§ Part I.—Employed Rate.
|In the case of men||7d. a week.|
|In the case of women||6d. a week.|
§ Contributions by Employers and Employed Contributors.
|To be paid by the Contributor||Men, 4d. a week.|
|Women, 3d. a week.|
|To be paid by the Employer||3d. a week.|
§ In the case of employed contributors of either sex over the age of twenty-one whose wages or other remuneration do not exceed 2s. 6d. a working day and such remuneration does not include the provision 1034 of board ad lodging by their employer, the following shall be the rates of contribution:—
§ Where the rate of wages or other remuneration does not exceed 1s. 6d. a working day—
|To be paid by the Employer||For men, 6d.|
|For women, 5d.|
|To be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament||1d.|
§ Where the rate of wages or other remuneration does not exceed 2s. a working day—
|To be paid by the Employer||For men, 5d.|
|For women, 4d.|
|To be paid by the Contributor||1d.|
|To be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament||1d.|
§ Where the rate of wages or other remuneration does not exceed 2s. 6d. a working day—
|To be paid by the Employer||For men, 4d.|
|For women, 3d.|
|To be paid by the Contributor||3d.|
§ Part II.—Employed Rate in Ireland.
|In the case of men||…||…||5½d. a week.|
|In the case of women||…||…||4½d. a week.|
§ Contributions by Employers and Employed Contributors.
|To be paid by the Contributor||Men, 3d. a week.|
|Women, 2d. a week.|
|To be paid by the Employer||2½d. a week.|
§ In the case of employed contributors of either sex over the age of twenty-one whose wages or other remuneration do not exceed 2s. 6d. a day and who are not provided with board and lodging by their employer, the following shall be the rates of contribution:—
§ Where the rate of wages or other remuneration does not exceed 1s. 6d. a day—
|To be paid by the Employer||For men, 4½d.|
|For women, 3½d.|
|To be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament||1d.|
§ Where the rate of wages or other remuneration does not exceed 2s. a day—
|To be paid by the Employer||For men, 4d.|
|For women, 3d.|
|To be paid by the Contributor||½d.|
|To be out of moneys provided by Parliament||1d.|
§ Where the rate of wages or other remuneration does not exceed 2s. 6d. a day—
|To be paid by the Employer||For men, 3½d.|
|For women, 2½d.|
|To be paid by the Contributor||2d.|
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I beg to move, after the word "In" ["In the case of men"], to insert the words "respect of each pound sterling of wages and other remuneration in."
This Amendment is put down at the request of the London Chamber of Commerce, which felt strongly that the flat rate of insurance is not the right one to incorporate in this Insurance Bill. I am raising the Amendment with the view to getting from the Chancellor or his advisers some declaration as to why he has adopted the flat-rate system rather than the variable system which is adopted in other parts of Europe. It is clear that the flat-rate system works great hardship on the poorly paid occupations such as that of agricultural labour, and we are anxious to protest against it on their behalf. It is clear that rates of sickness vary very considerably in different trades. The agricultural labourer, at the age of twenty-five, has an average of not more than five days' sickness during the year, the quarry man has seven, while the miner has nine, which is nearly double that of the agricultural labourer. Under this Bill you are charging the miner only the same rate as the agricultural labourer, and the miner is going to get exactly twice as much out of the Bill as the agricultural labourer. I cannot conceive any justification for such a system, and it is with the view to getting some justification, if there be one, that I move this Amendment. In Germany the rate varies in accordance with the wages paid; and this is also the case in Austria-Hungary. In France they have both the flat rate and the variable rate, but the flat rate is applied to only one body of men, the miners, who are all at one particular occupation, so that in their case the flat rate is reasonable and fair. I would wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, first, how he reconciles his proposal with the experience on the Continent of Europe in favour of a variable rate, and, second, how he reconciles it with common fairness to the most poorly paid class of labour in this country?
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I beg to second the Amendment. I desire to take this, which I believe to be the last, opportunity of emphasising the fact that there is no Continental precedent for the line which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has decided to take with regard to the poorest classes in this country. I do not limit it to the case of the agricultural labourer and the poorness of the labourer himself, but 1036 apply it also to the poorness of his employer compared with the position of those who employ men in more profitable occupations. There is something like two millions of persons at present engaged in agricultural occupations, which number, I am sorry to say, is steadily diminishing, and anything that can be done to keep those men upon the land is bound to be not only an advantage to agricultural industry, but of very great advantage to a country so little self-contained in the matter of its food supply as this country unfortunately is. We have already pointed out to the Government that there is no necessity in the case of the agricultural labourer for the 10 per cent. margin which is allowed owing to the impossibility of gauging the unforeseen in the matter of those persons who hitherto have not come within any recognised insurance scheme. We pointed out that in the case of the agricultural labourer no such allowance whatever is necessary, because we have ascertained facts from the great friendly societies, which give us all the material we require.
We have also pointed out as regards the "reserve value" that there is no necessity in the case of the agricultural labourer to have so large a margin as one and five-ninths of a penny in order to provide him and his class with sufficient reserve value. We took the opportunity of urging on what was formerly the fourth and now is the fifth Clause of this Bill, that at least 1d. ought to be allowed off the total amount, the 7d., to be contributed by the employer and his servant in the case of agricultural occupations. Since I laid my figures before the House, which have not been contraverted from any quarter, I have gone still further into the matter, and I find that we were all too modest in suggesting that 1d. only ought to be knocked off that joint contribution, because we put our position before the House on the footing, which has proved to be incorrect, that an agricultural labourer short of the age of seventy does somehow suffer from a greater amount of illness than those employed in other occupations. The Chancellor replied to one case on 10th July by suggesting that, because the mortality in the case of the agricultural population was low, therefore the rate of illness was higher at the later ages. But on careful consideration of the tables of the great affiliated orders, it is found that that does not apply until after the age of seventy, so that, as far as the agricultural 1037 labourer is concerned, we are able to say that up to the age of seventy, when the Bill ceases to operate, he does enjoy a continuously higher standard of health than those engaged in other occupations. I want to ask, if this is the case, what the Chancellor is going to do with the balance which will result from the higher health standard of agricultural labourers. So far as these 2,000,000 persons are concerned, is he going to apply that balance to meet the deficiency in the case of those engaged in urban employment, or is he going to ensure under this scheme that the agricultural labourers shall get full value for their contributions, bearing in mind particularly that their remuneration is substantially lower than the remuneration of those employed in other occupations, and therefore the proportion which the agricultural labourer pays is a much severer strain upon his narrow resources than is the case with other workpeople? In spite of every representation that this Bill is going to bring them rare and refreshing fruit, they unfortunately will not acknowledge that it does anything of the sort. I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not wish to do them an injustice. I also desire to ask him whether he is going to apply for their benefit the balance which will undoubtedly accrue under Clause 10, in consequence of the alteration which was made by Amendment under the guillotine on Thursday last, substituting for the words "unfit to provide their own maintenance" the words "incapable of working." I am given to understand that the alteration of those words will result in several millions a year being available in the hands of the National Insurance Commissioners, to be applied in one direction or another.
I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he is going to do with that very large sum, and whether he cannot apply it, to some extent, to remedy the admitted grievance of the agricultural population, bearing in mind that the proportion of their payments to their wages is so much greater than in the case of other workmen. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was not himself present when this matter came up in the House on a previous occasion, and I should like to remind him of what was said in his report in aid of the new Government Clause by Mr. Alfred Watson, as to greater illness among the agricultural population at the age of seventy. That statement certainly 1038 does not confirm the proposition the Chancellor of the Exchequer put forward on 10th July. I want the. Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider what is going to happen to the agricultural population under this Bill? I am not talking about the agricultural employers, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer must be aware that the agricultural employers find it extremely difficult, at any rate on the smaller farms and in the poorer districts, to maintain a staff of sufficiently paid labourers. But, as regards the workmen themselves, what are they going to do? If it is the fact that the agricultural labourer, in consequence of this flat rate and his better health standard, is "a good insurable proposition," to use the Chancellor of the Exchequer's own words, the result will be, I take it, that the large affiliated orders will do their best to bring the agricultural labourers within their ranks. That is very possible and, I think, very probable, if the affiliated orders recognise, as we here recognise, that the agricultural labourer's life is a better one than will be the bulk of those who now form the majority of the larger approved societies. In the past, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is aware, the preponderating balance of members of the affiliated orders have been the agricultural labourers and the other inhabitants of villages. In future the preponderance will lie with those who are employed in the towns, and who hitherto have not been to any considerable extent insured persons.
If that be so, there will be a tendency—as, I think, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will admit—on the part of the executives of the larger affiliated orders to counterbalance what I may call the worse lives in the towns, living under worse conditions, by getting as many agricultural labourers as possible to come into their orders. No doubt it will be said that they will be better off there than if they had their own societies. I quite agree that would be so, if it were not for the very fact that by far the larger majority in future of members of these orders will be taken from the less healthy population of the towns. It stands to reason, therefore, that if part of the surplus of any of the agricultural branches of the affiliated orders is to be applied, as it will be applied under the Bill, to meet the deficiencies of the less healthy branches, the agricultural labourers will not get full value in future by becoming members of the large affiliated orders. What is the alternative? The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made a 1039 concession, which I, for one, most frankly acknowledge, under which the societies will be grouped, so far as possible, into county groups. I sincerely hope that all those that are able will take advantage of this provision. My only fear is that, unless they are guided from outside, and unless special encouragement and additional time are given to them before the Bill comes into operation, on their own iniative they will not to a very large extent join these county groups. They form a very small proportion of the existing organisations which give some sort of benefit in time of sickness in country districts. There are numbers of slate clubs and other bodies which divide out at the end of the year and there is also a large number of small friendly societies that will not pass muster as being solvent.
All those societies will have to be weeded out, and the members turned adrift to receive insurance as best they may. My own fear is that a very large number of these persons will become Post Office contributors. The more I look into this question as affecting the agricultural districts, the more convinced I am that the estimate of 200,000, the number at which the Chancellor of the Exchequer put the Post Office contributors, is absurdly small, far smaller than will be actually realised. I believe myself that something like one-fourth or one-fifth of insured persons will drift into being Post Office contributors. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may refer to this prophecy in the future, and he will then see whether I am correct or incorrect, in saying that a large number of insured persons would become Post Office contributors, and that a very large proportion of them will come from the agricultural classes. I do not wish to detain the House longer than I can help. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Labour Members, above all, in this House, are the persons who ought to consider the poorest in the land. I am now speaking for the poorest people in the country, as well as for those who live in the worse parts, the more slummy parts of our large towns and industrial centres. I confidently look to the Labour Benches for support of what I say on behalf of those poor persons. My case is their case, and in what I say in support of this cause, on which I feel most strongly, I do at any rate expect from hon. Members below the Gangway opposite a considerable amount of sympathy. What is going to be the result of putting too 1040 severe a burden upon men who can ill afford to bear it? The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us as regards other industries—and I think it is perfectly true—that the consumer will pay. In other words, the employers in other industries will be able to add to the price of the product, and throw the burden upon the consumer. That cannot apply to the employer in agriculture, nor to agricultural produce. Agriculturists in this country are in competition with the whole world. They are in competition with countries which not only encourage, which not only help to develop the prosperity of their agricultural population far more than we do, but with countries which, by means of State railways and in other ways, make it easy for the agricultural population to get their produce into other markets.
It is perfectly clear that the agricultural employer, at any rate, will not be able to throw this tax upon the consumer. What is the case of the labourer? It is common knowledge, and I ask the Labour party to bear this in mind, that there is no class of labour that is less organised or less able to speak collectively in this House than the agricultural labourers. That being the case, what is going to happen? The agricultural labourer being unorganised will not be able, like the workman in other industries, to maintain wages, and the employers will not be able to maintain profits in face of the competition to which I have referred. That means, therefore, as producers they will get no benefit under this Bill, and as consumers they will have to pay much more for articles they consume than before. The cost of living is going up steadily, and this is largely due to the heavy burden of taxation in this country. If £17,000,000 to £20,000,000 or £21,000,000 is to be thrown as an additional burden upon industry, the agricultural labourer, above all others, will feel the pinch of that burden. He cannot get away from it; he is not organised; his employers are not organised; competition is all against him, and he is the man who will have to pay a larger amount out of his smaller earnings under this Bill than any other class, and he is the least able to protect himself from the result of that burden being thrown upon him. Steadily every year the population of our villages is decreasing; and steadily every year the tillage of this country is being decreased. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will do something through the medium of taxation to put a premium on 1041 the tillage of agricultural land, and I believe he can do it. But I am quite sure of this, that this measure, so far from making two blades of grass grow where only one grew before, it will make only one ear of corn grow where two grew before. Surely I may appeal to national sentiment in this matter in a country that is so little self-contained as we are, and which because of that has to fall back on national defences, and especially on our Navy. Therefore, in the national interest, as well as in agricultural interests, the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to take care not to throw any greater burden on the agricultural population than they have to bear to-day.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has made a very interesting and, not for the first time, a very valuable contribution to our Debates on this Bill. I will come to the point he has raised later on, but I should like first to deal with the points raised by the hon. Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) as to this Amendment, and by the way, I think, I have a little complaint to make both of the Mover and the Seconder. Both of them made very excellent speeches, but they never took the trouble to explain their Amendment to the House, and unless Members of the House took the trouble which I took this morning to piece these Amendments together, because this is only the first of a series, I am sure they would not have the remotest idea of what the proposal actually is, and how it works out. That is why I ventured to interrupt the hon. Gentleman and to ask him whether he was going to give any figures to show how his Amendment worked out. What is his proposal? His proposal is that you should have a system of poundage instead of having a flat rate of 4d. in the case of males and 3d. in the case of females. The first thing then I wanted to find out is whether the benefits were to be on the flat-rate system or whether they were to be on the poundage system. Surely I should have thought that in proposing his Amendment the hon. Member would have taken the trouble to show how the thing works out as to payments and as to benefits. The poundage system was the first system I considered, and as the hon. Gentleman has correctly stated, it is the system in operation in Germany, and I think in Austria, and I 1042 believe in France, though I am not sure about France.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
In Germany they have a poundage system which divides the contributions into five classes, and the benefits into five classes, and it is very important when you come to consider that system to remember that in Germany it conies down so low that you may have an invalidity pension of two or three shillings per week, which is the hon. Gentleman's proposal. I tried to work the matter out and what do I find? Under a poundage system you will charge a man earning £1 per week 3d. and the employer 2d. When he is sick instead of getting 10s. per week, he only gets 6s. per week.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
On the assumption that he pays forty-eight weeks in the year. That is our actuarial basis. By the poundage scheme he would get 6s. per week in case of sickness, and when he permanently breaks down instead of getting 5s. per week, he gets 3s. 4d. I wonder how the agricultural labourer would like that? I notice the hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. Bathurst) shakes his head. He would not accept it and the same thing applies to the labourers in the town. Take the man with 30s. per week. What does he get? He gets exactly the same benefit as he gets from this Bill, but he has to pay a halfpenny per week more in order to get it; instead of paying 4d. he would pay 4½d., and he would get exactly the same benefits. The man with £2 per week would pay a good deal more and he would get slightly higher benefits. Under the scheme, which the hon. Gentleman has no doubt worked out very carefully, although he has not been good enough to communicate its purport to the House, that would be the effect, the man would get 6s. sickness pay instead of 10s., and 3s. 4d. in the case of permanent invalidity instead of 5s.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Has the right hon. Gentleman looked at my consequential Amendments on a subsequent page, whereby I propose to leave out Tables (c) and (d) and to increase the rates of persons in regular employment who are in receipt of lower wages than 25s. per week. It is rather a long Amendment, and it proposes 10s. per week for the first thirteen weeks.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Then the hon. Gentleman proposes to supplement the payments by bringing up those benefits, but at whose expense? After all insurance is a business proposition.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
At whose expense does the hon. Member propose that we should do that? Of course, that is exactly the alternative which presented itself to me and the dilemma I found when I started. I said if you are going to have a scale it means you must have reduced benefits or you must make those with high wages pay for those who have got low wages.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is exactly where the hon. Gentleman is wrong, and I am rather surprised in his case, because he has been pretty assiduous in his attendance during the progress of this Bill, and he must know that the man with low wages up to 15s. per week pays under the Bill far less than anybody, and that is met partly at the expense of the employer and partly at the expense of the State. There is the flat rate down to 15s. when there is a descending scale of contribution by the workmen, who get exactly the same benefits as the persons over 15s. per week. What the hon. Member proposes is that, at the expense of the higher paid workman, you should make the lower paid workman get equivalent benefits. I remember receiving a deputation of trade unions, and I am not sure that the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. W. Thorne) was not present, and I remember somebody there getting up and proposing exactly the same thing as this, that you should have a scale. I put a question to them, "If you are going to have a scale of contributions, are you going to have a scale of benefits?" and they were absolutely unanimous in repudiating that, or that the men with high wages should pay for the rest. That is really the dilemma, and it is the dilemma which I had to face. I do not think the hon. Gentleman has worked out the figures, but if he has I should be very glad to have them from him. I am sure he must have experienced the same difficulty as I did. There is another difficulty; it adds enormously to the complications of the scheme. This is the sort of thing I found in Germany: you have a person whose wages 1044 start at 10s. and go up to 15s. or a £1 when he passes into another scale, and then the wages go up to 25s., and he passes into still another scale. The wages come down, as wages are not always moving forward in the lifetime of a man, and down he comes back again to another scale, and perhaps passes again into his first scale for perhaps another year. Wages of course fluctuate; you have got to reckon up all those things in each individual case and to find out what the contributions are, how long a man has paid in the second section, and how long in the third, and you go back to another scale in order to calculate what his benefits are. The result of that would be that there would be an enormous staff and you would have to double or treble your staff for the purpose of carrying out what ought to be a quite simple operation.
The hon. Gentleman experienced that difficulty in his own case, and this is the way he has met it. He says you are to reckon up the wages of the person for the year before he becomes an invalid. He may have been for twenty years on a lower scale, and he may have suddenly gone up to a higher scale for that year, although he has been paying on the lower scale for twenty years, and you are going to give him a pension for the rest of his life on the higher scale because he has been paying that for a year, and at whose expense—at the expense of the rest of the contributors. That is an impossible system. I came to that conclusion, and I was firmly convinced of it. Really no attempt has been made to criticise the proposal in the Bill. It is far better you should make up your mind to a minimum and see what is the minimum you can give when he is sick. I never considered 10s. was anything but a minimum. If anybody earns enough money to enable him to pay 2d. or 3d. more, let him do so voluntarily. I remember meeting an engineer in Strasburg who was an officer in a trade union, and I said to him, "What complaint have you got of the German scheme?" He said, "I have nothing to complain of except that it does not give us enough." I found it was giving 3s. 4d. invalidity and 6s. or 7s. benefits. He said, "That is no good for ma as an engineer, since I am earning 30 or 35 Mark per week. I go and I insure in my own trade union." I asked him, "Are there many doing that?" and he said, "We all do it now." They are insured in their own society to supplement 1045 the minimum. The State guarantees the minimum. There is an encouragement to thrift, and when once they begin to realise the value of some provision, and once you have got that lesson into the minds of the million, you will find they will go and insure. That has been the experience in Germany, where they are utilising trade union societies for the purpose of additional benefits. So much for what the hon. Gentleman has suggested. I think the system of a flat rate is far and away the best in order to provide a minimum.
I come to the criticism of the hon. Member for Wiltshire (Mr. C. Bathurst). He brought us back to the question of the agricultural labourer. My experience of insurance amongst the agricultural labourers is that he plunges very heavily in insurance. There is nobody in this country who pays in proportion to his wages anything like the agricultural labourer in insurance. My right hon. Friend the Attorney-General and I were passing through a little village, and we found there a man collecting for Hospital Sunday, and we asked something about insurance in the village. He said they were Foresters there, and that they were paying 7d. or 8d. per week and their wages were under £1. That is, you had agricultural labourers, who were earning £1 per week, paying 7d. or 8d. regularly towards their friendly society. I was told the same thing by somebody about Norfolk. There is no one who pays more than the agricultural labourer in insurance. He is not satisfied with the friendly society; he is generally insured in other societies for other purposes such as in the Prudential and all sorts of societies. It is his gamble. [Several HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am not using the expression in an offensive way; but there are some people who begin to insure, and insurance is like many other things: once you begin it you get a taste for it. I heard of a fisherman who was insured in half-a-dozen societies, but he was as unlikely as anybody to get benefits from them. He had a death policy, but he did not appear to be within fifty years of requiring it. There is no doubt that you find classes like that. The agricultural labourer is a great insurer.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
It would not be right for the House to imagine that because he is in the habit of insuring he does it without its being absolutely 1046 essential. In the case of the agricultural labourer it is done to prevent destitution. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggests that it is merely a sort of gamble, I must in all candour say——
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I did not intend it in that sense. But people do get into the habit of insuring, and an excellent habit it is. In the case of the agricultural labourer, it is because he likes to make provision. Under the Bill he is asked to pay, in some cases, 4d. a week. But he is paying twice as much as that now in many cases. Where his wages are under 15s. he will pay only 3d. There are some counties where the wages are 13s. or 14s. I am not sure whether that is the case in the hon. Gentleman's county.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
Fifteen shillings. But under the Bill it is not the wages, it is remuneration. The remuneration, taking into account the cottage and perquisites, would be considerably more than 15.; it would be more like 17s.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I accept that; but there are counties where it would not come to so much. The average is certainly under that.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is taking into account our part of the world, where it is about £1. There are counties where it would be under 15s., and where the labourers would pay 3d. instead of 4d. What do they get for that? The hon. Member seems to be under the same delusion as the hon. Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps), that the agricultural labourers will go to the post offices. I cannot imagine where that notion comes from. He will go to the post office if it suits him, but if he prefers a society he will certainly join a society. The agricultural labourer is the man who has the steadiest of employments; therefore, there is no reason why he should go to the post office. There may be a reason for the man who is out of work six months in the year, because he would not be able to keep up his contributions. But the agricultural labourer works for fifty-two weeks in the year. The hon. Member talks about wages being cut down. There is no man in a better position to command his market than the agricultural labourer. If he but knew it, and he will soon get to know it, he could command 1047 his market. In our part of the world they have discovered that. It is one of the very few employments where the demand is greater than the supply. There is very little unemployment amongst agricultural labourers. In many districts there is a good deal of difficulty in finding labour. The same applies to domestic servants. They are the two kinds of labour which can command their market. I remember very well the agitation in our part of the world among the agricultural labourers. As soon as they discovered that they could command their market they made a demand for higher wages, and got them. Wages went up very considerably. They are not twice as high, but they are certainly 30 per cent. higher, and that in a district which is about a hundred miles from the nearest great market, namely, Liverpool, and the farmers are, on the whole, better off than they were before. There is a considerable margin which the Wiltshire, Norfolk, and even the Buckinghamshire labourer has to travel before he gets the standard of wages which they are paying now in some of the remotest parts of Wales, and also in Yorkshire, Northumberland, and Scotland.
The Scottish agricultural labourer gets about £1 a week and a cottage and other perquisites. Scottish agriculture, on the whole, is a very thriving business. Why? Because when you pay high wages you get more intelligent labour. They have better cottages and better treatment. To say that when you are paying your workmen 11s., 12s., or 13s., with perquisites which may run the amount up to 15s., there is no margin of 4d. without deducting it from labour, is perfectly absurd. They have put up wages in our part of the world by shillings a week. The agricultural labourer was in a position to demand it. So he is in other parts of the country as well, and it will be infinitely to the advantage of agriculture when it is done. The hon. Gentleman said that one-fourth of the working men of the country will be in the Post Office, and that a considerable proportion of them will be agricultural labourers. I could not bet with the hon. Gentleman, but he has made a prophecy. I hope that both he and I will be here when this Bill is in full operation, and I shall be very glad to remind him then of his prophecy. I shall not be a bit afraid to do so, and I know him well enough to be certain that he will have the candour to admit that he 1048 was wrong if the facts prove him to have been so. I cannot conceive why the agricultural labourers should join the Post Office. They have their own societies. The hon. Gentleman is afraid that the contributions of the healthy agricultural population will go to keep the slum dweller. That is a natural apprehension, but the remedy is entirely in their own hands. The hon. Gentleman is one of those who has helped to make it easier for the agricultural labourer to form his own society, and I agree that the grouping of agricultural societies will be invaluable in that direction.
But it is no use Members talking as they have done on this sickness question. I have a diagram here which shows the rates of sickness far better than any speech that I could possibly deliver. [The right hon. Gentleman exhibited the diagram referred to.] It will be seen that the rate hardly increases during the first twenty years of the insurance period. People could insure, not for 2d. or 3d., but for a 1d. for those years. The real burden of insurance comes after fifty. After seventy the heavy burden shown on the diagram is taken over entirely by the State, and that is why we are able to do what they cannot do in Germany. I had better have this diagram exhibited in the library or in the tea-room. It is so extremely instructive. In Germany they are paying twice as much in the way of contributions because the burden of sickness after seventy comes upon the contributory fund. Here the State takes the whole of that enormous burden, and the insurance is simply up to seventy. From fifty the steps as shown on the diagram are very marked.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
After fifty or sixty does the agricultural labourer have more sickness than the miner? [An HON. MEMBER: "The miner is dead."]
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Gentleman forgets another thing. The percentage of those who remain amongst agricultural labourers is very much higher. In these other trades the percentage of deaths is far heavier. I remember that when I served on the Chaplin Old Age Pensions Committee I was appalled at the figures as to the length of life amongst workmen in the towns as compared with the country. They have discovered this fact in Germany. The agricultural labourer very often runs off with the invalidity pension after seventy years of age because the 1049 town labourer is not there. Between fifty and seventy is the period when insurance comes in, and that is when the agricultural labourer will come in for his share. There are many unhealthy employments in towns, and in a high percentage the labourer has disappeared altogether at that age. Up to forty or fifty the agricultural labourer may be very healthy, but after sixty he is liable to rheumatism and other diseases attributable to working in the open air in all sorts of climates and very often to damp cottages. Then the burden becomes very heavy, and that is why, in spite of his superior health, there is a difference of only a halfpenny between the cost of insuring the agricultural labourer and the cost of insuring the town labourer. This consideration also explains why societies in this country sometimes go on for thirty or forty years with a contribution of 3d. and then suddenly come to an end. Why have they done that? They have started with young people. It is not worth while for old people to come in because their rates of contribution would be too high. For twenty or thirty years they make apparently huge profits and accumulate great funds. Then they come to this expensive period, and the society goes bankrupt. That is the real answer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Brentford. It is very important when you are dealing, not merely with an agricultural population, but with any population that claims this exceptional rate of advantages. If the agricultural labourer forming his own society finds he is overcharged he can do one of two things. He can increase his benefits. How? In three years he will find out how he is getting on. What can he do then? He can turn to Part 2 of the Fourth Schedule—and it really is worth while of any hon. Member who has got the Bill in his hand to turn to page 118. What is the first thing the agricultural labourer can get? If he finds he can run his society cheaper than anybody else he can, if he likes, get medical treatment and attendance for every member of his family. That is an enormous boon to the agricultural labourer. He can get an increase of his sickness benefit, or of any other benefits. He can, if he likes, pay money into a pension fund or a superannuation fund for himself. He can pay up the arrears, if there is any distress in the family through lack of work. I agree that does not apply very much to the agricultural labourer, but it does to other classes of labour. He can do something 1050 else—he can make provision for the repayment of contributions——
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
For repayment. That is exactly what happens with the very societies which the hon. Member has been advocating, the Holloway societies. He can be repaid at the end of the year out of his own contributions—about 8s. or 9s.—which will be very useful coming at that time of the year. My own hope is that he will do nothing of the kind, but that he will put the money in for additional benefits for his family, for increasing his sick allowance; and for what would be still more useful: purchasing medical attendance for the whole of his family. The hon. Member seems to think that the moment we put this into operation, the moment you charge 3d. or 4d. a week, for all these benefits, which a man is paying 8d. for now, that "one ear of corn grows where two ears of corn grew before"! He cannot mean that; I do not think he means that. On the contrary, what will happen is that the man will be a better cared-for person, he will be better looked after, than before. He will then see that his house is fit for human habitation. Does that make him a worse labourer? On the contrary, it will make him a better one, an infinitely better one. In addition to that the hon. Member seems to think that it will not have an effect upon the whole community. Quite the reverse.
If you increase the efficiency of the labourers in the agricultural field and throughout the whole country, as you will when you provide decent medical treatment and make some provision for them in day of sickness, you increase the demand for the agricultural produce of the country, and increase the power of the people to pay for it. That in itself is an advantage, not merely to the labourer, but to the whole of the agricultural community. Let the hon. Member remember that in Germany they excluded the agricultural labourer at first. After twenty years' experience, the whole of the land-owners, the Agrarian party, in Germany, were perfectly united in their demand that the agricultural labourer should come in. Why? They found, owing to the superior advantages the agricultural labourers were getting in the towns, they were leaving by hundreds and thousands. There was a demand, a perfectly universal one, from every agricultural interest throughout Germany that the labourers should be brought in. The 1051 farmer, the labourer, the land-owner, united in making a demand, and expressed their willingness to make the contribution. It is for that reason that I think it would be better for us to stand by the minimum payments and the minimum benefits for agricultural labourers as well as for every branch of the community.
§ Mr. FORSTER
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford had not argued the case. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] He said that he had taken the trouble to piece together the subsequent Amendments which stand in the name of my hon. Friend, and he doubted whether any member of the Committee could form any judgment on the proposal unless they also had taken the trouble to do that. I think the Chancellor's research must not have been complete. He told my hon. Friend, "You propose a graduated scale of contributions, and a flat scale of benefits." If the Chancellor had looked he would have seen that, while it is true that my hon. Friend proposes a flat scale of benefits, it is a minimum. Starting from the minimum, my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford proposed a graduated scale of benefits which would have borne a precise relation to the amount of the contribution. The Chancellor of the Exchequer held my hon. Friend up to blame for not having explained his Amendment. I think it would have been a little fairer to my hon. Friend if the right hon. Gentleman had admitted that he himself had not made the complete researches which he suggested he had done.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has not touched what I think is the broad ground on which many of us would like to see graduation of contributions as well as graduation of benefits—that is, the circumstances of different parts of the country. Different parts of the community vary so widely that a flat contribution and a flat benefit, is hardly satisfactory. My hon. Friend the Member for Wilton pointed out that there are people who live in congested parts of our great cities who are just as badly off, if not worse, than the poorer portion of the agricultural districts. In this matter it is not wholly a question of wages. You cannot really judge a man's prosperity solely by the amount he is paid. You have to consider many things—the rent, the conditions under which he lives, and so on. The Chancellor of the Exchequer knows as well as anyone in this 1052 House that you cannot fully judge a man's condition merely by the wages he is paid. That is why we say that it would be fat-better, if it can be done—and I believe it can be done—that we should have a graduated system of contributions and a graduated scale of benefits. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says, "Yes, that is done in Germany, but there are all sorts of difficulties; a man is going up in the social scale; he passes from one class of the community to another; then wages go down, and he descends the scale, and you have all sorts of calculations to make, involving the necessity for a very large staff of people, and possibly an enormous administrative charge." If we were to adopt the system proposed by my hon. Friend I cannot see that it would lead to such an enormous elaboration of calculation as the right hon. Gentleman suggests. I think it would be very well worth while to go into the matter more carefully than he has had time to do.
How does the right hon. Gentleman meet the case which has been put forward by my right hon. Friend? He said, "It would be far better to let these men contribute their 4d. per week, or, if they are in"—the Bill, I think, calls it a low-wage class—a "smaller contribution." Then, he says, let them pay any more that they can afford so as to provide themselves and their families with additional benefits. The right hon. Gentleman said "We should encourage them to do that—to insure themselves and their families for these additional benefits—and the only duty of the State is to guarantee the minimum benefits under the Bill." We are getting on. This is the first time I have heard about the minimum benefits being guaranteed. One of the quarrels we have had—I will not say one of the defects we find in the system—is that there is no guarantee—that there is no such thing as a minimum benefit provided by the Bill. There are, it is quite true, benefits referred to as minimum benefits, but they are not minimum benefits in any real sense, because there is no guarantee. One of the defects that my hon. Friend the Member for Wilton points out is—that is one of the difficulties the Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out in some earlier Debates—the difficulty of securing the solvency of societies which take these risks.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that, owing to the prolonged age to which the agricultural labourer lives, that their risks, which are very good in the early years of their life, are very bad in the 1053 later years. He told us that they often bring their societies to a condition of insolvency. That is one of the difficulties we have got to face, and to realise that the agricultural labourer, just as much as anybody else, will be in a position to threaten great danger to their minimum benefits unless they are able to secure admission into their ranks of the strongest societies. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that agricultural labourers insured in a greater proportion than any other class of the population. If you, he said, once embark upon a policy of insurance of this kind you get a taste for insurance. That is the experience entirely of the friendly society. Why? Because these men take a pride in their societies. It becomes a matter of personal pride with them to do everything they can to keep their societies solvent, to make them flourish and enable them to pay their way—to make them as efficient and as effective as they possibly can. That incentive, that motive, will not be as strong after the passage of this Bill as before, because when a society ceases to be wholly a voluntary agency and becomes to any extent an agency of the State, I do not think that you will then have the same sort of lever on which to work that feeling of pride which has done so much for these societies in past times.
There was one further aspect of the agricultural labourers share in this problem to which the Chancellor referred. He said: "It is quite true that he will be paying possibly full contributions for his earlier years, considering the prospect of the health that he is able to enjoy, but as be grows older he will be getting full benefit for all the contributions he has made." If the man always remains an agricultural labourer that would be very true. But we all know the phenomenon with which we are confronted year by year, the drift of the agricultural population to the towns. We all know the efforts that are being made to get the people back to the land. I do not think you are going to make it easier to get them back to the land if you levy upon the agricultural labourer a scale of contribution which he thinks bears too heavily upon him. I think there is a great deal more to be said in favour of my hon. Friend's Amendment than the Chancellor of the Exchequer has recognised, and if we had had more time in which to develop this matter and to press it upon the attention of the House 1054 we might hope to have secured still further recognition for what we are advocating. But now there is not much time. This is the last day in which we shall Debate in detail any portion of this Bill. These things have been settled by the Government in conference with their advisers, and although the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and I wish to acknowledge it fully—has met many of the points we have made in Committee, and although he has displayed an openness of mind, which, if he will allow me to say so, deserves the fullest possible credit, I am driven to the conclusion that the hour is too late now at which to make any further alteration in the Bill, although I think the Bill stands in need of them.
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
I should like to say a word or two as regards the agricultural labourer. I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Attorney-General both have derived some information from Buckinghamshire, and I want to give full value to what the Chancellor has said. It is true that at the present time nobody insures more fully than the agricultural labourers. There is no man more careful in that respect than he, but I draw from that fact a different conclusion from what the Chancellor of the Exchequer draws. You are interfering in this Bill with a class who in many respects looks after itself voluntarily more than any other class of workers in order to get a proper system of insurance. I think that is extremely important, because if you are going to interfere with the voluntary system so far as the agricultural labourer is concerned, the question is whether in this Bill you are giving him fair play and a fair return. I think a flat rate principle is obviously unjust, so far as the agricultural labourer is concerned. It is generally assumed that the level of wages of the agricultural labourer is less than that of the artisans in many of our larger towns. That must inevitably be so. The level of the agricultural labourer's wages, speaking from my own experience—and I employ many of them—is from 18s. to 20s. per week. That is very well known in Buckinghamshire, and although there are higher wages paid in London, which is so very near at hand, the labourer in Buckinghamshire, knowing the conditions in the city, knows he is as well off by remaining in the country, and therefore there is no tendency on the part of agricultural labourers in my district to go up to the town, and when they go away at 1055 all they go away to Canada, much to our regret so far as village life is concerned.
Why do I say a flat rate is unfair to the agricultural labourer? This is really tax, and when dealing with taxes you ought to consider the ability of the persons to be taxed to bear the burden. You entirely disregard that principle here when you introduce a flat rate. Whether a man gets £150 a year or only 15s. a week, he is taxed to the same amount, which I say is not fair. You ought to have a graduated contribution, and a man ought to pay in proportion to his ability to bear the tax which is imposed. That is the difference between a flat rate and a rate of insurance based on a system proposed in the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford. I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer dealt with this point at all. It is perfectly right that you have the same basis although the taxation may be different in amount, and it is only natural where you place workmen in different occupations in the same position, because if everyone is to pay the same without regard to his ability to bear the burden then everybody ought to have equal advantages under the terms of the Bill. Can it really be said it is fair to tax a man like an agricultural labourer in precisely the same way as you tax a man getting £150 a year. I am perfectly certain agricultural labourers will say it is not fair. It is quite true that the agricultural labourer is voluntarily insured at the present time, and has done more for thrift than any other class, but why in these circumstances select him out and put a heavy burden of taxation upon him. According to the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is because he is a thrifty man, and has had the advantage of insurance in the past. That argument, to my mind, ought to tell the other way. You have a class here who are insured at the present time, and who, in proportion to their wants, are getting the benefits they desire.
If I may refer to an agricultural society with which I am connected, we are so well off there that we have been able to alter the age limit as regards benefits. The original limit was sixty-five, and we have been able to extend it to the lifetime of the ordinary agricultural labourer, that is, up to seventy years of age, when the Old Age Pension Act comes in. You have a voluntary system working so admirably, 1056 and my view is that you ought not to select that class of men and put a new burden upon them. I think the effect of this Bill will inevitably destroy a very large number of the smaller agricultural societies. We have this view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer: that although the smaller agricultural societies may be destroyed, yet the agricultural labourer will insure voluntarily to the same extent as at present. I do not believe that. The reason he insures so largely at the present time is because he has confidence in the management of the smaller agricultural societies. He knows those who are engaged in the management. They are nearly all his neighbours, and this is one of the leading reasons why insurance amongst agricultural labourers is carried to the extent it is. I do not want to open up the wider question dealt with by the Chancellor. I had the honour of serving with him upon the Old Age Pension Committee to which he refers, but I do not bear in mind that we had evidence which lead to the deductions such as he drew. But, after all, the question is: Why should you put this tax upon everyone, irrespective of their ability to bear it, or should it be imposed upon the true principle of all taxation, that you should grade it in accordance with the ability to pay of the persons taxed. I have very strong views that a flat rate is very unfair and unjust to the agricultural labourer, and therefore I cordially support the views put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford for a graduated tax in proportion to the wages which are paid and to the quality of the burdens put upon the different workmen of the country.
§ Sir T. WHITTAKER
We have heard a great deal about the burden of taxation in connection with this Bill. What are the facts here? You are going to ask the agricultural labourer to pay for benefits which he now enjoys, but you are going to ask him to pay less than he now pays. You are going to give the contribution from the employer and the State of more than half the amount required to furnish the insurance. Agricultural labourers insure largely to-day, but they do not get any such benefits as this Bill proposes to give them, and therefore we are not going to impose a burden upon the agricultural labourer, but we are going to render him important services, and we are going to provide him with a better insurance for half the money than he now 1057 has. Hon. Gentlemen opposite object to a flat rate, but the agricultural labourer pays a flat rate now. We have laid before us by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite a canon of taxation, but there is another canon of taxation, and both should be blended. The hon. and learned Gentleman's canon of taxation is, that the taxes should bear some relation to the capacity to pay of the persons who have to pay them, but it should also bear some relation to the benefits to be received, and therefore we are asking the workmen and women to pay because they are receiving practically the whole of the benefits and a proper system of insurance. It is admitted that to levy a charge in proportion to wages would prove to be almost impracticable and extremely inconvenient. We have heard a great deal of complaint from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite about the labourer and the trouble we are imposing upon the employer, who has to deal with the stamp business. But what sort of difficulty would it be if these stamps were to bear a proportion to the amount which every workman was paid and according to the amount he earned. A flat rate will enable stamps to be put upon the cards comparatively easy, but if each individual had to be identified, and if the system was to be on a poundage rate, the scheme would break down and the whole thing unworkable.
The next suggestion is that the agricultural labourer is not going to get the same advantage, and is going to pay for advantages and for benefits for the dwellers in the town slums. As a matter of fact the agricultural labourers are a long-lived class, and the longer people live the more they draw of these benefits. It is not in the class of life where the death rate is high that the charges upon the fund is so heavy. When you have increased length of life the draft upon the funds becomes very heavy. The agricultural labourer, as a class, will supply a very large proportion of the long life, and will furnish a large volume of those reaching old age, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer displayed upon the chart. The tables in that calculation are based upon what is known as English life tables. They assume a higher mortality than the Manchester Unity have, and if you base your calculations upon the Manchester Unity instead of the English life tables, you diminish your reserve by about one million. But the agricultural labourer's life tables are much 1058 superior ones, and show a much lower mortality than the Manchester Unity, which means that the agricultural labourer will draw a larger proportion of benefits because of his longer length of life, and therefore, as a matter of fact, the agricultural labourer is the man who stands to gain by this arrangement, and will obtain bigger benefits than any other class.
I understood from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the lower paid ranks of labour would derive larger benefit than those who are paid higher wages. I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer is entirely correct. It is undoubtedly a fact that in agricultural districts the agricultural labourer is a healthier life than that of the town dweller. I want to give one case of a society in my Constituency which has ninety-two members of which fifty-six are agricultural labourers. Taking the average for the last ten years the average sickness pay works out per member at 3s. 1½d., whilst for the fifty-six agricultural labourers, who form the larger portion of that society, it works out at 2s. 5¾d. That is a fair sample of the healthiness of the agricultural labourer as compared with the workers in the town.
No, I have not. What I have given is the average for ten years in a society on the outskirts of Liverpool and some of them are town and others country dwellers. In that district a very large number are employed on farms, a larger proportion I think than in other parts of England. On a farm of between eighty and ninety statute acres it is common for the farmer to employ permanently three or four men and two or three boys, independently of casual labour. I mention that to show that it is undoubtedly the case that under this Bill agricultural labourers will stand to lose. In the case I have mentioned the figures work out that if this Bill had been in operation for ten years this society would have lost no less than £658 on what they have paid out during that time. It is true their sick benefits are not exactly the same as those proposed under the Bill, because they give 10s. for twelve weeks, 5s. for twelve weeks, and 3s. for twenty-four weeks. That is the point I wish to make as regards the healthiness of agricultural labourers in Lancashire.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken made a point of the fact that the agricultural labourer has a healthier life than those living in the towns. The Chancellor of the Exchequer expressly admitted that, and he produces a diagram to prove what he stated, that after a certain age there were more agricultural labourers alive than was the case with dwellers in towns. This Debate seems to have centred more upon the agricultural workers in England, and perhaps I may be allowed to say a few words about the agricultural workers in Scotland. When this Bill was introduced many Scottish county Members took the view which is now held by hon. Members opposite, that the flat rate would be unjust to Scottish agricultural workers. We examined very carefully certain statistics drawn from individual counties in Scotland, and these were submitted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who called for a report from certain actuaries, Messrs. Hardy and Wyatt, and Mr. Watson. I believe Mr. Watson has been actuarial adviser to the Opposition during the progress of this Bill.
Yes, and the Government lately. Mr. Watson has been employed by the Opposition, and all parties recognise him as the great authority on these matters. In this matter, speaking only for myself and not for Scottish agricultural Members generally, I am quite prepared to accept the report which was issued by those actuaries and the decision which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has arrived at in respect of that report. Mr. Watson said:—A low rate of mortality operates in the contrary direction to a low rate of sickness, because the result of a low death rate is a survival of the high ages of an abnormally largo number of the entrants in youthful life.After the age of fifty or sixty there would be proportionately more members of the agricultural community coming upon the insurance fund than would be the case in respect of workers in towns. Applying this principle to Scottish farm workers, Mr. Watson proceeds to show from the Census that they are long-lived as a body, and that they ought really to be charged a higher rate of contribution than they are charged under the Bill. I do not think they ought to be charged a 1060 higher rate of contribution. Mr. Watson says,On examination of the Census returns, I have ascertained that the average age in 1901 of the Scottish population aged between 15 and 65 was 34½ years, whilst the average of the Scottish agriculturists was close upon 36 years. This means that an average additional reserve of something between 8s. and 10s. is required from the Scottish agriculturist, as compared with the Scottish insured population generally.Then Mr. Watson goes on to say,If the agriculturists were treated as a class apart from the purpose of the sinking funds, they would have to pay a contribution distinctly higher than 1s. 9d. per week. In not being called upon to do this, they obtain a direct advantage at the cost of the general body of workmen.I think the report of an actuary such as that must influence the view we take, and it certainly influences the view I take, in respect of the contribution levied by this Bill. I do not know anything about the English agriculturists, but from the point of view of the Scottish agriculturists there is a provision under Clause 74 of the Bill which applies the measure, to Scotland whereby societies may be set up in any particular county. I do not agree with what was said by the hon. Gentleman opposite that a very large number of the agricultural population would become Post Office contributors. On the contrary, I think as soon as this Bill is passed friendly societies all over the country will compete with each other for the agricultural population because they are better lives. If it be the case that agriculturists for one reason or another do not desire to join friendly societies—as a matter of fact a very large number of them are members of friendly societies at the present time—there is a provision under Clause 74 whereby societies may be set up in individual counties, and by joining such a society the agricultural workers will derive the full benefits of their contributions. Even if agricultural workers join friendly societies as at present constituted they will be able to derive the additional benefits referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the speech which he made a few minutes ago. Speaking only for myself and on behalf of the agricultural workers I have the honour to represent, I am perfectly willing to accept the scheme as framed in the Bill, and I welcome it as one which will be of enormous benefit not only to the artisans and dwellers in the towns but also to the agricultural community generally in Scotland.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
To discuss a question in this House by the aid of a diagram held at the Table, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has done, is an 1061 innovation, but it is an innovation which has its disadvantages as well as its advantages. One of those disadvantages is that Members sitting on the back Benches cannot cither see or understand the diagram, and the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down could neither have seen nor understood that diagram.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
For all that the hon. Gentleman could not have rightly seen that diagram, because it only gives the rates of sickness at different ages and not in different callings. Therefore the inference which the hon. and gallant Gentleman drew from that diagram was erroneous. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his inimitable sarcasm, said he proposed to hang the diagram in the tearoom, but he will not hang it there until after the Bill has passed into law, and except from motives of curiosity I do not see what use it will be to hon. Members of this House. This Amendment is a strong order, and I do not think it is possible to graft the German system on to this Bill at this stage, and whatever its advantages they could not be undertaken now. We have had enough revolutions in this Bill proposed from the Government Benches. I do not think it is possible now to deal very seriously with a sliding scale such as that which has been proposed. I think the whole case has been presented rather on an exaggerated issue. The main sufferers under the flat rate of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's scheme are not the agricultural labourers but the real casual labourers in the towns. Those are the people with whom I propose to deal. The agricultural labourers, as has already been pointed out very correctly, are perhaps the most insured of any class in the country. Near where I live and in the constituency of the hon. Member for Berkshire, there are agricultural labourers insured in as many as three slate clubs, if you can call that insurance. But, anyhow, they contribute to three slate clubs in one year. Undoubtedly they are a class who seek insurance of that kind and seek benefits more than any other, and, therefore, I do not think that on the whole they are people on whose behalf the appeal should be made most strongly for an alteration of the principle of this measure.
1062 The truth is that the dividing line is not sufficiently high. Fifteen shillings is taken as the limit below which there is to be a sliding scale, but it is between 15s. and 20s. that the rub really comes. The case of those who are between those two figures is not dealt with. May I point out that so far as the case of the town dwellers goes it depends not upon the weekly wage but the daily wage, and the hard case of the casual worker depends upon the small number of days for which he is employed, and not so much the rate of wages at which he is employed. I know there is no term more capable of abuse or more difficult to define than the term "casual labourer," which does not mean the same thing applied to different cases. You have the irregular trades, so much pointed at by the Royal Commission on the Poor Law, and their report says that there is a chronic under-employment in the country now. Then there are the season trades and the casual trades; but I am not thinking of those. I am thinking of casual labour as distinct from the casual trades, and I am bound to say that I do not see how this Bill is going to work in respect of casual labourers such as we have in the East End of London and the contingent parts of the country. I represent a borough containing a population of 300,000 people, more or less composed of casual labourers, and those are the people who cannot derive much benefit from this Bill. If they become members of a friendly society, I think it is impossible for them with the scanty number of days they work to pay up the arrears when they are out of work, I myself do not see how, when a man has one day's work in three weeks, you are going to deduct this amount from his wages. It is quite true, and it will be said, "Oh, but the casual labourer does obtain medical and sanatorium benefit for a year." So far as that year goes, and looking upon the benefit as a sort of boon just as Poor Law relief is, he will by law have that advantage, but he will have no other. He cannot possibly and permanently remain in the friendly societies old or new, and in time he is bound to be driven back to be a Post Office contributor. When you get to the poorer parts of the large towns the casual labourer must fall into the category of the Post Office contributor.
Of course, if it was possible to have a lower scale, or any scale, to bring those men into the beneficial parts of the Bill, I certainly should welcome it, and I take it 1063 those who sit on those benches would be prepared to support it, because they will see as well as we do that these people are left out of benefits. They cannot come in for any real benefit, except for a slight one for one year after a single contributtion entitling them to sanatorium and medical benefit. That is the vice of the Bill, and this Amendment does touch the weak part of it. It is a Bill which does good as far as it goes. I am not a believer in general panaceas, and therefore I do not throw it in the teeth of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he has not been able to deal with every evil, but the class for whom there is most call to do something, and the class most fully reported on by the Poor Law Commission, is practically left out in the cold. The case for a higher limit of wages below which there would be a sliding scale is a very strong one. The Amendment proposes a scale which is graduated according to pounds sterling of wages, and I do not think it is possible to accept it at this stage. The hon. Member and those who followed him, however, have shown the weak points of the Bill. It does nothing by its operation to decasualise the casual labourer, it does very little to benefit the casual labourer, it leaves the casual labourer out in the cold, and yet the casual labourer is the curse of the time, and it is from his existence the working class suffers most both in the poorer parts of London and elsewhere. If anything could have been done to help those who are left out it would have been a very great boon to the country, and would have been worthy of the serious consideration of the House, and I do think now we are parting with the Bill it is a great pity we have fixed a limit so low as 15s., and that we have adopted a per diem instead of a weekly rate of wages. That goes to the root of the whole question, and it has not in the least been dealt with by the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this evening on the subject of the agricultural labourer, which is not the class that needs most or suffers most. It is in a comparatively lucky position, all things considered, compared with the poorer parts, the worst-paid part, and the most irregularly employed part of the labourers in our great towns.
§ Mr. BECK
It is perfectly true few classes will benefit more under the Bill than the agricultural labourer, and, as one who has spoken at a great many village meetings on this subject, I may say that I 1064 have nowhere found any objection to the principle of the Insurance Bill among the agricultural labourers. What they are afraid of is whether they are going to get value for the money they contribute. It is not in the least they object to paying, because almost every respectable agricultural labourer is already insured in some society or other, and many of them are insured in two and sometimes three clubs or friendly societies. Those of us who know the agricultural districts would, of course, rejoice if the agricultural labourer were able to pay a smaller contribution, but I think he can very well afford to pay the present contribution under the Bill. It is less than he is paying at the present time; almost all these men pay 6d. per week or 2s. per month into friendly societies. The only thing which has upset these men is that they have been told their club reserve is going to be taken away from them. I believe the Government has now entirely met the case of the agricultural labourer, and that the scheme of county associations for small clubs will entirely meet the difficulties, especially considering it is coupled with the fact that societies of any particular denomination or purpose can be linked up.
I do hope hon. Members opposite will not repeat the essentially false argument that the agricultural labourer is in some way being unduly bled under this Bill. That is an argument which ought not to be used. There is a great deal more hardship in that part of the Bill which deals with the casual labourer than in any other part of the Bill; but I do protest against any suggestion that the agricultural labourer is being hardly dealt with. I believe it will shortly be found by these men that they have made an uncommonly good bargain under the Bill, and that they will be immeasurably better off under it. They will pay rather less than they do at the present time, and they will get greater benefits. The hon. and learned Member, who spoke just now, said the village clubs were going to be destroyed. That is a most mischievous statement. It upsets men who have not a good opportunity of getting full information on these matters, and I do protest against accusations of that sort being made against the BUI. They are totally incapable of proof. I believe every care has been taken to make this Bill suitable to the agricultural districts, and I do hope this will not be defeated. I am sure, if hon. Members will think the matter over, they will see it cannot possibly seriously affect the agricul- 1065 tural labourer to pay 4d. per week under this Bill instead of the 6d. per week which he now pays.
§ Mr. PETO
I can assure the hon. Member opposite that his appeal that the statement that the agricultural labourer is not treated fairly may not be repeated will meet with no response, so far as I am personally concerned. I have listened to the arguments put forward, and it seems to me they can be summed up practically in one sentence which the Chancellor of the Exchequer used on a memorable occasion: "They get 9d. for 4d." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Spen Valley (Sir T. Whittaker) said earlier in the Debate they were going to pay less than they had been in the habit of paying and get benefits somewhat of the same nature and of the same amount. That does not even begin to deal with the question. What does the argument amount to? It is that hitherto under a system where no assistance from the State or from the employer has been given contributions of 6d. per week have been sufficient to get certain benefits, and when you are going in for a great national insurance scheme, imposing an enormous burden on the trade of the country and enormous additional taxation, it is quite unnecessary to consider whether you are dealing with one class fairly or not, providing you can show that at any rate everybody will get some little benefit, whether it is the benefit they ought to get or not, and that therefore they ought to be satisfied. It seems to me perfectly clear, so far as the agricultural labourer is concerned, that something on the line of the Amendment before the House, some proportion of payment in accordance with the amount of wages, is absolutely essential and essential far beyond the range of 15s. per week. My own belief is very few agricultural labourers will benefit under the 15s. limit, for the simple reason it is not only money wages they receive, but wages or other remuneration. When the other remuneration is taken into account, I am confident very few agricultural labourers will get off with less than the normal payment under the Bill.
The hon. Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Cripps) treating this question as a tax, said it ought to be regulated in accordance with ability to pay, and various attempts have been made to show the agricultural labourer somehow or other is not a healthy man, and that the fact he is long-lived means he has a great sickness bill. Every hon. Member knows it is exactly the 1066 contrary. We all know from our own personal experience, not only of agricultural labourers, but of all classes in the country, that in the majority of cases the man who lives to an old age is healthy practically throughout his life. He would not live to old age if he were weakly and ailing and constantly in the doctor's hands. Why we should need charts, or anything else, to prove the contrary of that obvious proposition, I cannot understand. Not only is the basis of the Bill wrong from the point of view of the hon. Member for Wycombe from the point of view of a tax, but it is wrong also because it defies all the rules of voluntary insurance in every class in this country, which is to make the payments proportionate to the risk of sickness. I do not believe the payment of the agricultural labourer under this Bill is proportionate to his risk of sickness, or that it has been attempted to make it proportionate to it. Therefore, I can assure the hon. Member for Saffron Walden that, speaking in agricultural districts, I shall certainly not withdraw anything I have said in the past. I am absolutely unconvinced that in distributing the great boon which this Bill purports to be the agricultural industry in this country has been fairly treated. I do not believe either the agricultural employers have been fairly treated.
§ Mr. PETO
I quite accept that. I do not suppose I shall have the good fortune to convince the hon. Member that there is any grievance of the agricultural labourer, but, if he maintains his view naturally, I may maintain mine. It is not fair to compare that which has existed in the past under a purely voluntary system when, with the exception of a few contributions of hon. members to village clubs, the whole of the payments for sickness benefits have been contributed by the men themselves with the results that ought to be arrived at if the money was used in the right way, by a scheme which is placing on every kind of employment a tax more than any Chancellor of the Exchequer has ever dreamed of in his wildest moments. When you have a tax on industry of that character, it makes it all the more important to see the distribution of the benefits is proportionate to the needs and risks. I entirely agree with the Member for Mile End that there are other people besides agricultural labourers whose cases 1067 have to be considered. There are other people more hardly treated under this Bill, such as the casual labourer in the East End of London, who gets no benefits at all from the contributions made by the trade of the country. I shall be quite prepared to support the Amendment, although I agree it is rather late for such an Amendment to be introduced, and it probably would be impossible to carry it out in the form in which it stands, but, at any rate, it will enable us to register a protest against the proposals of the Bill as they stand. Therefore, if the hon. Member presses it to a Division, I shall follow him into the Lobby.
§ Sir LUKE WHITE
On behalf of an agricultural constituency I desire to say that, in my opinion, this will cause not only a great injustice with regard to the agricultural labourer, but also a great amount of hardship. In the East Riding of Yorkshire, one of the Divisions which I represent, the agricultural labourer receives a wage of 16s. a week. In the Divisions upon this Bill I have always voted in favour of any Amendment which would do away with the flat-rate principle. An agricultural labourer with a wage of 16s. a week is not and ought not to be placed in the same position as a man who is earning £3 per week. Some alteration ought to be made in the Bill with regard to the position of the agricultural labourer. I feel that I ought not, on this occasion, to give a silent vote with regard to this Amendment. I propose, for my part, to vote for any Amendment which would, in principle, do away with the flat rate adopted under this Bill. I believe, with regard to agricultural labourers generally, that the amount which will have to be paid by them, taking into account the wage of 16s. in East Yorkshire, will prove to be a very great hardship. A man will find it most difficult to pay 4d. per week out of that wage. In many cases to-day it is impossible for a man in receipt of 16s. per week to maintain himself, his wife and children, to clothe them, and to pay his house rent out of that wage, and how could he possibly contribute the 4d. a week required under this Bill? In many a household at the present moment it is utterly impossible for the agricultural labourer on that rate of wage to pay this 4d. per week. Many men cannot join friendly societies on account of the small wage they receive. I appeal to the House to support the principle of the Amendment now before it, namely, that some 1068 alteration should be made with regard to the flat-rate principle, and especially with regard to the case of the agricultural labourer.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I desire to say a very few words on this extremely important subject. I am glad that it has once more been brought before the House. As the hon. Member for the Saffron Walden Division said, this is a question which has provoked a certain amount of misgiving among a large number of persons in agricultural districts. On what ground is that misgiving founded? Personally, I think it is well founded. It is founded really on the facts as to the present system adopted by the friendly societies compared with the offer made under the Bill. The experience of friendly societies is at the bottom of the actuarial calculations made for the purposes of this Bill. We all know that they draw a distinction between hazardous and non-hazardous risks, and I would remind the hon. Member of the fact that, throughout the agricultural districts, all risks the people suffer from are tabulated as non-hazardous by the friendly societies, and therefore they obtain an advantage in the matter of premiums as compared with those engaged in industrial pursuits and in what are called hazardous risks. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told a correspondent in one of his published replies, dated the 8th August, 1911, that "insurance is essentially a provision against risks, and the person who gets most out of it is he who suffers most from the evils against which he is insured." That is a very true observation indeed. What are the risks that the agricultural labourer suffers from, and what is the provision he is required to make? I wonder if the hon. Member for Saffron Walden has given attention to the premiums charged by friendly societies.
Take the case of the Manchester Unity, whoso tables are of great value and have been a considerable guide to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in framing his scheme. In the case of non-hazardous risks, every four weeks until the age of twenty the agricultural labourer will pay 1s. 2½d., while those engaged in hazardous risks will pay 1s. 6d. Thus there is a difference in favour of the agricultural labourer of 3½d. every four weeks. In the case of a man at thirty years of age he pays 1s. 6½d. in a non-hazardous business and 2s. in a hazardous business, and this advantage at the age of forty is still more marked, for then, in a non-hazardous 1069 trade, the charge is 2s. 1½d., and in a hazardous trade 2s. 8½d., a differentiation of 7d. every four weeks. The same differentiation continues to the age of forty-four, and this shows that the agricultural labourer gets a very considerable advantage for the payments he is called upon to make, and for which he gets the full benefit for twelve months and 5s. a week invalidity pension. These are the nearest tables which can be brought in comparison with the table of benefits and premiums given under this Bill. Surely we are right on this side of the House in pointing out that, under the Bill, there is a considerable differentiation as against the agricultural labourer because he is engaged in a non-hazardous business, which, in a friendly society, gives him an advantage over the industrial portion of the community of 2½d. every four weeks at the age of twenty, of 5½d. at the age of thirty, and of 7d. at the age of forty. Surely the agricultural labourer has good grounds for anxiety when he is told that under the flat rate he will be placed at a disadvantage under the Bill.
I quite agree that the whole question bristles with serious difficulty. It is not fair to suggest to any Member on this side of the House that he has in any way misunderstood or misinterpreted the effect of the Bill when you have such data as these available, which show that there is a differentiation against the agricultural labourer in the Bill. If we stood where he is at the present time in the friendly societies he would secure for a lower premium practically the same benefits as he is to obtain under this Bill. What is the compensation to the agricultural labourer? As I understand it, it is said that he lives longer, and therefore, in the later stages of his life, is more disposed to sickness and more likely to require the benefits under the Act. But inasmuch as the benefits under the Act stop at a definite age there is no extension of the period during which he would receive the benefit and thus make good the extra insurance for which he has contributed. The whole question, I repeat, bristles with difficulty. It is not fair to the agricultural labourer to say that he is going to gain as much under this Bill as a mechanic or others engaged in hazardous trades. He probably stands to gain less. Of course he gains a certain amount under the Bill, but he certainly does not gain as much as those who are engaged in hazardous trades.
1070 No doubt widespread doubt has arisen in the agricultural districts, and, for my part, while I quite yield to the observation that the matter is most difficult and complex yet it seems to me a little more time should be taken to consider whether or not alternative or better, or more adequate benefits can be given to the agricultural labourer. If there is any basis for the suggestion that the agricultural labourer will not get so much out of the Bill, as other contributors it seems to me there is good reason for taking more time to consider whether we cannot devolve some scheme by which the contribution of the labourer may be reduced without reducing the same benefits. There is no real necessity for haste. There is no need for hurrying the Bill through, and hon. Members opposite would do well to take part in a honest endeavour to solve these difficult problems. There is no reason why they should not be solved and why the Bill should not be received and worked by all persons in different trades with hearty goodwill.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. W. PEARCE
I view this Amendment with some interest. In my part of London the total amount of wages earned by the casual labourer is very small indeed. It stands to reason that if this kind of Amendment had been accepted by the Government it would have been to the advantage of these people. I would like to remind country Members that they are more fortunate than the poorer districts in the towns. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken a weekly wage instead of a daily wage as the occasion for mitigation and concession we in the East End of London would be much better off under the Bill. Not only are these poor parts of London suffering in the way I have alluded to, but I think there would be another disadvantage under the Bill as it is drawn. I am concerned with the position of the casual labourer. I do not take the view of the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Harry Lawson) that nothing is done to decasualise labour; on the contrary, much will result——
§ Mr. W. PEARCE
I think what is done is in the cruellest possible way under the Clause, which makes the whole 7d. payable by the employer who employs the labourer for the first time in the week. I have heard employers say 1071 that they will be obliged to alter their arrangements. I was talking recently with one employer who employs sixty or seventy men casually each week. He said that when the Bill came into force he would reduce the number to fifteen and regularly employ them. What is to happen to the other forty or fifty people? We are told that if they wait till 1915 something may be done for them. I want to point out that the Government are running a great risk by putting these unfortunate men in this deplorable position. The very fact of the whole 7d. being payable by the first employer, makes ordinary casual employment almost impossible. If it had been a day charge rather than a weekly charge, it would leave them as they are. As the Bill is now drawn, not only will the poorer classes suffer, but they will also receive a great injury from the very fact that many men now casually employed will have a very much worse chance in the future than they had before the Bill was introduced.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
I cannot help thinking that this discussion has travelled over very different ground to that intended by the hon. Gentleman who moved it.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I am not assuming anything. It follows from his speech. The hon. Member made no reference to the agricultural labourer.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
So far as I know the hon. Member was not moving it as a Member for an agricultural constituency. I do not complain of that, because he is entitled to make a general survey. What I think follows from this discussion is, that the hon. Member for the Wilton Division of Wiltshire (Mr. C. Bathurst) has deflected the discussion from its general scope into the channel of the agricultural labourer—a not very extraordinary course when one bears in mind the interest taken by the hon. Member throughout the discussion in the agricultural labourer. The only comment I would make upon the discussion is that execpt for two speeches, one by the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Harry Lawson) and the other by the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. W. Pearce), no reference whatever has been made to the effect of this Amendment if it were 1072 carried. I understood from the proposal of the hon. Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) that he put it forward for the purpose of expounding his views to the House, but that he had really no hope of any such Amendment being accepted, because he frankly recognised, as other hon. Members have recognised, that it is far too late to make any such alteration in the Bill as is involved in this Amendment. The necessary result would be that you would have to reconstitute a great part of your Bill, you would have to reframe your scales, and you would have to set up a totally different method of dealing with both contributions and benefits. I think that if the hon. Member had gone into the figures and had considered them, that would have been of use, and he would have given us a little more material to work upon than he gave to the House when he proposed the Amendment. We were looking for calculations to show how this scale would work. I am sure that the hon. Member for Brentford would never have moved the Amendment if he had not inquired closely into the figures and had seen the result of adopting it. I have not yet heard from anyone in the House what was pointed out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he explained the effect of working on the basis of so many payments in the pound.
The general Debate has turned upon the value of benefits. At least it is admitted that benefits will accrue to agricultural labourers by means of the scheme. We have heard arguments on both sides which we have certainly heard on other occasions. No doubt the subject which interests the House and the country is the effect of the scheme on the agricultural labourer. I propose to deal with that in a very few sentences, because the ground has been travelled over by some of the speakers from this side of the House. I cannot help pointing out the speech which fell from my hon. Friend the Member for the Buckrose Division of Yorkshire (Sir Luke White), who seemed to take a view apparently quite different from the majority of the Members who have spoken for agricultural constituencies. He said, and it surprised me very much, that the agricultural labourer was not in a position to pay the contributions which would be demanded of him. I have never heard anyone state that yet. On the contrary, the view has been from the beginning, and rightly so, that the one person who does take care to provide for insurance has always been the agricultural labourer. I 1073 daresay he finds it very difficult, but the greater the difficulty the more important it is, according to his own view, that provision should be made for his sickness or disablement. The agricultural labourer is the one person, as the hon. Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps) said, who is the person best insured throughout the country. Therefore it is a matter of extreme surprise to me to hear my hon. Friend say that the agricultural labourer could not afford to pay. The criticism which has been directed to the scheme of the Bill is that the agricultural labourer does not get sufficient benefit for the money he is called upon to pay. Apparently those who put forward that view have really not taken fully into account what the scheme of the Bill is. The Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out very carefully the number of benefits which would accrue to the agricultural labourers. Nobody has taken the slightest notice of the new Clause which was introduced and discussed at considerable length quite recently in this House, when it was pointed out what the effect would be, not only for the domestic servants and the agricultural labourers, but for other persons who, with them, had not the same necessity to provide for sickness. It was pointed out that they could substitute benefits, or have reduced sick benefits, or that they could make arrangements for other benefits to be paid to them beyond the sickness and disablement benefits. Apparently that is being completely lost sight of.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I say it does. Most agricultural labourers have their own societies. To a great extent, it was for their benefit that we adopted a plan of grouping these societies under 5,000. If these societies desire, as they can perfectly legitimately do, to substitute some benefit for the sick benefit, they can do so. Suppose, for example, they prefer to have a better pension scheme than they have at present, or suppose they prefer to have medical benefit for their wives and children, or if they would prefer to have their additional benefits used for the purpose of repaying the contributions, all these things are available to them under the Bill.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
Of course, it is all subject to the approval of the Insurance 1074 Commissioners. That is a necessary part of the scheme in order that the Insurance Commissioners may see that the scheme would work fairly and equitably for the classes concerned. Supposing it be true, as is argued by the hon. Member for the Wilton Division, that the agricultural labourer's sickness is less in proportion than the sickness among other classes, and that as he has to pay the same contributions the consequence is that he is paying the same rate of contribution for a less rate of sickness. If that is correct, all the agricultural labourer has to say, all his society has to say is, "we do not propose to have the same benefit for sickness, because we do not require them. We have to pay the same contribution as is paid by every other class, but what we desire instead of sickness benefit is that we shall have substituted benefits." All they have to do is to put forward their plan. For instance, if they desire to have some scheme by which they will get an earlier pension than they get at present, they are entitled to do it. If they do propose such a scheme, all that the Insurance Commissioners have to do is to see that that scheme is the actuarial equivalent for the benefits they propose to cut off and reduce. There is really no difficulty in it; they will get value for their money, the only difference being that under the new Clause and under the scheme of the Bill as it will now operate, and, indeed, as it operated from the earliest moment, there can be an alternative scheme instead of the scheme for the minimum benefits for sickness and disablement. That is expressly provided now, so that there shall be no doubt of it.
One further point has been given to the agricultural labourer, in consequence of representations which have been made on his behalf, or, rather, we propose to give it. During one of the latest discussions that we had on the point the hon. Member (Mr. C. Bathurst) pointed out that the disablement benefit was not so useful to the agricultural labourer as it was to many others, because what the agricultural labourer suffers from very often is partial disablement. We said we would meet him, and we have met him by an Amendment which is on the Paper, and which will be proposed later, and by which there will be payment to a man, though he is not totally incapable of work, in order that there may be, under this same scheme of additional benefits some power given to the society to give benefit. It is a pity that arguments are used and statements made without 1075 appreciation of what there is in the Bill. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major White) made a statement which repeated outside the House, where it could not be explained, would mislead everyone who heard it. It is the kind of statement which always ought to be met at once. It is a most damaging statement to make to agricultural labourers, and if made to them I can quite understand their saying we will not have the Bill, because what he said was, having quoted some figures that, out of a total of ninety-two members of some society in his constituency fifty-two were agricultural labourers—a computation had been made, and if the Bill had been in existence for ten years there would have been a loss of £658 to the members of that society. Of course, that is a most damaging statement, if true, but there is not a word of truth in it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, no doubt, stated his view of the Bill as he understands it, but he seems quite to have forgotten the fact that, though there are these great benefits which are to accrue, if they will be paying so much more than will represent sickness in their own society, the result will be that there will be so much more surplus for additional benefits to distribute amongst their members. When that statement was made that there will be a loss of £658, it is a pity that the true statement was not made, which would have been that there will be this amount of money to distribute amongst them, either by way of bonus or by repayment of contributions already paid, or by providing medical benefits or any of the numerous benefits, of which there are twelve in the Schedule, and I can conceive if that statement were made those agricultural labourers would take a very different view of the Bill from that which the hon. and gallant Gentleman gave them. It was to me rather a revelation of what I am afraid must be expected from some hon. Members who, if they made that statement in this House, and I have no doubt made it in perfect sincerity, would go outside the House, and from want of proper appreciation and understanding of the Bill would make statements which would lead everyone of those agricultural labourers to the conclusion that he was being robbed by the scheme. When statements of that kind are made, it is an advantage to have an opportunity of meeting them and showing how hon. Members have misconceived the true position.
A good deal of discussion has taken place 1076 with reference to the position of agricultural labourers under the Bill, with the result that when you take into account all that has already been explained, and to which I have called attention, the position of the agricultural labourer is as good a position as that of any single class of persons under the Bill. I can quite understand the view taken by some Members for urban constituencies, who quite recognise that, and who say, so far from the agricultural labourer having any cause of complaint, we think it is we who live in the towns who have cause of complaint. There is much to be said for the very very difficult position of the casual labourer, and I can assure the hon. Members (Mr. Harry Lawson and Mr. W. Pearce) that that has not escaped observation and attention. It is an extremely difficult problem. I know the hon. Member (Mr. W. Pearce) has put down an Amendment to deal with this very question of how you can levy a contribution upon the casual labourer. No doubt that in itself is well worth discussing.
§ Mr. W. PEARCE
Unfortunately, it is not on the printed Paper. It is only in manuscript. May I tell the House what it is?When the time of employment is less than four consecutive days, there shall be paid for each day by the contributor one penny and by the employer one penny.It gets rid of that very awkward Clause by which inquiry has to be made.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The hon. Member (Mr. Harry Lawson) said the effect will be that you will have a largo number of Post Office contributors amongst casual labourers. I agree with him to this extent, that to my mind the person who is least likely to become a Post Office contributor is the agricultural labourer, for a variety of reasons. What will make a man a Post Office contributor is the fact that his health is so bad that an approved society will not take him, or it may be because he is unable or unwilling to obtain continuous employment. Neither of these three conditions would apply to the agricultural labourer, and he is, I should have thought, almost the last who will become a Post Office contributor. But I fully appreciate the argument that you may have amongst the casual labourers some who will become Post Office contributors. Of course, the real difficulty there is that you cannot distinguish at present between the man who does not want to 1077 work beyond a certain time or a certain number of days, just enough to get sufficient for himself for the time being, and the man who really wants to work and cannot get the work. Equally you have to take into account the case of a man who really is unable to work on account of his health, and you have to bear in mind the case of a man whose health will allow him to work, but who will not take the trouble to do it. When we discussed this at some length on Clause 32 of the Bill as introduced we came to the conclusion—I think the Committee was unanimous—that the best thing to do would be to limit the application of the Bill to 1st January, 1915, as regards Post Office contributors, and one of the objects that we had in view was that we should be able during that time to acquire information which we had not got then. There is a provision of the Bill by which reports have to be sent and information has to be collected, and from that we shall be able to see what the classes are who will fall into the Post Office contributor class, and we shall be able to make provisions and segregate the classes, having once ascertained of whom they really consist. That is one of the great reasons why the House came to the conclusion that we should stop at 1st January, 1915, not allowing it to last longer in order that we might deal with that. I agree this can only be a temporary provision, and it is quite recognised as only a temporary provision. We must get more facts, and when we have the facts the House will be equal to the possibility of presenting a scheme which will be more acceptable in respect of those who are not able to become members of an approved society. I agree with the hon. Member (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) that, at any rate, so far as the Government is concerned, it would be quite impossible to accept the Amendment at this time. But this proposal is not new to us as a Government. The proposition has, of course, been considered. It has all been carefully worked out, and we have gone into the figures, and, on the whole, we came to the conclusion that it was not applicable to the kind of scheme which we were putting before the country, and we had to have recourse to the system at present in the Bill, and which I hope the House will prefer to that in the Amendment.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
It is true I did not open the Amendment at any great length, partly because I realised that at 1078 this period of the Debate it was impossible to hope that the Government would recast their whole scheme; but it is a little hard that the Government themselves should now complain that the scheme is only brought forward at the last moment when there has been no other opportunity. The Schedules were the only place on which we could have moved the Amendment, and they were guillotined. It is a curious commentary on the way the Bill has been run that one of the vital points in the constitution of the whole insurance scheme could only possibly be raised on the very last day of the Report stage. I have also been twitted, more by the Chancellor of the Exchequer than by the hon. and learned Gentleman, that I did not deluge the House with figures. It is perfectly true that the London Chamber of Commerce has gone a good deal into the figures of this proposal. They have consulted actuaries on the question, and they have come to the conclusion—and that is why I have put the amount of 5d. in the £—that the cost of this scheme will, within a very few pounds, equal the cost of the Government scheme. We put 5d. down because we did not want to disturb the finance of the Bill. But to have taken the House into a whole series of actuarial figures at this period of the day would, I think, be unnecessarily and uselessly taking up time.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I thought when the hon. Member rose, that he rose to withdraw his Amendment. He is not entitled to make another speech.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I was under the impression that the Mover of an Amendment on the Report stage had a right to reply.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Under those circumstances all I can say is that I did not intend to withdraw. I propose to go to a Division, and I hope a good many hon. Members opposite will support me.
§ Mr. CARR-GOMM
I wish to thank the Attorney-General for his sympathetic reply to my hon. Friend in regard to the position of the casual labourers and just to say that we who sit for constituencies where this difficulty has presented itself only vote against the Amendment which raises the case of the casual labourer on the understanding that the Government is pledged, by previous words in this Bill, 1079 to deal with the case before the year 1915. I realise that if we attempted to deal with the case in a haphazard fashion in this Bill that would be a dangerous expedient, and, therefore, it must be left to be carefully dealt with after data has been obtained. I would point out that in addition to the difficulties of collecting the contributions from the men and the employers, there is this further difficulty which surrounds that class of individuals: A great number of these men are permanently injured by the nature of the work they carry on. I have had brought to my notice many cases of men who have suffered rupture and similar injuries which make it impossible for them to be selected lives in the approved societies, and undoubtedly these men will have to become Post Office contributors. No doubt we have hopeful visions of these men being accepted by some of the societies. In that case there is not so much to fear, but under the scheme as at present understood, it appears that these men will have to become Post Office contributors, and their position will be very unfavourable as compared with the members of approved societies. It is on behalf of these men that we have brought forward this case. I am glad that the Government realise that casual labourers in the docks and wharves of this country are the people who are hardest hit and for whom it is right to plead.
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
There were one or two statements made by the Attorney-General which should not be allowed to pass unchallenged. Referring to the speech of the hon. Baronet, he said that the agricultural labourer was very keen to insure, and that there was no class in the country who so generally provided themselves with insurance. I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that there are hundreds and thousands who, while they may be keen on insurance, are not insured because they cannot afford it. I believe he was right in saying that, as a class, they are thrifty, and would no doubt insure if they could. But at present it is an undoubted fact that a very large proportion of them are unable to do it. He attacked my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Southport (Major White) for making a statement without proper appreciation of all that is in the Bill. I ask how can any one have a proper appreciation of all that is in the Bill? It is absolutely impossible. I do not mind saying perfectly frankly that I do not pretend to understand all the Bill, 1080 and I am sure the Attorney-General does not either. He cannot honestly pretend that he does, and I do not believe that any Member of the House pretends to understand it except perhaps the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth), who thinks he has a full appreciation of it. I assure the Attorney-General that it is quite impossible for many of us to appreciate, not only what is in the Bill, but the effect of changes made from day to day by Amendments which are on the Order Paper, and the effect of Amendments which are promised and are not yet on the Order Paper.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The Amendment on which I commented was an Amendment which was discussed at great length not only on the Report stage, but at a former period. On the new Clause we discussed at very great length the question whether we should include medical benefits in the Clause. It was also the Clause upon which the discussion arose with regard to domestic servants, and the agricultural labourer was not distinctly mentioned in the whole course of the Debate.
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
The full effect of that Clause depends very much upon the Schedule we are now discussing, and upon Amendments which will be discussed, or perhaps passed without discussion, in the remaining hours which are allotted to the Report stage to-night. That very Clause which the hon. and learned Gentleman addressed himself to in his remarks does not in any way remove the objections which agricultural Members feel against this rate. I am not saying the inhabitants in other parts of the country may not have a strong objection to it, but I am dealing now with the case of the agricultural labourer. The hon. and learned Gentleman said with perfect truth that the Clause which was fully discussed gave them certain alternative benefits, and after saying that he said it would be the duty of the Commissioners when any approved society asked for an alternative benefit to see that it was actuarialy equivalent to the benefit provided in the Bill. The mere fact that it is actuarialy equivalent prevents it from satisfying us. We say, in view of the fact that the risk from the insurance point of view is so much less in the case of the agricultural labourer's life than in the lives of many artisans who are working in other trades, and the fact that the benefits he might get during old age are limited by the age limit in the Bill, make it necessary in order to satisfy us, and to be fair to the 1081 agricultural labourer, that he should get something more than the actuarial equivalent which is given in other cases. He should either pay less or get more. I say the Bill is unjust to the agricultural community, for the reason that the smaller risk is not taken into full account in the Bill as it should be.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
What I said was that all you can give him under this scheme is the actuarial equivalent of the contribution made by him and on his behalf.
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
I say that is all you can give him, and I hold that the risk being so much less it is unfair to him. The actuarial equivalent spoken of by the Attorney-General would be all right if the man were allowed to receive benefits up to the end of his life. In any case he does not get the full equivalent as compared with other trades. I remain unsatisfied and unconvinced, and I think it would be very difficult for the Attorney-General to satisfy the agricultural community that they are getting fair and equal treatment as compared with their fellow workers in some industrial trades.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
The Attorney-General referred to the case of the casual labourer who is not to come into the scheme until 1915. So far as I can understand the Bill at present, the effect of it will be to send the casual labourer into unemployment. I do not see how he can be employed, nor can I see how he can insure at all. If that be so, he cannot come in as a Post Office contributor, because he will not be able to pay. If the effect will be to prevent him being employed, it seems to me it would be better to exclude him altogether. If he has to wait until 1915 and be unemployed until then, it will be very hard upon him. Many of us have considered the case of the casual labourer. I did hope that there was some Clause in the First Schedule as to occasional employment or casual employment where exceptions might be made, but I understood from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that that is not so, and that even the Clause would not deal with the casual labourer. Therefore the position really seems to me to be that the casual labourer cannot be insured under this Bill, and further that he cannot be employed by the employer who would otherwise be ready to employ him. Agriculture is the greatest industry in this country, and we ought to enable the agricultural labourer 1082 to feel that he is really getting the benefits he is entitled to get in respect of the contribution he is asked to make. I do not feel that we can ask him to accept that view. We had a small committee in Scotland to consider this question. We were anxious that the Government would allow us in Scotland to have power to vary both the contributions and the benefits, because we felt that the conditions in Scotland were not sufficiently understood, and were certainly not met in the Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not see his way to allow that. I am quite prepared to admit that the information submitted was not very perfect. The case was submitted to the actuaries, and all I can say is that, judging from their report, they were equally at sea with us as to what would be the result on the agricultural labourer, and what he would get for his contribution. Mr. Watson, in his report, says:—It cannot, I think, be questioned that the rate of sickness experienced in agricultural communities is lower than the general average rate assumed in the calculations of Messrs. Hardy and Wyatt, but, on the other hand, the death rate is lower also, the standard for the purpose of the Bill having been taken as the English Life No. 6, compared with which the death rate in agricultural districts is very low.…. If it were possible to establish what the rate of sickness in the International Ploughmen's Society has been, it might be found to be light compared with the Manchester Unity or Foresters' standards at any given series of ages. But the society is young, at least two-thirds of its members being under forty-five years of age, and it is impossible to predict how heavily the society may be hit if the expected mortality amongst these younger members is not suffered and an abnormally large proportion of them survive to old age. From certain calculations which I have made. I find that the effect of combining agricultural sickness rates with agricultural mortality is to reduce the contribution at the age of sixteen for seven-ninths of the full benefits by 1s. per annum, or barely a farthing per week.There is an admission that too much is being paid, and I do not feel at all satisfied that that is the correct sum. I do not think the actuary would suggest that it was. In the concluding portion of Messrs. Hardy and Wyatt's report they say:—Even assuming that evidence could be adduced to support the view that the sickness experience in Scottish agricultural districts is specially favourable, it would appear to be contrary to the general principles upon which the scheme in the Bill has been built up to adopt special rates of contribution for the normal benefits.He goes on the view that there is no good in putting forward special rates or conditions, because they have already been taken into account. That is the point we are on now, and it is one that affects the largest industry in the country.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
I venture to think still that agriculture is the largest industry in the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted that these men should be assured that they were getting full value for the contributions which they make. I do not think they are. I would have preferred some form of inquiry to ascertain from some reliable data on the subject. It is suggested that suppose they are paying too much, in several years time we will find it out and then put it right. I think that is highly unsatisfactory. A good many of these men will be dead by that time. I cannot conceive how any business could be carried on on principles of that kind, and I must suggest that this matter of the agricultural labourers is a very important one, and has not received adequate consideration.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
I dare say the House will remember that during the discussion on this subject the suggestion was made that the particular Clause was to be limited in its application to certain classes. Have the Government yet made up their mind to what classes it is to apply? The Bill has changed so much from day to day that at the present time I have not the least idea to whom the Clause is to apply. As we have discussed it to-day on the assumption that it is going to apply to the agricultural labourer, one would like to know whether it is a fact. If the right hon. Gentleman (the Attorney-General) and other Members of the Government have had time, with the duties of framing new Clauses, to make up their minds upon one of the details of this Bill, perhaps they would condescend to give some information on the subject. The actual terms of the Amendment find justification in the fact that under this Bill for the first time we introduce compulsion. As long as you leave men free to make their own bargains they take into consideration whether or not they can afford to enter into them. But if you are going to compel them the only possible justification is that the compulsion should be in proportion to their means. Therefore it is only common justice, if you are going for the first time to compel them to pay, that the compulsion shall be in proportion to the means of paying which they possess. I do not quite appreciate the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which apparently is that although the principle is good it cannot be carried out because the machinery will be so hard to devise. We have already determined 1084 that a person earning under a certain amount is to make a smaller contribution. What difficulty is there in extending this scheme in the other direction and saying that those who earn more will pay more? The only logical excuse for evading this Amendment is the difficulty of its application and the difficulty of devising the machinery. But you need not go into minute details by varying a man's contributions according to every £5 or £10. You might easily draw broad lines of contributions so that a man worth so much would pay, say, a certain amount, and a man who earns £1 or £2 shall be at any rate on a somewhat larger scale. The principle could be accepted, and it would be the duty of the Government to work it out.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The reason I cannot vote for the Amendment before the House is because it attempts to do exactly what the hon. Member opposite just now has proposed. It wants to raise the contribution of certain people, but I think that the contribution, the 4d. and the 3d., is quite enough to be paid by anyone.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
My only suggestion was that people with £100 or £150 a year should pay more than those who are earning less.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Yes, but I think the amount proposed at present is quite high enough for the benefits which are going to be given, because very often a man who is earning more money has, owing to his position in life, more expenses and, generally speaking, a great deal more to do with his money than some other people. I wish, however, to speak about the casual labourer. I am not so satisfied, as an hon. Member who spoke earlier in the Debate from this side, that the Government have made a great concession when they say to the casual labourer, "We know your position is very hard. You do not earn enough money, and therefore we are only going to make you pay until January, 1915, and then if we are here we are going to reconsider the whole matter." That is pretty cold comfort for the dock labourers along the Bermondsey side of the river. I hope that the hon. Member will go down and tell them, and take their verdict on the matter the next time he goes to his constituency. This matter is very much more difficult even than it appears in the case of the casual labourer in the docks. There are the men in the building trade, large numbers of whom get a day's or two 1085 days' work from an employer to do little odd jobs in houses; and the employer will be called upon with the men to pay 6½d. each. That will, I think, tend very largely to keep the casual men out of that odd kind of job that otherwise may be put at their disposal.
Then it was stated from the Front Bench this afternoon that a woman under contract of service, if she has to do only one day's work in the week, would have to make a contribution. I would like the House to consider this case of a woman earning 3s. 6d. a day at what is very hard, laborious work, charing or washing, which is as hard for women as navvying is for men. By this Bill you are going to say that the woman who does one day's work in a week, and earns 2s. 6d., is to pay 3d. for this, and her employer is to pay 3d. I call that a monstrous tax, and I do not know anyone here who can defend that tax—to the women at any rate. Then, with regard to decasualising, a great deal has been made of the fact that both the Majority and Minority Reports of the Poor Law Commission, referring to methods of dealing with unemployment, are in favour of decasualisation, but neither of those Reports asks for decasualisation without provision being made for those who will be squeezed out. There is not a line in the Majority or the Minority Report saying that the State should take action in the direction of decasualising labour until it has made provision for the men who will be squeezed out. I deny the right of any Government directly or indirectly to bring in a scheme that will decasualise these men and squeeze them out without making provision for them. Everyone is in favour of decasualisation, but no one has the right, however much we may feel that labour ought to be organised and regularised, to say that they will do it at the expense of part of the living that men or women get to-day. That is the strongest ground against this Bill applying to casual labourers at all. I am not one of those who say to right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench that, because you are taking this line you are devoid of sympathy, and that you are doing it merely because you want to impose hardship on people. I believe that in your hearts you think you are going to do a good thing for them, but I would put it to you whether you yourselves knowing the facts think that it is right to impose this tax for the next four years?
You might, after all, even at this time of day, easy your scheme if you take them 1086 out of the scheme and leave them to the Public Health authorities to deal with. If taken out of this scheme I am perfectly certain that this House and the community generally would be compelled to-deal with them long before the four years were gone by. It is all very well for people who do not have to live in a small way to impose these taxes. All of us here, whether we are employed or are unemployed, while we are Members of this House, will draw our £400 a year, and none of us will be called upon to make any provision for the time when we are out of work, when the House adjourns. The professional man will draw these salaries and never be asked to make provision. Even the Insurance Commissioners will not be asked to put so much a week away to insure them for the time when they are sick or disabled, but the House will make provision. Here you are supposed to be dealing with the very poor and destitute. I have put forward the case of the dock labourer, and the hon. Member for Lime-house (Mr. Pearce) and the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Harry Lawson) have put it forward, and no one denies that the same can be said with regard to builders' labourers. I think that the Government should meet us and say that casual labourers shall come out of the Bill, and should make some other provision for them, or make them absolutely exempt from payment at all. At present under your Bill you exempt people under 9s. a week. I thought that that meant all the people who earn less than 9s. a week, but it is an entirely different proposition. This Schedule is based on daily earnings, and not on weekly earnings at all, and that makes all the difference. A woman in a factory may be earning 9s. a week and she will get insured for nothing, and a non contributory principle will apply, but another woman will be only earning 2s. 6d. a day in a week and will have to contribute. I think that is a monstrous injustice, and I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Rufus Isaacs) to consider those two or three facts, and tell us what his own honest opinion on them really is.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I desire to say a few words, particularly with regard to agricultural labourers and agriculture as affected by this Bill. We are now at the Report stage, yet one would hardly believe that to be the fact after the Debate to which we have listened. There has been an immense number of changes in the 1087 Bill since it was first introduced. Speaking broadly, very nearly all those changes tend in one direction, and that is to break up the Bill into compartments. As the Bill was originally introduced we had one area, namely, the area of the whole United Kingdom. We had practically uniformity of benefit: first of all, as regards all the different classes insured under the Bill. And as regards the units through whom insurance might be effected, I am right in saying, I believe, that the minimum of any society which could be treated as a separate unit was to be 10,000. That is not so now. The unit of the United Kingdom has been broken up into four. I am not arguing whether that is right or wrong; it is merely a matter of statement, but it has a bearing on the particular argument I desire to use. You have broken up the basis of area into four, and you have completely altered the basis of uniform benefit, having introduced different benefits for different people. There is a much wider choice of benefits than there was when the Bill was introduced. I do not think hon. Members will deny that. The benefits are infinitely wider than they were when the Bill was introduced, and I do not think the hon. Member opposite can contradict me.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
There is a much greater choice of benefit, and the benefits are much more in compartments than they were. In addition to that, instead of having a minimum of 10,000 you have now removed that limit altogether, and any number of persons can form themselves into a society and can get different kinds of benefit for the people in the immediate vicinity.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Yes, five thousand; but, at any rate, the argument has just been used by the Attorney-General that agricultural labourers in particular districts will be able to form their own special societies in order to obtain special benefits. Therefore, what I say is generally true, that you have broken up the Bill into compartments in regard to all these three matters, but the one matter on which there has been no change at all is that of contributions. Why? I can understand the principle on which the Bill was brought in. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was hopeful that he would be able in this Bill 1088 to introduce over an enormous and varying area of employment in the country a flat rate, or one unit of contribution. He has been driven from that ground, which he has found to be untenable, and he has been driven into compartmenting the Bill. But having abandoned the flat rate principle in regard to those three matters, he ought also to put the fourth matter of contribution on the same basis, certainly in regard to agricultural labourers. The agricultural labourer's wages are lower, and the profits of agriculture are smaller, certainly in money, than are wages and profits in any other industry in the country.
I am dealing with agriculture as a whole, and it is true to say that you are putting a burden of 26s. a year upon agriculture in respect of every man employed in that industry. That is the broad way of looking at it—that 26s. a year is the same burden identically with that you are putting on other trades, where the risks are much greater and the wages are much higher. I look at this from the broad view, and I repeat that you are placing a burden of 26s. upon that particular industry—a burden identical with that which is imposed upon other industries, and, if you are going to adopt the principle of compartments, then you should also apply it to the question of contribution. I admit that if it be proved that you cannot make a concession to agriculture without injuring the community as a whole, then agriculture must assent to this proposal. I do not ask that the interests of agriculture shall be considered to the detriment of the interests of the whole community, but I do say that if, without injuring the interests of the whole community, you can put in compartments in the Bill in regard to benefits, or area, or numbers, it should also be done in regard to contribution, and some consideration should be given to what is desired by those engaged in the agricultural industry.
I do not think the Attorney-General gave us a complete answer. He said it was quite true that sickness among the agricultural population is less, but that the agricultural labourer will get other benefits to compensate him for his loss in connection with sickness benefit. That is not what the agricultural labourer or the small farmer wants. What they want is not identical contribution, but identical benefit. That is the very point. I take it that the object of this Bill is not contribution, but benefit. This Bill was not introduced in order to take 3d. from everybody's pocket; the object of the Bill is to give 1089 benefits. What the agricultural labourer says is, "Give us equal benefit. We want these benefits, and desire to have them; but, owing to the particular conditions of our industry, we are entitled to ask for those benefits at a less contribution." On behalf of agriculturists, for whom I have some right to speak, I tell the Government that they are not treating agriculture fairly. They have left the flat rate; they have put the Bill into compartments; and, in doing that, they lay themselves open to the demand on behalf of the agricultural interest that they should consider that industry and its needs on special grounds, and that they should give agriculture the same benefits at less contribution. This has been proved to be possible, and is possible, in the ordinary current practice. Nobody can deny that agricultural labourers at this moment do actually obtain the same benefits as are obtained in other trades at less contribution than those to the great friendly societies. All we ask is that agricultural labourers should be treated under the Bill as they are treated now, obtaining the same benefits as are given in other trades for less contribution.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I have referred to the second part of the Fourth Schedule, which contains the additional benefits, of which there can be repayment of part of the contribution which has been paid. If it is true that the sickness is less then they will be in a position to give as an additional benefit the repayment of part of the contribution which the man has to make.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
This is another instance of the extraordinary love of the Government for machinery and officials, merely for the purpose of getting contributions into the machine at one end and drawing them out at the other, though a good deal less than when they went in. Surely simplicity is worth something. We rural folk are simple in our nature. We can understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he tells us that we are going to get certain benefits for less contribution, but we do not understand when we pay the same contribution, why it should go into his mill merely at the end of a few years to get some advantages. I can quite understand that there would be a justification for the policy of the Government if it were not a certainty that there is less sickness among the agricultural population. It would be a fair argument in favour of their policy if they said, "We do not know that your sickness 1090 is less." My hon. Friend behind me quoted chapter and verse showing that among agricultural labourers there is less sick benefit by 25 per cent., the figures being 1s. 6½d. for the agricultural unit in the friendly societies at the age of thirty, as against 2s. in the industrial section.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I do not want to interrupt, but the statistics which were quoted by the hon. Member for Cambridge included accidents, and the reason why the miners get a higher sickness benefit from the friendly societies is that they get payment during the time they suffer from accidents. But in respect of ordinary sickness, other than that caused by accidents, in my opinion the agricultural labourers get larger benefits than the miners.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I admit that factor, and I do not want to minimise it at all. I am grateful for the interruption, as there is always something one does not appreciate. But even allowing the fullest weight for that fact, I am sure no one can pretend that, under the conditions of agricultural industry, sickness is not less frequent than in the industries carried on in towns. I have made my case clear as to agriculture, and now that we have admitted the principle of compulsion, and now that the Bill has been put into compartments, I submit that the question of contribution, especially in regard to agricultural labourers, should be dealt with. I desire to make my appeal on behalf of the agricultural interest as strongly as I can, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consider the grounds on which it can be granted.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
I think it is rather fortunate for the agricultural labourer that he is not able to take the advice so freely given to him by the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken. I think it would be much better for him to pay the sum which is specified in the Bill and to get the benefit. If there is an extra payment, the sum can only be a small one, and additional benefits will be granted under the Bill. If the agricultural labourer had to choose between paying less than 4d. and getting then the same benefit and paying 4d. and getting something more, then I would strongly recommend him to pursue the latter course and not the former. I hope the hon. and gallant Member will forgive me if I do not follow him further in his argument, as I rose to refer to some points which were made by the hon. Member for Bow and 1091 Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). I think that the hon. Member cannot too carefully bear in mind the element of prevention which exists in this Bill. It is an exceedingly easy process for any man of heart to get up and plead the case of the casual labourer. That is one of the easiest things to do, but if there is any virtue in this Bill, what is it that it is doing? We are going to insure some 14,000,000 of people, and by that process I will venture to say that in the course of not more than fifteen years we shall prevent the manufacture of the casual labourer, and of the very class on whose behalf the sympathies of my hon. Friend are so easily, though I will not say easily, but naturally, excited. We shall prevent the manufacture of thousands, and, as the years go on, of tens of thousands of this particular class. I do submit to the House with confidence that nothing could be more deplorable than that the present existence of tens of thousands of those unfortunates should cloud our minds and prevent us putting our hands to this measure of prevention, which is going to prevent largely, though I will not say altogether, the manufacture of this particular class. My hon. Friend so far forgot, as he usually does, the provisions of the measure he was discussing that he mentioned the builder's labourer. The builder's labourer is one of the persons dealt with in Part II. of the Bill.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
I am sorry if I did not follow the hon. Member's remarks with strict attention, but if he said so, and if he thought so, that did not appear to have made any particular impression on his argument. The builder's labourer is included in Part II. of the Bill, and there again we have the prevention of the very class of persons who excited my hon. Friend's sympathies. My hon. Friend joined with another of my hon. Friends in urging the House to exempt casual labourers. How can we possibly exempt them without placing a premium on their employment?
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
Yes, but one of the suggestions was to exempt them, which seems to show that the hon. Member had not considered that exemption would mean making casual labour. I 1092 think that the House also would be well advised not to give too much attention to what I hope some employers will forgive me for calling their threats with regard to casual labour. One of the most deadly privileges the capitalist possesses under our present social system is that he can take a dip into the labour market and that he can find men to suit his temporary purposes, and that he can thrust them back the very moment or the very hour they are done. That is a deadly privilege and it is so great a privilege to the capitalist that I do not think it will be foregone for the sake of the payment of 4d. when the man is so employed. It is worth very much more than 4d. to an employer to be able to do that. I therefore think we may disregard the threats that when this Bill is passed there will be an amount of decasualisation, although I am not at all sure, cruel as the process might be, that it might not be a very good thing for the country and the House of Commons if that sudden decasualisation occurred, because, then the problem would be so thrust before us in this House that we should have to deal with it in a manner which is not likely to occur under present circumstances. I am perfectly sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not satisfied to leave the position of the casual labourer as it is. We have the pledge as to limitation, and I am sure the Government did not accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend as to that limitation without the full intention of carrying that Amendment into effect, and without intending to do something in this particular matter before many years are past, and I hope before 1915. At any rate the Bill will map out this problem as it was never mapped out before, and when that mapping out is done, I hope that we in this House shall have the opportunity of dealing with the problem in a more satisfactory way.
§ Colonel HICKMAN
The Attorney-General told us that under the new Clause we passed the other day the agricultural labourer could get back part of his original premium as an extra benefit. I think that to carry that through to its logical conclusion we must imagine that the agricultural labourer must belong to a society of agricultural labourers alone, because if he belongs to any of the large friendly societies such as the Foresters or the Manchester Unity then he would come in with the ruck of the other people, and would be on a level with all the other trades. That being so, it carries the matter one step 1093 further. Looking at Clause 30, I take it that there would be considerable difficulty in the case of agricultural labourers forming societies of their own in leaving the large friendly societies if there was any opposition on the part of those friendly societies. Therefore, I think that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would look into that subject he will find that there is rather a difficulty in the agricultural labourer getting those terms which he really foreshadowed by this new Clause. I would ask him to look the matter up.
§ Mr. LEWIS HASLAM
I could not quite follow the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman) when he said that the Government had abolished or abandoned the flat rate. I understand that the meaning of "flat rate" is that the contributions are equal. It is true they differ as far as employer and employed are concerned. With regard to the German system it is vastly more complicated than that under this Bill. That system has been in operation for twenty years and has proved to be extremely popular. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer has pointed out the German system has five classes each with a special flat rate and each dependent on the rate of wages. As those vary from year to year, sometimes high, and sometimes low, the complications must be enormous and such almost as to make the Bill unworkable. Notwithstanding all those immense difficulties, with their experience in Germany, the Bill has been very popular, and no one of any note desires to abandon it. I think if we were to adopt a system of assessage it would destroy the whole Bill. This Bill is based on the methods of the friendly societies, which are based on the flat rate system. The object of this Bill is to extend the scope and interest of the friendly societies. In Germany the permanent invalids only are insured in the State-aided scheme. The result of that is this, that the local societies endeavour to pass on their permanent invalids to the State funds.
Under this Bill the members of the friendly societies will endeavour to get the sick people well, whether they are permanent invalids or temporary. That alone makes the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer very much superior to those contained in the German insurance scheme. There is one point which aroused the sympathy of hon. Members below the Gangway, namely, the position of the casual labourer, which looks almost incapable of solution at the present time. That is why it is the intention of the Government to 1094 reconsider that class in three years' time. One very valuable feature, and perhaps the one most valuable, in the Bill, is that it will give absolute knowledge as to whether workers are honest bonâ fide workers or not. It will enable us to tabulate correctly the position of each worker, so that we shall know in future how they ought to be dealt with. Therefore, I feel convinced that, the more the populace of this country get to understand the enormous benefits of this Bill, and when they realise that for lower contributions they are going to get greater benefits, and when they understand that it is a much better Bill than that which is already successful in Germany, then. I believe the whole United Kingdom will come to bless the day when this Bill came into active operation.
§ Mr. NIELD
I am bound to say I do not follow the argument of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) when he objects to this Amendment on the ground that it would raise the contribution. The limit of income is such that even if the Amendment were carried it would never exceed the amount authorised by the Bill, and would remove a sense of very great injustice from those whose wages are very small. Again I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on behalf of the laundry working men. He and his Friends have done their best to displace me in the representation of my Constituency. They have not succeeded, and they never will succeed if this Bill passes without the exemption of the laundrymen. If that is not done it is equivalent to endowing me with a freehold for life, while there is no reason for refusing to do it. The case is one of those whose work is comprised within four days of the week by reason of the special circumstances, and whose wages are extremely low, and who are casual in so far as the employment is not regular, although the same person would be employed for two or three days per week, and as it cannot be a complete week's employment it comes within the category of the women to whom the hon. Member refers who may get one day in the week and half-a-crown, and out of that have to pay threepence. I have told this House, and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman was present at the time, of the representations which have come to me from my Constituency, which he knows so well, in respect of this matter. It may not disturb him to be told that an enthusiastic follower of his own, who tells me he was a member of the right hon. Gentleman's club, has foresworn 1095 allegiance to him in consequence of this Bill. That man tells me he has to employ sometimes as many as twenty women on the Tuesday, or on whatever day in the week the work is ready for ironing, and that out of that twenty but four are employed for the rest of the week, while sixteen are not so employed. The result is that the hardship will be very great. If this Amendment were carried the women would pay 1d. and the employer would pay his contribution. Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the health statistics in the laundry trade? The death rate is abnormally low, as also is the percentage of sickness, strange though it may seem. Surely under these circumstances this large body of workers ought to be considered with a view to their being given some relief. The objection has been taken that, although this levy is being made now, in the course of time it may be returned. But supposing it were possible to form a society for this special class of workers, what guarantee is there that the same people will get back any proportion of what they have paid? Three years is a long time. Many of the members may have gone abroad or died. The just thing would be to reduce the contribution originally. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to remove the substantial grievance of these people in humble life, and to allow them to come in by paying a proportionate amount, having regard to the very low wage they earn.
§ Mr. WHELER
I represent a Division in which a large proportion of the agricultural labourers are not at all regularly employed. Throughout the De-bate it has been assumed that agricultural labourers as a whole are in very regular employment. In my Division we have a large number of men who are employed on farms at various periods of the year, but not regularly, nor at regular periods. This year in particular, owing to the dryness of the summer, there was failure of such crops as the turnip crop, with the result that this class of agricultural labourer has suffered very severely. On all farms there are a certain number of men in regular fixed employment, but in addition there are a percentage of agricultural labourers who are dependent on jobs of one sort or another throughout the year. I support this Amendment because these men, owing to the irregularity of their employment, would be unable to accumulate sufficient 1096 funds to become members of approved societies. That will be the case especially in the districts where there are hop gardens and fruit orchards. This year there was a bountiful fruit harvest, and the men had a certain amount of employment. But last year there was a complete failure of the cherry crop, with the result that in many orchards the cherries were not picked at all, and consesequently these men were put in a very difficult position. The case of the hop-picking class, too, has never been met. The hop-picking season may last for six weeks, but in the event of a shortage of the crop, it may last only three weeks. Unless something is done in the direction suggested by the Amendment, the men on whose behalf I am speaking will never have sufficient funds to insure. Owing to the irregularity of their employment they will fall into arrears, and I doubt whether they will even be able to become Post Office contributors. In the south-east of England we have probably more of this class of agricultural labourers than other parts of the kingdom, and I hope that something will be done to meet their case.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
Clause 87 (3) refers particularly to the grouping of small societies, but I do not think it is quite clear what must be the number of members of these societies to form a group. Can you have more than one group in a county, say, one of 2,000 members and another of 3,000? If you cannot do that, you may in certain counties find it very difficult to form a group of societies of agriculturists totalling up to 5,000.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
You may have half-a-dozen groups in the same county, so long as each aggregates 5,000 members. Is that the point?
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
Take a county which has a mining population, an industrial population, and a small agricultural population. The miners may have their own group of societies which they desire to amalgamate, and the industrial population may have theirs. The agricultural population may have a number of small societies which they wish to form into one county group; but, supposing they do not number 5,000 members, can that group be formed, or is it essential that each group should have 5,000 members?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
As long as there are 5,000 in each group they can form 1097 as many groups as they like. But supposing the agricultural group cannot get 5,000 members, they can group with another agricultural society across the border, and thus make up their 5,000. The group need not be confined to the county.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
The county feeling is very strong. It will be difficult to get the small societies to group at all, but to get the small societies of one county to group with the small societies of another will be very difficult indeed. I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider this point, because it may be a matter of considerable importance to the agricultural population. The Clause is not at all clearly understood in the country, and it has never been discussed in the House. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give further attention to it, with a view to Amendments being introduced in another place enabling a group of agricultural labourers to be formed in a county, even though it does not number 5,000 members.
§ Mr. WEIGALL
I should like to emphasise most strongly the point just made. I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not realise the enormous pride that these local societies have in themselves. During the last fortnight in my own Constituency, I have been astonished to see how much the agricultural labourer feels the position of his small rural society under this Bill. It is true that agricultural labourers will insure themselves more freely than any other class of the community, so long as it is done voluntarily; but I am certain, from what I have seen and heard during the last fortnight in my Constituency, that if you apply compulsion they will not be so ready to do it. They are particularly anxious as to what will happen to their small societies. I have told them that they can go into the county pool. I did not realise until this afternoon that they would have to have 5,000 members. That, I am afraid, knocks the rural societies on the head. We shall certainly not be able to find 5,000 members in my county. The life of one village is a thing entirely apart from the life of another village two or three miles away. If it is laid down that each group must contain at least 5,000 members I am afraid the county pool system will fall to the ground. The right hon. Gentleman has told us in an airy general way that out of this Bill the agricultural labourers are to get power to increase their wages, to improve their houses, and so on. Representing, as I do, 1098 a large number of agricultural labourers, I should very much like to hear something more definite as to how these desirable results are to be attained. I would only like to observe that if he had that in view, as a result of the finance of this Insurance Bill, that he will keep it in view when he introduces the Finance Bill next year; because I feel perfectly sure, from our experience in the past, that the agricultural labourer is not going to increase either his wages nor his housing accommodation. So far, however, as the point I got up to raise is concerned, I do feel most strongly that unless the Government can make some concession as to lowering the number of members required for the county pools the use of the pools will be very much diminished. The agriculturist in my part of the world is afraid of supervision, except it be the supervision of the people he knows. To tell him he has got to be under the supervision of Insurance Commissioners immediately raises a wall between him and this system. The powers of the Insurance Commissioners will be enormous. Do we realise that they are getting the powers that ought to belong to the Houses of Parliament, that they are to be given the judicial powers that ought to belong to the Law Courts, and that they are to administer these powers almost without check, let, or hindrance? I, therefore, say in respect to the agricultural labourer, if he feels he is to be under the supervision of men who are given these enormously autocratic powers, that his fear of them is very well founded.
§ Mr. HAMERSLEY
I desire to deal with the question of the limitation of the membership of the groups. I had an Amendment on the Paper to reduce the number to 1,000. Unfortunately it was not debated, because the guillotine fell. I am confident that had it been debated the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have appreciated the position, and have made a reduction. From the beginning of the Debates on the question of the small societies the Chancellor has always expressed a desire to keep them in existence, and to do nothing detrimental to their carrying on their work in the future as they have carried it on in the past. As a matter of fact, in making this 5,000 as the limit of the group of the county associations, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman—though he must know it—that it will have the effect of destroying the whole object of keeping these small societies in existence. 1099 In my own county of Oxfordshire the small societies, including the village clubs, number probably about 5,500. You cannot possibly get all these societies to join a group. Therefore, in that county, the provision that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has put into the Bill for grouping them will be simply lost. I have had numbers of meetings since the Amendment was introduced and brought in by the Chancellor. I can assure him that the societies have all taken the matter up very earnestly, for they have a great desire to continue and to join a group. When, however, it is suggested that they should go outside the counties—well, they would not do that, or are not likely to do it. I would urge the Chancellor most earnestly to reduce the number to 1,000 or 2,000, and then he will have accomplished the object he has in view; the societies will be satisfied, and they will not feel that sense of injury that otherwise they would do.
On the question of the agricultural flat rate the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a statement that I cannot agree with when he said that there was no unemployment among agricultural labourers. I am sorry to say that that statement does not apply in the district that I come from. There are numbers of unemployed there, and they are likely to be so from the nature of their employment. Yesterday a large farmer told me that he had had to discharge a number of men because there was no turnip hoeing to be done. These men, who otherwise would have been in employment, will be out of employment for the rest of the winter. I also take objection to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the agricultural labourer will in future pay 4d. for benefits for which he has hitherto been paying 8d. I shall be glad if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will explain that more particularly, because it would undoubtedly make this Bill a very much more popular Bill with the agricultural labourer. If the right hon. Gentleman can show that as soon as this Bill becomes law the agricultural labourer will get for 4d. what he now has to pay 8d. for it will do good. My experience is—having secured all possible evidence—that he is now paying 4½d. for what he will get for 4d. when the Bill comes into operation.
§ Mr. HAMERSLEY
I do not include sanatorium benefit. In lieu of maternity 1100 benefit they get burial benefit, which they prize very much, and which you do not give them in this Bill.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Do they get 10s. per week for twenty-six weeks when they are ill, and 5s. per week after?
§ Mr. HAMERSLEY
All I say is this: they practically get for 4½d. what they will get for 4d. under this Bill. From the evidence of the local societies, I am prepared to prove it. I have had their statements and have had them inquired into. If they are to get for 4d. what they have hitherto been paying 8d. for, I think it would be an advantage if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would explain how it comes about. A statement is a very different thing from actual proof. But on this question of numbers I again earnestly urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider if he cannot see some way of reducing them and so accomplishing what he wishes. Otherwise the 5,000 will destroy the object he has at heart, and render the Clause nugatory and useless.
§ Mr. MOUNT
I did not intend to say anything had it not been for the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in answer to my hon. Friend just below me. I always understood that in connection with these groups of societies, unassociated societies, which are in Subsection (3) of Section 37 of the Bill, there is no limit to the numbers which the group may contain. My reason for believing that—and that is the general impression of most Members connected with agricultural constituencies—is that you have three classes of approved societies—one which must have 5,000 members, one consisting of associated societies, and one of groups to which no limit is put.
The Chancellor, in his extraordinary statement, said that if the group of agricultural societies did not get their numbers within the limits of the county that they could go outside the boundary and so make up their numbers to 5,000. I should like to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to Section 37, Sub-section (3).
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Member is quite right, but the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hicks Beach) put to me quite a different question; or so I understood him. What I understood the hon. Member to put to me was, whether in a district partly mining and partly agricultural, or partly industrial or partly agricultural—of which there are a good many instances—whether the voluntary societies were forced to join some county association, or whether the agricultural societies could form their own group, I replied, "certainly." I have no doubt they will do so in many cases. If they form a group in the ordinary sense of the term, they must have 5,000 members. But the hon. Member put to me Sub-section (3), which is a totally different thing where they do not form a group. Section 37, Sub-section (3) says,Any such society which has not joined any other association as aforesaid, and which carries on business in any county or county borough shall, for the purpose of this Section be grouped with the other unassociated societies carrying on business in the same county or county borough.This is gathering up the fragments and putting them all into the same basket. That is the compulsory grouping of the remnants of societies.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
This is gathering up the remnants. I thought the hon. Member who put the question to me was apprehensive that the societies once they were inside the county would be forced to join the county group, which would contain mining members and others. That is only when they have failed to form a group of their own; then, of course, if they fail to form a group and decline to join the group outside the counties, the remnant is gathered up and formed into one association.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Yes. It is assumed that two-thirds of the surplus of the individual branch will belong to the individual branch. It is only the balance that goes to the group. That is a point which is almost forgotten. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Hamersley) quoted 1102 Oxfordshire. He said that if you took all the societies in Oxfordshire and the slate clubs they only numbered 5,500. He must remember that these are voluntary societies. When this Bill is passed everyone in the village will be compelled to join some society or another. They will probably join their own village society. Thus the membership will be doubled.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am glad I satisfied the hon. Gentleman. I should like to say a word about that society that gives benefits for 4½d. I have heard of it so often, but I am wholly unable to find such a society that has passed through the actuarial test, and that is very important. I have never been able to get a society, and I have searched high and low, which was ever able to give those benefits, or anything approaching them, for 4½d.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I know a society that has done it for eighty years. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name."] The Buntingford Union Association.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Then I venture to say there is something which the Noble Lord has overlooked. If he tells me there is any society in any village in the United Kingdom which is actuarialy sound, and, of course, if it has been running for eighty years it has stood the test, that gives 10s. sickness benefit for twenty-six weeks and 5s. per week up to seventy for invalidity, and is giving maternity benefit of 30s. in each case, and is providing sanatorium benefits, and is also paying for management, because that is included as a penny, and that there is a surplus of 10 per cent. 1103 provided after all that, and also in addition that every man who enters at the age of forty is treated as if he were sixteen——
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Which is equivalent to an addition of 25 per cent. of the benefits, then I say there must be something fundamentally wrong in my calculation and in those of all the actuaries I have ever met.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I fully admit it does not treat people at the age of forty on the same footing as people of the age of sixteen, which seems to me a thoroughly unsound footing, but I do not argue that now, but it gives 10s. a week for fifty-two weeks, 5s. a week so long as disablement lasts, and it gives surgical treatment up to £2, according to the discretion of the committee, and it gives a funeral benefit of £5 on the death of a man and £3 on the death of a wife or widow. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is the contribution?"] The average contribution of members is 4d. between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, and the members all join about that age.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I should rather like to see these figures, but if they can do it at 4d., that proves that when this Bill comes into operation they will be able to give double benefits. This society will be able to give twice as much at least as the result of that, because they can get their money under this Bill, and if they can get people to manage at an equally cheap rate on forming a group of 5,000 in that county, their benefits will be perfectly amazing. The Noble Lord will take it from me that I am not doubting his word when I say that I am very sceptical.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I have only got the documents of the society. I cannot pretend that I held an inquiry into the matter.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The first thing hon. Members have to get out of their minds is that there is any substantial 1104 difference between twenty-six weeks' sickness benefits and fifty-two weeks. Every friendly society will tell you that, and, as a matter of fact, when I proposed to double the number of weeks from thirteen to twenty-six it only made a difference of £560,000 per annum. Any member of a friendly society will tell hon. Members that there is very little difference in the extension of the time of sickness benefit. Fifty-two weeks looks as if you were doing something very sumptuous, but there is very little difference in it. I should be very much surprised if it is a farthing per member. What does make a difference is medical benefit.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I did not quite complete my account. I should say that sickness begins on the first day, and not on the fourth day.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That perhaps would make a difference of one-fifth of a penny, or about £560,000 per annum.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It makes a difference of one-fifth of a penny. Medical benefit makes a difference of 1½d.; maternity benefit makes a difference of ½d., that is 2d., and sanatorium benefit makes a difference of one-third of a penny, so there is 2d. and one-third at any rate which the Noble Lord would have to add to his 4d., making it 6⅓d.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The next thing the Noble Lord says is that the management is very cheap. The management expenses come to 1d. on the average in every society throughout the Kingdom. Of course if you can get men to work for nothing, if the printing is done for nothing, or if members go round and do voluntary work, you can run a society very cheaply; otherwise you must spend 1d. per member for management. If this society does not spend it now they need not spend it in future, and they can give that penny over for medical aid for the rest of the family. How can the Noble Lord say that the benefits his society give correspond in the slightest degree to the benefits we give in this Bill? There are sanatorium and maternity benefits, and there is in addition to that, medical benefit, which between them amount to 2⅓d., not one of which the society of the Noble Lord 1105 gives. The only thing he says it gives is sickness benefit for fifty-two weeks and £2 towards surgical treatment. There is nothing of the 10 per cent. of additional benefits and the 25 per cent. for the equalisation of ages.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
£10 funeral benefit comes to about 1d. and £8 would amount to something like ¾d. benefit.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That works out at about one-fifth of a penny. So that the actual figures of the Noble Lord, apart altogether from the additional benefits, shows that it would cost his society at least 6½d. to give the minimum benefits under this Bill. Here he gives us a society which is run as cheaply as any society can possibly be run, with practically the whole of the work done as voluntary work, because the Noble Lord tells me that one penny is not spent upon management.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I do not want to mislead the House. I cannot tell the right hon. Gentleman how it works out in pennies, and the actual amount would not, of
§ course, be of any value for the purpose of discussion such as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is engaged in. I can tell the actual amount spent, but that would be of no value.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It is very difficult to argue this matter, because the Noble Lord has not the whole of the facts. All I know is that management costs one penny. If it only costs a half-penny in this case, then, in order to produce the minimum benefits which this Bill gives the members of that society would have to pay 6d. That shows that when you analyse these things they hopelessly break down. I am not suggesting that the Noble Lord is attempting in the slightest degree to mislead the House. I know he is incapable of that, but I think he will find, on looking into this matter, and comparing it with the actuarial figures, it is quite impossible that these minimum benefits could be given by that society. I think I have now dealt with all the points put to me.
§ Question put "That those words be there inserted.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 105; Noes, 175.1107
|Division No. 423.]||AYES.||[8.15 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Goldsmith, Frank||Pease, Hebert Pike (Darlington)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Ashley, W. W.||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Astor, Waldorf||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Baird, J. L.||Gretton, John||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Barlow, Montagu (Salford, South)||Harris, Henry Percy||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Henderson, Major H. (Abingdon)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Boyton, James||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l, Walton)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Horner, Andrew Long||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Burn, Col. C. R.||Hunt, Rowland||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Butcher, J. G.||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Starkey, John R.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Ingleby, Holcombe||Swift, Rigby|
|Cassel, Felix||Kimber, Sir Henry||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Cautley, H. S.||Larmor, Sir J.||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End)||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, N.)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Croft, H. P.||M'Callum, John M.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Weigall, Capt. A. G.|
|Dixon, C. H.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Mount, William Arthur||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Louth)|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Neville, Reginald J. N.||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Fell, Arthur||Newdegate, F. A.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Newman, John R. P.||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)|
|Forster, Henry William||Nield, Herbert||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Hicks-Beach and Col. Hickman.|
|Goldman, C. S.||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Adamson, William||Glanville, H. J.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Alden, Percy||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Phillips, John (Longford, E.)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Hackett, J.||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Barton, W.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Henry, Sir Charles E. H.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Higham, John Sharp||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Hinds, John||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Boland, John Pius||Hodge, John||Robinson, Sidney|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hudson, Walter||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Brace, William||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||John, Edward Thomas||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Johnson, W.||Seely, Col., Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Sheehy, David|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney)||Shortt, Edward|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Joyce, Michael||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Kellaway, Frederick George||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Cameron, Robert||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||King, J. (Somerset, North)||Snowden, Philip|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Tennant, Harold John|
|Clough, William||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Lundon, Thomas||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Lynch, A. A.||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Macpherson, James Ian||Wardle, George J.|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Waring, Walter|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Delany, William||Masterman, C. F. G.||Webb, H.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Menzies, Sir Walter||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Dillon, John||Molloy, M.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Donelan, Capt. A.||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Doris, W.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Morgan, George Hay||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Munro, R.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C.||Winfrey, Richard|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Neilson, Francis||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Nolan, Joseph||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Nuttall, Harry||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Farrell, James Patrick||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Ferens, T. R.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Furness, Stephen||O'Doherty, Philip|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
§ Sir CHARLES HENRY
I beg to move, in Part I, after the word "week" ["4d. a week"], to insert the words "and in the case of members of the Territorial Force whilst in civilian employment, 2d. a week." The object of this Amendment is to give preferential treatment to members of the Territorial Force. In Committee, on Clause 5, replying to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wilts, asking that preferential treatment should be given to members of the Territorial Force who were voluntary contributors, the Chancellor of the Exchequer rightly said, that if he 1108 allowed that Amendment it would only bring in a very small number, whereas a large number of the members of the Territorial Force would come within the scope of employed contributors. After the discussion on the last Amendment I think we have to admit that the flat rate has to some extent been modified. The object of this Amendment is that the members of the Territorial Force should pay 2d. a week, and it is not the intention to have the benefits in any way curtailed. As far as I can ascertain from different friendly societies and approved societies, they 1109 would not object to members of the Territorial Force being brought in at the reduced rate, because it is well known that they are not admitted to the force unless they are physically sound. If on the other hand the approved societies would not admit them at the reduced rate, by forming a society of their own, the members of the Territorial Force, with the contribution of 5d. as employed contributors and the contribution from the employer, would be able to get better benefits for themselves. The great object of this Bill is to improve the standard of health of the people of this country, and in my opinion there is no more effective way of accomplishing this object than by attracting young men to join the Territorial Force. During the time they are there they are physically sound, and they have a good training to make them fit when they retire.
According to recent accounts the Territorial Force is not in a particularly flourishing condition, and, I believe, if some inducement was given in this scheme, it might help recruiting and bring members into the force. It may be said there is no material consideration in a difference of 2d. per week, but it is 8s. 8d. a year, and that is more than half a week's wages of many of the members. It would help to pay the additional expenses they incur in having to attend drills, etc., and it would show the Government recognise those men who give voluntary national service should receive special consideration in a national scheme of insurance. The acceptance of my Amendment would mean a redution of 8s. 8d. on the contributions of the members of the Territorial Force. At present there are about 250,000 members. About 200,000 would come within the category of employed contributors. Even if the Territorial Force was up to its full strength, 300,000, about 250,000 might be regarded as employed contributors, and the reduction on the contributions of the whole of those 250,000 would mean about £110,000 a year. I hope I shall not be told a scheme which involves about £25,000,000 of different contributions will in any way be endangered by making that small concession. I hope also some concession will be made to the employers of the members of the Territorial Force. I should like to see their contributions reduced 1d., which would mean a sum of £50,000. We cannot disguise the fact that a good many employers who take members of the Territorial Force suffer considerable 1110 inconvenience when they are called out for training. I therefore think they deserve some degree of consideration and recognition.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
Who is to provide the money?
§ Sir. C. HENRY
The money will be practically found by the approved societies. The members of the Territorial Force are the best class of life, and the approved societies would be able to pay the same benefits on reduced rates. I believe this proposal would be fairly popular, would meet with general approbation, and would add to the strength of the Territorial Force.
§ Colonel HICKMAN
I wish to second this Amendment, principally with the object of doing some good to the Territorial Force. I understand the Territorial Force at the present time is something like 50,000 under establishment. This fact has given the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State for War (Colonel Seely) some considerable trouble, judging from speeches I have read in the papers lately. In fact, he went so far as to throw out a challenge to a certain association to which I, in common with the officers of the Territorial Force, belong. I allude to the National Service League. He said if the gentlemen belonging to this association would only put their backs to the work and try to get recruits for the Territorial Force they would do much more good than they were doing by their propaganda. It would be much more to the point if the Under-Secretary of State for War would give his undoubted energy in trying to get a little money from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to carry out the object of this Amendment. If the money were found, either in the War Office Vote or otherwise, then we could offer some inducement to the ordinary citizen to spend some time of his life in learning to defend his country. At the present time there is practically no inducement whatever, and it is only by the patriotism of the particular individual we have been able to get the 250,000 soldiers we have now. If this concession, reducing the contributions of the men serving in the Territorial Force from 4d. to 2d. were made, it would make a very great difference indeed, and would induce a great many more young men to join the force.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The object of this Amendment has been fairly and frankly 1111 stated, both by the hon. Gentleman who moved it and the hon. Gentleman who seconded it. Their case is that they wish to do some good to the Territorial Force. That, I can assure them, is an object which the Government share with them, and, if this were the proper place and this Bill afforded a convenient opportunity for doing good to the Territorial Force, they would have no better friends than upon the Government Bench; but, when we turn to the business of this proposal, I regret to say it does not stand examination. What is the case of my hon. Friend? He says he believes the friendly societies would accept members of the Territorial Force on payment of 5d. instead of 7d. That belief does great credit to his heart, but unless he is able to give evidence in the nature of pledges by friendly societies, great and well-known friendly societies, that they would accept these members at 5d. instead of 7d., I must beg leave to decline to share his view. Then he says the money would practically be found by the approved societies. I have always observed that the word "practically" is almost synonymous with "not." The approved societies could not pretend to find the necessary difference between 5d. and 7d. out of their funds. If they found the money, it would mean they would be finding it at the expense of their other members.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am coming to that point. There could be nothing more disastrous to the reputation of the Territorial Force than if the members were living as a kind of charity on the kindness of other members of friendly societies.
§ Mr. McKENNA
One thing at a time. Therefore, I am afraid the suggestion that the approved societies should find the difference themselves is impracticable. Then there is the third suggestion that the members of the Territorial Force should form an approved society of their own. We have no actuarial figures before us to show that even in a society of their own, that they could still obtain the minimum benefits of the Bill with their contributions of 5d. My hon. Friend has not established his case with a single proved statement as to the value to the members of the Territorial 1112 Force of a contribution of 5d. The hon. and gallant Member for Wolverhampton threw across the House a suggestion that the difference should be found by the Government. If he had proposed that in his speech he would have been out of order, and I should be equally out of order in discussing it now. We are, therefore, limited to the suggestions actually made, each of which, I fear, would prove entirely impracticable. While the Government would be prepared to accept any proposal which would assist the Territorial movement, I do not believe for one moment that the suggestion contained in my hon. Friend's Amendment would have any beneficial influence on the Territorial Force. At any rate it is quite impracticable to work, and, under these circumstances, I regret that I cannot, on behalf of the Government, accept it.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I am sorry the Home Secretary has said what he has. Of course we all knew there was only one way in which to meet the difficulty, and, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, we should be out of order if we proposed it. If the hon. Gentleman opposite had framed his Amendment for the special purpose of inviting an increased contribution on the part of the State, it would not have been in order, although we are aware that is the only way in which this thing can be done. The hon. Gentleman and some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House tried several times to bring the case of the members of the Territorial Force forward when we were in Committee, but were always referred to the Schedules as the only opportunity of raising the question. We had no opportunity of doing that owing to the pressure of the guillotine, but to-night we have arrived at a point when we can raise the question, and now we are told we cannot press it, because to do so would put us out of order. The Government, however, have known for weeks and months of the desire of some hon. Members to press this matter on their attention. When the Home Secretary tells us that the hon. Gentleman has not been able to enforce his argument by quoting statistics, he knows as well as anybody that we are prevented from developing the case. But the Government were not prevented from inquiring into the question for themselves during the period which has elapsed since it was first raised, and if they had had any inclination to adopt the view put forward by the hon. 1113 Member opposite, they had ample time in which to do it. I think it would have been far more satisfactory for the House if they had availed themselves of that opportunity.
On the merits of the question, I hold that members of the Territorial Force ought to have every possible advantage given to them. I gather that even the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues are agreed upon that. If that be the case, and if the House agrees that members of the Territorial Force ought to be treated differently from other ordinary members of the community, there is one way in which their case can be met. The Government can recommit the Bill and reframe their Financial Resolution. I gather the Home Secretary is not prepared to take that course. I can only express my regret at the decision of the Government, and say that if the hon. Baronet will go to a Division I will support him in the Lobby.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I also desire to support the Amendment. The Home Secretary has told us we should be out of order in discussing ways and means by which effect can be given to it. But this is the first opportunity we have had of saying a word on behalf of the Territorial Force, and of urging that they should secure some advantage from the passage of the Bill. The Home Secretary expresses vast sympathy with the Territorial Force, but says this is neither the time nor place in which to give effect to it. Is there any place or any time where it would be possible to give some encouragement to members
§ of the Territorial Force, and to their employers as well? Can we do anything at all? The answer to these questions is usually stereotyped. We get sympathy expressed on behalf of the force, but we are told that the particular point at which the suggestion is made is neither the place nor the time to give effect to that sympathy in a practical way. The Home Secretary told the hon. Gentleman opposite that he had not given a single proved statement in support of his argument. This Amendment gives an advantage to members of the Territorial Force. We do not want an approved statement. Hon. Members have asked the House to consider what is merely a practical scheme without giving elaborate proofs and figures. The Amendment says simply that exceptions should be made on behalf of employed persons who are members of the Territorial Force. My hon. Friend the Member for the Sevenoaks Division has indicated that there are methods which can be adopted to give full effect to that proposal. I hope the Amendment will be pressed to a Division, so that we may record not merely our sympathy with it, but our desire and intention to do something for the advantage of the Territorial Force. Should the Amendment be carried I am certain means may be found by the Treasury Bench to take the necessary steps to carry it into effect.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 89; Noes, 166.1115
|Division No. 424.]||AYES.||[8.45 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Doughty, Sir George||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Duke, Henry Edward||Mount, William Arthur|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Fell, Arthur||Newman, John R. P.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Nield, Herbert|
|Balcarres, Lord||Forster, Henry William||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Foster, Philip Staveley||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Goldman, C. S.||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Benn, Ion H. (Greenwich)||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Gretton, John||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Boyton, J.||Hamersley, A. St. George||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Harris, Henry Percy||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Burn, Col. C. R.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Butcher, John George||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hohler, G. F.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cassel, Felix||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Cautley, H. S.||Horner, A. L.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Hunt, Rowland||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Ingleby, Holcombe||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Larmer, Sir J.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Croft, H. P.||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Starkey, John R.|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Swift, Rigby|
|Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)||Valentia, Viscount||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Talbot, Lord E.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)||Weigall, Capt. A. G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir C. Henry and Col. Hickman.|
|Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)||Wheier, Granville C. H.|
|Thomson, W. Mitchell (Down, N.)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Glanville, H. J.||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Adamson, William||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Alden, Percy||Hackett, John||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Price, C. E. (Edinbrgh, Central)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Barton, William||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Benn, W. (T. Hamlets, S. George)||Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Bentham, George J.||Higham, John Sharp||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Hodge, John||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Boland, John Pius||Hudson, Walter||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Robinson, Sidney|
|Brace, William||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||John, Edward Thomas||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Bryce, John Annan||Johnson, William||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgteon)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jowett, Frederick William||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Joyce, Michael||Sheehy, David|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Kellaway, Frederick George||Shortt, Edward|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Simon, Sir John Allsebrock|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Smith, Albert (Lancs, Clitheroe)|
|Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Clough, William||Levy, Sir Maurice||Snowden, Philip|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Lewis, John Herbert||Summers, James Woolley|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lundon, Thomas||Tennant, Harold John|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||M'Curdy, C. A.||Wadsworth, John|
|Dawes, James Arthur||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|De Forest, Baron||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Wardle, George J.|
|Delany, William||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Webb, H.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Martin, J.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Dillon, John||Masterman, C. F. G.||White, Sir Luke (Yorks. E. R.)|
|Donelan, Capt. A.||Menzies, Sir Walter||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Doris, William||Molloy, Michael||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Morgan, George Hay||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Munro, Robert||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Winfrey, Richard|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Needharn, Christopher T.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Neilson, F.||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Nolan, Joseph||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Furness, Stephen||Nuttall, Harry|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingwarth and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I beg to move in Part 1., to leave out "7d." ["in the case of men 7d. a week"], and to insert instead thereof "6d."
In this Amendment there are two points which we do not raise: first of all, the question of contribution, and secondly the question of a flat rate. We assume that both of these points have been settled. The only question I want to raise is the burden of the incidence of the contribution, particularly upon the workmen's shoulders. 1116 Our original proposition was that the three contributions should be equal: 3d., 3d., and 3d., but under the present circumstances it is impossible for us to ask the State to increase its burden, and so the field upon which we stand this evening is the narrow field of raising the question of the contribution from the workmen, and whether in the case of workmen earning some 15s. a week it should be as much as 4d. This point has really never been specifically discussed. It has been 1117 referred to from time to time, but it has never been raised as a definite and separate issue. The argument of the Government is this; it states that it would be very beneficial to everybody concerned if every man and woman earning wages could make adequate provision for sickness and permanent invalidity. There is no dispute on that point. We are all agreed about that. But it would also be a very good thing for everybody concerned if every man and woman who earned wages could supply themselves with a good library, with a full cupboard, and ample housing accommodation situated in a very clean street, in the midst of delightful country scenery. We are all agreed about that. But the situation which we have to face is this unfortunate one, that the incomes of the majority of the wage-earners are not sufficient to enable them to do everything that they ought do, and when we begin to catalogue the desirable and even the necessary things of life and say sickness ample, food ample, clothing and so on, we discover that before we come to the end of our catalogue we have come lamentably to the end of our income. And the consequence is that we have to face this very interesting and very intricate problem of how a man with 15s. a week can best spend his money. If we say to him that there are certain things which he ought to do, and which we are going to compel him to do completely, then we are saying in the same breath that other things which he ought to do he can either do very incompletely or not at all. That is the position that we occupy in reference to this contribution. The Government says, we abstract from the sum total of the desirable and necessary things the provision for sickness, and we compel everybody to make this provision. We insure them against it, and we are so determined that they shall be insured against it, that they shall not handle at all the necessary premiums, but those premiums are going to be deducted from wages by the employers. Then they say further, in the second Section of Schedule 4, "if we are taking more from you than is necessary to do the things which we declare to be absolutely necessary—namely, insurance against sickness and invalidity and so on, then we will make provision that the surplus shall go in matters which are of secondary importance—what they call their additional benefits. I think that is the situation.
Is that situation a rational one? I say it is not. That a man with 15s. a week 1118 should pay the same insurance premium as a man with £2 a week is really absurd, and you cannot get out of it. From the point of view of the man who brushes on one side the question of individual income it is a perfectly sound proposition, because if sickness comes in varying proportion to the man with 15s. a week and the man with £2 a week it comes oftener to the man with 15s. than to the man with £2, and from that point of view the flat rate is a perfectly logical rate. They get the same benefit precisely, but the man with 15s. a week has got to organise his expenditure on a totally different footing from the man with £2 a week, so that the argument that they get the same benefit has nothing to do with the question at all. They will get the same benefit if you compel them to spend £20 a year on good books, but the chances are that the man with 15s. a week will have a better head than the man with £2 a week to take advantage of the book. Nevertheless, that does not justify such an absurd proposition as that which I suggest. Therefore, my contention is that the reply which has been so common from the Front Bench, and the constant displaying of the benefits in a sort of Regent Street shop window, is no reply at all. It does not touch the point. We will discuss the benefits when we have settled the premiums. We will discuss what he gets after we have settled how we can pay for it or what he can pay. I dare say the same old argument and the same old reply will be made, but that reply has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the argument. The argument that we are putting up is an argument which relates to the man who has an income which is going to suffer deductions, and not anything that you are going to give him ten, twenty, or fifty years hence in the shape of benefits. I want to drive home another reply to the argument which we have heard frequently stated from the Front Bench, and which we heard this afternoon. It is said if there is a surplus at the time of the valuation it goes to additional benefit, but that only makes the case worse. Assuming, to begin with, that you are charging too much, that is not a virtue but a vice. It is just as much a vice as if the Chancellor of the Exchequer says to me, a taxpayer, "I want £200,000,000, and you have to pay your share," when, as a matter of fact, he only wants £150,000,000. It is no virtue for a man to so absolutely overestimate the cost of Government that he charges 50 per cent. too much, and at the end of 1119 the year to boast about his balance. That sort, of Chancellor of the Exchequer should be discharged rather than blessed, and to say "We give you a tremendous number of secondary additional benefits" is, as a matter of fact, a blemish on the scheme rather than an advantage, as it seems to be regarded by some of my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench.
There is another point. We had a very dramatic display this afternoon of argument in a graphic method. We had that diagram which is ultimately going to find its way into the Tea Room. It showed that the perpendicular rapid rise of the curve-took place after the average life of the poorer paid workman had come to an end. He is not there at all when these benefits come. When that diagram goes into the Tea Room, if some hon. Member would take the liberty to draw in blue pencil a line which marks the average limit of life of the classes with, say, 20s. a week average income, he will discover that the blue line will come before the upward curve becomes very prominent. There, again, if the average sickness, taken right through the diagram, is going to be the basis of the actuarial calculation, the class I have in my mind, the 15s. a week man, is practically outside the scope of the heavier insurances. I think all that really ought to be much more scientifically worked out and much more carefully put into the Bill, and that the machinery of the Bill should be much more accurately adjusted to meet the circumstances than is actually the case. That is our case against the 4d. The State, of course, could have stated what it has said—10s., and so on, is the minimum; it is no use having a scheme of this kind unless you have 10s. That is what it has said. But it ought to have said in addition to that, "We have to find out what the various grades of wage-earners can pay," and then, having found that out, it ought to have said, "then we, the State, have to find the remainder." But that was not the process at all. The process apparently has been that the State discovers that the mass of expenditure required can be divided into ninths, and says, "All that we, the State, can afford to pay is two-ninths, and we have to shuffle the rest on to the backs of the employer and the employed." That is a very bad way, and it has landed us with the 4d. being imposed upon wages of 15s. a week. My impression is that 3d. from the workman, 3d. from the employer, 1120 and two-ninths from the State—if we cannot do more, and we cannot raise the question whether we can get more on the Report stage—would be amply sufficient to give the prime benefits for which the Bill was drafted and brought in. Let us knock out the extra benefits. They do not rank at all. The prime purpose of this legislation, the fundamental idea which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had in his mind, can, I believe, be adequately met by the scale I propose.
Mr. TYSON WILSON
I beg to second the Amendment so ably moved by my hon. Friend. I agree with every word he said. I believe the benefits promised in the Bill could be met by contributions of 8d. per week from the three contributing parties. While we have heard a great deal this afternoon about the low paid agricultural labourer, I would point out that he is a great deal better off than the labourer in the large towns. If you go into the factories, or engineering works, or into mining districts, you will find a very large number of men whose wages range from 15s. to £1 per week, and their expenditure upon household requirements is a great deal more than that of agricultural labourers. That being so, I think the Amendment whereby the contribution of these low paid wage-earners would be reduced to 3d. would be a boon. I would like to point out also that there are hundreds of homes in the large cities where the father is earning 16s. or 17s. per week, and he may have a family of five or six dependent upon him. That man is a great deal worse off than the single person whose wage is 9s. per week. That being so, we are justified in asking the Government to consider the Amendment seriously. As regards the labouring classes in the larger towns, we hear that in the cotton mills wages are very low indeed. In fact there are a large number of men earning 17s. or 18s. per week. Many of these men are parents. Many of them perhaps have sons who begin, at fifteen years of age to help to keep the home going. They would have to pay 4d. a week until they are twenty-one years of age. I think the condition of these people should be seriously considered, if not by the Government, at any rate by the House of Commons.
Ministers have got up and pointed out the benefits the worker is going to receive; and one would be led to believe that everyone insured under this Bill is going to get 10s. per week for a certain number of weeks, and 5s. for the rest of his life. 1121 It is not so. What we on these benches wish is that as few men as possible should come upon the benefits, and I am quite satisfied that in a few years' time the health of the nation will be so improved that 8d. per week will not be required to meet the expenditure on benefits. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) that we ought to proceed simply with the minimum benefits promised in the Bill, and leave time to prove whether the contributions will provide additional benefits or not. I do earnestly appeal to the Government and Members of the House of Commons to give this Amendment their most careful consideration. I do not altogether agree with the actuaries. I do not speak as an expert in these matters, but actuaries make mistakes; and in my opinion they have made a great mistake in this case in regard to the amount of money required to meet the liabilities under the Bill. The arguments based upon the figures furnished by the actuaries remind me of an advertisement on the hoardings, "If 'John Bull' says it is, it is so." If the actuaries say it is so, then it is so; but I believe time will prove that the actuaries have made a great mistake as to the revenue required to meet the expenditure under the Bill.
§ Mr. GOLDMAN
I desire to support the Amendment on the ground of the relief it will afford to the heavy burdens which fall upon the working classes in connection with this Bill. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) suggested that he did not intend to call upon the Treasury to increase its grants, but that he proposed the contributions should be reduced to 6d., the workman only paying 3d., and that certain benefits should be eliminated from the Bill. I think I can show that all the benefits suggested under the Bill can be maintained by the simple process of extending the period of the sinking fund. I intended to move an Amendment in the Committee stage with that object, but unfortunately it was guillotined, and we never reached it. By extending the period of the sinking fund from eighteen and a-half years to eighty years you would be able to reduce the contribution from 7d. to 6d., and charge the workman only 3d. It is acknowledged that the burden imposed by the Bill is a very heavy one. The hon. Member for Leicester has given an illustration showing how heavy is the incidence of the charge which falls upon the working classes. If the burden is so heavy it 1122 should be made as imperceptible as possible, and that would have been done by accepting the proposal which I intended to make. Let us remember that for eighteen years the benefits are going to be the same. The benefits will only change after eighteen and a-half years. Let me point out that at present the younger lives will receive no contribution whatever from the State. More than that, all the younger lives that come in during the next eighteen and a-half years will receive no contribution from the State. Between 400,000 and 500,000 will come into the scheme under the Bill in the next eighteen years, and you will have 7,000,000 coming under the Bill and obliged to contribute, and being told that they are going to get a contribution of 2d. from the State, while in reality they are not going to receive a farthing. Let me make good this assertion. The older lives come into this scheme, some of them at the age of sixty, receiving a 2s. 6d. benefit for 4d. The average of all the benefits under the scheme works out at 9d., and in order to give a man who comes under this Bill the average of 9d. for 7d., the Government are giving a contribution of 2d. But in the case of the younger lives see how it works out. If the Government were to contribute towards them as well they would be receiving 9d. for 7d. But what happens is that they contribute 7d. and the Government, under Clause 51, immediately proceeds to deduct one and five-ninths of a penny; therefore, the benefits are correspondingly reduced by the equivalent. Hence, also, the Treasury contribution is reduced by two-sevenths of one and five-ninths of a penny, or four-ninths of a penny. Therefore the total reduction comes to one and five-ninths plus four-ninths of a penny, which means 2d. In other words, the younger lives contribute 7d. and only receive 7d. worth of benefit, and not 9d. worth. Under this Bill you are forcing these younger lives to come in and pay 7d., and yet you are depriving them of the State subsidy of 2d. But under our alternative proposals, which I hope will also meet the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment we reduce the contribution from 7d. to 6d. So it works out that instead of deducting one and five-ninths of a penny every week you only deduct five-ninths of a penny. In other words you are left with five and four-ninths of a penny only to represent seven-ninths of the benefit. Therefore the total benefits are nine-sevenths of that. The 6d. is to be the contribution in future if this Amendment is accepted, and immediately five- 1123 ninths of a penny are deducted from the 6d. instead of one and five-ninths of a penny as at present prescribed in the Bill. In other words this leaves five and four-ninths of a penny instead of 6d.; this represents seven-ninths of the benefit. Therefore the total benefit represents nine-sevenths of five and four-ninths of a penny. In other words, the position is this: If the hon. Member's Amendment is carried and my proposal is accepted, they will be getting for 6d. contribution 7d. worth of benefit. This is an enormous advantage for the younger lives coming in for this reason: under existing schemes they pay 7d. and only receive 7d. instead of 9d. Under this proposal they would be paying 6d, and receiving 7d. in return. The advantage to the State is this: that instead of having to contribute 2d. they would only have to contribute 1d. Finally, let us see how this really works out. The younger lives are to receive a State subsidy of a 1d. instead of receiving nothing. As far as the older lives are concerned, the contribution is going to be reduced from 7d. to 6d., and they are going to receive 9d. worth of benefit for 6d.—instead of 9d. for 7d., though the State will be called upon to contribute only 1d. instead of 2d. This operation does not increase the responsibility of the State. Older lives are going to have a higher benefit but a smaller contribution, and so far as younger lives are concerned you are going to give them a State benefit which otherwise they would not receive. For these reasons I strongly urge the Government to reconsider their decision on this matter, accept me Amendment of the hon. Gentleman and recommit Clause 51 to enable the sinking fund to be reduced from one and five-ninths of a penny to the five-ninths of a penny.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Member who spoke last has greatly complicated the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald). He has introduced to it another set of ideas which are quite foreign to the purpose of my hon. Friend in moving his Amendment to reduce the joint contribution from 7d. to 6d. Before I reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, I should like to say a word upon the suggested plan of the hon. Member for Falmouth (Mr. Goldman). His first point is that the young person who enters the scheme at the age of sixteen receives no benefit from the State contribution. That 1124 is quite true. It is not novel. It was stated by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in introducing the Bill and he explained what was the remedy under this scheme for that undoubted drawback. However, the entrant himself at the age of sixteen does get a considerable advantage. He pays 4d. and receives benefits which he could only, without this scheme, obtain by contribution of 7d. What is his peculiar advantage under the Bill as it now stands? After eighteen and a half years, when he is still only thirty-four years of age, he will come into the scheme at increased benefits and he will enjoy those increased benefits for a longer period than those who enter the scheme above the age of sixteen at the present time. The hon. Member has left that fact entirely out of his calculation. The large part of contributions in the earlier days of membership of an approved society are purely to build up the reserve. Any person who enters at sixteen is the person who is going to get the benefit of the scheme at the early age of thirty-four and a half years. That is to say, if a person of the age of sixteen enters the scheme in the first year, in eighteen and a half years he will get the full benefit of the money which will become available at the end of that period. How does the hon. Member propose to meet the case? He proposes to extend the waiting period from eighteen and a half years to eighty years, so that the unfortunate youth who enters at the age of sixteen would have to reach the mature of ninety-six before he could obtain his share, of his additional money. According to the scheme of the hon. member, instead of getting the benefit at the age of thirty-five, for the saving of a 1d. in his contribution, he would, under the scheme of the hon. Gentleman, lose far more than the value of that 1d. during the remainder of his life. The hon. Gentleman informs the House that if the period be extended to eighty years instead of being limited to eighteen and a half years, the period for the payment of the initial debt of sixty-seven millions, the contribution of 5–9ths of a 1d. would be sufficient to make good the deficiency. Is he quite sure of that?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am assuming that the concession is made to extend the period of the payment of the initial debt from eighteen and a half years to eighty years. Would 5–9ths of 1d. pay it? I doubt very 1125 much whether it would pay the interest, much less the sinking fund.
§ Mr. GOLDMAN
According to the original scheme we were required to redeem this amount in fifteen and a half years. By the concession which the Government has since made, the period has been increased to eighteen and a half years, and the amount is now swollen from sixty-two million pounds to sixty-eight million pounds. That being so, my figures would be altered to a certain extent from the eighty years, and would be increased to ninety years. That is due to the concession which the Government has made. The calculation I have made includes interest.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Member's figures have been sprung upon me, and it is very difficult on the spur of the moment to enter into a difficult calculation as between five-ninths of a 1d. and seven-ninths of a 1d. Still, I very much doubt whether it would be possible that five-ninths of a 1d. would pay even the interest on the Sinking Fund in ninety years. I doubt whether it would be sufficient alone to pay even the interest; and, so far as the Sinking Fund is concerned, it would be annually increasing instead of diminishing. I am informed by competent authorities that five-ninths of a 1d. would not pay the interest, and that, so far from paying the debt, there would be an annual increase of that debt. I am afraid that the interesting calculation made by the hon. Gentleman would not bear actuarial examination. I turn now to the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald). On another stage of the Bill he proposed an Amendment to divide the 9d. into equal parts, 3d. to be paid by the employer, 3d. by the workman, and 3d. by the State. I do not intend, of course, to take such advantage as I might of every argument he put forward. What has he based himself upon? My hon. Friend says that 4d. is too heavy a contribution to exact from the workman earning 15s. a week. It is undoubtedly a considerable proportion of his income. But what is our experience at the present time? It is an actual fact that the special class of workman whose case has already been put before the House, the agricultural labourers, with wages at 15s. a week and less, are very largely insured at the present time.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am taking 15s. a week, and less, all included for agricultural labourers. There are agricultural labourers whose wages are 15s. a week, plus other things, but there are agricultural labourers with much less wages than 15s. a week in money, and whose total wages, all included, do not exceed 15s. a week. Yet, amongst that very class, you find that a considerable proportion of them are already insured in friendly societies, with a contribution of no less than 6d. a week. Undoubtedly, nobody will dispute that it is a heavy exaction upon wages of 15s. per week, but it is an exaction which a large number of agricultural labourers are now more than willing to pay, and willing to pay for less benefits than this Bill offers. Persons with an income of less than 15s. a week have been willing to find 6d. for less benefits than are offered under the Bill, and it cannot, therefore, be suggested that they will be unable to pay 4d. where they have paid 6d. before, and it cannot be disputed that they will be better off with a payment of 4d. than they are with a payment of 6d. But is the hon. Gentleman justified in basing the whole of his argument on the case of a man whose wages are 15s. a week? Really, on my hon. Friend's Amendment, the only point we have to consider is whether, taking the extreme lower limit of 15s. a week, 4d. is too heavy a demand to make. Below 15s. a week the Government are in agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester that the contribution under the Bill should be less. But taking the extreme case, and having regard to the amount of the voluntary contribution already paid by agricultural labourers with small wages, I do not think it can be fairly said that 4d. is beyond the power of workmen to pay.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester slightly, and my hon. Friend the Member for Lancashire in more detail, argued that these benefits could be given upon a total contribution of 8d., being 3d. from the employer, 3d. from the workman, and 2d. from the State. What proof is there of that? I wish to follow the argument fairly. Undoubtedly in the report of the actuaries it appears that there is a margin over and above the actual amount required in order to give the immediate benefit, but no actuary would advise that the scheme is sound unless there were such a margin. Is it reasonable that the Government should make itself responsible for a scheme of benefits which no first-class actuary in 1127 the country could be found to guarantee as financially sound. It may prove, and I am pretty confident it will prove, and it ought to prove, that on the expiration of the period of the first valuation that the distribution of the benefits has not exhausted the whole of the funds available. No doubt it would then be possible to consider either the extension of the benefits by additional benefits, or else the repayment of contributions. It is provided in the Bill that additional benefits may be provided amongst other ways by part payment of the contribution, so that the suggestion is not altogether excluded from the Bill. But no Government could be expected to introduce a scheme which on the face of it was not merely actuarialy sound, but as well approved of by competent actuaries. From that argument, I regret to say, that the suggestion of my hon. Friend that all the benefits could be provided for out of the contribution of 8d. instead of 9d. could not be found sound.
The hon. Member commented on the Paper which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer exhibited earlier showing how at the later ages in life the rate of sickness rapidly increases, and he argued that the scheme had not been scientifically considered because, as he truly said, in many classes of employment in the country the workman died before they reached the average age at which the rates of sickness rise very quickly. That is true, but my right hon. Friend was dealing in averages. It is equally true that in those trades in which the mortality is great, and in which, perhaps, the average age of death may be fifty, instead of sixty, as in the more healthy trades, there is an equal amount of sickness, but the age of sickness comes earlier. It is impossible to argue from tables which are drawn up to cover the average over the country the case of individual trades. My hon. Friend could not suggest that if you take a very unhealthy trade where the average of life is not beyond fifty, that because the whole average of sickness——
§ Mr. McKENNA
The average workingman's life is over sixty. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no." "It is not over forty."] I think the mortality tables show that the average of life is far longer than my hon. Friend suggests. I do not mean the expectation 1128 of life. I know of no trade in which the average mortality is as low as the age of forty.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The average age of general masons is far over forty. Take the most unhealthy trade in which you may say that the average death rate is not much more than forty. In that there has been a great deal of sickness before that age, and in those special trades the period of sickness occurs earlier in life. That does not vitiate the tables or show that they are wrong, and it is quite impossible to argue as to one trade from the whole average over the whole country. I think my hon. Friend is not justified in arguing that the scheme has not been considered scientifically. On the contrary. This scheme, involves immense difficulties, and I venture to say there has been no scheme ever produced in this House which from beginning to end has had the advantage of more scientific investigation and examination than this insurance scheme. I should think we should have no difficulty in convincing my hon. Friend, though it is not a matter easily discussed over the floor of the House, that those tables which my right hon. Friend exhibited do justify in every detail on a scientific basis the actual scheme on which the Bill has been founded.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I was very much interested in the speech which the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) made in introducing his Amendment. He spoke with great knowledge and with great moderation, and, to my mind, he carried conviction, and the speech which my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth (Mr. Goldman) made bearing on the same point was, I think, not fully appreciated by the Members of the House who listened to it. What is the question that underlies both the speeches? The question is, Are you giving full value for the contributions which you ask the workman or the contributor to pay? I think there is a great deal to be said in favour of the contention of my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth, that by postponing the payment of the sinking fund, I will not say for the full term of eighty years, but for some time, at any rate, you would have at your command a sum of money which would enable you to make some reduction in the contributions that you invite under 1129 this Bill. I think a very ample margin has been allowed by the actuaries in their estimates. You must not exhaust that margin, but you might draw on it to a certain extent to supplement what is saved by postponing the payment to the sinking fund.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I think you could get very near to 1d., and it would be well worth while seeing how near 1d. you could get, knowing that you have at your command all the resources of the State to supplement any deficit that is found to exist after the Act has been working for a year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will say that that is an impossible situation; that you must know actuarily how you stand, that before you embark on this scheme at all you must be able to say precisely what your liabilities are. A great many of our liabilities are not precisely defined now; many of our responsibilities are not laid down with that certainty which some of us would desire. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer would display in this matter some of the courage which he undoubtedly possesses in others I think he would be able to allow this reduction in the total contribution to be made, and it would be greatly to the advantage of the persons concerned. The question raised by the Amendment is not confined to members of the working classes. What the hon. Member for Leicester proposes is a reduction in the total amount contributed by employers and employed, and he has advanced a very strong argument for carrying the saving under his proposal to the benefit of the employed persons. If we had had more time I should not have ventured to say what I am going to say, although I believe it to be strictly in order on this Amendment.
There is another consideration which the House ought not to leave out of account, and that is the possible effect upon the wage-earners of imposing a burden—I do not call it a tax—upon the employers of labour who will be affected by this Bill. There is a large class of men, insured persons themselves, who will have to pay for the insurance of those whom they employ—servants in small households and so on. This Bill is going to hit them very hard. I remember talking to a friend of mine, a clerk in the City, who told me that amongst the more poorly paid clerks, whenever an unexpected cause of expenditure arises, 1130 there is only one fund out of which they can meet it, namely, the fund which they have provided for their holidays. Their budgets have to be made with scrupulous care; every item of expenditure has to be weighed; and my friend told me that it is a common practice amongst men of that class, after they have provided for all the expenses they can foresee, to set aside so much for their annual holiday. If they are called upon to meet any extraordinary expenditure the holiday fund is the only one out of which they can meet it. We do not want to deplete the holiday fund of these men, especially when we are dealing with a matter affecting their health. There is nothing that will tend so much to lessen the liability of these men to come upon the fund as good holidays and fresh air. There is another class of employers—those who cannot afford to pay more than very low wages. Personally I, in common with with every other Member of the House, hate to contemplate the payment of wholly inadequate wages. But it is idle to leave out of account the fact that there are some businesses carried on at the present time that cannot afford to pay anything but miserable wages.
Take the ready-made clothing trade. Years ago, before there was any question of this Bill, I was told by one who is a considerable man in that world that his expenditure has to be very strictly limited, because the moment his cost of production exceeds a certain figure German competition ruins his business. He is driven to bring his cost of production below the figure at which he can meet German competition, and the only way in which he can do that is by paying a rate of wages of which he is ashamed, and which he hates to pay, but which does at any rate keep his workpeople alive, and for which he can find any quantity of people to apply for vacant situations. What are we to do with men like that? To impose any really serious increase on their cost of production—anything like 6d. a week per man—might be fatal. You may say that that is a business which it is far better should come to an end. I know there are Members who take that view. But the workpeople do not take that view, for the reason if you drive them out of that employment they will find it exceedingly difficult to get any other employment at their trade. To my mind there is-only one way in which you can meet that sort of difficulty, and that is to put an end, as far as we can, to any form of unfair 1131 competition. There are other employers besides those who pay low wages who will be very much concerned if this Bill passes as it stands. I have here a communication which I received a couple of days ago from one of my Constituents. It puts the point so shortly that I hope the House will allow me to read it. This is written by a large firm of fruit growers:—Our last year's turnover was £5,491, out of which we got less than £60 profit. We paid away in wages £2,481, and I think the new Bill, if it becomes law, will cost us about 10s. per week; that is to say, it will absorb practically half the profit of last year. We cannot afford to continue business on these lines. The only alternative is to lower wages or to give up business. Which do you advise us to do?[HON. MEMBER: "What is his rent?"] His rent is the ordinary rent which land in that part of Kent commands—probably from £2 10s. to £3 an acre. The right hon. Gentleman makes an exclamation of horror.
§ Mr. FORSTER
Something very akin to it. The point really is this: It is not a question of the rent he has to pay; it is the question whether or not this Bill is going so to interfere with his business as to make him unwilling to continue his work as at present conducted. He probably employs on an average forty men. He says it will cost him 10s. a week under the Bill. That is 3d. a week for forty men. Those are cases which we cannot leave out of account. Anything which is going to tend to make employment more difficult and less easy to secure is going to go far to counter-balance any advantage which we hope to give when we pass this Bill into law.
There is one further trade to which doubtless the Chancellor of the Exchequer will refer when he comes to speak. I mean the cotton trade. This business has to consider the export trade generally. They have found, so I am told—I do not speak from experience—the greatest possible difficulty in keeping their cost of production so low as to enable them to overcome the difficulties which they meet in foreign tariffs, world-wide competition, and so on. Members of the House have been inundated with memoranda fired into them by leading men in the cotton industry, and leading employers of labour in other parts of the country, dealing with this problem. It is possible that the Chancellor of the Exchequer may have something to say which will satisfy them and relieve the apprehensions 1132 which they have at the present time. I think we ought to remember that this is a Bill for insuring against sickness and unemployment. It does not prevent either. It only provides the benefits where either occur. But if by anything that we do we are ging to make employment less secure and less remunerative, or make it less worth the while of employers to employ the fullest possible number of hands, then I am afraid we shall only create that which we have set out to cure.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am indebted to my hon. Friend for raising this very important issue. The speech which we have just listened to illustrates the possibility of organising a combination against the Bill which has nothing in common. My hon. Friend proposes to take 1d. off in order to give it to the labourer, whilst the case of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is rather a reduction of the employer's contribution. He wants 1d. off the employers in order——
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
No, no, that is not the proposal of the hon. Member. Nor will he be able to induce the Labour party to accept ½d. and give the other ½d. to the employer. On the contrary, the only effect of the success of the combination will be to start the scheme as a bankrupt one. I want all those in the House of Commons who really have the courage to face all these difficulties and desire to start the scheme on a sound financial basis, to really say so, rather than to merely appear to do so, and to be able later to go to their constituents and say, "I voted to get 1d. off," whether the scheme was a bankrupt one or not. The hon. Gentleman said, "Why does not the right hon. Gentleman go as near as he can?" Just realise what that means? A penny produces three million pounds according to the advice of the best actuary we have been able to employ, and according to the advice of any actuary who has been employed by anybody, Hon. Members opposite have employed an actuary, hon. Members below the Gangway have employed their actuary. There is no surplus you can reckon on which is above £1,800,000. Take 1d. off, and you start a scheme which is bankrupt to the extent of £1,200,000. That is the proposal—to start with £1,200,000 acknowledged deficit. The hon. Member appealed to me and said, "Why have you not the courage to start 1133 the scheme, which is £1,200,000 to the bad, according to the advice, of your own actuaries?" I admit my courage fails me.
§ Mr. FORSTER
If it had been in order—and here is one of the difficulties that we have in raising these things on the Report stage—I should have said to the right hon. Gentleman, "Make the contribution of the State 2d."
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Then the hon. Gentleman, without any sort of support whatever, challenges the statement made by not merely the two actuaries, but by Mr. Watson as well, that our contribution is 2d.—that the contribution of the State is equivalent to 2d. [HON MEMBERS: "No."] I wonder whether the hon. Member who says "No" has spent five minutes on going into the figures? I am sure he has not. Even if he had, I would rather have the opinion of Mr. Watson, and certainly that of the two distinguished Actuaries, Mr. Hardy and Mr. Wyatt. Provision is made for £1,800,000. That is the whole surplus that the societies will manage. Could anyone go into the scheme without any margin; without a penny for contingencies? It would be perfectly absurd. To start the scheme without any margin at all would be the work of a lunatic, unless you are prepared to go forward and say, "Put the 1d. on to something else."
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) is perfectly consistent. He would put the whole of the 1d. on to the State. That is logical, if the House of Commons or any other House Were to reject a contributory scheme. But so long as you are going to have a contributory scheme or any scheme, if you start a State scheme, I think this House would be entitled to say, "Are you really going to start a State scheme bankrupt; with £1,200,000 to the bad, and which has not even got a 2 per cent. margin?" The thing is absolutely impossible. The House of Commons would be entitled to impeach the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or any other Minister, who started it. How are we to meet it? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Forster) said, "Why cannot you postpone your linking fund?" Let us see what that means. In eighteen years you will be able to declare additional benefits to the extent of 25 per cent. That means that the people who come into this scheme for the first time—the young people who have been able to go on contributing for eighteen 1134 years—will at the end of that time be able to declare additional benefits of 25 per cent. They will be able to add one-fourth to every penny in that year to create fresh benefits, because Parliament will then decide what benefits are best. The proposal from the hon. Member opposite is you should put them off. For how long? No one figure has been given except that by the hon. Member for Falmouth (Mr. Goldman). He said, "Put it off for eighty years. It is a matter of no interest to anybody here."
§ Mr. GOLDMAN
I said it was of the most vital interest to the present generation to see that the whole burden should not rest upon them, seeing they are going to get no advantage.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Gentleman wishes to shunt the whole burden on to posterity. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] At any rate, seeing that people over sixteen are coming in upon good terms I think it is desirable that those who are over sixteen and up to thirty should be able to get better benefits in eighteen years' time. I venture to lay this down, that any Member of this House—because we have all our responsibilities and have no right to cast it upon the Government—who proposes to take one penny off should be prepared to propose an alternative. Of course, the hon. Gentleman has done it. He proposes to put off the benefits. [HON. MEMBERS: "The additional benefits."] I have already said so—the 25 per cent. additional benefits. Is there any one else in this House who would be prepared to put off the additional benefits for eighty years to wipe out this deficit? [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes."] There is one other, then. Let me point out that this deficit comes to £2,000,000 a year, and you could not do that in this way. It would be impossible to do it, and the hon. Gentleman would find his conclusion very difficult to solve.
I do not accept the proposition that this is a burden upon the employer. It is perfectly true it will add to the establishment charges, but I do not think the hon. Gentleman means that it is going to come out of the profits, taking one year with another, or at the end of five years, that a man who has paid £60 towards this object will have to deduct that £60 out of his profit. Why? Because it would be absorbed in the establishment charges. All his competitors will have to pay it. [HON. 1135 MEMBERS: "What about his foreign competitors?"] The foreign competitors are paying twice as much. An hon. Gentleman opposite shakes his head. I will give him some figures. I say it would be absorbed in the industry in the course of one, two, or three years. It may be that in existing contracts he will have to pay it out of his own pocket. The first case given was the case of the employer who manufactures ready-made clothing. The manufacturer of ready-made clothing will compete with other manufacturers of ready-made clothing, who are paying exactly the same thing. Every manufacturer of ready-made clothing in the United Kingdom will be paying exactly the same charges, and if this is a handicap for one manufacturer it is a handicap for everyone of his competitors in the country.
I come now to the foreign competitors. The hon. Gentleman opposite gave the case of a manufacturer of ready-made clothing, who said he found it very difficult now to fight his German competitors, and that if this tax was put on it would make it still more difficult. There is very little influx of ready-made clothing into this country, but, on the other hand, we are the greatest exporters of ready-made clothing in the whole world, so that ready-made clothing is the very last trade in the world that ought to be quoted. Take the cotton trade. It is true I had the privilege of receiving a very important deputation from that trade some time ago. I observe that my friend, Sir Charles Macara, rather complained that a letter he sent me was not replied to. That is a very unusual thing, and I cannot help thinking that there has been some mistake in the matter. I am sure I left instructions that it should be attended to and I am exceedingly sorry if it was not attended to. Having dealt with that point, I come to the question put to me about the cotton trade. What is the case there? Our only competitor is Germany, and she is a competitor at a long, long distance behind. I forget what the proportion is, but my recollection is that the imports from Germany into this country are very small. We have the largest export trade in the world. I am not sure, and I am quoting here from memory, whether our exports are not as great as all the other countries in the world put together—[HON. MEMBERS: "Greater."]—and our only competitor is Germany. Let us take the case of Germany. Take the case of a spinner earning 1136 about 26s. a week. The cotton employer of this country will have to pay 3d. in respect of each spinner. The cotton employer in Germany is now paying 6d. in respect of the same operative. In this country the workman himself will be called on to pay 4d. In Germany he has to pay 9½d.—that is to say, the cotton employer in Germany has to pay twice as much as the cotton employer in Lancashire, and the cotton workman in Germany has also to pay more than twice as much as the cotton workman in this country.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Gentleman seems to think that that is really a stunner. But it really means that he is paying more in respect to accident in Germany than he is paying in this country. I can give him figures if he wishes to look into the subject.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I was not referring to the hon. Gentleman, but to the very exultant cheer of the hon. Member for Colchester. In regard to the question put by the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Lawson), it does not in either case include accidents in Germany. As I have already pointed out, old age in that case is part of a contributory scheme. In this country the whole burden of old age is upon the funds. Really the burden on the German employer is heavier, and there accident insurance is very much heavier than it is here. From the figures which were put before me the burden looked twice as heavy. Therefore the burdens of the German employer are considerably heavier than the burdens of the British employer would be under this Bill, and the Germans are our great competitors. Take the French scheme. I will take the case put by the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Forster). Under the scheme in operation in France the employers pay considerably more than the employers in this country. Whatever part of the world you go to you will find that the employer is paying more, and the workman is paying more, and this is extending all over Europe. Go to Austria. The Austrian employer is paying twice as 1137 much as the British employer. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is his Income Tax?"] It is considerably higher. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is double."] What I want to point out is when you come to competition at home every employer will be paying the same, and every employer has got to take that payment into account when he is quoting his prices against his competitors. Every man in business knows that the real competitor in most trades—I agree that the cotton trade is an exception—is the home competitor. An hon. Member has quoted some laundry tables, but you do not get your ironing done in Germany. The same applies to the building trade. You cannot build your house in Germany or in France. So that in the vast majority of the trades you have rather to reckon with the home competition—[An HON. MEMBER: "NO."]—and when you come to consider that you will find that inasmuch as the employers have all to pay the same charges none of them get any advantages over the other. When you come to foreign competition there you find that every real competitor we have got in the market has to pay twice as much as we have to pay here.
§ Mr. A. G. HARVEY
Do I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is really of the opinion that with regard to the cotton trade Germany, France, and the nations of Europe are our sole competitors? I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that a very serious competition to the cotton trade in its export trade comes from the Bombay mills and the Japanese.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I agree, of course, with the hon. Gentleman, who knows far more about the cotton trade than I presume to know; but, at the same time, that is a competition with which you have got to deal at the present moment, and the most important competition there, is not a competition of an extra 3d. per week to the workman. The mere difference of an additional 3d. per week added on to the charges does not amount to the estimation of a hair when you are really competing with people who are only paying 1s. or 2s. a week wages. Let me point this out to the hon. Gentleman. Why is it we are able now to beat the competition of Japan and of India, when they are only paying 6d. and 1s. per week wages——[HON. MEMBERS: "Per day"]—when they are only paying 6d. per day and even less than that very often. We are able to do it because our labour is more efficient than theirs. That is the real reason, and everything 1138 that increases that efficiency must also increase our competitive power against them. These people are getting such poor wages; they are so badly looked after, and their hours of labour are so long that they have not the physique to compete with our workmen. Why are we able to beat even the German employé, who are getting poorer wages? Because our better wages make better workmen, amongst other things.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Gentleman has evidently got a good deal of support on that. There is no doubt, at any rate, it tends to increase the efficiency of the workman, and does make him a more formidable workman for competition. If you give him better medical attendance, take better care of him when he is ill, look after him when he is in sanatoria, the result is a much more formidable man to fight, whether it is the German, the Japanese, or anybody else. It is because I believe—and I believe it from the experience of Germany—that the result of this Bill will be to increase the efficiency of the workman that I am not, for that one reason, afraid of foreign competition.
I wish there were there moments left before we go to a Division, but there are at least a few moments, and I should like, as the right hon. Gentleman referred to an "exultant cheer" of which I must admit I was guilty when a little daylight was let in on his argument with regard to what the Germans pay and to what we pay, to say just a few words on that particular subject. The right hon. Gentleman has again tonight called the attention of the House to the different amounts of contributions paid by the employers and the workmen in Germany as compared with the contributions to be paid by the employers and the workmen here. He has done that more than once, and the learned Attorney-General, in his Second Heading speech, made the same sort of comparison. They both of them have put it to the House as though they were comparing like with like. If they are not comparing like with like there is no object in the comparison at all. I say that the comparison made is absolutely misleading and untrue, and for this reason: the German contribution includes payments for a system of invalidity benefits totally different from the bedridden benefit given under the British scheme. 1139 German invalidity can be claimed if the insured person is not able to earn one-third of his ordinary rate of wages. The British benefit cannot be claimed if the man is able to dig in his garden; therefore, it is totally misleading to compare the two. The German contribution includes payment for the first thirteen weeks' sickness due to accident. Under the Clauses of our Bill any benefit gained under the Workmen's Compensation Act has to be taken into account, and is deducted from the benefit which can be received by the workman under this Bill. If you are comparing like with like, you should be receiving something like £6 10s. for thirteen weeks extra under the British Bill. In addition to that, this contribution is payment for old age pensions from seventy onwards. Old age pensions are now costing thirteen millions, paid by workmen and employés in the contribution. I believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer said the cost of old age pensions was equal to 5d. per week contribution; if we add that to the 4d. of the workman and 3d. of the employer that would be only the beginning of a fair comparison. But that was not said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-night, or by the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General in his Second Reading speech.
In addition to that the German contribution includes a funeral benefit. Ours does not, and, taking the case of a man earning 26s. a week, which in Germany would include a funeral benefit of £4 8s., could the Chancellor of the Exchequer provide that out of the 4d. from the workman and 3d. from the employer? If not he has no right to compare our contribution with the German contribution. There are, in addition, other benefits which go to account for the larger contributions made by the workman and employer in Germany. But the
|Division No. 425.]||AYES.||[10.30 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Beck, Arthur Cecil||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George)||Byles, Sir William Pollard|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Bentham, G. J.||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Alden, Percy||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Black, Arthur W.||Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Boland, John Pius||Chancellor, H. G.|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Booth, Frederick Handel||Chapple, Dr. William Alien|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Brocklehurst, W. B.||Clough, William|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Bryce, J. Annan||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Burke, E. Haviland.||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.|
|Barton, William||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot|
§ point of the argument is not so much the amount of the contribution as the effect of the additional contribution on the present state of employment. The point the hon. Member for Sevenoaks took was this: that this was an additional charge upon British industry. The German charges have been going on for ten or twenty years, and notwithstanding those charges we have found it difficult to compete with Germany in respect of many articles of manufacture. What we are now doing is loading ourselves with an additional charge without the power which the Germans have of getting it back by means of a protected market. The Chancellor of the Exchequer instanced the case of the ready-made clothing trade, and said that in the case of British employers the charge would not fall upon their profits, but it would fall on their establishment charge. Who is going to pay the establishment charges? If this particular charge is not coming out of profits—it certainly is not coming from heaven, so the consumer will have to pay. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I gather, admits that; therefore, will it not be a charge upon the industry of this country, or upon the people who live by the industry? The right hon. Gentleman said there was no import trade in ready-made clothing. But is there not an export trade? Does not this charge increase the cost of the manufacture of ready-made clothing in this country, and will the export trade be improved by the extra charge being put upon it?
§ And, it being half-past Ten of the clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 25th October, successively to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, "That 7d. stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 188; Noes, 156.1143
|Crumley, Patrick||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Reddy, M.|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., South)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|De Forest, Baron||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Delany, William||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Lundon, T.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Dillon, John||Lynch, A. A.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Donelan, Capt. A.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Doris, W.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Rowlands, James|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||M'Callum, John M.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||M'Curdy, C. A.||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Masterman, C. F. G.||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Menzies, Sir Walter||Sheehy, David|
|Ferens, T. R.||Molloy, M.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Furness, Stephen W.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Shortt, Edward|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Glanville, H. J.||Mooney, J. J.||Summers, James Woolley|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Morgan, George Hay||Tennant, Harold John|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Munro, R.||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Hackett, J.||Neilson, Francis||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Nolan, Joseph||Waring, Walter|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Webb, H.|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Doherty, Philip||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Higham, John Sharp||Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Rotherham)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pollard, Sir George H.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Power, Patrick Joseph||Winfrey, Richard|
|John, Edward Thomas||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'lets, Stepney)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Joyce, Michael||Radford, George Heynes|
|Keating, M.||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Adamson, William||Denniss, E. R. B.||Hickman, Colonel T. E.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Dixon, C. H.||Hill, Sir Clement L.|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Doughty, Sir George||Hills, John Waller|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Duke, Henry Edward||Hill-Wood, Samuel|
|Ashley, W. W.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hoare, S. J. G.|
|Baird, J. L.||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Hodge, John|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Faber, Captain W. B. (Hants, W.)||Hohler, G. F.|
|Banner John S. Harmood-||Fell, Arthur||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Barnes, George N.||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Horner, A. L.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts., Wilton)||Foster, Philip Staveley||Hudson, Walter|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gastrell, Major W. H.||Hume-Willams, W. E.|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Gilmour, Captain J.||Hunt, Rowland|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Goldman, C. S.||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Goldsmith, Frank||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Johnson, W.|
|Boyton, J.||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Jowett, F. W.|
|Brace, William||Greene, W. R.||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Gretton, John||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Lansbury, George|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Cassel, Felix||Hamersley, A. St. George||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End)|
|Cautley, H. S.||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Harris, Henry Percy||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Mackinder, H. J.|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Helmsley, Viscount||Malcolm, Ian|
|Crean, Eugene||Henderson, Major Harold (Berkshire)||Martin, Joseph|
|Croft, Henry Page||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wadsworth, J.|
|Morrell, Philip||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Mount, William Arthur||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Ward, Arnold S. (Herts., Watford)|
|Neville, Reginald J. N.||Sanders, Robert A.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Newman, John R. P.||Sanderson, Lancelot||Wardle, George J.|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Nield, Herbert||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Weigall, Capt. A. G.|
|O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Snowden, Philip||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Starkey, John R.||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Paget, Almeric Hugh||Swift, Rigby||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Peto, Basil Edward||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Pollock, Ernest Murray||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Pretyman, E. G.||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Ratcliff, R. F.||Thorne, William (West Ham)||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Touche, George Alexander|
|Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Tryon, Capt. George Clement||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. J. Parker and Mr. C. Duncan.|
|Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Valentia, Viscount|
§ Mr. SPEAKER
then proceded successively to put forthwith the Question on any Amendments moved by the Government of which notice had been given, necesary to dispose of the business to be concluded at this day's sitting under the Order of the House of the 25th October, as amended by the Order of the House of the 30th November.
§ Amendment made: Leave out the word "over" ["over the age of twenty-one"],1144
§ and insert instead thereof the word "of"—[Mr. Lloyd George.]
§ Amendment proposed: Leave out "twenty-one," and insert instead thereof the words "or upwards."—[Mr. Lloyd George.]
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 204; Noes 51.
|Munro, Robert||Rendall, Athelstan||Swift, Rigby|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Neilson, Francis||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Nolan, Joseph||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Nuttall, Harry||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Waring, Walter|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Robinson, Sidney||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Roe, Sir Thomas||Webb, H.|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Rowlands, James||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||Samuel, J. (Stockton)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Sanderson, Lancelot||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Scanlan, Thomas||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.||Whyte, A. F.|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Seely, Colonel, Rt. Hon. J. E. B.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Sheehy, David||Winfrey, Richard|
|Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Shortt, Edward||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Radford, G. H.||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Pea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Reddy, Michael||Summers, James Woolley|
|Adamson, William||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Hodge, John||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hudson, Walter||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Boyton, James||Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis||Wadsworth, John|
|Brace, William||Johnson, W.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Jowett, Frederick William||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Lansbury, George||Wardie, George J.|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Crean, Eugene||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Newman, John R. P.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Goldsmith, Frank||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. J. Parker and Mr. C. Duncan.|
|Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
§ Further Amendments made: In the same paragraph, leave out the words "wages or other" ["whose, wages or other remuneration"].
§ After the word "employer" ["lodging by their employer"], insert the words, "and the rate of whose remuneration does not exceed 3s. 6d. a working day."
§ In the second paragraph, leave out the words "wages or other" ["where the rate of wages or other remuneration"].
§ In the third paragraph, leave out the words "wages or other."
§ After the word "remuneration" ["remuneration does not exceed 2s."], insert the words "exceeds 1s. 6d. but."
§ In the fourth paragraph, leave out the words, "wages or other."
§ After the word "remuneration," insert the words "exceeds 2s. but."
§ In Part II., paragraph (1), leave out the word "over" ["sex over the age"], and insert the word "of."1146
§ After "twenty-one" ["of twenty-one whose wages"], insert the words "or upwards."
§ Leave out the words "wages or other remuneration do not exceed 2s. 6d. a day, and who are not provided with," and insert instead thereof the words, "remuneration does not include the provision of."
§ After the word "employer" ["by their employer, the following"], insert the words "and the rate of whose remuneration does not exceed 2s. 6d. a working day."
§ In paragraph (2), leave out the words, "wages or other."
§ After the word "a" ["a day"], insert the word "working."
§ In paragraph (3), leave out the words "wages or other."
§ After the word "remuneration" insert the words "exceeds 1s. 6d. but."
§ After the word "a" ["a day"], insert the word "working."1147
§ In paragraph (4), leave out the words "wages or other."
§ After "remuneration," insert the words "exceeds 2s. but."
§ After the word "a" insert the word "working."—[Mr. Lloyd George.]