§ (1) In the case of insured persons who are under the age of twenty-one years and unmarried, sickness benefit and disablement benefit shall be at the reduced rates specified in Table B. in Part I. of the Fourth Schedule to this Act.
§ (2) The rates of sickness and disablement benefits may in any case, and shall in all cases where the rate of sickness benefit or disablement benefit (as the case may be) exceeds two-thirds of the usual rate of wages or other remuneration earned by insured persons, be reduced to such an extent as the society or committee administering the benefit, with the consent of the Insurance Commissioners, determines; but where such reduction is 894 made provision shall be made by the society or committee, with the like consent, for the grant of one or more additional benefits of a value equivalent to such reduction.
§ (3) Sickness benefit shall be reduced in accordance with Table C. in Part I. of the Fourth Schedule to this Act in the case of any insured person who is over fifty years, of age at the date of any claim by him for such benefit and has not then paid at least five hundred weekly contributions.
§ (4) In the case of every person over the age of sixteen years who, not having been previously insured under this part of this- Act, becomes an employed contributor subsequently to the expiration of one year from the commencement of this Act, the rate of sickness benefit and maternity benefit to which he is entitled shall (unless he proves that his time since he attained the age of sixteen has been spent in a school or college, or otherwise in the completion of his education, or unless he undertakes himself to pay the difference between the voluntary rate and the employed rate, or pays to the Insurance Commissioners, to be credited to the society, such capital sum as will be sufficient to secure him benefits at the full rate) be such reduced rate as may be fixed in accordance with tables, to be prepared by the Insurance Commissioners, but not in any case less than five shillings a week for sickness benefit, or fifteen shillings for maternity benefit:
§ Provided that if at any time subsequently such person would become entitled to sickness benefit at a higher rate if he were treated as having become an employed contributor as from the time when he attained the age of sixteen, or as from the expiration of one year after the commencement of this Act, whichever date-may be the later, and as being in arrear for all contributions which, had he become an employed contributor at that date, would have been payable in respect of him between that date and the date when he actually became an employed contributor, he shall, if he so elects, be entitled to be so treated.
§ Mr. GODFREY LOCKER-LAMPSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the word "twenty-one" ["under the age of twenty-one years"], in order to insert the word "eighteen." This may be called a halfway-house Amendment. The provision in the Clause as it stands seems to me to be signally unfair, because a person under twenty-one is to get reduced 895 benefits, unlike those who are older, while they are not to pay reduced contributions when the wages are below a certain limit. I imagine the right hon. Gentleman has cut these benefits down in the Bill on the ground that a large proportion of persons under twenty-one are unmarried, and do not require so large a benefit. I think even in that case a benefit of 5s. would be a very small amount for sick pay. I have been looking into the statistics, and I believe there are thousands under twenty-one who are married, and in that case a 5s. benefit would be totally inadequate in time of sickness. With such a small benefit they would be hardly able to keep a roof over their heads in time of illness.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is making persons under twenty-one subscribe a very large premium to provide a reserve fund for the older members, and surely the least he can do is to treat these young persons as generously as possible. If after all they have got to pay more than they would otherwise have to pay in order to benefit those persons who enter a scheme at an older age, the least the right hon. Gentleman can do is to give them full benefit. They are really being penalised in three directions. In the first place, they have to pay a larger premium than their age really warrants; in the second place, they receive less benefits for the sum contributed by them; and, in the third place, the employer does not take the burden of the contribution off their shoulders when their wages are below a certain limit. I think I have said enough to make this point clear, and I hope the First Lord of the Admiralty will see his way to accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. McKENNA
This question has arisen on many Amendments before. The question is what is the best means of disposing of our available fund. If this Amendment is accepted, I think it would cost for men only £230,000 a year, and proportionately for women.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
The actuaries' report places the amount at 2s. 3d. for every person entering at sixteen years 896 of age. The cost of this Amendment would be 6d., and that would leave a margin of 1s. 9d. profit.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Committee must understand what this margin means. No actuary would certify a scheme as sound unless there was a certain margin left for sickness benefit. The figures are so uncertain in every case that it is not sufficient to have simply your estimate of the amount of sickness, but you have to allow more than that amount, and you must leave a margin in order to have sufficient money to deal with exceptional sickness. Sickness is always so uncertain. The margin is estimated for the first year. Supposing, when the scheme has been in operation for a year or two it is found the actuaries' margin of security has not been called upon, the money will not be thrown away, but will be available for investment, and additional benefits can be given in the future. If the hon. Gentleman asks for this margin of security to be expended at once he asks the actuaries to certify as sound a scheme under conditions which they cannot accept. It must not be supposed, therefore, that what appears in the actuaries' report as a margin is a margin which can be expended in benefits in the first few years. We have, undoubtedly, something we can expend, and it as well the Committee should be in possession, of all the figures.
We had yesterday a discussion upon the question whether payment should be from the first day of sickness instead of from the fourth day, and it was stated the cost of that increased benefit would come to something over £500,000. It was further stated that money is available. There is also, it is true, still a certain amount available from what I call the margin of security over and above what the actuaries would insist upon. But that additional amount is small. I say "still left" because £130,000 has already been disposed of in giving additional maternity benefit. There is, however, still a small sum of about £80,000 left. If we deal with men only, we have saved by not paying benefits from the first day's sickness about £400,000, and we have got this other £80,000 to which I have alluded. If the Committee insists now upon paying full rates at eighteen instead of at twenty-one, there will be an immediate absorption for men only of £230,000, and it is obvious it would no longer be open to consider whether we should pay sick benefit from the first day instead of the fourth day of sickness, be- 897 cause there would not be sufficient money left. This Amendment, therefore, would close the door once and for all on the question of paying sick benefit from the first instead of the fourth day. If the Committee does not insist upon this change in the Bill, then, as I have said, the question of payment on the first instead of the fourth day of sickness is still left open.
§ Mr. H. W. FORSTER
I want to ask the the Chancellor of the Exchequer a simple question which arises out of the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty. Is it still open to consider whether we pay sick benefit on the first or fourth day? We divided against it yesterday, and the House decided in favour of paying from the fourth day.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I did not hear what passed, but I understand my right hon. Friend simply repeated what I said yesterday. There is £560,000 saved to the fund by that proviso, and, if it is not expended in other ways by benefits the Government propose to introduce, I shall certainly consider myself bound to move to recommit the Bill in order to re-open that question.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
There are to my knowledge in our large towns scores of young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one who are lodgers maintaining themselves and paying something like from 12s. to 14s. or 15s. per week for their lodgings. A young man, say of the age of nineteen, is compelled to pay 4d. per week under this Bill for insurance. If he is taken sick and is off for three or four weeks or three or four months, he will under the Fourth Schedule only be able to receive 5s. per week. It is quite evident he will get weekly into debt. I therefore think it is essential these young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, who are paying 4d. per week, should be entitled to recive 10s. per week when they are sick. In the Fourth Schedule there are nine additional benefits, and they are problematic at the end of sixteen years in this sense. If the reserves are accumulated, there is in the Schedule nine additional benefits at the end of sixteen years.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
My hon. Friend is wrong. That simply refers to the additional benefits which may be granted after the first valuation. The benefits at the 898 end of sixteen years are "as Parliament may determine," and that is a very different thing.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
I will assume they are given after the first valuation. Several of these benefits at least could be set aside in favour of giving a certain amount of money to some of these young men. This is really a very serious matter. I know working-class life, and I think there could be nothing more serious than that a young man in lodgings should receive only 5s. per week when he is sick. He is compelled under the Bill to pay 4d. per week, the same as any other man, and I am quite certain this reduction will cause very grave dissatisfaction. I am glad the Chancellor of the Exchequer agreed yesterday to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Lees Smith) to give benefits under the age of sixteen. That was a very great improvement, and I am certain that if between this and the Report stage he will consider the question of giving these extra benefits between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one or of reducing the age from twenty-one to eighteen, the Bill will be much more popular with a large number of these young men, and they will be encouraged to pay their contributions under the Bill.
The First Lord of the Admiralty seemed to entirely overlook the object of the Bill, which, after all, is to give proper insurance to those who need it. A wage-earner who requires to be insured at all requires to be insured so as not to suffer loss of wages whilst sick, and, if we keep our eyes upon the primary object of the Bill, we can more readily test the Government's reply to this Amendment. If a person of sixteen, seventeen, eighteen or nineteen—and I myself should prefer this Amendment to be sixteen instead of eighteen—has to earn his living and is therefore compulsorily insured, he should be compensated for the loss of his earnings during sickness, and the only point is whether the compensation provided for in the Bill is sufficient or not. If a person is under twenty-one and unmarried the sickness and disablement benefit in the case of men is 5s. a week, and for women it is 4s. in both cases. Is it sufficient to give 5s. per week compensation for sickness to a wage-earner? In my view, it is not. In my view, the primary object of the Bill is not being fulfilled in. regard to those under twenty-one years of age unless a larger benefit is given, and indeed unless something is given which 899 will compensate them or help to tide them over the period of sickness. The answer of the right hon. Gentleman was one of cost. Can it be done? As my hon. Friend the mover of the Amendment pointed out, there is over and above the ordinary average margin of 11.4 per cent. in respect of these particular people on the scale of benefits provided in the Bill a very considerable profit, and it would only mean a relatively small proportion of that profit to meet the Amendment.
I know at is included, but the profit as regards these people goes up to make that 11.4 per cent., which is the average margin for all the insured people. The actual margin for those under twenty-one is very much more than 11.4 per cent. There is a larger margin having regard to the lower benefits for these people, and I submit we can dip into that margin and still retain a profit in respect of them. The First Lord of the Admiralty said the money would not be wasted. It would be still available, and, if after a few years it was found it was not all eaten up, it would be available for additional benefits. Yes, but for additional benefits for whom? Not for these people under twenty-one, but for all the participants in the scheme. You are going to take from them a larger profit than from anyone else, and, when you have the money available, it will not go to them specifically. If the First Lord of the Admiralty assures me it will go to them specifically, there is something in his point, but it will become a surplus in each approved society, and it will obviously have to be applied by the approved society to the benefit of all insured in that society. An approved society could not pick and choose as to whom it should give the surplus saved out of the whole of the operations of the society. They must be all treated alike. Then the First Lord of the Admiralty said also that there was involved in the decision of this Amendment the question whether the sick benefit was to be paid for the first three days of the sickness. We argued that point for hours yesterday, and I understood the Government would not accept the Amendment which was proposed from this side by the hon. Member for the City of Worcester (Mr. Goulding). I therefore fail entirely to understand how 900 the First Lord can suggest that that decision can be reviewed or in any way altered by the decision come to on this particular Amendment. I hope that the Committee will consider this Amendment on its merits, and not be drawn aside by any question in regard to the three days' payment. Let the Committee say whether or not it wishes that the benefit shall go to contributors under twenty-one and unmarried; whether they are to receive a full benefit out of moneys which are already provided by the contributions that they have paid.
§ Mr. GILL
I think that this Amendment ought to be passed. The object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to be to get as near as possible to the friendly society system. Young persons, to the numbers of thousands in Yorkshire alone, begin contributing at the age of twelve; it is a very common thing for them to begin to pay at the age of thirteen, and, therefore, they are paying for at least a period of eight years without getting full benefit under this Bill. We consider it is not fair that they should be deprived of the full benefit. There are numbers of young men and young women who earn a considerable wage between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, and many of them have families dependent on them. It would, consequently, be a very great hardship indeed, so far as they are concerned, if this Clause were allowed to remain in its present form. There are other grounds on which this Amendment ought to be supported. We are handicapping these young people who begin to pay at the age of twelve or thirteen years, and I submit that at any rate they ought to get the benefit at eighteen years of age.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I should like to support the first argument advanced by the hon. Member who has just spoken, without considering, for a moment, the problem of the total amount of money available, which is a separate matter. The first point urged by the hon. Member was that this Committee would be ill-advised if it departed from the practice of the great friendly societies on certain matters which deeply affect the working classes. The friendly societies may be assumed to have discovered what really does suit the working classes. Let me compare for one moment what will happen under the Bill if it passes and what obtains at the present moment. At the present time there is a sick benefit of 14s. per week, and it can 901 be received for six months by persons who are much younger than twenty-one. This Bill, however, contemplates a benefit of 5s. for the same period for persons tinder twenty-one. Thus you have a huge discrepancy between the standard set up by the friendly societies and the standard which it is endeavoured to set up by this Bill. You contemplate, however, that the friendly society out of its special fund, or its reserve, fund, will make up the difference. I assume that where a young person has been paying into a friendly society and would be entitled to 14s. per week for six months you are going to give him 5s. only, and the friendly society will have to make up the difference of 9s. If the purport of the Bill and the expectation of the Government is that those who have paid their money to a friendly society for some years in order to get 14s. a week are now only to receive 5s. weekly if they are under twenty-one years of age, I say you are making a very vast change in what has been the practice of friendly societies based on the ascertained needs of the working classes. If those who have paid are only to get 5s. instead of 14s., and if the friendly society are to find the difference, then you have a great departure from the policy of the friendly societies.
There is a good deal of danger attendant on such a course. But it does not stand alone. What is true of this is equally true of other Amendments, and, in all these cases, I submit that during the Committee stage it would be wise to accept the views of the friendly societies on this matter. I have two reasons for advising that course. The first is, we may as well put our impress on the practice of the friendly societies until we have an opportunity of examining the alternative benefits which, I understand, the Chancellor of the Exchequer intends to offer. That is one argument. The Government have said, "Do not ask for this money now, because there is only a certain amount of money available, and, if you take it now, you cannot have it later on, and we shall advise that it be applied to a better purpose." That is not sound argument. It ought not to be advanced until we have the alternative scheme before us. If I am right in supposing that the friendly societies will be asked to make up to their members the difference between the standard they observe at the present time and the standard which this Bill will set up, then I say that, by this Amendment, and by similar Amendments, you are imperilling the financial position 902 of the friendly societies. We cannot really decide whether we ought to depart from the standard of the friendly societies until we have examined the financial clauses later on and gauged the effect on the friendly societies, both in respect of your alternative benefit and in respect of the effect the finance would have on the friendly societies. I strongly hold it will be rash and ill-advised for us to depart on this and similar questions from the standard hitherto upheld by the friendly societies.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
This is one of those questions which I referred to at the commencement of our proceedings, yesterday, where I thought that the House must, as a whole, accept the responsibility. I want to impress that on the Committee before they come to a decision on this point. It is not a decision that affects the finance of the Treasury. It is one which will affect the finances of the friendly societies themselves—I mean, of course, the approved societies. This decision cuts very seriously into the available margin, which, I think, it is very important the approved societies should have before they embark on an enterprise of this kind. I cannot help thinking that, if for a moment, we had no sides in this House, but were considering this as if we were a board of management framing, not a National Insurance Bill, but a great insurance scheme, which we were to have the financial responsibility of running later on as a commercial undertaking, we should consider it, I will not say more carefully, but, at any rate, a little more impartially. If it is the view of the House of Commons that this Amendment should be adopted, I will not challenge a Division upon it. But I do want the House to realise exactly what it is doing. There is a margin beyond which no actuary would approve any scheme at all. It is a margin, I think, of 20 per cent. This Amendment does not wipe out the whole of that 20 per cent., but it comes pretty near to it, and, therefore, in accepting it, the Committee would just cut the margin right down to the bone, and beyond that nothing could be done which any actuary would ever accept responsibility for.
What is the proposal? It is that under this Bill boys of eighteen years of age should get exactly the same benefit as those who have full responsibilities of manhood. Is that really desirable? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Mr. Worthington-Evans) says that the benefits will have been paid for, but if 903 you are to go upon that line then the full benefits ought to be payable at fourteen years of age. Hon. Gentlemen supporting this Amendment realise that there is a time at which you certainly ought not to give the contributor the full advantages. The friendly societies, when they consider the benefits under their scheme, take into consideration the period at. which the money is most useful to insured persons. Can anyone doubt that this money, which amounts to £250,000 or £300,000, would be infinitely more valuable to these boys and girls later on in their life? It is not a question of saving a penny for the State. The State pays exactly the same sum whichever plan is adopted. I earnestly ask the Committee for a moment to set aside party considerations in this matter. Let them consider it purely as a commercial proposition. Let them think what they would do if they were a board of management of a friendly society. Of course, boys and girls who have paid their money, want to be entitled to get their return as soon as possible. But I think it would be infinitely better to give it to them later on, when they will stand most in need of it.
It is true that there are boys and girls who have the responsibility of maintaining a family. They have to maintain their mothers and their sisters in cases where the father is stricken down, and where there is no one else to keep the family going. I agree there may be a case for giving them a special benefit, and if the Committee of the House of Commons were to say that provided there were dependents they should be treated on exactly the same lines as married persons and should get full benefit I should not have a word to say against it. I intend to throw the whole responsibility in this matter on the Committee itself. If he general wish is that this shall be done I shall not resist it. But I am bound to enter my protest, and at the same time to give a warning to the Committee. I earnestly suggest that whatever is done should be done on the same basis as obtains in a friendly society, and I agree that if a boy or girl has a family dependent on them for support they deserve to be treated in the same way as a person twenty-two years of age.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
There was one observation of a critical character which fell from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to which I should like to refer, and I do not do so in any party sense. 904 The right hon. Gentleman asks us to consider what we would do if we were a Board of Management treating this matter as a commercial concern. But it should be remembered that that is not the position we occupy, and if we were a Board of Management treating this matter as a commercial concern we should be very careful about our power to pay benefits which were offered as an inducement to come in. If we give less benefit we should probably charge less premium. Here you force people in and you determine not a commercial or business proposition in the sense of which we have been speaking. I come to the proposition which has just been thrown out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In this matter every man must speak for himself. I have no authority to speak for others. I would suggest a slight extension, which I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way to grant. I would be satisfied with" the proposal he has made as regards sickness. The hard case is really the case of the young person who has dependents at home though not married—the wage earner of the family. If you look at the Schedule to which this Clause refers you will see it is not only sickness benefit which is affected. In the case of a woman the disablement benefit is also. The sickness benefit of a man is reduced from 10s. to 5s., but the disablement benefit of a man remains at 5s. The sickness benefit of a woman is reduced from 7s. 6d. to 4s., and then her disablement benefit is fixed at 4s. also. With the extension which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has offered to provide I think the reduced sickness benefit is justifiable. In later years those accustomed to help them die and they have no one to look to. But is the woman for all time to receive a reduced disablement benefit? I do not press the Chancellor of the Exchequer hard if he holds out against it. I would not press for the sickness benefit being higher than 4s. I would press for the disablement benefit if the sickness becomes disablement. Even though the cause of the disablement began, or the illness that caused it began, before twenty-one they should have the full disablement benefit. So far as I am concerned if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could give favourable consideration to this point I certainly would not divide against the Clause.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has frankly left this 905 question to the decision of the Committee. Does he think it wise in this great departure and experiment to reject the advice and experience of the affiliated and centralised friendly societies? The Manchester Unity states distinctly that it is not satisfied, and it is said by those acquainted with the industrial classes that 5s. is not an adequate sickness insurance for young persons between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one. The Hearts of Oak take exactly the same view. Of course the Chancellor of the Exchequer says this does away with the margin. After all, the Government have to face that, and they have got to recollect they are imposing on the friendly societies added burdens in certain respects. They have to deal with the reduced benefit to men over fifty, and they have to deal with men between sixty-five and seventy. This they have to meet out of any increased reserve the friendly societies acquire under the provisions of this Bill. It will be difficult if, in addition to that, they have in order to satisfy their young members to deal with cases of young men under twenty-one. And surely the Chancellor of the Exchequer has in view the necessity for keeping alive the spirit of thrift. I believe it is for this that the friendly societies have felt inclined to give adequate benefits. I think their experience and advice ought really to determine the question. I would ask the Chancellor whether, under these circumstances, and seeing the feeling that animates the Committee, he will not go the whole hog. I do not think what my right hon. Friend (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) has suggested meets the case. We ought to meet the friendly societies in the matter, recognise the added burdens we are putting on them later, and accept the Amendment.
I do not think it is possible to look at the question as the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested merely from the point of view of a business proposition for this insurance is compulsory. You have to look upon it from the point of view of justice, and that is the point of view those insured will look upon it. It is suggested we have reserved the full benefit until the time it is more wanted. That is an arguable proposition. The ages between eighteen and twenty-one are very healthy ages, and the benefits will not often be called upon at these ages. But when it is called upon, that is the time of life it is most wanted. I can hardly conceive a time when people feel the burden of sickness more. They may have more 906 responsibility in later years, but when they are older they probably have saved. But there is probably no saving with people of this class between eighteen and twenty-one; they will have to rely on what they get under the Bill. That also is an age which is very vital with regard to growth, and it may be you may save then and produce a future charge under the Bill. Between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one also people have perhaps a keener sense of justice and injustice than at a later age. These things ought to be considered and taken into account.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
The hon. Member who has just spoken objects to considering the matter as a business proposition.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
He would consider it from the point of justice. That is a distinction I do not understand. As far as I am concerned, as far as the Members of this House are concerned, they will regard justice as an essential element in a business proposition. If those young contributors get their contributions considered from the point of view of a business proposition, I think they have got essential justice done to them. Of course, the contention is they are not getting all they might get from the business point of view. The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Worthington-Evans) put that point most strongly, and seemed to think that these young persons are going always to be under the age of twenty-one—the boys who never grow up. He said it was true that the cumulative benefits would afterwards be distributed in the form of additional benefits, but they would not receive these benefits. There again he makes the assumption that the older people have never been under twenty-one. It is true that for some years after the Bill has passed there will be a considerable number of contributors who have never contributed under the age of twenty-one. But gradually that will right itself. In the course of time practically every insured member will also have been a contributor when under the age of twenty-one, and will have paid for the additional benefits he will be reaping—the benefits of his early thrift which have been imposed upon him by this Bill. Therefore, I contend that in the proposition as it stands, it is not only a business proposition, but essential justice is done. There is only one point on which 907 I would ask further concession. That is the point mentioned by the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain). There is some hardship on women who have their disablement benefit reduced while men have not got their disablement benefit reduced. It will involve only a very small amount of money, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer might give that concession.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
I would like to put the case of men I know very well—the Irish agriculturists. Take the case of the small Irish farmer with a farm of forty acres, who may employ one son and two daughters unmarried. That man has got to pay 1s. 7d. a week for these young people—that is, £3 16s. a year. The boy will get 5s. and the girls 4s. if ill, but it would take a long time for that man to work up to £3 16s. His son or daughter would have to be ill four or five months before he got his money back. Take the case of the young fellow. He will probably emigrate or join the police force. He has not got a manufacturing town to go to. At twenty-five years or younger he drifts away, and does not get any return for the money the farmer has paid. The money will be entirely lost as far as he and his family are concerned. We have been asked to consider this as a board of management, and I know this, if we were a board of management we would refer this Bill back for alterations and the Irish farmer and his family would get the full benefits.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) suggests that 4s. is a very small disablement benefit for a girl who is disabled for the rest of her life, but the disqualification, of course, would not extend beyond twenty-one. I think there is a good deal to be said for increasing the disablement benefit in a case where she is entirely crippled and incapable of doing anything. Temporary sickness is in a totally different category, and I should certainly not assent to that. I will read out what I would propose if this Amendment were rejected. I propose to add at the end of the Sub-section, ''provided that, where any such person being over the age of eighteen and a member of an approved society proves that one or more members of his family are wholly or mainly dependent on him, the Society shall dispense with such reduction."
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
May I ask whether in the other case—namely, of a young person 908 upon whom a family is not dependent, and who has paid for a higher benefit, the society will be bound by the contract to pay on the higher scale? There are young persons who have been paying 7½d. a week to get 18s. a week. Will they get the balance of 9s. for the first six months and 3s. for the next three months out of the society's funds, or will they get it at all?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That will depend entirely on the contract between them and the friendly societies; this does not interfere at all with the voluntary side of the societies; they may make any contract with their members, and if there is a contract to get 9s. they will get 9s. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent it.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I should like to assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, put in this form, I think it is entirely satisfactory. I think it is quite reasonable that if a man between eighteen and twenty-one has dependents he should come in like a man over twenty-one. A man over twenty-one as a rule has a wife and children. I appeal to the Committee not to reduce this benefit except in the exceptional case in the Chancellor's mind.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
The right hon. Gentleman said just now that on attaining the age of twenty-one a young person who was getting disablement benefit at the lower rate would suddenly come up to the upper rate. That I think was the intention, but is he quite clear that the drafting of the Bill provides it?
§ Mr. CASSEL
As every Member will be free to vote as he likes I should like to express the reason why I shall support the Amendment. It is simply on this ground. It raises a broad question of principle throughout the Bill. Is it business insurance or is it not? I think the more you stick to business lines—and in this case business and justice do go together; I do not recognise any difference between them—and the less to lines of benevolence the better. One of the things which has brought the German scheme more into discredit than anything else is the fact that more and more they have tended to run it, not on lines of business insur- 909 ance but on mere benevolence, and their interpretations of it have been on benevolent lines, and they have tried to meet hard cases. That is precisely what you are doing here. You are saying that two sets of people are making precisely the same contribution, and because you consider there is a hard case in the one and not in the other you are not giving them the same benefit. Then you are making it mere charity. If you make it benevolence you must go into every case on its merits, but if it is to be a business proposition at all you must run it on business lines and give the same benefits to people whom you compel to pay the same contributions. If it was merely coming out of public funds I could understand it and you would be justified in making the distinction, but when you compel a man to pay you have no right to give him a less benefit because in a particular case you may think that you are meeting some hardship. You cannot know all the circumstances of the case, which you must know if you want to meet hardships.
§ Mr. HAMERSLEY
There is one class of people who have not been brought in, and that is the agricultural labourers' boys who earn 10s. to 12s. a week. Their present position is that they can pay in, say to the Foresters, at eighteen about 3d. a week and get a sick benefit of 10s. for a period and 5s. afterwards. They will get the sick benefit before twenty-one. Whatever we do in this Bill, whether it is business or whatever it may be, we should not put a large class of the community in a worse position after the Bill is passed than they are in now. We should not do an injustice, and it is an injustice to deprive these boys of the sick benefit that they are entitled to at present. Out of 10s. a week a boy cannot pay more than 4d. or 6d., and if you compel him to pay 4d. when the Bill is passed he will not be able to go on with his society as he has done hitherto. You are doing a very grave injustice, and for that reason I shall vote for the Amendment.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I do not think the Amendment that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has foreshadowed can be regarded as satisfactory. The extra 5s. that he proposes to give in cases where the young person has dependents is nothing
§ more or less than a piece of State charity. It is given, not to the insured person, but to the dependents of the insured person, who are not themselves contributors, therefore it is payment from the fund to outside persons. That certainly is not a business proposition. The hon. Member (Mr. Booth) made an extremely valuable point when he pointed out that between the age of eighteen and twenty-one it is most important that a person should have all the sustenance it is possible to get. The crux of the matter, as it appears to me, is this. 1s 5s. a week enough to maintain a sick person at the age of from' eighteen to twenty-one? Frankly, we must all admit that it is not. If the medical attendant on the sick person were to order cod-liver oil the 5s. would be gone. The right hon. Gentleman said we are proposing if we pass the Amendment to give a young unmarried person between eighteen and twenty-one as much as we are giving to a married man with a family.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I am glad to know that. Doctors do not think so. I suppose port wine is also medicine?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
But the right hon. Gentleman was rather belated in his interruption. I have passed from that point. He said we are proposing by this further Amendment to give a person between eighteen and twenty-one as much as a married man with dependents. But this is the point of an observation like that. Is 10s. a week enough for a married man? If it were it might be reasonably argued that 10s. is too much for a young person who has no dependents. But 10s. is not too much for a single young person between eighteen and twenty-one, and that is the crux of the matter, and for that reason if the Amendment goes to a division I shall support it.
§ Question put, "That 'twenty-one' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 208; Noes, 162.913
|Division No. 280.]||AYES.||[5.30 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Agnew, Sir George William||Armitage, Robert|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Ainsworth, John Stirling||Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Alden, Percy||Baker, H. T. (Accrington)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Harwood, George||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Dowd, John|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Malley, William|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick)||Hayden, John Patrick||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Hayward, Evan||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)|
|Barry, Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Helme, Norval Watson||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Barton, William||Henry, Sir Charles S.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Beale, W. P.||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Higham, John Sharp||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George)||Hinds, John||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Bentham, G. J.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Holt, Richard Durning||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Radford, G. H.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hughes, S. L.||Rainy, Adam Rolland|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Hunter, W. (Govan)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||John, Edward Thomas||Reddy, M.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Joyce, Michael||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Keating, M.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Robinson, Sidney|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Kelly, Edward||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Lamb, Ernest Henry||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Rowlands, James|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'l'nd, Cockerm'th)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Clough, William||Leach, Charles||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Logan, John William||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Sheehy, David|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Lundon, T.||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lynch, A. A.||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Maclean, Donald||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Davies, E. William (Eifion)||MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Macpherson, James Ian||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||M'Callum, John M.||Taylor, T. C. (Radcliffe)|
|Dawes, J. A.||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Tennant, Harold John|
|Delany, William||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Manfield, Harry||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Dillon, John||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Doris, W.||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Duffy, William J.||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Meagher, Michael||Warner, Sir S. C. T.|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid.)||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Watt, Henry A.|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Mooney, J. J.||Webb, H.|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Morgan, George Hay||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Morrell, Philip||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Ferens, T. R.||Munro, R.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Murray, Captain Hon. A.||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Needham, Christopher T.||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Glanville, H. J.||Neilson, Francis||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Nolan, Joseph||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Nuttall, Harry|
|Hackett, John||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Adamson, William||Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Bigland, Alfred||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Ashley, W. W.||Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender|
|Astor, Waldorf||Boyton, J.||Clive, Captain Percy Archer|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Brace, William||Clynes, J. R.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Bridgeton, William Clive||Cooper, Richard Ashmole|
|Barnes, G. N.||Burn, Col. C. R.||Craig, Norman (Kent)|
|Barnston, Harry||Butcher, J. G.||Crean, Eugene|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilton)||Cassel, Felix||Croft, H. P.|
|Beach, Han. Michael Hugh Hicks||Cator, John||Crooks, William|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Johnson, W.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||Jowett, F. W.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Doughty, Sir George||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Kerry, Earl of||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l, Walton)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Snowden, Philip|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Stanier, Beville|
|Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants W.)||Lansbury, George||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Fell, Arthur||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Sutton, John E.|
|Fleming, Valentine||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Swift, Rigby|
|Forster, Henry William||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Gardner, Ernest||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Mackinder, H. J.||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Gill, A. H.||Macmaster, Donald||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Goldstone, Frank||MacNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wadsworth, J.|
|Grant, J. A.||Morrison-Bell, Capt E. F. (Ashburton)||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Mount, William Arthur||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Walsh, J. (Cork, South)|
|Haddock, George Bahr||Newdegate, F. A.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Newman, John R. P.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trant)|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wardle, George, J.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||O'Grady, James||Wheler, Granvitis C. H.|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||White, Maj. G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Hancock, J. G.||Ormsby-Gore Hon. William||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Wilkle, Alexander|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Parker, James (Halifax)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Hickman, Col. Thomas E.||Pointer, Joseph||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hills, John Waller (Durham)||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Hodge, John||Quilter, William Eley C.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Richards, Thomas||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Horne, W E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Ronaldshay, Earl of||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)||Peel and Mr. Goldsmith.|
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I beg to move in Sub-section (1), after the word "unmarried" to insert the words "or married, if in the opinion of the local health committee physically or mentally unfit for marriage."
The object I have in moving this Amendment is to refer to a subject which is somewhat germane to that referred to with such ability and delicacy by my hon. Friend the Member for South Birmingham (Mr. Amery). On the face of this Clause it puts a premium on boy and girl marriages. I am not going to suggest whether such marriages should or should not take place, but I say that we ought not to do anything to put a premium on the marriage of either party if physically or mentally unfit for marriage. I do not propose to enter upon the large subject of eugenics generally, but I do hold the view that the time is coming when this House will have to follow the course adumbrated by the Bishop of Ripon at the last meeting of the British Association in an able address on restricting in every way possible the multiplication of the unfit. I think there are many opportunities presented in this Bill for commencing such a process, and, it appears to me that this is one of those opportunities. It is common knowledge that 914 there are a large number of young persons suffering from such complaints as epilepsy who are to be found throughout the country, and who under existing legislation and local regulations are not restricted in any way from contracting marriages which undoubtedly in the long run operate to the national degeneration. There are also a large number of young persons, particularly young women, who are wholly unable to undertake the duties which marriage involves. Surely if this Clause puts a premium on early marriages-we might extend the operation of the Clause so as to reduce the benefits to those persons who, in the opinion of the local health committee, are mentally or physically not fit to be married. I hope this question may be raised and discussed by other members of the House at later stages of the Bill. But there is an opportunity at this stage of incorporating something of the nature of eugenic science in this Bill, and it is for that purpose I move the Amendment.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
I do not suppose that the hon. Member, however interested he may be in the subject of eugenics, can expect the Government to accept this Amendments. 915 I appreciate that he has strong views on this question, but he ought to find a more proper place than the Clause we are now discussing for the words which he proposes to introduce. Let us see what this means. Apparently the local health committee is to sit as a kind of tribunal, and thereupon each man who is intending to marry is to come before the committee and submit to a number of questions and to an. examination as to whether he is a person either physically or mentally unfit for marriage I quite see that there might be upon a local committee, and particularly on local health committees in different localities, different views prevailing as to what is meant by physically or mentally unfit for marriage, and I certainly cannot contemplate this Committee passing such an Amendment as this, and leaving people who desire to enter upon the holy state of matrimony to have their fate decided by a local health committee after an inquisition has been made.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I think it appeared from what fell from my hon. Friend (Mr. Bathurst), in bringing the Amendment before the Committee that it was not with the view to its acceptance by the Government it was brought forward, but to call very brief attention to a most important question. My hon. Friend was careful to indicate that his object was to elicit the views of the Committee upon this very important question, and I am quite sure that he does not propose to press the Amendment to a Division. I am sure that he, as much as the Attorney-General himself, is alive to the inconvenience of the method adumbrated in the Amendment, but I think the Committee are quite seized with the fact that the mode of procedure which my hon. Friend has suggested would be impracticable.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I promised to move an Amendment at the end of the Sub-section (1). I move, to insert the following words: "Provided that where any such person, being over the age of eighteen, and a member of an approved society, proves that one or more members of his family are wholly on mainly dependent upon him, the society shall dispense with such reduction."
§ Mr. FORSTER
The Amendment which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has just moved is intended to carry out the understanding he came to with my right hon. 916 Friend the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain). I only wish to ask whether the Amendment is in a considered form of words. Before whom is the person to prove that one or more members of his family are dependent upon him?
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has considered what the cost would be if he extended this Amendment to those at sixteen. We know very well that a certain number—I do not know whether it is a large number or not—of insured persons between the ages of sixteen and eighteen are contributing substantially to the family income. They have widowed mothers dependent upon them and so on. I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that the cost of extending this Amendment to those of sixteen would be very small indeed, and in a great many cases would give a substantial benefit.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I agree with my hon. Friend, and, although it adds something to the cost, I am willing to substitute sixteen for eighteen.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not think it will be a very serious matter, because it refers to a restricted class. The vast majority of these boys are boys who are not maintaining a family.
Amendment made in proposed Amendment: Leave out the word "eighteen," and insert instead thereof the word "sixteen."
§ Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
I do not understand the effect of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Exeter. I rather think that this matter has been dealt with.
§ Mr. DUKE
The object of my proposed Amendment is to make an exception in favour of existing members of friendly societies, from the rule laid down in the Sub-section, so that men who, by their 917 existing contracts have entitled themselves to a scale of benefit which would be infringed upon by the form of the Subsection as it stands, should get the benefit of their existing contract. It is a limitation of the generality of the Sub-section.
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN
During yesterday's proceeding we had a long discussion on that very point, and I think that that has been decided by the Committee.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not say that it was the identical point. What we discussed and decided yesterday was the larger point which comprehends this one.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I submit that the discussion yesterday was about the disqualification of Sub-section (7) in the last Clause. This is really a different point. This is where a person is insured for a larger amount than is contemplated in the general scheme of the Act.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
If that were permissible we might go on with an infinite series of diminishing points.
I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (2).
There are two cases in which sickness and disablement benefit may be reduced. They may be reduced in any case without apprently any limitation to the extent that the society or committee administering the benefit may think fit, provided that that committee or society has the consent of the Insurance Commissioners; and in all cases where the benefit would exceed two-thirds of the wages they must be compulsorily reduced to such sum as shall be equal to two-thirds of the wages. If the Sub-section is to remain as it stands I would prefer it out altogether, but possibly words may be found to limit its application. For example, where wages are less than 15s. a week a very inadequate benefit would be given if the two-thirds limit were to apply. Assume that the wages earned were 12s. a week. Two-thirds of that would be 8s. There is no reason why in such a case as that the sickness benefit should be reduced. If 10s. is a proper rate of benefit in an ordinary case it is still a proper rate of benefit. It is indeed 918 the minimum benefit, with lower than which the insured person cannot hope to get over all his sickness and hold on. It seems to me utterly wrong that the two-thirds limit should apply if the wages, are lower than 15s. a week. That view is taken strongly also by the Manchester Unity of Odd fellows. If the Government accept a limitation of 15s. a week I shall not insist on moving the rejection of the Sub-section altogether.
This Clause has got to be read for some purpose in connection with Clause 27, which is called the prohibition against double insurance. The two Clauses together may easily operate in a way which I imagine could not have been intended when Sub-section (2) of Clause 9 was inserted. There are members now in small friendly societies which will not become approved societies under the Act who have subscribed their single contribution, an undivided contribution, for a number of benefits. One of the benefits is an old age pension benefit of 5s. That small society may or may not in the future be willing to divide the contribution and apportion a part of it for future payments of the old age pension and a part for the payment of sickness benefit. If the small society does that the hardship to which I am going to refer will not take place; but if it does not then that hardship is very likely to occur.
In order to continue to get the old age pension the workman will continue to be a member of that small society and he will pay for his sickness benefit as well as his old age benefit. He wants to get the benefits under this Bill and therefore joins a society which has become an approved society. Let me assume for this purpose quite a low rate of wage, say 18s. a week. The result will be he will be paying to the small society for the 5s. benefit and he will have joined an approved society to get a minimum benefit of 10s. for sickness, and from the two societies together he will be entitled to 15s. But in this particular Clause, owing to the two-thirds limitation all he will be entitled to draw is 12s., not 15s. Now the 3s. which he does not draw in such a case is not the 3s. of the small society but the 3s. of the Government, and in that way the Government is relieved of paying two-ninths of that 3s. I quite agree that there is not a very large number of cases covered by my conjectural case, but it does and can happen, and so long as it can happen I think that the Bill is faulty and ought to be mended. If the Government are pre- 919 pared to admit those two points I myself will not press this Amendment. Otherwise I must ask the Committee to divide upon it.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
There is no question of relieving the Government. They pay two-ninths of 10s. either in one form or another. Whichever way it goes it does not make the slightest difference to the Exchequer. But the reason which prompted us to put the Sub-section into the Clause is covered as a matter of friendly society practice. Particulars were given by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Spen Valley (Sir Thomas Whit-taker) in his very interesting speech on the Second Reading of this Bill, showing how the sickness increased in relation to the amount that was paid by the society in reference to the wages of the persons themselves. They showed that according as the proportion of the man's wages which is paid increases, up goes the sickness. There is no getting away from those figures. It really does mean that when you give a man as much in sickness as when he is well there is a temptation to everybody to go on the sick fund. The figures are there, and this is done purely to protect the friendly society. The hon. Gentleman says that we ought not to dock a man's wages if they reach under 15s., because then you reach a limit which is so very low. There is something to be said on that, but there are two ways of dealing with this. You can meet the friendly societies themselves and say to them, "This is a matter entirely for you. If you manage your funds badly and get extra sickness which is due to that cause you will be at a loss." The other is the way suggested by the hon. Gentleman. Personally, I would not object to an Amendment which would leave the societies to themselves, so that if they go on the principle of paying benefit on an excessive scale they lose all round. Therefore, my view would be that we should leave this to the option of the society themselves. We might leave out the words "shall in all cases," making the Sub-section read:—
"The rate of sickness and disablement benefit may, in any case, and where the rate of sickness or disablement benefit (as the case may be) exceeds two-thirds of the usual rate of wages or other remuneration earned by an insured person, be reduced to such an extent as the society or committee … determines,"
920 This would leave it to the societies-themselves.
§ Mr. JAMES THOMAS
I hope the Government will agree to delete the whole of this Sub-section. I quite agree, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer says, that it makes no difference to the fund, but it does make material difference to the individual for various reasons. I heard the figures given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir T. Whittaker.) They were very interesting and entrancing figures, but I entirely disagree with them, for this reason: The experience of friendly societies, without exception, is that the man who is most provident, the man who-in time of health makes the largest provision for sickness, is never the man who is-likely to malinger. The whole experience of friendly societies is that the man who is drawing the most money during sickness, is very likely to be the man who will do justice to the fund. It is the man who will not make provision, it is the man who is compelled to make provision, who is likely to malinger. The answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is, why is it that a man drawing a large amount of sick pay is longer on the sick fund than those who-draw a smaller amount! That would appear, on the surface, to uphold the proposition that men would malinger when they get more money. It is not so. The real explanation is that a man who is in receipt of more sick pay invariably stops on the fund until he is fit to go to work again. The man who is not in receipt of a large amount from the fund is driven to-work when he is not fit to go. It is very often the case that he comes on the fund at a later stage. I think experience proves that in very many instances. It is proved in compensation cases. It would hardly be fair to leave this to friendly societies. It appears to be a way out of the difficulty to say: "Very-well, if you, the friendly societies like to deal with it, you may do so." But this would cause the friendly societies to compete unfairly one against the other. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO."] I think it is so, for this very reason. Once a friendly society says it will take a certain class of members without limitation of benefit, it is more likely that that friendly society will appeal to a larger section of men, not because they are justified in doing it, but because of the special inducements they offer. But it is not fair to those members at a later stage, and for these reasons I do not think the Chancellor of the Ex- 921 chequer will be well advised in retaining the Sub-section, which will cause unnecessary hardship to the individual and unduly tax the most provident members of our friendly societies.
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
I must say that I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will agree to the excision of this Sub-section altogether. He pointed out, quite rightly, that it does not affect the fund one way or the other. But it does affect the individual, in my opinion, in the worst possible way. Let us see what is the effect of the Sub-section where wages are low. I take the case of the agricultural labourer, on whose behalf we ought to be very careful in dealing with this Bill. The agricultural labourer pays a certain sum per week under compulsion, just the same as the artisan who gets very much higher wages. Certainly the Sub-section would be a fine upon the agricultural labourer. The First Lord of the Admiralty shakes his head. I think it is so. I am sure it is in one sense. Of course, it is quite true that you may give to the society, or some other body, the discretion of allowing the member an equivalent advantage. That is a different thing altogether. Why should a man who has paid an amount, whatever it may be, under compulsion, in order to get a sure provision, not have the same advantage for his 15s. a week wages as if he had 30s. a week wages? If you look at it from the point of view of the individual, it is a greater hardship on the man with 15s. a week to pay the same flat rate of insurance than on the man who gets 30s. When the time of benefit comes, the man who has 30s. a week gets the whole benefit, but the man with 15s. a week gets less.
The man who has to pay towards insurance from week to week out of small wages, and therefore feels the burden more heavily, is to be deprived of the advantage which the richer wage earner gets without any question at all. It is quite true what the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Worthington-Evans) has said in regard to small agricultural societies. If the man with 30s. wages a week is to have the amount, are you going to fine the agricultural labourer because he does not earn as high a rate of wages as the artisan in the town. I cannot see any justification for that whatever. As the hon. Member said, it is a question of the individual. I do not think either the Health Committee or a particular society ought to have any option in the matter whatever. The contribution is compulsory. The man cannot 922 help having to contribute his 4d. or whatever is the amount per week. When the times comes, and he is entitled to his benefit, he ought to have the full advantage of the benefit the Act gives him, and no other party or society ought to have the power of either diminishing the benefit or of giving him it in some other form. I want to refer to the last words in this Subsection, in order that there may be no misunderstanding in regard to the argument:
"But where such reduction is made provisions shall be made by the society or committee, with the like consent, for the grant of one or more additional benefit of a value equivalent to such reduction."
You put in an alternative, an option, and I am entirely opposed to it. I do not think there ought to be a discretion given to any body, whether a society, committee, or insurance commission. You ought to give a statutory right to benefit, where by statute you make the workmen give a compulsory contribution. But put it as you like, I do protest—and I hope the hon. Member will go to a Division—as much as I can against the doctrine under a Bill of this kind, that a man who earns a lower wage, and, therefore, wants assistance at least as much as the artisan who obtains a higher wage, should be fined and penalised under a provision of this kind. Let us at any rate, put everyone on the same basis, seeing that everyone has to pay the same compulsory contribution.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
There are many parts of this Bill I personally regard as most unfair to the agricultural labourer. There is no single Clause in the whole Bill which, in my opinion, is more flagrantly unfair than Sub-section (2) of this Clause. Either 10s. is a fair allowance for a person who is in receipt of sick benefit, or it is not. If he pays exactly the same rate as his fellows in towns, surely he is entitled to exactly the same benefit. If 10s. is a proper amount for the well-paid artisan in a town—and, mark you, with a lower standard of health than obtains in agricultural districts—it must necessarily, as a matter of fairness and logic, be a proper amount to be paid to the agricultural labourer. The main objection to the excision of this Clause is that malingering may take place unless there be some such provision in the Act. The hon. Member on the Labour benches (Mr. J. Thomas) has stated what is the experience in this matter of great friendly societies. The experience is that the man who, above all, does not malinger 923 as a rule is the man who makes large provision out of his small means to meet the case of illness when it occurs. Why is it necessary to have these special precautions, in a statutory scheme, against malingering? Surety if the State is prepared to adopt the same principle which great friendly societies have adopted, and with enormous success in the case of the higher grade societies, there is going to be no greater danger of malingering in future than in the past. Let me indicate what is going on amongst the better class labourers in my own Constituency of South Wiltshire. A very large number of self-respecting men in villages are members of the Ancient Order of Foresters. Under the provisions of the Foresters' scheme, for a payment of 6d. or 7d. per week, they receive, when they are sick, a sum of 14s. for the first twenty-six weeks of their illness, and a sum of 7s. for the following twenty-six weeks—a larger provision than is being made by this Bill. But in addition to that, a very considerable number of them insure in either a slate club or in a small village friendly society in order to bring the 14s. up to a £l a week. These men may be in receipt of not more than 13s. to 15s. a week, but they are able, when ill, and at a time of great strain on the family resources, to obtain a valuable benefit of something like £l a week owing to their providence and thrift. What can be the equity of depriving these men and their families of the inestimable benefits they have enjoyed prior to the introduction of this Bill? The hon. Member who moved this Amendment rightly said that we are bound to read this Clause in conjunction with Clause 27. What does Clause 27 do? It is not content with docking the agricultural labourer, if he happens to receive something less than 15s. a week wages, of a part of the 10s. which other people would enjoy, but, if he does happen to make other provision against sickness by insurance with some other society, or some other branch of the same society, he is not allowed to take advantage of that, and the whole of the benefit which he will derive from all sources is to be cut down to the small amount of his miserable wages. To my mind it is utterly impossible either in logic or in equity to defend such a provision as this. I cannot conceive a Member representing an agricultural Constituency in any part of the House, in fairness to those by a majority of whose votes he has been 924 returned to this Assembly, going into the Lobby to vote in favour of this Sub-section. What do the Government say? They say that they are prepared to make a concession, which is that the Society shall be permitted to decide as to whether such a reduction shall or shall not be made in the sickness benefit. That simply means, bearing in mind that the discretion of the society is limited to persons with a wage of less than 15s. per week, that the society is going to say in every case where a man is receiving a low wage. "We decide or do not decide that that man shall receive 10s. per week," and in a great many cases they will probably decide that he shall not receive the total of 10s. per week. But in all other cases where the means of the family are greater, and where the claims upon the national fund are also greater, because the health standard is not so high, they will not have to exercise that discretion. How can such an alternative be defended as a matter of justice?
I ask what is going to happen under this proposal to the deposit contributors, the most unfortunate of all people, who have got no society at all, and to whom, therefore, the alternative provision cannot apply. Thus if those unfortunate men had contributed enough (for theirs is not a case of real insurance), even to provide a larger amount than, say, 8s. or 9s. per week, they cannot possibly obtain it, although it is owing to their own thrift and providence in putting by sufficient to-do so. I feel so strongly as to, I was going to say the iniquity, or at any rate the gross injustice of this Clause as it operates on the agricultural labourer whose health standard is high and whose wages are low that I find it very difficult to speak with due moderation upon such a proposal as that incorporated in Sub-section (2). In the past the backbone of the friendly societies has been the agricultural labourer, and he has been able to hold his own on the executive of those societies. In the future those large societies will be filled to a large extent, and in my opinion to the extent of a majority, by persons hailing from the towns where the health standard is lower and the wages are higher. Therefore, although under the existing system there might be an inclination owing to the agricultural labourers being duly represented on the central executive to have justice done to-them if discretion is left to such an executive, there will be no such safeguard ire the future, bearing in mind that the town-members of these larger societies are 925 likely to be in a majority. For all those reasons I venture to hope that the Government will not do what seems to me to be a gross injustice to the unfortunate man who has a low wage by reducing his benefit, because he happens to have less than 15s. per week.
§ Mr. HAROLD CAWLEY
The hon. Member has described this as a great injustice to agriculturists. It seems to me that in nine cases out of ten the agriculturists will belong to an approved society which is an agricultural society, and if that is so—
§ Mr. CAWLEY
At any rate a large number of them will belong to agricultural societies consisting of agricultural members, and where that is so they can decide the matter for themselves. There is another point as to this Sub-section and that is that the last sentence appears to me to be ambiguous—
"But where such reduction is made provision shall be made by the society or committee, with the like consent, for the grant of one or more additional benefits of a value equivalent to such reduction."
That does not say whether the benefit is to go to the man who suffers or to the whole body of the members of the society. If it is to go to the man who suffers by the grant of an additional benefit, then the agriculturist cannot suffer in any case by a single halfpenny. Every halfpenny which is deducted in one case is put on to his benefit in another case. It seems to me that that is a correct method of dealing with this matter if we are to have any Clauses to prevent malingering at all. The hon. Member who spoke last said that if 10s. per week is right for the man in the town then 10s. per week must be right for the man in the country. I think that is entirely wrong.
§ Mr. CAWLEY
I quite agree, and he gets the same amount out. He must get the same amount out either in this way or the other. If it is deducted in one case it is put on in the other. It does not appear to me that the same amount is necessarily right in town and country. Rents, for instance, are very different. The agricultural 926 labourer will often pay 3s. per week less than a man of equal standard of living in the town, and the agricultural labourer often gets a certain amount of vegetables. At any rate, it is quite certain that he does, not require as much sick benefit having, regard to his rate of living and rent. If we are to have a Clause against malingering it appears to me that this is best. There are people who know much about this subject of malingering, people like Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Webb, and they attack this Bill on the ground that these Clauses are-too weak. That point of view must be considered. I think something of the sort is absolutely necessary, and when we come to consider the last sentence and make it clear that every man gets as much as is deducted from him then I think the Clause is absolutely just.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I hope the Government will not allow themselves to be too much influenced by the speech of the hon. Gentleman. It may be true that an entirely different scale of benefit will probably be applicable to agricultural labourers or people dwelling in country villages to that which is applicable in towns, because the circumstances of their lives are so different. That would be a. reason for re-casting this Bill from top to bottom, and altering not only the rate of benefit, but the rate of contribution. After all, as it seems to me, for better or worse, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has really decided this question, and decided that the agricultural labourer or the wage-earner, whatever his wages, should pay the same premium, subject to slight qualifications, although what I have stated is sufficiently-accurate for my purpose. Of course, if his wages are below a certain figure then, the scheme of the Bill is that less is deducted directly from his wages and more is taken from his employer. I say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having drawn up his Bill on the principle of a flat rate, I think that you cannot justify a differentiation in the benefit, and above all in that one of the benefits which is the one which will be most frequently needed and most frequently received. I think it must be evident to the Government that there is in the minds of agriculturists a feeling that there is an injustice being perpetrated upon them in regard to this question, which it is of the first importance we should remove. I recognise the truth of what is said by the defenders of the Government scheme that in some way or another an equivalent is to be given 927 for that which is withheld in sickness pay, but I think it is quite clear that if you take the agricultural labourers generally they will prefer to have sickness pay instead of the equivalent which is promised to them. I must say that the hon. Gentleman raised a point of some importance when he called attention to the ambiguity of the Clause, and asked whether the equivalent was to be a general equivalent to members of the society or an equivalent to the individual whose sick pay had been reduced. I do not know which.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The Attorney-General is good enough to tell me that the intention at any rate of the wording of the Bill is that it must be a benefit to the individual equivalent to the reduction. How are actuaries going to calculate that kind of benefit? What you are to do apparently, and I can conceive no other way, is this. A man will fall sick and but for this Sub-section he would be entitled to 10s. per week for twenty-six weeks. If he remains sick for twenty-six weeks he only gets 7s. 6d. each week, we will say, because the sick pay is reduced. Then you have twenty-six half-crowns, and the actuary of the society has got to frame a scheme for giving that man the benefit of twenty-six half-crowns. Another man in the same society falls ill at the same time, is cured, we will say in five weeks and suffers only a reduction of 1s. I do not see as a matter of practical administration how you can work this Sub-section so as to return the benefit to each individual member. This has been spoken of in the main as applying to people of low wages, but it applies to a great many people who are earning very good wages. We had an hon. Gentleman below the Gangway opposite who, of course, knew that, and he directly dealt with their case under the Bill.
In my own Constituency I have not proportionately many agricultural members, but this section has been objected to quite as much by men who are not on the comparatively low agricultural wages, and who say that if you are going to reduce their sick pay seriously below the level of their normal expenditure you will throw out their whole household arrangements. They have been accustomed to provide for themselves pretty much the same in sick-ness as they earn when in health. I think 928 that is especially the case with the class of man who has been invaluable to friendly societies, the man who has really benefited by the advantages of thrift and who has made great sacrifices in the working of the society without practically any remuneration, and who does so because of pride in his society. That is just the kind of man who insures himself to a very high standard, and it is that class of man rather than the man of poor wages from whom we have protests against this Subsection and against having the whole practice of their past lives in their society upset by this Sub-section, as it must be in connection with Clause 27 of this Bill. I really think anyone listening to the discussion will see that on both sides of the House there is a very strong feeling that this Sub-section ought not to be allowed to stand, and I hope that the Government will consider the position.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I think the Sub-section has been—unwittingly, of course—represented in a way which the words proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer do not at all warrant. It has been said that the proposal fines or penalises the agricultural labourer. Let us look at the matter as it actually arises under the Sub-section itself. It must be remembered that the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to omit the words "and shall in all cases." What the Sub-section means now is simply this. An approved society or committee is given power—nothing more—in any case in which the sick benefit would exceed two-thirds of the wages to pay only two-thirds of the wages in sick benefit, and to pay the difference in some other form. That is all the Amendment proposes. It is giving the friendly societies, whose authority has been so much supported in this House, the opportunity, if they choose, to pay no more in sick benefit than two-thirds of the wages. There is no penalising; there is no fining. I think on consideration the hon. and learned Member will withdraw the words "penalising" and "fining."
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I do not withdraw at all. I say that the Sub-section both fines and penalises the low wage-earner. If he were earning a higher rate of wages he would be entitled, as of right, to more money when sick. This Clause deprives him of it; it both fines and penalises.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I hope to convince the hon. and learned Member, as he has really misunderstood the Sub-section. I hope when I have explained it he will see that 929 there is no fining or penalising. If a person is fined or penalised he must be deprived of money or of some valuable benefit. This Clause will give the same valuable benefit to the insured person, whatever his wages may be. Valuable benefits may take various forms. Friendly societies are to have power to determine one of the various forms which the valuable benefit might take. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) has put the case of the man who is entitled to receive sick benefit of 10s. a week, but obtains only 7s 6d. because his wages do not warrant a larger amount; the friendly society consider that they ought not to pay more than 7s. 6d., and consequently they hold in hand 2s. 6d. a week of that man's. In twenty-six weeks that will represent an accumulated sum at £3 5s. The actuarial value of £3 5s can be worked out at so much per week in diminution of the contribution to be paid by that man for ever after. The additional benefit may be used for the purpose of reducing payment as well as of giving benefits.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
It can only be applied in additional benefits as referred to in Part II. of the Fourth Schedule. The expression "additional benefit" is so defined. There is no reference in Part II. of the Fourth Schedule to additional benefits such as the right hon. Gentleman has just suggested.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I do not think the hon. Member is justified in that limitation. It has been decided that additional benefits may be used in reducing payments.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
If the right hon. Gentleman will look at Clause 8 (1) (f), he will find the words "the further benefits mentioned in Part II. of the Fourth Schedue to this Act (in this Act called 'additional benefits ')." So that wherever afterwards the term "additional benefits" appears, it means additional benefits as so defined.
§ Mr. McKENNA
If the hon. Member's construction of the Bill is right, steps shall be taken to ensure that additional benefits may include reduced payments. It is so intended in the Bill, and I will refer to the passage in a moment to show that it is so. I give that to illustrate one form in which the money can be used. But whatever the form everything is governed by the opinion and judgment of the friendly societies. All that this Clause does is to give them a power in the administration of this Act which they would not have 930 without this Sub-section. The hon. Member below the Gangway has been a consistent supporter of the authority and experience of friendly societies. This Subsection is to give them a power; it does not impose a duty upon them—
§ Mr. McKENNA
Yes. The hon. Member has spoken in support of the rights of friendly societies, but he now proposes to take away a power which they cannot exercise unless their members approve, because they are all self-governing bodies, and a power which can only be exercised in the interests of the society itself. As it is giving no more than freedom to the friendly societies, as it is not imposing any obligation upon them, as it does not fine or penalise or take away anything from any contributor, I hope my hon. Friends will not be misled by the arguments which have been adduced.
§ Mr. DUKE
When this Sub-section is read I think it will be seen that the defence of the right hon. Gentleman is not adequate. The right hon. Gentleman says that it imposes no fine or penalty upon the poor men whom it particularly affects. If the Sub-section is examined it will be seen that it imposes a direct penalty upon poverty in this case. It can be shortly described as a proposal for preventing malingering among people earning less than 15s. a week. The man who earns 16s. a week, so that he comes within the full application of the Bill as to providing his own constitution, is not really upon a flat rate at all. As compared with the man who earns 32s. a week he has to pay a rate 100 per cent. higher. When you say you are giving equality of benefits and imposing equality of burden, you are, in fact, imposing a double burden in the case of a man who is earning 16s. a week. What is proposed by this Clause is to give him a reduced benefit., That seems to me to be a penalty. I cannot see any answer to the argument. I am not trying to make a dialectical point against the right hon. Gentleman. The majority of us desire that this Bill when it is passed shall fulfil the objects with which we know it has been introduced. That is the position as it strikes me, and I submit that it is an unreasonable and oppressive proposal with regard to that particular man.
But the matter does not end there. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Austen Chamber- 931 lain) referred to a class of people who are much stronger and more vehement in their complaints against this Clause and the corresponding Clause later in the Bill—people who are the backbone of friendly societies. These men say, "We have made business arrangements with our friendly societies under which we are entitled to a scale of benefits." They want to know why the House of Commons, which has been content to let them alone during all their past history, should now come in and reduce the benefits for which they have contracted? That is the effect of this proposal. If it is not, the Clause has been universally or widely misunderstood in the country. If the right hon. Gentleman can show that that is not the effect of it, he will remove difficulties—not so much in my mind; that does not matter — but in the minds of members of friendly societies, who are really disturbed at the interference which they think is being made with their existing contracts by this and a subsequent Clause. It was with a view to dealing with the matter and clearing up the difficulty, that I put down an Amendment, which would have excepted the existing rights of members of friendly societies; but it proved not to be precisely in order upon this Clause, and therefore I was not at liberty to move it. That is the position with regard to two classes of people. What is said in regard to both? It is said, "if you do not get it in meal you will get it in malt. You will get it under the Schedule." Let us see what the agricultural labourer with 16s. a week will be able to get under the Schedule. He may have medical treatment and attendance for persons dependent upon his labour. If he is a bachelor that will not comfort him, unless he is living at home with his mother. He may have increased sickness benefit or disablement for all the members of his society. That is a diversion of his provision which the Government is not entitled to make under his contract with the State, and which it is far less entitled to make with regard to his precedent contract with the friendly society. I cannot understand the moral ground upon which the Government come in between a member of a friendly society and his friendly society and say, "It is not expedient in the general interests that you should get all these benefits to which you have been entitled; we are going to cut them down and provide benefits for other people."
932 Perhaps I speak with warmth about the matter, but I do not speak with anything like the degree of warmth with which members of friendly societies discuss the Bill with me when they know that generally I am a supporter of the measure. The right hon. Gentleman must not suppose that supporting this Bill generally is an easy matter for everybody. It is not. If there is a supposed fault here which offend against the elementary notions of what is right as between contracting parties, when it is pointed out either it ought to be demonstrated not to exist or it should be remedied. What comfort is there in a man being told that there shall be increased sickness benefits for the members of his society generally? So you may run through the others. There is maternity benefit, for example, but I will not dwell on that. The right hon. Gentleman said upon this subject that this was a perfectly fair proposal, because you gave the friendly societies discretion as to whether this change of benefit should be made. This diversion of the purchased interest of a member of a friendly society for the purpose to which this money should be applied is wrong. The friendly society is to have discretion and power as the right hon. Gentleman said, or an approved friendly society, as somebody just now said. I really cannot see how the latter are better qualified to depart from their pre-existing contracts than people who are not approved. You are to give freedom to friendly societies! I am not a beneficial member of a friendly society, but I confess if I had been paying for benefits from the age of sixteen till the present time of life, and the right hon. Gentleman proposed in regard to the one-third of the money to give freedom to my friendly society as to what they could do with it, with one-third of my invested funds for the purpose of preventing malingering on my part or the part of other people, I should regard it not only as a great injury but as an extreme insult.
Mr. TYSON WILSON
As I read the Sub-section, if somewhat deleted, it would really give the friendly societies the power to do what the Chancellor of the Exchequer says they might. By inserting other words it would give them statutory power to do certain things. I am prepared to trust the friendly societies, because I believe they will deal fairly as between member and member. The friendly societies, too, cannot differentiate between their members. Therefore, if a bricklayer who 933 is earning £2 a week and a labourer who is earning 18s. a week are both members of the same society that society cannot make one rule for the bricklayer's labourer and another rule for the bricklayer. I cannot agree with the argument used in regard to the differentiation of the provision under which men leave their work. They have to pay the same contribution to the fund, and they are entitled to the same benefit; but it is quite possible that under the scheme submitted by a friendly society that the members might never get benefit. It is very possible. Money is taken for the old age pensions for the man of sixty-five; but if he dies at forty-five, or at twenty-five, is he going to get the benefit then? Most decidedly not. The time that a man ought to have benefit is when he is sick. I suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer an Amendment to his Amendment, and I hope he will accept it, because I think it will make the Sub-section clearer than it is and it will meet our case. I suggest that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should delete the words as follow:—"In any case, and shall in all cases where the rate of sickness benefit or disablement benefit (as the case may be) exceeds two-thirds of the usual rate of wages or other remuneration earned by insured persons." Then the Sub-section will read:—
"The rates of sickness and disablement benefits may be reduced to such an extent as the society or committee administering the benefit, with the consent of the Insurance Commissioners, determines."
If the right hon. Gentleman does that it will meet the cases which have been raised in the House. I believe it will meet with the approval of friendly societies. Do not let us forget this: there are some great friendly societies that are asking for this Sub-section to be amended in the direction I have indicated. I do hope the Chancellor will agree to the deletion, or make it quite clear that he is going to place the whole thing in the hands of the friendly societies.
§ Sir RANDOLF BAKER
I do not think that the hon. Member's Amendment just suggested will be an improvement at all. On the contrary, I think it would make things a good deal worse than at the present time. My own Constituency will be more particularly subject than most constituencies to this particular Sub-section. I have a very large number of agricultural labourers whose wages, I regret to 934 say, are very low, standing at 13s., 14s., and 15s. per week. They will be, or may be, affected by this Clause. What I understood the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to put forward was that these additional benefits can be given at different times, and, therefore, it does not matter taking away part of the sick pay of the member at the time. I think that is an entirely wrong point of view. What these men want is the highest amount of pay they can get at the time they are actually sick. They have to provide themselves with small extra comforts, extra milk, perhaps, and some other such things at that time above all others. I know by what I know of my Constituency that they insure themselves out of their very low wages in such a way that they can draw the highest benefits when sick, and they prefer that to any additional benefit on some future occasion. I think it is very hard indeed that there should be given power to take away as is suggested at the present.
Might I point out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Clause 27 does absolutely afford a safeguard against malingering, because at the end that Clause says, that "the total amount of that insurance shall be reduced by the amount of the excess where it exceeds the wages or other remuneration of the man. That will give an absolute safeguard against malingering, and I do think this present Clause in addition is absolutely unnecessary. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will remove it. Let me give another point of view with regard to this Sub-section which I do not think has been touched upon. That is where it says, "That the rates of sickness and disablement benefits may in any case, and shall in all cases where the rate of sickness benefit or disablement benefits exceeds two-thirds, etc." There are a large number of men in this country whose usual rate of wages is at a low level at certain times, and at a high level at certain other times. These include agricultural labourers when they come to harvesting, men who work on piecework, and men who work overtime. There is a great difference at some times to others.
Supposing the usual rate of wages is 14s. a week, and at harvest time it goes up to 20s. The friendly societies have to pay the reduced benefits, have to pay on the basis of the two-thirds of the ordinary wages. That would be a great hardship upon the man, because if he was in employment at the time his rate of wages actually would be so high 935 that he would not come in under this Sub-section. I do not believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows the extent of the feeling against this particular Sub-section in the constituencies where the wages are low. I can tell him that it is really enormous, and that those concerned do feel that it is very hard indeed that power should be given into the hands of a friendly society to reduce the benefits to the extent proposed. They do say it is a very great hardship when they are able at the present time to insure for a higher rate when they are sick. I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the interests of agricultural constituencies, which will be enormously effected, especially in the South and West of England, to accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend and delete this Sub-section.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Duke), in the first part of his speech, said that friendly societies would be compelled to reduce their benefit. He talked about "standing between the man and his friendly society." In the second part of his speech I found he was fully alive to the fact that we were perfectly prepared to leave the option to the friendly society itself, but there was one thing, he said, I think, without due reflection and perhaps with miscalculation. He took the case of a man who is receiving 16s. per week. That person would not be affected at all. As a matter of fact, the person who is getting 15s. a week would not be affected either. He gets his 10s. per week. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman, in order to make his case, says here is a man paying a flat rate, which is not a flat rate. He is paying 4d. a week, and he is getting reduced benefits. When the man is getting 15s. a week he only pays 3d. So far as that part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument goes it is absolutely without foundation.
§ Mr. DUKE
The right hon. Gentleman is obviously quite right with regard to the particular case of 16s., except that the gross amount which he has paid is different. That is not my point. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman suggests that that at all covers the difficulty of the small wage earner.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I can only deal with one argument at a time, and I am taking now the first argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman, which I think he will admit shows a lack of reflection as to the real provisions of the Bill. Only the 936 man who is paying less than 4d. will be affected by this Sub-section. Very well, but he is not getting less. He is going to get either this or some other benefit which will be determined by the friendly societies. What is the Amendment which the Government are prepared to accept? The Government are prepared to accept an Amendment leaving it entirely to the friendly society itself to determine the amount. As for the case mentioned by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorset, I should say that probably the whole of the friendly societies have branches in the district which have complete control of their own funds. They are local in that sense. Take, then, the case of the agricultural labourer. He has himself to decide. He is there, and he is there in a majority. He joined the society that suits him best. There was no compulsion for him to join it. He will have a voice in determining whether he will adopt this proviso or not.
§ Sir RANDOLF BAKER
Often in these cases the men belonging to these societies send their money to the small towns, and although they have been members of these societies for many years, the societies are largely run by the men in the small towns who are able to give the time to working the society. The agricultural labourer is not able to do it. He cannot find time to go often and attend to the continual working of the society; therefore he might have resolutions passed over his head, and not be able to bring in agricultural labourers enough to vote against them.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I have not such a poor opinion of the agricultural labourer as the hon. Member. If his society is going to pass a resolution cutting down the benefits, I think it will be discovered that the agricultural labourer had begun to take a real live interest in the matter. What I know of the country is that the mere fact that this change was suggested by any one in the town would be a double incentive to go and vote on it. I do not think there is any real danger so far as that is concerned. Unless, it is said, we put this option in the Bill the big society will not be able to introduce the safeguards against the malingerer. That is a totally different proposition. That is what I want the Committee to realise. The present proposal simply gives a power not merely to old societies, but to even to new societies. Everybody who joins the societies will have full knowledge of a proviso of this kind introduced to safeguard against malingering. 937 I agree with the hon. Gentleman who said on the whole the present societies will probably not adopt this proviso, but at the same time I can understand societies will be formed with this safeguard, and I do not see why they should not be allowed to do this, which would be a very potent check against malingering. Anyone listening to the figures given by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Spen Valley (Sir Thomas Whittaker) will realise there is a danger in giving full pay during sickness equal to what a man would earn if well. The whole of the experience of the friendly societies justifies us in coming to that conclusion. Of course, I cannot accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend. I could not go as far as that. I would confine the reduction to one specific instance. My hon. Friend suggests unlimited power of reduction. I suggest that the reduction should be confined to these particular cases, and that it should be optional. I think this subject has now been fully threshed out, and I hope we may come to a decision. I hope the Committee will realise the absolute limitation of this case; it is rather giving a right to the societies to introduce it if they wish.
§ Mr. DUKE
May I clear up the matter the right hon. Gentleman put to me? Perhaps he will tell me if I am wrong. I understood the sickness and disablement benefits referred to in the first line of the Sub-section were not only the statutory provision, but referred to all sickness and disablement. If that is so, there is the difficulty which I pointed out. If the right hon. Gentleman tells me that is not so, I shall be delighted to hear it. I understood it applied to the whole of the benefits, whether statutory or by agreement.
§ Mr. FORSTER
The question which my hon. and learned Friend has put to the Chancellor is one of extreme and vital importance, and the Chancellor will no doubt deal with it in a few moments. In my judgment the Amendment which the Chancellor has suggested in the Sub-section really makes it comparatively worthless. He reminded the Committee that the Sub-section, amended as he proposed, will give the friendly societies the option of making reductions in the benefits; there will be no compulsion upon the societies to do it. It will be an act which they may perform if they choose. In this case it is to be purely voluntary. There is to be no direction that it shall be done and no obligation upon them to do it. Therefore, 938 they will of their volition be able to break their contracts. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says after all the men who form the members of the society are the society, and if the majority of their members is against this reduction the society will not be able to make it. That is all very well if the majority of the members are there to vote. I entertain a very strong objection to put it in the power of any body of men to vary contracts in which they are interested, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer says it is essential for the purpose of preventing malingering. Supposing the society finds a certain section of its members are malingering they have always power to expel them under their present constitution, subject to existing contracts. Therefore, I do not think that for the purposes of purely checking malingering this Sub-section is essential. I do not know whether the Chancellor is ready to deal now with the question put by my hon. and learned Friend, but I am bound to say that whatever answer he gives I would still object to the Subsection.
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
The Chancellor of the Exchequer assumed that this proviso will prevent malingering. It seems to me the existence of malingering is assumed without any solid basis in fact. The Chancellor referred to some very interesting figures given by the right hon Gentleman the Member for the Spen Valley. If I remember aright, the argument of that right hon. Gentleman was that so long as you continue to pay a large sum weekly in sick benefit the man stayed at home. Under this Bill the large sums are payable only for the first few weeks of the illness, and the right hon. Gentleman went on to argue that the moment the pay was reduced the man went back to work. There are two reasons to be taken into consideration in this connection. First, the further away from the date of the commencement of the illness the more ready the man would be to return to work, and secondly as the amount of sickness pay is reduced, there is absolute compulsion for the man to return to work. The argument about the existence of malingering means a reflection upon the working people and upon the doctors. I venture to say, after a good deal of experience of the Workmen's Compensation Act, that is a very unfair reflection to make either upon the workmen or upon the doctors consulted. Reference has been continually made to the Workmen's Compensation Act, as if 939 the Workmen's Compensation Act led to malingering. I defy any hon. Member on either side of the House to quote figures to prove that any large insurance company could satisfy the country that there is any serious malingering, or that there is any malingering at all. I challenge any hon. Member to produce those figures in respect of any first-class insurance company, and I will tell the Committee why. At the commencement of the actual operations of the Workmen's Compensation Act the doctors did certify men as fit for work when they proved to be unfit, with the result that the insurance companies found that they had to pay for men who had returned to work before they were fit and who soon again proved unfit for work. We must trust more to the workmen, to the operations of the friendly societies, and to the health committees, and we must place more confidence in the doctors, upon whose ultimate decision must rest the question whether the men are fit for work or not.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a great point that this would put more power into the hands of the various friendly societies. I have in my mind cases where it is probable that this power may act prejudicially in the case of some members. Take the case of a society I know, which has large numbers of members in a town and a considerable number of agricultural labourers just outside, and a number of agricultural labourers living away on the hills. These people all pay the same contribution and they enter into a contract for sick benefit of 10s. per week. If this Clause is carried in the manner in which the Chancellor desires, it would be quite possible for a majority of the members of that society under this Subsection to make a rule which would prejudicially affect a minority such as those living upon the hills who would alone be affected injuriously. I submit that is unfair to those men. My chief objection is that I feel that a certain class forming a small minority in friendly societies, may be prejudicially affected under this Subsection because they receive low wages, while the majority earning higher wages are not affected at all. As regards the benefits which the Chancellor of the Exchequer said would be made up to these people, the one additional benefit which these people would really like is the provision of what are called funeral bene- 940 fits. It is better for such people to have these benefits than that they should come on to the rates and have pauper funerals. That is one of the benefits excluded from the provisions of this Bill. I say that, consciously or unconsciously, you may be imposing great hardships by this proviso upon a certain number of people.
§ Mr. RUPERT GWYNNE
The First Lord of the Admiralty gave us two reasons why the Government proposals should remain, first that a valuable addition to the benefit would be provided for the man who had his illness allowance reduced, and secondly that it would be very useful for the friendly society to administer these valuable benefits. I should like that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would tell us what the valuable benefits are. I should like him to tell us what form of benefit is more acceptable or useful to a man when he is ill than money. As to the second point made by the First Lord of the Admiralty that it would be right and convenient to the friendly societies to administer these benefits. If that is so, why are they only to be administered in the case of men receiving very low wages? Why not also administer them in the case of men receiving higher wages? I venture to say that the real point has been ignored both by the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, namely, that the majority of men coming within this Clause will not belong to any society at all, but will rather be the Post Office contributors. Low wages are common in country districts, and in country districts the majority of friendly societies will cease to exist. Those men who take means to insure in these districts will find themselves compelled by circumstances to become Post Office contributors. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell us what provision has been made in the case of these Post Office contributors for arranging these additional benefits and the form they will take.
Mr. EDGAR HORNE
It has been asserted that the agricultural labourer to a great extent is a malingerer. I think of all classes of labour the agricultural labourer is free from that charge to a very great extent. If the agricultural labourer did not care for his work, I cannot imagine that he would continue to work for such low wages. I have had to do with agricultural labourers for a great number of years, and I have frequently had to stand in the position which the Government is now going to take up of making good in 941 times of sickness the wages of men who work on my farm. I am bound to say that many of these men have wanted to come back to work long before I thought it was necessary, and I have every confidence that there was no malingering on their part and that they were perfectly justified in receiving every particle of wages they drew while unable to do their work. I wish to ask a question which was put to me in my Constituency only a few days ago. An agricultural labourer with wages at 15s. per week has ensured for himself a payment during sickness of 12s. 6d. per week, and he is no longer paying any weekly premium. What will his position be under this Bill? Will he be able to receive 12s. 6d. a week in the future from his friendly society, and what will happen in regard to the 4d. he has to pay? What future benefits will that labourer receive?
Mr. E. HORNE
I was trying to find out how this man could ensure himself 12s. 6d. a week, or whether he would only have 10s. or two-thirds of his wages.
§ Mr. STEPHEN WALSH
A good deal has been said about the agricultural labourer, and he has been referred to almost as if he were the only person earning small wages. I can speak with some knowledge of the wages earned in coal mines. First of all, the Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to make a statement that in all cases where 15s. per week or less is earned the contribution of the insured person will only be 3d. That is assuming six days of work in the week, and that the wages are 2s. 6d. per day. I will take the case of a man where six days are not worked, but where that is almost always the exception. In the mines it is probably nearer to say that four days in the week is the average throughout the year. Take the case of the young person earning 3s. per day. His compulsory deduction is 4d. per week. I think this point ought to be made clear. The deduction is made upon the basis of the daily wage and not upon the weekly wage, and where you have broken time worked almost continuously you may have the minimum wage with the maximum deduction. That is the case in the mines. Let us see how the optional Clause would apply. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has certainly met us to a very great extent by taking out the compulsory working. When the option is left what are the conditions under which the approved society is likely to exercise that 942 option? In the case where the compulsory levy is likely to be made upon the members where a deficiency has accrued because of the benefits and the lack of contributions coming in, Clause 32 enables, indeed it imposes upon that approved society the obligation to place a compulsory levy upon the members, or to reduce the benefits, or at least to take effective steps to remove that deficiency.
If the option is left to that approved society, instead of making a compulsory levy upon all the members they are almost certain to exercise their option of limiting the benefit in cases where the wages are 10s., or more than two-thirds of the wages usually received. A four days' week of the boys up to eighteen years of age in the mines will probably be about 12s., that is 3s. per day, and that will probably be the average. Four days being the average working time the wages will be 12s., and two-thirds of that is 8s. Therefore it will be very likely that these societies, instead of imposing a compulsory levy upon the whole of the members, will proceed to exercise the option conferred upon them under this Section. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says this point is met by compelling such societies to give an equivalent benefit in the case of one or more additional benefits equivalent to the reduction. I know something of the way in which this has been worked in the past. I know the way in which this form of words was worked under the Employers' Liability Act of 1880, and I know all about the equivalent benefits. The first equivalent is the claiming of medical attendance for some other dependent member of the family. A boy might forfeit 2s. a week where his wages were 12s. That boy forfeits two-thirds of the benefits he would otherwise be entitled to. But, says the Chancellor of the Exchequer, some dependent member of the family will get medical attendance. May I point out that that is only equal to 1s. 3d. in the year, and there is no equivalent benefit. Perhaps the payment of an old age pension may be hastened a bit, but this kind of thing is surely not to be taken seriously.
A young fellow who has had taken from his wages the maximum deductions is entitled to the whole benefit. It is not a sufficient argument to say to us that that young fellow in the time of his greatest need, when he requires the benefit for which he has paid this 2s.—which may be deducted from his wages, and will in almost every case where there is a probability of a compulsory levy being imposed, 943 find that he has to forfeit 2s.—to be told that an equivalent additional benefit may be paid to some other member of his family. I do not think that is the proper way of dealing with this question. If the maximum deduction is made from these small wages the person is entitled to draw the maximum benefit, and it should not be left to an option which will certainly be exercised when the young person is most in need of the benefit, and which is certain to be exercised if there is a likelihood of a compulsory levy being imposed upon the members. I think this matter is entitled to much more consideration than it has received.
Mr. J. W. WILSON (Worcestershire, N.)
I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not press this proposal. I feel as strongly as anybody upon the question of malingering, but I also feel that in this case that a large amount of irritation will be caused for a small amount of good. This proposal is intended to put down malingering, but I feel that this Clause is sure to be misunderstood, and it will often be misused. In the cases in which it may be used with the object of diminishing malingering, it will have very little effect compared with the number of cases in which it will be misunderstood. On this question there is a feeling that the game is not worth the candle, and I urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with the best of intentions to consider whether he had not better withdraw it. The right hon. Gentleman has made a very great effort to accomplish the object in view, but I feel that the judgment of the House as a whole is against him.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Surely an option ought to be given to a society to form itself upon this basis if it chooses to do so. If it chooses to be formed on this basis it may take the view of the hon. Member for Spen Valley. I think it is quite open to argue that there is something in that point, and men of authority in the insurance world take that view. They have great experience in the matter and they may form a society upon that basis. All this Clause says is that if they choose to form a society upon that basis they should be entitled to do so.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
They can take that action if they choose. These societies are purely self-governing.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The existing members have exactly the same right, and they are all purely self-governing institutions. It is left entirely to them to decide for themselves, and why should you deprive a society of a right which it may desire to exercise. My hon. Friend has put this point, and I wish he had put it a little earlier. It is within the power of the society to decide this thing for itself.
Mr. J. W. WILSON
The right hon. Gentleman gives away in the latter part of the Sub-section what he takes in the former. A man is going to get his benefit for malingering whether he gets it in payment at so much a week, or whether he gets it afterwards in the form of some other benefit.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
My right hon. Friend cannot put that forward seriously. Surely it is not the same thing as an inducement to malingering to say that a man will get something later on which will be an equivalent and not as an inducement to malingering. I want the Committee to understand that this proposal is purely one giving to self-governing institutions composed of working members the power if they so choose to limit their benefits to this extent if they conclude that it is any check upon malingering. I agree that it would not be adopted in the case of old societies, but new societies may choose to form themselves on that basis. The hon. Member for the Ince Division (Mr. Walsh) argued on a perfectly false basis. His argument was based on the young person. It has already been decided he will only get 5s., and it does not affect him in the slightest degree.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
This does not affect the Post Office contributor in the slightest degree. It will not affect payments outside the Bill at all. It relates purely to statutory payments.
§ Mr. J. M. HENDERSON
There is no question whatever that there is malingering. I am connected with some societies where there is a large sum distributed in. sick pay amongst 2,000 people, and the committee of workmen who manage it pay constant surprise visits to see the people. 945 At the last Medical Congress the doctors discovered a new disease since the passing of the Workmen's Compensation Act. They call it by a long name, but of course it is malingering. It is no sham; it is the real thing. It has an effect upon the nerves of any man, and lots of strong men who could not be accused for a moment of shirking work if they sustain injury in a bad accident like a crushed foot, although they may get perfectly well, cannot bring their minds to attempt to work. Be that as it may, you may be certain when the compensation stops within a week they are at work. A committee of workmen looking after benevolent funds administered in this way take steps to prevent malingering by surprise visits and so forth, so it is really a thing that ought to be protected against.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
If we decide to apply a malingering test, it ought to be a universal test, and this is not universal. We give power to an approved society to apply a malingering test only to those persons with 15s. a week. That to me is absolutely conclusive against the Sub-section, and I am very sorry my right hon. Friend does not see his way to withdraw it.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
This is a very important matter to women. I have listened to the Debate, and I have not heard anyone say anything about that numerous class of people who are going to be compelled to insure under the Bill. The lower wages a woman earns, the less reserve she has to help her in a time of sickness and trouble, and therefore there is the more need to give her every penny to which she is entitled under this Bill. It is no use saying she has not paid. If she has not paid, her employer has, and there is just the same amount of money to her credit as there is to the credit of anyone else. I would beg the Chancellor of the Exchequer to allow the House to vote how they please on this matter, so that we may have a real vote. You are going to bring a large number of women into the new societies. They have had no training how to manage societies, and we all know that without some years of experience they will not be able to settle these matters as they please. I therefore hope the Committee will reject the Sub-section.
§ Mr. R. GWYNNE
I put a definite point with regard to the Post Office contributors. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said it did not apply to the Post Office contributor, but the last four lines
say:— 946 "Where such reduction is made provision shall be made by the society or committee."
What does that mean? The whole arguments have been based on the fact that the friendly societies will administer the extra benefits, and I venture to say this Clause gives the health committees power to administer them.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The mere fact that a person is a Post Office contributor disposes of any object in applying this to him. After all, he is simply drawing upon his own fund, and, if he does that at the rate of 10s., it will soon be exhausted. There is, therefore, no object in applying this to him.
§ Mr. R. GWYNNE
There is every reason. The health committee can reduce his benefit. There are numerous Post Office contributors who have been in friendly societies in the past, and it may be to the advantage of the health committee to keep some of his money back in order to pay benefits in other ways.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I wonder if I might add my appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reconsider this matter? When the Clause appeared originally in its compulsory form we were opposed to it, and we have an Amendment down in favour of its rejection, but when the Chancellor of the Exchequer made it optional I am bound to confess, so far as I am concerned, I did not see any harm in it. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer has any desire to protect his scheme against malingering, I think he is perfectly entitled to do so. The Debate, however, has developed on such lines as to show, first of all, that the Clause in its most innocent form will be egregiously misunderstood and misrepresented, and even as it now stands it does not say specifically that this Sub-section is only going to be put into operation against those accused of malingering and proved to have malingered. If the Clause is going to remain, I think some Amendment to that effect must be made, but there the Chancellor of the Exchequer is faced with a very obvious difficulty. It will be misunderstood, and a certain meaning will be placed upon it. Speaker after speaker this afternoon have placed a meaning on this Clause which it does not bear. It simply comes to this: A friendly society may put things in its rules which will enable it to reduce benefits in respect of members who have malingered. I think the safeguard is so very small and the 947 effect of the Clause so very doubtful, that it is very doubtful whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to face the political odium which will undoubtedly be attached to this Clause if it is passed. Might I therefore appeal to him to reconsider the matter and withdraw the Clause, or to consent to the omission of the Sub-section?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am in the un-fortunate position of having to defend proposals which are unpopular, because I think they will conduce to the soundness of the scheme. I have done so throughout, and I have risked defeat from combinations. May I say this word, and I think I am entitled to say it. There are many things here which commend themselves, I am perfectly certain, to the judge merit of any man who has given his mind to the problems of insurance. It is difficult to explain it, I agree, but, all the same, I am perfectly certain the experience of years will justify every proposal of this kind. Then it is discovered it is unpopular. It is discovered it is a popular thing to be able to say to one's Constituents, "I voted for so-and-so and for in- creased benefits." I do not think, if I may very respectfully say so, that is a position worthy of a great Assembly like this, fashioning a great scheme which is dealing with twenty-five millions of money. I know how it is misrepresented and how it is distorted. I know many of the things which I have defended here will be misrepresented. Really, have we not the courage to do the right thing? This is not the only point. There was the question of waiting periods last night, and there are many questions of the same kind. I am perfectly certain, in their hearts and consciences, hon. Members felt it was a proper safeguard and a proper guarantee and a proper protection for the Bill. Really, I think, if I may say so, the Committee ought to decide in these cases what position they are going to take up.
You can fling away safeguard after safeguard, and go down to the constituencies and say, "See what I have done." But they will not thank you a few years hence, when societies become bankrupt, and when you have to reduce benefits or come to the House of Commons for addi-
§ tional funds and impose additional taxes. I know cases where electioneering capital has been made out of additional expenditure and out of additional taxes when it came to imposing them. I cannot help it if it is the unanimous wish of the Committee that this safeguard should be flung away. I have done my duty. This is not a safeguard for the Exchequer. I am not protecting the Exchequer. If you eliminate this there is not a single penny additional charge upon the Exchequer, but there is a very important safeguard taken away from the Bill. What is the good of talking of making charges against the working men. Are working men excepted from the defects and weaknesses of human nature in all other classes? If you had the same temptations in other classes would they resist them? Why should we then say working men are above them. I do not think the working man is taken in by that sort of talk at all. He knows perfectly well there are sections in his own class who will and do sponge upon the funds of this kind. There are men of that kind—and to say there are not is not really acting in a straightforward manner with the working classes of this country. There is malingering under the Workmen's Compensation Act. I have complete evidence upon that point. There is malingering in the friendly societies. It may be exaggerated, but it is there.
§ I wish my hon. Friends would have the I courage to get up and defend this un-I popular safeguard. If these things are to be used for political purposes, and if hon. Gentlemen on this side will really not face the temporary obloquy—because it is purely temporary—of defending things of this kind, it will be quite impossible for me and for the Government to get through a scheme which, in our hearts, we can say, as I can now say, after consulting the best i opinion of the country, that it is a sound scheme financially. Still, if this is the wish of the House, I shall not press for a Division. I shall have the question put to the House and will then accept the position.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'may,' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 223; Noes, 149.951
|Division No. 281.]||AYES.||[7.45 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Agnew, Sir George William||Anstruther Gray, Major William|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Ainsworth, John Stirling||Armitage, Robert|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Ashley, W. W.|
|Adamson, William||Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Baker, H. T. (Accrington)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Harmsworth, R. L.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Barry Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Barton, William||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Pointer, Joseph|
|Beale, W. P.||Hayden, John Patrick||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hayward, Evan||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Helme, Norval Watson||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Higham, John Sharp||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Black, Arthur W.||Hinds, John||Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Holt, Richard Durning||Reddy, Michael|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Richards, Thomas|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Hunter, W. (Govan)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||John, Edward Thomas||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Johnson, William||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Cameron, Robert||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Jones, W. S. Glyn (T. H'mts Stepney)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Joyce Michael||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Keating, Matthew||Rowlands, James|
|Chapple, Dr William Allen||Kellaway, Frederick George||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Kelly, Edward||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Clough, William||Lamb, Ernest Henry||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld,. Cockerm'th)||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.|
|Compton-Rickett Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Leach, Charles||Sheehy, David|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Cotton, William Francis||Lewis, John Herbert||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Logan, John William||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Crooks, William||Lundon, Thomas||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Crumley Patrick||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Davies David (Montgomery Co.)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Maclean, Donald||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Macpherson, James Ian||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||M'Callum, John M.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Dawes, James Arthur||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Denman Hon Richard Douglas||M'Laren, H. D. (Leics., Bosworth)||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Markham. Sir Arthur Basil||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Doris William||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Duffy William J||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Wadsworth, J.|
|Duncan C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Meagher, Michael||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York Otley)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Ward W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Mooney, John J.||Wardle, George J.|
|Edwards Sir Francis (Radnor)||Morrell, Philip||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Morton, Alpheus Cleaphas||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Munro, Robert||Watt Henry A.|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Webb, H.|
|Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Needham, Christopher T.||Wedgwood Josiah C.|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nolan, Joseph||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Norman, Sir Henry||Whittaker Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Furness, Stephen||Nuttall, Harry||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Gelder, Sir William Alfred||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wiles, Thomas|
|George Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Gill, A. H.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Glanville Harold James||O'Dowd, John||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Ogden, Fred||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs, N.)|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||O'Malley, William||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Greig Colonel J. W.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Hackett, John||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Hancock, J. G.||Parker, James (Halifax) Mr.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glouc., E.)||Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Bridgeman, William Clive|
|Astor, Waldorf||Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Bull, Sir William James|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J||Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Burn, Colonel C. R.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Butcher, John George|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Beresford, Lord C.||Cator, John|
|Barnes, George N.||Boyle, W. L. (Norwich, Mid)||Cautley, H. S.|
|Barnston, H.||Boyton, James||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Brace, William||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G W.||Home, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwin)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r)||Home, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Hume-William, W. E.||Salter, Arthur Claveil|
|Clynes, John R.||Hunt Rowland||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Jowett, F. W.||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Cripps, Sir C. A.||Kirkwood, J. H. M.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Dixon, C. H.||Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Doughty, Sir George||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Snowden, P|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Lansbury, George||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Stanier, Beville|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Falle, B. G.||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Starkey, John R.|
|Fell, Arthur||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Stewart, Gershorn|
|Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, N.)|
|Forster, Henry William||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Sutton, John E.|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Swift, Rigby|
|Gardner, Ernest||Manfield, Harry||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Widdlemore, John Throgmorton||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Morrison-Bell, E. F. (Ashburton)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honlton)||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Grant, James Augustus||Neilson, Francis||Valentia, Viscount|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Newdegate, F. A.||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Gretton, John||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||O'Grady, James||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Hamersley, A. St. George||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W)|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington. S.)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughter.)|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Quilter, William Eley C.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Henderson, Major H. (Abingdon)||Ratcliff, Major R. F.||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Hickman, Colonel T. E.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C B. Stuart-|
|Hill, Sir Clement L.||Rawson, Col. Richard H.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Hillier, Dr. A. P.||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Hills, J. W.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Hodge, John||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Worthington-Evans and Sir R. Baker.|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. DUKE
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "benefit" ["disablement benefit"] to insert the words "provided under this Act."
I submit this Amendment in order to give effect to an explanation offered to the Committee just before the Division. There was a somewhat prevalent misapprehension that the generality of the words in the first two or three lines was such as to include in the restriction of provisions in the latter part of the Subsection not only the benefits provided under the Act, but benefits arising under contracts outside the Act. Both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Attorney-General explained that that was a misapprehension, and I, therefore, move to insert these words, which, I take it, will be accepted by the Government.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The hon. and learned Gentleman has given a correct statement of our view of the words as they stand. I think it would be better to remove any misapprehension which may exist, and, on behalf of the Government, I accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I beg to move in Sub-section (2) to leave out the words "and shall in all cases" ["cases where the rate of sickness benefit."] I understand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is prepared to accept this, or words to a like effect.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put. and negatived.
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "remuneration" ["or other remuneration"], to insert the words, "not being less than 15s. per week."
§ The CHAIRMAN
Two-thirds of 15s. is 10s., and if we are to insert the 15s. limit, surely we shall be going back upon a discussion which has already occupied two hours.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
The Amendment to which the hon. Member referred stands, I believe, in my name. I should like to say that what has fallen from the Chairman is correct as to part of the Clause, but there are other features which have no re- 953 lation to the 15s. I submit this in. order to stereotype and crystallise this particular point. I suggest it is right that this Amendment should be moved as it is entirely distinct from the larger question which has been already dealt with.
§ Sir R. BAKER
I have a manuscript Amendment—in Sub-section (2), after the word "wages" to insert the words "calculated on a yearly basis taken from the previous year."
The Clause will then read, "exceeds two-thirds of the usual rate of wages calculated on a yearly basis taken from the previous year." The point which I think has already been taken in this Debate is that the wages in this ease should not be calculated on each particular week but on an average taken from the previous year. The point I wish to get is this: the wages should be calculated on a yearly basis and not on a daily basis. It was said just now that where a boy was only employed four days a week his contribution is based on his daily wage and not on his weekly wage. The point will come up again on the Schedule, but I would be pleased if the Government could see their way to accept the yearly employment basis where the employment has been for over a year. In many eases men are sometimes earning 18s., 19s., or 20s. a week, whereas their yearly basis is only 12s. a week. I beg to move—
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I hope the hon. Member will not think it necessary to proceed with this Amendment. We have given full consideration to what he has said. This Clause as it stands only gives discretionary powers to friendly societies. It would be quite safe to leave this matter to the friendly societies to deal with. They can themselves determine what is the yearly rate of wages or other remuneration. I would suggest the matter can be properly dealt with by the societies who are the best judges in this case.
§ Sir R. BAKER
That is exactly the point the Attorney-General has raised. We want a definition of what is the yearly rate of wages. It would be much better for the agricultural labourer and the men who are unemployed certain days of the week.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
With all respect to the Attorney-General, I am inclined to think the "yearly rate of wages" is an expression to be construed. The whole basis of the premium is founded upon the amount received weekly. This is the only opportunity it seems to me of removing an injustice under which the class of agricultural labourers suffer, as compared with others, if this wage is taken on a weekly basis for the purposes of this Clause. The Member for Dorset has already explained that during times of harvest the agricultural labourer gets somewhat higher wages. It applies to other times of the year also. There are various processes at every farm, like hoeing and pulling and topping roots, which are generally paid by the piece and are paid in addition to or in substitution for the. weekly wage. If you are going to base the conditions under which his sick benefits will be reduced on his weekly wage and not upon the average he would receive per week if the whole of his remuneration was taken into account, you will do a still greater injustice to the agricultural labourer than you would do if this Clause stood by itself. I would ask the Attorney-General to reconsider the decision he has come to.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I hope the Attorney-General will not be led into accepting this. No doubt it would secure its object in the special case which has been referred to, but I am sure my friends opposite will see why we could not accept it. The suggestion is that it should be the average weekly wages obtained during the year. So far as the building trade and the outside trades are concerned that would be a most terrible proposition. It would mean that all deduction for the wet time, etc., would be taken into account. The average earnings of the year would be reduced considerably and consequently the rules of the society would reduce the benefit paid to the man. Under no circumstances could we accept such a proposition. There might be a special case for the agricultural labourer, and that his harvest money ought to be taken into account, but so far as the other trades of the country are concerned, I do assure the hon. Member it would do a positive injury to the workmen of these trades.
§ Sir R. BAKER
I am not proposing to leave out the usual rate of wages. I am 955 quite prepared to accept that if the hon. Member wishes it to be put in.
§ Mr. GARDNER
Everyone knows the ordinary wages of the agricultural labourers are only nominal wages. There are very few weeks in the year he does not earn something over his ordinary wages. To discover the wages of the agricultural labourer you must add all the extra wages earned from one year's end to the other.
§ Mr. JAMES THOMAS
I do not think this Amendment if carried out would be of any value. On the contrary, I can quite conceive of its being a disservice to the poorer paid class of workers. Let us assume for a moment that the agricultural labourer gets 11s. a week, and the next month gets an advance of 1s. a week. Is it suggested that the calculation should be based on the twelve months' earnings. Instead of helping him you are actually reducing his wages. That is apart from the question of whether it is short time or not. This House ought not to introduce an element that would cause friction and irritation and absolutely dislocate the whole of the friendly societies.
I would like the Attorney-General to say what he means by these words two-thirds of the wages earned by the insured persons. It does not mean earned by the insured person. It is earned by insured persons as a class.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
was understood to say: It is the yearly rate of wages of the insured persons individually.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ And it being a quarter-past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means, and under Standing Order No. 8 further proceeding was postponed without Question put.