Clause 4. — (Superannuation, &C., Rights.)

Orders of the Day — Coal Industry Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th July 1949.

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Lords Amendment: In page 5, line 16, at end, insert: () The power conferred by paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of the said section thirty-seven to provide for the continuance, amendment or revocation of existing schemes or other arrangements for the provision of pensions, gratuities or other like benefits and of trust deeds, rules or other instruments made for the purposes thereof, and for the transfer or extinguishment of liabilities under, and the transfer or winding up of funds held for the purposes of, any such schemes or arrangements shall be exercisable in relation to schemes or other arrangements for the provision of such benefits in favour of—

  1. (a) persons to whom subsection (2) of that section, as amended by this section, applies; and
  2. (b) persons, other than as aforesaid, taken into the employment of the Board before the commencement of this Act, being persons who had been in employment in, or in connection with, coal industry activities or transferred allied activities;
or in favour of other persons by reference to the employment of such persons as aforesaid, to trust deeds, rules or other instruments made for the purposes of any such schemes or arrangements and to liabilities thereunder and funds held for the purposes thereof, but shall not be exercisable in relation to any other schemes or arrangements or instruments, liabilities or funds.

Photo of Sir Frank Soskice Sir Frank Soskice , Birkenhead East

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The object of this Amendment is simply to cut down, or rather to clarify, the effect of a provision in Section 37 of the Coal Industry (Nationalisation) Act. It is subsection (1, c), and as it reads at present, it might enable—although that effect is not intended by the Government—compensation rights to be taken over in circumstances which are not approved. This Amendment cuts down the scope of this subsection, relating it more closely to the purpose which the Government have in mind. It provides that it can only be operated in connection with the persons set out in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b).

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

There is one point about this Amendment. About five lines down, it turns to the matter of compensation. Before we agree with this Amendment, I think we should be quite sure that all the various unions who might have been interested in the matter have been consulted. We ought to know whether the Government have consulted those unions, so that we may be sure that all the miners, or anyone else affected, do not lose. If the matter has been gone into, they may be secure. There is a compensation system in the coalmining industry, which is well represented by hon. Members on the other side of the House, and it is well that the Tory Members should watch these matters as well.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 5, line 41, leave out "as" and insert, "fair and reasonable."

Photo of Mr Alfred Robens Mr Alfred Robens , Wansbeck

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

It will be within the recollection of the House that an hon. Member moved an Amendment to provide for arbitration in respect of certain persons concerned with pension rights, or expectations which they might have. We promised at that time, although that Amendment was rejected, that we would look into the point and, therefore, this Amendment has been produced.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

Might I ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he is satisfied that this Amendment applies to everybody covered by Section 37 (1) of the parent Act? I ask this because in the previous Amendment everybody is covered by subsection (2). Is there nobody who, having been employed in coalmining activities before the taking over, is rendered redundant? It is a most important point, because the Amendment refers to persons to whom Section 37 (2) applies. One will see in paragraph (a), of the previous Amendment: …to whom subsection (2) of that section, as amended by this section, applies.… Does that cover everybody who has been made redundant? Has everybody who is made redundant the right to benefits not less advantageous? We think it is a matter of elementary justice that everybody should be covered.

12.15 a.m.

Photo of Sir Frank Soskice Sir Frank Soskice , Birkenhead East

The Clause relates to Section 37 (2) and I think that if the hon. Member will analyse the provisions of subsection (2), he will see that it includes those persons who are specified in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1).

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 6, line 2, at end, insert: and (in such cases and to such extent as may be specified in the regulations) taking into account, as regards the amount thereof, any loss of benefits which might have been expected to accrue by virtue of employment after the expiration of the period aforesaid.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment has been inserted to make clear that it was our intention that in assessing compensation for cesser of a person's expectation of pension, we had no intention of excluding that part of his expectation attributable to future service. It is true that in the Bill as originally drafted the reference in it, which was to guide the referee, was to the past emoluments and services of the individual. But we had never any intention, and I think I made that clear myself at an earlier stage, of disregarding all expectation of future advance and so on that there might be.

In point of fact, the schemes established by the National Coal Board did in suitable cases take into account the future expectation of the individual, and, of course, the same thing applies in comparable regulations for compensation made under the Electricity Act. We shall have to provide in the regulations for the conditions which are to apply in this matter. We cannot obviously in this Bill lay down exactly how a person's future service expectations are to be valued, the way they are to be taken into account, and so on. When the amended regulations are made, following this Bill, they will be subject to a negative Resolution. If the Opposition are dissatisfied then, they can put down a Prayer and we can have a full discussion on it. But it is my in- tention that at the moment these regulations should follow, broadly speaking, what has been the practice of the Coal Board under their present scheme which in certain suitable cases takes into account the future service expectations and shall also follow the compensation regulations to the Electricity Act where a person's future expectations under certain specified conditions are taken into account.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

All I can say about the speech we have just listened to is it is a great pity the Minister did not make it in the course of the earlier proceedings. It is a pity he did not accept the Amendment which the Opposition put forward, designed to make the position clear. Those who were present during the Committee stage upstairs will remember that far from the Minister expressing the views he now puts forward, he definitely stated that although the original pledge under the nationalisation Act had been carried out, no pledge had been given that the Government would not introduce subsequently legislation to change that pledge.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

"Clarify" was the word I used.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

That is a nice distinction without a difference. The Solicitor-General went on to agree that in fact it was a distinction without a difference because he said, it will be remembered, that the result of this new scheme might well be that some people would benefit and others would suffer.

I am glad to say that, as a result of the Debate in another place, the Lord Chancellor saw fit to change the attitude of the Government. I am particularly concerned by the later statement which the Minister made about what his intentions were when he brought in the new regulations. The House will perhaps permit me to read the statement made by the Lord Chancellor. I hope that we can take it that the Minister proposes to carry out the pledge given by the Lord Chancellor in the course of discussions in another place, because I think it is only fair to everyone concerned that we should get a specific statement from the Minister concerned who will introduce the new regulations, that he agrees with, will be guided by and will fully implement the pledge given by the Lord Chancellor. In column 640 of the OFFICIAL REPORT on Thursday, 12th May, he said: I do not want to rule out"—

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I thought that it was out of Order to quote from the Proceedings of another place.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

Not when a Minister has special responsibility. It is in Order in the case of a Minister.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

It is a specific statement of policy about what the Government intend by these regulations. The Lord Chancellor said: I do not want to rule out an expectation. I want these men to be compensated fairly and reasonably for everything they have lost, including their expectation. That is very different from what the Minister said during the Debate in this House. In column 644, the Lord Chancellor said: Frankly, it is not my intention here to do down any of these people. During the discussions here, the Solicitor-General thought that some of these men might be done down. The Lord Chancellor said: Frankly, it is not my intention here to do down any of these people. I think we can easily agree that the compensation a man should receive should be no less than he would have received if he had been dismissed by his old employer without the Coal Board having come into it. I hope that before we conclude the proceedings here we shall get from the Minister or the Solicitor-General an assurance that the regulations submitted will carry out the pledge given by the Lord Chancellor.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

If I may reply by leave of the House, I really have nothing to add to what I have said already. I cannot see that a statement by my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor to the effect, for example, that a man would, he hoped, be treated as well as he would have been treated by a colliery company which dismissed him, is likely to cause us any serious embarrassment, because I think that the colliery company would have been very unlikely to have helped him at all in such a case. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The whole problem arises from interpreting precisely those particular phrases. How can we say here and now what a colliery company would have done? We cannot deal with it entirely on that basis.

I have said already that we shall make regulations. These will be debatable in the House if the Opposition wish to debate them, and so far as I can see at present—I do not want to go into detail tonight, for that would be impossible—they will follow broadly the present schemes of the National Coal Board, which, as far as I am aware, have been regarded as entirely satisfactory, and the regulations made under the Electricity Act. It would obviously be quite wrong to make compensation regulations for coal wholly different to those in respect of the electricity and transport or other nationalisation Acts. As for the details, I must ask hon. Members opposite to wait for the regulations themselves.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

May I clarify what I said just now? A statement of policy by a Minister in another place is quotable. It is, however, another matter when he makes a debating speech; that is not a statement of Government policy, and it should not really he quoted in this House.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

These two statements were made by the Lord Chancellor in another debate in order to explain that he was meeting the desires of the Opposition in these Amendments which were substituted for some earlier Amendments that the Opposition moved. These were designed by the Government to be put forward in order to carry out the desires expressed by the Opposition. The Lord Chancellor explained that in these words, and therefore I take it that we are entitled to ask the Minister whether he intends to stand by the words of the Lord Chancellor.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

It is difficult to decide whether a debating speech was a statement of policy, but we must not take those words as obiter dicta.

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Bournemouth

The Lord Chancellor is a member of the Cabinet and was speaking for the Government. He is a very hard-working man: he has to do the work of many Ministers and he advises the Government on many Departmental matters. He speaks for the Government with an authority greater than that of the Minister because he is a member of the Cabinet. He has given a definite pledge. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite noticed that the Minister qualified that pledge. He said that "at the moment" he thought he could incorporate this pledge, but it is not good enough. I do ask the Minister now to clarify this point.

A member of the Government and a member of the Cabinet has given a solemn assurance, and we are perfectly within our rights to ask the Minister whether he endorses that pledge. He can do so in the simplest of language. He can say "yes."

If there is to be more quibbling about compensation, the Minister can remove all doubts by reiterating the promise made by his senior colleague. If he is not prepared to do so, then we on this side of the House will certainly raise this matter again and this Government will appear as a strange spectacle to the world—that of the Lord Chancellor giving a solemn promise and the weeping and wailing Minister of Fuel and Power refusing to endorse a senior colleague. Why does he not say "yes"?

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

There is nothing strange about the spectacle of the right hon. Gentleman once again completely misunderstanding the whole situation. It really is quite impossible for me to comment on two or three sentences extracted from what I certainly would not regard as being an important statement of policy made in another place. Furthermore, I have listened very carefully to what the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) said, and I can only repeat what I said a moment or two ago and I do not see that that gets us any further. We shall make these regulations. They will follow broadly the lines of the schemes now operated by the Coal Board and laid down in the Electricity regulations. The details can be considered later on, but I have no more to say on this subject now.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

The right hon. Gentleman wanted to exclude what was said in another place and that was rather suspicious: he will not answer a straight question put by my right hon. Friend. Is he prepared to give an assurance in the same terms? Why is he not prepared to do so, because the regulations he has issued and the scheme he has prepared cut down compensation to very much less than any employer would give any dismissed employee—[Interruption.] They do—I have it here. I have studied a copy of the regulations and they cut it down to very much less, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it. I cannot read the whole of the regulations, but here they are. They were issued on 8th December, 1948, and that is what the trouble has been about all along. It is why the Minister makes his debating point.

12.30 a.m.

Is it an answer to the question whether he is prepared to give the same compensation as a colliery company would have given to say, "We need not bother about the colliery company: they would not have given anybody anything"? It is a debating point, a good scoring off point, but it is not an answer to the question. A colliery company would give a certain amount of compensation, or if it was left to arbitration the arbitrator would have to decide what amount of compensation should be paid. He could answer the question of compensation.

The right hon. Gentleman knows that these regulations do not provide enough. Is he going to alter them in the light of what was said in another place? Or is that why he tries to keep it from discussion by this false point of Order? We sometimes try that in court. When something which is not liked is going to be quoted, up jumps a barrister and says "I object. That is contrary to the rules of evidence." If it agrees with what he believes he will say he accepts it. But he does not make a cheap debating point. Is the Minister prepared to say that the principle is right that the National Coal Board will give the same amount of compensation as a colliery company would have given, and if there is a dispute it will go to arbitration? What does he say about that?

Photo of Mr Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre Mr Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre , New Forest and Christchurch

In the original Bill I think the position was clear. No one employed by a colliery company would be worse off because the company was taken over by the Coal Board. It was a simple position. During the discussion on this Bill the Solicitor-General, in column 374, made it clear that under the new proposal of the Government people might be worse off or they might not be. He went on to say—about half way down that column—that it was not possible for the Government to define the term "expectation." Therefore, when this Bill left this House the Government had altered their first undertaking in the Coal Nationalisation Act, 1946, and had definitely changed and modified for the worse the expectation of people in that industry. It was a clear position.

This Bill went to another place, and despite what the Minister has said, he will see at columns 1189 and 1190 of the Lords HANSARD, that the Lord Chancellor made quite clear that in view of what had been said in that House, he was going to ensure that no one with expectations should be worsened because of anything in the Bill we are now discussing. It seems to me that the problem is that the Solicitor-General in this House has said he cannot define "expectations" and that some people may be worse off, while the Lord Chancellor in another place has given a specific undertaking, speaking for the Government, that nobody is to be worse off, and, therefore, the right of expectation is acknowledged.

May I ask the Minister to answer a question? Does the Lord Chancellor's statement mean that the difficulties the Solicitor-General found have now been overcome and the position has reverted to exactly what it was when the original Act was passed in 1946? That is a simple question which has nothing to do with regulations, future suppositions, or mythical things. Does the statement of the Lord Chancellor bind His Majesty's Government in this House or not?

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

I thought there was something suspicious when the Government refused to answer another question on compensation. This is a very interesting position. We are accepting this Amendment, apparently on behalf of the Government and on behalf of everyone in the House, for the purpose of giving compensation under certain circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill when asked if he would back the statement made by a senior member of the Government in another place, told us just now to wait for the regulations. That is not the right way to treat the House of Commons, which has a perfect right to look after the interests of the ordinary people of this country and, when there is legislation of this kind, has the right and duty to see that the Government pay fair compensation.

There is here a curious position in which a junior Minister of this House is refusing to say whether what was said by a senior Minister in another place is right or not. That is a clear instance of division among the Government. Would the Home Secretary be in a position to tell us which of the two Ministers is right? In the circumstances it is wrong that the House should be left in complete confusion as to what is happening at this moment. We have already had two distinct speeches from the Minister in charge of the Bill. So far as the position taken up by the Lord Chancellor is concerned, we must in all justice have some answer on behalf of the Government from someone who is really responsible. As I can see no one else here, I am sure that the Home Secretary will stand by either the Lord Chancellor or the Minister in this House. If he does neither we can conclude only that the Government are hopelessly divided.

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Bournemouth

Can I ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker. May I ask—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The Opposition—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

Is the right hon. Member addressing a question to me? If he is asking leave to speak again, it is refused.

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Bournemouth

It will not take more than one second. [Interruption.] Hon. Members have no right to intervene between Mr. Speaker and a Member. In view of the strange noises from opposite, would it be in Order to move to report Progress on this very important matter?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I am afraid not. The right hon. Member has already exhausted his right to speak.

Photo of Mr James Thomas Mr James Thomas , Hereford

May I move to report Progress?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

We cannot report Progress on a matter of this sort; it is the wrong question. One may move that the Debate be adjourned, but that is another matter.

Photo of Mr Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre Mr Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre , New Forest and Christchurch

I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

Question put.

The House divided: Ayes, 19; Noes, 63.

Division No. 211.]AYES[12.42 a.m.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. BrendanHudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Hutchison, Lt.-Cdr. Clark (Edin'gh, W.)Wheatley, Col. M. J. (Dorset. E.)
Clarke, Col. R. S.Lancaster, Col. C. G.Williams, C. (Torquay)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Digby, Simon WingfieldNoble, Comdr A. H. P.Mr. Studholme and
Drewe, C.Orr-Ewing, I. L.Brigadier Mackeson.
Foster, J. G. (Northwich)Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)
NOES
Adams, Richard (Batham)Hardy, E. A.Robens, A.
Bacon, Miss A.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Baird, J.Herbison, Miss M.Royle, C.
Barton, C.Hobson, C. R.Sargood, R.
Bing, G. H. C.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (St Helens)
Binns, J.Houghton, DouglasSimmons, C. J.
Blenkinsop, A.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Skeffington, A. M.
Braddook, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Snow, J. W.
Collindridge, F.Keenan, W.Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Collins, V. J.Kinley, J.Sylvester, G. O.
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)McLeavy, F.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Cullen, Mrs. A.Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Davies, Harold (Leek)Mann, Mrs. J.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Delargy, H. J.Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Mitchison, G. R.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Farthing, W. J.Nally, W.Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Neal, H. (Claycross)Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Gibson, C. W.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Grierson, E.Pearson, A.
Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Price, M. PhilipsTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Randall, H. E.Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Wilkins.

Question again proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

12.45 a.m.

Photo of Colonel Sir Ralph Clarke Colonel Sir Ralph Clarke , East Grinstead

Through the fog of war which has descended on the House I discern one thing, that is, that there will be great disappointment among a number of people tomorrow when they read this Debate. On the day on which this Bill was brought in there was great anxiety among ex-colliery people as to what their position was. Many of them read the Debate in another place and felt very much reassured. They believed that the Debate tonight was really just a formality, in which the assurance given by the Lord Chancellor would be confirmed, but it appears that that confirmation is not forthcoming and that we have still to await the advent of regulalations before we know where we are.

I suggest that is exactly what the Lord Chancellor wished to avoid. It would not be right to quote what he said in Debate, but the tenor of his remarks was that the matter should be dealt with by the Bill itself and not by regulations. He well knew that regulations are unsatisfactory things. They can be debated in this House, but they cannot be amended. In his wisdom, the Lord Chancellor felt that a decision should be taken there and then. The matter at present is in a very unsatisfactory state, and I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some more explanation than he has done up to the present with regard to his own position in the matter.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

The hon. and gallant Gentleman has exhausted his right to speak. He seconded the Motion that the Debate be adjourned.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I seconded the Motion for the Adjournment, and I have not yet spoken.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

I have already indicated that the hon. and gallant Member has exhausted his right to speak, whether he moved, or seconded, the Adjournment.

Photo of Mr Peter Roberts Mr Peter Roberts , Sheffield Ecclesall

I want to get the position clear, because, as far as I understand the Minister, he is now relying on the regulations which he is going to get under this Amendment. Is that right? Is the right hon. Gentleman relying upon the regulations which he is going to introduce to put into words the intention which the Lord Chancellor, in another place, has enunciated? Am I right in thinking that those regulations will implement what the Lord Chancellor has said in another place? The Minister does not deny that supposition. I therefore assume that it is right. I should, therefore, like to ask him, first, how long we shall have to wait before these regulations will be issued; and, second, can we have any indication from the Parliamentary Secretary, or the Solicitor-General, of how long he imagines we shall have to wait for them.

As far as I can see, this matter has been in a state of indecision for nearly three-and-a-half years. There are people who have been encouraged to think that they were going to get a certain amount of compensation, but then an amending Bill was brought in. I know of two people who were left for two years without any indication of what the Minister was going to do about them. The reason they were left for those two years, as it turned out later, was that a new amending Bill was to be introduced. When that Bill was introduced, there was a certain amount of satisfaction. But now we have got back to a position in which these people have to wait even further for regulations to be enunciated. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary, or the Solicitor-General, will be able to give us some idea when these regulations will be issued because I, for one, am not prepared to accept the Minister's statement unless we can have some indication from him on that matter.

I hope that this Debate will not close before we have had some indication from the Government about its intentions. We have had a definite statement by the Lord Chancellor in another place, which has already been quoted, and which, therefore, I do not propose to give to the House again. This has been followed, as far as we can see, by the Minister making a statement which does not accord with his senior colleague. [An HON. MEMBER: "A repudiation."] It may go even as far as a repudiation. The Minister has not actually gone as far as to say that, but he met it with a stony silence which, perhaps, can be accepted as a repudiation.

I wonder if the Minister has realised that this may have serious consequences? If he is going to treat the Lord Chancellor with such disrespect, it may be that the Lord Chancellor will once again leave the ranks of the Socialist party. That would be sad. I suggest that the Minister should think very carefully before he adopts such a cavalier attitude. I hope that we shall have from some member of the Government an indication of how long it will b3 before the Regulations are introduced, and whether they will enshrine the remarks which the Lord Chancellor made in another place.

Photo of Mr James Thomas Mr James Thomas , Hereford

I think the House has been treated in an extraordinary way. Will the Minister rise and tell us whether he repudiates the statement of the Lord Chancellor? So far we have had no answer from him.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 6, line 22, insert new Clause "A"—(POWER TO PROVIDE FOR ENFORCEMENT AGAINST THE BOARD OF CERTAIN WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION LIABILITIES.)

"(1) If it appears to His Majesty in Council that arrangements have been made—

  1. (a) between the Board and a person who at any time before the primary vesting date was the owner of an interest in property that vested in the Board under the principal Act, for the assumption by the Board of all or any of the workmen's compensation liabilities of that person; or
  2. (b) between the Board and a mutual indemnity association of which any such person as aforesaid is, or was at any time, a member, for the assumption by the Board of all or any of such of the liabilities of the association under a contract of insurance entered into between them and any person (whether such a person as aforesaid or not) whereby he is or was insured against workmen's compensation liabilities to any workmen as, by virtue of the happening of any of the events mentioned in subsection (1) of section seven of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1925 (which relates to bankruptcy, the winding up of companies, etc.), are enforceable against the association by the workmen, their legal personal representatives or their dependants or others to whom or for whose benefit compensation is payable;
he may by Order in Council provide for the enforcement of the liabilities to which the arrangements relate against the Board instead of against that person or, as the case may be, the association, as if the employment out of which the liabilities arise had been employment by the Board instead of by that or some other person or, as the case may be, the Board had subscribed the contract instead of the association and, in connection therewith, for conferring on the Board the rights and remedies which that person or, as the case may be, the association would have had in respect of the liabilities if they had remained enforceable against that person or, as the case may be, the association.

(2) Where the discharge of a workmen's compensation liability which, by virtue of an Order in Council under the foregoing subsection, is rendered enforceable against the Board, is secured by virtue of a compensation trust, the Order may extinguish the liability of the trustees under the trust to make a payment in or towards the discharge of the first-mentioned liability.

(3) Where a person the discharge of any of whose workmen's compensation liabilities is secured by a compensation trust was at any time before the primary vesting date the owner of an interest in property that vested in the Board under the principal Act, the trustees under the trust shall have power, and be deemed always to have had power, to make to the Board, out of the trust fund created for the purposes of the trust, payments in consideration of the assumption by the Board, under arrangements made between the Board and that person, of any of those liabilities of that person the discharge of which is secured by the trust.

(4) An Order in Council under this section may contain such incidental and supplementary provisions as appear to His Majesty in Council to be requisite or expedient for the purposes of the Order, and—

  1. (a) without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision, where an Order in Council under this section makes provision for rendering enforceable against the Board any liabilities of the Durham Colliery Owners' Mutual Protection Association, it may make such provision with respect to the exercise of all or any of the powers conferred by any order under paragraph (16) of the Second Schedule to the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906, on a committee representative of that Association and an association of workmen as appears to His Majesty in Council to be requisite or expedient having regard to the provisions of the Order in Council; and
  2. (b) without prejudice to the generality of the said provision or to the power conferred on His Majesty in Council by subsection (3) of section eighty-nine of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946, to provide for winding up compensation trusts, where an Order in Council under this section extinguishes liabilities of the trustees under such a trust it may, if it appears to His Majesty in Council to be requisite or expedient so to do, provide for the winding up of that trust;
and rules made under section four of the Workmen's Compensation (Coal Mines) Act, 1934, in relation to deposits made under that section by mutual indemnity associations may, notwithstanding the repeal of that Act by the said section eighty-nine, make provision for any matters consequential on the passing of this section.

(5) An Order in Council under this section may be varied or revoked by a subsequent Order in Council thereunder.

(6) In this section—

  1. (a) the expression 'compensation trust' means a compensation trust for the purposes of the Workmen's Compensation (Coal Mines) Act, 1934, and the expression 'mutual indemnity association' has the same meaning as in that Act; and
  2. (b) the expression 'workmen's compensation liability' means a liability under the Workmen's Compensation Acts, 1925 to 1945, or the enactments repealed by the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1925, or the enactments repealed by the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906, but does not include, in relation to any person, any such liability as aforesaid against which he is insured under a contract of insurance subscribed by a person other than a mutual indemnity association;
and references in this section to liabilities shall be construed as including references as well to contingent as to accrued liabilities."

Photo of Mr Alfred Robens Mr Alfred Robens , Wansbeck

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is to deal with the pre-vesting date compensation cases where a colliery mutuals and compensation trust had taken over the responsibility. The National Coal Board now takes over that responsibility, and it is necessary, therefore, that we should have an instrument for the winding up of the mutuals and the dissolution of their funds. This new Clause does that.

Question put, and agreed to.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, may I say, with respect, that I started to rise before the Amendment was put to the vote—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

I must have silence. I put the Amendment slowly to the House, and the right hon. Gentleman did not catch my eye.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

On a point of Order. The right hon. Gentleman was standing up before the voices were collected.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

I have given a Ruling on this matter.

Lords Amendment: In page 6, line 22, after the Amendment last inserted, insert the following new Clause "B" (Repeal of s. 23 of the Act of 1946): Section twenty-three of the principal Act (which imposes restrictions on the disposal of government stock issued to a company in or towards satisfaction of compensation in respect of a transfer to the Board of assets, property, rights and liabilities of the company), and, in section thirty-three of that Act, the words 'stock issued in exchange under subsection (4) of section twenty-three of this Act' in subsection (1), and the words '(other than inalien- able stock)' in subsection (6), are hereby repealed.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is a new Clause, the effect of which is to repeal Section 23 of the principal Act. That Section imposed certain restrictions on the disposal of stock issued to companies in satisfaction of compensation. A position has been reached in which those restrictions are no longer necessary, and we are happy to say good-bye to them.

Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport

As this last Amendment is proposed it is, perhaps, an appropriate moment to call the attention of the few hon. Members remaining on either side of the House to the waste of time which has been involved in the procedure followed in this case. Days and days were spent by the Government in refusing Opposition Amendments, which they have now accepted. The Bill could have been better than it is, but it is now a considerably better Measure than it was originally, despite the waste of time, which we regret.

Question put, and agreed to.

Amendment agreed to.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to [One with Special Entry].

Committee appointed to draw up Reason to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to one of their Amendments to the Bill: Mr. Bracken, Colonel Clarke, Mr. Gaitskell, Mr. Harold Neal and Mr. Sylvester; Three to be the Quorum.—[Mr. Gaitskell.]

Committee to withdraw immediately.

Reason for disagreeing to one of the Lords Amendments reported, and agreed to; to be communicated to the Lords.

Lords Amendment: In page 13, line 36, after "heard," insert: and has, in accordance with the rules regulating the procedure of the tribunal, procured himself to be made a party to the reference.

10.0 p.m.

Mr. Paling:

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment corresponds to the similar Amendment in Clause 11, page 12, line 21. The same conditions of costs are applicable to intervenors under the present Clause as in Clause 11.