Orders of the Day — NATIONAL INSURANCE &c. BILL

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1964.

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Again considered in Committee.

Question again proposed, That the proposed words be there inserted.

Mr. Davies:

I will not keep the Committee much longer, but to round off the discussion it is worth while considering the question that has been referred to. I had just said that the basic philosophy underlying the provisions should be looked at afresh in the light of developments since 1948. Hon. Members opposite know full well that a reference was made in January, 1964, and that the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council is now proceeding with its work on this reference.

The problem covers not only the 20s. widows, but further complexities of death benefit provisions for widely differing groups of other adult dependants. An essential part of the Council's task is to discover the real situation of the 20s. widows and each of the other groups, so that all those problems can be brought into focus. That is the task that faces them.

Many of these anomalies are blurred and out of focus, and pending the report of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council—and the Council has arranged for a special inquiry into the circumstances of these people—it has been generally accepted, both in the T.U.C. Report for 1963–64 and by the Opposition, when they were in power, that these studies are necessary and that they will take some little time.

I have told the Committee what the Council is doing about the problem, and I am certain that there is as much sincerity on the benches opposite about the matter as there is on this side of the Committee. I am aware of the war widows who were referred to by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I sincerely hope that after the explanation that I have given the Amendment will be withdrawn, so as to enable the Committee to speed ahead and get the Bill, thereby ensuring that people will be helped as quickly as possible.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon , Wells

The hon. Member is very inconsistent. He began by saying that he was sickened by the hypocrisy on this side of the Committee, but he ended by saying that he recognised that there was as much sincerity on this side as on his side. I accept what he last said. If he were not so busy looking for hypocrisy in others he would not have missed the whole point of the Amendment, which is simply this: because the Government have altered the precise standing of the 10s. widow—and whether that is right or wrong I am not here to argue—by raising the pension from 10s. to 30s. they have altered the entire premises on which the benefits relating to the industrial injuries widow and other types of widow are based.

They have also altered the premises on which what I might describe as the underage war widow stood. On their own volition they have shifted the ground completely and so what I am saying to them tonight is that, only in fairness, must they shift it for all and not only for some.

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone

As an ex-Minister in the previous Government, what does the hon. and gallant Gentleman mean by saying that the present Government "whether rightly or wrongly" improved the position of the 10s. widow? Is he opposed to that improvement?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon , Wells

Not at all. I said, "rightly or wrongly, they have altered the case of the 10s. widow." I am not here to argue that point tonight. I should be out of order if I did so.

Photo of Mr James Allason Mr James Allason , Hemel Hempstead

Might I ask the Minister to think again about this? Is the Parliamentary Secretary really saying that for months, or perhaps years, these widows are to be at a lower rate than the 10s. widow, soon to be the 30s. widow? Is he saying that they are to be in a worse state than these others? Surely, on the rising tide principle he could at least let them go to 30s. a week and then if when the report comes out they are to get more than that, that can be done. In the meantime, would it not be possible to let the rising tide principle take care of it?

Photo of Mr Harold Davies Mr Harold Davies , Leek

Hon. Members on this side of the Committee know that the majority of these people will now go up to 30s. a week. I therefore think, without reiterating the argument, that it will help the Committee and help the purpose which some of us have in mind, if we could now go ahead with the rest of the Bill. I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman if he will withdraw this Amendment in view of what I think has been the value of our debate. He knows the position about the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council. If he does not agree to this, I will recommend to the Committee that we take the matter into the Division Lobby.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon , Wells

Could the Parliamentary Secretary explain why it is that he says that the majority of these widows would go up to 30s.?

Photo of Mr Harold Davies Mr Harold Davies , Leek

This is as a result of the legislation which we shall get if this Committee helps us to get it.

Amendment negatived.

Schedule agreed to.

Schedules 5 and 6 agreed to.