I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if, with the first Amendment, we took the following eight Amendments: in page 7, line 10, column 4, leave out "87 shillings and 9" and insert "95 shillings and 3" line 12, column 4, leave out "78 shillings" and insert "85 shillings and 6 pence"; line 13, column 4, leave out "68 shillings and 3" and insert "75 shillings and 9"; line 15, column 4, leave out "58 shillings and 6 pence" and insert "66 shillings"; line 17, column 4, leave out "48 shillings and 9" and insert "56 shillings and 3"; line 19, column 4, leave out "39 shillings" and insert "46 shillings and 6 pence"; line 20, column 4, leave out "29 shillings and 3" and insert "36 shillings and 9"; and line 22, column 4, leave out "19 shillings and 6 pence" and insert "27 shillings".
Yes, Sir William. This group of Amendments relates to the rates of disablement benefit paid under the Industrial Injuries Act. They are designed to increase those rates, and could be described as part of the design of hon. Members on this side of the Committee to increase all social insurance benefits covered by the Bill.
Perhaps naturally, in discussing social insurance benefits, a greater part of the emphasis in the debate has been on the retirement pensioners, and we shall be returning to their problems later in Committee. I welcome the opportunity, offered by this group of Amendments, to speak specifically about those covered by the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts. It seems to us that they, equally with retirement pensioners and other groups of people who receive National Insurance benefits, are being left behind in our modern society. We are not making provision for them on the scale that we should. The provision which we make is falling behind that which is made in many other industrial countries, and we ought to do better.
Let me turn to one or two special points relating to those who receive benefits under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts. It is comparatively easy to think in terms of higher rates under these Acts, for one feature of the Industrial Injuries Fund from the very beginning has been that only a fairly small contribution has been required in order to pay rates of benefit which have always been higher than those paid under the National Insurance Acts. The reason for this is that the numbers of industrial casualties are very small compared with the numbers of retirement pensioners and those in the other groups covered by the main National Insurance Acts. This is borne out by the fact that the Fund now has a healthy surplus—so healthy that within the Bill the Government propose to reduce the industrial injuries contribution by 1d. a week from the employee and 1d. a week from the employer.
When we speak of higher rates of benefit for those who have suffered industrial injuries, therefore, it is a demand which the Government could meet more easily than the demands which we have made for retirement pensioners. They cannot offer the same excuse—that the cost is such that the nation cannot afford it. We do not accept their excuse in relation to retirement pensioners, but in this case they cannot even make the excuse, because it would be financially easy to meet the figures we have set down in the Amendments.
The next point which I want to make on behalf of those who have suffered industrial accidents is that the industrial accident, generally, hits a man very suddenly. Retirement is something for which people can prepare up to a point, because they can anticipate it. An industrial accident, however, often strikes at someone in the prime of life, perhaps a man with family responsibilities, who is buying a house on mortgage and who has many hire-purchase commitments. Suddenly he is deprived of his earning power, and in many cases, unhappily, deprived of it for a long time, sometimes permanently. In this respect, the industrial injuries benefit is different from some other benefits paid, such as sickness and unemployment benefits, which are more often paid for a limited period and are described as short-term benefits. The benefits under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts are often paid for a very long time indeed.
I believe that the community owes a special debt to those who are injured in industry. There is an old saying in the mining areas. "There is blood on coal". Fortunately, that does not apply as much now as it did in the past, because there are fewer accidents in mining, but there are still many accidents in mining and in many other industries. We still pay a price for our heritage in terms of industrial casualties in many of our basic industries.
The Report of the Chief Factory Inspector covering 1959 showed that there were more industrial accidents than had occurred in the previous year. It is an unhappy fact that the number of industrial accidents increased last year. Indeed, the Report of the Ministry of National Insurance for the year showed an increase in applications under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts. According to the Chief Factory Inspector's Report, 174,000 industrial accidents were reported during last year. This Report does not cover mining or some other industries in which there are a large number of accidents.
This is a serious question. The community owes a special debt to the people concerned, and particularly a debt to those who work in dangerous industries. A man who becomes a miner or who goes in for structural engineering work on high buildings is running a special risk. The chances are fairly high that in a normal working life he will sustain an industrial accident. We ought, therefore, to make special provision for that man if he is injured or for his dependants if he is killed, and the Committee and the Government ought to consider very seriously whether we cannot aim much higher in terms of benefits under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts.
The Amendments relate to industrial disablement benefits of 100 per cent., 90 per cent., and down to 20 per cent. For some reason we have missed the assessments under 20 per cent. and we have missed industrial injuries benefits, but I can assure the Government that we intend that these should be increased, and, if the Government meet our point, we hope that they will withdraw those parts of the Schedule, too. We are arguing for a general upgrading of benefits for those who suffer industrial accidents.
The first Amendment relates to the 100 per cent. disabled. I should like the Committee to consider for a moment what that involves. In the original benefit Regulations, produced in 1946 under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, certain specific categories were laid down as relating to 100 per cent. disablement. A man who loses both legs is 100 per cent. disabled, as is a man who loses one leg and the other foot, and a man who is made completely blind and a man who is made completely deaf. Similarly, a man who suffers severe facial disfigurement is 100 per cent. disabled. These people are classified as being 100 per cent. disabled. The category relates, in other words, to very severe cases of industrial disablement.
In such cases the Government propose a benefit of £4 17s. 6d. a week. In our Amendment we propose a benefit of £5 5s., but we are not tied to that figure; we put the figure down in order to frame the Amendment. All we are saying is that we ought to aim higher than the Government have aimed and to provide something better. This is a benefit for loss of faculty of the nature I have described.
I submit that it is impossible to state a financial figure which will precisely compensate a man for that sort of disablement. We cannot say what the loss of two eyes or two legs is worth in terms of money. Nevertheless, legislating as we are, we must attempt to do so, and I suggest that the Government's figures are not good enough in our present day society and that something better could be attempted.
We may be told, when the Minister or the Joint Parliamentary Secretary replies, that people with 100 per cent. disablement very often qualify for supplementary benefits and that they will not have to live on £4 17s. 6d. a week. In many cases that is true. The whole purpose of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts was to try to find a figure which would compensate them for the loss of faculties, not for the loss of earning power for a long period, and the indication is that for the rest of their lives they will not be able to lead a normal life. The Fund provides something for them in those circumstances.
The 90 per cent. disabled man is one who loses both feet, or who loses one leg, amputated at the hip. If he is amptuated lower down the percentage is lower. This is a grim category which we have to consider, but it is necessary for those who made the Regulations to deal in those terms. Incidentally, a 90 per cent. disabled man does not qualify for the unemployment supplement which a 100 per cent. disabled man can get, yet the man who is disabled to the extent of 90 per cent. is very likely to be unemployable or to find it very difficult to get suitable work. We are pointing out that, compared with the normal, healthy man of the same age, he is 90 per cent. disabled. It is a very severe form of disability indeed, for which the payment proposed by the Government is £4 7s. 9d. a week; and we say that that proposal is not good enough.
One can go down the list, and as one gets lower down the list there is another factor that can come into the argument. It is said that these rates of benefit are to compensate people for loss of faculty and not for loss of earnings, but if we are to be practical about it we have to realise that many of the people who have had industrial accidents certainly do suffer a considerable loss of earnings for which the Industrial Injuries Act only gives a very partial compensation.
For example, a man who is 20 per cent. or 30 per cent. disabled and can work only at a job that will earn him lower wages than his former employment may well qualify for the special hardship allowance under the Act, but that allowance can only be paid up to a present maximum of 34s. a week, or 39s. under the proposals in the Bill. Many people lose several pounds a week because of an industrial accident. Therefore, in practice, although the rates shown in the Amendments are for loss of faculty, there is the element of partial loss of earnings as well—and they may be considerable—which the Act does not cover.
Hon. Members will recognise that, in many cases, a comparatively small injury can lead to a very large loss of earnings. A man who has earned his living as a compositor will, if he should lose one finger or even the tip of one finger, lose considerably in earnings. Or the concert violinist—to take an extreme case—who lost the tip of one finger could lose many thousands of pounds per year as a result. Throughout industry there are all kinds of examples of people who suffer accidents which lead to small assessments under the Industrial Injuries Act but cost enormous losses of earnings.
For all those reasons, we on this side believe that such people should be dealt with more generously. We feel that this year, particularly, when the Fund has this surplus, and when the Government are bringing forward a proposal to reduce the contributions to the Fund, some more generous arrangements should be made.
Strictly speaking, we are only discussing benefits under the Industrial Injuries Act; in practice, we are discussing war pensions as well, because, since 1948, the rates of war pensions have been tied to the rates paid under the Industrial Injuries Act. For example, the rate for 100 per cent. disablement in this case is the same as the rate that will probably be included in the Royal Warrant. We cannot debate the Royal Warrant, so I would not be in order to pursue that point, but hon. Members should bear in mind that these things are tied together and that, although we are discussing justice for the casualties of industry and aiming, as we on this side do, at higher benefits for them, precisely the same arguments apply to the war disabled.
I think that someone on this side of the Committee—and even myself at the risk of incurring further ire from hon. Members opposite—might say something about these proposals. One should begin by finding a measure of agreement, which one certainly can, in that industrial injuries benefits should be higher than retirement benefits because the injuries are totally unforeseeable. It is, therefore, impossible, or virtually impossible, for the injured person to look ahead and to make even such provision as his means allow him.
Having said that, I think that the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) has opened up a very wide field indeed by almost questioning the principle of the Industrial Injuries Scheme as against the old workmen's compensation scheme, because this series of Amendments proposes to add to graduated benefits a flat increase all the way through. Under the proposals of the Schedule as printed, a 20 per cent. disabled person will receive a benefit rising from 17s. to 19s. 6d., while a 100 per cent. disabled person will receive a benefit rising from 85s. to 97s. 6d.
This series of Amendments proposes a flat 7s. 6d. increase all the way up the scale. As a percentage increase, which, I think, highlights what hon. Members opposite are trying to do—to the 100 per cent. disablement benefit in the Schedule they propose an increase of 7·7 per cent., whereas to the 20 per cent. disablement benefit they propose an increase of 38·4 per cent.
There is, of course, a lot of truth in what the hon. Member said about loss of earnings being nowhere near the same as loss of faculty, but it is with loss of faculty that the Industrial Injuries Scheme is concerned, and I cannot help wondering whether this is the moment to start that argument over again. It may well he that we should have another look at it, and that the graduations proposed in the Schedule should not be so steep between the 20 per cent. disabled and the 100 per cent. disabled. It may be that they are too far apart today, bearing in mind that a lost limb amounts to only 90 per cent. disablement, and that, as the hon. Gentleman pointed out as an example, a compositor depends on touch.
On the other hand, we have today an Industrial Injuries Scheme firmly based on the idea of loss of faculty, and if we have the Scheme based in that way and have accepted it as being right, it seems to me, quite frankly, that one should make some distinction in the increases one proposes for the 100 per cent. disabled and those proposed for the 20 per cent. disabled. I therefore find that this series of Amendments gives rise to wider questions than the mere amount of benefit.
These increases in benefit are being made with a reduction of 2d. in the combined contribution. My right hon. Friend is able to do that because, in at least one quinquennial review, the Government Actuary has pointed out that the Industrial Injuries Fund was building up at an unnecessary rate; that the value in perpetuity of the assets exceeded the corresponding value of the liabilities by about £617 million pounds. Bearing that in mind, I think that everyone will agree that my right hon. Friend had to take some action when other benefits in the National Insurance Scheme, in its wider sense, were being considered.
He is now making proposals in the Schedule that will reduce the excess value of the assets in perpetuity to about £70 million. This is explained in paragraph 6 of Command Paper 1197—the Report by the Government Actuary on the financial provisions of the Bill. The Government Actuary there says:
This represents only about 3 per cent. of the value of liabilities.
From that, I take it that the Government Actuary inclined to the view that we were getting somewhere near the safety limit—though other hon. Members, of course, may read it differently—and in considering the series of Amendments one is in a certain difficulty in not knowing what they would cost. I hope that whoever replies to the debate for the Government will begin by telling us what that cost would be.
If I am right in my assessment that the reduction in the contributions and the increases in the benefits proposed in the Schedule use up the safety margin in the Industrial Injuries Fund, I would very much like to know—and hon. Members opposite have given me credit for being consistent, even though hard hearted—where the money is to come from to pay for this. I would have approached this series of Amendments with much more enthusiasm if they had been preceded by an Amendment to omit Part I of the First Schedule. If they had been so preceded—I think it would have been in order to have put down such an Amendment—then the whole operation would have been arguable, although, because of the increase in the flat rate as opposed to an increase by graduation, not necessarily the most desirable way of spending the money.
However, until one knows what it would cost and whether the Fund could afford it, it is hard to say definitely whether one would oppose it. If the Fund cannot afford it, I will follow—whether sheeplike or goatlike I do not know—into the Lobby with my right hon. Friend.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that under the old Workmen's Compensation Act the workman made no contribution at all? The whole of the contribution was made by his employer. Now the employee has to pay 7d. and the employer has to pay 8d. So the workman is called upon to carry the responsibility for any accident that may happen to him, which he did not have to carry before the introduction of the Industrial Injuries Act.
I fully agree that there is that difference between the Schemes. The only reason I omitted mentioning it was that it did not seem germane to my argument. By proposing a series of Amendments with a single flat-rate increase, irrespective of the percentage of disablement, the hon. Member appeared to be raising the question whether we should not go back to considering, in some degree or other, loss of earnings as well as loss of faculty.
I am sure the Committee will agree that the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) has discussed this series of Amendments with customary moderation and with great clarity. That makes my task somewhat easier.
First, let us see what the Bill does. I am not in any way referring to anything that the hon. Member said, but I have the impression that anyone coming into the Committee from outside might have lost sight of what the Bill proposes, and might even have gone away feeling that the Bill not only added nothing but, in fact, took away certain advantages.
The hon. Member for East Ham, North cited the case of the 100 per cent. totally disabled man, and it might be of interest to the Committee if, as an example, I were to show what the present position is and what it will be after April, 1961, if the proposals in the Bill are accepted. Let me take the case of the totally disabled man who is unemployable, who needs constant attendance, who has a dependant wife and two children. He draws, in addition to his 100 per cent. disablement pension of 85s. a week, unemployability supplement or sickness benefit of 50s. Assuming that he gets the maximum constant attendance allowance—which he may not—he gets 70s. The comforts allowance does not apply. He gets an allowance of 30s. for his wife, 15s. for the first child, 7s. for the second child and a family allowance of 8s. The total is £13 5s. a week. As a result of the proposals in this Bill, the total of all these allowances would go up to £15 5s. a week. So the Bill does something substantially to improve the lot of the worst kind of case that the hon. Gentleman had in mind.
The Amendments which we are now discussing seek to raise still further what the Bill proposes. These Amendments make three curious distinctions, the reasons for which I do not think have altogether emerged so far from our discussions. The first distinction is this. The first Amendment seeks to increase the 100 per cent. rate of disablement pension from 85s. a week to 105s. instead of the 97s. 6d. proposed in the Bill. Subsequent Amendments provide for increases in the rates from 20 per cent. to 90 per cent., scaled down from the suggested 100 per cent. but not in the same proportion as those in the Bill. I had better explain this because it is a little complicated.
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but when the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Denzil Freeth) was speaking I was almost on the point of asking permission to intervene. I do not think the Minister need dwell on that discrepancy. It is purely accidental. I think it would assist the Committee if I were to say that all the hon. Gentleman need concentrate upon are the main benefits and the corresponding changes to match.
I fully accept that. My difficulty is that I must draw attention to these matters because my task is to tell the Committee what would be the effect of these Amendments. I fully accept that in this case this distinction is unintentional. The second distinction is, I think, important, although, again, this may be unintentional too. Nothing has been proposed by hon. Members opposite, above what is in the Bill, for those recently incapacitated who draw injury benefit. If this is an oversight I would regard it as an odd one because if there is one time when a family faces particular stress, anxiety and uncertainty as to the future I should think it would be immediately following a serious accident when the full significance to the family of the accident cannot be assessed. The wife and children are naturally thinking the worst. The Bill makes provision because the rate of injury benefit increases. But I accept, again, that this is quite unintentional.
The third distinction is also significant, and I feel bound to mention it. The Committee will know that disablement benefit is paid by way of pension where the disablement is assessed at 20 per cent. or more. But for assessments below 20 per cent. the normal form of disablement benefit is by way of gratuity, except in cases of disablement by pneumoconiosis or byssinosis, where a disablement pension is paid, and in certain cases where special hardship allowance is paid. Yet there are no Amendments before the Committee for increasing the maximum disablement gratuity. I think the Committee is left in some doubt as to whether he Opposition are satisfied with what my right hon. Friend proposes for those whose disability is assessed at below 20 per cent., or are seeking to widen deliberately the differential between the more seriously disabled and the less seriously disabled. Here, again, this may have been an oversight.
We do not wish to leave those people out. I realise that there are perhaps illogicalities in our drafting here. We think that the best way in which the hon. Gentleman can meet our point is by withdrawing all the parts of the Schedule to which he has referred and by drawing up higher rates of benefit.
I accept completely what the hon. Gentleman says. What I emphasise is that the Bill does not leave these people out. It makes provision for them.
I have wondered whether the thought behind the Amendment was really indicated by the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) in his speech on Second Reading when he claimed, making a very strong point of it, that an industrial worker
completely knocked out by injury or disease is given under the Bill…£6 12s. 6d. in all, which is less than half the average earnings of an adult worker in 1959."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 15th November, 1960; Vol. 630, c. 248.]
Obviously, the hon. Gentleman was taking this as a criterion, and that was the example he cited.
The short answer to the hon. Gentleman is "No". The Fund is on an actuarial basis. I am coming to the matter of finance, but, at this stage, I wish to discuss an important point in a previous speech by the hon. Member for Sowerby, to whose speeches for many years I have always paid a great deal of attention. I hope that the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) will not mind if I do not pursue his question now.
The hon. Member for Sowerby was struck by the example of an unfortunate man
completely knocked out by injury or disease
who was given only 132s. 6d. in all under the Bill, which, he said, is less than half the average earnings of an adult worker in 1959. Frankly, I hesitate to question facts and figures adduced by the hon. Member, who has a very formidable reputation in these matters, but the example he cited was clearly that of a married man with no children who was drawing injury benefit—a case which would not be helped by any of the Amendments we have before us today. There are no proposals before us for increasing injury benefit beyond the new levels proposed in the Bill. We are here concerned with disablement benefits which are paid where disablement continues beyond the period for which injury benefit may be drawn, except—I
remind the Committee of this again—in cases of industrial disease such as pneumoconiosis or byssinosis where disablement benefit is paid from the outset.
The Amendment's suggested increase of 20s. in the 100 per cent rate of disability benefit may well have been prompted by the criterion used by the hon. Member for Sowerby of existing rates being less than half the average earnings of an adult worker in 1959. I think it is important that that calculation should be examined, because I should not want the Committee to accept that it was the case if the reverse were true.
I am advised that the Ministry of Labour's half-yearly inquiry covering manual wage earners in industry gave a figure of 271s. 1d. a week for October, 1959, while the latest figure revealed by the inquiry in April, 1960, is 282s. 1d. The Amendment does nothing at all for the man who, under the Bill, will draw less than half this amount, that is to say, a married man with no children who is drawing injuries benefit. On the contrary, the first Amendment proposes further to increase the benefit for the 100 per cent. disabled pensioner for whom, if he is married, the Bill proposes a total of 190s. If any hon. Member wishes me to break these figures down, I will. That is well above half average earnings. I wish to put the record straight on that matter, and I hope that I have satisfied the hon. Member.
I say at once that I do not criticise the hon. Member in any way for wanting us to be more generous to this class of seriously disabled man, but I am sure that he would be the first to agree, on reflection, that increases in benefits should have some regard to the principle of equity. I do not suggest that this is the hon. Gentleman's thought, but if the thought at the back of the mind of some hon. Members is that the Amendment really seeks to meet dissatisfaction on the part of higher-paid workers in respect of the long-term rates payable for disablement compared with the loss of earnings that they may sustain, I am bound to say that it is wrong in my view, and in my right hon. Friend's view, to try to deal with this issue by adjustments to disablement benefits in isolation. Such an attempt could lead only to anomalies and an imbalance in the Scheme.
The hon. Member for East Ham, North thought that financial considerations—I do not remember his exact words—did not really enter into the argument, and we could quite easily concede what he and his hon. Friends ask for in the Amendments. My hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Denzil Freeth) asked if I would give some details of what the Amendment would cost. I understand that the Amendment would cost £3·1 million in 1961 rising to £4·9 million in 1981 and, if a corresponding increase were proposed in injury benefit which, I think, would have to follow from what I said a little earlier, it would cost a further £1¼ million a year.
Although, of course, we are not discussing war pensions, the thought of war pensions can never be far away. I am bound to say that the matter would not end there. One could not increase the 100 per cent. disablement pension for the industrially injured without making similar provision for the war pensioner.
That is perfectly true. The hon. Member makes my point for me, because the total cost of all industrial injuries benefit increases proposed by the Amendments is about £8 million in 1961–62, rising to £12 million in twenty years. If we were to apply similar increases to war pensioners, the cost to the Exchequer in 1961–62 would be between £9 million and £15 million according to exactly how one applied the increase.
On the subject of finance, I say simply this. We have to deal with the Amendments as they appear. We have made our estimates accordingly. The Government
Actuary's Second Quinquennial Review of the Industrial Injuries Scheme, published last July, showed that the future financial position of the Scheme was likely, in the light of current trends, to be more favourable than previously expected. That is true. In paragraph 43 of the Report, it is said that
at no stage will the expenditure exceed the income and a very large fund will be built up, none of the interest income from which will be required to help meet the expenditure.
To take account of this surplus, which is offset to some extent by the benefit increases proposed, the Bill proposes to reduce contributions, for men and women.
The cost of the Opposition Amendments would increase the burden on the Fund. As I have previously said, if the Committee were to accept all these Amendments to improve a wide range of industrial injury benefits the cost would be about £8 million in 1961–62, rising to about £12 million in twenty years. But the total capital value of the suggested improvements is a little over £300 million. This is substantially in excess of the £70 million quoted by the Government Actuary in paragraph 6 of his Report on the financial provisions of the Bill as the amount by which, after taking into account the reduction in contributions and increases in benefits proposed by the Bill, the value in perpetuity of the assets exceeds the liabilities.
These proposed improvements could not be financed from the existing surplus of the Fund. If similar increases to those proposed for industrial injuries were applied to war pensioners, the cost to the Exchequer for 1961–62 would be about £15 million. There is no doubt that the cost would be substantial, and it would throw the whole scheme out of balance.
I do not think that any other points arise. To summarise, the reasons why the Committee should reject the Amendments fall under two heads. First, they depart from the principle which has always been followed and which I am perfectly certain is fair, namely, that increases in rates for assessments below 90 per cent. should be directly proportional to increases in the 100 per cent. rate. Secondly, as the Amendments are not accompanied by corresponding proposals to increase the rate of injury benefit or the maximum amount of disablement gratuity, they would seriously dislocate the present pattern of benefit rates.
Thus, the equivalence which my right hon. Friend seeks to maintain between the 100 per cent. disablement pension and the rate of injury benefit merely reflects the close association which, I think, should always be maintained between disablement and incapacity for work. The man receiving a high rate of disablement pension has always been at an advantage under the Industrial Injuries Scheme because sickness benefit with dependency allowances is payable in addition if he is incapable of work, or, if he is working, he may also receive wages.
The result of the acceptance of these Amendments would be to change the relationship between the higher rates of disablement benefit and incapacity for work. The man receiving injury benefit, while incapable of work, would be left at a serious disadvantage compared with those receiving disablement benefit at the higher rates who may be receiving sickness benefit in addition or may even be working.
For those reasons, I ask the Committee to reject the Amendments, although one fully understands the spirit which prompted the speech of the hon. Member for East Ham, North.
The hon. Gentleman has said that the man who has a 100 per cent. disability, with the additions, may receive up to £13. What would be the position of the man with a 50 per cent. disability who does not get the additions? What would be his income?
I am not sure that I can answer the question. I am saying that the totally disabled man over 65 who is unemployable and who needs the constant attendance allowance and has a dependent wife, assuming that he got the maximum allowances, would have an income of £10 a week at the moment. I am talking of a man without children but with a dependent wife. Under the proposals in the Bill he would get £11 10s. However, I think that it is difficult to give an answer off the cuff to a question like that. I may be able to arrange to get the information during the debate if the hon. Gentleman wants it.
I feel rather diffident in this matter, but I have a duty to perform though I may perform it rather badly. The suggestion of the Labour Party is that the Government's proposals concerning help for the man in the factory and in the mine are weak. The real question is whether the Government are doing a fair job under the circumstances. Are they trying to please the man in the mine and those in dangerous occupations, or are they simply trying to economise on a petty scale rather than help those who are performing dangerous jobs in industry? It seems to me that the Government's inclination is to bring about petty economies rather than help men who have dangerous occupations. The Government say, "We will help these poor men by taking a penny off the contribution".
Put yourself in Gilligan's place. I think that the Government can do that if they wish, but the trouble is that they do not wish to do so. The spirit is not there to help the ordinary man working in dangerous occupations. It is proved by the attitude you adopt. The whole Industrial Injuries Fund has been in a favourable position and will remain in a favourable position for a long time. You will not help these men by reducing their contributions by 1d. Surely you as Minister——
Order. The hon. Member should address his remarks to the Chair and not directly to the Minister. That is the custom of the Committee.
I did not intend to address my remarks to the Minister in reality. I am trying to deal with the general principles of the Government's policy. That is the thing which matters. We know that Ministers sometimes have to do things which they do not wish to do. I feel sure that what has been done is not in accord with the Minister's own wishes. I will give him that credit. anyhow.
If one were to ask the ordinary workman in industry whether he would rather have a more substantial benefit if he were injured or would rather pay this 1d. per week, is there any question in any reasonable man's mind that he would ignore the Government's 1d.? The whole thing is ridiculous. What these men want and what the Labour Party wants is something which will substantially help these men who are so subject to serious accidents. If the financial position is so favourable that it is possible to reduce the contribution, something worth while should be done for these men. We all have human weaknesses, but, if we were objective and took a psychological look at this problem, then I think that it would be admitted that the amount of money in the Fund is such and the circumstances financially are such that it is possible to do something on the lines suggested in the Amendments.
There is another thing I want to remark upon, Commander Donaldson, if I am allowed to do so. I would not put you in a difficulty. When the Government have changed their financial policy to pay-as-you-go on the great and much larger section of National Insurance, why is it that on the question of industrial injuries they stand firm to the old routine and the old, out-of-date method and calculate for years ahead what will happen and what is to be the great financial burden to be placed upon the people 20 or 30 years ahead? Why do the Government keep to that old, out-of-date principle for industrial injuries when for the much greater Fund—it is ten times as large—they make an up-to-date decision and put their finance on a modern basis? Why cannot they do the same for industrial injuries?
To the extent that the Government were to do that, there would be no question whatever that if a position was reached in which the Fund was overflowing with money, the main idea of people would not be to take 1d. off the contribution, although we are getting to the stage where contributions will be a vital matter. Nevertheless, if there is justice and common sense in applying to a much greater sphere of insurance, a principle that is thought to be good, it should be applied also to industrial injuries. If that is done and we have a situation which is still more favourable to the National Insurance Fund, it would be possible to do even more than the Labour Party has suggested. I have stated my objections to the Government's attitude and I have pleasure in supporting the Amendments.
It will be clear to the Committee that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary has in recent days been attending the Departmental glee club, where he has heard many songs about the omissions from our schedule of Amendments. I apologise for unintentional omissions from our Amendments to which the hon. Gentleman felt it necessary, quite properly, to draw attention. I shall deal with that aspect presently.
I want first, however, to turn to the speech of the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Denzil Freeth), who chided us with leaving Part I of the Schedule—that is, dealing with industrial injury contributions—unamended. The hon. Member said that he would have been more enthusiastic about our proposals to increase benefit had we moved to delete Part I of the Schedule which deals with reduced contributions. We were not unmindful of that.
Unhappily, however, nearly everything is the wrong way round when we come to the business of this Committee and of the House. There are some curious quirks in our procedure. When we move to delete something, we usually vote, not on whether it should be left out, but whether what is proposed to be left out shall stay put. Here, the contributions come before the benefits. Had we moved to leave the contributions as they are, it would have been necessary to have asked for the Minister's assurance before putting the matter to the vote that if our Amendment to leave contributions as they are were accepted, he would agree to our Amendment to improve the pensions. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary will, I am sure, understand our difficulty.
On the generality of the Amendments, I was saying to my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice), who moved this block of Amendments, that it might be better at some time to move an Amendment to the key benefit in a complicated Schedule and to declare that that was our starting point and everything else would fall into line if the Amendment or anything like it were accepted. I know that that would not be absolutely complete and tidy from a procedural viewpoint, but we all realise that if the Minister felt able to move towards meeting Amendments of this kind, he would have to produce a properly drafted Schedule of his own at a later stage in the Bill. That, perhaps, is something we must bear in mind.
That would save the Joint Parliamentary Secretary from having to do a lot of quite unnecessary home work in drawing attention to the things we have left out when we did not intend to do so. In any case, it would not worry either the hon. Gentleman or the Minister, because they are not accepting anything that we propose. We are realists. These proceedings are not with the hope of getting Amendments. These proceedings are for debate, for the ventilation of points of view about important matters of policy. They may or may not be influenced by arguments from either side.
The question in this batch of Amendments—and it is the same in other Amendments—is how well the nation will treat its industrially injured. It must, of course, be translated into amount. Reference has been made to my Second Reading speech. I stressed then that a distinct improvement in the way in which the casualties of industry are treated is now, in my judgment, a fresh and increasing charge on the prosperity of the nation. This is one of the new social wants that we desire the country to have and the country to insist on being fulfilled.
When one considers even the maximum benefits that are possible, the price that these men have to pay for being hurt or contracting terrible diseases in industry is a very heavy one. The whole of the nation's wealth is built upon their willingness to run these risks. If they run them and suffer from them, one would say that there is nothing too generous that the nation can do to assist them during their suffering.
The Joint Parliamentary Secretary has drawn attention to our unintentional omissions from the schedule of Amendments to improve the injuries benefit. Of course, we did not propose to leave them out—
The hon. Gentleman is, I believe, doing me a slight injustice. The main purpose behind my drawing attention to these matters was to ensure that the hon. Gentleman and the whole Committee kept these increases in some sort of proportion having regard to the principle of equity. I fully accept the implication behind what the hon. Gentleman has just said. If, however, he is to keep in mind the principle of equity, surely he cannot limit his argument to industrial injuries but must extend it to cover the war pensioner, and he must ensure that the whole range of benefits is brought into line. Therefore, my purpose in drawing attention to these matters was to ensure that the hon. Gentleman, as well as myself and members of the Committee, kept very much in mind the whole question of equity.
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I wish to keep in balance things that should be kept in balance. I do not necessarily accept that war disability pensioners and industrial injuries benefits should be tied together. For example, our policy of dealing with the industrially injured could take the form of full pay for a considerable period after injury, a principle which, I have said before, is fully accepted in many vocations. I think that it would be possible to pursue that as a policy without regarding war disability pensions as necessarily tied to the same principle.
I believe there is much consideration ahead for both sides of the Committee on how we are going to deal with this problem in the future. There will be differing views as to whether loss of faculty, by itself, is a satisfactory principle, or loss of earnings, by itself, is a satisfactory principle, and on how the two can be brought together at present under the special hardship allowance to avoid the catastrophic drop of earning capacity of many people from a comparatively light loss of faculty. I want to keep things in mind; I want to keep them in balance; but I do not want the Minister to keep on asking about the war pensioners every time I mention the industrially disabled, because we are dealing now with the industrially disabled, and if we cannot move forward on a narrow front without seeing the whole network of social security moving with it, it will be extremely difficult to make any progress at all.
I want to refer for a moment to industrial injuries benefit, because, as the Minister said, it is most important. On average, so the Government Actuary tells us, 750,000 men are each year drawing injury benefit, and something like 400,000 women. Those are large numbers. If we were to see 750,000 men in Trafalgar Square and were to say, "Those are the casualties of industry for only one year who had been completely laid off for long or short periods on account of industrial injury or disease", it would look a very impressive battalion indeed.
The Actuary draws attention to the fact that for five years in combination the number of awards to men was 3,298,000. That is five years of casualties in industry; as I say, for long or short periods; but they are people suffering total disablement for a time on account of a hazard beyond the normal risk of sickness. Curiously enough, when the numbers of industrially injured fell it was during a period when Asian 'flu knocked them out in even larger numbers; and a fewer number of people at work reduced the number of accidents. What an extraordinary commentary on the risk to health and limb both in industry and in other quarters. So we on these benches would certain not wish to overlook the industrially injured as distinct from those who suffer a long period of 100 per cent. or lesser disablement.
I am not going to keep the Committee for more than a moment or two longer, because we have a lot of work to do and I think we ought to come to a conclusion on this Amendment. We would have preferred to have discussed National Insurance benefits first, because that does happen to be one of the foundation stones of this structure, but, even so, industrial injuries can and do stand apart, and there is no necessary reason why industrial injuries benefit should not be improved more than the corresponding increases given through National Insurance and at different times and for different reasons.
Looking at the industrial injuries benefit for a man, his wife and two children, it seems to me, if my calculations are correct, that at present we pay £7 5s., and the amount proposed in the Bill is £8 7s., and the amount proposed in our Amendments is £9 4s., inclusive of the family allowance for the second child. We have to consider those amounts in relation to supposed earnings, not only wage rates but the total earnings of the injured person, and it does seem to me, when talking of equity, that there is something wrong in a society which will guarantee its clerks full pay for 26 weeks on account of injury or sickness but by contrast throw the industrial worker immediately back on National Insurance benefit during sickness and on industrial injuries benefit when he is injured, and in both cases pay him an amount manifestly below his earning capacity and manifestly below the earnings he has been averaging.
What is there to justify this disparity of treatment? Why should there be some pampered people with vocational claims of this kind, while the industrial worker is regarded as something separate and something different. He has a wife, he has children, he has a home to maintain, he wants to live a normal life; when at work he is probably earning more than the clerk; but there is no reason why he should suffer a heavy drop in family income when he sustains an accident which takes place at work. I know that some hon. and learned Member yesterday mentioned the possibility of getting damages from the employer and so on. We know that that is so in certain cases, but usually those damages are for some irreparable damage done to health or body, shortening life, certainly diminishing the power to enjoy life. Those compensations are really quite inadequate because there is only one life to live and we cannot really give people money compensation for that which they have to suffer.
So on this side of the Committee we feel that the central issue in this block of Amendments and in others which follow is whether the nation is ready to treat its industrially injured and disabled more generously. If we had put that down merely as a proposition, I have no doubt that the Minister would have got up and asked, "How much?" We put in an amount as a guide, something which it is not unreasonable to aim at, something which it would not be unreasonable to grant now, and adjust the contributions if necessary to reimburse the Industrial Injuries Fund. Those contributions for what they cover are astonishingly small, 8d. at present for a worker, 9d. a week for the employer.
When one thinks that that is the insurance which the State provides for accident and disease, I wonder that the trade unions do not rise up and say, "Double them and treble them and let us have some decent benefits for once in our industrial injuries scheme, and remove the fear of accident and make it possible for men to go to their jobs in the morning feeling that if they do suffer an injury by the time their working day is finished at least their family income will still be such that their families will be adequately taken care of."
The Minister made a statement a few moments ago which may convey a wrong impression. I want to get the matter clear. I put a question to him. I do not think he gathered the import of it. He said that a man receiving full benefit could receive 14 guineas a week. That may be so: £4 17s. 6d. benefit, constant attendance allowance, 40s., more serious cases 80s., and unemployability supplement 57s. 6d., special hardship allowance 39s., making a total of 14 guineas. Those were the figures he was working on. He gave the impression that the whole of those men were receiving 14 guineas a week. A large number of those men do not receive any of those benefits except the first £4 17s. 6d., and I want him to get this clear in his mind, and, indeed, I
I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving way and giving me an opportunity to clear away any misconception. I was, of course, quoting the example of the totally disabled man who was unemployable, who needed constant attendance, had a dependent wife and two children. I said that at present he might draw £13 5s. a week which, under the proposals of the Bill, would go up to £15 5s. a week. Where I made my mistake was in not being able to provide the hon. Gentleman with the answer to the question which he asked me there and then, about such a man who is 50 per cent. disabled. Of course, such a man may be in work and earning, or if he is not earning might get various allowances under the scheme totalling 144s. a week. That is the figure that I would have given to the hon. Member had I had it ready to hand when he asked the question. I am sorry that I misled him.
The man concerned was a man with 100 per cent. disability and making the other four claims totalling 14 guineas. The hon. Gentleman conveyed the impression that every man with 100 per cent. disability would be receiving 14 guineas. I want to make it clear that all these men do not and that the man suffering 50 per cent. disability receives possibly only 47s. 6d. I wanted that matter cleared up for fear of any misunderstanding.
|Division No. 8.]||AYES||[7.33 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Boyle, Sir Edward||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)|
|Allason, James||Braine, Bernard||Cleaver, Leonard|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Cole, Norman|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Collard, Richard|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Bryan, Paul||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill|
|Balniel, Lord||Bullard, Denys||Cordle, John|
|Barlow, Sir John||Burden, F. A.||Corfield, F. V.|
|Barter, John||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Costain, A. P.|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Coulson, J. M.|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Craddock, Sir Beresford|
|Bingham, R. M.||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Critchley, Julian|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Cunningham, Knox|
|Bishop, F. P.||Cary, Sir Robert||Currie, G. B. H.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Channon, H. P. G.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Box, Donald||Chichester-Olark, R.||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry|
|Deedes, W. F.||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|du Cann, Edward||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Duncan, Sir James||Kirk, Peter||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|Eden, John||Langford-Holt, J.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Elliot, Capt. W. (Carshalton)||Leavey, J. A.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Elliott, R. W.||Leburn, Gilmour||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Roots, William|
|Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Farr, John||Lilley, F. J. P.||Russell, Ronald|
|Fell, Anthony||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Finlay, Graeme||Longbottom, Charles||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Fisher, Nigel||Loveys, Walter H.||Seymour, Leslie|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Shaw, M.|
|Freeth, Denzil||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Shepherd, William|
|Gammans, Lady||McLaren, Martin||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Godber, J. B.||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Stodart, J. A.|
|Goodhart, Phillip||McMaster, Stanley R.||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Gower, Raymond||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Maddan, Martin||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Green, Alan||Maginnis, John E.||Talbot, John E.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert||Maitland, Sir John||Tapsell, Peter|
|Gurden, Harold||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marlowe, Anthony||Taylor, E. (Bolton, E.)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Marshall, Douglas||Teeling, William|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Marten, Neil||Temple, John M.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Mawby, Ray||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Hastings, S.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R.||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Mills, Stratton||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Hendry, Forbes||Montgomery, Fergus||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||More, J.||Turner, Colin|
|Hiley, Joseph||Morrison, John||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Nabarro, Gerald||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Noble, Michael||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Hobson, John||Nugent, Sir Richard||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Hocking, Philip N.||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Holland, Philip||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Hollingworth, John||Partridge, E.||Watts, James|
|Hopkins, Alan||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Webster, David|
|Hornby, R. P.||Pilkington, Capt. Richard||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Pitman, I. J.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Hughes-Young, Michael||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Profurno, Rt. Hon. John||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Quennell, Miss J.||Woollam, John|
|Jackson, John||Ramsden, James||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Rees, Hugh||Mr. Whitelaw and Mr. Sharples.|
|Ainsley, William||Dempsey, James||Hill, J. (Midlothian)|
|Albu, Austen||Dodds, Norman||Hilton, A. V.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Donnelly, Desmond||Holman, Percy|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Houghton, Douglas|
|Awbery, Stan||Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Howell, Charles A.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hunter, A. E.|
|Beaney, Alan||Evans, Albert||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Fernyhough, E.||Janner, Barnett|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Fitch, Alan||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas|
|Benson, Sir George||Fletcher, Eric||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Blackburn, F.||Foot, Michael||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Boardman, H.||Forman, J. C.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Bowles, Frank||Galpern, Sir Myer||Kelley, Richard|
|Boyden, James||George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Ginsburg, David||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||King, Dr. Horace|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Callaghan, James||Gourlay, Harry||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Grey, Charles||Loughlin, Charles|
|Chapman, Donald||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Chetwynd, George||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||MacColl, James|
|Collick, Percy||Grimond, J.||McInnes, James|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Mackie, John|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hart, Mrs. Judith||McLeavy, Frank|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hayman, F. H.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Healey, Denis||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Manuel, A. C.|
|Mapp, Charles||Reid, William||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Mayhew, Christopher||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Millan, Bruce||Ross, William||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Moody, A. S.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Morris, John||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Mort, D. L.||Skeffington, Arthur||Timmons, John|
|Moyle, Arthur||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Warbey, William|
|Mulley, Frederick||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Oliver, G. H.||Small, William||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Oram, A. E.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Whitlock, William|
|Padley, W. E.||Snow, Julian||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Sorensen, R. W.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Spriggs, Leslie||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Peart, Frederick||Stones, William||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Pentland, Norman||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Popplewell, Ernest||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Probert, Arthur||Swingler, Stephen||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Proctor, W. T.||Sylvester, George||Mr. Lawson and Mr. Redhead.|
|Rankin, John||Symonds, J. B.|
That would be convenient, Commander Donaldson. In the debate on the last Amendment we were deploying arguments for a general improvement in the benefits paid to industrial casualties in general. Unfortunately, we failed to carry our point and I suppose that, being realists, we might expect to fail again. Yet we could say in relation to this very small group of industrial pensioners that there are special points to be made.
The two Amendments now before the Committee deal with those who are in receipt of unemployability supplements. In the Report of the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance for 1959 there was a definition of those who can receive this supplement:
…disablement pensioners who, as a result of their disablement, are incapable of work and likely to remain so permanently.
In other words, we are dealing here with people who have suffered very badly indeed from industrial accidents. Not only are they incapable of work, but they are likely to remain permanently so.
This is a very tight and severe definition and it applies to very few people. Indeed, I see from the following page of the Ministry's Report that the numbers are as follows: at the end of October, 1959, about 720 unemployability supplements were being paid. Of these, about 230 were paid to persons receiving workmen's compensation, and about 160 to beneficiaries under Pneumoconiosis and Byssinosis Benefit Schemes.
We are thus dealing with very small numbers. This is relevant to the question put just now by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery), because, in reply, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary gave an example of a 100 per cent. disabled man in receipt of unemployability supplement. These figures show that only a very small proportion of those who are 100 per cent. disabled can qualify for unemployability supplement.
Whatever the financial arguments which the Government were able to deploy against the last Amendment, they cannot redeploy them against this one. We are dealing with about 720 people to whom we propose to give an extra 7s. 6d. a week. I have not worked out the total sum over a year, but it must be small enough for the Government not to be deterred. We are speaking here of people who have made a very great sacrifice.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) pointed out in the last debate that injuries are an essential part of the industrial process, and no doubt the sacrifices will continue to be made. If our argument last time related to a large class of persons, then this argument relates to a special class, and we ask the Government to accept our Amendment.
As the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) said, these two Amendments propose increases in the adult rate of unemployability supplement by 15s. instead of 7s. 6d. and the juvenile rate by 9s. instead of 4s. As he also said, unemployability supplement is payable to disablement pensioners and in old workmen's compensation cases where the person is, and is likely permanently, to remain incapable of work.
Happily, there is not a very large number of these cases, but they do exist. In a sense, the supplement is an alternative to sickness benefit under the main National Insurance Scheme, or, as may well be the case with the older workers, an alternative to retirement pension. One might argue, of course, that the workman who has not qualified for sickness benefit under National Insurance, and is getting unemployability supplement, is receiving an unconvenanted sickness benefit or, if he is of pensionable age, retirement pension. The unemployability supplement really serves the same purpose.
In practice, therefore, the 700 or more persons who draw a supplement are people who, for one reason or another—usually due to a contribution deficiency—are not entitled to sickness benefit or to such benefit at a reduced rate. But, of course, I must again remind the Committee—though it should not be necessary—that we are not leaving these people out in the cold, and in this Bill we are proposing an increase.
The Opposition, in the spirit of generosity which has governed their speeches throughout the debate, think that the proposals are inadequate and wish to increase them still further. I must resist this Amendment. I am a little puzzled by one figure in it. The 65s, selected for the Amendment is 2s. more than the 63s. set for the corresponding supplement for a war pensioner in the Royal Warrant. It is 3s. 6d. less than the 68s. 6d. proposed by hon. Members opposite as the standard rate of sickness benefit.
I do not want to quibble about this, but I must say that this would set up a differential between sickness benefit and industrial injury unemployability supplement which, for many years, as the hon. Member said and as the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) knows, have been recognised as alternatives at the same rate. It would represent a relative worsening for the comparatively small group who draw the supplement. I do not believe that that was the intention of the mover of the Amendment.
I shall also say something about the provision for juveniles. All employed persons are covered by the Industrial Injuries Acts, including even schoolchildren below minimum school-leaving age who are engaged in some part-time occupation. But, of course, no contributions are payable in respect of such children. One hopes—and this has been expressed several times during the debate—that generally the number of industrial accidents will decline.
One knows that modern medical science performs miracles where seriously injured person are concerned, and I think that we should all want to pay tribute to what is being done in that way. However, it could happen that a young person on the threshold of adult working life—a young miner or an apprentice—was involved in a serious accident. He would only just have started work and would not have been in the Scheme long enough to qualify for sickness benefit. It is imperative that some provision should be made for him. I mention this because the Scheme covers him, and the Bill increases the help which can be given.
I suggest that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary should now stop picking holes in our Amendments and tell us what he has to offer. Then we might be able to make progress. All he has said amounts to, "There are one or two flaws in the Amendment, and I am not proposing to put them right or to improve upon the proposals in the Schedule".
My hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) drew attention to the grave plight of the comparatively few people covered by the benefit. Without getting worked up on the general question of how we are to treat our industrially injured and disabled, our society ought to be able to take care of these people on a more liberal basis than we do now. That is the essence of our proposal. However, I will not bandy words further with the Joint Parliamentary Secretary and will ask my hon. Friends to divide the Committee on the Amendment.
|Division No. 9.]||AYES||[7.54 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Nabarro, Gerald|
|Aitkon, W. T.||Gurden, Harold||Noble, Michael|
|Allason, James||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Nugent, Sir Richard|
|Arbuthnot, John||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Partridge, E.|
|Balniel, Lord||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Pilkington, Capt. Richard|
|Barter, John||Hastings, S.||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Bingham, R. M.||Hendry, Forbes||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hiley, Joseph||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Box, Donald||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Rees, Hugh|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Hirst, Geoffrey||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hobson, John||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Braine, Bernard||Hocking, Philip N.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Holland, Philip||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Hollingworth, John||Roberts, Sir peter (Heeley)|
|Bryan, Paul||Hopkins, Alan||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Bullard, Denys||Hornby, R. P.||Roots, William|
|Burden, F. A.||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Russell, Ronald|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hughes-Young, Michael||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Iremonger, T. L.||Seymour, Leslie|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Sharples, Richard|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Jackson, John||Shaw, M.|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Shepherd, William|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Stodart, J. A.|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Cole, Norman||Kirk, Peter||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Collard, Richard||Langford-Holt, J.||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Leavey, J. A.||Talbot, John E.|
|Costain, A. P.||Leburn, Gilmour||Tapsell, Peter|
|Coulson, J. M.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Taylor, E. (Bolton, E.)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Teeling, William|
|Critchley, Julian||Lilley, F. J. P.||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Cunningham, Knox||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Longbottom, Charles||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Loveys, Walter H.||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Deedes, W. F.||McLaren, Martin||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Turner, Colin|
|Duncan, Sir James||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John|
|Eden, John||McMaster, Stanley R.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Elliot, Capt. W. (Carshalton)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Elliott, R. W.||Maddan, Martin||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Emery, Peter||Maginnis, John E.||Watts, James|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Maitland, Sir John||Webster, David|
|Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Farr, John||Marlowe, Anthony||Wills, sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Fell, Anthony||Marshall, Douglas||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Marten, Neil||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Fisher, Nigel||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Freeth, Denzil||Mawby, Ray||Woollam, John|
|Godber, J. B.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Goodhart, Philip||Mills, Stratton|
|Gower, Raymond||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Montgomery, Fergus||Mr. Gibson-Watt and|
|Green, Alan||More, J.||Mr. Whitelaw|
|Grimston, Sir Robert||Morrison, John|
|Ainsley, William||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Braddock, Mrs. E. M.|
|Albu, Austen||Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Benson, Sir George||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Blackburn, F.||Brown, Thomas (Ince)|
|Awbery, Stan||Boardman, H.||Callaghan, James|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bowden, Herbert W. (Leios, S. W.)||Castle, Mrs. Barbara|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Bowles, Frank||Chapman, Donald|
|Beaney, Alan||Boyden, James||Chetwynd, George|
|Collick, Percy||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Ross, William|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Kelley, Richard||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kenyon, Clifford||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Dempsey, James||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Dodds, Norman||King, Dr. Horace||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Lawson, George||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Small, William|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Loughlin, Charles||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Snow, Julian|
|Evans, Albert||MacColl, James||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Fernyhough, E.||McInnes, James||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Fitch, Alan||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mackie, John||Stones, William|
|Foot, Michael||McLeavy, Frank||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Forman, J. C.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Manuel, A. C.||Sylvester, George|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Mapp, Charles||Symonds, J. B.|
|Ginsburg, David||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mason, Roy||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mayhew, Christopher||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Grey, Charles||Millan, Bruce||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mitchison, G. R.||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Moody, A. S.||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Grimond, J.||Morris, John||Thornton, Ernest|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mort, D. L.||Timmons, John|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Moyle, Arthur||Warbey, William|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mulley, Frederick||Watkins, Tudor|
|Hayman, F. H.||Oliver, G. H.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Herbison, Miss Margaret||Oram, A. E.||Whitlock, William|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Padley, W. E.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Hilton, A. V.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Holman, Percy||Pavitt, Laurence||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Peart, Frederick||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Pentland, Norman||Ziltiacus, K.|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Janner, Barnett||Proctor, W. T.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Rankin, John||Mr. Howell and Mr. Probert|
I beg to move, in page 7, line 36, column 4, to leave out "Thirty-nine" and to insert "Fifty".
No doubt by now the Minister is getting used to our requests for more. However, I am sure that he is not surprised at the many requests that we are making.
First, I should like to join my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) in the new and very important note which he has struck, that in respect of industrial injury and disease we should revise our social values. We need an entirely new approach to this question. We should divorce it from mathematics because it is, after all, a very great human question. It concerns people who are stricken down by accident or disease without notice—and many of them are disabled for the rest of their lives—and the bottom falls out of their world. I join my hon. Friend in the very resounding and important note that he has struck in saying that the time has arrived in these days when social values are changing—and we hope they will continue to change—when we should make a fresh approach to this great human question of industrial injury and disease.
My purpose in moving the Amendment is to increase by 11s. per week the proposed benefit of 39s. proposed by the Minister. At the moment the allowance for special hardship is 34s. per week. The Minister proposes an increase of 5s., bringing it to 39s. The Amendment seeks to increase it to 50s. This is a benefit of very great importance to the workers, particularly to those who work in the heavy, dangerous, dirty industries where the incidence of accidents and disease is very high. Many of the recipients of special hardship benefit return quite quickly to work, but others are away from work for a long period, and it is sad to relate that many will not go to work again because of the nature of their disability.
In the early days of the Industrial Injuries Act, when this benefit emerged, it was to bridge the gap between pre-and post-accident earnings. Looking back over the past twelve years, I am forced to the conclusion that this benefit for special hardship has saved the industrial insurance scheme. I do not know what the position would have been in those industries where the incidence of accident is very high—I am thinking particularly of mining, which I know most about—had it not been for this attempt to bridge the gap between pre-and post-accident earnings.
The time has arrived when we should give more attention to this matter than we have done hitherto. This is one of the features of the Bill where the Minister can afford to be more generous than he is proposing to be. Some day—I hope in the not-too-distant future—we may have an opportunity of discussing the conditions which qualify for the receipt of special hardship benefit. The scheme has now existed for twelve years and we have not yet seriously studied not merely the benefits but the structure of the scheme. I know that I would be out of order to pursue that line, and I immediately turn to the question before us, the amount of the benefit.
Whatever the Minister may say about our proposals to increase other benefits, this proposal to pay 50s. for special hardship is very modest. Let us consider what the benefit is for. I take a case typical of many thousands, especially in heavy industries. Let us suppose that a man is earning £15 a week as a piece-rate coal miner working underground. If he is subsequently certified to be suffering from pneumoconiosis, he may get a 10 per cent. or 20 per cent. assessment. But, whatever the size of the assessment may be, he will probably be medically advised not to return to work in dusty conditions.
Whatever the assessment of his disablement, his earnings will immediately drop from £15 or more a week to only £10 5s. if he continues to work underground or, if he has to work on the surface, as so many pneumoconiotics do, where there is the minimum of dust, he will get the miserable wage of only £9 5s. a week.
If his assessment is 10 per cent., he will get 8s. 6d. a week, and 17s. a week if the assessment is 20 per cent.—on the present figures. He will also get a special hardship allowance of 34s. Under the Minister's proposals, he would get 9s. 9d. for a 10 per cent. and 19s. 6d. for a 20 per cent. disablement, plus 39s. for special hardship allowance. But it is simple to calculate that his wages will fall by between £5 and £10 a week. That is why, as I said earlier, the special hardship allowance was envisaged—so that it could bridge the gap between pre- and post-accident earnings, or, at any rate, make it smaller.
As the Minister knows, the whole of the trade union movement is concerned about this benefit. I am informed that the National Union of Mineworkers recently sent a deputation to the right hon. Gentleman to discuss not so much qualifications and conditions for the receipt of special hardship allowance as its amount.
The Ministry's latest report in connection with this benefit, for the year ending October, 1959, shows that 98,000 men were then in receipt of special hardship allowance. The Minister will not underestimate the significance of the fact that 87,000 of those 98,000 received the maximum amount. The point of that is that for shorter or longer periods, or for the remainder of their working lives, those men were unable to return to their pre-accident work, or to work of equivalent standing. That is the position for the victims of accident and disease who receive this special hardship allowance.
I do not think the Minister will say that he cannot accept this proposal because the Fund cannot stand the cost. I credit him with more wisdom than that in view of the state of the Industrial Injuries Fund. The special hardship allowance, as the right hon. Gentleman will agree, is a kind of compensation to make up the difference between pre-and post-accident earnings. I have been in the House of Commons a long time, and I have developed a great regard for the right hon. Gentleman's oratorical ability. One thing about the right hon. Gentleman is that not only does he believe in the principle of compensation but, as his arguments in our debates on the nationalisation Measures show—for both coal and railways—he demonstrates great tenacity in arguing for compensation to be adequate.
The right hon. Gentleman may argue that he is taking a penny off the contributions—this is rather like Daz and Tide, "3d. off this week". The right hon. Gentleman may say, on the advice of the Government Actuary, that the decrease of 1d. from contributions means a loss to the Fund of £8½ million. He may say that his proposals to increase the benefits will cost £7½ million. Although that is true, it is also true that in 1959 the Fund made a surplus of £31½ million.
Assuming that there is the same financial pattern this year, and allowing for the decrease in the income due to the reduction of 1d. and allowing for the increase proposed by the Minister, while not being much of a mathematician, I calculate that there would be a surplus of £15 million for the coming year.
We started the Industrial Injuries Fund de novo twelve years ago, and since that time, I am pleased to say, it has reached a surplus of £205 million. The annual cost of increasing the benefits which the Minister proposes by 11s. for 100,000 cases—and in the last year for which we have figures there were 98,000 cases—would be £60,000. A fund in so healthy a condition that it has a surplus of £205 million with the prospect of an annual increase of £15 million in addition can well afford to meet what we propose. An increase of 11s. over and above what the Minister proposes is very modest.
Who are these people about whom we are talking? They are the severely disabled. Much has been said about them, and I do not wish to play on emotions. However, every month I go to the miners' council meeting—I went last Saturday—and there is scarcely a month when we do not stand sub silentio for someone who has passed away as the result of an accident. These are the kind of people about whom we are talking—people with fractured spines, people who have had a leg or legs or arms amputated, and people who have lost their eyesight. In addition, there are the pneumoconiotics.
We have been talking about people with serious disabilities, but there are people who are disabled to a lesser degree. That disablement may be 20 per cent. or less, but the important point to remember when considering the less severely disabled is that the nature of their pre-accident work, or the nature of their disability, however slight, or a combination of both, prevents them returning to their normal occupations or to one of equivalent standing. The result is that the wage packet is reduced by £5, £6, £7, £8, or perhaps £10 a week.
The Minister is not unsympathetic by nature. He sometimes gets engrossed in, and deceived by, mathematical calculation, but I put this to him, and I am sure that in his heart he will agree with me, whatever argument he puts up for the rejection of the Amendment. To ask for a sum of 50s. to bridge the gap between pre- and post-accident wages is not outrageous, and with a surplus of the size that I have mentioned the Minister can well afford to grant it.
In the interests of these people, the bottom of whose world drops out when they are disabled, I ask him to look again at this. Whatever he thinks about our other proposals, I ask him to accept this modest proposal embodied in what I regard as an important Amendment.
I wish, briefly, to support the Amendment which has been so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. B. Taylor). I come from an area where we have heavy steel works and some coal mines. It is in a community of that nature that one can see the effect on an individual of a loss of faculties and how it affects his potential working ability in subsequent years.
The proposal in the Amendment might seem to involve a large sum of money, but it is infinitesimal compared with the loss of limbs and faculties which the working person has to suffer for the rest of his life. I have had experience of adjudicating in these cases and of representing appellants. Over the years I have formed the opinion that this contribution which working people make to our society is not adequately recognised.
I must give credit to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance. It takes great pains to give an appellant every opportunity to appeal. Indeed, the Ministry bends backwards to try to accommodate working people seeking to further their interests. On the other hand, the Ministry goes to considerable pains, by engaging medical advisers and medical adjudicators to guide it as to the extent of loss of faculties, and to protect itself against abuses. The Ministry will be thoroughly protected if the modest increase for which we are asking is granted, because if there is a loss of faculties it has to be conclusively proved by the individual that he has suffered such a loss before he is granted any special hardship allowance.
When one visits heavy steel works, iron works, and tube-making works, and when one sees the risks which the ordinary man runs not only to meet domestic needs but to meet the needs of the export market, one realises that we are not asking for an unreasonable amount.
If we consider the incidence of disease contracted by people in all types of plants and in all kinds of works, we must remember that the diseases which they contract are not those which last for a week or for a month, but diseases which afflict them for the rest of their lives.
When one considers all those factors and when one sees men who were once sturdy, strong and healthy deteriorating because of the loss of faculties due either to industrial accidents or to disease contracted in employment surely one should try to do everything one can to ensure that they are adequately compensated.
There are other sections of the community and other types of employment in which men and women are compensated to a greater extent for the degree of risk they run in the course of their duties than are the people about whom we are concerned. Even in the sporting world one finds that adequate compensation is paid to football players if they are injured. A benefit match is arranged in their favour, and more can be gained from a benefit match than the granting for the remainder of the injured worker's life of the sum set out in the Amendment would cost.
When one realises the extent to which people are compensated for loss of office, apart from loss of faculties, surely a case can be argued for the Minister to accept the Amendment which seeks to give the worker who has suffered a loss of faculties reasonable compensation for the consequent loss of earning capacity.
When we talk of the loss of faculties, we must remember that we are talking about a person, or persons, who, as a result of an accident, or because of a disease which he has contracted in the course of his work, is prevented from earning his former wage, his former salary or his former remuneration.
The purpose of the special hardship allowance is to compensate the individual for such loss. But how does it work out? Let us consider a worker in an area which is bedevilled by unemployment pockets. When such a person, engaged in heavy industry, sustains an injury or develops a disease which results in a loss of faculty, he is automatically told that in his own interests he should accept work of less responsibility entailing less risk. But where can he find it in such an area? It is impossible for him to find reasonably comparable employment. Therefore, many of these men, who have given of their best in the coal and steel industries, find themselves compelled to take ordinary watchmen's or park rangers' jobs at very low wages.
Even if the 50s. were agreed to, these individuals would still be well under the sum which their former ability would have earned. The Minister should try to realise the extraordinary difficulty with which these people are confronted if they happen to work in an area where there is a high unemployment rate. It is very difficult for them to find any sort of employment which will not result in a very substantial reduction in their wages.
The Minister is inclined to be influenced by general circumstances and to overlook particular situations which make this issue very important, but he now has an opportunity to do something worth while for these people. I know that the Ministry gives them advice and helps them in their form filling. It puts staff at their disposal to guide and help them. But what they require is money—a reasonable sum which, if it does not bridge the gap between their former and present earnings, at least goes some way to compensate them for their previous services to the country.
I do not regard the Minister's proposals as reasonable. I think that they are meagre. I hope that the Amendment will be accepted, because it is a step in the right direction. It not merely gives these people an indication of our appreciation of their service to the community; it also gives them an indication that the House of Commons is conscious of the sacrifice that they have made on behalf of the nation and is doing its best to try to compensate them for doing so.
I want to support the cogent arguments which have been advanced by my hon. Friends in support of the Amendment. It is not my intention to go into the history of the hardship allowance. The name indicates why it is paid. When the administration of workmen's compensation was largely taken from the Home Office and given to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance the need for this allowance was proved. Even in 1925 provision was made for hard cases to be reviewed, subject to the person concerned being under the age of 21.
I do not wish to argue whether that was a good or a bad move, but we are now talking of bridging the difference between what a man earned before his accident and what he is able to earn afterwards, if he can earn anything at all. It will take more than 39s. to bridge the gap because the gap is very large, both from an economic point of view, and to a large extent from a social point of view. There is not much between the two sides of the Committee on this issue, and the Minister, who has not conceded much so far, can make this concession to us on behalf of those men who are totally disabled as a result of accidents at work.
I crave the indulgence of the Committee briefly to refer to two cases. I could mention names and addresses and, if I were a little nearer my own home, I could mention dates. Mr. A worked in the Lower Hall Colliery, Leigh, and he met with a very serious accident to his left hand. The social loss to this man was enormous, for he was a brilliant pianist, and immediately the accident happened, that ability and enjoyment went out of his life. Previously he had had the musical talent to perform at both social and other concerts, but afterwards that ability disappeared. When a man who has loved music, and has had the power to express himself in music, loses that power, it is a very serious social loss.
He was also a brilliant left-handed cricketer, top of both batting and bowling averages, and he was a brilliant player. This enjoyment, too, he lost. He had been a good musician and a good cricketer, but he lost all that and was given only a meagre compensation.
I have said before, and I repeat, that no man, however clever, can express in terms of £ s. d. the loss of a limb or an eye or a life. One faces great difficulties in seeking truly to express the value to be put on the loss of a limb or an eye.
The man of whom I have spoken suffered extreme social consequences as a result of his accident. Life has gone out of him. He has no interest in it. This is all because adequate compensation, both socially and economically, has not been paid to him.
I know of another instance of a man who had a very serious accident. This man had no talent for music but he, too, was a fine cricketer. When he lost the use of the lower part of his body, he had to forfeit the enjoyment of playing cricket. He had won many medals and other trophies as a cricketer. Think of the great loss to that man and what the loss of social and recreational values meant to him. All he can do today is to sit at the front door. Because of his accident, for years he has been unable to participate in the social life of the village.
I have mentioned those two cases because I think that they should explain to the Minister why we are trying to improve the economic circumstances of these unfortunate men. I know that we may be accused, as those of us who represent mining constituencies often are, of having in mind the high incidence of accidents in the mining industry. We do so because we are convinced that we are doing the right thing. If the Minister, or representatives of his Department examined the incidence of accidents in the mine, they would find that the greater number of those accidents happen to the men at the coal face—the kenchers, as we call them.
The wages paid to those men are the highest of any paid to underground workers. When any of those men who work at the kenches as contractors, or strippers, brushers, and coal face workers have a disabling accident, their wages come down from £13 or £14 a week to a small compensation or allowance. Thereafter, these comparatively young men find themselves taken out of the normal run of life, social and otherwise. I am sure that we are justified in asking the right hon. Gentleman to apply his mind to this subject. We are not asking too much. We think that we are doing the right thing by at least seeking to ensure, in these days when we are again boasting of our high prosperity, that some of that prosperity goes to these men.
It is not my intention to go over the figures mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. B. Taylor), but the amount involved is comparatively small. Surely the Minister can go some way in our direction and say, "Here I am, possessed of all this money—£230 million. I will try to bring some degree of happiness to these people. I shall try to help them enjoy life a little more fully than they have been able to in the last few years". If he will do that, if he will concede this Amendment, which asks for only 11s. over and above what the Department is prepared to pay, he will earn for himself and his Department the eternal gratitude of these unfortunate victims who have been broken on the wheel of industry.
This Amendment raises a narrow but quite important point. We are agreed on both sides of the Committee that an improvement should be made in the maximum scale of the special hardship allowance. The difference that arises between us is that the Bill provides for an increase which is in proportion to the other increases in industrial injury benefits, whereas the Amendment proposes an increase in the special hardship allowance quite out of scale with the general scale of increases under the Bill.
In view of the particular nature of this allowance, that raises a very important point. The hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. B. Taylor), who was in at the birth of it, very rightly said that it is a rather peculiar part of the Industrial Injuries Scheme—which, for better or worse, is on a loss-of-faculty basis, irrespective of earnings. The special hardship allowance is the one exception to that general principle, and, indeed, it sometimes seems to some observers that there is something of a clash between the main principle of the Industrial Injuries Scheme and the principle represented by this allowance.
I think that you would rule me out of order, Sir Gordon, if I went into the wider issues that have been raised in connection with the conditions applicable to the allowance, but perhaps I can say, in reply to the hon. Member for Mansfield, that I have had deputations on this subject, though the most recent one was not from the National Union of Mineworkers but from the T.U.C. It is fair to say that the N.U.M. was pretty strongly represented on that delegation. These issues do not arise either on this Amendment or on the Bill where we are concerned with the narrower point of the actual amounts. But there is an important point that does arise from the proposal to make a disproportionate—I use the word in no offensive manner—distinction in this allowance as compared with the others.
As the Committee knows, there is a condition covering this allowance under which, however much of it is paid, it shall not exceed together with the benefit the equivalent of the 100 per cent. rate. The 39s. proposed in the Bill is equivalent to 40 per cent. of the maximum rate, with the result that it is possible, where the maximum rate is payable, to make up an assessment of 60 per cent. to the equivalent of 100 per cent. If we are going to increase the amount of this allowance out of proportion, we do not, because of the operation of the rule, benefit anybody whose assessment is 60 per cent. or above. Only those whose assessments are below 60 per cent. can benefit fully by the change.
That difficulty illustrates the main point that I was trying to make, namely, that there is a certain clash between the considerations behind this allowance and those behind the Scheme as a whole. I am not sure that it is a particularly good use of the very substantial sum of money involved. Nor do I think that it is going to lead to a helpful solution of some of the difficulties affecting this allowance as a whole, of which I am very well aware.
The cost which I mentioned is very much bigger than the hon. Gentleman suggested. The cost of the Amendment as it stands would be £3,100,000 next year, rising to £4,800,000 in some twenty years' time. It therefore represents getting on for half the total cost of all the Amendments which hon. Members opposite have put down to this Schedule, and that illustrates the difficulty of fitting them into the present structure of the Scheme.
On the question of cost, I should like to take up a point which the hon. Gentleman made. He referred to what he called the surplus on the Fund. The Industrial Injuries Fund is not, as the National Insurance Fund will be after next April, on a pay-as-you-go basis. It is on an actuarial basis. Like all schemes on that basis in their early years, it must have a considerable excess of income over expenditure in order to build up resources to meet the maximum calls upon it when they become due.
Obviously, in the case of a scheme only twelve years old, we are nowhere near, and will not be for many years, the maximum calls upon it, and we are advised by the Government Actuary as to the contributions necessary to build the Fund up to the level at which it will require to be when the maximum demands are made upon it. Therefore, to speak of a surplus at this stage, although it may be true as a matter of mathematics, is not very helpful.
The hon. Gentleman knows that if I am optimistic, I share that optimism with that not necessarily over-optimistic functionary, the Government Actuary. The hon. Gentleman, has no doubt, studied his Quinquennial Review of the Scheme which, as I explained on Second Reading—I do not want to repeat it now—we have followed in respect of contributions. I have dealt with that point because I thought that the hon. Gentleman in his speech—coming from him particularly it might have carried a good deal of persuasion—was giving, perhaps, a rather misleading impression of the general finances of the Scheme.
While it is obvious that, with so large an additional expenditure, the Amendment must give rise on that ground alone to a good deal of objection, as I see it, the objection to the Amendment is still more one of principle. I do not think that one can deal with these quite difficult questions of the clash between the principle of loss of faculty and the principle of loss of earnings simply by an adjustment of this sort. I rather sympathise with what the hon. Member far Mansfield said. I think these are interesting and important matters to be discussed on some occasion, though you, Sir Gordon, would not let us do it now.
I am quite sure that the Amendment would certainly not help, and might indeed hinder, a solution of these problems and, taking the scheme as it stands, it would, apart from its substantial cost, disrupt the main structure of these improvements, since it is quite out of line with the general measure of the increases proposed and, so far as any benefit of the Amendment is concerned, it would go only to those men whose assessments were below 60 per cent.
For those reasons, although the speech of the hon. Member for Mansfield was so appealing that few people could resist it, I must say that I feel bound to advise the Committee to adopt the spirit in which Mr. Molotov dealt with matters in the period before his translation to the Outer Mongolian Republic.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. B. Taylor) referred to the Minister's heart of hearts, I was willing to concede that he had a heart, but I never suspected a heart of hearts. Although the right hon. Gentleman has brought to bear on this Amendment a reasonable amount of understanding, I do not think that the Committee will consider his response over-generous in sentiment or in any other way.
This particular benefit stands out. It has many distinctive features. As the Minister says, he is well aware of them. So am I. So is the Trades Union Congress. It is six years since the Minister sent a Memorandum to the Trades Union Congress telling it of his worries about the special hardship allowance and saying that there were important issues to be faced sooner or later, although, perhaps, further experience was necessary before a full review of this allowance could properly be undertaken. It is significant that in the report of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress for last year, which I have before me, a considerable amount of space was devoted to this particular allowance.
What is important is that the Trades Union Congress pulled out this allowance from all others and went to the Minister and asked him to increase it. He knows that. The T.U.C. asked him to increase it to one-half of the maximum disablement benefit rate, that is to say, an increase from 34s. to 42s. 6d. That was at a time when there were no proposals to increase the rest of the benefits under the Industrial Injuries Scheme, which shows that the Trades Union Congress attached special importance to this benefit quite apart from the general level of benefits. The figure of 50s. which we have put in the Amendment is, as near as can be, one-half of the proposed new maximum disablement benefit.
It would not be in order for me to examine some of the problems in the administration of this allowance which undoubtedly constitute the Minister's main anxiety but, clearly, in any allowance which recalls from the scheme of the past loss of earning capacity and grafts it on to the new scheme which is governed by loss of faculty, there are bound to be difficulties in marrying the two.
Two features of this allowance stand out. They can be seen quite clearly from page 41 of the last Report of the Ministry of National Insurance, Command Paper 1133. The first is the extraordinary rise in the number of allowances in payment. The graph shows a rise from less than 20,000 in 1949 to just short of 100,000 in 1958. What is the explanation for that? I think that the difference is due largely to the widening gap between the level of wages in industries in which workers are most susceptible to injury and the level of benefits. I think that that is the main explanation. In the mining industry and the steel industry, in industries where the incidence of industrial injury is highest, wages happen to be the highest, and rightly so. But the earning capacity of many men after injury is seriously impaired, and that is why I believe that a growing number of special hardship allowances have come into payment.
The next important point which has a bearing on the Amendment is the proportion of allowances at the maximum rate. The extraordinary thing is that the average allowance payable is 95 per cent. of the maximum rate. This shows that by far the overwhelming number of these allowances are at the maximum rate. When the Minister increases this allowance by 5s., the number will be as large at the maximum rate. That seems to show that the difference between the present 34s. and the proposed 39s. in the Bill does not give the Minister enough room adequately to meet the claims of those whose earning capacity has been seriously impaired after injury.
A rather surprising case came to my notice the other day. It concerned a woman in my constituency who, for very good reasons, worked part-time. She was a skilled worker. She suffered an injury to her fingers which prevented her from following her occupation. After she had recovered from her injury she was fit enough to do a less skilled and less well-paid job, but with the same hours of work she could not earn as much money at that job as she earned at her skilled job. In those circumstances, the Ministry say, "But if you work a full week on this lower-paid job you can earn as much as you previously earned for a smaller number of hours on this skilled job. Therefore, no hardship allowance for you". On appeal that view was upheld and umpires' decisions and commissioners' decisions were quoted in support of it. I can see that some of my hon. Friends know this story better than I do. This shows how closely the special hardship allowance is administered.
I do not complain about reasonably close administration, but there are times when it seems that the spirit of administration is somewhat lacking in dealing with an allowance which, by its name, is designed to meet special hardship due to a serious decline in earning capacity consequent upon injury.
It is a pity that the Minister has not accepted the strong request, oft repeated, of the Trades Union Congress to have a Departmental inquiry into the operation of this allowance when the amount of it, as well as the conditions attaching to it, could be considered. The Minister has rejected that suggestion. The T.U.C. has made specific proposals to him, some of them attaching to the conditions of award as well as the one which I have mentioned relating to the amount, and yet he has rejected them all. We must, therefore, take a serious view of the Minister's refusal to accept the Amendment.
I was not present at the interview to which the Minister referred, but I have been present at other interviews. I shall embarrass the right hon. Gentleman no more in that connection. He remembers the last one which I attended, to which I shall probably refer tomorrow, when the T.U.C. asked him to be frank and even to confide in the Congress. The Minister said, "That would be embarrassing in the presence of the hon. Member for Sowerby. After all, he is my political
opposite number and you would not expect me to tell him my secrets in your presence." Of course, if I had not been there, the Minister would not have said any word more. It just happened to suit his book that I was there and he was completely let out of coming clean on whether he would propose any increase in National Insurance benefits. The secret has now leaked out in the Bill, but it has not leaked out on the special hardship allowance. I ask my hon. Friends to divide the Committee.
|Division No. 10.]||AYES||[9.2 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Fisher, Nigel||Maddan, Martin|
|Aitken, W. T.||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Maginnis, John E.|
|Allason, James||Freeth, Denzil||Maitland, Sir John|
|Arbuthnot, John||Gibson-Watt, David||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Godber, J. B.||Marlowe, Anthony|
|Balniel, Lord||Gower, Raymond||Marten, Neil|
|Barlow, Sir John||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)|
|Barter, John||Green, Alan||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Grimston, Sir Robert||Mawby, Ray|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R.|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Gurden, Harold||Mills, Stratton|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Bingham, R. M.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||More, J.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Morrison, John|
|Blank, Sir Cyril||Hastings, S.||Nanarro, Gerald|
|Box, Donald||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Neave, Airey|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Noble, Michael|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hendry, Forbes||Nugent, Sir Richard|
|Braine, Bernard||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Hiley, Joseph||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Partridge, E.|
|Bryan, Paul||Hirst, Geoffrey||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Bullard, Denys||Hobson, John||Pilkington, Capt. Richard|
|Burden, F. A.||Hocking, Philip N.||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Holland, Philip||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hollingworth, John||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Hopkins, Alan||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hornby, R. P.||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Hughes-Young, Michael||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Iremonger, T. L.||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Cole, Norman||Jackson, John||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|Cooper, A. E.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Costain, A. P.||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Roots, William|
|Coulson, J. M.||Kimball, Marcus||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Kirk, Peter||Russell, Ronald|
|Critchley, Julian||Langford-Holt, J.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Cunningham, Knox||Leavey, J. A.||Seymour, Leslie|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Leburn, Gilmour||Sharples, Richard|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Shaw, M.|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Shepherd, William|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lilley, F. J. P.||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Duncan, Sir James||Longbottom, Charles||Stodart, J. A.|
|Elliot, Capt. W. (Carshalton)||Loveys, Walter H.||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Elliott, R. W.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Emery, Peter||McLaren, Martin||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Talbot, John E.|
|Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Farr, John||McMaster, Stanley R.||Taylor, E. (Bolton, E.)|
|Fell, Anthony||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Temple, John M.|
|Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Thomas, Peter (Conway)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)||Webster, David||Woollam, John|
|Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Whitelaw, William||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Tilney, John (Wavartree)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Turner, Colin||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)||Colonel J. H. Harrison and|
|Ainsley, William||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Oram, A. E.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Padley, W. E.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Grimond, J.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Awbery, Stan||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Hannan, William||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Beaney, Alan||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Peart, Frederick|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hayman, F. H.||Pentland, Norman|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Benson, Sir George||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Probert, Arthur|
|Blackburn, F.||Hilton, A. V.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Boardman, H.||Holman, Percy||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.)||Houghton, Douglas||Rankin, John|
|Bowles, Frank||Hoy, James H.||Redhead, E. C.|
|Boyden, James||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hunter, A. E.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Ross, William|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Janner, Barnett||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Brown, Thomas (Inoe)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Callaghan, James||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Chetwynd, George||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Small, William|
|Cliffe, Michael||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Collick, Percy||Kelley, Richard||Snow, Julian|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Kenyon, Clifford||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||King, Dr. Horace||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Sylvester, George|
|Deer, George||Loughlin, Charles||Symonds, J. B.|
|Dempsey, James||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Dodds, Norman||MacColl, James||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||McInnes, James||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Mackie, John||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McLeavy, Frank||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Evans, Albert||Manuel, A. C.||Timmons, John|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mapp, Charles||Warbey, William|
|Fitch, Alan||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Watkins, Tudor|
|Fletcher, Eric||Marsh, Richard||Whitlock, William|
|Foot, Michael||Mason, Roy||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mayhew, Christopher||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Millan, Bruce||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mitchison, G. R.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Moody, A. S.||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Ginsburg, David||Morris, John||Zilliacus, K.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mort, D. L.|
|Gourlay, Harry||Moyle, Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Grey, Charles||Mulley, Frederick||Mr. Howell and Mr. Lawson.|
It will be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss also the Amendment in line 52, column 4, to leave out "Eighty" and to insert "Ninety".
These Amendments raise some of the greatest human problems of all among the cases with which the Bill is concerned. The people whom the Amendments affect are all 100 per cent. disabled. They are not only disabled and severely handicapped but many of them are really helpless. They are not only unable to provide for themselves but they are unable to look after themselves. Even the most menial tasks have to be done for them.
I remember visiting only three weeks ago a man who was terribly burned in a pit explosion in Nottinghamshire about twelve months ago. He was forlorn and feeling hopeless. Medical science had certainly made a very good job of him by skin grafting and other treatment, but everything had to be done for him. In that case and to a lesser degree in all the 14,000 cases where a constant attendance allowance is made the person concerned is entirely dependent upon somebody else every moment not only of the day but in many cases of the night as well.
The repercussions of these cases are not confined to the individual victim. Perhaps the greatest burden rests upon a mother, a wife or some other member of the family. Whilst it is a job of love and affection, nevertheless as the days, months and years go by it imposes a great burden upon relatives and means a great amount of sacrifice on their part.
What do some of them get now? They get 35s. a week. It is true that if they are in receipt of the maximum payment they can receive 70s., but we say that, in the first case, the increase should be not to 40s., as is proposed by the Minister, but to 50s., and in the extreme case it should be not 80s. but 90s.
I have mentioned the number of these cases, and I appeal to the right hon. Lady, if she is to reply, not to say "No" this time, because this is a great human problem. I hope that something will be done for these very severely disabled people who are quite helpless. Many of them have lost hope altogether.
We cannot make too strong a plea for raising the allowances for these people who are in need of constant attention. Many of them who are paraplegics are casualties of the mining industry.
Earlier, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary said that it was hoped that the number of accidents in industry would decline, but that is not happening in the mining industry. Indeed, in that industry today, with increased mechanisation, there is an increasing number of accidents because of acceleration in the speed of work. These people are paying the ultimate price for working in heavy industry.
The standard of safety—I shall not enter into it now—is very different under the Mines and Quarries Act, which provides that precautions shall be carried out as far as is reasonable, compared with the Factories Acts. Factory inspectors would collapse if they saw conveyors unprotected in factories as they are in the mines. But men are working in these conditions. That is the nature of their occupation. Because of the proximity of their work to these new machines they frequently suffer terrible injuries. The risks are great, particularly in the mining industry.
Who are these people who have suffered in this way? If they go at common law to the courts to seek some compensation from the National Coal Board for injury, this category of injury is valued highest by the High Court judges. The compensation obtained at common law for these injuries can be as much as £16,000 or even £18,000. That is also given for cases of paraplegia. Indeed, the amount of valuation is far higher than in cases where death occurs. The prevalent figure of about £16,000 which is placed on these injuries at common law is an indication of the importance of the terrible tragedy that such an injury can bring to a man.
The burden is on the family. These people cannot carry out even the simplest motions. The most menial of tasks—I cannot describe them to the Committee now—have to be carried out for them. They have suffered far more than the ultimate price because they have worked in this industry. With the general increase in earnings in industry generally—and in the steel industry in my division in particular—if a man suffers an injury of this kind it is far worse even than when earnings were far lower. When he sees his neighbours and friends gaining bigger and better salaries year by year, he is frequently in the corner, often unable to go out or to move, and he sees his standard of living falling day by day and week by week.
I cannot make too strong a plea for these people who have paid a very high price indeed for working in heavy industry.
I am grateful to the hon. Members for Mansfield (Mr. B. Taylor) and Aberavon (Mr. Morris) for the manner in which they have spoken. We all share their sympathy with these very severely disabled people. We recognise the tremendous difficulties which they face. I certainly join in the tributes which the hon. Members paid to the devoted wives and other relatives who are constantly in attendance upon these very severely injured people.
I think it is fair to say that we have recognised the very particular claims which this type of pensioner has. The constant attendance allowance is an additional provision made to lessen the hardship imposed on these most seriously disabled people, of whom at the present time there are some 2,000. Without doubt, they are among the most grievously disabled. The allowance is payable, if they need constant attendance, to disablement pensioners who are assessed at 100 per cent., to old workmen's compensation cases and to certain police and fire pensioners who fulfil the basic conditions for the allowance.
It is also only fair to say that we should not take the increase in this allowance in isolation, because the severely disabled pensioner who is entitled to this allowance will almost certainly be entitled to sickness benefit as well, besides his 100 per cent. disablement pension. Therefore, he gains under the Bill—very rightly so—by three increases and not by just this individual increase.
I think it is fair to point out what those three increases will amount to. To take the single man first, he is now receiving in respect of the three allowances £8 10s., and he will receive £9 15s.; or, if he is exceptionally seriously disabled £10 5s., which is more than double the 1951 rate and, in real terms, £3 14s. 3d. higher. Therefore, I do not think anyone can suggest that we have not, over the various increases, given special consideration to this type of case.
The married man with two children at present gets £11 10s. With the four increases which he will get—sickness benefit, the allowances for his wife and children, his disablement pension and his constant attendance allowance—he will get £13 5s.; and the increase is 10s. greater if he is exceptionally severely disabled. The £13 5s. compares with £6 7s. 6d. in 1951 and represents an increase in real terms of £4 15s.
It is fair to say that we have given particular consideration to this type of case with every increase which has come before the House, and rightly so. These people will not merely enjoy just this one increase; they will qualify for at least three increases. I believe that it is a worth-while and not ungenerous increase. It makes the rates substantially higher than they have ever been, and to change them would throw them out of parity with the comparable allowances which are available to war pensioners, which are to be raised on the same basis as is recommended in this Bill. For these reasons, and because I do not think our treatment has been ungenerous, I must ask hon. Members not to support the Amendment.
I am sure that the right hon. Lady does not wish to convey an entirely wrong impression. Here we are dealing with an allowance which is absorbed in the main by the payment to the person who is in constant attendance. Therefore, it is entirely fair to suggest that the whole allowance should be taken into consideration when dealing with this specific issue. If the daughter of a recipient of the constant attendance allowance is spending her life looking after her father, the constant attendance allowance is more than absorbed. At the same time, the daughter who is looking after her father is entitled to a higher standard of living in accordance with the increasing affluence of society. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that this type of allowance is dealt with in isolation because it is in this type of case that greater hardship can be experienced as a result of the Government's unwillingness to give an increase. Will the right hon. Lady deal with that point?
I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but, in general, in most of these cases the family income is taken as a whole. Just as in the case of a war pensioner or any other pensioner, the beneficiary in his own right draws the particular allowances or benefits to which he is entitled. It is a personal payment to the man and is not in any sense, nor was ever intended to be, a wage for a third party. It is an allowance to the man and is part and parcel of the allowances paid because of his disability. It is in the main made for some easement for the member of the family who may be called upon to look after him—generally the wife, less frequently the mother and occasionally another member of the family—but it is paid directly to the injured person as the sole claimant and beneficiary.
I want to deal with this point because I feel sure that the right hon. Lady does not appreciate in toto the significance of this allowance. I have had considerable experience of cases of industrial injuries and constant attendance allowance. This allowance cannot be studied solely in terms of an allowance to the particular individual, although it falls within that category under the terms of the Act.
There are two real reasons why this allowance is in existence. The first is the reason that I tried to outline to the right hon. Lady, who does not appear to have grasped the full significance of the points that I made. The second—which is of equal importance—is that in many of these cases, owing to the insured person being constantly in his bed and having constant attendance, there is a far greater incidence of replacement of family or household equipment—bedclothes, even carpets, and other things that are worn out more quickly because of his being constantly in the house or bedridden. It is because of this that the special attendance allowance exists at all. We should be a little more generous in our approach to this problem. I have gone beyond expecting the Government to make any attempt to meet even legitimate arguments from this side of the Committee. I sometimes wonder what kind of arguments we can use to get some departure from the rigid attitude of the Front Bench opposite. We are in Committee to see whether it is necessary and equitable to make improvements in the Government's proposals and, if we are to do our job as a Committee, the Ministers in charge of the Bill will have to show far more elasticity.
I ask the right hon. Lady to reconsider the constant attendance allowance issue which has been responsible for a great deal of hardship for people who have been injured while making their contribution to society and doing a useful job of work and who have a right to expect far more consideration that they are getting.
May I reinforce the plea of my hon. Friends. The right hon. Lady said that, generally speaking, it was the wife who was called upon to look after these cases. Has she considered that it is very likely that the wife herself had been earning money to keep a home going and that, because her husband is in need of constant attendance and is bedridden and needing every simple task to be done for him, the wife has to give up her job, so that the household is doubly penalised because the husband has had an accident which has resulted in his becoming a permanent invalid?
There are many cases in which the wife is dead, or in which she prefers to go out to work to earn a little more to make up for the things which my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) mentioned, so that it is the daughter who stays at home. Do we all appreciate the burden which is placed on a young woman in circumstances like that? I am now concerned with a case in which a girl has given up her job and will never be able to go out to work again as long as her parents live.
The alternative is to put the man in hospital at a cost to the State very much higher than paying a little more money in this allowance. Not only is a girl in these circumstances prevented from having a job, but she has her whole life ruined. If she is the only daughter in the house, she is prevented from going out and enjoying herself as a young person should. She is even prevented from getting married, because she does not have the opportunity to meet people. She also feels that she is morally responsible not to get married and to continue to look after her parent.
We have been told repeatedly that we get emotional and sentimental about these things. We do, because those of us on this side of the Committee come into closer contact with these people than do hon. Members opposite. We live with them and we have been reared with them. They are part of our blood, part of our lives. These cases are all around us and we have grown up with conditions like this. We are right to feel emotional and sentimental about these people, because this is a human problem.
I ask the right hon. Lady as a woman to make a very special plea to her right hon. Friend and his advisers, for the sake of the wife or of the daughter in these cases who is compelled to make what I consider to be a supreme sacrifice in the interests of someone who has suffered at the hands of industry, to be a little more forthcoming than they have shown themselves prepared to be.
I support what my hon. Friend has said, especially in view of what the right hon. Lady said about constant attendance allowance not being intended to pay wages to someone outside the family. My two hon. Friends quoted cases of daughters being involved. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) said, we live among these people.
Then there is the case of the mother who is probably approaching 60. She has probably had a hard struggle to bring up her family, and she has probably aged beyond her years. Her husband is her all to her. She cannot look after him day and night. The only thing she can do, instead of sending her husband to hospital which would cost more, and in any event he probably would not go, is to engage outside help.
It is now accepted by everybody that getting outside help means that the family has to pay more than it had to pay a few years ago. The wife has to look after her husband during the night. I will not go into the details of what she has to do. It is well known to my hon. Friends, even if it is not known to hon. Gentlemen. During the day the wife engages a younger person to look after her husband.
I add my plea to that made by my hon. Friends to the Minister to give way on this Amendment. These men gave their all to industry in their younger days, and they have met with a fate which is really worse than death because it is a long, lingering deathlike existence.
When looking through this long series of Amendments, if anyone had asked me to pick out one Amendment which I thought the Government would accept, this would have been the one, for those reasons. Firstly, because acceptance of the Amendment would not bankrupt the country—we are dealing with fewer than 2,000 cases—and, secondly, because of the kind of cases with which we are dealing. Let me quote the words of the Schedule. They are
sufficiently descriptive to convey to anyone with imagination the kind of people with whom we are dealing:
Maximum amount…of disablement pension where constant attendance is needed…in cases of exceptionally severe disablement.
They are now being paid 70s. For exceptionally severe disablement demanding constant attendance they receive 70s. The Government propose to raise it to 80s. We say that it should be raised to 90s. In the other cases where constant attendance is required, they are at present being paid 35s. a week. The Government say it should be 40s., but we say it should be 50s.
Let us consider the extreme cases first, and when we say extreme cases my hon. Friends are not exaggerating when they quote these cases. These are actual cases. Constant attendance in these cases does not mean constant attendance only during the day. It means constant attendance day and night. It does not mean the services of one person. It may mean the services of two or three people. Most of us have experienced it in our own homes and within our own families where there has been a case of illness which eventually proved fatal. It may have lasted only a week, but we know the distortion of family life that meant for us at the time. Many of us know cases where it has gone on year after year. As my hon. Friend said, the man may be suffering an actual living death. Think of the martyrdom suffered by the family.
The right hon. Lady said: "You cannot isolate this business. This is something that is paid extra, not for the full payment of the attendance but just towards it". This is where she is so wrong. It is paid simply because the man requires constant attendance. The need is isolated. That being so, we say that it should be met to a far greater extent than is proposed. Even our figure of 90s. is not a full and proper assessment of what should be given. A loss of earnings is involved here. It may concern a daughter or a wife who is able to earn far more than the 90s. we suggest. The right hon. Lady knows that this is true. She brought in the question of the war disabled, as others have done so readily.
When I first came to this House I served for many years on the old Ministry of Pensions Committee. I am sure that a previous Minister of Pensions would not have accepted many of the rates embodied in the Bill, and certainly would not have been satisfied with this one. I am referring to George Buchanan. We would not have got the kind of speech from him that we got from the right hon. Lady. I do not know whether she meant it, or realised it, but in her last intervention she projected a lack of sympathy which obviously aroused my hon. Friends.
If we should do anything, and if we can do anything, here is our chance to do it. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman and to the right hon. Lady to let us do something here. I am quite willing to suggest to my hon. Friends that we should give the Minister a chance to say that he will think about this. Does the
right hon. Lady appreciate that if the people concerned were in hospital instead of at home the nation would have to pay out far more than it does? In return for the selfless devotion of families, and for the distortion of the whole lives of the members of those families, the Bill is providing an increase of 5s. and 10s. in respect of the severely disabled. Surely Britain can do much better than that.
|Division No. 11.]||AYES||[9.43 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Farr, John||Lilley, F. J. P.|
|Allason, James||Fell, Anthony||Linstead, Sir Hugh|
|Arbuthnot, John||Finlay, Graeme||Longbottom, Charles|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Fisher, Nigel||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Balniel, Lord||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Barlow, Sir John||Freeth, Denzil||McLaren, Martin|
|Barter, John||Gibson-Watt, David||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Godber, J. B.||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Goodhart, Philip||McMaster, Stanley R.|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Gower, Raymond||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Maddan, Martin|
|Bingham, R. M.||Green, Alan||Maginnis, John E.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Grimston, Sir Robert||Maitland, Sir John|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Box, Donald||Gurden, Harold||Marlowe, Anthony|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marten, Neil|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)|
|Braine, Bernard||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt-Col. W. H.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Mawby, Ray|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R.|
|Bryan, Paul||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Mills, Stratton|
|Bullard, Denys||Hastings, S.||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Burden, F. A.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||More, J.|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hendry, Forbes||Morrison, John|
|Carr, Compton (Barone Court)||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Nabarro, Gerald|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hiley, Joseph||Neave, Airey|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Noble, Michael|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nugent, Sir Richard|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Hobson, John||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Hocking, Philip N.||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)|
|Cole, Norman||Holland, Philip||Partridge, E.|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hollingworth, John||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hopkins, Alan||Pilkington, Capt. Richard|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hornby, R. P.||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch|
|Costain, A. P.||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Coulson, J. M.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Iremonger, T. L.||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Critchley, Julian||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Cunningham, Knox||Jackson, John||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Curran, Charles||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Ridsdale, Julian|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Rippon, Geoffrey|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Kimball, Marcus||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Duncan, Sir James||Kirk, Peter||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Elliot, Capt. W. (Carshalton)||Langford-Holt, J.||Roots, William|
|Elliott, R. W.||Leavey, J. A.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Emery, Peter||Leburn, Gilmour||Russell, Ronald|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Seymour, Leslie||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Shaw, M.||Thomas, Peter (Conway)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Stodart, J. A.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Storey, Sir Samuel||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Studholme, Sir Henry||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)||Turner, Colin||Woollam, John|
|Talbot, John E.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Tapsell, Peter||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Taylor, E. (Bolton, E.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Teeling, William||Watts, James||Mr. Chichester-Clark and|
|Temple, John M.||Webster, David||Mr. Sharples.|
|Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Whitelaw, William|
|Ainsley, William||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Albu, Austen||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Grimond, J.||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Awbery, Stan||Hannan, William||Peart, Frederick|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Pentland, Norman|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Hayman, F. H.||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Beaney, Alan||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Probert, Arthur|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Hilton, A. V.||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Benson, Sir George||Holman, Percy||Rankin, John|
|Blackburn, F.||Houghton, Douglas||Redhead, E. C.|
|Boardman, H.||Hoy, James H.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Bowles, Frank||Hunter, A. E.||Ross, William|
|Boyden, James||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Janner, Barnett||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Small, William|
|Callaghan, James||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Snow, Julian|
|Chetwynd, George||Kelley, Richard||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cliffe, Michael||Kenyon, Clifford||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Collick, Percy||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||King, Dr. Horace||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Sylvester, George|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Symonds, J. B.|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Loughlin, Charles||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Deer, George||MacColl, James||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Dempsey, James||McInnes, James||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Dodds, Norman||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Mackie, John||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||McLeavy, Frank||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Manuel, A. C.||Timmons, John|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mapp, Charles||Warbey, William|
|Evans, Albert||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Watkins, Tudor|
|Fernyhough, E.||Marsh, Richard||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Fitch, Alan||Mason, Roy||Whitlock, William|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mayhew, Christopher||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Foot, Michael||Millan, Bruce||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mitchison, G. R.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Moody, A. S.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Morris, John||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Mort, D. L.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Ginsburg, David||Moyle, Arthur|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Oram, A. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gourlay, Harry||Padley, W. E.||Mr. Howell and Mr. Lawson.|
|Grey, Charles||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
I hope to deal with this matter quite briefly. The Schedule proposes to increase the allowances for the children of disabled and other persons covered by the Industrial Injuries Scheme. At present, the allowance for the first child is 15s. a week, the Schedule proposes to increase that by 2s. 6d. to 17s. 6d. a week, and the Amendment proposes to increase it to 22s. a week.
In the case of other children, for whom, of course, the family allowances are payable in addition, the existing allowance under the Scheme is 7s. a week, the Bill proposes to increase that to 9s. 6d., and we propose to lift it to 14s. a week. This is really in line with our general approach to the level of benefits under the Scheme.
We have already tried to improve the major benefit. We have not proposed to increase the allowance for a wife, but we do think that, irrespective of the Minister's judgment on other matters, some increase could be made in respect of children. There is no doubt that among the principal sufferers in many ways from the inadequacy of social benefits, are the children. I do not say that they go short of food, although, equally, I am not sure that they get enough of everything.
Under present conditions, many children are having a very good time—and we like to see it so. The parents are able to indulge their parental affection and give their children things today which many of us never saw in our own childhood. At school and at play many children whose fathers are suffering from industrial injury or sickness are not able to keep up with other children in many ways. I heard recently a touching story of a child who wanted to know why he was the only boy in the class who was not going away for a holiday. His mother had to explain that his father had been off work through sickness and that they could not afford a holiday. That is the sort of thing that I am referring to, as well as other matters connected with clothing, general welfare, entertainment and so on.
The proposed increases in the child allowance that we include in our Amendment are paltry enough, as are the proposals in the Schedule. We think that the Minister should depart from his rigidity on all these proposals in respect of children. I know that moving pleas have been made in the last few hours on behalf of other categories of beneficiary under the Industrial Injuries Scheme. Only a few moments ago, we heard of those who have to have constant attendance. Earlier, we heard of those who are so badly injured that they have to receive unemployability supplement.
We hope that the Minister is going to do something somewhere before we part with this Bill. This is surely one of the most deserving categories. They are themselves the innocent victims of the misfortunes of their parents, and we want to insulate them from the economic consequences of the disasters that have overtaken the family. Under the most favourable circumstances, the benefits under the Scheme will be much less than the average earnings, and it follows that everyone in the household will have to suffer. They will have to go short of something. They will not live the sort of lives that the children of parents in full employment are able to do. I sincerely hope that nothing of the force of this plea will be lost by the brevity of the speech with which I have made that plea.
The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) has moved his Amendment with the moderation and feeling to which we have grown accustomed in the course of this debate. I shall try to emulate that brevity.
The hon. Gentleman has accused my right hon. Friend of rigidity. I cannot accept that suggestion. The Bill makes provision for increases in injury benefit for children and, where unemployability supplement and hospital treatment allowance is payable, it provides also for an increase of disablement pension, as well as for general and enhanced rates of death benefit increases for children.
It is pertinent to remind the Committee, although I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows of it, that under the Industrial Injuries Act, but not under the National Insurance Act, the technical way in which the rates for widows' children are made up is somewhat complex. Section 21 of the Industrial Injuries Act lays down rates of death benefit for all children of a deceased person's family, while the Family Allowances and National Insurance Act, 1956, lays down an increase in the rates for children of those widows who are entitled to industrial death benefit. Such widows, therefore, receive their benefits for their children technically under two Statutes, but, of course, on the same pension book.
I mention that because the rates of National Insurance and industrial injuries benefits for children are the same, and they have been since the start of the scheme.