§ (1) The contributions payable in respect of employed contributors shall be at the 208 rate specified in Part I. of the Second Schedule to this Act (hereinafter referred to as the employed rate), and shall comprise contributions by the contributors and contributions by their employers at the rates specified in that part of that Schedule, and shall be payable at weekly or other prescribed intervals.
§ (2) The employer shall, in the first instance, pay both the contributions pay- 209 able by himself (in this Act referred to as the employer's contributions), and also on behalf of the employed contributor the contributions payable by such contributor, and shall be entitled to recover from the contributor by deduction from his wages or otherwise the amount of the contributions so paid by him on behalf of the contributor in accordance with the rules set out in the Third Schedule to this Act.
§ (3) An employed contributor who is temporarily unemployed shall not, whilst so unemployed, be under any obligation to pay any contributions which if he were employed would be payable in respect of him, but nothing in this Section shall prevent such a contributor paying such contributions for the purpose of avoiding falling into arrear.
§ (4) Contributions in respect of employed contributors shall cease to be payable on their attaining the age of seventy.
§ (5) The employer of a person who though employed within the meaning of this Part of this Act is not insured under this Part of this Act by reason either—
- (a) that, not having previously been insured, he has become employed within the meaning of this Act after attaining the age of sixty-five; or
- (b) that he has obtained a certificate of exemption under this Act;
Mr. EDMUND HARVEY
I beg to move in Sub-section (2), after the word "and" ["contributions payable by such contributor, and"] to insert the words "except where a minimum wage is paid in accordance with an award of a Trade Board made under the provisions of the Trade Boards Act, 1909."
I desire to move the first of two Amendments appearing in my name, and I regret that by accident they have been printed twice over. I wish to make an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider favourably the Amendment, which is moved in the interest of a class of the very poorest of our workpeople. This is an Amendment which can gain very few votes because a very large number—indeed, the great majority of those affected by it, are women, who are known as workers in sweated industries. It is an Amendment 210 which involves necessarily no increase in, the charges upon the Exchequer. Therefore I think we have a special reason for asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-consider it favourably. There are only two reasons why the Amendment might be opposed. One is it may be said that it is putting an unfair charge upon the employer. The second reason may be that if the employer is not empowered to levy a contribution upon the employé in the case of one receiving the minimum wage the system ceases to be contributory. I wish to point out that immediately the employer pays a little more than the minimum wage, even though it is only 1d. more, it would be possible for the contribution to be exacted from the worker. It surely ought not to be impossible for the employer to pay at least 1d. more than the minimum wage.
I do not think it can be possible to maintain that such a charge upon an industry would be one which would make that industry break down, and even if that were the case I am sure there are many in this House who would feel that it was better the industry should disappear altogether than that it should be conducted upon such a bad basis, which necessarily involved so much hardship on the very poorest class. Parliament has a direct responsibility with respect to these workers in the sweated industries. Two years ago an Act was passed, the Trade Boards Act, making it possible for them to get what was a bare minimum wage, but where such a wage is fixed by the Board it is just possible for the workers to live. In the Trade Boards Act it is clearly stated that the wage is to be entirely free from any deduction. Surely Parliament will not be the first to make a deduction from that minimum wage. The wage is fixed at the very minimum upon which it is possible to live. It may be urged by the Chancellor that we are making an exception to his scheme, and that it will cease to be contributory. But surely we are laying the basis for a contributory scheme if we allow this exception. The very moment the sweated' worker receives a penny a week more than the minimum wage it will be possible, under the Clause as amended, for that person to pay the contribution in the ordinary course. Therefore I feel that there ought to be no hesitation on the part of the Committee in agreeing to the Amendment. It may be said that 1d. or 2d. a week is so small a contribution that even the poorest can pay it. Those who say that can have 211 no knowledge of the actual daily life of these very poor workers. I personally have seen a poor widow working at the box-making industry, and any one who knows the struggle that it is to such a worker to get even a 1d. or 2d. additional will feel that if this Bill imposes a weekly fine of 2d. upon these workers it will do a great injustice. It would be better to reduce the benefit rather than impose such a contribution, if no other way can be found. But the way is perfectly clear. It is quite possible and practicable to impose this charge upon the employers until such time as the wage rises above the minimum. I hope, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be willing to accept the Amendment.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
I need hardly say that the case put by the hon. Member is one which commands the sympathy of every Member of the Committee. But we have to observe the necessities of the case. We have provided for this kind of worker by the graduated scale in the Bill. It is the first time anything of the kind has been introduced into any contributory scheme in any country. The hon. Member speaks about the deduction as a fine upon workers who are making a bare subsistence. But really it is for something for which they are paying now. In some cases they do not pay, because they resort to the parish; but long before they do that they make very great sacrifices for medical and other purposes. Think what they will get in return for their 1d. per week in the worst cases and 2d. per week in the better cases. They will get 10s. a week for thirteen weeks' sickness, 5s. a week disablement benefit, 30s. maternity allowance, medical attendance, and, what is invaluable to these poor people, sanatorium "benefits. A good deal of that is something for which they are paying now. My hon. Friend speaks as if it were a deduction made for the first time from their wages. On the contrary, it is a very considerable relief in respect of a payment which they are making now. That is what I want the Committee to realise. My hon. Friend suggests that we should put the charge on the employers. I have little sympathy with employers who pay 9s. or 10s. a week to the workers. But there are many of these
§ industries working on a very narrow margin, and, although it is not for me to say that an extra 1d. or 2d. would wipe out that margin, we have already trenched upon it to the extent of 2d. My hon. Friend says, why not put on another 1d. or 2d.? There is no end to that argument. On the whole, I think, we have met the case very fairly. We have said that an additional burden shall be put on the employers in these cases. They have to bear not merely the 3d. which is imposed in the ordinary cases, but also half the burden of the worker. I hope the time will come when none of these sweated industries will exist upon these terms in this country at all. It is a deplorable thing that people who work hard for many hours a day should get only 9s., 10s., or 12s. a week. But I have another argument. If you take off the whole burden from the shoulders of these people, it ceases to be a contributory scheme. There is something in that. The contribution does distinguish the benefits from something which the people get from the charity either of the nation or of the parish, and makes it something in which they feel a distinct interest. They say, "It is true that I give only 1d. or 2d. per week; but it is something towards which I contribute myself," and they take a special interest in it. I know that the sacrifice involved in the 1d. or 2d. is much greater to these people than the sacrifice of 4d. to others, but it saves their self-respect. They feel that it is not something given to them as a matter of charity, but something arising from their own investment. That in itself is of great value. It is of even greater value in regard to these poorer people than when you get higher in the scale. It hurts their pride even more than that of the richer members of the same class when they are forced to depend upon charity, and they are prepared to make even greater sacrifices before disclosing their poverty. I think in a case of this kind it is really to their interest that the contribution should be made. I hope, therefore, my hon. Friend will agree that the Government have gone as far as they can reasonably be expected to go by the graduated scale which is already in the Bill.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 28; Noes, 259.215
|Division No. 266.]||AYES.||[4.3 p.m.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Jowett, P. W.|
|Clynes, John R.||Gill, Alfred Henry||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Doughty, Sir George||Goldstone, Frank||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Rowntree, Arnold||Wardle, George J.|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Webb, H.|
|Martin, J.||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Morrell, Philip||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Pointer, Joseph||Thorne, William (West Ham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Harvey and Mr. Sherwell.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Essex, Richard Walter||Lundon, T.|
|Alden, Percy||Esslemont, George Birnie||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Anderson, A. M.||Falconer, J.||Lynch, A. A.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Falle, Bertram Godfray||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)|
|Armitage, Robert||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Ffrench, Peter||McGhee, Richard|
|Astor, Waldorf||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Maclean, Donald|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Forster, Henry William||MacNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Foster, Philip Staveley||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Furness, Stephen||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Gardner, Ernest||M'Callum, John M.|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Gelder, Sir William Alfred||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Barton, William||Gibson, Sir James P.||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Glanville, H. J||Manfield, Harry|
|Beale, W. P.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Meagher, Michael|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Gretton, John||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Bentham, G. J.||Griffith, Ellis J.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Boland, John Pius||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Millar, James Duncan|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Hackett, John||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Haddock, George B.||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Mooney, John J.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Morgan, George Hay|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Morrison, Captain J. A.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hancock, John George||Morrison-Bell, E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Harmsworth, R. L.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Harris, Henry Percy||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Neilson, Francis|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Harwood, George||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Cave, George||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Hayden, John Patrick||Norton, Captain Cecil W.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Helme, Norval Watson||Nuttall, Harry|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Henry, Sir Charles S.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Herbert, Col Sir Ivor||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Higham, John Sharp||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury)||Ogden, Fred|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hinds, John||O'Neill, Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Holt, Richard Durning||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Philips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Crooks, William||Hunter, W. (Govan)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Crumley, Patrick||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Johnson, W.||Price, C. E. (Edinburh, Central)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Primrose, Hon. Nell James|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Dawes, J. A.||Joyce, Michael||Radford, George Heynes|
|De Forest, Baron||Kebty-Fletcher J. R.||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Delany, William||Kelly, Edward||Reddy, M.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Kemp, Sir G.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Devlin, Joseph||King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Richards, Thomas|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||Lamb, Ernest Henry||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Doris, W.||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Duffy, William J.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Law, Rt. Hon A. Bonar (Bootle)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Leach, Charles||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Lee, Arthur H.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Toulmin, Sir George||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Wiles, Thomas|
|Scanlan, Thomas||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Valentia, Viscount||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Shortt, Edward||Wadsworth, J.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||Walters, John Tudor||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Walton, Sir Joseph||Wilson, J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Spicer, Sir Albert||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Winfrey, Richard|
|Stewart, Gershom||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Waring, Walter||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Sutherland, J. E.||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Gulland and Mr. Wedgwood Benn.|
|Talbot, Lord Edmund||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Tennant, Harold John|
Question, "That the Clause as amended stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. GOLDMAN
had given notice of an Amendment to insert the following words at the end of Sub-section (2): "But in any week where an employed contributor is employed for not more than three days by the employer the amount of the contributions payable by that employer in respect of such contributor shall be one-half the rates specified in the Second Schedule to this Act."
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Goldman) was settled yesterday by the decision on the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for the Ludlow Division (Mr. Rowland Hunt).
§ Mr. GOLDMAN
My Amendment does not make any actuarial alteration in any shape or form, and is in every respect distinct from the Amendment which was moved by the hon. Member for the Ludlow Division. May I ask whether, under these circumstances, you will allow me to move the Amendment?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Amendment moved by the hon. Member for the Ludlow Division was to leave out the words "or other prescribed intervals," and to insert in Sub-section (1) the words "intervals except in the case of persons employed for less than five days consecutively, when the contribution of both employer and employed shall be paid daily." The Committee decided that in the negative. The hon. Member's Amendment raises practically the same question, and I do not think it can be moved, seeing that (he point has already been specifically dealt with.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I beg to move, to leave out Sub-section (3). I desire to formally move the omission of this Subsection in order that I may ask an explanation. At present there are certain drafting difficulties of substance in regard to which we ought to have an explanation. I have no doubt the Chancellor 216 of the Exchequer will be able to clear up the meaning. In the first place, what is meant by "unemployed"? We asked the question yesterday, and, as the right hon. Gentleman was away, we were not able to get an answer. As to unemployment under Part II. of the Bill, there is a definition in the Interpretation. Clause and in the Schedules. I think we ought to know what is meant by unemployment for a very short time as in the case of occasional working. Would a man who is working just one day or two days a week be regarded as employed or not? I need not enlarge upon that, but I think the word does want definition. What about the temporary character of employment under certain circumstances? There are cases of men who are thrown out of work by an accident at works, by renewal of works, or, in the case of some descriptions of labourers, by a long frost. Their places are ready as soon as work can be resumed. Then the Sub-section runs, that a person "who is temporarily unemployed shall not, while so unemployed, be under any obligation to pay any contributions." If he goes, on being unemployed, a time must come when he is no longer "temporarily unemployed," whatever the limit may be. At some time or other he must be permanently unemployed. The Sub-section, would suggest a curious effect, namely, that a man temporarily unemployed should not be under any obligation to pay any contributions, but that if he is permanently unemployed he shall be under obligation to pay. Of course, that is not the intention, but this shows that the drafting is very difficult to follow here. The Subsection further says, "but nothing in this Section shall prevent such a contributor paying such contributions for the purpose of avoiding falling into arrear." These words suggest that there is some legal obligation enforceable by ordinary process of law. If a man falls into arrear, of course, he loses his rights under the Bill. I would point out that the words that he "shall not, whilst so unemployed, be under 217 any obligation to pay" are rather difficult to follow, and may easily create a false impression. By the last words of the Subsection it is suggested that he should, in order to avoid getting into default, pay the employer's 4d. and his own 3d. when out of work.
The result is that he is asked to pay 7d. instead of 4d. just at the very time when he is least able to pay at all. Otherwise he gets into arrears. I know that there is a provision later on enabling him to get out of arrears, but he would be branded in the first instance as in arrears if he did not pay through that time he was out of work. If he wants to get back he has to pay interest which would be very difficult to calculate. That is the way I read the Sub-section of Clause 10 lower down. I do suggest that in cases where a man is unemployed—and I am considering a man not under Part II. at all, but only under Part I.—no question of arrears should arise until he is employed again, and then he ought to have notice that so much is standing against him, and he should have a considerable time to pay off. I would further suggest that in a case like that that they should not be hampered by these calculations of interest at 3 per cent. I really do not think it is worth the calculation. If my interpretation is right, which I think it is, it is hard on a man to have to make these almost double payments while he is unemployed. I would suggest that the question of arrears should stand over until he was employed again, and that he should be allowed a fair time to pay without the calculation of interest. In order to get these questions cleared up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I move this Amendment.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Gentleman has given a series of utterances. I am very glad to be able to assure him that not one of them is relevant to this Sub-section. It is a purely declaratory one. The question of arrears comes later on, but as this is purely declaratory, and really makes no difference, I agree that it should be omitted.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
If this is left out, is there any provision whatever for a temporarily unemployed contributor paying his contribution and preventing him from getting into arrears?
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I do not want to press the point in drafting. Can the right hon. Gentleman say where there is any definition of unemployment in Part I?
§ Question, "That the words of the Subsection stand part of the Clause," put and negatived.
I beg to move at the end of Sub-section (4) to add the words, "unless the contributor is not eligible for an old age pension, in which case such person shall have the opportunity of continuing the contributions under the same conditions as prior to his attaining the age of seventy."
This Amendment is much desired by members of friendly societies such as the National Provident Friendly Societies, the Foresters, and the United Patriots. It applies to just those people who are most in need not to be disturbed, and to those who are disqualified from old age pensions.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The effect of this proposal would be to impose upon the fund an annual charge of between half a million and a million at the expense of the poorest members for the benefit of those who had got over £31 a year. I think that that is very undesirable. If it is done at all, and I have no doubt that eventually it may be contemplated, it must be as part of an Amendment of the Old Age Pensions Act extending pensions to the whole of those who have not yet got them. But there are so many more urgent needs which call now for attention that I think it would be a great mistake to adopt this proposal. Those who did not claim old age pensions must have at least £31 a year, otherwise they would have claimed the pensions. This money does not come out of the pockets of the State. It comes entirely out of the fund, and we would have to reduce the benefits for people who are much poorer in order to maintain the resources of the fund if this proposal were adopted.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I think the right hon. Gentleman has not exhausted the category of the persons who would be affected by the Bill. It is by no means the case that 219 everybody whose income does not exceed the limit of £31 is eligible for an old age pension. There are regulations requiring residence in the United Kingdom for a period of years immediately preceding the date on which the would be pensioner reaches the pensionable age. I think that there are other provisions which disqualify various people. That is one consideration which I think should be borne in mind. Another is you have denied to the people who have arrived at this mature age the benefits for which a large number of them have insured. The right hon. Gentleman says that if this Amendment is carried it will confer benefit on this particular class of persons at the expense of persons who are less well off than themselves. I do not follow that argument. Surely if the right hon. Gentleman, is fair all these people are brought into the scheme on equal terms. The. right hon. Gentleman seems to admit that they are not. I suppose he is bearing in mind the cases pointed out last night where contributions are taken from the very young in order to confer them on the very old.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
What I want to point out is that if this is to be given to the person who has got £20 a year, it ought also to be given to the old age pensioners. It ought to be given all round. That of course would be a matter of enormous expense and we should have to re-cast all the benefits. What the hon. Member proposes is that a benefit, which is not given to the old age pensioner, because he is one, should be given to the person who has got £31 a year. That would be a discrimination in favour of the well-to-do.
§ Mr. FORSTER
There are other members of the community who certainly have less than £31 a year and who are prevented from drawing old age pensions, and I think it is that class of persons that this Amendment really wishes to include.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I think that the reply of the right hon. Gentleman does not really cover the ground. I would be glad if he could tell us whether it is possible to consider the cases of these old persons who from no fault of their own are at present disqualified from receiving old age pensions. We might fairly restrict the category so that anybody in receipt of an income of £31 or upwards should be 220 omitted. I think that there is a considerable number of persons who are unfairly treated under the Bill as it stands, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman may be able to do something for them.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
No one is insured for benefit after seventy, and the persons who receive old age pensions are not insured because the Government provide for them. If this Amendment were carried it would confer a benefit upon the better off which it does not give to those who are not well off. The proposition of the hon. Gentleman would completely upset the whole of the rates, and therefore I do trust he will see that it is quite impossible to adopt it as against poorer persons.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I quite realise the full force of what the right hon. Gentleman has said that people with £31 a year are not entitled to pension. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us who are the persons under the Old Age Pensions Act who are not well off to the extent which he has stated. He states that the Bill does not insure above seventy, the reason being that above seventy old age pensions are given, but if there are any who are not well off, and who are not eligible for the old age pension they ought to be considered.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I cannot think of any class. Of course, it is very difficult to draw an Act of Parliament from which somebody will not be left out, but they are very small factors. I think there is some hardship with regard to British-born people who have married aliens, and cases of that kind. But those are cases which we are proposing to rectify in a Bill which is now before the House. It is really a matter for Amendment of the Old Age Pensions Act, and is quite apart from this Bill.
§ Mr. CAVE
The Old Age Pensions Act deals with people who have been British subjects for twenty years.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That also we are dealing with under the Bill before the House to amend the Old Age Pensions. Act.
§ Mr. CAVE
There is the case of the undeserving person, not merely the criminal, but the man who does not work. He is not eligible for pension. And there is the case of lunatics who do not get old age pensions, yet they, as in other cases, might be very badly in need of aid. I do not want, of course, to press the Amendment in its present form, because I quite agree that if a man has over £31 a year he is not a fit person for benefit under this Bill. But there are classes of persons who, I think, ought to be considered specially, and I hope the matter will receive the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman. It would be rather hard that a man who has insured right up to the age of seventy in a friendly society should, the moment he is seventy, drop out of benefit altogether, with the possibility that he may not get a pension at all. I think the matter does deserve a little more consideration.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
There is the case of old people who have suffered short terms of imprisonment for very venial offences, and who are excluded from old age pensions at present. When the Old Age Pensions Bill went to another place the kind and wise people there put in an Amendment to the effect that imprisonment up to one month would not disqualify. When the Bill came back here that Amendment was resisted by the Government not on the ground that they did not approve of it, but because it involved some of those privileges of which so much has been made. People who go to gaol for short terms for small offences certainly ought not to be excluded.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Of course, if there are any cases which are not covered which ought to be covered, I will consider the point, but this Amendment I could not possibly accept.
Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer consider the case of those members of existing friendly societies to whom I referred? It is quite true they may be provided for under Clause 55 (c), but on the other hand they may not. If those cases are taken into account I am prepared to withdraw this Amendment on the understanding that the figures the right hon. Gentleman gave us are correct, and that it would cause an additional charge of a million, which would have to be paid out of other people's benefits. It seems a little odd to me that so large a cost should be created 222 by this Amendment, confined as it is to people who are employed at the age of seventy.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
But there may be cases in which a person so exempted would not lose the qualification for exemption. A man may be exempted if he is dependent on another. After a time the support which made him dependent at the time he got the certificate of exemption might fail, and he might go to an employer who did not require exemption.
§ Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (5), to leave out the words, "such account and dealt with in such manner as may be prescribed," and to insert instead thereof the words, "the credit of the account of such person to be opened at the post office-nearest to the place of abode. The sums so credited shall be applied so far as they will extend or so far as may be required in providing medical benefit for such person, and any balance shall be paid to such person on attaining the age of seventy, and in the event of the death of such person under the age of seventy shall be paid. to his widow, or, her failing, to his next of kin."
This refers to those persons for whom, the employer continues to pay, although they are not insured persons, and although. no contribution is deducted from the workman's wage. The employer has to continue to pay in respect of the person employed over sixty-five, also of the person with an income of £20 or over who obtains, a certificate of exemption under Clause 2, and, further, in respect of persons who are dependent upon another, under Clause 2.
223 As the Bill is drawn the employer's contribution of 3d. or more a week goes apparently to a general fund.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
On a point of Order. May I ask whether the discussion of this Amendment will not embarrass the discussion of Clause 32 dealing with deposit contributors, where, it appears to me, this suggestion ought rightly to be made.
This has nothing to do with the Post Office contributors, and the persons who are exempted under the Clause for whom the employers are to contribute can in no conceivable way be attached to the Clause dealing with deposit contributors.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think the Amendment would interfere with the proper discussion of Clause 32.
If it did interfere with Clause 32 dealing with deposit contributors I certainly should not willingly move it. Under the Bill as drawn the employer's contribution is to go to the general fund, to be dealt with in such a manner as may be prescribed. There is no indication anywhere of what is going to happen to the money. These amounts are contributed by employers, and it seems to me that if it is right to exact a contribution from the employer, then the contribution ought to go to the benefit of the person employed; it ought not to go to the general and unknown benefit. I have suggested in the form of my Amendment that it should be be paid into a post office near the place of abode of the employed person and should be applied so far as might be necessary, in providing medical benefit, and any balance should be paid to the person on attaining the age of seventy, or, if he die, should go to his next of kin. I am not particularly wedded to the form of the application of the money provided it is applied in some form for the benefit of the employed person. I have suggested giving him medical benefit so far as the contribution will extend as probably the best way, but I should not mind if the Chancellor of the Exchequer made some other suggestion to apply the money in some other way, if the persons employed are benefited. It is important for those over sixty-five, because under 224 the Bill they get out of membership of the society, or rather cannot become members of approved societies. These persons will be worse off under the Bill, and there is a contribution which could be applied to their benefit and ought to be so applied.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE (who was very indistinctly heard)
In tills case you are only dealing with a certain class of persons; aged persons over 65, and I. have already indicated the intention of the Government in that respect. There are two or three other classes who are not quite in the same category. First of all there is the alien on board ship. We have prescribed in the Bill that the shipowner shall be charged in respect of the service of the alien and that there should be no advantage given to the shipowner when the employer is not a British subject. A good number of those serve on British ships and never come here again. By the Amendment we should be under an obligation to trace them and pay the money, and they could come over and claim the money. Another case is that of a person who is exempted on the ground that he is in receipt of an income of £26 per year. In the first case it would be very much to the advantage of the British mercantile marine if the money were paid to the sailors' fund as a whole. The hon. Gentle man makes that impossible by this Amendment. In case of a person who claims exemption in respect of an assured income of over £26, I submit that there again the contribution should be paid to the general fund, because this is a provision to insure persons who are in need. I suggest that the Government should have a certain discretion in these matters, and that to the old persons and one or two categories of that kind the money should go direct to the benefit of those persons. I am not sure that these words would do: "For the benefit of persons in respect of whom such contributions have been made.'' That would allow us in the case of aged sailors to pay the money to the general credit say of the sailors' fund.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
My right hon. Friend the Attorney-General is very doubtful whether the words would be acceptable. At any rate, as long as we have a clear understanding as to what is meant perhaps I would not insert any words, and words could be inserted on the Report Stage, so long as there is general 225 agreement as to what the Committee really desires; I do not think the hon. Gentleman who moved differs substantially from me about the other categories. I think he would agree with me that it is desirable in those cases to pay the money to the general fund, and that it should not be handed over to the individual in respect of whom the money is earned, and that is why it is far better there should be a certain amount of discretion. For my part I think it is far better to adhere to the words proposed. You might safeguard that by saying that the rules should be submitted to Parliament.
§ Mr. G. J. SANDYS
Are we to understand that there is to be a sailors' fund particularly devoted to sailors?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
No. I believe there are sailors' societies and I suggest there should be power to give the benefit to a fund of that character.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I think the course suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer meets the particular point that my hon. Friend had in view in moving the Amendment. He was anxious to secure that the money paid in respect of those old people should really be devoted to them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer states that he is going to see that that is done, and therefore it is satisfactory. The Chancellor pointed out that there were certain classes of individuals who might be held to come within the scope of this Amendment. My hon. Friend is not so much concerned with those. His main object is to protect the interests of the old people.
§ Mr. FORSTER
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I am sure, will admit that it is reasonable we should have those Amendments on the Paper as soon as we can. We ask that they should be put on the Paper at the earliest possible moment, so that we may really see what he has in mind and what his method really is.
§ Mr. CAVE
We should understand what the proposal is. This Amendment is to a Sub-section dealing with two classes of people. The first is that of persons who are employed after sixty-five years. As to those, I understand we are sooner or later to have proposals from the Government ear-marking contributions in respect of those persons from their benefit. That is what my hon. Friend suggests. The Chancellor said something about aliens, but surely aliens are not under this Subsection at all. They are wholly outside this question, and I do not see how the case of aliens bears on this Amendment in any way. There is a second class of persons exempt by receiving certificates under Clause 2. Take those persons who have become exempt because they are dependent on other people, and suppose such persons, having been exempt, cease to be dependent on anybody else and earn their own living, are not they to have the benefit of contributions paid in respect of their work.
§ Mr. CAVE
The right hon. Gentleman did not mention them. I do not understand the final suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman about ear-marking the money for the benefit of a class. I think it would be very difficult to do that. I suggest that the better course is to ear-mark these contributions for the benefit of individuals in respect of whom they are made. I do not think this is a fund in which to make profit out of the labour of individuals.
§ Mr. HOLT
I should like to say a word in regard to the question of alien sailors. I agree in exacting the same contribution in respect of aliens as in respect of British sailors, but I do hope my right hon. Friend will not consider that he has in any way pledged himself as to the disposal of that money. I cannot for the life of me see why the British sailor has any greater claim to share in that money than any other employed Britisher. I really would ask the Chancellor very seriously, because the whole subject is a very difficult one, to clearly understand that no pledge has been given in regard to the disposal of the money raised for alien or non-British sailors under this Bill, and that we are free to deal with it as we think right in the future.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
We would not be free to deal with it if this Amendment 227 were adopted. There are a good many similar cases of the kind, and each class should be considered very carefully. There are some aliens who practically live in this country, and there are others who never appear in this country at all. You cannot in those cases undertake to dispose of this benefit to them.
§ Mr. CASSEL
Is it not the fact that aliens do not come in under this Sub-section, and that they must be Post Office contributors? They cannot be members of an approved society, so that the case does not arise on the Amendment under consideration. They come in under Clause 35.
I propose to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. The Chancellor has, as I understand, intimated that as regards people over sixty-five.
§ 5.0 P.M.
And the category of dependents, to bring the employer's contribution to their direct benefit. As regards aliens I did not think, personally, that they were in the Bill. I never assumed that the alien was within this Clause. I should never have suggested that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should find out which was the nearest post office to an alien sailor. I should like to withdraw the Amendment if I may.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.