I am glad that we are having this debate this evening, but I am rather disappointed so far. The representations that are being made in support of the Prayer are solely on behalf of local authorities and other bodies which are operating schemes under some form of statute. I agree that the Regulations do impose upon them onerous responsibilities, but I think we should realise that at the same time they also impose an onerous responsibility on the private employers. I should have thought that once the scheme had satisfied the Regulations so far as contracting out is affected, it was in very much the same sort of cate- gory, so far as the safety of insured benefits and things of that nature are concerned, as the local authority and other statutory schemes which we are talking about; once it satisfied those conditions for contracting out which have already been approved by this House. I think that the Regulations we are discussing tonight impose an unnecessary burden not only on the local authorities but upon other employers who have contracting out arrangements as well.
Regulation 3 lays it down that when someone leaves an employer—and this applies just as much to a private employer as to a local authority employer—payment in lieu of contribution has to be made to the Ministry of National Insurance. At the Ministry's office there will be a record card for each individual, whether in a local authority contracting out scheme or in a private one, for it applies equally to both, and is equally ridiculous in both, to my mind. At Newcastle there will be a card which the Minister and his servants can look at which tells them that a man was off sick for, say, twelve weeks during the period; and that the amount to be paid out by the employer, whether a local authority or private firm, is x pounds. It is perfectly simple. The record is there. They are all there in Newcastle.
That is not what is going to happen. In future the employer has to keep special records. At the moment he stamps by machine or by licking the stamp and putting it on. In future the employer will have to keep a record which shows how many weeks' sickness the employee has had during the whole period of contracted out service with him. If and when the employee leaves his service—I say "if and when" because the chap may stay with him throughout his service—the employer has to be able to show how many weeks' sick leave the employee had during the whole period of service while contracted out. The employer has to state it in the records, duplicating those already being maintained by the Ministry for all employees, all insured persons, at Newcastle. This affects not only local authorities but also the private employers.
What exactly are we looking at? The employer has to have a certificate certifying who the person responsible for paying the pension is, who the responsible payees are, where the pension is to be collected, and how much is to be paid to every retired person.
Hon. Members may not realise that for the next five years not a single one of these employees will have an amount greater than 4s. per week. The cost of issuing the certificate would use up almost six months' benefits in many cases. Does the House realise that for someone earning £12 a week now and due for retirement in five years' time all this procedure, all this information, this special certificate and everything else, has to be furnished and done to tell him that he is entitled as of right to a pension of 2s. a week for the rest of his life? It is a nonsensical arrangement which the Ministry enforces upon employers by their ridiculous superannuation scheme which they are imposing upon unwilling contributors throughout the country at the present time.
The more I look at the Regulations and the mass of other Regulations, some of which have been prayed against, some of which have not, the more I am forced to the conclusion that this ridiculous type of scheme for ludicrously small benefits which we are talking about, the Government scheme, is a waste of time, and involves an unnecessary administrative burden, and the sooner, in the light of the Government's scheme, they pack up contracting out altogether, the better and cheaper it will be.