that the word "inspector" has been the subject of considerable abuse and that we imagine that a person who enters into a building for the purpose of ascertaining the true state of health of its workers may constitute himself a kind of ruthless individual, whose purpose it is to make the worker as uncomfortable as possible. Paragraph (c) states that his duty is
to examine, either alone or in the presence of any other person, as he thinks fit, with respect to any matters under this Act, every person whom he finds in any such premises or place.
The inspector may find a person on the premises who does not work there. I know the paragraph is qualified by the subsequent phrase:
or whom he has reasonable cause to believe to be or to have been an insured person or employed by the employer of any insured person.
To that extent the inspector may have some justification, if, in his assiduity for duty, he says to such a person, "I consider that you require inspection or examination. Therefore I am going to do my work."
Suppose the inspector finds in the place another person who may not even be a worker in that factory but may be there for some obscure reason. Has the inspector a right to say, "I am going
to examine you whether you like it or not" to that person? If the person refuses, what will be the situation? The paragraph says:
and to require every such person to be so examined and to sign a declaration of the truth of the matters in respect of which he is so examined.
I can imagine the possibility of a weak-minded person being impressed by the importance of a man in the uniform of this inspectorate calling to see him, and asking him to sign a declaration that he had been properly examined and that the account of the examination was truly stated, when it might not be the truth at all. Those are two points which seem somewhat obscure. I know the Solicitor-General is always anxious to make obscurities clear, and I hope he will be able to make those points clear to us.
This point was fully discussed in Committee. I was interested to notice the name of the mover of the Amendment, the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies). He attacked the Clause with a wealth of eloquence, and said that he had not been able to discover that such powers had ever been given in such ample measure to any inspectors before. On that ground, he regarded it as deplorable that the Socialist Government should introduce them in this Year of Grace, 1946. I am not sure how much research he expended in trying to discover whether the powers were new or not. In point of fact, the Clause about which he complained so bitterly was copied almost word for word from the equivalent Section of the National Insurance Act, 1911. It is a case of plagiarism. I think we should owe him an apology rather than accept his reproaches. The running was taken up by the hon. and gallant Member for Kingston-on-Thames (Major Boyd-Car-penter). He, belonging to a different party, put his point of view about these powers. He will no doubt be interested to know that the Conservative Government were guilty of the same fault as the Socialist Government. They copied the words fox the purposes of their Measures. I feel that the hon. and gallant Member will join us in the apology we extend on account of our plagiaristic habits when he learns that these words were in the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1935, Section 65; the National Insurance Act, 1936 Section 165; and the Factory Act,Section 123.
The powers found their origin in a rather different but not wholly dissimilar form in the Factory and Workshop Act, 1878. From that they were transferred again somewhat altered, to Section 119 of the Factory and Workshop Act, 1901. When we get to 1911, these powers are very much in the same form as they exist today. They existed without any complaint, so far as I know, and indeed they have been so innocuous that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery was in blissful ignorance of their existence. I do not know that the House would desire me to research further into the history of this. There is a good deal more I might say. I hope I might be accepted as having established that there is nothing very novel about these powers and really the hon. and learned Gentleman was rather rediscovering America.
The fact is, of course, that if the Government are entrusted with the duty of administering a complicated Social Insurance Act such as the one the House is considering, they must be given adequate powers so to do.It was said, "Well, why can't you send a policeman to do this?" The answer is that this is not the sort of task with which a policeman can conveniently concern himself. It is a specialised form of inquiry which, if it is exercised, necessitates specific powers. That has been found over several decades in this country in relation to previous Insurance Acts. The powers have not been abused and nobody has complained of them until the hon. and learned Gentleman did in Committee, and he has done exactly the same today.
I certainly did not suggest that these powers should be given to the police. I never said anything of the kind. I fully agree the inspector has got to be invested with powers, but what. I am suggesting is that sufficient powers were already given under paragraph (b) to do all that was necessary.
The Solicitor-General: That again is a novel view. It was not the view taken in most cases, at any rate, by those hon. and learned Gentlemen who framed the earlier Acts to which I have referred. The fact is that the mere circumstance that an inspector is vested with these powers does not mean that he will abuse them. Inspectors have not done that in the past; there is no reason why they should do so in
the future. If they do, the courts will be very vigilant, in dealing with any cases that are brought before them, to mark a sense of their displeasure at any excessive use by inspectors of their powers. The inspector has to investigate circumstances which are known only to those persons who, generally speaking, are concerned with the particular undertaking in which the workman was injured. He must be enabled to go upon the premises. He must be allowed a reasonable latitude and discretion in pursuing his inquiries, and if he finds people on the premises there is a reasonable presumption that they probably can tell him something about it.
In Committee, when the same subject was being debated, the point was put about a girl standing on a railway platform, the premises in question being a railway station. Obviously, no inspector in his senses seeing standing in a railway station a member of the public, whom he has not the slightest reason to believe can give him any information of use, is going to waste his time questioning that person. Inspectors do not do this for the benefit of their health; they do it in discharge of a duty because they want to find information which is useful for the purpose of the administration of this Act. It stands as a matter of common sense that, in the exercise of their discretion, and within the ambit of the powers with which they are entrusted, they will go to people on the premises, or people falling in the categories described in the paragraph, who may be able to help them, so that their inquiries will be profitable and not a sheer and absolute waste of time. If they start causing proceedings to be taken against people who on the face of it could not tell them, anything of interest or importance in relation to the question they are investigating, the courts will be very ready and vigilant and will make it perfectly clear in the penalties which they impose, and the remarks which they make from the bench, that they do not think it is a proper exercise by the inspector of his powers.
Will the learned Solicitor-General answer a specific question which was put? Why do these inspectors require greater powers than those which the police have at present, apart from all this reactionary tradition which I am surprised to hear coming from that side of the House?
I am sorry to hear the adjectives which the hon. and gallant Gentleman applies to his distinguished predecessors. The answer to the question is that the inspectors require these powers for the simple reason that they are entrusted with the duties and the police are not. It is not the business of the police to make inquiries for the purposes of this Bill. That is not a matter within the province of the police at all, but the inspectors, as I was trying to point out, are charged with the duty of conducting the inquiries which are necessary for the purpose of ascertaining what it is necessary to do in order to enable this Bill to be administered. For that reason they have to be vested with the powers to go on premises, to put questions to people who are there, to put questions to other people described, insured people and persons employed by an employer of insured persons, and so on. It is necessary that they should have these powers otherwise they cannot find out what it is necessary to find out. That is what was thought before by the reactionary predecessors of the present Government.
It is a question of how the powers are exercised. All this does is to invest the inspectors with powers. If we impose duties we must make available the facilities which enable those duties to be carried out. That is all these powers do. They have been exercised and I say, and I repeat because it is of the greatest importance, they have been exercised without any complaint at all. The Act has got to be administered. It has to be administered efficiently and with a minimum of red tape. Hon. Gentlemen opposite will be only too ready to jump to their feet and point out if there is too much red tape. The benefits have to be paid where they are due and not where they are not due. There has been devised not merely a comprehensive system for trying these claims, but also this particular system for investigating and providing the necessary information has equally been devised as appropriate for the specific purpose and the specific duties.
There is nothing new about these powers. They have never been found in the past to be harmful, inconvenient, deleterious, or likely to encroach upon the liberty of the individual. There is not the slightest reason why they should so be found as administered by the present Government and perhaps also by future Governments—if any. The point is a perfectly simple one which has already been amply discussed in Committee. I say with great respect to the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Amendment that his main point, at any rate, does not seem to carry the matter very much further and it was based an a falacious foundation. I ask the House to negative these Amendments.
I think it was suggested when this Amendment was called that it would be convenient to take the discussion at the same time not only on this Amendment but on the two which follow and which stand in the names of my hon. Friends the Members for Chester (Mr. Nield), and Oxford (Mr. Quintin Hogg), and myself. So far nobody has said much about these Amendments, nor has the learned Solicitor-General in the speech which he has just made. I agree with the Solicitor-General that the Amendment moved from the Liberal Benches, in the face of precedents upon this matter, goes too far. I do not think we can resist some paragraph similar to that in the Factories Act and similar to paragraph (c) of Subsection (2) in the present Bill. I would ask the House to look at the Amendment, and at this paragraph which my hon. Friends propose. Paragraph (c) gives the inspector the power to examine, either alone or in the presence of any other person as he thinks fit, with respect to any matters under this Act, every person whom he finds in any such premises or place—that is, any premises or place liable to inspection—or, as an alternative, every person whom he has reasonable cause to believe to be, or to have been, an insured person.
That, in fact, of course, means the whole population, because I would draw the attention of hon. Members to the fact that a precisely similar provision appears in the main National Insurance Bill. The Subsection there is in exactly the same terms as that before the House to-day. As everybody knows, the whole population will be insured persons under the main National Insurance Bill, and, therefore, the powers in fact being given by paragraph (c) are to examine anybody. The inspector can examine, first, any person he finds on any premises liable to inspection or, alternatively, every person whom he has reasonable cause to believe to be an insured person, and, since we shall all be insured persons, we are all going to be liable to examination under paragraph (c), and we shall be called upon to sign a declaration of the truth of the matters in respect of which we have been examined. I say that these words go too far. It will be impossible to show that the inspector has not got reasonable cause to believe everybody and anybody to be insured persons, because we all shall be.
The only point is if he has reasonable cause to believe that the man is an insured person. But if he is not an insured person, and there is no reasonable grounds to believe that he is, a man may still be liable if he was ever employed by the employer of an insured person.
The hon. Member is quite right I think I have shown that nobody is, in fact, exempted from examination by the wording of this paragraph. What we, in our Amendment, propose would have this effect, and the paragraph, if amended as we desire, will read as follows:
To examine every person whom he has reasonable cause to believe to be in possession of any information which may assist him in investigating the circumstances in which any injury or disease which has given or may give rise to a claim for benefit was or could have been caused or contracted.
I suggest that those words are more appropriate than the words of the Subsection. They throw the onus upon the inspector to have reasonable cause to believe that any person, in respect of whom he exercises his powers of examination and interrogation under this paragraph, has some information which will be useful in the performance of his duties. That seems to me to be a reasonable limitation to place upon the inspector's powers.
We heard a great deal of discussion in the House in days gone by about the effect of these words "having reasonable cause to believe," but I think the generally accepted view of them now is that they do, in the ultimate resort, give a power of challenge in the courts, and anybody refusing to give information which the responsible inspectors demand. under this paragraph could, in the last resort, challenge the inspector's claim to have "reasonable cause to believe "in one of the courts of justice. I do not think that is an unreasonable thing to ask. I pointed out during the Committee stage that power to examine persons found on premises where any insured persons are employed, of course gave inspectors power to examine anybody. It might apply to a main line railway station, and that is one example of the powers here sought being too wide. These words, which give power to examine every person whom he has reasonable cause to believe to be an insured person, are completely meaningless in view of the fact that the whole population of these islands is to be insured under the main National Insurance Bill..We find exactly the same paragraph coming up on the main National Insurance Bill and it will be as highly objectionable there, as it is in regard to the 17,000,000 persons under the Industrial Injuries Bill. In my view, these words have no meaning, because the whole population, men, women and children, are insured persons for the purposes of the main National Insurance Bill. I, therefore, suggest to the House that the limitations that we seek to introduce are sensible, and much more limited than my hon. Friend's rather unjustifiable desire to delete the paragraph altogether, and I ask the House to accept our Amendment.
I am sorry that the learned Solicitor-General has not entirely convinced me that this paragraph is absolutely necessary in this Bill, and I cannot readily accept the analogy which he drew between the Insurance Act of 1911 and the Bill now before the House. Differences of opinion on a much wider scale, I imagine, will arise under this Bill than ever arose under the National Health Insurance Act, and I am not convinced that this paragraph should be left in the Bill, because I profoundly dislike the first two lines and also the last two, with which 1 am more likely to quarrel than with any other part. There may be a situation in which there has been a very serious accident—let us assume, in a coalmine. The inspector gets there, and the first man to whom he speaks might be a person who is largely illiterate. The inspector has power to take that man aside and compel him to make a statement, and he can then compel him to sign it.
My first quarrel with that is that I do not think any Act of Parliament will succeed that deprives any working man of the protection of his trade union. It is clearly absurd to expect that, in a serious situation in which the welfare and well-being of perhaps quite a number of people will be at stake, any particular trade union would permit an inspector, Act of Parliament or no Act of Parliament, to withdraw an important witness without any protection' or advice from his own trade union advisers, and take a statement from him that might damn the interest, and possibly unjustifiably so, of people who would otherwise have benefited. I cannot help looking at this from the point of view of an old trade unionist and trade union official. I would resist any person taking such a liberty with my organisation and with my members, whatever the consequences might be. Let that be perfectly clear. I am surprised that my life-long Friend the Minister has persuaded himself that this paragraph is necessary. In his constituency and mine there are still a considerable number of workers whose speaking and thinking language is not English, but Welsh. I can quite imagine an inspector going to the quarries in Blaenau Festiniog. There is nothing in this Bill guaranteeing that a Welsh-speaking inspector would interrogate this man or that. He may take aside a Welshman,' interrogate him, and take a statement from him in a language that is foreign to the Welshman. There are some friends of mine who I would not think of speaking English to.
I have seen many presumptuous Englishmen presuming to understand a monolingual Welshman, and that might explain the vast amount of misunderstanding in England with regard to Wales. But I really feel very deeply about this matter. We are all human beings. What assurance can I have that every one of the inspectors appointed may not be biased from wrong experience against a working man? [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] I am glad that there is some response from the other side. There is a possibility that some of the inspectors will have served the big insurance companies of this country for many years, and I doubt whether that training is the best to help in seeing that justice is done under this Bill when it becomes an Act of Parliament. It is not enough for my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General to tell me that inspectors will not abuse these powers. I am quite prepared to accept that nine out of ten will not, but I have no guarantee as to the tenth I must ask my old colleague the Minister to think afresh over this paragraph. I cannot be persuaded that it is necessary, and I am certain there will be occasions when it cannot possibly work. I am far from being persuaded, from what I have heard this afternoon— that it is necessary. I am certain that if my right hon. Friend the Minister will reflect upon his experience, he will appreciate how jealously the trade unions of this country guard their rights and privileges in respect to any protection that can be given to any of their members in any circumstances.
I am glad that the opposition to this Subsection is no longer confined to the two parties opposite who, apparently, have supported this kind of thing in principle for over 50 years, but I was very sorry to see my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General use that as an argument for supporting this. If the legislation was bad, we have an admirable opportunity in this Parliament for putting it right. I think this Clause always went too far even in the case of the Acts of Parliament to which he has referred. But I would not base my own argument against this paragraph upon any analogy with any of the Acts he mentioned. In this Bill there is clearly a totally new situation. There is no parallel at all, and I would like to draw my right hon. Friend's attention to what I think are the relevant differences.
First, the employer has no interest under this Bill. He is not concerned to conceal anything; he does not pay, his insurance company does not pay and he has no longer any interest whatever in seeking to deprive the insured workman of his benefit. That is one of the great improvements this Bill makes. One of the other great improvements it makes is that there is no longer any powerful class in the community having an axe to grind, or having an interest in seeing that claims are paid as infrequently as possible and to as small a degree as possible. All that has gone, so that any of the powers in this paragraph which appear to be directed against employers are entirely illusory. They are nothing more than a hangover from half a century of legislation with which this Bill has nothing whatever to do. So do not let us deceive ourselves that what we are doing here is giving ourselves the power to inquire about employers who have broken the Act.
In the last minute or two of his speech, the Solicitor-General conceded that when he said it was in the interest of the State to see that claims were not paid that were not due. Nobody objects to that. The first business of the State must be to protect the fund. He must have powers to do that. He has such powers in paragraphs (a) and (b). What he is being asked to do, and what he has failed to do, is to show why he needs these powers. He said they had always had such powers and that they would not be abused. I accept all that, but none of it is any reason for saying he ought to have them unless he needs them. It has been shown already by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that whereas in all the other Acts this power was a limited power, in that it only affected a limited class of person, this paragraph covers every member of the population. Anybody can be examined. There are no words of limitation of any kind. Every word of limitation is really a word of expansion. There is nobody in the country—or will not be very soon—about whom any court would have any doubt that an inspector has reasonable, cause to believe, either, that he was a person found on the premises inspected, or was an insured person, or had been at some time an insured person, or that he was an employee of the employer of an insured person, or that he had at some time been the employee of an employer of an insured person. All these people are expressly included in this paragraph, and it means that there is nobody, about whom it could reasonably be argued, that there was not reasonable ground to believe—the man does not have to prove it—that he came into one or other of these categories.
The third relevant difference—and I think this is a conclusive difference—is that in this case the State will be acting in its own financial interest. In all the other cases, it was keeping the ring That is a very important difference. It is one thing to give a Government-appointed inspector power to inquire into the breach of a factory regulation in the interests of the employees and of the community, but it is quite different to give him extraordinary powers of this kind in order to maintain forensically before the tribunal a defence to a claim. Just imagine what the insurance companies, under the old law, would have given for such a power as this. That is the parallel we have to draw—not the parallel of the State keeping the ring under the old law, but of the people who, under the old law, had to pay if the claim was proved. What would they not have given for the power to send into my office when I was handling a workman's claim an inspector who could say "I want to take a statement from the applicant, from all your witnesses and from yourself." That is the difference. Just consider what, under the old law, the party who was in the same position as the State will be in under this Measure—. that is to say, the party who had to find the money—would have given for the power to get a signed declaration, under a criminal penalty, of the circumstances leading to the claim. What kind of a tribunal is going to hear the evidence that it is sought to obtain in this way? It is not the county court any more. It is not a judicial tribunal with a right of appeal any more. It is a tribunal appointed by the Government, before which the applicant has no right ot be legally represented at all. It becomes a matter of some importance.
I am not trying to argue that this is a fundamental principle which goes to the roots of our society. It is nothing of the kind. It is really of small compass, but in that small compass it does raise matters of fundamental principle. We used in this country to pride ourselves that we had no administration law, and that we had not two sets of laws—one for the common citizens and another for other people. It was the basis of our law that everybody was answerable before the same courts according to the same law. We are necessarily losing it. It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to shake their heads, but they were the first to depart from it, and I do not blame them for it. Our society and our law have necessarily become progressively complicated, and It was quite necessary to have an administration law of our own. But, for that very reason, it becomes very important that we should have a definite ascertainable body of administration law, just as we have a definite, ascertainable body of common law on which to appeal. I do not see, on any ground of principle, that the Government can take to themselves in circumstances of this kind a right to examine any member of the community, to take a statement from him, to make him sign it and do it all under a criminal sanction, and then to use the evidence obtained in that way under that criminal sanction before a tribunal where he is not represented and from which he has no right of appeal, in order to defeat the claims of the person who has been interrogated in that manner. That is what is being sought, and no case has been made out for it. A negative case has been made out that it was always there and that it has not been abused, but that is never a good argument and it ceases to be an argument at all in circumstances like this where the whole background against which the matter can be tested fundamentally changes. I would ask my hon. and learned Friend seriously to look at this matter again.
I beg to ask the leave of the House to address it again on this Amendment. It is, in point of fact, another Amendment, and I am not sure that I do need to ask the leave of the House, because an Amendment has been moved which was subsequent to the one on which I spoke last. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) proposes to substitute words which depend upon the introduction of the words "reasonable cause to
believe," and so on. I submit that those words will not add anything because there is already a sufficient limitation upon the scope of the Clause by reason of words which are already within it. May I call the attention of the House to those words? In the introductory words to Subsection (2) one finds:
"for the purposes of the execution of this Act.
Those words at once embody a limitation upon the scope of the inquiry upon which the inspector may embark. [Hon. Members: "No."] Certainly, they do. He cannot just interrogate people at will according to his own sweet whim. He must confine his interrogation to what is necessary for the purposes of the execution of the Act. The inspector is given powers for the purposes of the execution of this Act. One of those powers is to examine certain persons. He can examine those persons with respect to any matters under this Act. I agree that does not limit the category of people whom he is entitled to examine, but it does limit the scope of the examinations to which he is entitled to subject them. So 'there we start off with a limitation—
If I may interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman, it surely means that he cannot ask them who is going to win the 3.30, or the football match, and that he has to confine his interrogation to something to do with industrial injuries.
That is a very substantial limitation. There would be a ground for complaint against these words if they simply meant that a person could subject people he has found on premises to a purely capricious inquiry. He has to ask them questions which are relevant to the matters in issue. Obviously, he will confine his inquiries to people who can help him on those points.
It is not just a roving inquiry, completely pointless and conditionless. On the contrary, he has a specific matter with regard to which he has to direct his inquiries, and he will naturally direct them to people who can deal with those matters and not to other people. Therefore, there is already in the paragraph as it stands a very considerable blinker upon his proceedings. He can only proceed for certain specific purposes.
I submit that as the Clause stands it is far more satisfactory than it would be if the words which the right hon. Gentleman seeks to introduce were introduced. They are words of wide and unprecise meaning. They depend upon something which is difficult to ascertain and to limit. As the words stand, the inspector is clearly told that so long as he confines his interrogation to the purpose to which he is allowed to direct it in the terms of the Bill, then he can carry on with his inquiry. Naturally that involves the prerequisite that he will not waste his time in asking questions of people who cannot tell him anything about the matter. The Clause as it stands is far better than it would be if the ambiguous, wide and far-reaching words were introduced which the right hon. Gentleman proposes. At the moment it is clear what it means. He can carry out certain inquiries limited to certain objects, and that naturally involves that he will select from the category of persons who are described in the paragraph only those persons who can help him with those objects. That is how the Clause is worded at present.
There is another serious objection to introducing the Amendment. The Amendment is limited to inquiries with regard to the origin of the injury or disease The whole point of paragraph (c) is that the inspector is to be allowed to ask about things in addition to those with respect to any matters under this Bill; that is to say with respect to how the accident happened, payment of contribution, whether there is any ground on which the workman can be excused payment of contributions, the defacing of stamps, and so on. If the words sought to be introduced were introduced, there would be a plain conflict between the first three lines of the paragraph and those words. The first three lines would apparently give the inspector wider powers than he would be given if the right hon. Gentleman's words were introduced. That is the technical objection which I would raise to the Amendment. It would make nonsense of the Clause, which reads perfectly satisfactorily as it stands.
I would like to say one or two words to my hon. Friends who spoke from this side of the House. It seems to me they are under a complete misapprehension as to the object of the paragraph. It is not to do the workman out of his rights at all. As my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) pointed out, the circumstances now are quite different from what they were before. Before, a workman, if he was lucky enough, would scrape up sufficient money for a solicitor and the solicitor would conduct inquiries for him. That is no longer the case. Now the State, using the inspectors, makes the workman's case for him; in the same way, if the workman is not entitled to benefit, the inspectors make the case for the State. It assists both sides. It is machinery provided by the State which makes inquiries which may be in favour of the workman or may be against him.
It assists a workman who may find difficulty in dealing with certain matters as to which there may be doubt, because he will not have the necessary experience and so on. The State inspector comes along and makes those inquiries for him. In some cases it may be extremely difficult for the workman to do that, and he would be in a very difficult situation if he had not the aid of the inspector on on which to rely. One can well conceive the case where a workman has fallen out with his employer and where, without an inspector to go there and put questions, the workman would never get the evidence he requires to satisfy the insurance officer. In a case like that he would indeed be grateful for the help of the inspector who has the right under this Clause to put such questions as are relevant for the purposes of the Act. That is the sort of case in which the workman would be helped.
There are other circumstances in which there may be spurious cases put forward. One hopes they will be few, but it is right nevertheless that in a comprehensive scheme of State insurance such as this the State should have the right to protect itself against spurious claims. Imagine the case of a workman killed or seriously injured, so seriously injured that he cannot conduct his own inquiries, and cannot instruct a solicitor to do it on his behalf because he has not the money to do so. For some reason or other he may not be a member of a trade union. In such a case, when the evidence is not forthcoming which would establish his claim to the satisfaction of the insurance officer, or the local appeal tribunal if there was an appeal from the decision of the insurance officer, it would be incumbent upon the inspector to procure that information by making the inquiries which he is empowered to make under this paragraph. Therefore, this is a necessary measure of succour which the workman requires, particularly the workman who has been injured, who is inexperienced, who is illiterate, who is not a member of a trade union and who has nobody to support his claim.
Conversely, where there is a spurious claim the inspector is equally under an obligation to procure the relevant information to show that that is so. More often than not, however, it will be in the interests of the workman to have his claim prepared for him, and the evidence procured for him by an experienced person armed with the necessary powers to procure that information than the reverse. That is particularly the case where the workman is illiterate, has nobody to stand up for him, and no trade union behind him. He cannot go and make complicated inquiries as to the amount of contributions that were paid, or ascertain whether he has a right to be excused contributions. Sometimes if there is a conspiracy against him, if his employer has got a grudge against him, the employer may say, "This workman was never employed on my pay list at all. This accident is not an accident which arises out of any employment." That is a case in which it will be incumbent upon the inspector to investigate, and he will have the right to go on to the premises and investigate.
I accept wholeheartedly what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne. This is not a case which is analogous to cases before this Bill. This is a new set of circumstances altogether, in which the particularly relevant feature is that the matter is taken out of the hands of contesting parties. You no longer have a workman fighting with an employer. You have the State providing assistance to the workman, and to itself, in proper cases, to establish a case to show that a claim ought not to succeed where there is no entitlement.
Not representing. He would procure information which would be available to the tribunal. He would put questions which would be put down in documentary form, and that information would be available to the insurance officer, the local appeal tribunal and so on.
Does that mean that once the inspector has got these signed statements, with a penalty of a £10 fine if a man does not sign them, the tribunal, will not need any oral evidence at all but judge on the statements taken? If it does not mean that, what does he want the statements for?
Because before anybody is called as a witness you want some sort of proof of what he is going to say. You want to know who are the relevant witnesses. When the inspector goes on the premises he may see five people and say, "Who can tell me something about this accident?" The workman may have been stunned, or may be ill, or have lost his memory and he cannot tell how the accident occurred. The inspector can at least ask who is in a position to go before the insurance officer and say how the accident happened. The question whether the workman succeeds or not may depend entirely upon the endeavours of the inspector. It is for the protection of the workman in the same way as it is for the protection of the State.
I have already dealt with that— [Hon. Members: "No."]—Maybe very inadequately, but I have given an answer such as I can. I have objected to the Amendment on the grounds that it is technically wrong because it makes nonsense of the Clause. I have put forward such arguments as I could to satisfy the House. It is not suitable as it stands. I have tried to explain it and to say what happens. That is how it would work. It would enable necessary information to be ob- tained in cases where it probably otherwise would not be obtained, and to start investigations of claims where there was a right to compensation, and vice versa. That, I should have thought, was ample justification for the Clause. If it had been found—and, again, this is not conclusive—that in the past there had been any complaint about this type of thing, if it had been found that it had been exercised in an oppressive way and there had been no check on its exercise, then, no doubt, it would be relevant to bring that out. But no one has alleged that, and it cannot be alleged. If the inspector behaved in an oppressive way, it is quite obvious how the court would act. There is no use in setting up inspectors and entrusting them with important duties unless we make available to them the necessary powers to discharge those duties. That is all this does. It entitles the inspector to go upon certain premises which are limited and defined in subsection (6) of Clause 61. He can go there and ask questions and he is entitled to an answer to the questions. Surely, that is not oppressive. He cannot use third degree. He may ask questions, and why should he not?
An inspector who got somebody alone and started beating him up and using third degree methods on him—he would be the hypothetical inspector, not the. sort of inspector I am thinking about. It is a complete travesty of the situation to try to deal with this on the footing that inspectors are going to start beating people up. We must give the inspector reasonable powers to do the minimum that he must do if he has to discharge the functions he has to discharge. If we do not give him those powers we may as well wash the Clause out. There is no alternative machinery to this machinery [Interruption.] No. The hon. and learned Member simply proposed to leave a good deal out, and the reasons for which he proposed it were thought by the House not to be adequate. The question is now whether the form should be altered, and the alteration suggested is an unsatisfactory alteration as it stands. I ask the House to say these are reasonable powers and no more than reasonable powers, and that they are not powers in excess of those necessary to enable an inspector to do what he has to do.
I think the House is a bit anxious at the moment in view of the various explanations that have been given, and, in particular, because of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). It is perfectly true that here we have an example, not for the first time, of a State inquisition, and I would ask the Solicitor-General whether the inspectorate will only act at the instance of the workman. Or is the workman entitled to pursue his own inquiries? I am not bringing this up on the ground that there should be legal representation or not; but here we have an injured man who may be very seriously injured, confined to bed or in hospital, and it would be difficult for him to go about and make inquiries, to establish his case. Does the injured man telephone or write to the insurance office or inspector and ask for the inspector to inquire into his case? Or is it an automatic operation by the insurance office that they detail an inspector to make the inquiries necessary to satisfy them whether there is a liability?
How many inspectors is it proposed to appoint? We may have a very great number of inspectors. I have no idea what the figures may be. This may be a full time job. Investigating even one accident, to go into one case, may take two or three days. It seems to me we might have some information about the expected number of claims that will come under this Bill, and about how many inspectors are likely to be employed. The inspector, on behalf of the man or on behalf of the State or as an intermediary between the State and the man, must have sufficient time to make his inquiries and to come to a right conclusion. I am not complaining about the inspectors. But I think Members in this House have themselves found it worth while, as some people do, to employ accountants to make their Income Tax returns. They are not prepared to leave matters to the tender mercies of the Income Tax inspectors, not because of any anti-social feeling against the inspectors or on the part of the inspectors, at all. When it is a question of the State taking money from you, or of making payments out of its funds to you, the tendency is for one to lean against the inspector, in the one case, or for the State to lean against the payment, in the other.
From the legal point of view workmen's compensation is tremendously difficult. If an inspector examined a case and came to the conclusion there was no case for a claim and sent along a sworn statement to that effect, it may be that a certain amount of injustice would be done. The workman ought to have, at least, the option of being represented by a member of the legal profession, or by someone qualified in the law. We ought to have a little information on this. I feel apprehensive at the treatment by a great machine working against a little individual who himself will, no doubt, trust very faithfully and very rightly to the assistance he expects to get from the inspector. Nevertheless, the inspector is paid and employed by the State. Many people get jobs in this world by saying "No," and some people get jobs by saying "Yes" as well. I am not satisfied with the position having regard to the very great powers given by this Clause, particularly paragraph (c).
I think that some greater justification should be given for the Clause in its present form. It is- obvious that the State must have power to ascertain the facts, and Clause 61 (2, b) gives the inspector reasonable powers to ascertain them. When we add paragraph (c) to paragraph (b) and then add the powers under Subsection (4) I thing we are giving more powers than are necessary. Under paragraph (c), the inspector is given power to examine "either alone, or in the presence of any other person," whoever he wants to examine. Let us assume that the examination takes place with some person alone. Under Subsection (4, b) any one who
fails to answer any question or to furnish any information or to produce any document or to sign any declaration
is then liable to prosecution and to a fine of£10 for a first offence and£50 for subsequent offences. What can be the evidence against a man when the only other person present is the inspector? There can be no other evidence than the word of the inspector himself. I do not say for a moment that the inspector, presumably a member of the Civil Service,
will be a harsh and tyrannical fellow who will exercise his powers unreasonably. The point is whether or not to give powers which can be exercised unreasonably. In, paragraph (c), coupled with the penalties provided, we are, in fact, conferring such powers. I submit to the learned Solicitor-General that Clause 61 (2, b) gives him all the reasonable powers for which he is entitled to ask, and he ought not to have the powers conferred by Clause 61 (2, c). I may be wrong about this, but that is what I feel about it on what I have heard, and unless the Solicitor-General can put my mind more at ease than it is at the moment, I shall be compelled to vote against it.
I do not agree that the whole of paragraph (c) should be omitted. The misgiving which I have concerns the present form of paragraph (c) and whether it cannot be altered in such a way as to achieve what the Minister and the learned Solicitor-General desire. The best way to test that is to take the case that was submitted by the Solicitor-General, and to see how the Amendments proposed meet the position, and whether it is not possible to adapt one of these Amendments to this Clause. This Clause is so wide that if it is possible in any way to dispense with any part of it safely -then we ought to do so. I think that is the principle on which to start reasoning. This Clause gives certain rights over everyone in the community. We do not need to cavil about that because, in one way or another, everyone is roped into this and we have, therefore, to be very careful about it. The learned Solicitor-General quite rightly, in my submission, indicated that what he wanted to do was to be able to approach anyone who had any information which bore upon the matters relevant to this Act. That is the real objective to be aimed at: To be able to examine any person who has any information to give with regard to the matters contained in this Act. That is what the learned Solicitor-General himself said was the object to be achieved.
When I look at paragraph (c) as compared with the Amendment proposed, it seems to me that the Amendment will cover all that, and that paragraph (c) goes far beyond it, and is to that extent unnecessary. I am not saying that I do not agree that some provision is necessary. I do think so profoundly, and I should
be very sorry to say or do anything which would weaken the necessary dimensions of the Clause. If we were to adjust paragraph (c) by introducing the Amendment, we would get something like this, and I should have thought that would be sufficient. It would read:
To examine with respect to any matters under this Act, every person whom he has reasonable cause to believe to be in possession of any information which may assist him in investigating the circumstances in which any injury or disease which has given or may give rise to a claim or benefit, has or may have been received or contracted, and to require every such person to be so examined, and to sign a declaration of the truth of the matters in respect of which he is so examined.
It has all the material words to cover any question or investigation that may be necessary under this Clause. I base my advocacy for the acceptance of that on this: If that is enough to achieve the purpose that we want, then anything further in paragraph (c) is too much, because it goes beyond that, and it is too dangerous, because it gives power which no one should have vested in him unless it is absolutely imperative to have those powers. For those reasons I urge the Government to reconsider this matter and see whether they can modify paragraph (c)more or less on the lines of the third Amendment in the group we are discussing.
I would ask the Solicitor-General to look a little further into this matter before he asks the House to come to a decision. I should like to put to the hon. and Warned Gentleman the reason why I think Members in all parts of the House are disturbed at the powers for which he is asking. May I tell him, first, that the powers in paragraph (c) are of a very wide range indeed? They will, in effect, as the situation is now, cover the whole population of these islands. I would ask him to bear in mind what my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) said just now, that those powers, together with the powers on the next page under paragraph (d) are capable of abuse. I think that cannot be denied, and I do not put it any higher than that. I am not suggesting that those powers will, in effect, be abused by any inspector, but I do say we ought not to approve powers that are capable of abuse. We have not heard yet many way that that is not so. I come to my next point. Various hon Members have tried to impress upon the Government that the powers in paragraph (a) and (b) give the Government all the power that they need. The Solicitor-, Genera] certainly did not give us an adequate explanation why those powers do not go far enough, and unless we can be given an explanation why paragraphs (a) and (b) do not give sufficient power/ I cannot see how in reason the House should be asked to give the powers under paragraph (c). May I put another point? If does seem to me that circumstances are different to those in years gone by, but who will be trying to conceal information from the inspector?
This will be a claim against State funds, and I say that from the explanation so far given to us it is apparent to Members in all parts of the House that the powers given under paragraph (c) are in excess of what the Government really need, and any powers in excess of the absolute need asked for by a Government are quite indefensible. That is, I think, the line that Members of this House must always take in respect of Government legislation. If the Government must have these powers, they must prove the need for them. If they ask for powers in excess, they are asking for something which should not be granted. I hope I have made plain the reasons why we feel anxiety and that this is more than a minor point. I beg the Government to meet the points I have made or withdraw this Clause and look at the matter again, after which they could report further to this House.
I can only speak a second time on this Amendment by leave of the House. I have listened with great attention and great anxiety to what has been said, because it is not the desire of the Government to ride roughshod over feelings which are deeply entertained by Members of the House. The question has been put fairly and squarely to me by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) when he asked, "Do you need these powers?" The innuendo is that if the Government do not need the powers they are indefensible. Let me ask in reply, in considering the practical relevance of the particular situation, what are the powers we are giving? They are given in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c). Paragraph (a) is not in dispute, for it is simply a paragraph which enables an inspector at all reasonable times to enter upon premises. That is a power that has been frequently given before, and I think hon. Members on all sides of the House think that it is a necessary power. The right hon. Gentleman and other Members who spoke asked: "Have you not got enough power under paragraph? "I am not sure whether that question assumes the premise that where paragraph (b) gives powers they are not excessive powers. As I understood the argument, the powers given by paragraph (b)are not excessive; in other words, it is not unreasonable or illegitimate that an inspector, having exercised his right to enter upon premises, makes proper investigations. Put in its true form that is what paragraph (b) says.
In what way does paragraph(c) make any addition to that? It really does no more than amplify this power generally and legitimately, that having gone into premises at a reasonable time and having inquiries to make, it is in the interests of the workmen and the State that the inspector should be able to ask questions. It may be said as a matter of construction that if you give a person the power to enter premises to make investigations you are, by implication without more ado, giving him the power to ask questions, because you cannot make investigations without asking questions, that being the most effective weapon with which to make investigations. So that the argument that is adduced can be put in this way: "You have got the powers you need under paragraph (b),"but paragraph (c) is merely tautology. Paragraph (c) simply authorises what is implied in paragraph (b).That is the view which I submit is the true one. Paragraph (b) gives the necessary power, but if it leaves any possible doubt as to the extent of those powers to make investigations and we want to make it perfectly clear to what extent the investigator is allowed to go, it is contained inparagraph (c). I ask the House to say if it does concede that paragraph (b) is reasonable to enable the inspector to make his investigations in other people's premises that paragraph does not make it unreasonable.
I want to answer the point made by the Noble Lord and to give it due consideration. Will the House follow me in this? If you are asking people questions, you can write down their answer. You probably do not do it in shorthand but you can take it down on a piece of paper and write the answer which they may give to you. That is a process that may lead to mistakes. Indeed, all Members know from experience that if they have a conversation with a person and if they try to record what that person said even if they do it immediately afterwards, they only get something which approximates to an accurate record of what was said and there are some mistakes. It is much more satisfactory, from everybody's point of view, if you can ask that person to put down himself what he means to say.
The noble Lord shakes his head, but I mean this seriously. I hope the House will agree that this is not at all oppressive. The power given to an inspector, to enable him to require the person who is being questioned to put his signature on something, is a safe-guard, and not the reverse. It may be said that if the inspector is to be allowed to go on to premises and have a five minutes' conversation with somebody, and go away and record what he can remember of that conversation, and if importance should be attached to that record, then there is room for mistake, and that that will not be fair to the person who is being questioned. But if the inspector is given power to require the person he is questioning, for the specific purposes of the Act, within the ambit of the words, in Paragaph 2 (c):
… with respect to any matters under this Act,
it is a safeguard, and not the reverse, that he should be enabled to require the person to put his signature on something. He can write himself what is his recollection of what the person said, and ask that person to agree. The person may say that he does not agree with two or three lines of it, and it can be altered, and then
he can sign it, if he agrees. It may be oppressive if it is left entirely to the inspector's recollection, but it is not.
In the hon. and learned Gentleman's defence of paragraph(c),has he not forgotten paragraph (d) which says:
"to exercise such other powers as may be necessary for carrying this Act into effect."?
If paragraph (b) stands, what is the need for, paragraph (c)?
It might just as well be said: Why do you need paragraph (c) when you have paragraph (b)? Paragraph (d) simply fills in the loopholes. It means that the inspector shall be enabled effectively to discharge his duty. Paragraph (b) gives powers which are conceded to be legitimate. They are given in wide terms. Paragraph (c) deals with the specific form in which those powers can be exercised. It does not extend them. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] No, it enables the inspector to ask questions.
That gives point to the argument I was adducing. If the right hon. Gentleman looks at paragraph. (b), which says:
to make such examination and inquiry as may be necessary…
and will read that in conjunction with Subsection (4), he will see that it means this: Supposing a person fails to furnish any information in response to an inquiry? One does not know where one is. Is that an offence? I should say it probably is, almost certainly is. It makes it plain that the person must answer questions, and furnish information, because the inspector has the right to put questions, and require that information. But if it were left to paragraph (b) which is, ex hypothesi , a legitimate paragraph, then you are in considerable doubt as to when you commit an offence under Subsection (4), if you refuse information.
I would be grateful if the Solicitor-General would address himself to what I thought was the material point I made a few moments ago. Paragraph (c) says:
to examine, either alone or in the presence of any other person…
and if you associate those words with Subsection (4, b) there is the clear possibility that a man can be fined£10 or£50 on the unsupported evidence of one other person. Even admitting what the hon. and learned Gentleman has just said, we cannot let this Clause go through in its present form, unless we can get over that difficulty.
It is the easiest thing in the world. A person can only be convicted of an offence if the prosecution have proved it beyond all reasonable doubt. If the inspector says, "He refused to answer," and the man says, "I did not," I should have thought that in nine cases out of 10 there was a doubt, and that the case would be dismissed.
Would my hon. and learned Friend say how far this power, not to ask questions, but to compel people to answer questions, under a criminal penalty, compared with the powers of the police in investigating serious crime? Can a detective inspector investigating a murder case, compel anybody to answer a question, or sign a document?
My hon. Friend knows perfectly well that a policeman cannot make a man answer questions when he is investigating a murder case. But this is not a murder case. What the inspector is investigating here is a hundred miles away from that sort of thing. If there is a smell of criminality the person has protection under Paragraph (4), which says:
…no one shall be required… to answer any question or to give any evidence tending to incriminate himself.
Investigation of murder is in a completely different sphere.
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that a man may be compelled, under penalty, to answer questions, the answers to which may deprive him of any benefits under this Bill?
I asked the non and learned Gentleman whether he agrees that a man may be compelled to answer questions, under penalty, the answers to which might forfeit by him any benefits under this Bill.
The answer is, "Yes." Conversely, people whose evidence is necessary to establish the claim to benefit, and who do not want to answer questions, and who are not pre pared to support his claim, equally must be obliged to answer them. It works both ways. In some cases, it will assist the workman when he cannot otherwise obtain assistance; in other cases, when he has an unfounded claim, it will militate against him. The object is to arrive at the truth, and the whole question is whether the powers given to the inspector, to enable the truth to be arrived at, are beyond what is necessary. It was in that form that it was put to me by the right hon‥ Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington. Having heard my explanation, I ask the House to say that they are not. The powers develop in paragraph (c) in one particular, in that they make it clear that power to make an inquiry, which is legitimately given, is to include power to put questions—
That is what it does. If the inspector cannot do that, if people say, "We do not like the look of you. Get out. "We do not propose to answer questions," and if he is able to say, "I hope you will answer these questions, because that is the only way in which I can find out whether the workman, who is unconscious, has or has not a claim "; they can say, "s We do not like the workman either, and we do not propose to support his claim." Conversely a dishonest claim might be put forward and if he has not the power to insist on an answer there is no way in which the insurance officer can be apprised of the facts. What would happen; what is in fact contemplated? The workman is injured; he reports the matter to an insurance officer who directs the inspector to go and make inquiries, that being the ordinary, obvious thing he would do to see whether it is a proper case. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) asked whether the workman could in addition make inquiries himself. Of course he could. These are not exclusive inquiries, they are simply the inquiries initiated by the insurance officer. The arrangement is elastic. If the trade union said, "We should like you to inquire into a particular aspect of that matter "the inspector would do so. Or the trade union official would go with the inspector. It would (then be a matter of convenience according to how it worked in the particular case. May I say a word to the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown)? He is perturbed about the words, "either alone or in the presence of any other person."
Yes, in conjunction with those words. The object is simply to remove the obligation on the inspector of having to ensure that he gets somebody there as a witness to any conversation he may have. Otherwise it is going to be extremely difficult for him if, whenever he goes into premises, and there is somebody in a particular room—a clerk for example whose work deals with contributions or something of the sort, about which the inspector is inquiring—he has to say, "Do you mind waiting? I want to go and fetch somebody to act as a witness to our conversation? "This provision enables him to have his conversation with the clerk alone in the premises which he has visited. There is nothing sinister about it. If the inspector met with a blank refusal he would be very unwise if he then proposed to charge the person without any evidence to corroborate him, because he would know that if the person said "I was perfectly willing to give the information," or "I gave it, but the inspector misunderstood me," or anything of that kind, the case would probably be dismissed as a matter of practical politics. He would not bring a case unless he had managed to get a witness to corroborate his evidence.
No, I was drawing a parallel with proceedings at military courts of inquiry, where signed statements are taken but are not used and may not be used in any subsequent court martial. I am asking for an assurance that signed statements will not be used either for an appeals tribunal or in any subsequent court of appeal.
I cannot give that assurance. The whole point of taking a signed statement from a person as a witness would be to have it available in case it were useful for evidence. Supposing the person who gave the statement later gave evidence for or against the workman before a local tribunal and said something that was completely contrary to the statement. It would obviously be a gross injustice if the other party could not say, "This is what you said; it is quite contradictory to what you are saying now." It would be undesirable that it should not be possible to use a signed statement.
One point which puzzles me is this. To my mind the Solicitor-General's explanation of paragraph (c) does not really conform with the language of the Clause itself. He rather implies that the inspector gets the person in question to.write out his own story and then says, "Now sign it," but the Clause does not envisage such a set of circumstances.
I had given way. I imagine the hon. Member thought I had finished. I thought he was putting a question to me and so did not get up. I had not quite finished. To summarise, we obviously must have powers—that is conceded. The question is whether these powers should include the right to put questions coupled with the sanctions over the page. I answer that question by asking whether the duties are to be properly discharged or not. If the duties are to be discharged the right to question and the right to take proceedings in the event of refusal to co-operate on the part of the person questioned are inevitably necessary. If those powers are not given, and the inspector cannot insist upon having an answer, then the position will constantly arise that the inspector will go to premises and people there will think it a nuisance, or may not like the workman, or be glad to get rid of him—he may have been a nuisance—and they just will not answer questions.
Again, they may dislike the attitude of the inspector, and it will be, in many cases, a complete waste of time and quite impossible to establish a case or to show that it is a case which should not succeed. One hopes that people are normally courteous and will answer questions put to them reasonably by an inspector, but one does know nevertheless that there are a good many cases in which, perhaps through sheer cussedness, and perhaps through more sinister motives, the inspector will meet with a blank refusal, or a half answer, or an answer which does not assist anybody. The House really is faced with this dilemma. Either the powers are to be exercised efficiently, and the inspector must have those powers of putting questions and insisting upon an answer, or one should take away from the inspector the whole of these duties and should say, "It is quite useless causing you to go to premises to make inquiries because we know, a priori, that you will not be able to do so." This is unfortunate, but it is the dilemma in which the House finds itself. There is no escape.
I have done my best to answer the question put to me. I have submitted to the House the case for this paragraph upon the footing that if the inspector is to be able to carry out his duties he must have at least those powers. If it is found —and this is an argument which one should not use unless it is absolutely necessary—that the system does lead to abuses, the provision can be altered in the future. I quite agree that is not the perfect argument, because one does not want to amend legislation, but one is now making a guess—we are trying to forecast the future and we say, "We think this will work," and we further say with much more confidence, "If it does not work, it will be extremely difficult to administer this Act." Making that forecast, that we think it will work, and upon the basis of that forecast, my answer to the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington is that we must have these powers. Therefore, the argument which he based against this Clause upon the view that the powers are unnecessary and therefore if unnecessary, indefensible, does not hold water in this case because, if the inspector is to do what he is charged with doing, he cannot do it unless he has the powers given to him by subparagraph (c).
There is one point which I think the House should realise before we go to a Division, and it was put with much aptitude by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) if I may say so. It is quite true, as has been admitted in the Debate, that there is one precedent for a paragraph of this nature in a very limited area, but the House has never before been asked to pass a paragraph of this character at any time in its history in respect of the whole population. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne pointed out that under this paragraph we are giving the inspector against a possible malingerer more power than we give to the police against a possible murderer. Why is that so?
Yes, I said specifically there had been one case. If I may say so, the right hon. Gentleman—and I do not blame him—was in such urgent consultation with other Members of the Front Bench to know what the Government should do, that he did not listen to what I said. What I said was that there had been examples, but. in a much narrower area than this, and I return to my original point—
At any rate it has never been passed by this House. I was not a Member of the caretaker Government, and I am entitled, as is every other hon. Member, to call attention to what this Bill is doing, as did the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. Therefore, I repeat the statement, and I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to deny it, that this Government is trying to do something which possibly the caretaker Government tried to do—I do not care if it did or not—he is asking the House to give to the inspector against a possible malingerer powers that this House has always refused to the police against the possible murderer, for the historic and constitutional reason that, when Sir Robert Peel brought in a Bill originally establishing the Police Force, efforts were made to give the police powers not possessed by ordinary members of the public. Again and again we were told that it would be contrary to the whole spirit of British ideas that there should be police in this country like the Continental police. That is what the Government are seeking to do in respect of an inspector—[Hon. Members: "They are not "]. Yes, certainly, seeking to give powers
They have not, except in respect of one very narrow area. If the House doesnot accept the arguments which have been put forward, not by one side but, one might say. all sides of the House against this, the country will take note of it and will be very disturbed at this evidence of interference with the rights of the ordinary citizen and subject to a degree which is not necessary in order to carry out the effective administration of this Measure.
I think the Solicitor-General has dealt fairly and very fully and, I think, very convincingly with the legal arguments on this point. It remains for me to say a word, since I detect that in the last few speeches an attempt to give a political colour to this matter, and it may be that tomorrow there will be a great Tory campaign to defend the liberty of the individual against the Labur Party. I became Minister of National Insurance in August of last year, and I found that there had already been introduced in the House in June the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Bill which converted the workmen's compensation system of the past into this new social service. Therefore it became essential to put into this Bill a provision to vest powers in inspectors. I discussed with my advisers, as had my predecessor, what these powers should be, and I discussed, too, what was very relevant—should we include new powers in this Bill? Since we are converting workmen's compensation into social insurance it seemed to me clear. We have other insurance scheme; of this kind. National Insurance goes back to 1911, Unemployment Insurance to 1912, and schemes which have since then been coordinated and consolidated by more than one Government to work those Acts which are a parallel to this. The real parallel to this Bill are the existing social insurance schemes.
What were the powers given to inspectors under those schemes? The powers given to inspectors under those Acts are exactly the powers which we have given them in this Bill. They have been there in Health Insurance since 1911 and nobody has discovered that they have destroyed the liberty of the subject; they have been there in Unemployment. Insurance since 1912, and nobody has discovered that they have destroyed the liberty of the subject. My hon. Friends here, and outside the House, who belong to the trade unions have had vast and continuous experience in dealing with problems arising under the Unemployment and Health Insurance Acts, and if there was abuse of powers I can assure the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) that in the last 38 years the trade unionists of this country would have found that these powers given to inspectors were oppressive and helped to depress the worker. But there has not been a single complaint in the whole of the period that the powers have been used in that way. Therefore I came to the conclusion that if these powers had been found desirable and necessary in working the Health Insurance Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act, those powers ought to be taken over now that we are converting workmen's compensation into a social insurance measure.
When I interrupted the Noble Lord I said that in a sense I had inherited this Bill. I believe I have improved my inheritance; I have tried, anyhow. I find that a National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Bill containing a Clause in exactly the same words was introduced into this House in June. It was presented by Mr. Hore-Belisha, supported by the Prime Minister of that day, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson), by the then Attorney-General, Sir Donald Somervell, and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake). That Clause has been there all this time. The important thing for me to remember as Minister was that I was now bringing this service of treatment and payment for the injured into the field of social insurance; therefore, what powers were essential in order to work this scheme? Surely the right thing for me to do was the thing which right hon. Gentlemen opposite did when they presented the Bill in June. If in the last 38 years it had been found necessary to have a Clause of this kind, and if in that period it had not been abused but had been found to be of assistance in working the scheme, and the object of the scheme is to benefit the people, therefore I thought I was indeed on safe ground in incorporating in the Bill which I presented a Clause in exactly the same words as had been incorporated in previous legislation.
This. Bill has to go to another place; I do not propose to give any undertaking at all that we shall withdraw this Clause. I want to be perfectly sure that the Minister and the officers who work under him have the necessary power to work the scheme successfully, and so far I have been influenced by the fact that these powers have been taken before, but I leave it to the Solicitor-General and if between now and consideration of the Bill in another place we find that the words can be changed, we will look at that. But, if the House is to divide, I give no undertaking I am not going to be responsible for launching a scheme and not taking powers which have been necessary hitherto. I am making that perfectly clear, we are not concerned with seeing that powers are taken in this Bill to interrogate workmen. I know what this means. I know what the existing Workmen's Compensation Act means. Too often a man has had a cheque put before him and has to sign on the dotted line. That is the kind of tyranny we are going to abolish. We do not want to tyrannise anybody, we want to safeguard everybody. The Solicitor-General will look at it again and see if the words are not necessary, and if other words would be better, very well. I believe that the making of this scheme is essentially a matter of supreme importance and I do not want to be denied any powers if I require to have them.
I am very glad the Minister has said that he will give this matter further consideration. All of us are very anxious that this Bill should be an effective and efficient Measure. There is no desire, certainly on my part, to do anything which will lessen its effectiveness. I certainly did not think that this was an occasion for throwing words from one party to another. I did not do that, but certain speakers began—what I am accustomed to in this House—to sneer at the principles for which I and my
We were not satisfied with the Solicitor-General's speech. I am asking the Minister, with legal assistance, to make quite sure that the powers that are being given to him to enter the premises of "A" should not permit investigations by "B," which are to be not only into injuries, but into causes of disease and things of that kind. What we objected to was the power for someone appointed by the Minister to interrogate a person and ask any questions and threaten him with the pains and penalties of the criminal law. That is bad enough, and then the man, having answered, is to be told, without any caution, that he must sign and, if he does not, that he will go to prison. I appeal to the Minister to look into the matter again. I am certain he will find it is not necessary to take these extraordinary powers in this case. With that assurance from the Minister, I should be prepared, if the House will give leave, to let this be as it is in the hands of the Minister, accepting his assurance that he does not desire any other powers.
|Division No. 80.]||AYES.||[6.56 p.m.|
|Adams, H. R. (Balham)||Belcher, J. W.||Brook, D. (Halifax)|
|Adamson, Mrs. J. L.||Bellenger, F. J.||Brooks, T J. (Rothwell)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Benson, G.||Brown, George (Belper)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Berry, H.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Beswick, Flt.-Lieut. F.||Brown, W. J. (Rugby)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Bing, Capt. G. H. C.||Buchanan, G.|
|Austin, H. L||Binns, J||Burden, T. W.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Blackburn, Capt. A. R.||Burke, W. A.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Blenkinsop, Capt. A.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney,S.)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Blyton, W. R.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.|
|Baird, Capt. J.||Boardman, H.||Champion, A. J.|
|Balfour, A.||Bottomley, A. G.||Chater, D.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Chetwynd, Capt. G. R|
|Barstow, P. G.||Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Clitherow, Dr R|
|Barton, C.||Braddock, Mrs. EM.(L'p'l,Exeh'ge)||Cluse, W. S.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Cobb, F. A.|
|Cooks, F. S.||Kenyon, C.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Coldrick, W.||Key, C. W.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Collide, P.||King, E. M.||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Collindridge, F.||Kinley, J.||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Colman, Miss G. M||Kirby, B. V.||Segal, Sq.-Ldr. S.|
|Comyns, Dr. L||Lavers, S.||Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.|
|Cook, T. F.||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens)|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Cove, W. G.||Leonard, W.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Crawley, Flt.-Lieut. A||Leslie, J. R.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Daggar, G.||Levy, B. W.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Daines, P.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Smith, Capt. C. (Colchester)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lindgren, G. S.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Logan, D. G.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Deer, G.||Longden, F.||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lyne, A. W.||Solley, L. J.|
|Delargy, Captain H. J.||McAdam, W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Diamond, J.||McAllister, G.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Dobbie, W.||McEntee, V. La T.||Stamford, W.|
|Donovan, T.||McGhee, H. G.||Steele, T.|
|Douglas, F. C. R.||McGovern, J.||Stephen, C.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Mack, J. D||Stross, Dr. B|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Durbin, E. F. M.||McKinlay, A S.||Symonds Maj. A. L.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Edelman, M.||McLeavy, F.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacMillan, M. K.||Thomas, ivor (Keighley)|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Thomas, l. O (Wrekin)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Mathers, G.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)|
|Ewart, R.||Mayhew, C. P.||Thorneycroft, H.|
|Fairhurst, F.||Madland, H. M||Thurtle, E.|
|Farthing, W. J.||Messer, F.||Tiffany, S.|
|Follick, M.||Mitchison, Maj. G. R.||Timmons, J.|
|Foot, M. M.||Monslow, W.||Titterington, M. F|
|Forman, J. C.||Montague. F.||Tolley, L.|
|Foster, W. (Wigal)||Moody, A. S.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Morgan, Dr. H. B||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Morley, R.||Ungoed-Thomas, L|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Usborne, Henry|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Vernon, Maj.W. F.|
|Gibbins, J.||Mort, D. L.||Viant, S. P.|
|Gilzean, A.||Moyle, A.||Walker, G. H.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Murray, J. D.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Nally, W.||Wallace, H. W (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C||Naylor, T. E.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Grey, C. F.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Grierson, E.||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Watson, W. M.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Weitzman, D.|
|Griffiths, Capt. W. D. (Moss Side)||O'Brien, T.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Haire, Flt.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe)||Oldfield, W. H.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Hale, Leslie||Oliver, G. H.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Orbach, M.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Wilkes, Maj. L.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Palmer, A. M. F.||Wilkinson, Rt. Hon. Ellen|
|Haworth, J.||Pargiter, G. A.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Parker, J.||Willey, O G. (Cleveland)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Parkin, Flt.-Lieut. B. T||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Hicks, G.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Pearson, A.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Holman, P.||Perrins, W.||Willis, E.|
|House, G.||Popplewell, E.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Hoy, J.||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J|
|Hubbard, T.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Eating, W.)||Price, M. P.||Woodburn, A.|
|Hughes, Emrys||Proctor, W. T.||Wyatt, Maj. W.|
|Hughes, Lt. H. D. (Wolverh'ton, W.)||Ranger, J.||Yates, V. F.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Rankin, J.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Janner, B.||Rees-Williams, Lt.-Col. D. R.||Younger, Maj. Hon. K. G.|
|Jeger, Capt. G. (Winchester)||Reeves, J.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St, Pancras, S.E.)||Reid, T. (Swindon)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Rhodes, H.||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Richards, R.||Captain Michael Stewart.|
|Jones, Asterley (Hitchin)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Keenan W.||Robens, A.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Hare, Lieut.-Col. H. J. H. (W'db'ge)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Head, Brig. A. H.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Pitman, l. J.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hollis, Sqn.-Ldr. M. C.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Hope, Lord J.||Prescott, W. R. S.|
|Birch, Lt.-Col. Nigel||Howard, Hon. A.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Boothby, R.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Maj. J. A.||Hurd, A.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Jennings, R.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Keeling, E. H.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Renton, D.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'flr'n W'ld'n)||Lambert, Hon. G.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Byers, Lt.-Col. F.||Langford-Holt, J.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland|
|Carson, E.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Ross, Sir R.|
|Challen, Flt.-Lieut. C.||Legge-Bourke, Mai. E. A. H.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Clarke, Col. R S.||Lindsay, Lt.-Col. M. (Solihull)||Scott, Lord W.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Linstead, H. N.||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lipson, D. L.||Shepherd, Lieut. W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Mac Andrew, Col. Sir C.||Spence, Maj. H. R.|
|Crowder, Capt. J. F. E..||Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (l. of Wight)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Mackeson, Lt.-Col. H. R.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||MacLeod, capt. J.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Digby, Maj. S. W.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. (Penrith)||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Drayson, Capt. G. B.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Marples, Capt. A. E.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C N|
|Eccles, D. M.||Marshall, Comdr. D. (Bodmin)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Maude, J. C.||Touche, G. C.|
|Erroll, Col. F. J.||Mellor, Sir J.||Turton, R. H.|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Molson, A. H. E.||Vane, Lieut.-Col. W. M. T.|
|Fox, Sqn.-Ldr. Sir G.||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Gage, Lt.-Col. C.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Neven-Spence, Major Sir B.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Nicholson, G.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gridley, Sir A.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon Sir H.||Young, Sir A. S. L (Partick)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Orr-Ewing, l L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.||Osborne, C.||Mr. Drewe and.|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Major Mott-Radclyffe|
Question put, and agreed to.
I beg to move, in page 44, line 16, leave out paragraphs (b) and (c).
I propose to do this very shortly in view of the long time taken on the Debate on the previous Amendment. I am moving this Amendment because, as in the previous case, the powers in the Clause are much too wide. I hope, however, that the Minister will not get up and tell us that this is a similar provision, that these are all similar provisions. Of course they are. That is the whole of the trouble. These are the kind of provisions which any Executive in any Government introduce in this kind of Bill, It does not matter what Government is in power. I am making no complaint, and no attack upon the Parliamentary draftsmen, for whom I have a very great respect. It is amazing how they know about these little odd Clauses in various odd Acts of Parliament. When they are asked by a Ministry to prepare a Bill, they put in those Clauses which are relevant, and which they say have never yet been challenged. That is how these provisions have come into this Bill. Thank goodness we have Ministers whose purpose is to defend the House and the country against technicians who will introduce regulations which please them, but which may endanger the individual.
Will the Minister look into this matter in another place, and see if these paragraphs are not much too wide for his purpose? As they stand, a person is bound to answer any question, and if he fails to do so, or to furnish any information, or to produce any document, or to sign any declaration when called upon to do so, under this Clause it is provided that he shall be liable on summary conviction. As to "any question" the only one the layman usually thinks of is the kind one cannot answer by saying "Yes" or "No." Their favourite one is, "Have you stopped beating your wife? "I am only using that as showing the width of the words used in this Clause. Then, to take the provisions about furnishing any information if the person concerned fails to do so, not wilfully refuses, but just fails, he is liable to summary conviction. As to the liability to produce any document he may say, "I cannot produce it, it is lost, it is destroyed." Nevertheless he has to produce that document. It is no use the hon. Member shaking his head. If he can give any other interpretation of this Clause, I would like to hear it. "Any document" means "any document and if he fails to produce it he fails to produce it—not "wilfully fails to produce it," which is an entirely different thing.
Indeed it does, but here it is not a question of impossibility. As to the provision about intention to conceal any person, the kind of person who may get into difficulties in that respect is a parent. They are the only persons who might try to conceal something which they thought it would be better to conceal. Paragraph (c) also makes it an offence to prevent or attempt to prevent any person from appearing before or being examined by an inspector. I ask the Minister to consider whether this Clause as at present drafted is not much too wide, and whether in another place he will consider either limiting it or doing away with it altogether.
I gave an undertaking to look at the words again, but I want it to be understood that that is not a pledge That was accepted by the hon. and learned Member; it was not accepted by the right hon. Gentleman, who pressed his Amendment to a Division. I have now said that I give again the kind of undertaking which I gave in respect of the hon. and learned Member's previous Amendment, which satisfied him.
I beg to move, in page 45, line 32, leave out from "upon," to end of Clause, and insert:
such documents used in connection with business under this Act as are specified in the  Schedule (Documents exempt from stamp duty) to this Act.
This Amendment is consequential arising from the insertion of the new Clause dealing with supplementary schemes. It arises from the power taken to set up these supplementary schemes.
I beg to move, in page46, line 45, at end. insert:
(b) affixes any used insurance stamp to any insurance card; or.
May I also refer to the next Amendment in the Minister's name, in page 47, line 30, after the second "been" insert affixed to an insurance card or."
These two Amendments really hang together, and they bring this Bill into line with Clause 51 of the National Insurance Bill, enabling proceedings to be taken under this Measure, and as an alternative to proceedings under the Stamp Duties (Amendment) Acts.
I beg to move, in page 52, line 20, at beginning, insert:
for excepting from insurance mariners or airmen who neither are domiciled nor have a place of residence in the United Kingdom or.
This Amendment is to provide for the exemption of non-domiciled seamen from paying insurance. Under the Bill as it now stands the employee is covered, but the employer is compelled to pay his portion of the insurance. Representations were made to my right hon. Friend by various shipping interests that this should not be included in the Bill. Consultations have taken place with the National Union of Seamen, and both sides of the industry agree, that this is a fair and reasonable Amendment. We recommend it to the House, it having been asked for by the industry and accepted by the Minister.
I beg to move, in page 55, line 40, leave out "1943," and insert "I945."
This is a drafting Amendment, arising from the fact that just before the Christ- mas Recess this House passed an amending Act to the Pneumoconiosis Act to enable new persons to be brought within the 1943 Act who were excluded by reason of war service. It is purely a drafting Amendment.
I beg to move, in page 56, line 9, at end, insert:
(2) On the making of any such arrangements there shall be constituted a Joint Authority (hereafter in this Act referred to as ' the Joint Authority ') consisting of the Minister and of the appropriate authority in Northern Ireland, and the Joint Authority shall have power, in connection with the arrangements—
We might perhaps consider this and the following Amendments together. The purpose is to make arrangements in this Bill, as in the National Insurance Bill, to co-ordinate reciprocal arrangements with the Government of Northern Ireland. The Government of Northern Ireland have indicated that they propose to introduce legislation covering the same wide field, and it became essential, in order that arrangements in the future, as in the past, should be of the same cordial character of coordination, to incorporate a new Clause, and this will meet the circumstances.
In page 56, line 19, at end, insert:
(b) for determining, in cases where rights accrue both under this Act and under the Northern Irish legislation, which of those rights shall be available to the person concerned.
In line 23, at end, insert:
and that the joint authority shall be substituted for the Minister in relation to the making of any regulations (other than regulations providing for such a substitution).
In line 24, leave out paragraph (c).— [Mr. J. Griffiths.]
I beg to move, in page 57, line 1, leave out from beginning to end of Clause, and insert:
(2) The modifications of this Act which may be made by virtue of the foregoing Subsection shall include provision—
This has the same purpose— reciprocal arrangements with Dominions and other countries. These words are included because they are the words which were found suitable for the National Insurance Bill.
I beg to move, in page 59, line 42, at end, insert:
(b) a person shall be deemed to be between any two ages therein mentioned if he has attained the first mentioned age and has not attained the second mentioned age.
We now have a new age group and. these words are consequential on the arrangements which have been made.
- 1.The Joint Authority shall be a body corporate by the name of "the Industrial Injuries joint Authority ", and shall have an official seal which shall be officially and judicially noticed, and the seal of the Authority may be authenticated by either member of, or the secretary to, the Authority, or by any person authorised by the Authority to act on behalf of the secretary.
- 2.Either member of the Joint Authority shall be entitled, subject to and in accordance with any rules laid down by the Authority, to appoint a deputy to act for him at meetings of the Authority at which he is unable to be present.
- 3. The Documentary Evidence Act, 1868, shall apply to the Joint Authority as if that Authority were included in the first column of the Schedule to the said Act, and as if either member or the secretary, or any person authorised to act on behalf of the secretary, of the Authority were mentioned in the second column of that Schedule, and as if the regulations referred to in that Act included any document issued by the Authority.— [Mr. Lindgren.]
I may be wrong, but there seems to be a very small clerical error, by the omission in paragraph 3, line 3, of the word "a." Surely it should read "as if either a member or the secretary.…" I do not think it is meant to be "either member or the secretary."
I beg to move, in page68, leave out line 9.
This Amendment and the following Amendments arise from the Amendment which was accepted by the House during its discussions yesterday on the change of the basis of assessment of disablement benefit arising from injuries. The Amendment is accordingly consequential.
I beg to move, in page69, line 14, leave out:
or to an allowance under the said Section twenty-four.
The effect of the Amendment will be that the allowance referred to will be paid irrespective of whether a pension, gratuity or allowance is being paid to another person in respect of the same death.
In page 69, line 20, at end insert:
(2) The death benefit payable as aforesaid by way of relatives' gratuities shall not exceed fifty-two pounds, except where either—
(3) The limits imposed by the last foregoing sub-paragraph may be applied 'either by excluding from the right to a gratuity some of the persons satisfying the conditions for receipt thereof, or by reducing in any pro portions the gratuities payable to those persons, or partly in one way and partly in the other; and regulations may make provision as to the manner in which any of the limits imposed by this paragraph are to be applied in any prescribed circumstances.
6.—1) A person shall be treated for the purposes of this Schedule as satisfying the conditions for the receipt of a pension under the said Section twenty-three notwithstanding that he is a child, if he may satisfy those conditions on ceasing to be a child.
- (2)The provision of this Schedule limiting the number of persons entitled to a pension under the said Section twenty-three shall not preclude a person from becoming so entitled on ceasing to be a child by reason only of some other person having previously been so entitled.
- (3)For the purposes of sub-paragraph (2) of the last foregoing paragraph, any pension or gratuity under the said Section twenty- three to which a person may become entitled on ceasing to be a child shall be disregarded.
In page 69, line 21, leave out from the beginning to end of sub-paragraph, and insert:
(1) Where a person entitled, or who may become entitled, to any such benefit as is mentioned in this Schedule dies within the prescribed time after the deceased without being awarded that benefit, that person shall be disregarded for the purposes of this Schedule, except in so far as it relates to an allowance under Section twenty-one of this Act:
Provided that where an award of benefit in respect of the deceased's death, based on the fact that that person was or might become entitled as aforesaid, has been made in favour of some other person, the death of the first-mentioned person shall not affect that award so as to deprive that other person of any benefit thereby awarded, except where, by reason of the first-mentioned person's death, a further award of benefit of a different description is made on review in favour of that other person."— [Mr. Lindgren.]