§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—[Mr. Lloyd George.]
§ Mr. FORSTER
I beg to move to leave out all the words after the word "That," and to insert instead thereof the words, "while approving the objects of national insurance, this House is of opinion that under Part I. of the Bill public funds and individual contributions will not be used to the best advantage of those most closely affected and that, as the Bill has been neither adequately discussed in this House nor fully explained to the country and would in its present form be unequal in its operation, steps should be taken to enable further consideration of Part I. to be resumed next Session, and in the meanwhile to have the draft regulations published."
The time allowed by the Government for the Third Reading of this Bill bears so little relation to the great scope and to the immense importance of the measure that it is quite impossible for any single individual to traverse the whole field and pass in review all the important proposals that the Bill contains. Time is short. There are many Members of the House who desire to speak upon the question, and I, 1420 for one, shall make my speech as short as circumstances will permit. We have been so immersed in detail during the last few months that, I think, it is difficult for anyone to take a wide and comprehensive view of the measure as a whole—a measure fraught with tremendous issues and the most important consequences for every class of our community. I am not going to attempt to do it. I have no wish to reargue questions that I have already argued in Committee and on the Report stage. In the second place, I am afraid that my voice would not last long enough for me to do it. With the leave of the House, I will refer at once to the Amendment, and consider it in relation to the Bill, with which it is so closely interwoven that it cannot be considered entirely separately. What is the meaning of the Amendment of which I have given notice, and what would be its effect if it were carried? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Those are rhetorical questions, which are convenient to the man who asks them provided they are not prematurely answered by his audience. They are convenient because they are generally couched in the form of words which is most suitable to the person who asks them and who is going to answer them. What is the meaning of the Amendment? The meaning is patent on the face of it, and any man who reads the Amendment can see precisely what it means. This is the object of it, that the detailed discussion of this Bill should not now be closed. I ask that further opportunity should be given, both to the House and to the country, for further consideration of the measure before it is passed into law. The part of the Bill to which I refer especially is Part I., which, in my view, stands in a totally different category from Part II., and I am bound to say that the House has always treated it almost as if it were a different Bill. I would ask the leave of the House to confine my remarks solely to Part I., with which I have, at any rate, been specially concerned in Committee. What would be the effect of the Amendment if it were passed? Supposing, for the sake of argument, that the Government and the House accepted it, the Government would then take that step which we are prevented from taking by the action of the guillotine. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would move to recommit the Bill, and to carry it over until the next Session of Parliament. This is not a wrecking Amendment. I want the Government and the House to understand that this is not a wrecking 1421 Amendment, and it is not intended to be a, wrecking Amendment. It is a demand for further time; it is a demand that the Government might accede to without los3 of prestige to themselves; it is a demand which, if they grant it, will carry great benefit to the Bill upon which we are engaged.
If I may turn from justification for my Amendment to its terms, I would like to say a few words with reference to some questions which are specifically raised by the Amendment itself. We begin by declaring that we approve of the objects of National Insurance. That is a perfectly genuine and a perfectly honest statement, and a statement that I need not labour. Indeed, right hon. Gentlemen and the House generally know enough of us to believe that what we say in this regard is perfectly sincere and perfectly genuine, and I do not think that that requires further elaboration. In the second place, we say that, in our opinion at any rate, the public funds and individual contributions are not used to the beat advantage. In the course of the Debates in Committee attempts have been made to suggest alternative schemes. Those attempts have not met with a very large measure of success. We were met with difficulties whenever we endeavoured to move them. The rules of the House, the rules of our Debates, the rules under which we conduct our Debates, the strict and narrow terms of the Financial Resolution, all combined to make it impossible for us to develop, as we should have wished to develop, alternative proposals. I have seen it suggested in the public Press, and I have had communications sent to me from various people in different parts of the country making specific suggestions and saying: "Why is it that the Opposition in the House of Commons do not offer the country an alternative plan which they might prefer to the plan suggested by the Government." The reason is very simple, as we who carry on our work in the House of Commons appreciate. The rules of order under which we carry on our Debates have prevented us from making those alternative suggestions. That is the reason, and that is the only treason, why alternative suggestions have not been made with greater freedom. I cannot help thinking that if we had been allowed to make them they would have found a large place in the Bill. Then there is another reason why I say in my judgment we are justified in saying that in our view the public funds are not put to the best advantage. We have had no oppor- 1422 tunity of debating in detail the financial part upon which the Bill is founded. The Clause dealing with the creation of reserve values and practically the whole of the financial proposals of this Bill were passed under the guillotine in Committee, and without a single word said upon them on the Report stage. I cannot help thinking it was a thousand pities that in a measure of this kind the guillotine should have been framed in such a manner as to have excluded altogether a detailed discussion upon the financial proposals of the Bill.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer brings to the aid of the scheme which this Bill promotes contributions from the public revenue, and he is fond of describing those contributions as a contribution of 2d. As a matter of fact, the State does not contribute 2d. per individual. I wish it did. I think it would have been a far better way of providing State assistance to this scheme to have made it contribution towards contributions, instead of contribution towards benefits. In that way we should have had really 2d., and we should have created a central fund upon which we could all place reliance, and in that way we should have called upon the people to bear their fair share of the burden instead of postponing the full weight of the burden until later years. We should have been in the position to ask the people of the country, with full knowledge of what it was going to cost, whether they thought the cost was justified or not. I think that would have been a better way of providing the financial assistance which the State ought to give. This matter is a matter which, of course, very largely affects the taxpayers, and there is one particular class of taxpayers who, I think, are very closely affected by the proposals, and that is the class of persons drawn from the same stratum as the employed contributors will be drawn from, the persons who, because they are working on their own account, will have to contribute towards the provision of benefits for their neighbours, benefits that they do not receive themselves. And I could show, if opportunity offered, that it would be quite possible to have given to those people reduced benefits in return for a reduced voluntary contribution, so that they would not have been left out in the cold altogether, and they would have been brought within the beneficent sphere of the proposals of this Bill. The class of persons I have in my mind are persons like the small trader, the costermonger, the water- 1423 man plying for hire in his own boat, the small tailor, the bootmaker, the window cleaner, and the jobbing gardener, who are sections of the population that may not be very large in themselves, but which, added together, form a not inconsiderable portion of the population. The House will forgive me if I do not dwell at great length on these points. Really I referred to them to recall to the recollection of those Members who have taken part in the Committee the discussion of points which we have endeavoured to raise, some points which we have raised, and some points with the settlement of which we are not wholly satisfied.
I pass from that part of my Amendment to consider the suggestion that is made in another part, that this Bill is unequal in its operation. Surely, I think it will be admitted in all quarters of the House that it is desirable where you are creating a national scheme that the scheme should affect all classes of contributors equally. All employed persons in this country are brought within the sphere of this Bill. Are they all treated equally? I think they are not, and I think that there is one class of person, the inequality of whose treatment is so patent that it requires no argument from me, and that is the class of the deposit contributors. What the deposit contributor is doing in an Insurance Bill I have never been able to discover, and I should have thought that while the Bill was still in Committee, or at any rate before we reached the present stage, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have changed the wholly fictitious name, the wholly fictitious title, which stands at the head of that Section of the Bill, and that he would have no longer have continued to describe this as deposit insurance, for insurance it undoubtedly is not. I am not at all satisfied that women under the Bill are going to be treated on the same terms as men; I will say very briefly why. It depends very largely on what effect the separation of the women's from men's funds is going to have upon the security of the women's insurance. I am rather inclined to doubt whether the division of the funds will not make the position of women far less secure under the Bill than it would have been if the fund had remained united.
There is one aspect of the division of the funds on which I should like the Chancellor of the Exchequer to enlighten me. 1424 As I understand, the centralised societies can take in men and women members, and the men's fund will be separated from the women's fund, but the National Insurance fund, into which the 1½d. deducted from the contributions of the women and the 1 9–5d. deducted from the contributions of the men is to be paid, will not be separated. The effect of that, as far as that alone is concerned, is to help the women's fund, because the married women who take advantage of the special opportunities offered them under their special Clause will have behind the fund upon which they draw the security of the reserve values fund. The liability upon that fund is estimated to amount in ten years' time to something like £150,000 a year; that is to say, the repayment of the sinking fund will have to be postponed to the extent of £150,000 a year in order to assist the married women's fund. That, of course, is to come out of the fund which is jointly the men's and the women's. I suppose the proportion of men to women under this Bill will be as three and a-half or four to one, so that the greater proportion of the married women's guarantee will really come out of the men's portion of the central national fund. To that extent, I grant, the men come to the assistance of the women. But I am very doubtful whether the women's societies that will be established under the Bill will really be solvent. I say that for this reason: we are dealing with women as if we had as much information and experience in regard to the health of women as we have in the case of men. We are using men's tables for the women, and I doubt whether we are justified in doing so. I was very much struck by a short extract from a lecture delivered the other day by Mr. Watson to the School of Economics, in which he pointed out that, as we have no reliable figures upon which to proceed in the case of women, there is undoubtedly a risk that the women's funds will not be so thoroughly solvent as we should like to see them. He pointed out that it is very doubtful whether, if you did not create special societies for women, you could get them into any of the stronger approved societies at all. If women are likely to be so wholly unwelcome to the stronger friendly societies, I do not think we ought to part with the treatment of women by this Bill without a good deal of further consideration.
There is another way in which, I think, the various contributors will be unequally dealt with. I do not wish to elaborate this 1425 point, because I have already referred to it in Committee. The Chancellor of the Exchequer knows the view that I hold, in common with many other people, that the effect of this Bill, giving, as you are bound to do, to the societies the free choice of their members, will be to throw into the ranks of the strongest societies the most valuable risks from the societies' point of view. You will gradually find the second-class risks going into the second-class societies, the third-class risks into the third-class societies, and so forth, until you come to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer calls the uninsurable risk of the deposit contributor. The effect of that will be that the less desirable the life the more unstable will be the insurance. That is a prospect which we cannot face without considerable misgiving. One further aspect of the question that I should like to touch upon is the creation of the so-called National fund. When the Bill was introduced it was intended to be a great national scheme, embracing all parts of the United Kingdom, carrying "the rare and refreshing fruit to the parched lips" of the employed contributors in whatever part of the country they lived, under precisely the same conditions and administered by precisely the same authorities. Since then we have seen this great national scheme split up into four sections, to my mind with great disadvantage to the fund, with great disadvantage to the insured people, and with greatly increased cost for administration. One further result is that there is no sort of guarantee that we shall have the same kind of scheme in operation in any one of these sub-divisions of our nationalities that we have in another. Under the new provisions of the Bill the Insurance Commissioners in Ireland will be given a practically free hand to create almost a different system of insurance altogether from that which obtains in this country. I think that is so, unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer relies upon the hold which the Treasury will have over them. If he relies upon that; if he tells the House that the Insurance Commissioners are to be nothing more than the tools of the Treasury, then I say the prospect of this Bill is even worse than it would otherwise be. I do not think that the sub-division of the national fund into four separate sections is likely to do anybody any good.
I come now to the assertion in the Amendment that the Bill has been neither adequately discussed in this House nor fully explained to the country. I have 1426 only to enumerate the Clauses which were passed without discussion to show how ruthlessly our Debates have been curtailed and how incomplete our work is as it stands at present. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may tell me that this Bill has been so many days in Committee. He may say that on a Bill of this kind you really cannot give absolute freedom of discussion, because the year would not be long enough. There is a great deal of truth in that. We have never seen a Bill of this kind before. No Bill that I remember has been treated as this Bill has been, and I think another two or three months given to its consideration would not have been altogether wasted. If we had been allowed further time to discuss the Clauses and the Schedules of the Bill. I do not doubt that the House could have made further valuable improvements. But we have not been given an opportunity to do that. Let me remind the House very briefly how much of the Bill has been passed without discussion. In Part I. thirty-two Clauses have been passed without a word of detailed discussion. Eighteen were passed in one night under the guillotine in Committee. As evidence of the haste with which these new Clauses were drawn, we may point to the fact that two of them were struck out of the Bill by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself as soon as we came to the Report stage. It is only fair to the right hon. Gentleman and the House to say that the points with which those two Clauses dealt were dealt with in other Clauses. I do not in the least mean to convey that the subject-matter of the Clauses was struck out; all I assert is that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given himself more time to handle the matter, we should not have had these rather grotesque mistakes in which subject-matter which ought to be dealt with in one Clause was made the subject-matter of a totally different Clause. The Clauses which have not been discussed raise most important questions. I have a list of them here, but in all probability the House is so familiar with the question that they will forgive me if I do not make any further comments upon it.
It is not only in Committee that we have been denied the opportunity to discuss the Clauses of the Bill. What happened on Report? When we came to the Report stage the Bill was practically recast, but we have never had any hand in the discussion of it. Out of the first seventy-seven Clauses as passed through 1427 Committee the two Clauses to which I have already referred were struck out, and sixty-eight were amended, though not one of them was discussed. The Report stage of the Bill which suffered this treatment came to an end on Monday last, and we are now invited to read it a third time, after only one day's interval. I think it is absolutely impossible for anyone—it is difficult enough for those who have—who has not followed the Debates on this Bill hour by hour, almost minute by minute, to say how closely this Bill resembles the Bill which was first introduced, or how widely it differs from it! The Chancellor of the Exchequer will tell us that most of the Amendments which we passed on the Report stage, and most of these eighteen new Clauses which we passed without any discussion at all, were in the nature of concessions to criticisms which have been directed against this Bill, either by hon. Members who sit on this side, or hon. Members who sit in other parts of the House. That is very true. If the new Clauses and Amendments which have been put into the Bill or made did meet the criticism that has been directed against the Bill, I for one would not have a word to say. But it rather begs the question when you say that these Amendments were made in response to your own invitation and then you go on to point out that they do not really meet the case which we put.
Let me give one single instance. Take the case of the pooling arrangement for the smaller societies. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will say after all that question was discussed, and it was in answer to the suggestion that was made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Wilton Division that this Amendment was put into the Bill at all. Yes, Sir, that is quite true; but the limit of 5,000 which the Chancellor insists upon keeping for his county pool to a very large extent destroys its value from our point of view. We were very anxious that the complete independence of the old-established friendly societies, small in numbers, but strong in funds, should be maintained under the provisions of this Bill. We could not expect that the very smaller societies could be preserved, but we were particularly anxious, and did expect that societies in such strength as, say, a thousand members, should be preserved, and their independence should be left to them. It does not meet our case when the Chancellor of the Exchequer accepts our suggestions, 1428 and puts so high a limit of numbers upon it as to force these old societies, whom we wish to see remain independent and distinct, into combination with others with whom they may have little or nothing in common. All through the later stages of this Bill there are signs of haste and ill-considered change.
I have referred to the question of the division of the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh funds from the English funds. I have pointed out that that formed no part of the original scheme. It weakens the stability of the fund; it leads to administrative difficulties—as the trade unions will find. This alteration has found no favour with those who have looked at this Bill as a method of insurance, and not as an indirect method of initiating a policy of Home Rule all round. I wish to allude to the question referred to in the last paragraph of my Amendment, the question of the regulations which the Commissioners will have to frame to carry out this Bill. There are a great many Clauses that either give powers to or impose duties upon the Insurance Commissioners. If I recollect aright no fewer than fifty-one Clauses of this Bill either impose duties upon the Commissioners or give powers to them. I should like the House just to reflect for a moment or two upon some of the duties and some of the powers which this Bill proposes to confer upon the Insurance Commissioners. Let me take one or two. They may, without reference to Parliament, include whole classes of persons whom Parliament has excluded. The House of Commons has settled in part 2 of Schedule 1, that there are certain classes of persons who shall not be brought into insurance.
The very first Clause of the Bill gives the Commissioners power to bring these persons into insurance if they think it right and necessary to do so. Then the Insurance Commissioners have to establish the rates of contributions for voluntary contributors. I should have thought that that was a question that Parliament should itself have settled. When it has laid down a scale of contributions for compulsory insurers, I should have thought it might have tackled the not very much more difficult problem of the voluntary contributors. I said a moment ago that there are fifty-one Clauses which impose duties and give powers to the Insurance Commissioners. That only conveys a very faint impression of the full extent of the way in which Parliament is leaving this Bill to be shaped and framed by those over whom Parliament will have no control. 1429 Let me turn to Clause 16. Look at the powers and duties imposed upon the Commissioners there. Clause 16 refers to the administration of medical benefits. The Insurance Commissioners will have to make regulations so as to secure that each person shall receive adequate medical attendance and treatment. What is adequate medical attendance and treatment? I do not think anybody can say. I do not believe it will be any easier for the Insurance Commissioners than for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say what is really meant by adequate medical attendance and treatment. These regulations will have to provide for the establishment of the doctors' panel; to provide for the inclusion in the panels of all doctors who wish to join the panel. They will have to provide for the removal from the panel, after such inquiry as may be prescribed, of any doctor they think ought to be removed.
I wonder if the House realises what that power means to the doctor? It is a power practically of life and death—certainly of professional life and death—certainly a power which may bring a man to material ruin. If a doctor for any reason can, by the Insurance Commissioners, be struck off the panel on which he wishes to serve, it means absolute ruin to him in his business and professional life. Of course there is free choice of doctors. The regulations say that there is to be distributed amongst the doctors those patients who make no choice for themselves. There is another point. Briefly, if the medical arrangements made are not satisfactory the Insurance Commissioners may throw over the whole system and they may make what other plans they like. They may suspend medical benefit altogether. They may pay an insured person the sum of 6s. per year and say, "Now you can find your own doctor." So that there is no certainty that any of these insured persons is going to get that free doctoring stated at somebody else's expense. Those are large powers to give to a body like the Insurance Commissioners.
I come to another power which is rather remarkable. Under Sub-section (6) of Clause 16 the Insurance Commissioners may determine the sum which is payable to the local health committee out of the money credited to a society—not out of their own money—in respect of medical benefits where no agreement has been reached between the local health committee and the doctors. Were the societies 1430 aware of that power when they came to their agreement with the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Let the House recollect what that means. The local health committee are entrusted with the administration of the medical benefits. Under the regulations framed by the Insurance Commissioners they have got to come to an agreement with the medical men in the area which they administer. If they can come to an agreement which satisfied the Insurance Commissioners well and good. But supposing the medical men throughout that district stand out for a higher rate of pay than the local health committee—consisting, be it remembered, as to its majority, of members of approved societies—are willing to give. What happens? The Insurance Commissioners apparently have power to say: "We think that these doctors ought to be paid the sum which they are standing out for: the Chancellor himself told us in the early days of discussion on his Bill that they were to have the first cut at £25,000,000; and we, the Insurance Commissioners, think that the medical men are entitled to stand out for this higher scale of payments; therefore we are going to dip our hands into the societies' funds and authorise the local health committee to pay this which we think fair remuneration."
Under the financial arrangements of the Bill we are told that the sum of 6s. per head insured persons per year is on an average allowed for medical benefits. Under this proposal there is no guarantee that it will not amount to 10s. or 15s. That is a proposal which I do not think was present to the minds of many people who thought they knew the Bill very well. I think it will come as a shock of surprise to some members of friendly societies. Let me mention two other points only that I wish to refer to in these regulations—although a great many are very important. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us over and over again that where the local authority comes to the assistance of the local health committee's funds they will be entitled to demand, and to secure the majority of the representation on the local health committee. The right hon. Gentleman said quite freely that if the public rates are used for the support of this scheme by the local health committees, those who are responsible for the local rates will be justified in demanding the security of the majority of the representation on the local health committee. What then becomes of the majority that the approved societies are going to have? How 1431 is this scheme going to work? It will start with a majority of approved societies represented on the local health committee. Supposing that they wish to give sanatorium treatment and other forms of treatment which are allowed under the Bill, the Insurance Commissioners may find themselves before very long compelled to appeal to the local authorities for assistance from the rates. If they do, they give to the local authorities the right at once of having a majority of representation upon the local health committees, and I take it that so long as the rates are used, the majority which the approved societies demand in their own interests upon the local health committee, disappear altogether. I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer agrees in that, but that is the way I interpret the speeches made, and I do not think they will bear any other interpretation.
One more reference to one more regulation. The duty is cast upon them of making tables of the average expectation of sickness, upon which a great deal is going to depend. I wonder how they are going to proceed. We have got no material upon which we can base really reliable figures at the present time for the country as a whole. We have got certain societies' statistics; we have got statistics relating to notifiable diseases and partial statistics relating to separate and individual trades. But we have no statistics as to sickness upon which we can confidently rely when coming to exercise the wide powers which this Bill confers upon approved societies, local health committees, and the Insurance Commissioners. In dealing with cases of excessive sickness what is going to happen? Supposing the Insurance Commissioners proceed on the lines adopted by the valuers under the Budget of 1909, and supposing they frame their estimate of the average rate of sickness upon a high scale? What happens then? They are brought very quickly into loggerheads with all local authorities in districts where there is no kind of prevalence of illness. If, on the other hand, they frame their tables in the contrary direction and take too optimistic a view of the health of the people, you may have excessive sickness prevalent and very prevalent, without any authority to force the local authorities that may be absolutely in the wrong to put matters right. This is a most important duty you are casting upon the Insurance Commissioners, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will 1432 tell us before we part with this Bill how they are going to proceed with the tables of average sickness.
People have spoken on the Committee stage, and people still speak in the country, as if the Bill we are discussing contained the whole scheme. It does not. The great mass of regulations are just as important. I am not sure they are not even more far-reaching than the provisions of the Bill itself, and we cannot judge fairly of the scheme as a whole until we see in print the regulations as well as the Bill itself. In the earlier part of what I said I invited the House to consider the whole meaning of the Amendment I am moving. We ask in that Amendment that the door should be kept open for further discussion, believing that further discussion would lead to further improvements, to improvements that would be the outcome of matured thought, of sober reflection, and of quiet and considered judgment. Is our action in moving this Amendment inconsistent with the action we have taken throughout the Committee stage and ever since this Bill was introduced? In my view it is not inconsistent. In my view it is absolutely logical, and in my view it can be justified completely. On the night of the introduction of this scheme, when the whole House lay under the spell of the magic eloquence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I very well remember the effect it produced—I ventured to make a very short speech. I do not think it lasted five minutes, and I think its brevity was, perhaps, its chief merit, but in the course of what I said I laid down for my own guidance a distinct line of policy, which I, at any rate, intended to follow in regard to this Bill, and perhaps the House will allow me to quote a few words from what I said:—This is not a scheme of charity; the right hon. Gentleman advanced it as a business proposition. It you advance it as a business proposition, and such proposition it undoubtedly is, it lies with you to justify the claim you make upon each constituent party in the tripartite partnership—the workman, the employer, and the State. As you are able to justify the contribution that you invoke, so shall you receive the support of all classes of the community. Speaking, if I may, on behalf of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, I will say that, believing as we do you are animated by the sole desire to confer a lasting benefit upon all classes of the community, so we will aid you in the perfection of the details of the scheme with all the zeal and all the energy and all the good will we can give to it.To the line of policy indicated in these few sentences we have adhered strictly and constantly. Discussion has not always been easy. The temptation to wander into the field on controversy and to enter into the joy of fight has not 1433 always been so easy to escape, and I am bound to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has occasionally strewn temptations in our path. On the whole, our action from the first has been clearly consistent. We have sought by all the means in our power to improve this Bill. Believing it would become law we felt it our duty to spare no effort in the hope of making it a good, a fair, and a workable measure, fraught with as little harm and fraught with as much good as we could secure. Circumstances, to a certain extent, have been against us; our efforts have been carried on in strict limits prescribed by the House of Commons, dictated by the Government opposite. We have striven and striven without ceasing to redeem our promise that we would bring to the task of improving this Bill all the zeal, all the energy, all the good will we could command, and it is in continuation and fulfilment of that policy that we have put down the Amendment which I have the honour to move.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is good enough to acknowledge what improvements we have made. So far as it went, we have made great changes in the Bill, and we demand that the Government should give us further time in which we could make still further changes and Amendments. I urge the House, in all sincerity, not to run the risk of destroying this great structure in the very act of launching it. I believe, with full and free discussion, with full and fair Amendments, this Bill could be made into a most potent instrument of good, touching as it does at every point the lives and the fortunes of the poorer members of our community, the men and women who have the least opportunity of striking a fair balance between its merits and defects which cry aloud for further consideration and further amendment, and it is in that spirit and with that object that I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
When we discussed the Second Reading of this Bill, we approached it from the point of view of general sympathy, but since that time the Bill has gone through Committee stage and Report stage, and the House has now got to consider it as a final business proposition. I am afraid this is a type of Bill of which in the years to come we are to have a good many examples. We are going to have large measures of social reform abounding in clauses and rich in detail, and it will become more and 1434 more difficult for any group of men in this House to say that as a whole they accept a Bill. We shall be faced more and more with this very awkward difficulty, one of the most awkward difficulties that legislation can present to us, of choosing between no legislation at all on the one hand and legislation which is only very partially satisfactory upon the other hand. That is the position that we are in to-day, so far as the Labour party is concerned. If we had had our way, we would have faced this problem not in this manner at all. We have had the method prescribed for us. We introduced Amendments to this Bill, some of which were discussed and rejected, and some of which were never discussed at all. So to-day we have got to face a problem which is not exactly the choosing of good as opposed to bad, but the choosing of something that we do not altogether like as opposed to doing nothing at all to contributing towards a solution of problems, the existence of which everyone in this House admits. The misgivings as to the Bill are very widespread; they are not confined to servant taxes and that sort of thing—that sort of unreality which makes one very much amused with the mind of a large section of our middle and upper classes—but organised labour is also very doubtful about the effect of this Bill, because we have got to recognise the fact that, after all, the income of the working classes is a limited thing. As I said the other night, there are certain responsibilities placed upon them compulsorily by an Act of Parliament, and there are other responsibilities which they fulfil in a voluntary way which they will not be able to undertake at all. There is not the least doubt that trade unions, particularly in the lower grades of labour, are very doubtful as to the effect of this Bill upon them. Four-pence a week taken from a man's income of 15s. or 17s. 6d., plus 2½d. under Part II., is a very substantial proportion of that income. It is all very well for us here because we can spend that amount in the tea-room every afternoon. We are in a position to think in shillings, some of us, perhaps, in sovereigns, whereas the working classes are not always able to think in pennies, or even in halfpennies or farthings, so that 6½d. becomes a very substantial fact and factor in the expenditure of the working classes. If, in addition, a man has to pay 2d., 3d., 4d., or in some cases 6d. per week to his trade union—I am thinking of the unions of the more unskilled workmen—then the apprehension 1435 on the part of the trade unions is that the insurance enforced by this Bill will be so great that a man will not be able to keep up his trade union contributions.
I yield to no man in my desire to effect the purposes of this Bill, and I hope they will be successfully carried out, but if I have to put this Bill on one side and effective labour combination on the other, I am going to choose effective labour combination, because I am sure that will do more to advance the interests of working men than any Insurance Bill that is ever likely to be devised. The moment trade combination becomes impossible or difficult, that moment you are doing something that will materially lower the standard of living of the working classes. There is another considerable section of our people who ought to be consulted and whose opinions ought to weigh very much with this House in this matter—I mean those who do not come into social reform from a long way off, those good people who day after day minister in some personal and practical way to the needs and the enjoyment of the great mass of wage-earners in this country, social reformers pure and simple, men and women who know the facts and details, and who from their experience can apply the provisions of this Bill to the actual operations of everyday life. I am rather surprised to find that amongst a very considerable number of men and women I know who work amongst those people a great amount of suspicion is entertained so far as this Bill is concerned. They are in favour of the objects and intentions of the Bill, and they are in favour of this measure generally; but they feel that in a great many points and in regard to a great many problems they have to face the full details of which they know this Bill is altogether elusive, and cannot very well be made to apply. I think the House ought to very honestly face that difficulty. We have tried over and over again to face some of the details of that difficulty in Committee, and my right hon. Friend, with that optimism which has characterised his conduct of this measure, has managed to gaily push them aside in speeches which very often have got the savour of the red herring.
In getting the Bill through so far we have certainly made some improvements, and when I say we I do not mean simply my own colleagues, but all sides of the House. We have improved this measure in respect to the contributions from persons whose income is less than 1s. 6d. per 1436 day. That is an improvement, and there are other improvements like it. There have been certain changes in the Bill that have not only not been improvements, but are really reactionary, and have made the Bill worse than it was when it was first introduced. Take, for instance, the giving of power to collecting societies to form approved societies. There is not the least doubt that that has introduced an aspect into the operations of this Bill which will be exceedingly dangerous for friendly societies and trade unions. Will the House allow me just to quote from an organ of the insurance companies known as the "Insurance Mail," because it gives the point of view of the companies and explains why they have been so anxious to do the benevolent thing and administer this Bill. As a matter of fact, they are going to put a great amount of money into their pockets as the result of this Bill. [HON. MEMBEBS: "No, no."] This is a quotation from the editorial columns of the "Insurance Mail" on October 28th, 1911:Quite a number of agents collect in houses where other agents collect. Quite a number collect in houses where the father is a member of a sick club or trade union. In every such case there will be more than one person out for State business, and the man who asks first is most likely to get it.Then there is a dash, and everyone is left to fill in the meaning. The same article says:Therefore I (meaning the agent) am going to protect my existing business. It is vitally important that I should get these State members to take their benefits through me. It will help to prevent my arrears running on during sickness.To have a man who comes in with his 10s. to the sick person who is insured on a life policy through him, and who deducts from the 10s. while he is handing it over his weekly premium on his life policy, is not an operation which is going to benefit the man so much as the company. The position undoubtedly is that this is going to be made an opportunity for these collecting societies to increase their life policies and similar insurances, because their agents are going to come in under the auspices and patronage of this Bill.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
The mere fact that the companies are going to be the beneficiaries, and not the agents, points to this conclusion: that the agents would have been very much better advised if they had not merely backed up the claims and the demands of the companies as they 1437 did in the earlier stages of this measure. I certainly would have kept them out right through, and I should have benefited the agents as a result of having done so instead of allowing them simply to become the tools of the directors and shareholders of the collecting societies. This interruption has led me more deeply into that particular part of this subject than I intended to go. Then there is the position of the medical men. I am not quite sure whether I can describe that position now as being an improvement or a blemish on the Bill. I do not quite know what position the medical man is in. One day we are told he is satisfied, and the next day we are told that he is profoundly dissatisfied. There is one thing I should like to congratulate the doctors upon, and that is their trade union methods. I have looked on with amused admiration at the efforts of their spokesmen in this House to adopt every method that trade unions have devised, even to the length of syndicalism in its very worst form. The doctors have threatened that if they do not get the wages they want they will throw down their tools, have a strike, and refuse to work the Bill. Not only that, but they have got together a strike fund among themselves from which they are going to supply strike pay, should that be necessary. They have also adopted our method of sending representatives to the House to speak for them from their own special point of view. The only thing I have missed—I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer might consider this—is that the right hon. Gentleman might threaten them with a lockout, and if the worst should come to the worst he might just whisper into the ear of the Home Secretary and request him to send down the military to see that law and order is kept, provided it should be threatened, in the event of such a deadlock as some of the medical men seem to contemplate.
In other respects the Bill has remained exactly where it was. It has been improved materially, but in some respects it is unchanged. The chief respects in which it remains unchanged is with reference to the deposit contributors and the outworkers. So far as the deposit contributors are concerned, I have nothing more to say than what I said during the Committee stage, but so far as the outworkers are concerned I think the position is still profoundly unsatisfactory. We were not able to discuss the proposition that the Insurance Commissioners should have power to say what class of these workers 1438 should come in or what class should remain out, what section of a class should be included or excluded, or, in fact, whether they should come in at all. An Amendment was passed under the Guillotine without giving any opportunity of expressing a single opinion upon it, and we could only challenge it in a Division, as we did the other night. That is the trouble of a Member of Parliament. I want to be perfectly candid on this matter. We have got this Bill, good, bad, and indifferent, with the admirable intention of facing the problem, that we all want to face. There is going to be no division on that to-day. There has been no division upon that from the time the Bill was introduced. As I understand the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster), I am perfectly certain he told us exactly what he meant when he said he had no intention of killing the Bill. There is no intention of killing the Bill, and his only proposition is to delay its passage. I am bound to say there is a great deal to be said for it, but the question is, is there more to be said on the other side. Again, it is a matter of weighing evidence on one side or the other and then going with the evidence which seems to be the weightiest. My opinion is that there is much less to be gained by delaying the Bill than by putting it into operation with as little delay as possible and then experiencing how it is going to work and then have your revision, not only of your benefits but also of your legislative provisions, at the end of three years.
If the House delays the Bill the first thing which will happen will be that there will be a renewal of the pressure of the various interests effected. Our friends the servants may discover that the three reasons printed on the top of the memorial are sheer nonsense, but I am not optimistic enough to suppose that that is going to put an end to the agitation. Interest after interest, trade after trade, aspect after aspect of this Bill would come up, would be agitated, will be discussed, and may form the subject of changes which may or may not be really Amendments. Not only that, if we go on perfecting this Bill in its paper value, perfecting it merely in its draftsmanship and in its expression, we are only going to increase its complexity. As it is, the Bill which we are now discussing and which we are going to vote upon, is a far more complex measure than the Bill to which we gave a Second Reading. It may even be improved—I admit that in certain respects it may 1439 be improved—but what is going to be gained on the other hand? My impression is that however much you improve this Bill it is going to leave this House a very imperfect weapon indeed for the work it proposes to do, because the characteristic of the work that this Bill is going to do is that it lies upon a field that has never been properly and accurately mapped out. You can improve its Clauses, and you can amend its expressions, and you can increase its complexity until it becomes more like the complexities of life outside, and then in the end your Bill is going to be exceedingly bad so far as its drafting is concerned, and you have got to rely upon Amendments after experience, and not Amendments which you can forecast as a House of Commons. For instance, there are the Post Office depositors. I agree with everything that the right hon. Gentleman has said regarding the depositors. We have said it here before during the Committee stage. I defy anyone, assuming the principle of this Bill—it is no use bringing forward alternative proposals now—assuming that you are not going to supplant friendly societies by a great State organisation or wipe out necessity by some form of State activity which has not yet reached its experimental stage, to produce satisfactory Clauses dealing with that Section which is contemplated as the Post Office depositor. It cannot be done. The only way we can deal with these people is to find out first of all who they are, what they are, and why they are, and when we have got a sufficient body of accurate information showing why there are Post Office depositors, and giving us all the various characteristics, we can sit down and quietly and carefully adapt the new proposals to circumstances which are not yet discovered, and which can only be discovered by the failures of this Bill.
The incidence of the cost has been popularly described as 9d. and 4d. I am afraid it is not quite so simple as that. You have got 4d., 3d., and 2d. The 2d. is imposed upon the people of the country, and it has got to be distributed in the way a general tax is distributed. That reduces your 9d. a little bit. But what about the 3d.? The 3d., again, will have to be redistributed. Part of it may come out of profits and part out of prices, and then are we quite sure that the 3d. is going to come out of the working-class pockets? Out of some sections, undoubtedly, but out of other sections I am not quite sure. As a matter of 1440 fact, as soon as this Bill comes into operation you will release certain economic forces which will tend to redistribute the burden of the 9d. on capital, on labour, on incomes derived in different ways, and on price, and until we have actually got this thing into operation it is useless to dogmatise on who is to bear the burden of the 9d. and whether it is going to injure our trade or reduce our standard of living. It may do everything that the greatest pessimist imagines it is going to do, but at the present moment, and next year, if we postpone the Third Reading of the Bill to-day, we shall be in precisely the same position. Therefore I think on the whole we are not going to gain by delay in putting the Bill into operation. We are going to gain by experience, and the sooner we begin to accumulate our experience in this unmapped-out country the better it will be for the lot of us.
The Bill is a bold and altogether praiseworthy effort to meet one of the most grievous of our social evils. I have not been over-generous in my criticism of the Bill. I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at this late hour of the day, requires over-generosity in that respect. If it had not been for his courage we should not have had it at all. I disagre with him upon his prophetic calculations regarding its effect in some respects, but I will join with him as heartily as anyone in this House in giving every ounce of support that I can command in favour of the Third Reading of a Bill the benefits of which are not going to be measured merely by its successes, but also by its failures. The great value of this Bill is not what it is going to do as a remedial measure immediately, but that it is going to compel us to face problems that we should not have faced if it had not been introduced. We all admit the evils of the Post Office depositor. When is the House of Commons to sit quietly down without pressure being brought to bear upon it and settle these difficulties? It is not going to do it at all. The House of Commons is going to talk about Imperial affairs, and this, that and the other thing, and is going to shelve these questions because they are exceedingly difficult, and when we talk honestly about them here and in our constituencies we very often-lose votes. But this Bill is going to make that provision an absolute impossibility for us, because when the three years are over it will take these people, as it were, right by the scruff of the neck and thrust them across the bar 1441 of this House and compel us to consider the situation and to take legislative measures to meet them in some way or other. That is one of the chief reasons why I have supported this Bill right through. I do not think I have any exaggerated ideas of what its immediate good is going to be, nor do I believe I have got exaggerated ideas of the tremendous amount of good which will come from the very failures of it in respect to some of the more outlandish sections of the wage-earners of this country. So I am not going to vote for delay but for experience, and the best way to get experience is to take the Bill as it is, with all its admitted faults, put it into operation and then see that the Insurance Commissioners and the others responsible for working it supply us with the information which will enable us to produce a more efficient Bill three or four years from now.
The hon. Member in the earlier part of his speech raised what seemed to be excellent reasons for voting for the Amendment and not for the immediate Third Reading of the Bill. He said the Bill was only partially satisfactory, that there were widespread misgivings, that organised labour was doubtful and trade unions were apprehensive as to its effects on combination, and that it was regarded with suspicion by practical people who were in favour of the objects. He thought that the Bill was good, bad, and indifferent, and he thought more would be gained by passing it at once than by a delay which would give us an opportunity of reconsidering what was bad, and what was indifferent, leaving in the Bill what was good. He gave us a curious reason for that, that if delay was permitted, aspect after aspect of the Bill would come up again for reconsideration and it would be subject to change. If the Bill contains bad and indifferent parts is it not right that it should come up for reconsideration? Is it not right that these things should be changed before the Bill is passed into law? The hon. Member dealt also with the deposit contributors. He said these were unsatisfactory Clauses, and he gave reasons why he thought it was impossible at the moment to deal with them. I propose, if I may, to recur to that aspect of the case a little later. The deposit contributors, however, are one of the things that make me support this Amendment, because, if the Bill is passed in its present form, if the House is going to create the deposit contributor class, it will 1442 be impossible by a future Amendment of the Bill, to undo the mischief that is going to be done. The hon. Member for the Sevenoaks Division (Mr. Forster) pointed out the Bill was unequal in its effects, that the best managed societies—those societies in which there is a most careful selection of lives—would give large benefits and would draw from the State large subsidies, while the class of society which was unable to select lives so well would give lower benefits and draw from the State lower subsidies, and in the third class there would be deposit contributors. No one can claim that this is a good result. No one would deliberately frame a Bill with such an object. The Government claim that it is inevitable, and the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) seems to concur that the creation of the deposit contributor class cannot be avoided.
The Government claim that it arises from giving the right to societies to select lives, and that, as there is selection, there must obviously be rejection, and those rejected are bound to fall into the deposit contributor class. I believe that is a fair statement of the argument put forward from the Government Front Bench. But is that argument sound? It seems to me it is not, for the difficulty of the residue is, in this self-created difficulty, which, however, we cannot remove except, at the outset, because vested interests will spring up which will prevent us from dealing with them in the future. The Government has no right to the workman's 4d. It has the right and the duty to see that the employer's 3d. and the State 2d. is applied for the purpose of national and not sectional insurance. If the principle of Part II. of the Bill had been adopted in Part I. the 3d. of the employer and the 2d. of the State would be paid into a central fund, and out of that central fund five-ninths of the benefits would be paid. Those who could get into trade unions and friendly societies would do so but those, now made to be deposit contributors could have been taken up by the health committees and put in health societies. They would there have been assured of five-ninths of the minimum benefits which would be provided from the State or central fund. If that plan is not adopted now, it never can be adopted. You cannot take away later on from the trade unions and friendly societies the 4d. of the workman and the 3d. of the employer. If you give them what is their due, the workman's 4d. and 1443 put in the central fund, the employer's 3d., and the State 2d., in that way you will really have an average risk which is the basis of the national scheme upon which Part II. of the Bill is itself based.
Our Amendment says, that there has not been adequate discussion in the House of Commons. This proposition of the central fund which, in my view at least, is a primary one, one which can only be dealt with now and never later on, has never been properly discussed in the House. I attempted to propose it in a series of Amendments on 10th July, but was ruled out of order at the instance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said it was a new scheme, and ought to have been raised on the Second Reading. But it was impossible to raise it on the Second Reading, because the actuary's report was only issued one day before that. It is fair to say the Chancellor of the Exchequer claims that he did consider the scheme. On the 1st November, sitting in Committee, he said:Then comes the only practical suggestion—I frankly admit it—a suggestion Which has been put on the Paper by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Mr. Worthington-Evans). He put it on the Paper and in time, and it has been submitted to the test of thorough criticism. …. I say, frankly, I considered it for a long time. It is by no means an alternative to be dismissed without thought."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1911, col. 897.]He then proceeded to summarise the scheme in a way which showed clearly that he had not understood its first elements. There has been no opportunity whatever for the House itself to consider a scheme which the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he had pondered over. I would not have dealt with this at all to-day except for the one reason that, unless the central fund is adopted for Part I., as for Part II., at the commencement of the scheme, it will be impossible by any subsequent Amendment to bring about the same result. That is one instance of the inadequate discussion of which we complain. I will not refer to the thirty-three Clauses which have been added in Committee under the closure, and which were dealt with on Report, again under the closure, without one single word of discussion. I will endeavour to show in the words of our Amendment that the Bill is not properly understood in the country, especially by those who have got to administer it.
I will deal first with the deposit contributor, and 1444 secondly with the payment of benefits from the fourth day instead of the first day of sickness as demanded by the whole of the friendly societies. With regard to the deposit contributors, I say the country has been misled. It does not understand that from one and a-half to two millions of the population are going to be compelled to contribute and not get any form of insurance at all. It is not their fault that they do not understand it. They have been misled. I do not say deliberately misled, although I will show that no Member of the Government has taken the trouble to explain the position to them. Scant reference was made to them in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's First Reading speech. The deposit contributors were treated as a temporary difficulty and a dwindling one. Nothing was said about the benefits they would receive. The right hon. Gentleman's audience in the House of Commons is a comparatively small one. He had to enlist the support of the outside public, who would be compelled to subscribe to the scheme. A book was issued bearing his portrait. It was called "The People's Insurance, explained by the Right Hon. D Lloyd George, M.P. Price 1s. net. On page 150 of that book, which I understand, was sold in great quantities all over the country shortly after the Bill was introduced, the position of the deposit contributor was thus described:—Men and women whom the friendly societies wil not take in, work on the deposit principle in the Post Office. Their insurance will be 9d. per week; 4d. from the employé, 3d. from the employer, and 2d. from the State. Thus in five years they will have £10 to the good, and, in addition to that, they will have a bonus which will be given to them, as, certainly, a largo number of these people will neither be ill nor die. If they are ill for thirteen weeks of the year they will be allowed 10s. a week, that is to say, they will get back £6 10s. and for fourteen weeks beyond that thirteen weeks, they will get 5s. a week. Then if their illness continues, they will receive an invalidity pension of 5s. a week. Besides that they will get free doctoring and free drugs, and, if consumptive, they will be sent to a sanatorium.That is a description of the case of the deposit contributors by which this scheme has been popularised in the country. May I ask the House to consider what the real facts are? The deposit contributors, in the first place, do not get 2d. from the State. The Government actuaries, in their last report, show that they get 1 1–3d. The actual amount the deposit contributors would pay in if they subscribed for fifty weeks in the year—the actual amount to their credit would be 35s.—from which must be deducted the cost of medical benefit and administration of the sanatorium, a total of about 13s. 9d. Thus in each year the balance to their credit would be 1445 21s. 3d. instead of £2, as stated in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's book. In five years it would be £5 6s., and not £10 as stated in that book. The book says that they will get back at the end of five years, if they are ill for thirteen weeks, £6 10s. But they have only £5 6s. to their credit, and they are only entitled to get back what is standing to their credit. Therefore, it is absolutely impossible. In addition to that, the book says that for fourteen weeks they would get 5s. (another £3 10s.), and, in addition to that, invalidity benefit, besides free doctoring and drugs. Either the right hon. Gentleman did not understand the scheme or he forgot to revise the proofs of the book. Whether he is responsible or not, and I have taken care not to make any suggestion on that ground, it is the Chancellor of the Exchequer's book. If that is denied I should be very glad to hear the denial. I should be very sorry to think that the statement really was circulated under the authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I presume he would not have given his permission for his photograph to be placed on the outside of the book unless he realised that he undertook some responsibility thereby, and he might have allowed some subordinate to check these particulars before they were sent widespread all over the country.
Then I come to the famous speech at the Tabernacle, which lasted for two hours and a-half, and which did not deal with the deposit contributors at all. It mentioned the benefits to be received under the Bill, but it never said a word of the benefit to be received by the deposit contributors. The public conscience has been lulled in this matter. It has been drugged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's eloquence. There are many people who realise that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a man who is a humane man, and would not willingly do harm to anyone. They have believed in him; they have trusted him, and that is why no outcry has reached this House from the people of the country with regard to the deposit contributor scheme. Hon. Members opposite have now an opportunity of making some amends to the people who believed this statement. My attention is called to a fact, which I overlooked, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself wrote a preface to this book, which is signed by him, and dated May, 1911. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why did you not bring it up when the right hon. Gentleman was here?"] I was in hopes, as the right hon. 1446 Gentleman was going to speak after me, that he would be here.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
I know the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to go out for something pressing, but I am sure he will be back as soon as he possibly can.
I am certain he does not mean the slightest discourtesy. I was merely answering an interruption. I want to call the attention of the House to one other specific instance of want of discussion. This affects the friendly societies. I want to refer to the refusal to pay sick benefit from the first day of sickness. An Amendment was proposed in Committee by the hon. Member for Worcester City (Mr. Goulding). That Amendment was that sick benefit should be payable as from the first day instead of from the fourth day, as is in the Bill. That Amendment had the support of the National Conference of Friendly Societies, the Manchester Unity, the Foresters, and, so far as I know, all the other important friendly societies. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's answer was, very broadly, that there would be a large number of new and undisciplined members coming into the societies, and therefore it was safer to retain the provision that benefits should start from the fourth day. I remember pointing out that the actuaries' report had made no allowance for the saving which would arise from paying sick benefit from the fourth day, and that therefore this large sum was being kept as a margin. The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied that there was not any desire to save the large sum—the large sum eventually turned out to be £560,000 a year—but that he wanted to use it for other benefits. He proposed to use the money for the extension of sanatoria treatment to the dependents of an insured man and also to give certain benefits to married women. He gave an undertaking to recommit the Bill if the money was not used for that purpose. I consider this is a matter of real importance. Our Amendment practically asks that the Bill should be recommitted. We cannot ask for that under the present conditions, owing to the Guillotine Resolution, but the effect is that the Bill should be recommitted and carried over till next Session and shall be given further consideration.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, at least on this one point, ought to support our Amendment if he intends, as I hope 1447 he does, to carry out a definite pledge and undertaking given by the Government. So that there shall be no misunderstanding as to the nature of that pledge, I will proceed to read some short extracts which are taken from the "Official Report" of the 17th July, Volume 28, No. 105. The present Home Secretary in the course of the Debate said:—There is no doubt whatever that strong grounds have been shown on both sides of the House for paying from the first day of sickness. On the other hand, I think grounds have been shown—I put it no higher than that—for the view that payment for the first day of sickness tends to malingering. I simply say it tends to encourage malingering, and I think that on the balance of these grounds we should spend our money in another form. The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Worthington-Evans) put to us the question, what are the other benefits going to be? He said that unless we knew what the other benefits were we might, on the balance, prefer spending the money in payment of the initial three days. I was impressed by that argument, and it enforced upon my mind the suggestion of the right hon Gentleman the Member for Bootle, who asked why the consideration of this question could not be postponed until we knew what form the benefits which would require this sum of money would take."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th July, 1911, col. 731.]Then he deals with other matters. I now get to the undertaking. The right hon. Gentleman then said:—If it is found that the alternative benefits are not of a kind which would satisfy this House and the friendly societies, it will be possible to recommit the Bill. I should, therefore, be disposed to advise the Committee now to accept the Amendment of my Friend the Member for Barnard Castle on the understanding that no other change would be made in the Bill at this point: and then, when the Committee have had properly before them and have had an opportunity of discussing the alternative benefits which the Chancellor of the Exchequer will offer, if they then reject these alternative benefits and prefer this payment for the first three days, we can have the Bill recommitted and passed in the form moved by the hon. Member for Worcester City (Mr. Goulding)."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th July, 1911, Col. 732.]That was the undertaking given by the Home Secretary. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, a little later in the Debate, said this:—I have consulted the actuaries and I find that this is a matter of £560,000. My proposal was that the whole of that £560,000 should be applied for the purpose of extending the benefits of treatment for consumptive women and children. My proposal was that when we come to Clause 34 there should be some modification of the provision in regard to those who, having first of all come into the fund as working women, marry and get out of the fund. My hon friend said: 'We want to be quite sure that we shall get the £560,000.' I quite agree that he is right in trying to make sure of that. Then comes the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bootle (Mr. Bonar Law). He asked whether in the event of the proposal of the hon. Member for Worcester not being carried out, we would recommit the Bill in respect of these benefits, and my right, hon. Friend (Mr. McKenna) said 'Yes, I will accept that.' Having accepted that, forthwith another hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite said 'I cannot, accept that.' The offer of my right hon. Friend still holds good, namely, that if it is discovered that we have not carried out our undertaking in regard to the 1448 application of this money, then the Bill should be recommitted for the reconsideration of this identical question. We will stand by that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT,. 17th July, 1911, col. 740.]What I am asking is that he shall stand by that. That undertaking was given most opportunely. It saved the Government in the Lobby that night. It will be within the recollection of hon. Members who were present, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was being very hard pressed. He was using all his eloquence and all his power to keep his followers together, and when they did go into the Lobby, there was a majority of forty. Incidentally that majority was composed wholly of Irish and Scottish Members, who have nothing whatever to do now with the English scheme. While they may be quite right in preventing the first three days' sickness benefit being paid in Ireland or Scotland, there is no reason why they should force that provision on England unless England wishes it. The terms of the undertaking were that the Bill should be recommitted unless the £560,000 was used for the extension of sanatorium treatment for dependents or for married women. The married woman's benefits are now being paid out of the Sinking Fund, and are not in any sense being paid out of this £560,000. The sanatorium treatment of dependents is dealt with in Clause 18, and it is not in any sense being paid out of this £560,000. It is being paid out of the 1s. 3d. that was originally set aside for that purpose, and at the bottom of page 3, of the actuaries' last report, you will see that no more can be taken from contributions than the 1s. 3d. which was originally set aside. The only fund out of which any increased sanatorium treatment can come is half out of the rates and half out of the Treasury. It does not come out of this £560,000 which was saved from the first three days' sickness. I claim that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not fulfilled his undertaking to recommit this Bill if that money was not used in that way. He will say that he has done something else. It is true, he will say, that he has not given it for increased sanatorium treatment or for married women's benefit, but he has done something else. He has given it for extended sickness benefit by extending the sickness full payments from thirteen to twenty-six weeks. But that was not his undertaking. His undertaking was that if he did not use it in either one of two ways, then the House of Commons should have the opportunity 1449 of discussing it. The House has never had any opportunity either to agree or to disagree with the misappropriation of this fund by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
How does this arise? The facts are that on the 19th October, just in time for a big meeting that was going to be held at the Albert Hall of the delegates of the friendly societies, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, not to the House, but to members of the friendly societies, that the money could be used in offering an additional 2s. 6d. per week for two weeks if the sickness lasted for two weeks, or 2s. more if it lasted for four weeks, or 1s. 6d. more if it lasted for six weeks. That was communicated to the friendly societies' representatives. I was at the Albert Hall that evening when they came and communicated it to the delegates. The delegates received it with shouts of laughter. Notwithstanding that, in Committee, without any discussion, and under the Closure, that provision was put in the Fourth Schedule of the Bill as an alternative benefit to the twenty-six weeks of full sickness benefit. On Report, again without any discussion, and again under the Closure, that extraordinary alternative, which was greeted with such laughter at the Albert Hall, was smuggled out of the Bill without a single word of discussion by a single Member of this House. We have, therefore, this position. A definite undertaking by the present Home Secretary, supported by a definite endorsement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to recommit this Bill if a certain large sum of money was not used in either one of two ways. It has not been used—and it cannot be denied—in either of those ways, but it has been used in another way; used without discussion in this House, and without this House being able to say a word upon it. If there was any justification wanted for the Amendment which the Unionist party have put down, there is the justification. We are merely calling upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to fulfil his undertaking.
I know that we are laying ourselves open to the false accusation that we want to kill any and every form of insurance. There were some indications of that earlier in the afternoon even from amongst hon. Members of this House, and if hon. Members in this House will say that, what will the baser sort say on the platforms in the country. Chinese labour, offal, and the old age pensions lies have all served their 1450 turn, and it is quite possible that another may now be made to serve its turn. That is a risk which we have got to take. It is a risk which I, at least, am prepared to take. Let hon. Members ask themselves the question, Are we to be frightened; are we, who honestly and sincerely have worked for weeks and months to improve this Bill, are we to be frightened, by what may happen in the way of misrepresentation, from advocating and voting for a course which we believe will enable us to remove many of the blemishes which still exist in this Bill? We know in advance the sort of pictures that will be drawn. We shall be accused of putting obstacles in the way of the ambulance coach. We shall be told that we have shut our ears to the cry of the sick, the wounded, and the dying. That is the tale. That is what will be said about us, that; we, like the Pharisees of old, have passed by on the other side. We shall be told we endeavoured to protect our pockets at the expense of the consumptives. That is a travesty of the actual facts.
We feel as much as the Chancellor of the Exchequer feels the necessity for social reform and the need for extending national insurance beyond the limits reached by the voluntary associations, but we feel also that a scheme to be successful must command the assent of all classes of the community, that the benefits must be equally spread over the community, and that those who need it most must also be considered. If this Amendment killed the Bill, I would not support it. If carried it may cause inconvenience to the Government, but what is the convenience of the Government compared with the inconvenience of millions of people in this country? If this Amendment is refused, I shall not vote against the Third Reading of the Bill. I shall let it be carried by the automatic majority, blind and obedient to the Government Whips, leaving to them the responsibility for forcing through an imperfect and insufficiently considered measure. No one dares to affirm that this scheme cannot be improved. Let us improve it now while it is in the making before new vested interests spring up to encumber our action. Now, while the discussions are fresh in our minds, let us lay the foundations of a great and lasting edifice which will redound not only to the credit of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but to the credit of the public conscience, which he himself has done so much to arouse.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
I understand, in my absence, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Worthington-Evans) has talked a good deal about misrepresentations. It requires a good deal of courage for any Gentlemen of the party opposite to talk about misrepresentations in connection with this Bill, and before I sit down I will give him one or two real specimens, and show the way they, unfortunately for the moment, obtained a provisional triumph. Before I come to that part I must say something about what has fallen from the hon. Gentleman who moved the official Amendment on behalf of the Opposition (Mr. Forster). He was, in moving the Amendment, labouring under three conspicuous disadvantages. The first I deplore. That is a physical one, and I wish for him a speedy recovery. I hope he will not be long on the sick fund. I congratulate him heartily upon the second and third disadvantages. One is that I believe he is a sincere social reformer, and the third is—and it is a very great disadvantage to one moving this Amendment—that he does understand the Bill. I am rather amazed that, amongst such a multitude of talent the Leader of the Opposition might have chosen, he really did not choose someone who was better equipped for moving a wrecking Amendment to the Third Reading of the Bill than the hon. Member for Sevenoaks. Let there be no mistake about this Amendment. It is called "postponement," but the question that will be put from the Chair is, "That this Bill be now read a third time," and, if this Amendment is carried, those words are deleted. After all, is not that the old form of destroying a Bill? This is much more circumlocutory. The old form is, "That this Bill be read the third time this day six months." Is not this the same thing? It is a verbose, shifty method of moving exactly the Amendment which used to be moved in a straightforward fashion for destroying a Bill.
Why should there be a postponement? My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) expressed the view of the trade unions. I remember, when we were discussing the question of the dates, the hon. Gentleman then suggested, I think it was 1st January, 1913. I did not close my mind on that suggestion. On the contrary, I said on the question of the date I would like to consult the societies that had a special interest in administering these funds, and I did consult them. I felt they ought to be consulted. Their 1452 business is vitally affected by the date this Bill comes into operation. Without exception, the trade unions and the friendly societies conveyed to me their strong views that the Bill ought to be brought into operation at once. I think the trade unions suggested the original date fixed in the Bill. The friendly societies suggested 1st July, and they gave me overwhelming reasons for that. The hon. Gentleman frankly admits that, not this Bill, but still a Bill of some kind based more or less on these lines, must be carried into law. Let us assume for a moment we could give next year. What would it mean? It would mean that for another eighteen months you would be hanging up the business of all these great societies—interfering with them. The business of insurance would undoubtedly be dislocated. It would be bound to be, because everybody would be thinking, not about the present insurance business, but how to adapt it to this Bill. It is not merely the friendly societies and the trade unions, but the same thing applies to the great insurance companies. The fact that this Bill, great in its complexity and in its effect upon their business, has to come into operation either next year or the following year must necessarily interfere with their business, and does interfere with it; and the sooner they know exactly where they are, the better it will be for the business of insurance generally. Therefore, with one accord, they pressed the Government to bring it into operation not later than July next year. Whether we do that or not depends upon the time taken in bringing the machinery into operation.
The hon. Member, in his Amendment, suggests that before the Bill is carried, the regulations ought to be submitted to the House of Commons. Is not the preparation of the regulations one of the first things for which you want to bring the machinery of your Bill into operation? Surely it is putting the cart before the horse to put the regulations before the Bill. Who will prepare the regulations? It will not be the Government. I have had very able assistance. No man has had abler assistance in the preparation of a Bill. I have had some of the ablest men the Treasury could command. I have had the help of my right hon. Friend the learned Attorney-General (Sir Rufus Isaacs), whose assistance, not merely in the House, but in counsel, has been invaluable, and of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for the Home Department (Mr. Masterman). Still, if there are any 1453 shortcomings in the Bill, let me at once take the responsibility entirely upon myself. It is not due at all to the fact that I have not had the ablest assistance that has ever been at the disposal of anybody. I have, too, had the assistance of very able actuaries. It is not for us to frame the regulations. We have got the Insurance Commissioners, men of experience. We shall have more than that. It is proposed to bring into existence a great advisory body representing practically every interest in this country—the workmen, great employers of labour, trade unions, friendly and kindred societies, insurance and kindred societies, doctors, and, in fact, every interest it is important we should consult as to the regulations under which the Bill is to work.
You cannot authoritatively or officially summon all these men together until you have the machinery which is necessary in order to prepare all these regulations, because they have got to employ their experts. You cannot do that merely in contemplation of a Bill which has not been carried. How can the Commissioners go to the best experts in the land and say to them, "Here, we want you to throw up your present appointment; we want your assistance. If the Bill does not go through, of course, we shall not need your assistance any longer." You cannot do that. It is not a businesslike way of doing it. You must have your Bill through. You must have the authority of an Act of Parliament to summon all these people together, and, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister points out, there are no Commissioners until the Bill goes through. We cannot ask them to devote the whole of their time merely on the prospects of becoming Commissioners eighteen months hence, if the Bill gets through. We may have another Motion for postponement then. The hon. Gentleman may say, "I am still unsatisfied with the Bill, give it another twelve months. The country would like to consider it a little longer, and I am sure those who pay would like another twelve months." It is therefore quite impossible that the regulations should be prepared until you first of all bring the machinery into existence. Of course, you may find that your Commissioners with their expert advisers will at the end of twelve months suggest totally different regulations. At any rate, it woud not be fair to tie their hands in advance.
1454 6.0 P.M.
There are great difficulties, I admit, in the settling of this problem, but I listened very carefully to the arguments the hon. Gentleman advanced in favour of postponement, and there is one thing which struck me very much. Even if we made mistakes on the points which he mentioned, there is nothing irreparable. There is not one of the things he mentioned, assuming they are mistakes, that could not be amended by legislation. After all, that is what has happened in every country where a measure of this kind has been brought into operation. Take the one great example we have got of an insurance scheme in Europe—Germany. They brought in a small Bill compared with the present state of things there. They amended it year after year. They had constant regulations, and, after twenty-five years' experience, they brought in a gigantic Bill, in many respects altering it and recasting it. Have I ever claimed this Bill is going to be so perfect that there will be no defects in its machinery, and that there is nothing to be altered in it? On the contrary, I specially said with regard to the Post Office contributors that it was a pure experiment, and, in form, the Clause is experimental, because it is to come to an end in two or three years' time. Take the difficulties with which we are confronted, and they are very great difficulties. There are inherent difficulties with which we are confronted, and there are artificial difficulties; and neither of them will grow less by postponing the measure. If you take another year you will be still face to face with them. What are the inherent difficulties of the problem? The infinite variety of trades you have got to deal with, the difference in wages, conditions of labour, and methods of payment; and, of course, there is another inherent difficulty—people object to pay. But will that grow less if you put it off for a year? Those who dislike parting with 3d. a week will not be better pleased to part with it in another year, and I do not think there is any prospect of the Yellow Press becoming more truthful or less hysterical. So that all these inherent difficulties will remain next year.
What are the artificial difficulties which we have got in our path? The vast number of voluntary agencies which are already in the field—not merely the number, but the variety, with methods different and almost irreconcilable—and naturally jealous of authority which has 1455 been exercised with very beneficent effects in the past, with great pride of achievement, and with fanatical devotion to their own constitution, their own methods, and their own ideals. It is almost like interfering with religious denominations. It is really just as if you were starting a new religion, co-ordinating all existing denominations, grouping the small ones and establishing a new one. One can imagine the difficulty of that task. Do you think I could persuade the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) to treat the Baptists as an "approved society" on the same terms as the Church of England, not to speak of giving a free choice of spiritual doctrine? These difficulties are very great. It is only those who have had to deal with the various societies who can realise the feeling of the old-established associated societies towards our newer ones which have been established very largely in Wiltshire and in the West, It is very difficult to reconcile these differences. But let us remember this. After weeks and months of negotiation with the view of reconciling these difficulties—the negotiations have always been treated with sneers and gibes as if it were an improper thing for a Minister of the Crown to try to reconcile difficulties—after weeks and months of negotiation these great societies, without exception, have passed resolutions accepting the present arrangement. I do not say that everybody is satisfied. How could you expect that? There are those who cling tenaciously by the old order, but still they have accepted the present arrangement. What is suggested? It is that you ought to give another twelve months for reconsideration, which means the reopening of the whole controversy and rediscussing the same thing. What would be gained by that? Absolutely nothing would be gained, but, on the contrary, you would possibly throw away the months of labour which have already been undertaken by my right hon. Friend and myself.
Take the question of the doctors, and here I am treading on very delicate ground, strewn with suspicion. I am not going to say that the doctors are satisfied. After all, if they were to express satisfaction it would weaken what the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) calls their trade union position. They have got to arrange with the local health committee, and if they started by saying that they were satisfied of course it would be 1456 the greatest possible mistake that they could make. Still, what has been arranged, at any rate, in the Bill enables the process of free bargaining to go on between the local health committees, the friendly societies, and the medical men. I defy anybody who undertakes this business to come to any other arrangement in an Act of Parliament, And why? Because the conditions vary in every locality. The system that suits Durham and South Wales is repugnant to Lancashire. There was danger of revolt among the doctors in the mining districts. We have given free choice of doctors. The system which suits part of Lancashire will not suit another part of that county. There is only one thing a Minister can do in any Bill dealing with the problem of national health, and that is to allow the local health committee to arrange terms suitable to particular districts and suitable to particular individuals. If you were to keep it open, not for twelve months, but for twelve years, you could not come to a better arrangement than that. Therefore, there is no real reason for postponement in that respect.
After all, this is not a new problem, and it is not a new proposal to meet that problem. I remember the Debates on the Old Age Pensions Bill. There was hardly a day when someone did not get up and say, "The way to deal with this is on the contributory principle." The national insurance question was discussed in the country. My right hon. Friend, in declaring the programme in the election of 1909–10, made it clear that it was proposed to deal with this problem on contributory lines. I made it clear in my finance statement in 1909, and it has been repeatedly discussed in public speeches. Hon. Members opposite appointed a Committee to examine the problem in other countries. It was thoroughly known for two or three years not only that we meant to deal with the question, but that we meant to deal with it on contributory lines, and I think it was accepted by all parties in the State, except a few hon. Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway. I think it was accepted by the vast majority of the people of this country that when this question came up for solution it had to be solved on the contributory principle. This is, therefore, no new proposal at all. We introduced our Bill in May, and it has been before the country eight months in the form of a Bill. It has been discussed and canvassed, I think, more thoroughly than almost any Bill that has ever been before the country, 1457 not by politicians merely, but in every quarter. It has been thoroughly sifted, searched, canvassed, and criticised, and I have received more suggestions in regard to it than even in respect of the Budget.
The hon. Gentleman opposite says "Yes, but when it comes to the House of Commons, you guillotine it." He was very frank. He did admit that if you were to discuss it under ordinary conditions, it was quite conceivable that you could not dispose of it in a year. At the rate we were progressing before the Guillotine Resolution was passed, it would have taken not only the whole of our Autumn Session, but the whole of next year. Of course, you must except the time absolutely necessary for business like the finance of the year. [Laughter.] Well, it is no fault of mine that it was not disposed of before we separated in August. I wanted it disposed of, but the hon. Gentleman, among others, pressed that it should be put off until the Autumn Session, because, as he said, there was not time then. That is not the fault of the Government. I say that at the rate we were progressing, allowing time for the Supply of the year, you could not have got it through in the whole of next year unless you had another Autumn Session next year. That shows that this was the only method whereby you could get it through. Well, we have had our guillotine, and I venture to say that there is not a single vital matter in the whole Bill that was not debated. Let us examine this. What are the vital matters in the Bill? The compulsory character—that is vital. That was debated without the guillotine. The classes to be included—that was debated. The contributions were discussed three times. The finances were discussed on three days, and let me point this out, that on the very last day there was an opportunity of discussing the whole finance there was a day in front of hon. and right hon. Members opposite, but instead of taking that day the finance proposal went through in about an hour, and the subjects that were allocated for that day came to an end three or four hours before half-past ten.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It may or may not have been a bad Guillotine Motion. What I am dealing with now is the suggestion that finance was not discussed. If it was not discussed, hon. Gentlemen 1458 opposite were entirely to blame, because they had full opportunity of doing so.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am discussing now the question of finance. The hon. Gentleman forgets probably that there were two Financial Resolutions. The first Financial Resolution was discussed on the Committee and Report stages without any guillotine at all, and if hon. Members had Chosen to take not merely a day, but two days, there was nothing to prevent them. On that Financial Resolution the whole finance of the Bill from beginning to end could have been discussed. Then we had the second Financial Resolution. It is true that the Committee stage did not afford an opportunity for discussion, but on the Report stage that. Resolution was put down as the First Order of the Day, and it could have been discussed the whole day. It was not debated, and yet the whole finance of the Bill was open for discussion. As to benefits, we had three full days and two half-days' discussion. The machinery of the Bill was discussed. The approved societies and the Post Office contributors were discussed, and they were so discussed that although the guillotine fell at 10.30, the Debate was over by between eight and nine. Then the doctors were discussed, and they were not under the guillotine at all. The very important question of the separate Commissions was discussed, and not merely discussed, but there was some time to spare.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The principle of separate Commissions was discussed. I know what the hon. Gentleman has got in his mind—the Welsh Commissioners—but what I said was that the question of the principle of separate Commissions was discussed. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Just listen to my repeating for the third time that the principle of separate Commissions, which affects the finance of the Bill, undoubtedly was discussed, and discussed twice, and upon those two occasions there was some time to spare before the guillotine fell. The special Clauses for agricultural labourers were discussed two or three times. Domestic servants were discussed two or three times, and the shop assistants, clerks, the soldiers and sailors and the seamen's Clauses were also discussed. If you look at the Bill you will see that there is no question of vital im- 1459 portance that was not discussed. The hon. Gentleman said that we passed eighteen Clauses under the guillotine. Let him look at those eighteen Clauses. There is not one of them that had not been debated previously, and they were all questions which we promised to bring up in response to invitations from hon. Gentle men opopsite or on this side of the House. There was no new principle at all involved in any of them. Therefore I venture to say that, if you were to have it at all, there was no guillotine that ever operated more fairly than the guillotine under this Bill. I do not want to use merely a tu quoque argument, but we must remember the Bill of 1902 and the Bill of 1904. The whole finance of the Bill of 1902 was altered under the guillotine without any discussion, and as for the Bill of 1904——
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
On the contrary, if the right hon. Gentleman had taken the trouble to look at the speech of his predecessor, he would have found that in moving the guillotine he said, "Quite frankly I cannot say there has been any obstruction." That is how he began his speech, and the ground on which he justified the guillotine was that it was almost impossible to work a big Bill through without some arrangement of this kind, and I did not challenge his statement even then. I really want to point out that all matters of vital importance have been discussed, and not only that, but the hon. Gentleman admitted that the Bill had been materially improved, and as this is the last opportunity we have of discussing this particular matter let me show the respects in which the Bill has been improved. The first is with regard to sanatorium and consumptive people. We have applied the treatment of consumption not merely to sanatorium benefit. We have included other benefits as well. Not only that: we have extended the provisions for the purpose of dealing not merely with insured persons, but with women and children as well. That is an enormous improvement in the Bill. We have extended the 10s. a week during sickness from thirteen weeks to twenty-six, and in the graduated scale of payment we have reduced the burden as far as the lower wage contributors are concerned. Those who are earning under 9s. will pay nothing in future. As far as they are concerned, it is purely non-contributory, and 1460 the State undertakes the burden. That will affect I believe hundreds of thousands of poor women in this country. Those under 12s. have got another 1d. The married women's Clause was generally admitted to be a great improvement. Then we have the grouping of smaller societies, and special provisions for soldiers and sailors, and we have got the seamen's fund by consent of the shipowners and sailors. It was an agreed Clause between the parties. There are also special provisions for agricultural labourers and clerks.
Those are some of the improvements which have been effected in the Bill, but the general structure of the Bill still remains. Some of my hon. Friends have asked me whether I am prepared to carry still further the provisions with respect to children. I admit that it is of the greatest importance that you should not merely provide a cure, and that you should maintain people during sickness, but, what is still more important, is that you should prevent sickness. It is almost always forgotten, even by those who support the Bill, and even more so by those who criticise it, that the sickness allowance under this Bill only takes one-third of the 9d. that is provided. The 10s. a week and the 5s. a week only represent one-third of the expenditure provided here. The rest is practically expended upon the prevention and upon the cure of disease. There is nothing more important if you are going to prevent disease than that you should do something for the children, and the report which was produced a short time ago by Sir George Newman shows that there is real need for something being done, and done soon. I did say, when we had a discussion on this subject, that I hoped to be able to do something in connection with the Insurance Bill for the purpose of aiding the local authorities who are providing medical treatment for the school children.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
No. No Bill is necessary. I believe that the Board of Education is now framing regulations for Treasury approval, and I hope that it may be possible next year to make a grant for the purpose of aiding local authorities who are undertaking the medical treatment of school children. It is very desirable that we should come to the aid of the local authorities in a matter of this kind. It is desirable for the sake of efficient working that you should bring the Education Department and the Insurance Commissioners into something like co-operation, 1461 and the regulations will be so framed as to enable that to be done. The great idea will be to encourage the local authorities who are doing their duty, and encourage them not merely by words but by some form of assistance as well. That is the result very largely of the helpful suggestions that have come from various parts of the House. The hon. Gentleman says "you have not used your contributions to the best advantage." I thought that he would have attempted to make a case there. I cannot help thinking that it is because he is not a very convinced supporter of his own Amendment that he has not done so.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Well, I will withdraw that observation. But let me put this. If they do not spend their contribution—and I want every Member to realise this—in the best way, it will be entirely their own fault. The method of the Bill is to hand the money over to the society to be governed by the members themselves, and if they do not manage it well that will be their fault. If they manage it well, it will be to their advantage. We have adopted the method of distribution of these moneys which a hundred years' experience has justified—experience of the great friendly societies in this country. I am not going to dwell upon the benefits of the Bill. If they are not known in the House of Commons it is not the fault of the Government and those who take part in these Debates. All I will say is this, that in endeavouring to work it we shall do it without any political bias. I think I can give a guarantee that the appointments, so far as we are concerned, will be absolutely free from political bias, and I am sure that the Commissioners will work it with the full desire to get the co-operation of all classes of the community. But I should like before I sit down to say something about the principle upon which the Bill is based. The principle of a compulsory contributory system was accepted, I thought, by everybody in this House. There was no dissent on the other side. The Noble Lord was the only Member who challenged me when I made that statement the other day. If the Government had intended to find an easy road, they would not have taken the road of compulsory contribution. We could have made it non-contributory.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
We could have found the money, and after we found it the Income Tax would not be as high as it is in Berlin to-day.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
So does the Income Tax here. Does the Noble Lord mean to say that there are no grants in aid of rates from the general taxation in this country, and very heavy grants in aid of rates? It is only the method of distribution—that is all—and the Noble Lord is one of those who have been constantly pressing me, saying, "We want more money in aid of rates." We could easily have done it. Why did we not do it? It is not because we could not have found the money from Imperial sources, and found it in a way that would have encountered less opposition than the present method and one less liable to misrepresentation. It would not have involved getting 4d. or 3d. from fifteen millions of people, nor even from the small employer. Why did not we do it? One reason is this. It would have been a heavy burden upon the finances of the country. We thought that the reserves might be wanted for other purposes. Not what my hon. Friend thinks, not for war against our neighbour, but against nuisances. But there is another reason. We thought that it would be more conducive to the self-respect of the worker that he should derive benefit from a scheme to which he himself was a most substantial contributor.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Certainly; he is paying more at the present moment. There are hundreds of thousands of workers who are earning a good deal less than £1 a week who are paying not 4d. but 6d., 7d. and 8d. Anybody who lives in an agricultural district knows that. Then comes the third reason which was given by the hon. Gentleman. I accept it. The other is that if you had a non-contributory system the workmen could not manage it. You cannot have a great contribution given by the State, and hand the money over to the beneficiaries exclusively to manage, because that means that you give an unlimited cheque to the beneficiaries themselves upon the general taxpayer. That you could not do. They take their share with the rest of the community in management. Now, however, they are not merely the beneficiaries, but they are the contributors and they profit by good management, and 1463 they lose by bad management. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that if you had done it, it might have injured friendly societies vitally. It would have injured trade unions very considerably. Unemployed benefit and sickness benefit, administered by somebody else are part of the machinery of inducement for men to join trade unions. Those are the reasons, amongst others, why we chose a contributory scheme. Having had a contributory scheme pressed upon us by the Opposition, having undertaken a course which we knew must necessarily be unpopular until it was thoroughly understood, and having undertaken a course which is a perfectly straightforward and upright one, by calling upon workmen to contribute their 4d., we were entitled to a full, a frank, and a loyal support from those who accepted that principle.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am coming to that now. What does support mean? It means, of course, support from the House of Commons, it means that when you are in difficulties owing to the fact that you are standing up for financial fairness in respect of what is temporarily unpopular, you get the vote of those who support the principle. It does not mean, when there is a proposal to take 1d off, which would bankrupt your fund that you should leave the Government in the lurch, or, when you see them in difficulties, and when they have just escaped through the loyalty of their supporters, that you should greet that with exultant cheers. Now that I am embarking upon this argument let me say this: I have not a word of criticism of the way in which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster) has conducted the opposition. On the contrary, if I may respectfully say so, I think he has won not merely the admiration, but the respect of everybody in the House, without distinction of party. His sincerity has been transparent, and his knowledge of the Bill has amazed me, when, as I know, he has not got at his command the same method of acquiring information as a Minister of the Crown can always command; and I should also like to say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcester (Mr. A. Chamberlain) has on more than one occasion resisted very severe temptation to make party capital, and has shown a courageous straightforwardness which I am sure has won the admiration of the 1464 House. Therefore, let it not be said that I am including the whole of the Opposition in what I am saying at the present moment. I should like to say that of the hon. Member for Wiltshire (Mr. C. Bathurst), too, because I know that is the general feeling upon this side of the House. But what does loyal support mean of a principle which you have been pressed to accept? If you accept an unpopular principle at the invitation of another party you are entitled to protection against mispresentation. I will just show how that has been carried out. This is the way in which the compulsory contributory system has been represented in the country. In South Somerset it was said:—The Insurance Bill taxes your wages, taxes your trade, taxes your labour. If you disagree with these taxes vote for Herbert.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
So they did, and I am going to point out in a few minutes why they did. I ask any hon. Gentleman here facing me now, is there any compulsory contributory scheme to which those words could not be applied?If you take a compulsory contribution from a workman, it is tax on wages and labour. Take it on the other hand, from the employer, and it is a tax on trade.That is the support we have had after adopting the principle which was pressed upon us for years by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am coming back to South Somerset, but before I do so I should like to give another illustration of the kind of misrepresentation to which we have been subjected. The other day an hon. Gentleman sitting below the Gangway said, "In our county 4½d. would do just as well." I said I felt perfectly certain that it was quite impossible to get the benefits of the Bill for 4½d. The Noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) then interrupted and said that it was done in his constituency not merely for 4½d. but for 4d., and better benefits. This is the leaflet which the Noble Lord circulated:—North Herts By-election. Radicals say you will get 9d. worth of insurance for 4d.[HON. MKMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I will wait and see whether the next sentence will be cheered.Yon will pay much more than 4d.What does that mean? If it means anything at all it means that the contribution that will be levied on the workmen will be more than 4d. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] All I can say is if you do not mean that you ought to have said so.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I have here the actual leaflet circulated amongst people, who probably did not attend his meeting. Of course, I accept his word. The thing is here in print:—But you will not get anything like 9d. In the table which follows you will find the ordinary benefits under the Government scheme compared with those of a well-managed friendly society, such as the Buntingford, Association. The Buntingford Association contributions per week are 4d. altogether.There is nothing said about age.The benefits are, sick pay, 10s for fifty-two weeks and 5s. afterwards; surgical aid up to £2; funeral benefits, £5 per man and £3 per wife: and sick pay beginning on the first day of illness.The first thing I have got to say about that is that the funeral benefit involves an extra payment of 1½d. per month.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It is not included in the 4d. It is not included in the tables of the Buntingford Association.
§ Lord R. CECIL
It is included in the 4d. a week. I will explain it if I have an opportunity of joining in the Debate.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I hope the Noble Lord will. There is a good deal more he has to explain. What is the next thing? This is a society which was started at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and gets something which is equivalent to a Grant-in-Aid from the Government. They are getting, in respect of all their investments before 1850, £4 11s. per cent. per annum under an Act of Parliament. That is more than sufficient to pay surgical aid, and it also pays a part of the management expenses. I come now to the Government scheme. The benefits are sick pay maternity, sanatorium, free medical attendance, no funeral benefits, and sick benefit beginning on the fourth day. The sick pay of the Government is only worth 3¼d., the medical attendance 1½d., sanatorium and maternity benefit is another 1d., there is 1d. for management, making 6¾d., and there is a surplus which brings it up to 7d. Every man, even at sixteen, gets 7d. The Noble Lord never pointed that out. Another thing he did not point out. If they can get these benefits for less than 7d., then they can use the money for some other purpose. What is the good of the Noble Lord denying that? Does he really say that the money will not be paid by the Buntingford Association? [An HON. MEMBER: "It will be paid."] Of 1466 course it will be paid. That shows that it is not due to misrepresentation, but to sheer ignorance. What is the next thing the Noble Lord said? It is that the 4d. which is paid is paid for a person of sixteen. He does not in his leaflet say that if they join at forty they will have to pay about 7d.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
At forty-five they have to pay 10d., and at fifty they have to pay 1s. I am quoting from the tables of the Buntingford Union, and they put the whole of that scheme in. Did he ever say that at his meetings?
§ Lord R. CECIL
I always explained that the 4d. applied to those who joined between sixteen and twenty.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Really it is very remarkable that this leaflet does not contain those terms. Here is a leaflet circulated in every household, and the Noble Lord feels that an explanation is necessary. If he does not, why did he explain? He is not one to give gratuitous points to the other side. [An HON. MEMBER: "Did you explain?"] I think I am entitled to make my reply. The Noble Lord thinks it necessary to make an explanation. In this leaflet there were all those facts withheld, did he explain those to them? After all the men who voted for him are not men of sixteen. Most of them who gave votes for him were over thirty, and I would venture to say that half of them were probably over forty. Therefore it was of vital importance to them to know, when you compared the Buntingford Association and the scheme of the Bill, which of the two would suit them. All the workmen in North Herts are not members of the Buntingford Association, and they did not all join at sixteen, and thousands who have not joined any society wanted to know how it affected them, and if any of them were to take this leaflet he would see that for 4d. he would have got all these benefits in the Buntingford Association, whereas under the Government scheme be would get something which was not equivalent at all to them. What will happen to the Buntingford Association when the Bill passes? I want to ask the Noble Lord whether he told them. What will happen will be this: every member in the Buntingford Association, say for twenty years, having joined at sixteen and now thirty-six when this Bill passes, 1467 without paying a penny more, will get not 10s. for fifty-two weeks, but with his reserve he will get 12s. 8d. If he has been in the society for thirty years and is now forty-six, he will not get 10s., but 15s. What will he get in addition to that? Every benefit he has got will still be there, but in addition he will get either 15s. or 12s. 8d., and he will get maternity benefit of 30s., and if there is any consumption in his family, either he himself, or his child, or his wife, he can have free medical treatment, and, in addition to that, free medical attendance, while if there is a surplus he can devote it to additional benefit. Did the Noble Lord ever explain that? All carefully withheld. If he were instead of indicting the Government doing his best to make provision for the cure of sickness and the relief of distress, if he were prosecuting a criminal—and he is a member of the legal profession—and if he were prosecuting a criminal, the lowest standard of professional integrity demanded that he should not withhold those facts. He owes it to the constituency he has misled; he owes it to the Government against whom he has borne false witness; he owes it to himself as a man of honour to go down to Buntingford and tell the truth. [HON. MEMBERS: "Limehouse."] Let me answer. What about Limehouse? I will tell you. I repeated a challenge from the floor of this House, and three times, to anybody to challenge any of the facts I used at Limehouse.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Gentleman is a Member of this House, and why had he not the courage to challenge me then? I challenged him amongst others. It is all very well to go outside; but here, face to face, I asked him to challenge any of the facts which I used there. Now I come to South Somerset. [An HON. MEMBER: "Come to the Bill."] I agree that what was said there has very little to do with the Bill. Let us hear what was said about the Bill there, because, after all, it has a good deal to do with this Amendment. The Opposition had their heads turned with a little Somerset cider. What was said there? This is one of the leaflets that was circulated everywhere:—Members of the friendly societies are to pay 4d. through their employers as well as contributions to their society, if an approved one.That is a thing which I thought had been exploded, that they will have to pay twice 1468 over; but that is one of the things they circulated.But the friendly societies cannot do more than the Bill allows them.That is another mistake.And so they cannot pay more than two-thirds of a man's sick pay.That is another misstatement, and here is a fourth in the same leaflet:Then those who insure under the Bill can only get out what they have paid in after deductions are made for their convalescent home and expenses, and so in the first two years they can only get five weeks' pay, and at death all the balances go to the Government.This was circulated the night before the poll:Insurance Bill. It never allows a man to receive sick benefit above two-thirds of his wages, not even when he has paid for more, and not, even though he may belong to more than one society.Not only is that untrue, but it never was true. What is the other statement?The Bill does not give proper benefit in return for the payments, but this is a statement of the old system compared with the new system. Under the the old plan in the friendly societies for the payment of 4d. you had benefits of 10s. for 26 weeks. 8s. for 26 weeks and under the new plan, under the Insurance Bill payment of 4d., benefit 10s. for 13 weeks, 5s. for 13 weeks.Not a word about permanent disability. I am not complaining that they did not take note of the fact that we had amended the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "You had not."] What I am complaining of is the permanent disability absolutely left out, the medical attendance all left out, the sanatoria all left out, and the maternity benefit never mentioned; and that was circulated as if it were a statement of the benefits of the Bill compared with the other, and yet they only won by 140. Again:The Insurance Bill will injure members of societies. The only advantage will be for the high officials who will get high salaries.[An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] Does the hon. Gentleman say so here? His friends in South Somerset said so, and he was one of those who cheered the result of that. Not a penny will go out of that fund to any official except the officials of the societies, and more than that, we are taking over the burden of the auditors and the valuers, which is at present thrown on the backs of the societies. Those are not all the statements. I have got several here of the same kind. There is one here and I should like to know what hon. Gentlemen opposite think of it:—Half Truths.Liberals complain about 'half truth. 'If any one were to say that a Liberal Member of Parliament wants to take 2d. per week from the working man, and get, £200 per year for himself, that would be a 'half truth.' What is the whole truth? The whole truth is that he wants to take 4d. per week from the working man and get £400 per year for himself.1469 This is how it ends:—Why should the people be taxed to give Members of Parliament a soft job.7.0 P.M.
I ask anyone what the ordinary elector would think that that meant. It is a suggestion of a falsehood—of a very mean and shabby falsehood. The suggestion—I have had it in letters of protest against the Bill—is that this 4d. a week is to give to Members of Parliament £400 a year. That is the sort of statement which has been made and circulated. I said the other day, and I still say, that I do not accuse the Noble Lord of wilfully misleading the electors or anybody else.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
All the same, he has misled them, grossly misled them, scandalously misled them. [An HON. MEMBER: "You are jealous."] I agree. That is a feat, not only which I have never been able to achieve, but of which I am perfectly certain I should be absolutely incapable. If hon. Members of this House circulate statements of that sort what can you expect from the baser sort of people? Why is this done? In a moment of passion, over a Bill which excites fierce animosity—I have been too long in politics not to know what happens then, or to criticise it very severely—when something is done which outrages a man's conscience, I can understand a thoroughly honourable man being carried away. But what is this Bill? It is an attempt to carry out principles which hon. Members opposite themselves profess to accept and which they have pressed upon us. I think we were entitled to better treatment. This is an honest attempt to settle a great question; or, at any rate, it is an honest attempt to make a beginning to deal with a great question. It will have to be amended. Experience will teach us what to do. But as to its ultimate acceptance by the people of this country I never had any doubt. By and by the people will be told what is in the Bill, not by partisans at elections, not even by Ministers commending their Bill, but by those whose business it is to lay before them the advantages of the Bill. They will be told what it is. These persons will go from door to door and present the case to the people, showing what the advantages are, and then I know what the people will think. I believe that this Bill is setting up a scheme which will be woven into the social fabric of this country, and will be regarded by the working men with 1470 gratitude as something which has given them a guarantee with regard to their daily lives. It is a Bill which the employers will accept as something which improves the efficiency of labour and gives stability to the existing order. When that time comes I know how the people will regard this Amendment, with its lack of civic courage and absence of political reason. They will treat it with the contempt it deserves, and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will realise then that he who sees straight is the one who sees far.
§ Lord R. CECIL
The Government, having first insisted that this Debate shall last only one night, puts up the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who consumes an hour and twenty minutes of that time. I presume that the design was to prevent free discussion. It is of a piece with the whole tactics of the Government. For my part, I do not complain of that portion of the speech that was devoted to an attack upon myself. I welcome it, because I think I can show the House that it was absolutely baseless, as were many other statements made by the same right hon. Gentleman. I have not before me the leaflet from which the Chancellor of the Exchequer quoted, but I know it perfectly well. It is not necessary for the right hon. Gentleman to take the trouble to hand it to me. The situation was this. A leaflet had been issued by the other side, stating that this Bill would give 9d. worth of insurance for 4d. That statement was made by my opponent, not on his own authority, but on the authority of the National Liberal Publication Department. I do not believe that anyone maintains that that is true. [Several HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."]
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Mr. Watson, the actuary of the friendly societies, says so in the report that was circulated.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I think not. It is quite plain that the 9d. is made up of 4d. from the employé, 3d. from the employer, and 2d. from the State. Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer still say that the 2d. from the State is to be paid?
Lord R. CEOIL
I thought it had been proved, even to the Chancellor's own satisfaction, that it will be less than 1d. for the first year, and not more than 1½d. for some fifteen or sixteen years. That qualification was deliberately withheld. But the contention I was putting before my electors, and I am not in the least 1471 ashamed of it, was that they will not get 9d. worth of insurance in my judgment—I do not think they will; I do not think they will get anything like that—and that they will have to pay a great deal more than 4d. I still believe that to be true. So apparently does the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. R. Macdonald). It was in reference to that contention, perfectly well known throughout the Division, after the contest had proceeded for more than a fortnight, that this leaflet was issued. What did it say? The ordinary benefits proposed by the Government were set out, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not maintain for a moment that they were wrongly set out. Against them, and as a comparison with them was set out what you could get from the Buntingford society for 4d. That is perfectly accurate. I have not a word to withdraw. It is perfectly true that you could get from the Buntingford society the benefits there set out. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says, "Oh, you ought to have said that if a man comes in at forty he will have to pay 10d. or 1s.," or whatever it is. Does he know that the average payment by all the members of that society is only 4d.? Before issuing the leaflet I wrote and asked the secretary what was the age at which the people joined the society. He replied that it was about sixteen or between that and twenty. It was in reference to these facts, which were perfectly well known, that I stated that for 4d. you could get the benefits set out. There is only one statement of which I was not aware. I take it from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, though perhaps it is rash to do so, that the invested funds of this society are entitled to £4 11s. dividend rather than the ordinary dividend at the present time. I do not know how much of the invested funds come under the provision at all. I do not believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer does, but, in his usual way, he assumes that the whole of the funds of the society will be entitled to that, or, if he does not assume that, he has deliberately withheld the qualification.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I must answer that statement. I am in the recollection of the House, and the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow will confirm what I say. I stated that it was the fund before 1850.
§ Lord R. CECIL (who was received with cries of "withdraw")
I have nothing to 1472 withdraw. Even now the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not say, because he does not know, how much of the invested funds come under that provision. As far as this leaflet is concerned, I really do not see that there was a single statement in it which was not perfectly true, or which did not demonstrate absolutely that the claim of the Government that they were giving 9d. worth of insurance was not true. The Chancellor of the Exchequer replies by saying, "Oh, yes," but if you add up the actuarial value of these benefits it comes not to 9d."—I hope the House will observe that—"but to 7d." That is not the point. The point is, what are these benefits worth to the men to whom they are offered? Which would they rather have? I set out the benefits perfectly clearly in the leaflet. I set out exactly what they got from the Buntingford Society and exactly what they are promised by the ordinary benefits of the Bill. I said to the electors, "Which would you rather have?" and they replied by electing me. Since the Chancellor of the Exchequer is talking about misrepresentation, I should just like to call the attention of the House to the statement with which he began his speech. He said, referring to the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Mr. Forster), "This Amendment is a wrecking Amendment," though he afterwards admitted that my hon. Friend was as anxious as he was to see this measure passed. But he charges him with producing a wrecking Amendment! It is nothing of the kind. It has been explained by both my hon. Friends, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester that this is the only measure that is open to us under the guillotine to secure the recommitment of this Bill.
I am authorised to say this to the right hon. Gentleman, that if he and the Government will agree to recommit the Bill my hon. Friends will withdraw the Amendment. I have not the least doubt about it when the right hon. Gentleman goes to Bristol or Limehouse he will represent this as a deliberate attempt by the Opposition to destroy the Bill. He knows it is nothing of the kind. But I daresay he will get some people to believe it. [An HON. MEMBER.: "No."] Oh, yes, he will. The right hon. Gentleman complains very much that the Opposition have not supported him in the step he has taken, prompted by his care for the financial integrity of this country, of proposing a contributory scheme. Does he ever think of what has happened to Mr. Harold Cox? Does he 1473 know that that hon. Member, as he then was, when the Old Age Pensions Bill was before this House, proposed an Amendment which he thought essential to the financial integrity of the country, and urged it, not with a view of destroying that measure, but with a view of setting up an alternative scheme. I supported him. That action of ours has been misrepresented on every platform of the Radical party. I do not know how far, in view of the fact that there is litigation pending, I am entitled to refer to the matter, but I could refer to a leaflet issued in this very election showing the kind of misrepresentation that was made, not about some question of policy, but about the personal action of one of the candidates in the election. So far as I am concerned, I do not desire to pursue this matter any further. I have nothing to withdraw. I have nothing to apologise for. I stand by every word of the leaflet to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has referred. I say it is a perfectly accurate and a perfectly legitimate leaflet. I am absolutely indifferent to the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of what I ought or ought not to have done.
There is one other point which, having been dealt with especially by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester, I need not go fully into. I refer to the book published with a somewhat flattering representation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the front. It is described as "The People's Insurance," explained by the Right Hon. David Lloyd George, M.P., and it has a preface signed by him. I do not think I have any right to repeat generally the whole thing, because it is all stated by the hon. Member to whom I referred. My hon. Friend's remarks were taken down by the Attorney-General, and I believe he told the Chancellor of the Exchequer exactly what had passed. The substance of it was this: "That the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the book, authorised the statement that the deposit contributor, by paying in for five years, will get, if thirteen weeks ill, 10s. a week—that is to say, he will get about £6 10s. Beyond that, for thirteen weeks, he will get 5s. Beyond that he may receive a pension of 5s. In addition to that is free doctoring, free drugs, and any consumptive will be sent to a sanatorium——"Whereas, of course, the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows, or ought to know by now, that the utmost a 1474 deposit contributor can get is, I think, the sum of £5. That is the kind of Gentleman who now accuses me of misrepresentation!
I turn now to the Amendment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that the principle of this Bill is that it is a contributory Bill. To my mind it contains three main principles. In the first place, it is a Bill for State-aided insurance. In the second place, it is a Bill for contributory insurance. In the third place, it is a Bill depending upon compulsory contribution. So far as the principle of State-aided insurance is concerned, I support the Bill most thoroughly. I have always believed in State-aided insurance. So, too, so far as the principle of contributory insurance is concerned. I thoroughly support that, and not only for the reason given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not only because I think it is to the interest of the self-respecting workman that he should contribute towards a benefit that he is to receive, but also even more because I am convinced that in any system, however devised, the workman will have to pay. You can only get money for insurance either by contribution from the working man or by taxation. If the money comes from taxation the workman will contribute either directly or indirectly. But he does contribute one way or another. Again, it is important that those who are going to benefit by this scheme, and also have a very large proportion of the political power in this country, should realise that there is no secret fund on which you can draw for any of these benefits, but that sooner or later they must pay for whatever they get. Therefore I have always been in favour of a contributory element.
I do not myself see why a contributory scheme involves a compulsory scheme. It is quite true that if you do not have a compulsory scheme you must, no doubt, abandon the principle of a contribution from the employer. I admit it. Personally, however, I see no advantage in the contribution from the employer. I agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester that the contributions, whether from employer or employed, must practically come out of the profits of industry. Whether they are paid in the first instance by the employer or in the first instance by the employed, will ultimately, I believe, make exceedingly little difference to the working man. He will bear whatever is his economic share, whether it is great or whether it is small, charged upon 1475 the profits of the industry. Therefore I should not in the least mind abandoning the employer's contribution. What I do feel is this—and just because I feel so strongly that the scheme ought to be contributory, I am against its being compulsory—and no opinion I hold more firmly—that a compulsory scheme will never last as a contributory scheme. It is quite impossible that it should. You cannot, I am convinced, in this country, compel men to contribute whether they like it or not to a particular form of thrift or insurance. It is quite plain even in this Bill that this is the case. The men who are earning less than 1s. 6d. a day have already been struck out of the Bill so far as their direct contribution is concerned. It is an outrage on all common sense and decency to compel a man who is only earning 9s. a week to make a contribution towards a compulsory scheme of insurance. I have no kind of complaint against that, but if that is legitimate where are you going to draw the line?
On what conceivable principle can you defend the compulsory contributions of men earning 12s. if you admit that it is wrong to exact that compulsory contribution from a man who is only earning 9s.? How long in a democratic country are you going to maintain that principle? Surely it must be obvious to everybody that that distinction cannot last, and that the next time the Chancellor of the Exchequer wants a few votes he will raise the limit; then he will come down to the House of Commons and explain what a wonderful self-controlled financier he is that he did not raise the limit still higher! That is undoubtedly what will happen. There is, however, a much more serious objection even than that. I am convinced that the compulsory element in this Bill is bound to destroy the friendly societies of this country. I observed the characteristic gibe of the right hon. Gentleman when someone spoke of the tenacity with which the friendly societies hung on to their existence. I think that tenacity is a very admirable quality, and no matter for gibes at all. To my mind it is very right, very natural, and very proper that the friendly societies should recognise the immense work they have done in this country, be proud of it, and resent any interference with it.
I am quite convinced if you have this compulsory system that it must end in destroying them. For this reason: it must involve, as in this Bill it does involve an 1476 immense measure of State control. You cannot avoid it. If you once have what is in effect taxation put upon those who are to benefit by this scheme, and it is to be collected by the friendly societies, as in fact it will be, then you must have State control in every direction. You must put them under the control of some Government official, whether you call him an insurance official or a Treasury clerk.
If you once make the State a partner in private enterprise it means the absorption of that private enterprise by the State. I believe that to be a principle which scarcely requires to be defended. If you want to see it in full operation you have merely got to look at the history of the voluntary schools of this country. A partnership was created between the State and the voluntary schools in the the matter of elementary education, and that principle was advanced in 1870. What has been history since them? Every decade has seen a further advance of the State, and a further retirement of the voluntary principle, until at the present time the State schools are all compulsory, all free, and practically they are absolutely under the control and management of the State. The voluntary principle has actually expired or practically expired, and if the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends had their way they would give it its death blow. Therefore, anyone who considers the history of the voluntary schools under the legislation which began in 1870 will see what will inevitably happen to the friendly societies under the legislation which has now begun. More than that, the voluntary schools have been—rightly or wrongly—kept alive by a strong religious sentiment. You have no such sentiment, at all events not of that strength, to keep alive friendly societies. Depend upon it, this Bill when it passes is the death warrant of the friendly societies of this country. For those two reasons I am strongly opposed to a compulsory scheme. Finally—and this is the one reason which I think moves me most of all—I regard it as a very dangerous precedent to liberty and independence in this country, and that undoubtedly, however the Chancellor of the Exchequer may sneer at domestic servants, is the backbone of the agitation against this Bill. This is not a question of particular figures or of particular discussions or of argumentative leaflets, or whether this or that person pays. The backbone of the agitation against this Bill is that the people bitterly resent in this country being made 1477 to apply their own money for benefits in a way they do not approve. It is defended by the German example; but that example is wholly irrelevant. The whole history of Germany is the history of the control of the individual by the State. Frederick William established an elaborate system of State control over the whole lives of everyone of his subjects. That has been the history of Germany, and that cannot be transplanted to this country without great injury to the institutions of this country.
I have a fanatical belief in individual freedom. I believe it is a vital thing for this country, and I believe it is the cornerstone upon which our prosperity and our existence are built, and, for my part, I believe that the civic qualities of self-control, self-reliance, and self-respect depend upon individual liberty and the freedom and independence of the people of this country. We all remember a great phrase of a great prelate, who said he would sooner see England free than England sober. It has been greatly misrepresented, but properly understood I agree with that proposition. I think it could be put more thoroughly by saying you cannot have sobriety without freedom. The essence of the virtue of sobriety and all civic virtues is self-control and self-reliance, and you cannot have these without freedom. And it is because I believe that in its present form this Bill is a great danger to liberty, and was so regarded by the electors I had the honour of addressing during the three or four weeks of my election campaign, that I think it is vital it should be further considered, and that the country should have a further opportunity of expressing its opinion upon it and of saying whether it desires to have these German shackles put upon it, or whether it would not prefer to have a scheme founded upon the principle of liberty and independence.
§ Sir THOMAS WHITTAKER
It would be interesting to know what principle of this Bill the Noble Lord who has just sat down approves of. We are told by our Friends upon the other side that they approve the principle of the Bill, but the Noble Lord spent the whole of his time practically denouncing every principle in the Bill, yet he commenced his speech by telling us he did not want to destroy it. He is against compulsion; he is against the employer being called upon to pay; and he thinks the Bill would interfere with liberty. He thinks there is no advantage 1478 in getting contribution from the employer. I think he had better ask the workmen of this country whether they agree with him or not. I wonder whether during the election campaign he told the electors of his Division that he thought it would be better that employers should not contribute to this insurance. He wishes the workman to pay everything, and he objects to State control. If the State contributes to any fund to which even the workman alone contribute the State is entitled to have some control in return for its contribution; and as he objects to that control it seems perfectly clear that the State is not to contribute and the employer is not to contribute, and, therefore, all the contribution is to come from the workman. It is not to be compulsory, so that that brings us back to the position in which we are now, with voluntary insurance through the friendly societies. But we have now only got four and a-half millions of people in the friendly societies, and the reason for this Bill is that we want to get the great mass of the working people in.
I want to know what principle of the Bill the Noble Lord is in favour of, and why does he not want to kill the Bill. What were his reasons? I should like to say a word about the allegation that the State is not going to contribute 2d. The Noble Lord admitted that it is going to contribute 1d., that the employer is going to contrbute 3d., and the workman 4d. The Buntingford Society would according to the calculation of the Noble Lord get 8d., and if they have been able to do such marvellous things for 4d., they will be able to do much better for 8d., and to represent that Buntingford would not be able to do as much for 8d. as for 4d. would baffle, I think, even the skill of Buntingford itself. Now, first of all, as to the 2d. As the State is to pay in proportion to the benefits, and as the benefits are to increase as persons get older, it is true the contribution of the State may not in the first instance be 2d., but in the long run it will. On the average the State will contribute 2d. I quote from Mr. Watson, who is a better authority than anyone in this House, and this is what he said:—I take leave to point out that confusion has arisen in the matter of the State's 2d. per week, the existence of which it has been freely asserted is a fallacy. The fact is otherwise so far as the societies are concerned. The benefits under the Bill are worth 9d. per week for the first fifteen and a-half years, or for such similar period over which the redemption of the initial reserve may extend, and afterwards 7d. per week; but by Clause 8 (8) of the Bill as amended an extension of benefits is provided for when the redemption has been accomplished, and it must be assumed in fairness that the benefits will be kept up to the value of 9d. for all time. That being the case, two-ninths of the benefits is equal to 2d.1479 That is Mr. Watson's opinion, and it is worth a great deal more than the opinion of anyone in this House. Now, getting away from the hot controversial side, I should like in all fairness to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to bear my testimony to the conciliatory manner in which he has conducted this Bill, and the freedom by which the right hon. Gentleman has been approached by deputations in every direction and by everybody who wished to discuss this Bill. There has been an enormous amount of discussion with the right hon. Gentleman outside the House with interested parties, and these discussions have been equivalent to very useful discussions in this House and have enabled the right hon. Gentleman to come here and make proposals which were practically agreed upon by those most directly affected.
We heard a lot about the rules and about the manner in which this Bill has been carried. The Licensing Act of 1904 was closured with a vengeance. That Act provided that the most important part of its working should be done by rules framed afterwards, and they were not framed for months afterwards, and anyone who refers to them will see that the rules are much longer than the Act itself. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are the last who ought to say anything about that. I personally have very strong views that if this House is ever to be able to deal with some of the great measures that are to be dealt with in future we shall sooner or later have to modify our methods. An assembly of 670 Members, with two or three hundred in daily attendance, is not at all suited for the discussion of the minute details of a measure like this. I believe in France—I speak subject to correction—that the first thing done is the principle of the legislation is enacted, and then the Government Departments draft the regulations for working that legislation. If the regulations in connection with this Bill were drafted as the rules of the Licensing Bill were drafted and laid upon the Table, once the Bill was passed, there would be very little discussion of those regulations carrying out the principle. I believe if we are to go on discussing details of great measures in this House we will not be able to get on at all.
I do not think it is unfair to hon. Gentlemen opposite if I suggest that the reason they want the discussion of this Bill continued to next year is that there is something coming on then which they do not 1480 want to come on, and that their plea for further discussion of this Bill is as much concerned with that as with the Bill itself. I think everybody will agree, except, perhaps, the Noble Lord, that it is desirable that the poorer people of this country should be insured.
§ Sir T. WHITTAKER
That it is desirable that they should be compulsorily insured. We have gone on now for more than a century, and we have not one-third of the working people insured. The friendly societies are not growing. It is desirable that the people of the country should be insured and that insurance should be compulsory, and if you are to have a fair chance of carrying such a measure through this House, it must be one contributed to by the insured persons, by the employer, and by the State. About five years from now, when the scheme has got into operation, the aggregate contribution will be about nineteen millions from the employer and the employed. The State will add about four and a-quarter millions, which means, roughly, that the State and the employers will contribute rather more than twelve and a-half millions, and the employed persons about eleven millions. That means a clean gift to employed persons from the employers and the State of twelve and a-half millions. Surely that is something which is worth having, and will do a good deal to stimulate insurance in our midst. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Forster) expressed the fear that the women's fund would become insolvent. I have been as anxious as any Member could be about the financial side of this Bill, and that the margin should not be frittered away, but, as a matter of fact, the margin in the women's department, as far as figures are available, is larger than the men's, and it is very desirable that it should be so, because there is a good deal of doubt and uncertainty as to what will be the working effect of these benefits when we get them into operation, as there is no wide experience of the amount of sickness amongst women; but the margin is larger for the women than the men. I do not entertain the fears expressed by the hon. Member that the women's portion will turn out to be insolvent. I was very interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Worthington-Evans), and in the reasons which he gave as to why we should not proceed with this Bill. None of them said a word about the 1481 domestic servants, and yet the whole country outside is being moved with this question. I have not had any protests myself, but I have seen hon. Members with piles of communications, but they have not said a word about it here, and it has never been mentioned to-night.
§ Sir T. WHITTAKER
At any rate, the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Forster) and the hon. Member for Colchester did not mention it. The hon. Member for Colchester got back to the Post Office contributor. I thought, after the discussion we had had on that point we were pretty well agreed all round that that was a matter which would have to be dealt with afterwards, and that it would be far better to wait and see how many there were of them and why they were there before attempting any special scheme. If you are going to enact any special benefit for this particular class you would increase that class immensely. You do not want to increase them. We want to get them into the ordinary societies as far as possible and then deal with those that are left. A suggestion was made that a central fund should be established, and that five-ninths of the minimum benefits should be paid over from that fund. I would suggest that my hon. Friend should consult his actuarial friend before he promulgates that idea. Then, again, the hon. Member suggests that they should have the benefit from the first day, but you cannot have your money every way. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a very substantial concession in extending the sickness benefit from thirteen weeks to twenty-six weeks. What do the actuaries say in their Report on this question of not paying benefits during the first three days of sickness? They say:Without this margin we do not consider that the rates of sickness employed in our calculations are applicable to the conditions of a national scheme as set out in the Bill.After that deliberate testimony from the actuaries, it is no use talking about giving benefits for those three days, because you cannot afford it without trenching upon the benefits promised in the Bill, and it would be most unsafe to do so. Already this House has been nibbling at those margins, and I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the way he has withstood the pressure put upon him although he has had to yield a little here and there. I do not think we ought to reduce those margins, and that is what I 1482 said on the Second Reading. Nevertheless, the House has been nibbling at them, and that has generally been the case when men discuss matters of this kind in regard to which they do not understand their full effect. The same difficulty is experienced by friendly societies and railway benefit societies, upon which pressure is always being put for more benefits than the scheme can afford. The margins provided in this Bill have not disappeared and they are very necessary. We are going to embark very largely upon unknown ground, and we do not want to use all those margins. The margins originally provided were for men 11.3 per cent., and they have now dropped to 6.5. Therefore half of those margins have gone. The margins provided for women were 12.65, and they have been reduced to 9.7. The hidden reserves which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had have also been reduced, and we want to be careful about them. There is just one point which I should like to press upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that is the absolute necessity of having a most careful and accurate actuarial investigation of these societies. I put down an Amendment to provide that those valuations should be made by qualified actuaries, but the right hon. Gentleman has not seen his way to accept it. It is very important that these valuations should be made by competent men. The whole thing is very serious, and the responsibility of this House and the whole community for the maintenance of these benefits and for the fianancial soundness of these organisations is very great, and I should be very glad indeed if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to provide that these valuations should be made by qualified actuaries, because nobody else is qualified to make such a valuation.
I was very much interested in the remark of the hon. Member for Sevenoaks, in which he referred to the separation of the funds for Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales. Almost in the same breath the hon. Member advocated the admission and recognition of smaller societies. The hon. Member for Leicester doubted the ability of the men to pay, but if you are not going to have a contribution from the men you could not expect it from the employers. It is not practical to talk about putting the whole expense of this scheme upon Imperial taxation. I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer sees his way to get the money, but at any rate it would be a big order to 1483 stand at that box and propose taxation sufficient for the whole of this scheme. If we had no contribution from the insured person everybody below the incomes fixed would come in, and you would have a great many more to deal with, and the amount required would be very much more than is necessary now, and, indeed, you might look forward to requiring something like £35,000,000 or £40,000,000 a year. I do not know what hon. Members opposite would say if an amount like that had to be raised by general taxation. Such a scheme would absolutely destroy friendly societies, and it would very seriously affect trade unions. We have had some talk about a Referendum. I see opposite an hon. Member who has been collecting cards from his constituency. Lord, bless my life, if you had taken a Referendum on any legislation of this class from the people affected you would have had the same result. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Referendum was taken from the whole electors."] Yes, they are either insured persons, employers, or taxpayers, and therefore you are taking a Referendum from the persons affected under the Bill. If in regard to the passing of the Factory Acts you had taken a, vote of the owners of cotton mills, and the people employed in and about factories, you would never have got a vote in favour of that legislation. If, when you proposed that cabmen should carry lights, you had taken a vote of the cabmen of London, they would have voted against it. The same argument applies to the shipowners in regard to legislation affecting shipping. I remember a Bill affecting a large number of fishermen where I resided, and the whole district concerned was roused by it. In those circumstances you could not get a vote favourable to that measure from those men, and it is simply preposterous to expect it.
§ Mr. COOPER
Does the hon. Member suggest that the people of this country are absolutely against the Insurance Bill now?
§ Sir T. WHITTAKER
I suggest that a vote of this kind is of no use on a question of this sort. We do not expect the people to approve or decide by a vote in the case of every Bill which is brought into this House. We are living under a system of representative Government and not of Government by a vote of the people upon individual measures. What the people of this country do is to select representatives 1484 in whose judgment they have confidence, and they leave it to them to decide. That is real representative government, and not the taking of a vote on every individual measure. Very little has been said to-day about domestic servants or agricultural labourers, two classes which need this Bill the most. The women provide the largest percentage of paupers in this country in proportion to the population, and the rural districts where the agricultural labourers are to be found, provide a larger percentage of pauperism than the urban districts, and a very large proportion of the women in our workhouses are domestic servants. Domestic service is not attractive. I think most householders of experience will tell you that it is not easy to get good domestic servants. This is not because there are not a great many women who want employment, but because domestic service is not attractive. The contributory system which is now proposed is talked of as a tax. I think the cost is something which this country can very well afford. One of the things we need to do, and which it is difficult to do, is, as far as possible, to remove, or at any rate somewhat adjust the inequality of social conditions which exist to-day. It is a very difficult thing to do, but one way by which we can do something in this direction is by getting contributions from those who can afford it to help those who cannot. It is described as a burden on industry. We can afford it.
Here are the figures of the incomes of this country for the last fifteen years. I find the total income of this country which came under the review of the Inland Revenue Department, representing the income of persons with £160 a year and upwards, had risen in fifteen years from £677,000,000 to £1,011,000,000, or an increase of nearly 50 per cent., while the population has increased 13 per cent. If you take Schedule D, which represents the trading section, the increase has been from £356,000,000 to £558,000,000 in fifteen years. If you exclude railways, mines, markets, gas-works, and concerns of that kind, and get down more closely to the purely trading and professional incomes, the increase in fifteen years has been from £250,000,000 to £400,000,000, or an increase of 60 per cent., while the population has gone up by 13 per cent. Therefore, I say, we can afford this Bill. There is one more point which is of great interest to me. As compared with eleven years ago, last year we spent £25,000,000 less on liquor. If that expenditure last year had been in the same 1485 proportion per head as it was eleven years before, it would have been £45,000,000 more last year. The people have got that money in their pockets, and they are going to spend it in a better way.
This is no burden on industry, and it has been saved by the greater sobriety of the people. We were told the other night, in reply to the statement that Germany has got a scheme of this sort, that Germany has had it a long time. That is quite true. The general answer given to it is that in Germany the wages are lower and the hours are longer. That is an admission which our Friends opposite were not willing to make in the days when we were discussing Tariff Reform. Now they put that forward as a reason why we cannot afford this scheme. I think the argument of increased efficiency in regard to industry is a, sound one, and I venture to say that every regulation we have made which has provided for the better working of our workshops and factories under more stringent conditions has stimulated the owners of those factories and workshops and industries in our country to adopt better methods and better machinery in various directions, and the result has always been an increased production, and I venture to predict that that will be the result of this Bill when it passes into law.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I wish to say, first, that the hon. Member (Mr. O'Grady) and myself put down our Amendment ["That the Bill be read the third time upon this day six months"] hoping that we should be able to take a Division on it, but, failing that, Ave propose to take a Division on the Motion that the Bill be read the third time, and we do that because we disagree entirely with the hon. Baronet (Sir T. Whittaker). He has said that, in his opinion, we are quite well able to afford this money, and that to talk of a non-contributory scheme for dealing with sickness is quite absurd, or, at any rate, he would not like to undertake it. I should like to call his attention to two or three facts. One of them he stated himself. He said that only some three or four million people were insured in friendly societies. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in introducing the Bill, gave a reason for that, and said it was because of low wages and bad conditions of labour, and that men did join societies, and he gave the figures of the number of lapses which took place during a given year. When we ask that this tax—because it is a tax—should not 1486 be levied by Parliament our main objection to it is that you are levying it on people who cannot afford to pay it, and we are strengthened in that not by the opinion of mere Socialists like myself, but of men like Mr. Seebohm Rowntree and Mr. Charles Booth, and others, who have investigated the lives of the poor. I do not intend to take part in the personal dispute that has taken place to-night, except to say that neither side of the House can come to the Bar with clean hands in the matter of what they issue at election time. Liberals and Tories have denounced me as a person who wants to take every other man's wife, who wants to destroy religion, and to take new-torn babies from their mothers. The Liberal party have been the most wicked in three-cornered fights in denouncing us in that kind of fashion, and the Tories, not to be outdone in a straight fight, have always pitchforked it at us in the same manner. I was very much amused to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer on bad literature at election times. I want to give the facts in regard to wages by someone who, I think, no one here will say is a partisan on one side or the other. Professor Brodie tells us there are something like 8,000,000 men who are engaged in industry in regular occupation, and there are nearly 1,000,000 working for wages of less than 20s. a week, and over 1,500,000 earning from 20s. to 25s. a week, and, as the total number of agricultural labourers is certainly under 1,000,000, the number of industrial workers earning under 25s, a week is over 1,500,000. This refers only to men in full work. If you take Mr. Ellis Barker who, I admit, is probably a prejudiced person on the other side to me, but who may be said on his own side to be an expert, he says that the wages of unskilled labour in the engineering trades in Blackburn, Bolton, Bradford, Derby, Leicester, London, Manchester, Sheffield, Taunton, Wigan, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Belfast, the average is about 19s. a week. I believe many members of the House must have read Mr. Seebohm Rowntree's book, and I suggest that they should read the latest book on "Unemployment" by the same gentleman and another friend, because, if they do, they will see the reason why some of us feel that to impose taxes in this fashion is really a very monstrous thing. Here is what Mr. Rowntree says in reference to what a person can really live on at York:—Allowing for broken time, the average wage for a labourer in York is from 18s. to 21s., whereas the minimum expenditure necessary to maintain in a state of 1487 physical efficiency a family of two adults and three children is 21s. 8d., or, if there are four children, the sum required would be 26s.In his article in the "Nineteenth Century" Mr. Rowntree has added 2s. to that, because, he says, "both rent and commodities have increased in price." This is what he goes on to say:—It is thus seen that the wages paid for unskilled labour in York are insufficient to provide food, shelter and clothing adequate to maintain a family of moderate size in a state of bare physical efficiency. No allowance is made for any expenditure other than that absolutely required for the maintenance of mere physical efficiency. Let us clearly understand what 'merely physical efficiency' means. A family living upon the scale allowed for in this estimate must never spend a penny on railway fare or omnibus. They must never go into the country unless they walk. They must never purchase a halfpenny newspaper or spend a penny to buy a ticket for a popular concert. They must write no letters to absent children. They must never contribute anything to their church or chapel or give any help to a neighbour. They cannot save, nor can they join a sick club or trade union because they cannot pay the necessary subscriptions.This is the part I commend to the notice of the House:Nothing must be bought but that which is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of physical health, and what is bought must be of the plainest and most economical description. Should a child fall ill, it must be attended by the parish doctor; should it die, is must be buried by the parish. Finally, the wage-earner must never be absent from his work for a single day.Here is the table to prove the truth of that:
You could not get that rent in London for a man with three children.
s. d. "Food, two adults at 3s. … … … 6 0 Three children at 2s. 3d. … … … 6 9 Rent … … … 4 0."
I am doubtful if you could get that.
"Clothes—two adults at 6d. and three children at 5d. 2 3 Fuel 1 10."
The total figure is 21s. 8d. When I read these figures, some time ago now, I was very much impressed by them, and during the discussion in this House they have continually recurred to my mind. One of my Constituents the other day sent me a letter and asked me to read it to the House. This is a man living in Poplar and earning 25s. a week, and he gives me his budget. He is a teetotaller and has four children. After spending on absolutely necessary food and clothing and rent there is exactly 1s. 6d. left for every other emergency of his life. I would recall to the mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer the statement he made at the beginning of these discussions, that people were not in societies because they were too poor, and when I hear the right hon. Baronet say, 1488 you must compel people to come in, we who are going to vote against this Bill are doing so in order to register our vote against the idea that Parliament ought to compel people living on this kind of wage to pay money and so stint their physical efficiency. That is the whole of our case against a contributory measure so far as the public health side of this Bill is concerned.
"All else, five persons at 2d. … … 0 10."
The other thing I want to call attention to is this. What is the result of people living on 21s. 8d.? Professor Brodie's figures put it at 19s. It means that large masses of people are not able to supply the necessaries of life. Instead of Parliament voting to take away money from them it ought either to be voting to give them money or, what is very much better, it ought to pass some measure of reform which will enable these men and women to earn living wages. After all, you cannot get away from these absolute facts of the life of the ordinary working classes of this country. You may pass this Bill to-night and you may put it into operation, but I am perfectly certain that when you attempt to collect the money you will have just as big a revolt as our forefathers had when they last levied a poll tax in this country. The people who will be revolting will not be countesses and duchesses and the people you have made fun of in regard to the servant agitation, but it will be these poor people who are robbed and exploited. Then Parliament comes forward and says, "Your physical condition leads on to sickness, only allows you to bring up your children physically inefficient, and tumbles them out into the world to get their living without real physical stamina. Because of the conditions which bring that about we are going to tax you so that we can deal with them in some kind of way afterwards." A more topsy-turvy method of dealing with social reform was never dreamt of. We have had the real reason of it to-night. Two or three times we have been told that we cannot afford it in this country, that we could not raise the money. When the hon. Member (Mr. Snowden) said the money could be raised, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a week or two ago, contradicted him and said it could not, but to-night he has given the whole case away for non-contributions, and apparently a Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer has fallen back on a contributory scheme because the Noble Lord and the late Member for Preston made speeches against old age pensions without any contributions at 1489 all. We think the House ought to pause before it puts on the backs of the victims of our society the responsibility of paying a tax for palliating these conditions. That is all I want to say on the health side of the matter.
I want to say one word about unemployment. I stand here and say deliberately, knowing what I am saying, that, having spent a lifetime in trying to understand the question of unemployment, I declare, without any reservation at all, that the individual workman and the individual employer is no more responsible for unemployment than any individual Member of this House. Unemployment is a disease in our social system. It is a disease which is there because of conditions that neither employer nor employed are able to control. Masters and men alike are engaged in one huge struggle to keep their heads above water; each is trying to get a market, the one for his labour, and the other for his goods. The business of the employer is to press for less expenditure on labour, and every year labour-saving appliances are being introduced. If hon. Members would only sit down and read the information contained in the Library of the House they would see that to talk of insuring against unemployment, even as a palliative measure, is perfectly absurd at this time of the day. Every minute we live some new process is brought into industry, and each time a certain number of men are displaced. The more machinery comes in the more intermittent and casual labour becomes, and you can see, in the ordinary industries carried on in places like London, Leeds, and Bradford, that day after day this problem of the need to turn out goods cheap impels people to scrap one machine after another in order to put in the very latest machinery, and thus get rid of labour in some form or other.
In the making of machinery for the printing trade and for the building trade this is especially apparent. I invite hon. Members of this House to look at the diagrams in the Report of the Poor Law Commission. There they will find a chart showing that when building in this City of London was most prosperous there were more people out of work than there were in the five preceding years when less work was being done. What does that mean? These charts represent all kinds of appliances for building which have been brought in—ferro-concrete and the system of building with girders. We all remember the Savoy Hotel going up almost in a 1490 night. There is a big building opposite the progress of which anyone can see. Remember you are doing more building and getting more work done with fewer men, and side by side with that the men who are employed are employed for a shorter period than ever before. That leaves out of account altogether the men who are engaged in casual labour.
Next I want to say a word with regard to the benefits. Mr. Seebohm Rowntree, in his book, points out that the paltry pittance of 7s. is supposed to keep a man and his wife and children in a state of physical efficiency! I do not understand men who have three or four square meals a day thinking that a man can keep his family in a state of physical efficiency on 7s. a week, and to tell him that it is some great boon you are offering him, to tell him you are offering him something that is going to bring fruit to his parched lips, is really absurd. The Chancellor of the Exchequer allows his imagination to run away with him, or he would never make the kind of speech he does. He knows well that neither he nor I could possibly exist on the 7s. a week, to say nothing of having a wife or children to maintain into the bargain. It is all very well for him to stand at that box and say, "We have done our best; we know it is a temporary measure, and we are going in three years' time to overhaul the whole business." Who knows what will happen in three years' time? There is such a thing as the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. The Unemployed Workmen's Act was only for a term of three years, but it has been carried on for six or seven years, and, as to this business of the Post Office contributor, once you get him on the Statute Book he will very likely stop there.
I ask my colleagues to remember that this Bill for the first time is going to give a Government Department the right of determining what is a valid reason for a man to leave his employment. May a man throw up his work if he thinks he is being employed for a less sum than his labour is worth? Who is to decide that? It is to be decided by some umpire. I believe this Bill fails absolutely to grapple with the cause. I believe it does not touch any root cause at all, either in sickness or unemployment. So far as sickness is concerned it arises because people are not paid proper wages; because they are not allowed to earn wages at all. I believe unemployment is caused by, and is inherent in the social system of which we are part. It cannot be got rid of until you get rid 1491 of the profit system. I believe, further, that this Bill you have now before you will simply raise hopes in the minds of the workers, and put all their minds on insurance instead of on prevention, and I believe, further, that this House, instead of having sat down to consider the problem from the point of view of prevention, has allowed itself merely to be chloroformed into this idea of insurance. Someone said, "There is more self-respect in paying something." What rubbish all that is! We have outlived that long ago. Think of the advantages everybody gets from education without paying for it. Does one's independence suffer because he pays nothing out of his pocket for education? Is his moral fibre injured? I have seen children of well-to-do people going to the Blue Coat School, which was originally established for the benefit of very poor children. I have seen them in their carriages and motor cars in Rotten Row, and I have not noticed that their self-respect appears to be injured because they are having a free education. And when I heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer preaching these homilies about working men getting something for nothing it struck me that working people do not get something for nothing, because they themselves produce everything that is worth having. I am going into the Lobby quite cheerfully against this Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer once said, "Let us dare to do right." The few of us who are going into the Lobby are doing so because you are penalising the very poor; you are squeezing out of these men, who are already half starved, part of their very subsistence. You are taking money from them which should be spent on food for themselves and their children, and this House of Commons, in the year 1911, instead of facing in a fair and square fashion the system that robs these men of the money which they earn, instead of facing the problem boldly, are putting forward this wretched, miserable scheme of insurance which will leave them in a worse position than before.
As a new Member I ask the indulgence of the House for my many shortcomings. I rise to intervene in this important Debate because the Bill affects my Constituency very deeply indeed, and also in fulfilment of a pledge I gave at the election that, if I were returned to this House, I would endeavour to secure, so far as possible, full discussion of the Insurance 1492 Bill. I must confess that I am puzzled beyond measure to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer say that this Amendment, which was moved by the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Forster) was a "wrecking" Amendment. If this were a wrecking Amendment I would not vote for it under any circumstances, because I came here not to wreck the Bill, but to make it the best Bill I could. So I told my Constituents, and so they wished, and I believe that most of the constituencies in this kingdom wish the same. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that this Amendment was equivalent to the Bill being read this day six months, which means that it is never to come up again. How does the Chancellor of the Exchequer or this House reconcile that with the words of the Amendment itself? It says,steps shall be taken to enable further consideration of Part I. to be resumed next Session.I am not acquainted with the forms of the House, but I say that it means what it says. Naturally coming here for the first time, I thought it meant what it said. I am quite sure that my party, like the right hon. Gentleman who moved it, have no intention of wrecking the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had the highest testimonies from the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon as to his desire for social reform, and, as to his concern for the welfare of this Bill. How, then could my right hon. Friend bring forward a wrecking Amendment? If this is a wrecking Amendment I cannot follow my party and I cannot vote for it.
Another thing which puzzled me very much was the reason why the Chancellor of the Exchequer should take the trouble to say that this Bill would be destroyed because it would go over for twelve months. He said it would have a very deleterious effect upon the insurance companies to have the Bill hung up for eighteen months. Why he should make a jump from twelve to eighteen months I do not know, but that is what he said. That is not the real reason why the Chancellor of the Exchequer objects to the Bill being hung up for twelve months. Why does he not give the real reason, which everybody knows is that Home Rule must be introduced next February? Everybody knows that is the real reason. We know that the right hon. Gentleman is not putting forward the real reason, but some other reason. For my part, I look upon his utterances with the greatest suspicion. 1493 If the Chancellor of the Exchequer wished to have the Bill further considered, and to remove some of the blots upon it, the party of which I happen to be a humble Member would assist him in every way, and if the Leader of the Irish party should call up his forces to vote against the Government he would be powerless in the matter. The Bill could be carried over to next February and could be properly considered, and might be made a very good Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would have the assistance of the Unionist party without doubt in that matter, and it would be an excellent thing for the Government, because it would postpone the difficulties that we have heard they are in with that hon. Gentleman; it would give them time to settle those differences, and, moreover, it would show the Leader of the Irish party that he was not going to have all his own way with the Government.
There is another thing I was puzzled about, and that was why the Chancellor of the Exchequer should deliberately get up and hurl personalities across the floor simply for the purpose of stirring up as much bad feeling as possible in this House. He was quite mistaken in the two instances he gave. He was wrong from first to last when he accused this party of any desire to wreck this Bill. I do not believe any such feeling exists at all. The right hon. Gentleman persevered in them, and then there was a scene which, as a new Member, I did not like to see at all. It turned out afterwards that the circular which was scattered broadcast at the election in Hitchin was quite capable of explanation and contained no misrepresentation at all. The right hon. Gentleman has got up in this House, as a preliminary to getting it up in the country, an agitation against the party of which I happen to be a Member for the purpose of prejudicing them at the next general election. So far as I have been in the constituencies lately, I find there is a lying spirit abroad. I have heard echoes of its voice even in this House. It is said that the Tory party go down to the country and try to wreck the Bill, but that they come here and say that they are in favour of it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has not attacked me for anything I have said.
My position on the Bill is this. I believe the object of the Bill is excellent, but that the burden of the Bill is very great; but I accept the burden of the Bill because I believe that on the whole it will be beneficial to the people of this country. What I put before the electors of Oldham was 1494 this. I object to a Bill which affects the daily lives of fifteen millions of people, and more or less the pockets of the rest of the country, being rushed through the House of Commons without proper consideration being given to the interests of the workmen and to the interests of the industries by which they live, and I promised my Constituents that if I were returned to this House I would do my best to see that those interests were properly considered. I am very unwilling to repeat all the arguments I have listened to in this House in Committee, on Report and now, with regard to the two great blots upon the Bill. Early in the election at Oldham I discovered these two blots, and I pointed them out to my Constituents. They certainly sent a message to this House that they thought tooth of them were grossly unjust and cruel, and ought to be removed from the Bill. The two blots are these. First of all, there is the Post Office contributor. There are several millions of them. We know that he pays his 4d. and gets no real insurance at all. Worse than that, he is a marked man, because the employer will cease to employ him, especially in view of one of the Clauses of the Bill which provides that if an employer has excessive sickness upon his premises he will be penalised. It is quite clear that compelling a man to be a Post Office contributor will be to some extent a sentence of unemployment upon him. I heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think, in introducing this Bill, say the Post Office contributors to whom not long since he referred in a pitying manner as those poor remnants, would not be a great difficulty because they would die out. That, I venture to think, is a very ruthless application of the cruel law of nature of the survival of the fittest in the struggle for existence. The other Clause is that which deals with the man who receives less than a living wage. I sympathise with what the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) has said. I think it is little less than wicked to attempt to take 4d. out of the pocket of the man who has not already got a living wage. To attempt to alleviate the miseries of the poor out of money taken from the pockets of the poor is a futile policy, and one of the meanest policies of which it is possible to imagine a responsible statesman could be guilty. Those are the two blots upon the Bill, but they are not the worst. The effect on the industries of this country is much more serious than the effect which will ensue from the Post Office 1495 contributors' Clause and the Clause relating to those who have not a living wage.
There will, when this Bill passes, be a tax on everything, and the cost of production will, of course, be greater in every case. Everything must be dearer. I think 70 per cent. of the cost of getting coal, to take an instance, is labour, and that, of course, must increase very considerably the price of coal. The price of food must also be increased. The price of every article used by every manufacturer must be increased. It is a cumulative tax, a snowball tax. Take, for instance, the cotton trade. There is the spinning of the yarn, the weaving of the yarn into cloth, the cloth has to be bleached, it has to be dyed, and then it has to be printed. All these various processes will each in turn cost more, and the result will be that the finished article will cost very much more than the mere 3d. per man in respect of the original yarn from which it is spun. I am told on the authority of the Employers' Federation of Master Cotton Spinners that the burden upon the cotton trade alone will be £475,000 a year in respect of the 3d. paid for the men. That is not all. The bricks that build the mills, the shafting that turns the machinery, and the machinery which turns the spindle, the coal and the oil, everything down to the smallest article used will be increased in price. That is an amount, which is almost incalculable. When one considers that cheapness is the life and soul of the cotton trade, any additional tax must have a very deleterious effect upon it. Eighty per cent. of the trade is exported to India and Japan, and sold to people so poor that they cannot afford to pay more than they are paying at the present time for the goods. It therefore follows, if you raise the price of the cotton goods to those people they will not buy the goods, and the operatives in the cotton trade will be thrown out of employment. Their only alternative is not to raise the price of the goods, but to take the money off the wages of the operatives. I am taunted by hon. Members who sit on the other side of the House with being a Member of a party which puts Tariff Reform in the forefront of its programme. Let me call in aid the words of Sir Charles Macara, the leading Free Trader in Lancashire and the great authority on the cotton trade, who says in a letter I hold in my hand:—No doubt the effect of the tax that would be put upon the industry under this Bill would be far worse than anything Tariff Reformers ever proposed or are ever likely to propose.1496 Sir Charles Macara has authority for that, because he spent some years of his life opposing Tariff Reform, principally on the ground that no matter how little you increase the cost of production in the cotton trade, it must have a very serious effect indeed upon that industry. Sir Charles Macara has told us that in July last he wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, putting before him his views regarding the effect the Bill would have upon the staple industries of the country, and he urged him not to hurry on with the Bill, but to give it mature consideration in all its bearings. He says:—My communications were simply acknowledged by his secretary, but no attempt was made to meet any of my arguments.His arguments were these:—During the past eight years circumstances have compelled me to make a personal study of the cotton industry of the world, and I know how slender is the margin that enables us to hold this great trade. An industry, the wages in which represent roughly 50 per cent. of the cost of production is, I fear, going to be unduly handicapped in comparison with other industries.Then he goes on to say:—This great trade represents about one-third of our total exports of manufactures, and I believe, instead of this Bill ameliorating the condition of the worker, there will be widespread unemployment by our being unable to compete successfully in the world's market.That is the view of a great Free Trader and of a man thoroughly acquainted with the cotton trade, and that is a view I think it right to bring to the attention of the House. The same applies to many other great industries in this country, perhaps in a lesser degree to some and in a greater degree to others. It was with something approaching dismay that I read—indeed, I think I had heard it in the House—in the Parliamentary Debates of December 4th, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with regard to the cotton trade, said:—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 the imports from Germany into this country are very small. So much for the home trade. We have the largest export trade in the world. I am not sure—I am quoting here from memory—whether our exports are not as great as all the other countries in the world put together, and our only competitor is Germany."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th"December, 1911, col 1133.]That revealed an abyssmal ignorance of one of the great industries of this country which completely horrified me. I think it is little less than a misfortune that we have a Chancellor of the Exchequer who brings in a Bill which affects every industry in this country, and who knows absolutely nothing about any of them. That is a point on which I feel very strongly. He does not seem to know that our 1497 greatest competitors in the cotton trade are Japan and India, and he brings in this Bill, which must affect that industry. Sir Charles Macara called attention to this last July, and I think he is right in this case. Though generally he is a man in whom I have no confidence whatever, I could not have believed that a man in the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would ever embark on a Bill of this description without consulting the leaders of the great industries of the country as to the effect it would have on them. As a tax on employers, or, as I would rather put it, as a tax on industry, I think it will be very injurious to the industries of this country, and in the end to the working man himself. The position is this. You have the operative on the one hand, who is the producer, and at the other end of the scale you have the consumer, who buys the goods and pays the price. He is the real employer. The employer is the middleman who gives his enterprise and capital and brains to the concern, and he must have a reasonable share of profit. In the cotton trade for the last six years 5 per cent. is all the employer has been able to get, and if that, amount is reduced it would not be worth while for any fresh enterprise to be entered upon. That is quite clear.
I have not much knowledge of the other great industries of this country. I have not studied them. I say, however, that it was the duty of the Government to study the effect on the workers and on the industries before this great Bill was launched on the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer admits that this Bill is imperfect, and the Leader of the Labour party admits that it has not been thoroughly discussed. It might be improved as regards the Post Office contributor and the man who is not getting a living wage. These are the two great blots on the Bill, and I cannot understand why the Chancellor of the Exchequer perseveres in his determination to pass it through the House. I think it is a perfectly reasonable and fair offer to say, "We will assist you in every way to pass the Bill next Session in a month or two, if you will allow time for the purpose, if possible, of removing these great blots." The Government will not accept that offer. They charge us with wishing to wreck the Bill. So far as I am concerned I wish to do nothing of the kind. I shall have to consider whether I can vote for this Amendment. I am in favour of the first part of the Bill on account of the way in which it puts friendly societies on a 1498 substantial footing. I am in favour of unemployment insurance. Unemployment insurance was recommended by the Majority Report of the Commission. Like Old Age Pensions, the Chancellor of the Exchequer steals that from our party. I confess I cannot vote against the Bill because he brings it in. I approve of the two most important parts, and although the Bill contains the blots to which I have referred, I shall have to vote for the Bill after having done all I can to try to get it amended, I must say I feel in a very humiliating position here. I find myself in a House where private Members have no rights or privileges and no power whatever. The whole power of the Constitution now seems to be in the grasp of the Cabinet. They have usurped the power of the Sovereign, the power of the House of Lords, and the power of the representatives of the people in this House. I am humiliated and feel degraded to be in such a position, but I regard first of all the welfare of the people of the country, and I am going to vote for the Bill, hoping that in a very short time another party will be in office and power who will be able to do justice to these poor people.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I am sure the House has enjoyed the speech of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Denniss). Now he feels himself in the position of having to vote for a Bill he has spoken against. Except for one or two phrases at the conclusion of his speech, he said nothing good about it. I wonder he does not take courage and abstain from voting altogether. There were one or two statements in the speech which are worth mentioning. He spoke of the great solicitude of Members on his side of the House who agree with the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) to take nothing out of the pocket of the person with small wages. We are glad to hear that, but I must say, knowing the extent of London and the exorbitant rents which are frequently charged for miserable accommodation, it is remarkable to me that this has never been discovered and brought to the attention of the House before by hon. Gentlemen opposite. There are property owners who charge very exorbitant rents, and the hon. Member has shown great solicitude for the poor people who have to pay these rents.
Who does? [HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] He has made a distinct charge, and does not answer my question.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The hon. Gentleman knows the conditions of land ownership in this country without my going into it any further. After all, he says he would be glad to support the Amendment if it did not mean wrecking the Bill. Let us look at what the Amendment says. The first objection stated in the Amendment is that the money is not used to the best advantage. The Amendment, therefore, supposes that we are to discuss a Bill of this magnitude, and that the House is to devise a scheme by which the money can be used to the best advantage. How could that be embodied in any Bill? Orkney and Shetland, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, and the East End of London have different requirements, and you cannot put these things in a Bill at all. You can only set up machinery. You do not use the money except through the machinery whereby societies and local health committees have power to use it to the best advantage, according to the needs of the districts. So far as that objection goes it would prohibit the carrying through the House of any large measure dealing with large sums of money at any time. The next point is we should not pursue this Bill now, but that draft regulations should be issued, and that then we shall resume the consideration of it next year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer dealt with this point, but there is one further aspect of it which we should not overlook. If we look at the Bill we shall see that one Clause says that the regulations shall provide, and another refers to the regulations made by the Insurance Commissioners, and so on. What do the regulations do? They carry out the provisions of the Bill. If we are to have the Bill back again next year, and at the end of six months' deliberation upon it it is an entirely different Bill, what is the use of the regulations? They would not be worth the paper they are written on.
The most material objection in the Amendment is that the Bill has not been fully explained to the country. I had a notion that we in this country had representative Government. It has been asked by an hon. Member below who could explain for example the Coal Mines Bill to the people of this country, and who could explain to them the Factory Act in all its details? To explain a complex Bill of this kind is impossible. The only way that the country can come to an understanding of it is in its actual application. We all recognise the desirability of explaining it as far as possible, but who is to explain 1500 the Bill? Is it to be explained for example by the halfpenny papers that have explained the servant tax? Is that the way the Bill is to be explained between now and the time when its consideration is resumed next year? Or is it to be explained according to the methods of the schoolmaster who invited his servants to oppose the Bill by telling them what they will have to pay, and saying nothing of the benefits? I have another method here which has been adopted in my own Constituency by the representative of the Unionist party there. "Mr. Lloyd George, in his insurance scheme, would make provision for fifteen millions of the working classes of this country when they were in ill-health, and he would make provision, too, for 2,500,000 of the unemployed."—This is the explanation of the Bill—"If there were 2,500,000 unemployed to-day in England it was a disgrace to the Government which ruled the country. All this money for the unemployed and the sick was being got out of 9d. Mr. Lloyd George proposed to give every unemployed man 10s. a week, and as, according to his own estimate, there were 2,500,000 unemployed in the country it could not be done for less than £65,000,000 per annum." That is the explanation given by the Unionist candidate for the constituency of Hoxton. Here we have the Bill explained to a constituency on the assumption that the 2,500,000 persons are not only going to be unemployed occasionally, but are going to be unemployed the whole of the twelve months, and during the whole of that time are not going to receive the money stated in the Bill but 10s. a week. I can understand that if the Bill was to be explained up and down the country on these lines for another six months the community would certainly be convinced that it is an entirely impracticable measure.
The Bill, we all recognise, does require a great amount of explanation, and I believe that my own profession has been responsible for a great deal of the criticism of the Bill. They lay down certain points as to which in the main I quite agree with them, but when we come to examine these points and examine the Bill as amended we see that some of them are already in it. For example, we have put the whole of the administration of the medical benefit in the hands of the health committees. In my belief this is the first step in obtaining a unified health service in this country. Then, again, we have provided in the Bill that every insured person shall have free 1501 choice of medical attendant, and also for representation on the advisory committees, the health committees, the Insurance Commission, and so on. It is also provided that the method of remuneration according to Clause 16 shall be according to the needs and customs of the locality, and we have provided in the Bill, not, it is true, precisely the way demanded, but still we have provided the means by which those who are private patients can still continue on that basis. The British Medical Association held a meeting the other day and came to a resolution which they have asked me to mention to this House. It was expressing their feeling that their six requirements were as essential as ever, and that they felt it was essential that they should be obtained in order to work a good health service. But, as a matter of fact, four of these are in the Bill now, and I am quite sure that the machinery which the Bill has provided will enable the others to be obtained according to the customs and needs of the particular locality.
But there was another statement I was asked to make, and I do so with pleasure. We have heard a great deal of what is called a doctors' strike, and I think that perhaps a great deal of opprobrium has been cast upon them in consequence. But there is a misunderstanding here. I am quite sure, whatever may be the conditions arising under this Bill, in connection with any health committee, the medical profession is solidly determined that no sick person shall go without attendance. They will not refuse in any circumstances to attend sick persons; but they reserve for themselves the right to work according to conditions of State employment only when they feel them to be good; but, as I have already pointed out, this Bill does provide machinery whereby these things can be obtained, and when the noise of the conflict and the heat which prevails at the present time subside, on careful consideration of the Bill when it comes to appear in the form of regulations they will fully understand that the measure is much better than it is often represented at the present time. I believe myself that this Bill provides machinery whereby we can set up the beginnings of a great health service in this country. They have said, also, and I agree with them, that the estimate provided for the cost is insufficient. At the present time minor operations, hospital treatment, and so on, are frankly not dealt with in the Bill. The machinery provided in the amended Bill 1502 makes it possible, without any alteration whatever, except to the grants from the Treasury, to graft on to this Bill the machinery necessary for dealing with institutional treatment in every form.
But I think that not one of us in this House would be willing to wait until we had a perfect measure. As one who has supported this Bill, I have not been sparing in criticism of it, but from the very beginning I felt that to lose the measure would be a catastrophe to the health of this country. What does it do? It provides, for the first time, something which will combine fifteen millions of the working classes in one common bond to promote one another's good health. It also provides a unit in the form of a health committee, whereby this common interest can be focussed and made useful. I know very well—and it is another reason why I like the Bill—that one of the inevitable results of this measure will be that we shall have to reform our present health administration from the very begining. We shall have to take out that which belongs in matters of health to the Home Office and the Board of Education, the Insurance Commission, and the health services of the Local Government Board, and combine them in one ministry devoted to the preservation of the health of the people. Another promise of good is the grant that the Chancellor of the Exchequer intends to make for the treatment of school children, of which they are so much in need. I have three cases in my own Constituency, of which I would like to mention the details, and then I wonder if the Member for Oldham will be willing to wait, because we know what the result of waiting means. We know well enough, as Members of the House of Commons, that if this Amendment is carried the Bill is dead. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] It is no good pretending that it is not. I say that is the inevitable consequence if the Amendment is carried. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] It is not necessary to explain why. All who are acquainted with Parliamentary procedure know why, well enough.
The school children will be dealt with partly through the sanatorium benefit, and I am only too glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has promised to assist the local education authorities. It is high time that something of the sort was done. The hon. Member for Huddersfield has advocated this for a long time. Duties have been put on local education authorities long enough, and they have not been 1503 helped to carry them out. In regard to sanatorium benefit, I am afraid the people will have to wait in any case. It will take some time before the Act comes into operation, and these people that I shall mention will be dead. But they are only types of a great many other cases. The first case is that of a father who died from phthisis in June last year. The mother's age is thirty-seven, and she earns 7s. a week. There are three children, John, Alfred, and James, aged nine, seven, and six. John has tuberculosis. George, Walter, and Martha, are three younger children, and one is in Queen's Square Hospital with a diseased hip. The family live in one room and pay 4s. a week rent. There are many fathers, thousands of fathers, to-day who suffer from phthisis. The father of this family was a cabinet maker, and earned good wages. If we are unable to set up at the earliest possible moment this sanatorium benefit we shall be sacrificing thousands of children, and bringing them to the same condition as those to whom I have referred. In the next case the father is still alive; he is aged fifty, and is a French polisher. He has phthisis, and he has not been able to do any work since last October. The mother is earning 2s. 6d. a week in office cleaning, Harriet earns 4s. a week, Grace, aged fifteen, is out of work, William is aged ten, Edith is aged seven, and John is aged four. One has got phthisis, and another has just been sent to a hospital. In the third case, the father is still living and is just at the beginning of phthisis. The family consists of the father, mother, and seven children, and one of the children is delicate and recommended to a home in the country.
Notwithstanding that there is difficulty in the Bill, notwithstanding that it will need amendment, notwithstanding that it does not do all that we would like for the deposit contributor, notwithstanding that we should only he too glad if people with 15s. a week had not to pay 4d.—notwithstanding all these drawbacks in the Bill, we can amend those things, and we want to get the measure on to the Statute Book. When that is achieved, we can modify it to suit the requirements of individual cases afterwards. These people who suffer from tuberculosis and who are crowded into our slums, and children attending our schools, are the people who will have to wait if we do not pass this Bill. We have waited so long that I, for one, think that the responsibility, after 1504 all their professions in the country, will attach to Members in this House who wish to defeat this measure at this late stage, and I sincerely hope that the electors will, as I believe they will, attach that responsibility in the right quarters. It would be discreditable to the House of Commons, at this stage, if they declined to allow this Bill to find its way on to the Statute Book, yet that would be the inevitable result if the Amendment were carried to-night.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The main difference between the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down and those who occupy these benches is that he is in such a hurry that he thinks it is in the interests of those whom we all desire to serve to have a bad Bill now rather than wait a little longer and have a good Bill. He spoke also of the serious responsibility which rests upon us. We recognise it, and we are not in the least afraid of it. We are technically discussing the Third Reading of this Bill, but in reality, owing to the fact that the actuary's report was only in our hands one day before the Second Reading, and owing to the additional fact that the whole Bill has been fundamentally altered we are, in reality, discussing the Second Reading stage as well. And the Government have generously given for these two discussions, one Parliamentary day with half an hour taken off, with the aid of the guillotine being thrown in. During this whole Autumn Session, driven forward by the breathless benevolence, if I may so call it, of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the House of Commons has presented a spectacle which has never been seen before and which, I trust, for the credit of the House, will never be seen again. For two months the Government have been, not like the ambulance waggon, to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is so fond of comparing them, but like a motor-car careering downhill with broken brakes. The right hon. Gentleman, to do him justice—I am sorry he is not here—has stuck to the wheel like a man, dodging obstacle after obstacle in his downward course, but the crash is coming now, and in my belief that motor-car will never go smoothly in this world again. But the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer made many times in the course of his speech an appeal to us on the ground that we had urged him to adopt a contributory scheme, and that therefore, on that ground, apart from any other, we were bound to do whatever he told us in 1505 carrying forward such a scheme. I wondered what he meant by his statement that we had pressed upon him a contributory scheme. I can think of no occasion on which we pressed a contributory scheme upon him except on the occasion of old age pensions, and how was it received? Our proposal was refused, and the Prime Minister, on that occasion, used these words, which are worth repeating now:—The German system could not be transplanted here for one simple and sufficient reason, that it is founded on the two pillars of imposition and compulsion.That is the way in which they met us when we did urge them to adopt a contributory scheme. I wish at the outset to deal with the general grounds on which we have put down the Amendment which was moved by my hon. Friend (Mr. Forster) in a speech which well deserved the praise for moderation which was given it by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What is that ground? I have seen, not with surprise, in all the Radical papers that to propose this Amendment was equivalent to moving the rejection of the Bill. The ground on which that statement was made was this: That when you, Sir, come to put the Question, you will put it in this form,
"That the word 'now' stand part"—and those papers said that that is equivalent to the rejection of the Bill. I was not surprised at them, but I was surprised to hear it repeated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What does it mean? It means this, that on every Question which is put from the Chair every one of us has got to say "Yes" or "No," and nothing else, and the whole of that argument would fall to the ground if you could put the question in this form,The Question is 'That this Amendment be made.'Does the right hon. Gentleman actually suggest that because of a technical reason, and for that reason only, we are driven into the position whether we like it or not, that we must, without any explanation, say "Yes" or "No" to the Question which you put from the Chair. Nobody ought to realise how silly and how childish that is better than those who are Members of this House. We all know that the favourite amusement of the clever heckler is to put to us candidates questions on which it is impossible to say "Yes" or "No," and then to accuse of hedging if we begin to explain our position. Are we to be reduced to that in the House of Commons? On this question we decline to 1506 say either "Yes" or "No." If we say "No," it implies that we are opposed to the principle and object of the Bill. We shall not say "No." If we say "Yes," it implies that we approve of the Bill as it is presented to this House now. We shall not say "Yes." We shall vote for our Amendment, and I venture to say that that Amendment, if it could be decided upon apart from party issues, would receive an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons, and if proof is wanted for that, I ask none better than the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald). And, by the way, in spite of his Socialistic views, which seem absurd to me, he cannot get rid of his Scotch blood, and his sense of logic made him at once see that our Amendment was not only reasonable and logical, but he answered before he had made it the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The whole speech of the hon. Member was in favour of our Amendment. It is quite true he had to get out of it, and at the end he did get out of it, but not nearly so skilfully as he generally manages to do.
Whatever may be the opinion of the House of Commons, I am perfectly certain of this, that three-fourths, and I believe nine-tenths, of the people of this country take our view to-day. They are not hostile to the proposals of the Bill, neither are we; but they are convinced that it has not been either properly considered by this House or properly understood in the country, and that further time should be given for both purposes. That is our Amendment, and when we have voted for it, so far as I am concerned, I shall take no further part in any further Amendment. I shall leave to the Government the responsibility, and it is a very big responsibility, of forcing an immense scheme like this upon the country, when there is not a man in this House who does not know that it has not been properly considered and is not a measure which, in its present form, can be otherwise than disadvantageous to the people of this country. I shall deal more specifically with our Amendment. It lays down three propositions. The first as that the contributions are not used in the best way. I think that there are very few people in the House who do not agree with that proposition. I am going to give my reasons. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in introducing the Budget, and even in recent speeches, has shown that his whole Bill is based upon a false assumption. He assumed 1507 that, I think, something like a third of those who are to be brought into this scheme enjoy now medical and sick pay benefits. In making that assumption he took only the friendly societies, and he ignored altogether that immense class which gets those benefits directly or indirectly from their employers, and he ignored that very large class also which gets them now from their small clubs of one kind or another. If he had been accurately informed of the facts at the first I cannot believe for a moment that the Bill would have taken the shape in which it is now presented to the House.
The right hon. Gentleman challenged my hon. Friend for not producing specific instances of the Bill not giving the best benefit. I am not afraid to give an instance. I will take what he describes as the meanest agitation ever seen. I think the right hon. Gentleman in his speech to-day, and in all his speeches, exaggerates the power of the Tress to make agitations. I say this with great deference, because there is no one in this House or out of it who should be a better judge of that than the right hon. Gentleman. But my impression is that while the Press can fan a flame, it cannot produce an agitation like that to which reference has been made unless there is some fire behind it. I think it is simply absurd to suggest that the "10,000 Peeresses," who were crowding in Albert Hall, were drawn there simply by an agitation in the Press. There is more in it than that. If hon. Members doubt it I recommend them to do what I did myself when this agitation first came to the front. I asked my own domestics what they thought of it. I do not think it is a bad plan. I will tell you what hon. Members who try that plan will find. They will find that the domestics know all about the Bill, that they have not been misled either by the Government or by the Press, that they know exactly what it means to them, and that they do not like it. In proof of the extent of the misrepresentations on the part of the Government you could not have a better instance than the letter signed by a number of ladies which appears in "The Times" to-day. That letter actually suggests that under this Bill domestic servants will in future be taken care of in their own houses by their employers, and that they will still receive the 7s. 6d. benefit while in those houses. Does anyone think that that is likely when the employer has to pay every week for that purpose? [HON. 1508 MEMBERS: "Yes."] Then take the other side of the dilemma. If they do, is it not perfectly obvious that the servants were getting that kind of benefit before? I quite admit that the Clause introduced hastily into the Bill has removed that objection to a considerable extent by making sick pay optional. But for the life of me I cannot understand why the Government did not make the medical benefit optional also. It cannot be a question of principle. That is obvious, because they have abandoned it at the demand of hon. Members from Ireland. If it were made optional it would, I believe, be an immense advantage, and it would do something to remove the grievances which still exist on the part of the doctors. I cannot imagine why the Government have not done it. I have only one thing more to say about this agitation. It teaches us another lesson. But for this agitation this grievance would have passed almost unnoticed, and we have no reason whatever to doubt that there are hundreds of cases of the same kind which only require to be brought to the notice of the people of the country to arouse the same hostility.
I now come to the second proposition in our Amendment, namely, that this Bill as it stands is unequal in its operation. Is there any Member of the House who doubts that? I am sure there cannot be. The Bill, as it stands, is a complete negation, not only of the title of the Bill, but of all the speeches the right hon. Gentleman has made about the Bill. It is described as a National Insurance Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman has always spoken as if its effect was to treat the workers as one body, to put them in one lot in such a way that the strong would help the weak. The Bill does nothing of the kind. From beginning to end it is framed on the principle of the strong joining the strong and the weak being compelled to herd with the weak. That is true even in regard to the approved societies. I have taken the trouble to examine the accounts of two friendly societies which have often been mentioned in these Debates. I will not mention their names, because that might be an advertisement for one of them. But it is certain—I will give the names to the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he doubts it—that one of these societies will be able to give very much bigger benefits than the other. The result, of course, will be that it will become still more exclusive. The best men in the other societies, the best lives, will 1509 be tempted by the irresistible advantage of pounds, shillings, and pence to leave the societies to which they belong and go to the society from which they will get the better benefits. There is no doubt about it. Even within the approved societies the temptation will be immense for the best lives to be in one category and the second, third, fourth, and fifth to be in another category by themselves.
I hardly venture to mention the trade unions, because I remember the Chancellor of the Exchequer was very sarcastic about my right hon. Friend who was leading the Opposition, because he took an interest in these bodies. I venture, with all humility, to say that I also am interested in them. Is there any member of a trade union who doubts that, judging by the pounds, shillings, and pence interest, it will be to the advantage of members of trade unions to leave their societies, for they cannot give the same benefits, and join societies which will give higher benefits? It must be so. I do not mean to say that trade unionists may not be actuated by other motives. I am the first to acknowledge that the working-class have always shown a readiness to sacrifice themselves for the interests of their class as a whole. I admit that and I do not say that actuated by these unselfish motives they may not still continue to be members of trade unions. But if they do, it will be against their interests, and the temptation will be very great for the best lives to leave the trade unions and join societies where they will get better benefits. If that is true, even within the limits of approved societies, what is it when you come down to the wretched outcasts who are deposit contributors? We have been accused a great deal this afternoon of a change of front, more or less, on this Bill. I am not going to say anything stronger on this subject than I said on the Second Reading. I pointed out, as every Member of the House recognised, that the condition of these deposit contributors is an utterly unjustifiable one. The right hon. Gentleman, I remember, interrupted me while I was speaking, and asked me what we would propose. I said that it was not my business to propose, but that if I were on that bench I would be glad to do so. As a matter of fact, as the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Worthington-Evans) pointed out this afternoon, he did make a proposal which he believed would do away with this class. He brought it to the notice of myself and others on this 1510 bench before he proposed it, and I thought that it would be an immense improvement on the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. It is quite likely—I do not deny it—that when subjected to criticism it might be found not to be workable. I quite admit that, but I do not think so. We have never had an opportunity of discussing it. Why? Because when my right hon. Friend proposed, the right hon. Gentleman, who had been so lavish in his invitations to us to assist him, rose to a point of Order and prevented the matter being discussed. The intolerable position of these people is admitted by the Government. They have made their conditions under the Bill only last for three years. They admit the evil. But it is something more than that. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester said it can be remedied by Amendment afterwards. He is entirely wrong. The only way that this class can be relieved is by a contribution from the State; for once you have established a vested interest in these approved societies it is utterly impossible that this House can ever get them to agree to give part of their funds to help those who need it. What does that mean?
It means that the Government are deliberately imposing in advance a new and a great liability upon the State and imposing it when there was no necessity to do so if they had taken a statesmanlike method of dealing with the problem. I say that that in itself is a sufficient justification for our Amendment. This House has no right to pass a scheme for national insurance which has admittedly this defect: that it gives more to those who need it least, and it gives less to those who need it more. I take the third of the main grounds on which we say that this Bill shall be considered further: that is the ground that it is not a properly thought-out measure. On that point any of us could speak all night. I am only going to illustrate it by three considerations. The first is the financial aspect of this question. I do not think the House in the least realises what this Bill means from the financial side. The right hon. Gentleman always states the matter in connection with old age pensions. When these two schemes are in full operation the amount of money which will be disposed of in this way will be—I have not made a calculation of what then will be the amount of the National Debt—I think two or three times the annual charge on our National Debt. I am sure that it will amount to a larger sum of money than the whole of the 1511 revenue of any country in the world except the first six or seven great countries.
I speak of the whole of the money dealt with. It is a prodigious sum, and surely worth while spending a little time on to be assured that it is dealt with in the best manner. There is something else to be said. The right hon. Gentleman has always spoken of the charge of those two burdens on the State as something like £18,000,000. It is nothing like that, and he knows it. Take old age pensions alone. They began under the present Prime Minister at £6,000,000. That amount has now doubled. [An HON. MEMBER: "More than doubled."] More than doubled, but that is only the beginning. Thirty years hence that charge will be more than double what it is now. That is not an estimate. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh!"] Hon. Members below the Gangway misunderstand my argument. I do not say the money is not well spent. All I say is that we should realise what the amount of it is. This is not an estimate. It does not depend upon the growth of the population. Our population thirty years hence may be precisely the same as to-day, yet the charge for old age pensions will be doubled. [An HON. MEMBER: "How?"] I think that ought to be pretty obvious. It is obvious to those who have followed the subject. It depends upon the number of the people born at the time which will bring them under the Pensions Act, and it depends upon the mortality rate. The number of people born forty years ago who will become old age pensioners thirty years hence, coupled with the steady decrease in the rate of mortality, means that there will be double the charge whatever happens.
The Old Age Pensions Act is a fact. I do not suggest that any change should be made about it. The country has got to face that burden. But surely, as men of common sense, anyone responsible for this new scheme would say, inasmuch as the old age pensions is rolling up a debt for posterity, it is our duty in this scheme to see that we pay our full share to-day; and if there is any shifting of the scale it should be in favour of coming generations and against ourselves. Is that not common sense? That is naturally what would have been done if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given his honest 2d. a week from the beginning in the same way as the employers and employed have given theirs. He does not do it. I can conceive no earthly reason why, except that by his 1512 present method, he is able to say that the State is giving 2d. when it is giving nothing of the kind. Had this Bill been introduced by any Minister except the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had thought it his duty to do so—and we have all thought it was the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to look after the stability of the national finances—whatever else would have been done this Bill would not have been financed in the way it has been financed. In private business the method which the right hon. Gentleman has adopted is everywhere recognised as the most rotten method that anyone can conceive. It is the method adopted by directors of companies who pay big dividends without looking at the liabilities which they know are confronting them. It is the method which brings such companies into the Bankruptcy Court, and very often brings the directors to the prison cell.
I have something else to say on the financial side. There is no man in this House, not excepting the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who knows in the least what this burden will be when this scheme is in full operation—nobody! The actuaries have presented their report. I carefully studied it this morning. It goes up to the year 1932, but it takes no account whatever of the inevitable jump of the contribution of the State which must take place when the Sinking Fund has been made up. By the arrangement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer the State has to pay two-ninths of all benefits. The moment the money necessary for the Sinking Fund is free the benefits will jump up. It must take place immediately. They may be deferred, but in that case the State will have to pay in the future not only the arrears of 2d. but it will pay two-ninths of the accumulations of interest which have accrued in all the approved societies in the country. I say, therefore, that there is nobody in this House who knows in the least what the ultimate burden on the country will be. I ask the House: is it reasonable, is it common sense, that we should allow such a scheme to go out of our hands until we at least know what the burdens are? The only other illustration which I will give in further consideration is one which I referred to two or three nights ago.
I pointed out then that upon one particular night 470 different questions were put from the Chair. I took that method of calling attention to it because I think that that illustration would perhaps 1513 touch the imagination of people outside. That was my object, but we in this House did not need any such thing. We knew it already. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his reply to me that night said these 470 Amendments, or the great bulk of them, were simply improvements made at our instigation. That is not in the least true; a great many of them were so made, but to say that the great bulk of them were made at our instigation is not the fact. But if it were true, what does it mean? He would not have put them in unless they were necessary I suppose, and if the result of the limited discussion was to add 470 improvements, what would have been the result of free discussions? As a matter of fact, there were between thirty and forty Clauses out of the 114 Clauses, I think, which were never discussed in this House at all, either in the Committee stage or on Report stage. I have got a list of them here, and if I read their titles it would convince the House that there is a good deal of substance in my contention. I will only take the one specially dealt with by the Chancellor himself. That was finance. He said that was adequately discussed. What did he mean? We had an opportunity of discussing in some sense the financial proposal on the Financial Resolution, I admit that; but it was only a Second Reading discussion at best, and if Second Reading is all that is wanted, why take the Committee stage at all. If a Committee stage is required for anything, it is surely required more than anything else for the financial proposals of a gigantic Bill like this.
As a matter of fact, the House of Commons during this Autumn Session has really had no more to do with the real difficulties of this Bill than the House of Lords. All the difficulties have been arranged in hole-and-corner meetings of some of which we have heard and lots of which we did not hear at all. And when under pressure of those different interests the right hon. Gentleman made up his mind he came down here and we registered his decrees. That is what we have done in the House of Commons. If additional proof of the absurdity of the way this Bill has been carried through is wanted, take what is called the concession made even after the Report stage to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite. They have been very fond of Home Rule as a phrase, but they had the first sample of it as something more than a phrase, and they did not like it. I happened to read a very 1514 interesting letter by the Secretary of the Traders' Association. I kept it for another purpose and not for this Debate, and this is what the writer says:—In the trade union movement we have little use for that kind of national sentiment which manifests itself in creation of division between people whose interests are identical, and the proposal to set up anomalies between one country and another. What the workers want is solidarity rather than nationality.The Chancellor of the Exchequer has squared hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. That is not a very difficult thing to do. The right hon. Gentleman the Patronage Secretary for the Treasury is one of the most astute politicians we have got, and he made some remarks at the annual meeting of the Liberal party which I think were very instructive. They were to this effect. I have got his actual words if necessary. "I think it is to our interests as a party that the Labour party should be quite independent of us in the constituencies, but their co-operation in the House has been most useful and most fruitful."
In other words, let them appear to be independent outside, but let them be in our pockets inside. That is an ideal arrangement, but I do not think it will last long. He squared these Gentlemen, and surely they are easily squared. The undertaking he gave them is not a statutory undertaking at all. The change is to be made by the Commissioners. In answer to the Amendment moved by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained to us the other night that the Commissioners were quite independent, and had nothing to do with the Government. Therefore when the time comes for carrying out this promise they will carry it out, or not, as they think right in the interests of the Bill, as it left the House of Commons. That is the way these Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite have been squared.
I remember when my right hon. Friend the late Leader of the Opposition almost in the last speech he made in this House had some very pointed criticisms to make about the Clause of the Bill called "the Removal of Difficulties." He was very sarcastic, but I do not think he was unfriendly to the Clause, which he thought was necessary. I am perfectly certain if he was speaking here to-night instead of me,—at least, I think so—he would think as I do, that it is one of the most necessary provisions in the whole Bill. Indeed, if I had my choice, and we had to pass a Bill of some kind, I would rather pass a one- 1515 Clause Bill raising the money, and leaving the Commissioners to adopt a scheme of national insurance which would make a far better Bill. It would represent, just as much as this one, the considered opinion of the House of Commons, and it would have a far better chance of being a successful measure. I should like to deal with the forensic methods by which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has pushed this Bill through. I am going to speak strongly—at least, I am going to try, and at the outset, and before I do that, I should like to say that I do not accuse the right hon. Gentleman, and I am sure none of my Friends around me accuse him of being actuated by any other than high motives. He means well. The road on which for the last two or three years he has been travelling, is not an easy road for us and not an easy road for him; that road, down which he has been leading us, is paved, I am certain, with the very best intentions. But the beauty of the pavement does not alter the destination. I remember speaking on the Second Reading of this Bill. I pointed out that all of us have a certain amount of dualism in our composition. There is no one living, so far as I have read, in fact no one who has ever lived who has the two natures so strongly marked as the right hon. Gentleman. I never thought the truth of my observations would be proved so conclusively by this very Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has gone through two stages. During the first stage up to the end of the Second Reading he was a standing example of sweet reasonableness, but since then he has been a terrible example of the bitterest partisan politician. I remember a character in a play which I do not remember the name of, and that character is described in this way. It is said of him that he will run into any mould, but he will not keep shape. That is, unfortunately, I am afraid, the characteristic of the right hon. Gentleman. Now he has accused us of showing what he considers unfair hostility to this Bill. If I thought that were true I should regret it, and I should be ashamed of it. I recognise that the right hon. Gentleman has had a very difficult task, and I said on the Second Reading, when everybody was saying smooth things, that he would have a stormy passage. He has had a difficult position, and we can make allowance for that. But it is not true that we have altered our attitude in the least towards 1516 the Bill. On this point I will give the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman himself. At the end of the Summer Sitting he said:—I say quite frankly that all these criticisms from both sides of the House have been exceedingly helpful, and the alterations made have been towards the improvement of the Bill. If we continue on these lines to the end, I hope we shall get a Bill which will be truly national.Why did we not continue on those lines? Only at the end of the Summer Sitting he admits that we did. Until the guillotine was set up there was never any obstruction, none whatever, and there is not the slightest doubt if he had continued to the end as he began he would have received the same support from these benches to the end. Why did he not do so? According to him it is owing to misrepresentation. I always had great admiration for the courage of the right hon. Gentleman, but I never saw a better example of it than to-night. My hon. Friend below the Gangway had pointed out a misrepresentation made by him on his responsibility more scandalous than has ever been made on any Bill by any Minister in any Government. His attention was called to it and he alluded to it in his usual way of dodging difficulties by saying my hon. Friend had made the charge in his absence, but with that charge unanswered he had the courage to accuse my Noble Friend of misrepresentation. A greater example of courage of a kind was never seen in this House or out of it. The right hon. Gentleman's point is that we began to make political capital out of it at the by-elections. Who began it? [HON. MEMBERS: "Kilmarnock."] No, Kilmarnock was not the beginning. Wait a moment. At the Hull election in June the following leaflet was sent by the Liberal headquarters to that election and I have made inquiries about it. Until after that no leaflet of any kind against the Insurance Bill was sent from our central office. What is this leaflet? It is the picture of a working man ill in bed and the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a copy of the Insurance Bill. If you look only at the picture we have no reason to take offence, but I think the right hon. Gentleman could bring a successful action for libel against the artist, because looking at the picture alone one would be more inclined to think he had come to pick his pocket. That was not, of course, the intention of the picture, and this is what it said:—The Dawn of Hope.And this is the moral of it:Support the Liberal Government.1517 That was done before we had opposed the Insurance Bill in any way. Of course, the idea of thinking about elections is repugnant to the whole nature of the right hon. Gentleman, and he cannot understand it at all, but when he does a thing he does it thoroughly. He was not content with this leaflet. There has never been anyone in the right hon. Gentleman's position who thought so much about winning elections, and, to do him justice, I say that there is nobody who has been so good at it, and he kept something up his sleeve. He referred to the South Somerset election, and what do I find? This is not the case of an anonymous leaflet. A deputation of Somerset manufacturers saw the hon. Gentleman, who was then Secretary to the Treasury, in July about an Amendment. Some of the members of that deputation came to our committee and told us that they had got a very unsatisfactory answer from the Financial Secretary. Then the South Somerset election comes on, and on 2nd November the right hon. Gentleman the Patronage Secretary sends a letter, not to anyone in the House of Commons, but to an elector in South Somerset, stating that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had come to the conclusion that a case had been made out for not compulsorily insuring married women, etc. That is the Gentleman who accuses us of using the Insurance Bill for electioneering purposes. Obviously that was not the reason for the second nature coming into play. We all know it is one of the penalties the country has to pay for having a Government in office and not in power. They have signed their bond. For two years they have been allowed to swagger about like free agents, but next year the bond has to be redeemed and for that reason, whatever the effect of the Bill on the millions of people in this country, it must be shoved aside so that the bond may be paid. Now the right hon. Gentleman is coming to prophesy about the future. He gave a hint of it to-night at the end of his speech. He put it more clearly in his sermon at the Tabernacle. He says that we who are refusing to shut our eyes and open our mouths and swallow whatever he gives us—I am not giving his exact words—will be praying soon for a cloud of oblivion to come down and cover our heads. That is the prophecy. Carlyle once said, "You cannot argue with a prophet. You can only refuse to believe him." I do refuse to believe him. I have never, certainly in my time in this House, given any vote with more absolute cer- 1518 tainty that I was consulting the best interests of the country than I shall give to-night, and if a cloud of oblivion is required it will not be for those who have decided in, as near as I can recall, the words of the Amendment that this Bill is unequal in its operation and should be further considered by this House.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
The very able and interesting speech to which we have just listened was delivered ostensibly in support of the Amendment which appears on the Paper and which you, Sir, are about to put from the Chair. I venture to think that by far the greater part of it would have been relevant to a more plain spoken, a more courageous and a more honest Amendment, namely, that this Bill should be read the third time upon this day three months. What has the right hon. Gentleman, who tells us, as many of his Friends have told us, they are in favour of the governing principle of this Bill, to say about it? Let me just remind the House of one or two of the things he has said in the course of his speech. He says it is a Bill the effect of which will be that the strong will join with the strong and the weak will herd with the weak. He says it embodies a most rotten method of finances. He says the effect of the Bill is such, that if it were adopted by a private firm or a public company it would bring the partners or the directors to prison. He says it would be a far better Bill if it were a sheet of blank paper, the filling up of which was left to the Commissioners, and, finally, he told us it is a Bill paved with those good intentions which lead people to a place that most of us are anxious to avoid, but which, if the general opinion is correct, is the ultimate destination, at any rate, of some. If these things are true, if that is a correct and an accurate description of the Bill, if the right hon. Gentleman and his friends really believe that it satisfies their description, why have they not the courage to vote for its rejection? The right hon. Gentleman—I am sure he is a very popular Member of the House, and we all wish him great success in his task—has followed one of the ablest dialeticians that Parliament has ever produced, but we find that…. Amurath an Amurath succeeds.I do not really think, though I was a careful and close student of the career and the public action of his predecessor, that even the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) ever discovered, except, perhaps, in the early days of Tariff Reform, that 1519 there was a half-way house between "Yes" and "No."
Here is a great party on a great occasion dealing with a great Bill, and they are going to follow their Leader and say neither "Yes" nor "No." That is the new programme of the Tory party. I wish them joy of it. The right hon. Gentleman must give me leave to say to him that peoples' intentions are to be judged not by the motives which, in the more or less nebular background, operate upon their minds. They must be judged by the consequences of their conduct. All this lip service and zeal for insurance against sickness and unemployment, all this loud-mouthed profession of a desire to attain the ends of this Bill, and to accept its principle will be construed, and construed rightly, by the electorate of this country by the action which you are taking to-night. Let us assume—and we are bound to assume it for the purposes of argument, although it is not likely to happen in fact—let us assume that the Amendment is carried. What becomes of the Insurance Bill? Everybody knows that it is dead. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] For the very sufficient Parliamentary reason—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no."]—that whenever an Amendment on the Third Reading is carried a Bill ceases to exist. I say quite plainly to this House, and I shall say it to the country, that the persons responsible for the framing of this Amendment, and those who go into the Lobby in support of it are people who have killed the greatest scheme for the social benefit of the people of this country that has ever yet been conceived. They will not understand your fine distinctions between "Yes" and "No," seeing that the adoption of this Amendment would be fatal to the carrying of any insurance scheme for an indefinite time.
Let me examine the reasons which have been alleged for this plea for delay. I have heard the Committee criticisms of this Bill. No one has attacked its central principle. Its central principle is this: that as regards both sickness, invalidity, and unemployment there shall be a compulsory contribution to which the employer, the workman, and the State shall be party. When we brought forward our proposals for old age pensions three years ago that principle was very strongly advocated, and by no one more strongly than the late Leader of the Opposition. I think 1520 we were perfectly right not to adopt the principle of contribution in regard to old age pensions, because I am satisfied—as I then was—that a system of old age pension based upon contribution would have been futile and a failure. But three years ago we laid the ground without which this Bill would not have been possible.
As regards the principle of compulsory contribution for the purposes which are contemplated under this Bill, I am not the least ashamed to confess—my words have been quoted—that I was a somewhat reluctant, although I am now a completely convinced convert. I do not think there is any other way in which we can provide for the risks and hazards of industrial life. The real and only ground, apart from the criticisms alleged in support of this Amendment, is the insufficiency of the time which has been given to the consideration of it. Let me just look into that. On the question of time, when the Bill was first introduced, what was the demand? It was that the unemployment part—Part II.—should be dropped on the ground that it was experimental in its character. It was never suggested that there would not be time for the discussion of the sickness and invalidity insurance. As a matter of fact, the twenty-five Clauses which compose Part II. were passed upstairs after a very full and very friendly discussion practically without opposition, and they were only briefly dealt with on Report. I do not think that in any quarter of the House there is any doubt as to the desirability of Part II. passing into law. If this Amendment is carried it will not be carried: it will be indefinitely postponed.
In regard to Part I. let us see how the case stands. I cannot follow the right hon. Gentleman in some of the points taken. But there were four important points with regard to this vital and most important part of the Bill. The points were who was to be insured, what contributions were to be paid, what benefits were to be given, and what provision ought to be made for those who are called Post Office contributors, and who were left outside the general scheme of insurance. I have gone most carefully—and if time permitted I could demonstrate to the House by evidence what I am going to say—into the amount of time which has actually been spent on each one of these four points, and I will venture to say that if there had been no guillotine at all, if there had been no allocation of time, and no curtailment of Debate, there is not one of them which 1521 could, under reasonable conditions, have been more fully and more amply discussed than they have been. Looking forward to the future, let me ask the House and ask the right hon. Gentleman himself, what would be the effect of carrying an Amendment for the postponement of the further consideration of this Bill? In the first place, if you accept the principle of compulsory contributions and the desirability of the scheme as a whole, it is of the utmost importance that the machinery—the Commissioners and so forth—should at once be set into operation, and that they should be able to bring about what I believe to be the essential condition for the successful working of a scheme like this, namely, co-operation between the Commissioners, the Joint Committee, the friendly societies, the trade unions, the doctors, and all the other interests concerned in order that, when misunderstandings have been removed, they should all combine together, as I believe they will in the course of a very few months, to make this not only a workable, but a successful scheme. All that is to be thrown away and to be postponed to the remote future if this Amendment is carried.
Further, I cannot, in view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, ignore, and nobody can ignore, what would be the results of leaving this matter open as a subject of public controversy for months, or even years. I am not going into the recriminations which have been legitimately and naturally interchanged. [Laughter.]—I hope that is a remark free from offence—both upon the one side and the other, or what has been said at by-elections in regard to this particular Bill, but, without going into the rights or wrongs of that matter, is there a single man, in whatever quarter of the House he sits, who is really anxious for a settlement of this great social problem, at any rate upon the general lines of the Bill, who would not lament if at by-election after by-election for the next twelve or twenty-four months it should be cast into the forefront of political controversy and become the subject of the more envenomed interchange of amenities such as we have heard read out. Is there
§ anyone who has really the interests of society at heart who thinks that is likely to contribute to a permanent and considered settlement? I will say nothing as to the campaign of misrepresentation which has been carried on in certain quarters, and which is certain to be carried on with increased intensity and virulence so long as the question remains open, and which happily will be brought to an end if the question is settled. I would like to make, in an entirely—if I may say so for the moment—non-party spirit, before the House comes to a decision, one final appeal.
§ We are nearing the close of an exceptionally arduous Session. I think it ought to be to Members an adequate and even an ample reward for their long and assiduous labours that the same Parliamentary year which has already witnessed the close of a great constitutional struggle—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no; the beginning"]—well, the close of one stage of a great constitutional struggle, fought upon purely political ground—when this Bill has passed into law, as I believe it will, witnesses also the statutory enactment of a second and a larger instalment of that policy of social reform of which old age pensions was the first chapter. I have said before, and certainly history proves, while it is possible, while it is even easy to put down the mighty from their seats without exalting the humble and the meek, the most ardent spirit among us in the cause of political quality, still far short of complete achievement, will be the first to recognise that political machinery is only valuable and is only worth having if it is adapted to and used for worthy social ends. I brush aside, and I hope the House will brush aside, this Amendment, this halting, faltering, paltering Amendment, and I say the House, in reading this Bill a Third Time, are conferring upon millions of our fellow countrymen by the joint operation of self-help and of State help, the greatest alleviation of the risks and sufferings of life that Parliament has ever conferred upon any people.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 320; Noes, 223.1527
|Division No. 429.]||AYES.||[10.29 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Alden, Percy|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)|
|Adamson, William||Agnew, Sir George William||Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Ainsworth, John Stirling||Armitage, Robert|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Gill, A. H.||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Glanville, H. J.||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstape)||Goldstone, Frank||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Greenwood, Glanville G. (Peterborough)||Martin, Joseph|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick)||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Mason, David W. (Coventry)|
|Barton, W.||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Meagher, Michael|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Griffith, Ellis Jones (Anglesey)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Guiland, John W.||Middlebrook, William|
|Black, Arthur W.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Molloy, M.|
|Boland, John Pius||Hackett, J.||Mond, Sir Alfred|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hancock, John George||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Mooney, John J.|
|Brace, William||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Morgan, George Hay|
|Brady, P. J.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morrell, Philip|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Muldoon, John|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Munro, R.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Needham, Christopher T.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Neilson, Francis|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Nolan, Joseph|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Hayden, John Patrick||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.|
|Cameron, Robert||Hayward, Evan||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Helme, Norval Watson||Nuttall, Harry|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Henry, Sir Charles S.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Higham, John Sharp||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hinds, John||ODowd, John|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Ogden, Fred|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hodge, John||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Clough, William||Holt, Richard Durning||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||O'Malley, William|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Shee, James John|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hudson, Walter||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Cowan, William Henry||Johnson, W.||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Jones, Edward R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Dalziel, Sir James (Kirkcaldy)||Jones, Willitm (Carnarvonshire)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Pointer, Joseph|
|Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Joyce, Michael||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Keating, M.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Dawes, J. A.||Kelly, Edward||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|De Forest, Baron||Kemp, Sir G.||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Delany, William||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||King, Joseph (Somerset, N.)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lamb, Ernest Henry||Radford, G. H.|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||Lambert, George (Devon, Molton)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Dillon, John||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Doris, William||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'ri'nd, Cockerm'th)||Reddy, Michael|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Leach, Charles||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lewis, John Herbert||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Logan, John William||Richards, Thomas|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid.)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Lundon, Thomas||Roberts, Sir J, H. (Denbighs)|
|Falconer, J.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Ferens, T. R.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Ffrench, Peter||McGhee, Richard||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Maclean, Donald||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|France, G. A.||MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)||Rowlands, James|
|Furness, Stephen||Macpherson, James Ian||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||M'Callum, John M.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||M'Curdy, C. A.||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Gibson, Sir James puckering||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Tennant, Harold John||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Scanlan, Thomas||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Seely, Rt. Hon. Col. J. E. S.||Toulmin, Sir George||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Sheehy, David||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Wiles, Thomas|
|Sherwell, Arthur James||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Shortt, Edward||Wadsworth, J.||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Smith, Albert (Lancs, Clitheroe)||Walters, John Tudor||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Smith, H. B. (Northampton)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)||Winfrey, Richard|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Wardle, G. J.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Spicer, Sir Albert||Waring, Walter||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Summers, James Woolley||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Illingworth.|
|Sutton, John E.||Webb, H.|
|Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Faile, Bertram Godfray||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Fell, Arthur||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Fleming, Valentine||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh|
|Baird, J. L.||Forster, Henry William||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Foster, Philip Staveley||Macmaster, Donald|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gardner, Ernest||M'Mordie, R. James|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gastrell, Major W. H.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Gibbs, G. A.||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Gilhooly, James||Malcolm, Ian|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, S.)||Gilmour, Captain J.||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry|
|Barrie, H. T.||Goldman, C. S.||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Goldsmith, Frank||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilton)||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Grant, J. A.||Mount, William Arthur|
|Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Greene, Walter Raymond||Neville, Reginald J. H.|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Gretton, John||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Guiney, P.||Newman, John R. P.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Guinness, Hon. W. E.||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Haddock, George Bahr||Nield, Herbert|
|Boyton, J.||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||O'Brien, William (Cork)|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hambro, Angus Vaidemar||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hamersley, A. St. George||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Burgoyne, A. H.||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Burn, Col. C. R.||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Harris, Henry Percy||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Campion, William Robert||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Healy, Timothy Michael, (Cork, East)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Cassel, Felix||Helmsley, Viscount||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Cator, John||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Pollock, E. M.|
|Cautley, H. S.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Cave, George||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Pryce-Jones, Col. E. (M'tgom'h B'ghs)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford Univ.)||Hill, Sir Clement||Quilter, William Eley C.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Hills, J. W.||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Hoare, S. J. G.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r)||Hohler, G. F.||Rawson, Col. R. H.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Horner, A. L.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Hunt, Rowland||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hunter Sir C. R. (Bath)||Royds, Edmund|
|Craig, Norman (Kent)||Ingleby, Holcombe||Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Jackson, Sir John||Salter, Arthur Claveil|
|Crean, Eugene||Jardine, E. (Somerset, E.)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Cripps, Sir C. A.||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Croft, H. P.||Joynson-Hicks, William||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Kimber, Sir Henry||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Dalziel, D. (Brixton)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Dixon, C. H.||Knight, Capt. E. A.||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l, Walton)|
|Doughty, Sir George||Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Larmor, Sir J.||Stanler, Beville|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'm'ts., Mile End)||Starkey, John R.|
|Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)||Tryon, Captain George Clement||Willoughly Major Hon. Claude|
|Stewart, Gershom||Tullibardine, Marquess of||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||Valentia, Viscount||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Swift, Rigby||Walker, Col. William Hall||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)||Walsh, J. (Cork, South)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Talbot, Lord E.||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)||Yerburgh, Robert|
|Terrell, H. (Gloucester)||Weigall, Capt. A. G.||Younger, Sir George|
|Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Pike Pease and Mr. Asthley.|
|Tobin, Alfred Aspinall||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Touche, George Alexander|
§ Original Question put, "That the Bill be now read the third time."1528
§ The House divided: Ayes, 324; Noes, 21.1529
|Division No. 430.]||AYES.||[10.40 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Hayward, Evan|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Holme, Norval Watson|
|Adamson, William||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Dawes, J. A.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Agnew, Sir George William||De Forest, Baron||Hinds, John|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Delany, William||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Alden, Percy||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Hodge, John|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Denniss, E. R. B.||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Devlin, Joseph||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Armitage, R.||Dillon, John||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Donelan, Captain A.||Hudson, Walter|
|Astor, Waldorf||Doris, William||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Doughty, Sir George||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Johnson, W.|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Jones, Sir D Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick)||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Barton, William||Elverston, Sir Harold||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Essex, Richard Walter||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Esslemont, George Birnie||Joyce, Michael|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George)||Falconer, James||Keating, Matthew|
|Bentham, G. J.||Farrell, James Patrick||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Kelly, Edward|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Kemp, Sir G.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Ffrench, Peter||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Black, Arthur W.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||King, J. (Somerset, North)|
|Boland, John Pius||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lamb, Ernest Henry|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||France, Gerald Ashburner||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Furness, Stephen||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Brace, William||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rind, Cockerm'th)|
|Brady, P. J.||Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Leach, Charles|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Gill, A. H.||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Glanville, H. J.||Logan, John William|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Goldstone, Frank||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Lundon, Thomas|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Greig, Col. J. W.||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Cameron, Robert||Griffith, Ellis J.||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||McGhee, Richard|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Gulland, John W.||Maclean, Donald|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hackett, John||MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hancock, J. G.||M'Callum, John M.|
|Clough, William||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||M'Curdy, C. A.|
|Clynes, John R.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lamteth)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Martin, J.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||Meagher, Michael|
|Crumley, Patrick||Hayden, John Patrick||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Pollard, Sir George H.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Menzies, Sir Walter||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Middlebrook, William||Power, Patrick Joseph||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Molloy, Michael||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southward, West)|
|Mond, Sir Alfred||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Summers, James Woolley|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Sutton, John E.|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Pringle, William M. R.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Mooney, John J.||Radford, G. H.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Morgan, George Hay||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Morrell, Philip||Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Muldoon, John||Reddy, Michael||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Munro, R.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Rendall, Athelstan||Wadsworth, John|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Richards, Thomas||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Neilson, Francis||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Nolan, Joseph||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wardle, George J.|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Waring, Walter|
|Nuttall, Harry||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Robinson, Sidney||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Webb, H.|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Roe, Sir Thomas||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|O'Dowd, John||Rose, Sir Charles Day||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Ogden, Fred||Rowlands, James||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Rowntree, Arnold||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|O'Malley, William||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Wiles, Thomas|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Samuel, J. (Stockton)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|O'Shee, James John||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Scanlan, Thomas||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.||Winfrey, Richard|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Sheehy, David||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Shortt, Edward||Young, William (Perthshire, E.)|
|Phillips, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Pirie Duncan Vernon||Smith, H. B (Northampton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Illingworth.|
|Pointer, Joseph||Smyth, Thomes F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Snowden, P.|
|Crean, Eugene||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, East)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Walsh, J. (Cork, South)|
|Gilhooly, James||Hickman, Col. Thomas E.||Weigall, Capt. A. G.|
|Gretton, John||Hunt, Rowland|
|Guiney, P.||Jowett, Frederick William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. O'Grady and Mr. Lansbury.|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||O'Brien, William (Cork)|
Bill read the third time, and passed.