§ Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Question [25th May], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
By the consent of everybody in this House, I think I may say that the Bill, the Second Reading of which we are now discussing, is a very unique Bill. More than that, the Debate which has taken place upon it has been a very unique Debate. If this Bill had been introduced ten years ago it would not have found, I think, a single supporter from either of the Front Benches. The point of view which the Chancellor and the Government have taken is one which is quite new, and which marks a fundamental change of public opinion, and the most extraordinary thing for those who are sitting on these benches is to find that that point of view is not challenged by any section of this House. The old assumption upon which we used to approach questions of legislation, by which State aid and State organisations were regarded as something which ought to be suspected by every wise man, has been thrown over, thrown over not only by those who sit in this quarter of the House, but thrown over by everybody. That is a very substantial advance, one of those advances which one finds in public opinion happening periodically about once every century, and I think it is an indication that to-day in the times that have come upon us the old political parties are largely losing their significance; and the combination which has taken place, during the last week or 719 two, on both sides of the House, to praise this Bill and facilitate its passing is one that is welcome, at any rate, very heartily and most sincerely by those who sit with me here. The purpose of this Bill is twofold. First of all, it proposes to fill up those gaps in the life of the industrial classes that have been only too frequent. What has happened has been something like this: Very often when going along long roads in mountainous districts, the wayfarer finds that a heavy fall or an avalanche of snow has completely broken the road which, up to that point, had been smooth and easy walking. Every now and again the wage-earner has come to points like that on his way; sickness, unemployment or misfortune of some kind seems completely to have smashed the road right away in front of him, and he has been left behind struggling for existence, severely handicapped, and without any chance of using the opportunities which otherwise would be at his disposal.
For the first time in a clear, unmistakable, systematic way a Government has come before the country and has said that the repair of these breaches in the way of life is a responsibility imposed upon the Government, and an Opposition has also offered to say to the Government: "We support you in your efforts and agree with your general position." The second point of the Bill is one which is equally of importance. Its idea is, so to improve the general public health that those gaps will be less frequent than they have been. The intention of the Bill is not only to repair gaps that have been effected, but to repair the road against those avalanches that fall from time to time. I wish to ask the indulgence of the House to examine the Bill in a more or less general way from those two points of view. I shall take the public health point of view first. When one sits down and thinks of it seriously, and apart from one's own experience, it really is the most extraordinary thing that up to now our doctors have been paid for attending disease. The more disease the better it has been for the medical faculty of this country. That is absurd, absolutely absurd.
The whole medical service has been so disorganised that, in so far as it has been prompted by economic considerations only, the interest of every doctor was to get as much disease, as much illness, as he could possibly create amongst his people. A doctor attending to sick persons only drew 720 fees when the persons were sick. My name might be on my doctor's list of possible patients, but so long as I am well my doctor is making nothing out of me. The moment I become ill, then my doctor begins to regard me in the light of an income. I understand the protest was raised from the other side. I know perfectly well that of no profession in the whole country is it truer to say that their economic interests have never regulated their conduct. It has been one of the most encouraging and remarkable manifestations, that, on account of humanitarian considerations, and on account of the intellectual interest they have taken in their profession, our doctors have never allowed their economic interests to dictate their relationship to the general public. But there the fact remains, and until this Bill has been brought before the House there has not been any attempt to establish a system of social organisation, which used the doctor, not merely for the purpose of attending disease but for the purpose of eliminating disease altogether. With that general point of view before us, it becomes very necessary that medical men under this Bill should have the very fairest treatment. I am not quite sure how far the claims made by medical men up to now are well founded. It is a remarkable fact that the medical faculty, speaking of them as a whole, feel themselves injured, or possibly injured, by this Bill. I think they are very wise to take the gloomiest view of their prospects under the Bill. We ought not to object to their taking that point of view, because they know enough of life to come to the conclusion that if they do not take that view nobody else will. Therefore, I for one, do not regard the doctors as being hostile to the Bill because they are putting in claims that the scale of fees and the financial provisions made for them are not at all adequate. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will very seriously consider that matter. I would also like to remind him of a section of the medical organisation which is not represented in this House, and which has not made itself quite so clamant as the doctors have done—I refer to the section of nurses. There is a well-organised body of midwives and of sick nurses whose interests under this Bill, particularly under the maternity grant, ought to be very carefully considered, with a view to safeguarding them. As a matter of fact, I think I am speaking quite accurately when I say that if you 721 take the working class experience all round the assistance of nurses, either in maternity or in ordinary sickness cases, is often far more valuable than the assistance of the doctors themselves. It would be a great calamity to the health of the great masses of people if anything was done in this Bill which would make it difficult for midwives and for nurses to go on as they have been going on before.
I most respectfully put in a plea for that section of the medical faculty, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will very carefully consider their claim. Another point is that which has reference to making the doctors club officials or society officials. I have been very carefully looking into the various speeches made on Wednesday and Thursday during this Debate, and I would like to make a suggestion to my right hon. Friend regarding the difficulty as to the doctors. I cannot see what objection, what sound and serious objection there really is to allowing each insured person to have his own doctor. I can quite see that it will be a certain convenience if the doctor is a society official. On the other hand, part of the cure of a patient is that he has confidence in his doctor, and if the doctor becomes a mere official, however good he is, however great his skill may be, he does not have that personal confidence which the private practitioner carries with him—that personal confidence which is really half the cure. It will require very weighty consideration from the point of view of convenience to over-balance that and make me come to the conclusion that it will be found efficient, and even good policy, to practically create a sort of close-list of approved society doctors to whom alone the insured persons may go. Then there is the point about the fee. I have thought over it a good deal, and again there is a suggestion which I do not think has been made—I have not detected it in the OFFICIAL REPORT—but which I submit, with all due respect to my right hon. Friend: Is it not sufficient simply to prescribe the minimum fee? I hope, however, that if a minimum fee is going to be prescribed, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will rigidly set his face against any approved societies employing doctors at, say, half a crown per year per head. I think, if this Bill is to have the ghost of a chance of success, there must be a minimum laid down for all approved societies in regard to the doctor's fee. If the House will allow me, I will assume that I am an insured person. I select my own doctor; I take the man with 722 whose ways I am familiar, and who is familiar with my ways. He gets from the society to which I belong his minimum fee, but what is to prevent my supplementing his minimum fee by any fee I care to give him, or any fee that he and I care to arrange between ourselves?
I think, especially when the Chancellor of the Exchequer is insuring people with an income up to £160 a year, that if he considers the position carefully he will discover that all he requires to do is to establish a minimum, and not a fixed fee. Give us the minimum, and let that minimum be the basis of any bargain that the patient and the doctor care to make by way of supplement. These two points—I am not quite sure if they have been considered or not—seem to me to be worthy of the most careful consideration, particularly as the Bill is an experiment, and, so far as the outside and general medical practitioner is concerned very largely a leap in the dark. Another point: I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer has very clearly in his mind that the best service he can give to the public is to create an efficient and scientific system of preventive medicine. I am not going to elaborate it, because there are so many points that have to be raised in connection with the Bill; but there are two interesting experiments which I think are illuminating. We, for instance, have muddled along in industry until everybody became aware of the fact that we ought to apply science to industry, and we at last established the Imperial College and the School of Technology. Why should we not apply science to medicine in the same way? We shall have to do it. The laboratories of the hospital school or of the hospital certainly do not meet our requirements. Then again we have muddled along exactly in the same way in regard to lunacy, and it was only with the greatest difficulty, I remember—I was a member of the Committee mainly responsible in regard to the matter—and after years of agitation and argument and rational presentation of our case we succeeded in establishing the Neuro-Pathological Laboratory at the Claybury Asylum. I hope something similar will be done under this scheme, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will always remember that something must be done sooner or later, and the sooner the better, to establish laboratories in connection with this scheme, the aim of which will be to place at the disposal of the humblest and most overworked 723 medical practitioners in the most remote districts of the country the very best and most up-to-date knowledge regarding the scientific side of curative medicine.
Research and science applied to medicine—I want to emphasize the point—should not be regarded as merely a pious opinion. I rather gather that there is something of that idea in the way the Clause has been drawn. I therefore want to emphasise the point, and to tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer that so far as we are concerned we consider that this is a major and not a minor proposition of this Bill. A further point I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer about is as to the health committees. Is the right hon. Gentleman quite sure that the dual control of these health committees and the public health committees of the county councils is the best way of securing what he wants? I believe that certain representations have been made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the effect that all that is wanted is more money for the public health committees. I do not believe that to be so, and I hope he will rigidly set his face against that idea The public health committee as it at Present exists, and as it is at present constituted, must in many districts be a very inefficient body. I myself believe there should be some better means than has hitherto been discovered for getting public health adequately considered by local authorities, but the general experience of all dual control is, I think, that it produces less efficiency rather than more efficiency. I can quite well imagine that the health committee proposed to be established by this Bill, covering its area, will never move until the public health committee moves first of all, and that, I think, would be a very great calamity. Without elaborating the point any further, I do hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will seriously consider before the Committee stage whether he is going to stand by his proposal to establish dual control in public health. Rather I would suggest to him that he should make the local medical officer of health more a national servant than he is now, and make him practically independent of the local committee. I am perfectly certain that if he did so he would do far more than he can do under this present proposal of dual control to screw up the backward local health committees until they become efficient health committees.
724 Let me take the second point which I mentioned first of all, and which is the main purpose of the Bill—the purpose of filling up the gaps in life and making them less frequent. In that connection I think the House should be very careful not to use two very erroneous expressions that have been employed frequently by previous speakers. The Bill proposes, they say, to make deductions from wages and to give free medical attendance. Both those expressions are absolutely wrong, and if the public once gets it into its mind that these expressions adequately and accurately represent what the Bill proposes, enormous difficulties will be raised in consequence. As a matter of fact there is no deduction made from wages at all. In the proper sense of the term "deduction," there is no deduction from wages, because sooner or later the chances are that everyone of us will have to pay a doctor's bill, and what is done by this Bill is simply, instead of paying the doctor's bill in the lump we are asked to pay it in instalments. But that is not a deduction from wages. Accurate words, I think, would conduce to accurate thinking in this respect, and would enable the public to appreciate much more than I am afraid it now appreciates what is precisely the effect of this Bill. Again, free medical attendance is not given under this Bill. Why, one might as well say that if one insures one's life, and one's heirs put in a claim against the insurance society to which one belonged, that this insurance society is making a free gift to one's heirs. As a matter of fact that is not the case at all. There is no free medical attendance proposed under this Bill. It is simply the application of the method and principle of insurance against certain events which overtake most of us during our life.
The Bill, if I may say so without being misunderstood, is, after all, superficial; it deals with the problem of poverty when that poverty has arisen. If we all had £200 per year, and if the average income of the working classes was something like £250 per year, this Bill would be unnecessary. It would still be necessary to organise public health, it would still be necessary to consider the conditions under which the individual lives, but so far as insurance is concerned of the individual in respect to his doctor's bill this Bill would not be at all necessary. That being so, the Chancellor of the Exchequer must expect that every step he takes to meet special hardships will have a grave danger of only creating hardships. Take, for in- 725 stance, the cases of those with from 9s. to 15s. per week. It is perfectly evident, and I do not think that anybody will dispute this proposition, that a man or woman with 9s. a week as an income has not a sufficiently big income to enable him or her to live a decent life, and certainly not a sufficiently big income to justify the State taking 4d. per week. We all agree that that is not a disputable proposition at all, but I am not at all sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is able to devise any exemption or any system of gradation that will not to a certain extent have the effect of stereotyping the present bad conditions. We must do our very best by careful consideration to the economic circumstances to make these too low paid forms of labour such a very striking and rather common feature of modern society, we must do our level best not to stereotype them by anything of a humanitarian character and in the character of a concession which this Bill may give. Let me deal with the point or two of very general character which arise in connection with this Bill, when we remember the proposition that I have just laid down regarding low wages, and which I believe has the assent of the House.
The first thing you have got to consider is the apportionment of the premiums. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proceeds upon the assumption that the way to deal with this question is by insurance and not by free gift. He might have gone further and argued that it was the responsibility of the State to see all this done, and that when a man got sick, or a woman, that the State simply had to put its doctor in and cure him or her. There would be a great deal to be said for that, but there is a great deal to be said against it. I am in favour of insurance and not of free gift, and that opinion has been stated very clearly and after a very valuable experience by the German Social Democratic Trade Union, who presented a report to a conference on unemployment which met in Paris last year. In that report they stated that:—The grant of public money to unemployed persons (this only deals with unemployment, but is equally applicable to sickness and invalidity) without requiring the payment of contributions, takes away all tendency towards solidarity which must be recognised as the first essential of effective unemployment insurance.What our German friends have experienced and the conclusions to which they have come, I think, are good enough for us. We accept, and I believe that the great mass of the people of this country accept without questioning, the insurance method 726 of dealing with this problem. How is the premium going to be apportioned? The workman must pay some, but certainly not all. It is unfair to ask the man whose strength is below the average, to bear his own burdens. I do not think anybody will dispute that. If we proceed upon the insurance method and apply the insurance principle, we must strike an average, and that average ought not to be struck merely on the workmen themselves, but ought to be an average in which other responsibilities and other interests than those of the workman can find adequate place. Moreover, the State is going to organise health, and health must be organised not at the charge of the individual workman. Therefore, the workman's contribution ought to be supplemented by other contributions, and there we will leave it for the moment. What about the employers? I am bound to say, from my point of view, and I am trying to argue the thing down from general principles, it is more difficult to impose and to discover justification for imposing responsibility upon the employer than either upon the workman or the State in this respect. What is the responsibility of the employer? It is, first of all, to provide good conditions for his workmen, but that is secured by legislation. Then there are employers working specially dangerous trades, and yet that again is secured by special legislation. I would like to say here parenthetically that I hope that there will be no cessation of the activity of the Home Office in scheduling dangerous trades that carry diseases as a necessary consequence of them, and I hope that there will be no cessation on the part of the Home Office in imposing direct responsibility upon the employers of those trades for seeing to the health and well-being of the workers. I hope that this Bill is not going to put an end to that kind of legislation, because if it does it will be a very great misfortune indeed to the industrial population.
The employer has got a third responsibility, and that is to pay proper wages. If the employer pays proper wages, or, in other words, if the workers' share of the national income is adequate, then we do not want charity and we do not want assistance at all. Therefore, the employers' main responsibilities are to obey the law and to pay good wages. Still he does come in in one way. If this Bill operates and produces the results which we expect it will produce, then it will undoubtedly mean that it will give to the 727 employer a more and more efficient body of workers than he has got now, and it will enable him to run his machinery more efficiently than machinery is now being run. It will enable him to use his capital more economically than his capital is being used now, and therefore we can just drag him in, at any rate for beginning. Again, I would like to point out that the conclusion of the German trade unions is coming more and more to mean that they are not very keen about the employers coming in at all. In a very interesting conversation, which was not at all of a private character but for publication purposes, which I had with the secretary of the General Federation of German Trade Unions only a few months ago in Berlin, I was quite surprised to find that he and his friends were coming more and more to the conclusion that this insurance should be mainly an arrangement between the workman and the State. I will certainly support the idea that the employer should come in, at any rate in order to start this fund.
The third partner is the State. The State is going to receive enormous benefits from this Bill; rates are going to be lowered, taxes are going to be made less, all sorts of public charges, necessary on account of the low state of vitality and bad state of health of a large section of the people, are going to be eased if this Bill is going to do what it is expected it will do. When you come to apportionment it is quite impossible to translate into mathematical relationship and ratio, the various benefits to the workman, the employer, and the State respectively; but I am perfectly certain of this, that if 9d. is required, then 4d. for the workman, 3d. from the employer, and 2d. from the State is not a fair apportionment. I am perfectly certain of that, and that cannot be justified, but we are quite willing to accept during the experimental stages at any rate, an equal apportionment of 3d., 3d. and 3d. That is fair play, and at all events, on the face of it, substantially it is a nearer approach to fair play than 4d., 3d., and 2d. I think that we shall have in Committee to move Amendments which will effect that redistribution of premiums. Those of us who sit here must also scrutinise the Bill very carefully, very sympathetically I hope, but still very carefully, as to what its effect on wages is going to be. The prime consideration of everybody who is concerned in raising this status of the 728 working classes is the amount of wages the working class get. You cannot get out of that. We do not want charity, and we do not want doles, and we do not want Grants-in-Aid, and we do not want relief, and this is necessary at the present moment, simply because things are as they are, and in order to cure our present evils. I do not believe that the trade-union movement, the members of the trade unions, and the wage-earners, as a whole, will look twice at any proposal that will make it more difficult for them than it is now to increase the general wages of the general group of wage-earners of the country.
When we come to consider the effect of this Bill on wages, and here again I believe I carry the opinion of every Member with me, the important consideration from this point of view we have got to take into account is what is going to be the effect of the Bill on trade unions. I would like to try, if I have got a right idea of that effect. As I believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to speak later on in the afternoon, I would be especially obliged to him if he would correct me if I am wrong in any of my descriptions. There is to be a conference, representative of the whole of the trade unions of this country, to be held very shortly on this Bill, and it would be of the very greatest importance that we should clearly understand the position of trade unions under the Bill before that conference meets. As I understand the position, it is something like this. A man gets his 4d. in the shape of a stamp, which is put on a card; he does not require to state on that card to what approved society he belongs, so that the employer in putting the stamp upon the card will not know whether the contents of the card are to be credited to a trade union or friendly society or any other kind of society approved of by this Bill. I understand I am right in that assumption. As I understood from the learned Attorney-General's speech on-Wednesday night, the workman who owns the card will take that card, when it is full, and hand it in to the properly appointed official of the approved society to which he belongs, and that society is credited with the amount on the card. What happens? Assume that the approved society is a trade union. The man gets sick, and a report of the fact is sent to his union. The union can do one of two things: they can say to the Insurance Commissioners, "We 729 want a loan from the sums credited to us at headquarters to enable us to meet our obligations under this Bill for a certain period"—say, the next three months. They will get that loan, on two conditions. The first is that they must give a guarantee that that money will will not be mixed up with the general union funds, that it is earmarked, that it is put in a separate account at the bank, and that it is drawn upon absolutely for nothing at all except the purpose of meeting their obligations under this Bill. The second requirement is that the union gives a deposit to protect the insured members against malversation on the part of officers of the society.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Supposing, however, that the trade union asks no loan from the Commissioners then it need give no guarantee, because it is not dealing with public money at all. It pays out its own money, and it recovers from the Commissioners only the sums it has paid out in respect of this Bill. Evidently no guarantee is necessary. Nor is any earmarking of funds necessary. So that the society that borrows nothing does not require to give a guarantee or to ear-mark anything. If my description is right—
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I am very glad to hear that. Then take another point. My hon. Friends the Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes) and the Member for Bolton (Mr. Gill) both raised the point, and, I understand, got definitions and assurances upon it. What is a benefit under Clause 18? I want to raise the question in another way. I understand that my hon. Friend put a question somewhat to this effect. If a trade union becomes an approved society, is it debarred under Clause 18, Sub-section (2) from using its funds for the ordinary purposes which have been legal since the Act of 1876, and which I hope are to be made legal when the Bill to be read a second time to-morrow comes into full operation? I understand the answer has been given that a union may carry on all its operations under the Act of 1876 and any other legislation, and that those operations and those expenditures will be regarded as benefits under the definition of Clause 18.
730 I want to raise another point. There are unions which pay no sickness benefits at all. I take the unions with which two of my hon. Friends are associated—the hon. Member for North-East Manchester (Mr. Clynes) and the hon. Member for South-West Ham (Mr. Will Thorne)—and some of the textiles as well. I take them because they are unskilled unions, and because they could not supplement the insurance of this Bill by any levy for sickness. Am I right in assuming that a union such as the gas-workers', which pays no sickness benefit, may become an approved society and yet pay no sickness benefits from its own funds and levy its members nothing at all for sickness benefits apart from the sickness benefits under this Bill; that, as a matter of fact, a trade union may become merely the vehicle for receiving the cards of its members and for meeting its obligations as an approved society to those members? If that is so, that also is a very important explanation. Clause 55 provides that friendly societies paying benefits similar to the benefits provided for by this Bill must, upon the Bill coming into operation, have a valuation of their funds in respect of those benefits. Obviously, if that refers to trade unions, it will not work. The whole theory of a trade union has been that it was a going concern as a whole. It never professed to meet actuarial requirements, because it always had power of unlimited levy. When it wanted to supplement a fund that had been exhausted, it simply levied sometimes 2s. 6d. a week, sometimes even more, and, trusting to that power, it has simply allowed its financial machinery to go round year after year, just taking its bank balances as the Various periods came round, and adjusting them as was necessary under the circumstances. Therefore, if Clause 55 is intended to apply to trade unions, it undoes practically everything that the other Clauses do. I hope that that is not the intention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I should like to carry the point a stage further. I have already referred to the necessary expedient which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has had to make in order to impose his premium upon low paid labour. I want to make myself quite clear to the House. I do not complain about it at all; but I hope that the House when it gets into Committee will deal with this matter very carefully. The impulse will be to say that under a certain standard no premium should be imposed. I think it is going to be very difficult 731 indeed to resist the argument, because it will be put in this way. A person with a family and an income of £1 a week will find that 4d. off the £1 is a very considerable percentage of his income—so big a percentage that, whatever actuaries may say, the human being, who does not always value things on an actuarial basis, will disagree with the actuaries, and you will not be able to persuade him that the actuaries are right. Fourpence off £1 is a very much bigger thing than 4d. off 30s. The mathematical ratios do not follow when you are dealing with human beings faced with the ordinary problem of housekeeping upon an inadequate income. Therefore the Chancellor of the Exchequer must make up his mind to receive from various quarters of the House proposals for an extension of his scale, and perhaps for a concession at the lower end of it, which will mean not merely a graduation of the premium, but the elimination of the premium altogether. May I say, as one who is pretty well known to hold what are described as extreme views in these matters, as one who believes in Socialism, that such a method of dealing with low wages is certainly not Socialism; it is certainly not involved in the Socialist view, and it is not involved, I think, in any good sound economic view of treating the matter at all.
To refresh my memory for the purposes of this Debate I was reading the Debates which took place in this House at the end of the eighteenth century, and the pamphlets which were issued in connection with those Debates, when Mr. Gilbert was getting certain well-intentioned Bills carried into law—Bills which culminated in what is known as the Spiederman Act of Parliament. I was surprised to find how speech after speech delivered mainly outside this House went on precisely the same lines as those speeches and those pamphlets issued anything between a century and a century and a quarter ago, and yet history tells us that the Gilbert experiment and the Spiederman Act of Parliament were colossal failures. Therefore, we must be exceedingly careful that whatever we do in connection with this Bill is not in the nature of aids for low wages. We must be very careful about our economic facts. We cannot carry out high and dry economics. That is absurd. We are not in a vacuum. We are living under conditions which compel us to modify and change those broader abstract dogmas which in the abstract are perfectly 732 true, but which in everyday life cannot quite be applied. I hope the House, when it gets into Committee, in making a departure from sound economics will make that departure as little as the circumstances will allow. I feel perfectly certain that the great mass of trade unionists in the country will agree with me in that statement. It is so important that there should be no shadow of doubt about it that I repeat it. We are not here for aids for wages; we are here for better wages. We are here to raise wages, and not to make it easy for low-paid labour to subsist at all.
With this in mind I should like to draw the Chancellor of the Exchequer's attention to the effect of one of his beneficent provisions. We all understand why he has provided in the Bill that every worker under twenty-one years of age shall pay the full premium, but that when the age of twenty-one is reached the graded scale is to come into operation. Nobody will quarrel with his intention. But what will happen? There are scores of thousands of women in the country employed at purely mechanical labour. One has simply to go to Birmingham and see women working in front of big punching presses. The only thing they do is to feed them; sometimes they do not even do that; they only watch certain long carefully prepared strips of brass or iron going through those presses. They simply pull away baskets when they are filled and put empty baskets in their place. What will happen with regard to these women? Up to the age of twenty-one they will have to pay 3d., but when they reach the age of twenty-one and their 3d. becomes 2d. or 1d., and the contribution of the employer becomes 4d. or 5d. they will be discharged. There is no doubt about that. I think that must be taken into account because that, again, would be an exceedingly unfortunate result of this Bill.
I want also to refer in a sentence to the position of those bad lives who are rejected by friendly societies. I am not going to elaborate it, but I associate myself to the full with the speech of the hon. Member opposite in his reference to the unfortunate position of the deposit insurer. I do not think that the position is at all satisfactory. I would suggest that it should be possible to take from each society a certain contribution to be put to the aid of those people, because, after all, the whole theory of this Bill is "averaging up." It is not fair. You send a man to a friendly society and the friendly society 733 rejects him. Ho goes to another, and he is again rejected. Beaten about from pillar to post, he at last becomes a Post Office contributor. These are the men who require at any rate the most aid from the State—leaving the employer and the better-paid worker out of account.
Let us be perfectly candid: even if he is a dying man he is very likely begetting children; very likely carrying on his poisoned system and heritage of disease. Very well. Surely it will be possible to arrange a State contribution, or what I think is far better and far more in accordance with the principle of this Bill, to charge a certain percentage, a ratio, of the society's income to be put to the credit of those unfortunate persons. I think a far better plan could be devised from that which is provided for in the Bill as it at present stands. So with women. I think the women have got justification for very great complaint. The woman has to insure during her healthiest years, and just when she becomes to be subjected to sickness then she is knocked out. That, too, has been elaborated, and I only mention it because I desire to associate myself with those who have taken a part in the Debate, and to say that my colleagues and the party with which I am associated will most certainly move some Amendment and support Amendments which will be fairer to the women than is the Bill as it stands. I do not see why a married woman should not be allowed to contribute to the Voluntary Fund? Why her contributions should not be carried to the Voluntary Fund, and why she ought not to get sanatoria treatment if she desires it?
With reference to the unemployment section of the Bill I need say very little. We all admit that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has gone upon ground which has not been statistically explored. The very interesting actuarial report is admirable proof of that. The experiment is going to be carried out for five years in accordance with the provisions of the Bill. During that time readjustments are to be made, and observations made in regard to the various risks and so on. I think the House and the Committee will be very well advised not to try to make this Bill verbally perfect. You cannot do it. We have not got the experience to do it. It will be far better to let it go through with certain admitted defects and shortcomings so that we may not establish too elaborate a system now. It is much easier to change a simple system and to make it more perfect after we have had the requisite experi- 734 ence than to begin with a very elaborate system and then to change it five years from now.
I hope, however, that the Chancellor and the Treasury officials will be very liberal in allowing the trade union and other societies specified in the Bill to become insured societies. You see if the trade union is going to take this matter up as a trade union must take it up, it will be very difficult for that union to differentiate between those members who one day may come within the scope of compulsory insurance and the next day may he altogether outside that scope. If you were going to have ad hoc insurance societies the thing might be practicable; but I assume you are going to dovetail this into the actual activities of the provision of the societies against unemployment. If that be so, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade has so much inside knowledge of trade union working that he has only to think how that is going to affect the books of the trade union. With the apportionment responsibilities of trade unions he is simply going to confuse hundreds of branch secretaries, whose profession is, after all, not actuarial; he is going to confuse honest men and put all sorts of difficulties in the way of this scheme being worked. I think he will be very well advised if, between now and the end of the Committee stage, he will get himself into closer touch with some of my hon. Friends near me who have very wide experience in the administration of these funds, and get suggestions from them as to how this particular part of the scheme can be improved, because I think it can quite easily be improved upon.
There is another point to which I would like to draw attention before my final point. It has been suggested, I think by the Home Secretary, that the composite payments that are to be allowed under Clause 73, I think, might be made at the end of the period rather than before. I hope that will be very carefully considered. It will not effect the object that is intended. As I understand the object which is intended is to steady the labour market. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] Very well, you cannot possibly steady the labour market if you make the composition after the event. The way that the labour market is going to be steadied is by getting the employers before the employment—that is, at the beginning of the period for which the composition is going to hold—to sit down and 735 consider how many men they are likely to employ. In that way you will bring about your provision for short time, and make Clause 72, I think it is, the short-time Clause, effective. You will effect far more certainly and to a much greater measure your intention by keeping your Bill as it is now in that respect, than you would if you made the change which I think the Home Secretary adumbrated when he spoke on this subject. Then as to the unemployment distribution of premium. The actuarial calculation is that after taking compensation off, that the distribution is to be as follows: 9s. 2d. from the workmen, 7s. 6d. from the employer, and 5s. 6d. from the State. I do not think that is fair. It is not a fair proportion of unemployment premium. I hope the Chancellor will again think that matter over, because I am afraid we shall have to ask him to reconsider it in relation to a specific Amendment when we get into Committee. At any rate, I hope this is a matter that he will meet us upon. The State's one-tenth stamp according to the Bill is to be calculated on the reduced payment of the employer. I think that is very unfair. I think the State's stamp ought to be calculated upon the maximum employers' benefit. It should not be assumed that the employer has paid the whole, and has compounded for nothing. That is, however, a Committee point. I will only mention it because it will very likely be dovetailed into, and form a part of, the general principle of the apportionment of premiums that we will advocate when the time comes.
I believe we can all foresee that the tightness of time may endanger this Bill, but I think if we candidly confess to ourselves that fact and approach this question with the assumption that this Bill cannot be made perfect because we have not got the material which will make it perfect, that every anomaly cannot be eliminated from the Bill, and that it must contain some injustice to some section or the other—if we will begin with that assumption and supplement that by the other assumption that we are producing something that is going to enable us to construct tables from experience which in a few years to come will permit the House of Commons to construct a measure of insurance against sickness, invalidity, and unemployment that will be fair, and will, of course, be constructed from top to bottom, we will not allow this Bill to be stifled, strangled, or dropped because the 736 time is rather short. With the consent, good-will, and co-operation of all sections of the House, I hope, I believe, that this Bill can be put upon the Statute Book this year, and this beneficent provision be brought into operation about twelve months from now.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I have often listened to many more exciting Debates than that in which we are now engaged, but never to one of greater interest, either to Members of the House themselves or to the country at large. I made a very early appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give us plenty of time for this matter. I think everything which has passed since only adds force to my appeal. At every moment in the Debate, unless it be seen that Mr. Deputy-Speaker intends to call upon some particular Member, a flight of birds arises from all quarters of the House on a Member sitting down. I do not believe that we have had one useless speech in the course of the Debate. Every Member brings something of use to our Debate. It would be a great pity for the sake of the work in which we are engaged that any man should be crowded out and prevented from contributing his quota to the House by reason of the short time allowed. I want to make an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give us one more day. [Horn. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members on both sides of the House have been sitting almost continuously, and men who have given steady attention to the Bill ought to have an opportunity of being heard. I labour under the same difficulty that every man who has spoken labours under. I am overwhelmed by the mass of material to which we have to address ourselves. I scarcely know on what lines I can best arrange the points I wish to bring before the House that they may be appreciated. Let me, however, very rapidly first of all ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for an explanation of one or two Clauses in the Bill. In the first place, Clause 8, Subsection (5)—I am leaving out such words as are not necessary to make my point—says:—Where insured persons having been in receipt of sickness benefit recover from the disease … any subsequent disease shall be deemed to be a continuation of the previous disease … unless in the meanwhile a period, continuous or discontinuous, of at least twelve months has elapsed, and that at least fifty weekly contributions have been paid by or in respect of him.737 What is the meaning of that? I have asked a great number of persons, and have puzzled over it myself, and none of us are able to attach any meaning to the words "or discontinuous." Then I would direct the Chancellor's attention to Schedule 2, page 70. I think that schedule is actuarially unsound. The assumption underlying the schedule is that in the case of each individual man there is to be contributed by himself and his employer 6d., and if the right hon. Gentleman looks at the bottom of the page he will see a reference where the wages or other remuneration of women do not exceed 1s. 6d. a day, and he will see that the contributions from all sources on behalf of these women is only 5d. I imagine that is a misprint. I take it from the Chancellor's acquiescence that the employers are contributing 5d., and I also ask the Chancellor, when he comes to reply, to tell us the meaning of Clause 79. That Clause is in relation to the payment of funds under the unemployment part of the Bill to trade unions for the benefits they earn. I ask for an explanation because many members of the friendly societies and some others interested in the Bill have read that Clause as giving the trade unions in relation to the unemployment fund compulsorily collected by the State greater liberty and power than should go to any approved society in relation to the other funds compulsorily collected by the State. I do not so read it myself, but I ask the Chancellor to tell us what it really does mean.
I turn now to one or two other points on which I want to ask for information. I do not propose to say anything about the unemployment part of the Bill; there is a great deal that I should like to say, but it would be impossible to keep my speech within manageable limits if I were to deal with all these parts of the Bill. Therefore, all I will say with regard to the unemployment part is to make a remark in regard to the speech of the hon. Member of the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow (Mr. Barnes), who attributed to me a desire that that part of the Bill should be dropped. I do not think I used such words, and certainly if I did I did not mean to do so. What I desired was that we should discuss what are two distinct Bills separately, and that we should defer the discussion upon the one until we had finished the discussion of the other. The occasional interjection of speeches upon unemployment insurance in the midst of 738 discussions upon sickness and invalidity insurance has been, of course, most inconvenient to the House. Neither do I propose to say anything on the question of the doctors, not because I do not think there is not a great deal to be said upon it, but because their case has been already put before the House and, still further, because I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to take the opportunity this afternoon of giving further explanation, which may modify the situation and might make unnecessary what I might have said. I therefore leave their case, only saying that I quite recognise, as we all do, we must carry the goodwill of the doctors with us if we are to work this matter satisfactorily and that their case requires special consideration, not merely on account of the vast amount a charitable work they have done, but because of the vastness of the interest they have at stake. It is not merely a question affecting their present powers of gaining a livelihood which is touched by this Bill, but the whole of their accumulated savings during a lifetime are invested in their business and the goodwill in it which they have built up. I only ask in regard to that for a little further information from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
In the first place, I want to know whether the doctors of these approved societies are expected to treat surgical cases as well as medical cases. Of course some surgical cases must go to the hospitals, but where the case is of a kind which could be treated at home, are the doctors under the Bill expected to treat such a case? And how are surgical appliances in such cases to be supplied to the patients? In the second place, has the Chancellor considered or made any provision for dentists? When we are insuring the population against sickness this is really a very serious matter. I speak as a layman; but all of us know that the state of the teeth is often a cause of very great sickness. All of us who have set up a household are almost certain to find healthy girls coming up from the country who had been living a healthy life in healthy surroundings, sometimes taken with illness, and when we make inquiry, we find it is the teeth that are at fault, owing to early neglect, and they have to go and submit to drastic treatment. Dentistry is not mentioned under the Bill, and I think it must be considered and provided for in the medical treatment.
739 I heartily associate myself with more than one remark which has fallen from the hon. Member who has just sat down, and especially in regard to what he said on the question of nursing and midwifery. I am a little concerned about that, as I am concerned about another matter which I have not heard mentioned in these Debates, and which I think ought to be present to our minds as fraught with very grave possibilities. I do not propose to say anything about sanatoria, because other hon. Members who have spoken are more competent to deal with it, and I hope in the course of the Debate we shall hear my hon. Friend Dr. Hillier, who is himself a medical man of experience upon the subject, and who was so struck years ago with the work done in this respect in Germany, that he took over a deputation from friendly societies in order to make them acquainted with it.
What effect is this Bill likely to have upon our hospitals? Take my own native town of Birmingham. A large portion of the income of the hospitals there is derived from the Saturday collection amounting to about £20,000 annually, and a large portion is derived from the subscriptions of employers and workers. You are going to say to every workman and to every manufacturer who have contributed to the subscription list that in future each of them is to pay a fixed figure for insurance and medical benefit and treatment, and in doing so have you counted what effect that will have upon these great voluntary subscriptions, and whether they will continue to be made to our hospitals. Has the Government gone into that matter? I confess I think the Bill as it stands must lead almost inevitably to the full assumption by the State of the cost of the maintenance of the hospitals of the country. I say at once I should deplore that fact. I am not now thinking of the expense of the cost of management and so on under a State system. I think it would be wasteful, but I am thinking rather of the advantage which comes to the men of research and science from having a multitude of different institutions open to them in which to make these experiments in their own way without being subjected to official red tape. I think you will do a great deal to check the progress of science in its dealing with disease if you put all these great institutions under a central authority. And, again, I say you are taxing compulsorily so many of the people who 740 now support these voluntary funds to these institutions for doing exactly the same kind of work that you cannot expect them to continue the same subscriptions as they would have given had this Bill not been passed.
I desire also to enforce one other observation of the hon. Member who has just sat down, I think it was made for the first time in the course of the Debate by him, and it is of great consequence. I view with great suspicion the establishment of these new health committees, and the authority given to them. I think, if I may say so in an uncontroversial way, that the present Government has developed a great passion for interfering with local authorities in discharge of the duties entrusted to them. When I first entered this House, the panacea of hon. Gentlemen opposite for everything was local government. One of the early Bills I assisted in in that direction was the Parish Councils Bill. Now the Government are trenching upon the powers given to the local authorities, taking them back from them, and putting them into the hands of the officers of the central government. I view that course of events with suspicion. I view with extreme suspicion the establishment in counties or boroughs, or in ordinary counties, of these health committees with powers so extensive as those given them under the Bill to be used alongside of, and sometimes to override and call to account, public authorities which are already established.
Let us consider what these health committees are. I grant to the Government that when you take some of your small sanitary authorities in little areas, they do not discharge their work always effectively at the present time, and they need looking after, but when you are dealing with great corporations or with county councils, you must have some regard for the power, dignity, and beneficent activity of authorities like these. Is the council of a city like Birmingham, with a population of something like a million, to he told by a health committee, on which it might not be represented by a single one of its members, on which in any case it would be in a very small minority, that it is not doing its duty properly under the Housing Act, and that they demand an inquiry by the Local Government Board into the way in which this great corporation is discharging its duties? Great corporations like that believe in these matters of housing that great haste is the worst speed, that if you 741 sweep away a great slum area as enthusiasts would be glad to do in a hurry, you only recreate the same state of things elsewhere, while inflicting infinite hardship on the families transferred. If you are to make true progress, you must go slowly and exercise great patience and examine very carefully the extent of the authority you allow to these independent committees. You must give to the great authorities, whether county or borough, a bigger position than at present, and you ought to seriously consider whether you cannot almost exclusively entrust the work to them. So much for those general considerations.
I have been dealing with institutions, public or otherwise, and individuals concerned in the working of the Bill, but not covered by the insurances of the Bill. I now want to deal with the individuals who are included in the insurance, and I also want to say something about the societies included in the Bill. I hope in that way I shall be able to bring my views together in such a connected form as to make them clear. I wish to say a word or two about the soldiers and sailors. We are all extremely glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made special provision for dealing with their case. Some of us are not certain that the provision made is adequate or fair, but I think all of us will be ready to admit that if there is one class of the community to whom the State has a more direct obligation than another it is to those who risk their lives or engage to risk their lives in its defence. The First Lord of the Admiralty, in a speech which I am afraid was cut short by the eleven o'clock rule, said the Government were only proposing to take a half contribution from the soldier and sailor while in the employ of the service of the Crown, because they were only going to give them half the benefits—that is half the benefits to which other people who are insured under the Bill are entitled.
Soldiers and sailors are provided with medical treatment, sick pay, hospital treatment, and the rest of it, and therefore what you give them now are really facilities for insuring when they leave the Service if they become invalided during their terms of service. I have searched through the actuaries' report, but I have not, been able to ascertain whether the Government have actuarially calculated the benefits accruing to soldiers and sailors and the charges they propose to put upon them, or whether half-pay represents the 742 fair actuarial contribution to the benefits they are entitled. I will not say more than that. I am quite incompetent to make the calculation myself, but I think it is of great importance that it should be made because that is the only way of arriving at any decision as to whether the charge you make is a fair one or not. If you make less than the correct actuarial charge, I do not mind the State being more generous in such cases; on the contrary, I think it is a very proper thing. On the other hand, if you make more than the fair actuarial charge—
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I presume the right hon. Gentleman has had the calculation made and he says it is less. I do not object to that, but I ask him to lay the calculation on the Table. As regards soldiers and sailors who are discharged as invalids, it should be remembered that they are really picked lives, because they cannot join the Service unless they are perfectly healthy. Therefore, if you constitute a class for these men they should be treated the best of anybody under the Bill. You could not have a society of better lives than soldiers and sailors joining compulsorily at the moment they enter the Service. But what becomes of the soldier or the sailor if he is turned out of the Service invalided? I understand he is to get 5s. a week, but have the Government anywhere ascertained that the funds which they put to the credit of the soldiers and the sailors will secure them that amount?
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
That is not in the Bill, and it seems to me to be in doubt. A society is compensated for taking a soldier or a sailor at an advanced age because he is in the Government service, but I cannot find in these proposals that any compensation will be paid to the society for taking him as a bad life or as a man with bad health. I do not think the societies will take him under those circumstances, and there does not appear to be any guarantee at all. You cannot allow soldiers and sailors to fall into the rank of deposit contributors and fail to get the 5s. which they would be certain of if they belonged to a society, and which it is the duty of the Government to secure for them. Being picked lives, if these men break down in health, it must, be owing to the conditions of their service. If the 743 Government had said that they would compensate for ill-health in the case of the soldier and the sailor, as they do in the case of old age, I think it would be right. No doubt the liability of the Government would be uncertain, but the benefit to the soldier or the sailor would be secure. The Government have limited their contributions to two-ninths of the benefit, and it is quite possible that the funds for the soldier and the sailor will be quite unable to pay the benefit they ought to have. I come now to the case of women. This House should certainly he very careful that it does no injustice to women. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give us more actuarial information about the calculations on which the payments are based in regard to women who are Married. Has the Chancellor of the Exchequer satisfied himself by a report of the actuaries that the women will get the full proportion of benefits for their contributions.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I would like to see the actuarial calculation on which that is based. The actuarial reports we have at the present time are really only answers to certain questions drawn up, I suspect, by the actuaries who have been advising the Government, and I presume this is not at all the whole of the information on which the Government have acted. The request for the information from the actuaries is dated May 4th, and the reply May 20th, and quite obviously they could not have given it in that time, if it had not been prepared beforehand. The Bill was introduced in the interval before the report was in the hands of the Government. I do not say the Bill was introduced before the information was in the hands of the Government, but before the Report was issued. It is only a part of the information the Government have had, and I think we must ask for more information as we go along. What benefits are the great number of women going to get out of this scheme? The great mass of women engaged in industrial or insurable work under this Bill are either domestic servants or girls employed in factories who marry early.
I will take domestic servants first, because they form the greater proportion. They are going to be forced to subscribe for the first time, although I might say 744 that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred they now get benefits due to the good sense and good feeling of their employers, who would not turn a servant out of the house because she is ill, would not stop her wages while she is ill, and would take care that she went to the doctor as soon as she became ill. You are going to charge these servants compulsorily for benefits which they now receive through the voluntary acts of their employers without any contribution at all. I believe what I have said in this case applies to other than domestic servants, and those cases need very careful consideration or we shall arouse a great deal of feeling against the Bill on the part of those who find themselves charged for the first time for what they have hitherto had without any charge as part of the conditions of their ordinary service. Take the case of the women engaged in industrial work. They work for a time as girls and young women, and then they marry. It is said that the time they are insured before marriage is not a time when they are specially liable to sickness. They are not likely to get the full value of the contributions during that time. But what do they get beyond? If they survive their husbands and if they go back to work, and if the work to which they go back is of an insurable kind, they can take up their insurance as if it had never lapsed. Those are three very probable contingencies.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will permit me to explain this point now. This is a very important actuarial fact, and the right hon. Gentleman has stated it quite correctly up to a certain point. The women can also come in as voluntary contributors on exactly the same contributions as they were paying when they were married at twenty-two. That is an enormous actuaarial difference. They may be fifty years of age, and they will still be rated at 3d., but they will have to pay the employer's contribution. They will pay exactly as if they were sixteen years of age, although they may be fifty or fifty-five years of age at that time as voluntary contributors. The next point is that if they are disabled they receive the same amount of benefit as the moment they become widows. That is a very heavy actuarial responsibility.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Both payments, I take it, will cover the words I used. These women come in again at the death of their husbands upon the same terms as if their contributions had never lapsed and they are placed upon the same terms as to payments and benefits. What proportion of women are going to derive any benefits? They have to survive their husbands, and they have to come back into employment, which has to be of an insurable kind. I think the employment has to be insurable under any circumstances and insurable within the meaning of the Bill. If they are not working under the terms of the Bill for an employer they may have to pay the employer's contribution as well as their own, and then by the double payment they may secure the benefits. That will be but a fraction of women. I admit that actuarially the proportion of benefit given to those women must be very high, but it will be but a fraction of women. The great mass of women will never come back into the scheme at all and will derive no benefit. Many of them will not survive their husbands, and, where they do, they will be old people who will not go back into work at all, but who will at that time be looked after and cared for by their children, and those who do go back into employment will not, generally speaking, go back into the kind of employment—it is, I am quite certain, the universal experience—which gives them an employer to pay half the contributions for them. They do a little chasing or washing, and take up odd occupations of that kind which enable them to look after their children and their homes and still earn a little money. It will press very hardly upon those women.
I think you have got to do something more, if not for women as a whole, at any rate for that class of women who will be compelled to pay for the insurance, and who by their marriage will lose their benefit. It is all the more necessary because in the case of some friendly societies these women are now insured, and their insurance carries with it a marriage benefit. Though they cease to draw the ordinary benefits on their marriage, they get a bonus on that occasion. I want to put a suggestion before the House. It is not my own. It was thrown out in conversation the other day by the hon. Member for East Birmingham (Mr. Steel-Maitland). The Government might arrange in such cases of women who marry that they should get back something as a marriage bonus. I do not believe that the best way 746 to help them would be to give a bonus on their marriage. Generally speaking, the prudent among our working-classes save enough either on one side or the other for their marriage, and the pinch comes just before the eldest child begins to earn. That is when the family is biggest and the outgoings are greatest in proportion to the income. That is why the eldest son or daughter in those families, unlike the eldest son or daughter in richer families, becomes the worst off. The parents are obliged to use him or her as a money-making machine at the earliest possible moment. That is why they are taken so quickly from school, and that is why they are put immediately into the employment where they get the largest amount of wages without regard to their future career. That is why you so often find the eldest boy or girl has not had the advantages in their start in life that has fallen to the youngest when the strain on the income of the family has become less. The suggestion made was that, instead of giving a marriage benefit, as some of the friendly societies do now, and as I think you will be obliged to do if the Bill remains as it is, and if you find no alternative, you should give a deferrable benefit till nine or ten years after marriage in the shape of some temporary or annual or weekly allowance for a period of years at that time. It is not a suggestion which anyone can expect to be accepted without consideration, but I certainly hope it will not be put aside without full consideration. I am sure you have got to do more for the mass of women, and I suggest that is a possible way in which you can really do it most effectually, most welcome to them, and most beneficially to their families, and to the young citizens who are growing up.
I come to a class which is not a matter of sex or occupation. You take a man who is now insured in a friendly society, we will say for the minimum benefit, and you transfer the obligation to pay him those benefits as well as the premiums for those benefits from the society to the State, but you put in a provision that the State will pay nothing for six months. What is going to happen to the man already insured? He is now covered for life. You break his bargain with his society and leave him uninsured for six months. Imagine the case of a man who has just passed through the probationary period of his society, has paid his premiums for twelve months and received no benefits, and who falls sick the day after 747 the commencement of your Act. He is told: "Though your society contracted with you to pay its full sick benefit to you, we have broken that contract and have not provided anything for you for another six months, and, what is more, you will have to continue your contributions during those six months or you will get nothing at all." That is a gap in the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman has got to think about. Again, contributions have to be paid right up to seventy. That is not the case with some of the friendly societies. I had an opportunity of seeing a great many of my Constituents on Saturday, and they brought me a great many problems. One of them said he had reached sixty, and ho was insured in a friendly society, in which his premiums practically cease at sixty. His premium was purely nominal; he had only got to pay 1s. a year after sixty. He has covered himself entirely in that society. You break his bargain with the society, leaving him uncovered for six months, and you say for the remainder of his years up to seventy, for which he has already paid, he must pay afresh under your scheme. That is a point the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not seen and has got to meet.
I am now going to deal with people over fifty. Clause 9, Sub-section (3), says sickness benefit is to be reduced in the case of any insured person over fifty years of age, in accordance with the schedule. The schedule says that where the insured person is over fifty and under sixty the men, instead of 10s., get 7s. per week for the first thirteen weeks and 5s. per week during the second thirteen weeks, and the women 6s. during the first thirteen weeks and 5s. during the second thirteen weeks. How is that going to work? I do not know whether it is meant to be as wide as it is, but, as drawn, it means every man who is over fifty when his claim matures will have his benefit reduced in that way. That is the wording of the Act, but I take it from the Chancellor of the Exchequer it does not mean that, and what he means is that a person who joins at fifty is to have his benefit reduced. The Act will have to be amended in order to carry out that object. Another class of people were alluded to by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) from the opposite view I am going to take. What of the men who desire no more than the minimum benefit? The hon. Member for Leicester said it would be to the interest and it would be 748 the desire of many trade unions to insure their members, in respect of what is covered by the Act, for no more than their minimum benefits, and he asked whether they would be entitled to do it. Obviously, the answer is: "under the Bill, you will be entitled to do it," but everybody does not want to join trade unions. What is going to happen to the ordinary man who does not want to join the trade unions, and who requires only the benefits under the Act? It is not worth the society's while to take him. They would have the expense of looking after him and they would have the obligation of seeing he did not malinger; but they would not have the handling of his money, and nothing but a very minimum advantage by taking him. Are you going to drive him—I think you may be driving large numbers of them—to become deposit contributors?
That brings me to the deposit contributors. I differ from the Home Secretary in his estimate that this will be a vanishing class. Unless you make Amendments in your Bill, it will be rather a growing than a vanishing class. On the whole it will comprise persons who can least help themselves, and whose need is greatest. The deposit contributors ex hypothesi must be those who most need the benefit, and those are the people who get least. You are going to charge all of them a deduction from their wages under the pretence that you bring them into a scheme of National Insurance, but you do not insure them at all. You force them to open a banking account, you force them to pay into that account their money every week, you force their employer to pay in his money to that account, and you give them credit from the State proportionate to the number of payments they have made, and thereafter you say each man may draw upon his own account as far as that account goes, but, when his own account is exhausted, and when he has drawn out the money which stood to his individual credit, he has practically lost all benefit under the scheme. He is the man who will come most frequently upon the fund, whose poverty is greatest, and whose need is most. I admit he will derive one further benefit. Clause 32 Sub-section (2) provides that there is to be a triennial valuation of the sum standing to the credit of the deposit contributors by a valuer appointed by the Treasury who is to determine whether there is any surplus for distribution. It is perfectly absurd to use the term "valuation" and to order a valuation in that connection. There is nothing 749 to value; it is simply an addition sum: How many men have died without drawing out the whole amount that stood to their credit?
What is the total amount of the sum so left? That is the sum available for further distribution. You do not need a valuer appointed by the Treasury to work that out, and if you have one he cannot do more than the ordinary machine work of a clerk. The only other thing is that each of these individual deposit contributors has his share in the account of the dead depositors who have not drawn out the full amount that stood to their credit. But that is quite insufficient to provide even the minimum benefits under the Act; and if, as I think, the deposit contributors who, as contemplated by the Government, will be the most needy, will also include the most deserving, I suggest you are subjecting them to very hard terms.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer asks, What do we suggest? My hon. Friend who spoke just now said, "I do not suggest anything at this stage: I only point out the difficulty, and that it is necessary to remove this blot on the Bill. I am going to be a little bolder and put forward a suggestion. I do so with the greater confidence because the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), representing quite a different section, laid his finger exactly on the same spot and said, "You must do more for these people and put a bigger contribution to their credit." His suggestion was that you should make a levy on every approved society of a portion of its funds to go to the benefit of these bad risks. I think there are great difficulties about that. I think we must make a larger contribution from the State to the bad risks than is now proposed What is the object of the State contribution after all? In this case it is my good fortune that there are two Bills and two sets of Ministers dealing with the subject of unemployment. Both the President of the Board of Trade and the Home Secretary have laid it down that the true function of the State grant is to average risks. You secure that half way in the sickness part of the Bill: you average the age, but you do not do anything to average the health as between deposit contributors and others. Joining with the hon. Member for Leicester, and feeling with him and with, I think, nearly every member of this House who has spoken, that the treatment of the deposit contributor cannot be left as it is in this 750 Bill, and that it would not be creditable to the House to do so, I offer as a suggestion at the present time, as an alternative, that instead of making a levy on the funds of each society there should be a larger proportion of the State contribution given to the deposit contributors than to those insured in the societies.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Is it your suggestion that that extra contribution to the deposit member should be taken from the State subsidy to other classes?
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Yes; it comes to exactly the same thing, and I think, of the two plans, mine would be the easier to work. I am sorry to have detained the House so long. I have tried not to repeat what has been said before. If I have dealt with the same points I have tried to deal with them on rather different lines. There is one other class of individual which has, I think, not been named in debate, and that is the owner of small house property. Under this Bill you say—and I quite appreciate the charitable and humanitarian feeling which causes you to say it—that while a man is in receipt of sick relief he is not to be subject to distress for rent. Practically you put a very heavy contribution on the owner of the house in which he lives. No doubt in some cases the owner will be paid every penny of the rent accruing, but in many cases he will never see his rent again; and I ask the House to consider whether it is quite fair, when it is doing a charitable act, that it should do it entirely at the expense of the owner of that class of property? If he were a rich man, it might probably be said, "He can well afford it." But in a great majority of cases the houses are owned by quite small men, who certainly cannot afford the loss to which they may be put. They may themselves be reduced to great poverty. If you are going to relieve the tenant of the obligation to pay his rent to his landlord, surely it would only be fair to give the landlord statutory relief from the obligation to pay rates and taxes on the property of the rent of which he is being deprived?
I think the Bill, as drawn, requires some fresh consideration as to the extent of interference which you are going to exercise in connection with the societies. You do not undertake to guarantee their solvency, or manage their funds, or watch their interests. You say that that part of 751 their funds which comes from the compulsory contributions you will keep in your own hands, but that the State is free from any obligation to look after what they do with the rest. Look at Clause 55, dealing with the existing reserve funds of the societies. Under that Clause a fresh scheme is to be prepared. It is certainly to be prepared by the societies, but it is to be subject to the approval of the Registrar, who can exercise control and power over what a society does with its already accumulated funds. But, more serious than that, there is power under Clause 21, giving the Insurance Commissioners, quite a new body with whom the societies have had no dealings at all, complete control over every quarrel arising between society and society, society and branch, branch and branch, society and individual, and branch and individual, in relation to any matter in regard to inside compulsory benefit or outside. There is nothing in that Clause that confines the authority of the Commissioners to the benefits that are compulsorily assured, and under this Act the Commissioners are given full power to settle any dispute arising, whether in regard to benefits under the Act or in regard to benefits secured wholly outside the Act. If that provision remains as it is the independence of the societies will be gone.
I come back to another point in connection with the finances of the societies, and this shall be the last subject I will touch upon. The Government scheme is based on the figures of the friendly societies, and, in the main, on their experience in the past. It is very largely based on the experience of the Manchester Unity, because Mr. Watson, its actuary, has been at the trouble to get out an extremely interesting and valuable set of figures which throw great light on the problem, and the experience of the societies. The average, based on this experience, is taken for the whole country, for every society and every branch. I want to ask will the experience of the past and will the figures thus obtained be a fair guide as to what is going to take place in the future? First, are the rates of sickness generally all over the country going to be the same? I profoundly doubt it. Hitherto the societies have selected their members. They have been very largely of one class. They have known one another intimately. But within a few months you are going to drive into the 752 societies eight millions of humanity—I think that is the assumption on which the Bill is based. What about the medical inspection of these eight million new entrants coming in at once. What will that inspection be worth? What knowledge will the societies have with regard to these new entrants? The medical examination cannot be comparable with what is now done when two or three individual men come up for examination. The knowledge the societies will have of these new members cannot be comparable with the knowledge they have bad of their members in the past. I do not think that the sickness rate generally throughout the country under the new scheme can be deduced from the experience of friendly societies in the past.
The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the Spen Valley (Sir T. P. Whittaker) spoke of the effect already apparent on the sickness rate in certain cases through raising the sick benefit. Of course, in an enormous number of cases the sick benefits will be very much raised, and I am not quite certain whether in many cases the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not put too high a scale of contribution and too high a scale of benefit. Would not the interests of those assured be better met by having a much lower contribution and a lower rate of benefit? Take, for instance, the case of the agricultural labourer. Can you say, with regard to him, that a rate which is fair and equitable as a contribution from the comparatively highly paid workman in the town is a fair contribution to exact from the lowly-paid agricultural worker? How can you say that the dweller in country districts requires to-pay the same amount weekly to safeguard his health as the man in the town? I am not at all certain it would not be better to break up the scales as regards large classes of community. As I was coming down to the House I was handed a letter from Colonel Milward who owns one of the great needle factories at Redditch. In that factory they have a benefit club. I need not go into details. But Colonel Milward tells me he thinks that 7s. 6d. per week benefit for women is too high. If it were only 5s. they would not stay at home, but they might do so if it were 7s. 6d. He adds that they tried a scale at 6s. and found that sickness increased alarmingly.
I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer is over sanguine in estimating that the past experience of the friendly societies 753 will really govern the sickness of the future, and if it is the case as to the average for the country at large it is bound to be untrue in particular cases, and particular cases under the Chancellor of the Exchequer's scheme are to be judged by the general effect. Take the relief of sickness in the case of coal mines. In South Wales you may have a branch almost exclusively composed of coal miners. Compare their relative sickness with that of the agricultural population of Norfolk and Suffolk. It will always be much higher, not only because there is more sickness, but because their callings require a better state of health than those of the others. Or take a different illustration. Compare the collier with the tailor. They have arrived at the same state of convalescence. The tailor can perfectly well sit on his bench and sew—he is quite well enough for that—but the collier is not well enough to go down into the mine and work there. If it is the case of an engine-driver he cannot drive his engine and he cannot go back to work till he has reached a later or much later stage of convalescence. That will be sufficient to make certain of your branches permanently bankrupt because they are to be assessed on the average, and then you go down to those branches and say to them, "You must levy fresh contribution or you must reduce your benefit." I do not think this general system of average will work fairly or satisfactorily, or can be made to work fairly and satisfactorily between these different branches and under different services.
Supposing you have an outbreak of small-pox in this country, and supposing in a particular locality or among particular societies you find the sickness due to small-pox much higher than is the average of the country. You pursue your inquiry, and you find that that is due to their having a much larger proportion of unvaccinated members than others. What are you going to do? Are you going to charge the individual member or the funds of the society generally, or how are you going to treat a case of that kind? I think we must know something about that. Then in regard to the finance of the scheme. What sort of provision has the Chancellor made for the initial expenditure which he is throwing upon existing societies? There have to be as soon as this Act comes into force two valuations in regard to every existing member of a friendly society—one to ascertain how he is to be compensated for age in taking him over to the 754 State Fund, and the other valuation as to what is his accumulated share in the reserve funds of the society to which he belongs. That will be an enormous expenditure for actuarial assistance, which will be placed upon the friendly societies of the country. I do not see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made any allowance for it, and I think it would be fair and right to do so. I come now to the speech of the Attorney-General the other day to which I must allude. Anybody turning to the Attorney-General's speech in No. 76, columns 378 and 379, of the OFFICIAL REPORT, will see that he made an examination of the tables of the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, and he pointed out the amount which a man now insured there at a premium would have to spend upon further insurance under this Bill. And he concluded one portion of his statement by saying:—I only want to point Out to the workmen that they get the enormous benefit of having only to pay 4d. for what otherwise (under the benefits of the Manchester Unity) would have to be purchased at 8d. or 9d,"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th May, 1911, co1. 379.]I confess I do not feel competent to do what the Attorney-General did, and make actuarial calculations for myself by extracting materials from the actuarial tables laid before the House. But I went to the best authority because his statements surprised me, and I asked whether he correctly represented the facts as to the Manchester Unity. I, therefore, asked Mr. Watson, the actuary of the Manchester Unity, whether he could give me the facts as to that society, and he has consented to do so. He is actuated by a desire to protect his society against the aspersions which he thinks the Attorney-General unwittingly cast upon it. The Attorney-General appears to have overlooked the fact that the Manchester Unity has different rates for above fifty and below fifty, and that has thrown over his whole calculation. It is sufficient for me to say that Mr. Watson tells me that he would be prepared to advise his society that they could do for 7d. what the Attorney-General says would cost 9d. He writes:—I should be prepared to advise the society to insure all benefits definitely named in the Government insurance for a premium of 7d. a week at the age of 30, and this premium ceasing, as provided by the Bill, when the man was sick, or to any extent unemployed. The benefits provided by the Government Bill are greater than those now insured by the society, and if the society were to take only those portions of the benefits they were accustomed to insure, they could do it for 6d. instead of 7d.The Attorney-General went on to give advice to the working man, and, through 755 him, to the societies, which is very dangerous, because it is based upon a calculation which is really quite unsound. He went on to say that the working man would have 5d. set free and more to spend because he would have the contribution of the employer, 3d., and the contribution of the State, 2d., added to his own 4d. to do what he had hitherto had only his own money to do. Therefore he said the 5d. is an additional sum, and if he has been insuring for 9d. hitherto he has 5d. to use for other benefits, and the societies might count on getting that 5d. in proposals for fresh insurance. That is not the case. The Bill insures them in the first place against liabilities which the workman is not insured against at present. There is the maternity benefit and a ½d. would come off for that. There will be another ½d. in regard to sanatoria and institutions, and the medical service of the Bill is more costly than the medical service under the medical societies Bill. I am relying upon the figures very kindly supplied me by Mr. Watson as the best he can make, and he says that the medical aid service is on the face of it more costly, and I gather from the discussion that we have already had, it is likely to become still more costly than it has been in the past. That will be at least another extra ½d. which the trustees have, roughly speaking, to pay for the expenses of management.
I do not think the trustees will be relieved very much in regard to their expenditure, and I think that will be a new expenditure which will be incurred by them or the Government. Lastly, there is the reserve fund, which is to accumulate, and which for the first fifteen years fixes another ½d. which the man is to have to pay, and instead of their being 5d. set free the man or the society has to use 3½d. of it. That shows a very serious misapprehension of the financial liability on the part of the Attorney-General, and it will probably be a caution to all of us not to embark upon actuarial calculations of our own, and I hope it will not lead any society into error. I understand from the correspondence which has appeared in the Press that the Chancellor is going to say something to-day about collecting societies and dividing societies and about their co-operation in this Bill. As I have already said, you do not guarantee the soundness of the friendly society. All that you undertake to guarantee under this Bill is that the compulsory contributions of the employer and employed, plus 756 the State's addition, shall be available for the purpose specified in the Bill, and in order to do that you keep the whole of the money. I do not therefore see on what ground you need to exclude any society. You do not propose to inquire what they do with the rest of their money. You do not propose to inquire whether their funds are sufficient to give the benefits which they hold out. The representatives of the trade unions and the chairman of the Labour party have stated very definitely that the principles they employ are not actuarial, that they rely upon their power of unlimited levy, I suppose either to produce the sum which they require or to reduce the benefits payable in certain contingencies.
If you do not guarantee, what right have you to pick and choose among the various existing agencies which the men have selected of their own free will by which to make their insurances. I have come to the conclusion, as far as I can judge of the scheme of the Bill, that I think they might all be allowed to share in the working of it. If they are all allowed, I only want in that connection to say one word of warning. I am afraid of the term "approved society." The Government is going to say that a great number of societies are approved societies, and they are going to encourage men of small means and precarious incomes to go and insure in those bodies. I think if you use language like that you lead these men to suppose they are in a Government society with a Government, guarantee, and I think it is very dangerous. I hope, therefore, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, before the Bill leaves the Committee, will delete the term "approved society" and substitute for it some other term such as registered society —some neutral term which will not appear to convey a guarantee, that because the Government approves of a scheme it is satisfied upon the soundness of the society and that the money will always be forthcoming to pay not only the benefits under this Bill, but all the other benefits which the society may have insured. I thank the House for the attention with which they have heard me. I will not delay them a moment longer by adding any unnecessary opinions upon the particular Bill as a whole or upon the general situation with regard to it.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am afraid I cannot follow the right hon. Gentleman through all the criticism which he has directed against the details of the Bill, 757 but I am sure if I do not answer all of them he will accept my apology at the outset. My reason for not doing so is that I have also to review the whole of the Debate, and it would be quite impossible for me to cover the whole of the ground which he has raised. I will also assure him of this—that all the criticisms which he has directed against some of the smaller and less important sections of the Bill I have taken a full note of, and I shall consider them very carefully between this and the Committee stage. I must say a word about the address to the Government for an extra day for the discussion. The original announcement Of the Government was that the discussion would take two days. We made some in quiries before that statement was made by the Prime Minister, and in the arrangement with regard to the time of the House, and without any pressure, I think, from the Opposition, we saw that there was very great interest taken in the discussion, and the Government offered an extra day, but I really do not think we shall be justified in inviting the House to occupy another day. After all, the Second Reading is supposed to be a Debate upon whether the principle of the Bill, as a whole, is acceptable. I do not think there has been any challenge of the main principle of the Bill. I have watched the Debate very closely, and I am very gratified to find that the whole of the speeches that have been delivered have been directed purely to matters of detail, not one of which could not be discussed fully in the Committee stage. Therefore I do not think the Government would be justified even in prolonging this, as it were, informal Committee stage any longer.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not know whether the Chancellor has realised the great difficulty the Committee may be in when they try to amend the Bill. It is almost impossible to raise a great many of these points except by imposing an increased charge either on the contributors or the State, and that we are precluded from doing. Unless we are allowed a rather wide latitude in Committee stage, we shall find ourselves very much hampered, and this Committee stage discussion on the Second Reading is really not as superfluous as if we had a freer hand in Committee.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I cannot express an opinion upon that. It is for you, Sir, to rule as to the extent to which suggestions for increased liabilities will be in order 758 when we come to the Committee stage, and I do not think it would be fair to ask you a point of Order now without having fuller time to consider what your rulings would be. But all the suggestions are more or less of the same character. I have heard them during the last few days, and they resolved themselves practically into four or five criticisms. Most of them I shall be able to deal with in the course of this discussion. Most of them are the result of misapprehension of what the conditions of the Bill really are. In so far as they involve an increase of charge I shall be able to deal with them in a few minutes. But the main outlines of the Bill have been accepted—compulsory insurance, collection by stamps, the division of the contribution between the employer, the employé and the State—there was no real criticism of the proportions until the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald)—a very sympathetic and very statesmanlike consideration of the whole problem. He undoubtedly criticised the proportions, but it all ended in the suggestion that the State should take upon itself additional liability, and inasmuch as several suggestions of that kind have already been made, I again warn the House as to what the cumulative effect. of those suggestions would be. My hon. Friend suggested that we should have another £3,000,000 a year from the State. We are undertaking an immediate liability of £5,000,000 and a contingent liability of £8,000,000 or £9,000,000, and my hon. Friend suggests that we should add another £3,000,000, which would be another 1½d. on the Income Tax. He also suggests that we should have an additional contribution from the State towards unemployment. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) suggests a larger State subsidy for the Post Office contributors.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is a different matter. I will drop that out. Then others have suggested that we should cut down the contributions after sixty, and there have been suggestions of increased benefits. There are only two ways of doing this. You have either to do it at the expense of others who are already in the fund or at the expense of the taxpayer. If you put a sovereign in one place, you have to take it out of another, and you have to take it out of the taxpayer, the 759 employer, or the employed. I entreat the House of Commons, when approaching the problem, to consider that any Amendments of this kind for increasing benefits or relieving liabilities can only be done at the expense of someone. The right hon. Gentleman warned us, and I do not think the warning was unnecessary—it has already been given by the hon. Baronet (Sir Thomas Whittaker) in the exceedingly able and well-informed speech which he delivered earlier in the course of the proceedings—that we ought at any rate to have a margin when we are taking in a population which has not already passed through the friendly societies, the quality of which you do not know, and whose state of health you cannot actually gauge. And you have also to take into account the possibilities of the future in regard to sickness. In one sentence he warns us as to the danger of having over-estimated the benefits which our finance will achieve, and in another sentence he suggests that we ought to draw even further upon that finance. You cannot do both, and I am rather disposed to support the view taken by the actuaries—a very conservative and a very careful one—that it is far better that we should start the finance of the Bill with a knowledge that we have something in hand rather than that we should go right up to the margin. If you go right up to the margin you may very easily fall over it. I think that in the very careful and well thought out speech of the right hon. Gentleman he was guilty of that inconsistency, one moment warning us not to trust too much to our finance, and the next moment asking us to place a larger burden on it than that which we had contemplated.
I come to the consideration of the criticisms which have been passed upon the Bill, because my task is one purely of dealing with criticisms, which have been directed against it in the course of the last few days, criticisms which are not necessarily connected, but which revolve themselves into four or five main and quite important criticisms as to the machinery and the working of the Bill and as to its effect on certain sections of the community. The first, thing that struck the framers of the Bill was that there had not been a single criticism delivered in this House in the course of this three-days' Debate that we have not foreseen. I think that is the experience of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Hobhouse), and it is the experience of the very able advisers whose services we are 760 able to command. Every criticism which has been directed against the Bill we have already debated, discussed, and taken counsel upon, and we came to the best conclusion we could. We may have come to a wrong conclusion, but I shall give the House the reasons why I differ in my conclusions from those who criticised the Bill from another point of view. One thing has struck me very much in the discussion of the Bill in the House or in the country. I do not think at the present moment the working classes fully appreciate the magnitude of the boon. The hon. Member (Mr. H. W. Forster) in a very capable and sympathetic speech which he delivered at the beginning of the discussion, which set, I think, a very high note to all the discussion since then, said that in his judgment the Bill is not popular. That I am not in a position to judge, but I agree with him that I do not think that is the prime consideration for us. The first thing for us to consider is whether we are doing the best for the community we represent. But I think he is wrong there, and I am certain he will be wrong when the working classes are fully alive to the benefits which are given in the Bill. There are many at present who are under the impression that they are to pay twice over—that they are to pay to the friendly societies as well as pay the 4d. to the State. I could see even in the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Barnes) that he did not fully appreciate the boon to the trade unions. They have only to take the figures in order to realise what it means. You have something like £16,000,000 a year, raised partly from the employer and partly from the State, which has to be distributed amongst the industrial classes of this country to cure sickness, and what is still more important, and here I agree with the hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), to prevent sickness, to maintain the families of the workmen when the breadwinner is stricken down by sickness for the purpose of maintaining and giving them employment which is not drawn from the pockets of the working class except to the extent that they contribute to the State at present. The effect upon the societies themselves, the House of Commons can very well gauge by the important letter which appeared in the Sunday papers yesterday—I saw it, I think, in the "Observer"—from Mr. Watson, who has been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman in terms which I heartily commend—one of the ablest actuaries in the Kingdom. I also agree with him that his tables, worked out 761 SO carefully some years ago, are the real basis for considering friendly society figures.
His statement is that the effect of the Bill is to free £3,500,000 of the reserve fund of the Oddfellows. That is a very important statement, and I do not think up to the present moment those who have even considered the Bill have fully realised the extent of the boon which is conferred upon friendly societies and trade unions by putting everyone back at sixteen at the expense of the State. We are starting everybody at sixteen. We are renewing their youth like that of the eagle. It is a simple operation, but it is well worth making. We are starting every man in a friendly society, including the old man of sixty. The man of seventy referred to by the right hon. Gentleman as his friend in Birmingham is for the purpose of this Bill a man of sixteen. All the increased liability which would otherwise fall upon him if for the first time he were to join a friendly society is taken off him by the State.
I do not think there is full appreciation of that movement by the friendly societies. What does it mean? A man joins a society at sixteen or twenty, and until he is forty-five, fifty, or sixty years of age he has paid regularly. He has accumulated a great reserve credit, which is drawn upon when sickness multiplies. We free that reserve by this Bill—every penny of it—and we take the whole of that upon our own shoulders. They can use every penny of it for the purposes of their own society without any charge upon them for their own purposes. That means £3,500,000 for a single society. I do not think the trade unions realise it. In fact, I will not say I think they do not realise it—I am sure they do not. The hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes) could not have made the speech which he made if he had known what this means. You are releasing the trade union liability. You may meet it by an extra levy, instead of by a reserve, but the liability is there. You release it to the extent of £2,000,000 on the trade unions of this country. I take the friendly societies and the trade unions together. It is practically a boon to them of at least £12,000,000 hard, solid cash. I will tell you why. It is the reward for a life of thrift. You cannot say to a man who has never been a member of a trade union or a friendly society: "We put you in the same position as you have been all 762 your life." You cannot apply the parable here of the man who comes in at the eleventh hour. You must have a reserve fund, and therefore in this case you say to those men who have been provident and thrifty that they are coming in as if they were beginning at sixteen. Anybody who cares to work that out will see what a boon it is.
The right hon. Gentleman challenged the figures given by my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General. He forgot to say what was the age. As a matter of fact here are several ages for an estimate. Take the man at twenty. I find that he is gaining 6d. or 1s. a month. But take the man when he gets on in life, say when he is fifty. It is worth about 2s. a month to him and more when he gets on in life, because the burden is so much heavier, and he is relieved of all that burden in future. The right hon. Gentleman says that the benefits are not comparable. Take the benefits that are comparable, and you will find the relief is worth it, 10s. for thirteen or twenty-six weeks. If a friendly society cares to give 10s. for twenty-six instead of thirteen weeks it can be done. Then there is the 5s. benefit for permanent disablement and medical relief. That is the usual benefit without sanatoria and maternity benefits, and without the breaks during sickness and unemployment. A man joins at twenty, and would pay in the country 5¼d. for these benefits. He will gain 5d. a month. In the town he pays about 5½d. a week, and he gains about 6d. a month. He would pay less at the end of the month. While paying less than 5d. or 6d. a month he gets the additional benefits of the sanatoria, and the still greater benefit if he happens to be ill. He need not be a member of the friendly society at all. If he happens to he out of work, he gets three weeks in each year for unemployment, and he can then run up to thirteen weeks without losing benefit. That in itself is an enormous actuarial benefit, which nobody has up to the present moment recognised.
I wish to point out that, so far from paying twice, they will be paying less, and getting increased benefits. They will be getting a reserve fund which they can use for the purpose of increasing disablement benefits, or, if they like, starting old age pensions for those already in friendly societies. My hon. Friend the Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes) said he would consider between now and the Third Reading stage whether he could 763 see his way to accept this boon. I want to point out exactly what the benefits are. I think when the working classes realise what they are, the decision will be taken out of his hands.
I now come to some of the criticisms which have been expressed. You cannot set up a great scheme of this kind without alarming vested interests, and there are vested interests in everything. In disease and in death you have vested interests, and I am amazed that the undertakers are not alarmed, because the scheme will certainly affect their trade. The fact of the matter is you cannot widen a road without striking a strip off somebody's domain, and you cannot drain a morass without interfering with somebody's shooting; and when you are widening the old systems to which we have been accustomed, you must, necessarily, to a certain extent, interfere perhaps with vested interest. All I can say is that the first and dominant consideration of this House ought to be the health of the nation. Its vigour and its efficiency depend upon it. Lord Beaconsfield pointed that out in his great historic deliverance in 1872, and after all the first consideration of a Ministry should be the health of the people. I say this of all vested interests: They are entitled to ask that no legitimate right of theirs should be interfered with unless you are prepared to give them an equivalent. The vested interests with which we come in contact are in this case, fortunately, all not merely legitimate but beneficent interests—friendly societies, collecting societies, doctors, nurses, midwives, and hospitals—all these interests have been mentioned in the course of the discussion. They are highly beneficent interests, and not merely ought we to give them an equivalent, but we ought to treat, them with care, consideration, and tenderness.
I shall prove that not merely do we give them an equivalent, but that under this Bill they are in a better position than they ever were before. What are these interests? I have counted them up, and I propose to deal with them if I may with the indulgence of the House. I will take the doctors first, because they have received a larger share of attention than any other interest in the course of the discussion. What are their criticisms? The first is they object to a capitation grant, and the amount of it. Some of them object to any capitation grant at all. Secondly, they object on the ground that the 764 capitation includes for the first time all the bad lives. I put that as a criticism which has been offered, but I am not accepting it. The third criticism is that there is no free choice of doctors. The fourth is that they are placed under the heel of the friendly societies, and the fifth is that they object to the income limit—I mean the income limit of the person insured; I do not mean the limit of their own income. The doctors proceed in their criticisms on five assumptions, all of which are erroneous. They proceed on the assumption that we have fixed a capitation grant. We have not. They proceed on the assumption that the amount of the capitation grant is to be fixed by the friendly societies without any appeal to anybody. That is not the Bill. They proceed on the assumption that in the capitation grant families are included. They are not. The other assumption is that the system of club doctors is to be made universal, and that there is to be no free choice allowed. That is not the Bill. The last assumption is that all the bad cases are included in the capitation grant. They are not. Therefore, the five main assumptions upon which the whole of this agitation is based are absolutely erroneous and have nothing to do with the Bill, but with some criticisms of somebody formulated before they ever read it. If I may, without any disrespect, I would suggest that the same time should be given to the reading of a Bill as to formulating the censure which is to be offered. Anybody looking at the medical clause in this Bill for five minutes will see that we fix no capitation, and that there is nothing to prevent the free choice of doctors. Bad lives are all segregated in the Post Office contribution. In fact I have been condemned for that. That is one of the criticisms I have got to meet.
Here is what we have provided:—Every approved society and local health committee shall for the purpose of administering medical benefit make arrangements with duly qualified medical practitioners for insured persons to receive attendance and treatment to the satisfaction of the Insurance Commissioners from such practitioners.This is the first time that doctors have ever received any protection against friendly societies; and yet not a doctor in the country has seen that ! They held a great demonstration last week, and denounced something—not the Bill, but something somebody told them was in the 765 Bill. The Bill has been published for at least a fortnight, so they might have read it. What does that mean? They are free to make any arrangements which they like, which the societies like, and of which the Insurance Commissioners approve. Does that include free choice of doctors? Of course it does. Does that lay down payment must be by capitation grant? Certainly not. Does that put them under the heel of friendly societies? Quite the reverse. The agreement which is entered into must be subject to the approval of the Insurance Commissioners; and let me remind the House that the Insurance Commissioners will act on the advice of an adsory committee. That is in the Bill. Upon that advisory committee there will, of course, be representatives of the medical profession. The doctor who has now nothing between him and the friendly societies but his own unaided independence—whom the club might starve out of the district if he dared to refuse them—has been driven to accepting 2s. 6d. for members, including drugs. That is a monstrous state of affairs. In future that has got to be submitted to the Health Commissioners, whose advisory body will have representatives of the medical profession upon it, and the British Medical Association can make its representations not to the friendly societies of the club but to the Commissioners.
I cannot imagine the Commissioners, not in the interests of the medical profession, but in the interests of the health of the patient, ever sanctioning such a sweating proposition as that. All that has been ignored. Let me point out this to the House. I have read the Bill. If they have got a copy they could see for themselves. There is one part of the Bill that has escaped the attention of every doctor in the land. Healing is the first charge upon it. Maintenance comes afterwards. Healing is the first object. Clause VIII. provides that the first benefit shall be medical treatment and medical assistance. The doctor is the first charge. If I may put it another way, the doctor has the "first cut." We are raising something like, speaking from memory, twenty-five millions of money. There is nothing to prevent the doctors from walking off with every penny of it, except their own common-sense and the common-sense of the community—absolutely nothing. Now that is the Bill. We shall see that fair arrangements are made for protecting not merely the doctor and the patient, but protecting the fund. But there is absolutely nothing prescribed in 766 the Bill which would preclude the doctors from making any of the arrangements which they themselves have been recommending during the last few days. Each agreement of the doctors will be taken on its merits, taking into account the character of the district, the distance that he has got to travel for his patient, and whether the place is healthy or unhealthy. You take into account every consideration that should be considered before you come to a conclusion whether the rate of payment is a satisfactory one or not. For the first time there are these provisions for the doctors. That I should have thought a very valuable protection for the medical profession.
I would like to ask how many Members of the House have even seen this document which I now hold in my hand? The British Medical Association, in 1903, decided to inquire into club practices throughout the whole of the kingdom. They had a very careful, fair, impartial, and searching inquiry, and this is their report upon it. I would strongly urge Members, before they come to consider the medical part of this scheme, to procure and peruse this invaluable document. I considered it before I ever came to any sort of conclusion as to what the medical provision should be in the Bill. This is a fair summary of what they have got. Out of the cases reported to them of club payments there were 135 cases where the payments amounted to between 2s. and 3s. per member per annum. That is, the capitation grant. per annum in 135 cases of clubs was between 2s. and 3s., including drugs. There were 256 cases between 3s. and 4s. There were 164 cases, which were between 4s. and 5s., and only 386 of them were above 5s. That is the present position—I agree a humiliating position, a position of bondage. One of the most important professions in the land is treated in a way which I think is perfectly disgraceful to those who have arranged such terms of payment, and not only discreditable, but stupid. I cannot imagine how they would expect the best services from doctors who are paid at that rate. All that I have got to take into account. Questions were addressed to each of the doctors as to what scale of pay they recommended. The vast majority of them made suggestions for raising the rate to either 4s. or 5s., and some of them up to 6s. The vast majority were under 6s. Those who recommended that there should be a capitation grant of over 6s. were a very small percentage of the total. If any man, by agitation and by 767 organisation, had succeeded in getting a 5s. capitation grant all round he would have been a "hero." I have arranged 6s., and I am a "villain." That is their own demand. "In this district," says one man from a town in Yorkshire, "the orthodox medical men are strongly united, and have demanded and obtained a uniform payment of 5s. per member for all male members." They regarded that as an achievement. It was a triumph of organisation. They had gone on strike and demanded 5s. Without striking at all I have given them 6s., and they are all in revolt.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
How does the hon. Member know? Can he tell me that. Then I will give him a reply. I must come to the question of medical clubs later on. They are clubs, not all friendly societies, lots of them penny clubs. I thought the hon. Member knew more than I did. I was asking for information. There is another case here which is very valuable as showing why they take these low rates. Doctor after doctor writes to say that the reason why they do so is because they are not organised. They do not trust each other. The moment one man stands out for 4s. or 5s. somebody comes and cuts him out. You cannot protect any branch of work unless those engaged in it stand together. The same thing applies exactly to trade unions. They have succeeded in keeping up their wages because they will not admit as members those who accept less than a certain rate.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Member does not know the distress and the woes of lawyers. They have got an Act of Parliament to cut down their wages, but the medical profession have here an Act of Parliament putting up their wages. That is the difference between the way in which lawyers treat doctors and the way doctors treat lawyers.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Gentleman has just pointed out 768 that there is nothing in the Bill mentioning any figure.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is the very next point I am coming to. I am going to explain by and by why I have put 6s. down in my calculations.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I have already explained that there is no provision in the Bill giving 6s. The provision is a financial provision, and I shall point that out later on. The financial provision will have to be administered either by the present Government or some Government their successors, and we have made that calculation. I am not going to read more quotations, but there is one of very great value, especially having regard to the criticism which has been directed, not merely by the right hon. Gentleman, but by some hon. Members behind me to the scheme. Almost without exception the doctors condemn the practice of forcing them to take the charge of married women, and one doctor said, quite frankly, that he would not take them at any price on a capitation grant. The difficulty is one that cannot be slurred over. Anyone who knows anything about friendly society practice and club practice knows that the moment you put on the club married women who are not engaged in work to earn their living, practically they can call the doctor in at any time they like. That adds enormously to the burden on the doctors, and I am perfectly certain that 6s. will not he looked at if once that charge is placed upon them. It is one of the difficulties which the actuaries warned me against at the very start. In regard to the inclusion of married women, every man of real experience in the matter knows that the enforcement of that condition would break down almost any scheme and would be a perilous enterprise to start with. All I want to say now is that I have suggested a scale which is as liberal as the vast majority of medical men dared to suggest—more liberal. The question was put to me why I mentioned 6s., when it has not got it in the Bill. The reason why I mentioned 6s. is this: In estimating the money which you require for outgoings you have to take some basis for medical attendance. You could not possibly say what was the balance for maternity charge, pensions and other benefits until 769 you know how much money was necessary to meet the first charge, that of the doctors.
Therefore, I had to take some basis for the actuaries for the purpose of the financial part of the measure. I took the basis of 6s., because I understood from the report which I have here that this was the sum which was better than most doctors ever expected—better than most of them asked for—and I thought, at any rate, I would be on the right side if I put the amount at 6s., and that the doctors would say: "Here is the most generous Government, as far as the medical profession is concerned, that ever sat on this bench." But let me point out that this 6s. is neither fixed nor final. We have in the Bill provision for a margin which can be drawn upon for increased benefit or increased payment of doctors. That has got to be considered on its merits. The margin is equivalent to an additional half-crown. More than that, we have provision in the Bill which enables the local health authority to take over the whole charge of medical attendance. I was very interested to hear the suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bootle, and which was quoted afterwards by some other hon. Members, that the local authority should take over the medical attendance. I think that was the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, and I myself regard it as an admirable suggestion. What does it mean? It means that where the 6s. is inadequate, it is competent for the local authorities and the State to come in and pay more for the medical attendance. It may be said that this will put more on the rates. Not at all. If you do not cure these people in the way proposed by this Bill, they will go to the workhouse, and it is the rates that will have to be the means of curing them. Therefore it is in the interest of the local authorities to find the 6s. If you do not cure them out of this Fund, you cure them out of the rates, and the rates would bear the whole. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] You cannot leave them uncured.
But I wish to point out that we have taken upon ourselves for the present the work of cure, and there must be a vast number of people at the present moment who have very little margin between them and the parish. They will get the 6s.; they will get half from the State and only pay the other half. Therefore it is a great advantage to the ratepayer from that point of view. At any rate, there is the 6s., which is put in as a basis, and, fur- 770 ther, there is a half-crown margin which you can draw upon. There is, in addition to that, the provision made that the ratepayer and the taxpayer should come to the rescue if the charge is more. If that is not a very generous and ample provision for the medical profession, then I fail absolutely to see what possibly can be done for them more than that. I come to another point raised by the hon. Member opposite in reference to bad lives from an insurance point of view. But these friendly societies have their medical examinations, and the Bad lives will be included among the Post Office contributors. There will be just as many selected lives for the societies as before. What is the difference? Who are the men outside friendly societies? Those who are rejected by the doctors, and those rejected by the doctors will not be in the societies at all. They will be mainly the people who cannot afford to pay the weekly contributions regularly in times of ill-health and in times of unemployment. But these are not necessarily bad lives. There are men who are improvident, or men who have improvident wives; they are not men necessarily in bad health or diseased. Take the agricultural labourers of this country. I should say probably half of them are included in friendly societies. The other half would be outside, so that the best lives of the community will come in under this scheme, who were never in before. It is not that they are outside now because the friendly societies will not have them.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
But there are just as many selected lives now as before. Most of the working classes of this country have passed through friendly societies or trade unions, and they are not in thorn now because they could not keep up their contributions. That is the real reason. It has nothing to do with their physical condition, and the men who come in under this scheme will be just as good physically from the insurance point of view as the men inside at the present moment. So much for that point of view. Now I come to the question of free choice of doctors. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) put the point very well to-night when he said that it would be a great misfortune if there were not a good understanding between the doctor and the patient, and that the patient should have confidence in his 771 doctor. He said that half the cure arose from the confidence of the patient in the doctor, and that it was of no use sending a club doctor to him if the patient did not believe in him. It is a great mistake to try and hold a man by machinery which he cannot accept and which he repudiates. There is a sort of moral and mental resistance going on to the whole attention which the doctor is paying the patient; there is a struggle of will against the will of the doctor. That would be a mistake. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent the free choice of doctors. On the contrary, I am all for free choice of doctors, within limits. If you give an unlimited free choice of doctors you are taking the direct road to promote malingering.
There are some members of the medical profession—I am sure I am not attacking the doctors at all—who would give any certificate to members of societies for the purpose of securing their 4s., or the capitation grant. But there is a convenient course, and it it is one that has been pursued in Norwich, I believe also in Lancashire, and in several instances in Germany. We have the experience in our own country where a certain number of doctors are on the panel. A member of the friendly society chooses his doctor from that panel, but he must choose him before he is taken ill. That member has a free choice of a doctor within the panel. The doctor guilty of misconduct, and misconduct means anything which has a hearing upon the charge of encouraging or conniving at malingering, ought not to be retained on the panel. What is the check? The doctors themselves. The doctors may form a board sitting together, and if a man has a very large number of patients on his list, unless he is a man of special gifts, there is a suspicion that he has secured those patients by freely giving certificates. The doctors themselves have disciplinary power which may result in striking the man off the panel. The advantage of that is that it would give a choice of doctors, and in addition to that you have got some sort of disciplinary hold which will discourage doctors who are in the habit of freely giving certificates without an examination All that is possible under the scheme. Not only is it possible under the scheme, but I believe it is the right course. I warn the House that you have got vested interests here at cross purposes. In some cases it is a very, very valuable practice, especially in colliery districts. I want, there- 772 fore, the House to bear in mind that if they allow free choice of doctors they will be cutting into a very valuable vested interest. All that has got to be considered very carefully. The doctors instead of being under the control of the friendly societies will have an appeal to the Health Commissioners, and no contract can be entered into which is not satisfactory to the Health Commissioners. That surely is a great protection to the doctors.
The suggestion is made that you ought not to allow any man to come into this scheme if his income is over a certain amount. The suggestions as to amount have been various; 25s. per week is the most popular, and I have heard 30s. suggested, and 40s. per week. [An HON. MEMBER "Hear, hear."] One hon. Member made the suggestion that no contract should be allowed in respect of any man whose income is over 40s. per week. I want the House really to consider what that means. Of the high-waged industrial population of this country at the present moment nine-tenths are in societies or clubs. It is the low-waged workmen who are out of benefit. The vast majority of the high-wage workmen, like miners and engineers, are already inside either friendly societies or medical clubs. Are you going to deprive those people of the benefit and right which they have got at the present moment? Are you going to say to those hundreds and thousands, and I should be very much surprised if they do not run into millions, "Here you are, you have been enjoying medical benefit in your club up to the-present, but we are going to make it impossible by Act of Parliament for you to get in at all." Is there anybody in this House who would venture to propose it? Therefore, it is not a question of the high-waged industrial workers of the country. I come then to the others, the tradesmen and clerks. I do not think the hon. Member who interrupted me would propose that an engineer who is now earning £3 or £2 10s. per week, and who is in his club should in future be deprived of the benefit of that club, and be compelled to pay for the attendance and medicine. Their proposal is that the advantages which you give now to engineers, to miners, to carpenters, to stonemasons, all high-wage persons, should be denied to the small tradesman and to the clerk.
What is the position of the small tradesman? He pays heavy rates and taxes, he often earns less than the skilled artisan, his living is a much more precarious one; 773 he has got an anxious wearying life of unremitting toil and monotony, unbroken except by his cares and worries and anxieties. Are you going to deprive them of the benefits. Will anyone here get up and propose that the small tradesmen who are earning under £160 should be deprived of the medical benefits provided by this Bill. Hundreds of thousands of them are in societies now. That is one of the things at which I was, I will not say surprised except at the extent, but amazed when I came to examine the books of friendly societies to find the number of tradesmen who are members now. I examined one friendly society book and I found that 40 per cent. of the members were men and some women who did not earn a wage, and were publicans, tradesmen, and farmers. Forty per cent. in that particular village belonged to those classes. If hon. Members will read the book to which I have called their attention, they will find one of the complaints of the medical profession is that men of that type are allowed at present to receive medical benefit at contract price. I do not think I should be far wrong if I said that something like a half a million of that class are now in friendly societies receiving medical benefit at contract price. Is it proposed to cut them out, or is it proposed to establish a privileged class and say that all those who are receiving medical benefit of that kind now can do so but no more. That I think would be really much more full of difficulties than hon. Members who criticise the proposal quite realise. You cannot cut them out, you must include them. The same thing applies to clerks. Does anyone imagine you can cut clerks out? If clerks want to be left out of the scheme they have only got to express an opinion in that direction. I have never heard any representation that they are anxious to be left out.
To sum up the reply which I make on the question of the doctors, we say that we are making a more ample and liberal provision for the doctors than has ever been made in the whole history of club practice in this country. We have so framed our measure that a free choice of doctors is allowed. We have framed our measure in such a way that there is protection of the medical practitioner against the tyranny of any club or society in the land. We have framed it in such a way that we shall be able to make regulations later on, having first of all received the advice of those whom the medical profess- 774 sion trusts. Therefore I have no hesitation in saying that the experience of the doctors of this country with this scheme will be the experience of the doctors in Germany, and that they will be much better off than they were before. There is an enormously larger sum raised for medical benefit for classes who are now deprived of medical benefit altogether. The doctors, so far from being injured or damaged, will, I think, have good reason to congratulate themselves that a scheme of this character has been passed through the House of Commons. With regard to the question of trade unions I have already dealt with the matter. You release a vast amount, to the extent of £2,000,000. My right hon. Friend has given a very faithful and accurate account of the process by which the man in the trade union will, first of all, contribute to receive his benefit. I fully accept his description of the transaction, which is a thoroughly accurate one, and it is as accurate as it was lucid. Several hon. Members have asked me as to the character of the security which will he demanded. The only security will be in the event of advances. If there is a request from a society to have an advance to pay the sick fund, then there must be security that that fund will not be squandered in some other way. It will be either by deposit or cash or guarantee bond, but it will be a very small matter in each case. If the trade unions themselves advance the money there will be no need for any security at all. An hon. Member has asked me another question, namely, whether trade unions like the gasworkers, who pay no sick benefit at all now, will be entitled to come in. Of course they will. They come in for the purpose of the sick benefit of the scheme, always provided they keep that branch of the business separate from the other branch of the business.
The hon. Member for Blackfriars asked me if Sub-section (2) does not exclude trade unions. All I can say is, if it does it is not intended to do so, and we shall make it clear, either by proposing an Amendment or by accepting an Amendment, that it is not intended to exclude either trade unions or dividing societies, which are equally alarmed about the phrasing of that particular Clause. I am not sure that the phrasing is very happy. I think it could be improved. I come to collective societies. I agree with all that fell from my hon friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) as to the work of 775 those societies. A good deal of criticism has been directed against them and industrial insurance societies, but I say without hesitation, after examining the thing very carefully for the last few months, that there is this to their credit, that they have saved millions of homes from being broken up in the hour of their most helpless need, and that is a great thing to be said for any society. It is true that they are expensive, but that is not their fault. You cannot collect two pences from door to door without the expenses of administration being enormous; but the fault is not theirs. You cannot get the working classes voluntarily to insure without collection, whatever the benefit. What happened in the State of Massachusetts, where the State gave a most enormous boon, and this is an answer to one or two of the critics outside here who suggested that we should depend on voluntary insurance and a State bonus. In the State of Massachusetts they offered a very large bonus for those who insured voluntarily against death, but they could not get the workers to contribute, and the rich men of the community who were anxious to see the experiment succeed had actually to form collecting societies and subscribe large sums of money to pay collectors in order to go from door to door to collect the twopences and the threepences. You cannot get it done. This is the only machinery which has been devised up to the present for the purpose of collecting.
These societies are managed with great skill by men of consummate business ability, and the reason I say that is not because I want to buy off opposition, but because I want their help. They are men of such admirable experience and ability that I think it would be valuable to get their able experience in the working of a great scheme like this. There are two things I will say about them. We do not propose to interfere in the slightest degree with their present business, as death benefits do not come in. They will also benefit incidentally by the improved conditions of health, which will be the result of the preventive part of this measure. They will also benefit by the release of the sum of money which is now paid by six million people in this country for the same kind of insurance as we are providing here. These 6,000,000 people will have more money to put into death insurance. 776 Lastly, we accompany that with the insurance, which the experience of Germany proves to be an enormous asset to societies of this kind. But I do not rest there. I should like to get the active aid and cooperation of these societies with their magnificent machinery. There is nothing to prevent their forming subsidiary departments. They would have to keep the money absolutely separate; they would not be allowed to pass one penny of it to the other part of their business; they would not be allowed to make any profit out of the money compulsorily collected by the State; but they would be entitled to do this. They have something like 100,000 agents in the country, trained men, who are constantly visiting the houses for the purpose of collecting premiums for death benefits, which will still go on. These men would be invaluable for the purpose of checking malingering and of administering the sick department of their societies. The societies would be entitled to pay what the friendly societies now pay to their secretaries for purely secretarial work. It would benefit the agents to the extent that the societies would be entitled to pay them purely secretarial charges in addition to their present remuneration.
I say that because I should like to get all these societies into this very large scheme of insurable interests now created for the first time. You have six millions people covered by trade unions and friendly societies, but you have eight millions or nine millions outside, and the friendly societies, with all respect to them, with all their magnificent machinery, could not possibly assimilate this huge mass of insurable lives within the next two or three years. The assistance of these societies would be an advantage to the State. It would also be an advantage to the friendly societies; otherwise you would have nine million propositions dumped upon them before they could sift and examine them, whereas the industrial and collecting insurance societies have a great machinery, with a hundred thousand agents in every town and village, in every corner and quarter of the land, already prepared to work an organisation of this kind. So far from the collecting societies being injured, it would be a, magnificent thing for them. But it would be a still better thing for the State to secure all this machinery for the purpose of working out this great scheme.
Unless I am really wearying the House, I must say a word about the Post Office con 777 tributors and the position of women. I do not want the House to allow their sympathies to run away with their common sense. What is the Post Office contributor? The Post Office contributor will be a life rejected by the friendly societies on health grounds. The moment the collecting societies and insurance companies, as well as the friendly societies and the trade unions, come in to compete for all this business, there will be nothing left for the Post Office contributors' class except those who have been rejected. It is an insurance of lives which are not good insurable propositions. What does it mean? You are called upon to insure a house on fire. The fire has started. It is not an insurable proposition. If the House likes to vote millions for the purpose—that is not insurance. It is sympathy. It is a grant-in-aid—in aid of a deserving class, in aid of a class which deserves pity and health, but it is not insurance. This is an insurance scheme, and you cannot insure people who are not insurable propositions. Who will be included in the Post Office contributors? There are hundreds of thousands of people, I am sorry to say, suffering from tuberculosis. It is estimated that there are 500,000. Let any Member of the House take pencil and paper and reckon what we should pay in respect of each of these. There are thirteen weeks at 10s. and fifty-eight weeks' of sickness benefit. Then, in addition to that, there is medical benefit and sanatoria. You are taking upon yourself an assured payment, on the average, of £20 in respect of each of these people. As for contribution, you cannot hope to get more than £2 or £3 unless they are cured, and if they are cured the friendly societies will be glad to get them. Do not let us close our eyes to what the proposition is. You are asked to give £20 for £2. To talk as the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Bonar Law) talked, and to ask why the money to be voted for payment of Members was not given to these people, is not worthy of him. He must know that it would not make good one-tenth of the deficit. It is an enormous deficit you have to face here. If the House is prepared to make a large grant involving an increase of taxation—very well; let us discuss it; but do not let us discuss the matter with closed eyes and appeal merely to sympathy without regarding it as what it is—namely, an actuarial proposition.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
As I understand, the actuarial calculations are based upon the health of the whole community. If you 778 then select these bad lives which are included in the whole community and put them in a class by themselves I do not think that is fair.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Member cannot have read the actuarial report very carefully. It is not on that basis at all. If I were to include the whole of these bad lives, which mean poor people whom disease has already in its grasp—that is really the proposition—we could give nothing like the benefits we propose. We have acted on the assumption that the friendly societies, collecting societies, and trade unions will have the same right to select and reject as they have at the present moment. Let us see what these people are getting. I want the House to realise that, bad as these cases are, there is enormous provision for them in the Bill. The House must not read this as something which will put them into a worse position than they were in before. They will be in an immensely more advantageous position. What are you providing for them? The whole of the societies are contributing towards keeping them in sanatoria. The treatment in sanatoria, so eloquently described by the hon. Member for Plymouth (Mr. Astor), is given, not at the expense of these people, but at the expense of the whole of the insured community. In addition, we give more towards that than towards the ordinary benefits. They get medical treatment and sanatoria treatment—all without any reserve. There is no 6s. limit in their case. It would be futile; no doctor could possibly undertake it. Then there is always in reserve the fact that if the medical fund is exhausted, as it may very well be, the State offers to the local authorities to meet half the deficit. That may be thousands of pounds. You get for the first time for these poor people medical treatment, sanatoria treatment, and, in addition, exactly what the friendly societies give to their people; you allow them to draw on their deposits, with the additional 3d. of the employer and the additional 2d. of the State. Do not let the House, in very estimable pity for these poor people, blind itself to the enormous advantages which they will get under the scheme. If the House like to press the suggestion of the hon. Member for Leicester, that we should draw upon the other societies for aid, it would be sympathy, and if the working classes were prepared to do that, it would be a very noble deed on their part. But what I am afraid of is that, when the hon. Member and his friends come to propose that, they will say, 779 "Oh, no, net at our expense—not at the expense of the working men, but at the expense of the State, the taxpayers, the employers." [An HON. MEMBERS: "Not the employers."] The hon. Member wishes to protect the employers; they have secured a very doughty champion.
Now I come to the position of women. There is an idea that we have treated the women worse than the men. Here, again, I entreat the House to consider the case actuarily. We have given women the full value of their money. What is the proposal? The proposal is that we should separate the two funds. Every penny a woman pays goes into the women's side of the insurance, and everything a man pays goes into the men's side.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
At any rate it is the proposal of the Government. I think it is in the memorandum if it is not in the Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the actuarial terms he will find they are entirely on that basis. The idea is that there should be two separate funds. If it is not in the Bill, it is only a question of amendment to put it in the Bill. That, at any rate, is the proposal of the Government. As a matter of fact, women come uncommonly well out of the whole of the proposal. They will get maternity benefits, and, in addition, disablement benefit equal to that of the men. They get most relief of all, because at the present moment, in 30 or 40 per cent. of the cases, it is they who pay friendly society contributions, and they pay them out of the very meagre allowances which they have got.
If you amend the Bill to make two funds, will it be necessary for each approved society to have two funds for men and women respectively?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
They will be treated as separate funds. I think the hon. Member will find that is the case in regard to—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is the practice of friendly societies now. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The hon. and learned Member will know that I am following the practice of friendly societies in this respect. An appeal has been made to me not to rush the Bill. There is no desire at all to rush the Bill. I think there is a great advantage ill getting the Second Reading Debate at this stage. It was very important that the Government should hear what the criticism was of the House of Commons. We knew perfectly well that each Member would be communicated with by experts in his own constituency and outside, and that we should get the advantage of all that criticism. One great advantage we have got is that it has increased our sense of self-satisfaction enormously to find that, in spite of the Members who have spoken here—well, I will not say holding "briefs," but on the instructions of experts—not a single defect has been picked out which we have not already foreseen. I should like to say that there is no intention of taking this Bill in Committee until a very full, fair, and reasonable time has elapsed for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to consider their Amendments. Of course, we must get the Bill through this year. Therefore the time of the House is in its own hands. I saw a friendly journal yesterday which said it hoped that we would not discuss this measure in the "dog days." Every great measure in this House has been passed through Committee in the dog days. I remember the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in connection with a measure in which I had not the same interest as he had—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
My recollection is that it was discussed in the doggiest of dog days—not merely inside, but outside the House. All great measures have been passed in these days. It is one of those Parliamentary arrangements which I have never been able to understand, and proves how very conservative the House of Commons is in all its habits. I believe we are the only Parliament in the world that meets at all during that season. I have 781 always thought it was a great folly, and that some day, perhaps, there would be a practical reformer who would have sufficient daring to suggest that the House of Commons should meet during a season when it would be possible for us to transact business without melting. But we have got to deal with the old tradition of Parliament, which it is very difficult to alter. It is more difficult to alter even than the Constitution. These old traditions and habits have got rooted in the minds of Members. Therefore we have no alternative but to meet during the months of June and July and as little of August as we possibly can manage.
We are in the hands of the House, and I have an appeal to make to hon. Members. Those who have experience of book sides of the House will know perfectly well that there are two or three men who whilst having great sympathy with the general principle of the Bll, are not too anxious to see it come into immediate operation. By discussing every detail of a lengthy Bill like this they can keep us here until Christmas. I myself, therefore, appeal to all sections of the House to take these Gentlemen into account when we come to arrange the discussions on the Committee stage of the Bill. The Government must get the assistance of the House in that respect. I want a full Consideration. I am getting a fair consideration—a very fair consideration; I think a very chivalrous consideration in many respects. I also say this: The Government not merely want the votes of the House of Commons in this matter. They want the brains of the House of Commons. The help of the Members is vital. Every Member has doubtless been made communicated with in this matter, and if his postbag is anything like mine he will be unable to tear open one-tenth of the envelopes of the letters that come, let alone read them. Hon. Members will take out a good many suggestions from these letters. We find them in the newspapers. We shall be delighted—and I made the proposal to hon. Gentlemen opposite which I make now publicly—and also to hon. Members behind me, and those on the Irish benches—and it would be a great advantage if the parties in the House would choose two or three men with whom the Government could confer with on all these matters. It would be an advantage in narrowing down points. There are many of the suggestions which we could, perhaps, in a modified form accept, and we 782 shall be very happy to place at the disposal of these Gentlemen, not merely all the information we have got, but they can also come into contact with the Gentlemen who have advised us on actuarial precedents. They could have the opportunity of asking the same questions that we have asked. That, I think, would be an enormous advantage during the three weeks or a month which will elapse before we can start with the consideration of the Bill. If it were possible for the great parties in the House to take a course like that I have suggested, I am sure it would clear up a great many matters, and save a good deal of time.
It would do more than that. It would, I should think, help to make a good. Work manlike measure of the Bill. If you do that we will in this Session place on the Statute Book a Bill which I claim when it is perfected will be a great healing measure. More than that. We shall have set an example of what even warring parties in moments of bitter controversy can do by joint action, joint thought, and common sympathy—what we can do even redress evils which inflict cruel miseries on millions of our fellow country men. Having once established precedents which will be full of hope for the future, following, I believe, a spirit of patriotism, We could, by sustained endeavour—not merely this Government, but other Governments—rid this land, the land we all love, of many or most of the festering sores which mar its splendour and sap its strength.
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
I think there is only one answer that could possibly be made to the appeal of the Chancellor of Exchequer which was at the concluding portion of his speech: that is that those of us who approve of the general Principle of the Bill will be only too glad, too happy, to co-operate with him in any way that may be best in order to make this Bill a workable and practical measure. There is perhaps only one criticism, that I would not make in any spirit of bitterness or Captiousness. Whereas at the end of his Speech the right hon. Gentleman appealed for the co-operation to all sides of the House, I am not sure that at the beginning of his speech he was not perhaps rather more controversial and contentious than Members of this side of the House deserved after the way in which they really tried to approach this Debate, and the spirit in which they have done so. In the few minutes that I shall detain the House I 783 shall try to avoid the mistake, if it is a mistake, or at any rate the criticism of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to go into points which are really Committee points.
The only answer I would make to what he said is that among the points which have been dealt with, a few which may be described as Committee points, are in truth not so. The whole principle of the Bill is whether you are going to apply compulsion to a great measure of insurance throughout the whole length and breadth of the country. The smaller points which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has called Committee points, no doubt may be so, but the larger points are the great essential parts of the inter-connection on which the whole Bill depends. The attitude with regard to friendly societies, dividing societies, and collecting societies, the position with regard to women, with regard to the deposit contributors—those are not really Committee points, because if you take away one of them the whole structure of the Bill must really fall to pieces. If I make any criticism, I hope it will not be mistaken, because there are those of us, and I freely and gladly confess that I am one who wishes to make the best success possible of this Bill. We also must realise that if a success is to be made of the Bill it cannot be made unless criticisms are also made in order to make the Bill as practicable as possible.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer approached one portion of it in a spirit in which he did, I think, the medical profession somewhat less than justice in the answer that he made in regard to the criticisms that they had uttered upon the Bill. I do not wish to say much with regard to that, except that the medical profession assumed that the payment was to be 6s., or I think about 4s., exclusive of drugs, and that they also seemed to believe that the payment was to be made by capitation fee. The Chancellor's reply to their criticism was that they had not read the Bill. I think perhaps a reply to the Chancellor of the Exchequer is that he has not read again his own first reading speech. The criticisms of the medical profession are really a perfectly natural inference based on the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself when he was introducing the Bill. All of us who recognised the extraordinary latitude and power that is given to the Insurance Commissioners under the Bill, who must be in close touch 784 with the Government, will, I think, that at any rate, that is was quite pardonable for the medical profession to think that what was adumbrated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be part of the Bill when it came into practice.
In his speech on the First Reading he dealt with the capitation payment under the friendly societies, and went on to say that "sometimes no doubt the doctors are inadequately paid, and financial provision ought to be made under the scheme for raising the level to 4s." It may be, and we are glad to accept his assurance, that the level is not necessarily 4s.; but, whatever may ultimately be the result, I think the medical profession had ample warrant in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the First Reading for many of the criticisms they have made, and which he said this afternoon were without foundation. One always approaches the consideration of this measure with hesitation, because it is so vast and complex that debate lacks cohesion and points require more time for mature judgment; but, as far as I have been able to ascertain, I think that that allusion to this further amount will be heard with appreciation. You may say 6s. would be gladly received by the existing medical profession who undertake club practice, but you may generalise club practice over a much larger portion of the profession as a whole that exists. Supposing I were to take an analagous case of barristers. A junior barrister may take any fee from one to five guineas, and may be very glad of the latter sum, but I doubt if the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General would like an average for the larger portion of the profession including an amount in which the maximum was to be even half as big again as five guineas. Yet that is what the Chancellor of the Exchequer is doing with regard to the medical profession. As far as we have been able to ascertain at present, a much larger proportion of doctors will be included in this work than are at present engaged in club practice throughout the country. That is the information which has reached us.
I should like to ask for consideration upon another point, not a point of detail, although there are many that require examination, but upon a comparatively main point, and that is with regard to the small friendly societies. Perhaps from want of time the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not dealt with that matter, but they are 785 actually precluded under the terms of the Bill, although some of the best work has been done by them, and we should like some information from the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to their position. I do not wish to say more on that point, because so many other Members have urged it. I wish to say nothing about the question of midwifery, except perhaps a word about the general case of the women. We have been given some actuarial data by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, of course, until we get the full data and have had an opportunity of examining it, we must accept his with regard to the women. But I would press upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the President of the Board of Trade, that the question should be again considered as to whether the women are getting the best they can get from the Bill, even if they are getting the full amount of their contribution. For my part I do not think they are. I cannot understand how under the actuarial calculation they are getting all they pay for. I think if a woman has paid her contribution up to the time she marries and that after the time she marries her right to a return ceases and is only revived again upon widowhood, the community as a whole would be more benefited, and I think the women would be more benefited, if perhaps less provision was made for them as widows, but that they were allowed, as the right hon. Member for East Worcester said, some form of additional benefit in return for their contribution during that period of existence when the strain upon the resources of the family as a whole is at the most acute stage.
We have had a defence made of the present system of the deposit contributor. I think there is infinite force in what the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) said earlier in the afternoon, which was that the better classes under the insured portions of the Bill ought to do something to mitigate the rigours that press upon the lower class. Among the better class there is supposed to be sufficient solidarity, so that you may be able to place some of the burdens of the old upon the shoulders of the young. If we are to judge from the speech of another Member of the Government surely there is also reason that if between one age and another in the same class the burden is shared, so between one class and another there should be some share of the burden as well. The Home Secretary said with regard to workmen you have an interest in the fortunes of their comrades, 786 and the better class of workmen in this country agree they have responsibility to the idea of the solidarity of the labour community, not only to those in their own trade, but to those within all the trade areas. If that appeal to the Home Secretary holds good with regard to insurance against unemployment, it holds equally good with regard to insurance against sickness; that is that those in the better class should perhaps contribute something not only towards their companions of their own trade, but to their companions who are worse off in other areas.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has referred to that class which will go in for deposit insurance, and likened them to a house already on fire. To a certain extent that is so. He referred to them as a class ravaged by consumption, and said that from the actuarial point of view they are "like a house already on fire." We urged two points. One was in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth (Mr. Astor) with regard to the way in which the money is to be devoted towards consumption, and the second with regard to the way in which the money is to be expended under the second part of the Bill. First let me take the point with regard to consumption. With regard to those whom the Chancellor of the Exchequer likened to a house already on firse, that means, in the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that you never get an insurable proposition. Really the proper inference is not to give them up as uninsurable, but to see how you can render them a better insurable proposition and to see that the house should not take fire. I should like to lay before the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade my view as to how the money could be better spent upon consumption.
May I base my point upon an actual concrete case in my own personal experience. I remember going into a small house and finding a man ill with consumption brought on partly by the nature of the work in which he was engaged. He was in bed with two children, without any regard to the danger of conveying the infection to these children as well. A little later on, at Liverpool, I remember a case that came from Christian Street, where a family of fifteen—a father, mother, and thirteen children—had every one of them been carried off by consumption due to infection at home. This shows that if you are going to devote a capital sum of £1,500,000 and a 787 large payment per annum to combating consumption the money should be laid out in the best manner possible. The cases I mentioned are not isolated, but are rather typical. If I go to Paddington or Marylebone I should there find through the dispensary families that are centres of consumption and houses that not only in the case of one family, but in the case of successive families, have a history of consumption for many years. Exactly the same history reaches us from Edinburgh, where investigation is carried further. Therefore it means that if the best thing is to be done for the poorer classes—and after all these deposit contributors are casual labourers, they are the Cinderellas of the Bill—the Government should take a much more comprehensive view of the way in which they are going to lay out their money. In the case of a man already in consumption you ought, in the first place, to do your best to prevent him infecting his wife and dependents. In the second place, you ought to find them out, so that if they are infected you should get them in the earlier stages of the disease, where cure is easier and possible. No doubt no one wishes any ill to the unfortunate man already far advanced in consumption, yet from the point of view of the community as a whole you must spend your money in a much more comprehensive way if you want to prevent infection of his dependents by early treatment and by finding out those already slightly infected, and that can only be done by a much more careful supervision.
I therefore put in a plea, first of all, for the big consumption dispensaries, so that the scheme when it comes into effect will be much more widely distributed. Perhaps if less is spent upon sanatoria and more upon dispensaries manifold advantages will accrue. In the first place, cases will be notified to the dispensary, and the dependents of the afflicted person can be treated; and you will get better co-ordination, and you will bring the medical officers of health to visit the more dangerous houses and to mark them down and to diminish them; and if sanatoria treatment is necessary the patients can be taken there and given the necessary attention. That plea which I make would render that class of outcasts under the Bill a more insurable proposition. My second plea is: Can we not have a postponement or, at any rate, a division of the two parts of the Bill. The whole matter under consideration may be called insurance in 788 general; but the quality of the two parts of the Bill is different. The type of risk is different, as has been reflected in the whole course of the Debates.
Here we have the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon replying as the principal Minister in charge of the Bill in a speech of nearly two hours, which was devoted entirely to one part. The President of the Board of Trade devoted his speech entirely to the other part, and this division of the Debate only corresponds to the real division of the Bill itself in its two parts. I think it would be all to the good if the Bill were divided into two parts, and each part proceeded with separately, and after discussion on each to proceed separately and have them carried separately into law. Let us look for a moment into our suggestion that the Government should accept an instruction to divide the Bill into two parts. There are the difficulties which the Chancellor of the Exchequer alluded to in the first part of the Bill, but they are far greater in the second part. The proposals in the second part of the Bill are much more debatable. The Home Secretary answered an objection which was made by the hon. Member for Colchester, who urged that one of the results of the unemployment part of the Bill might be to render unemployment still greater. The Home Secretary said that could not be the case, because employers were already dealing with workmen who were insured by their trade, unions. That is perfectly true, but there is a difference between the present case and the future under this Bill. In the present case the workmen are insured by trade unions, but the employer is not bearing the cost of any part of the insurance. In the future the employer will have to bear a part of the cost, and it will be a fairly heavy tax upon him so long as the men are in his employ.
I may be told that we are giving a kind of bonus as a composition fee to the employers. If that means anything, it means that an employer has to be sure of employing his workmen for thirty-six continuous weeks, even under the composition fee system, and if he discharges a man after the thirty-fifth week he suffers loss. It is hard to prophesy, but the result may be that the employer will gladly take his composition fee in regard to his regular staff, but the work may conceivably be more casual than before. Therefore we come again to the point that under the employment part of the Bill, just as is the case with the provision dealing with 789 Post Office contributors, the unfortunate casual workman who really needs help the most is really worst off under the measure, and that is why we ask for a reconsideration of the second part in order that we may examine the case of the casual workman more carefully. The Home Secretary said certain objections raised against this part of the Bill were mutually destructive. Some hon. Members have been saying that the Bill was too partial and that it did not go down to the unskilled workmen, and others said the data was too indefinite. The right hon. Gentleman replied that those two criticisms were mutually destructive of each other. As it happens, hon. Members never made those criticisms, and evidently the Home Secretary had got them together beforehand. Take the right hon. Gentleman's objection and examine it as to what is really meant. It means, without a doubt, that the unfortunate unskilled labourer is going to come off considerably the worst under this Bill.
Suppose that we object that the Bill is too partial. Why do we do so? Simply because unemployment insurance does not and cannot go down to those classes who feel unemployment unfortunately more than those classes which are brought under the Bill in the building trade. If he says the data are too indefinite, then, again, we have the same phenomena as we had under the Post Office contributors. We have got an uninsurable proposition. What we want to do is to see if something cannot be done to make this an insurable proposition. The reason I urge this upon the notice of the House is because without any question the casual labourer and the unskilled labourer suffer more from sickness and unemployment than any of their more favoured brethren, and yet they are the very persons who come off worst under this Bill. I do not want to go into the question of character or environment, but I ask hon. Members to remember that if they and their families had been brought up, say, in Angel Meadow, Manchester, or Tabard Street, Southwark, I doubt whether they would have been much better than those who lived in those districts at the present time. Here we are trying to remedy causes of hardship in the industrial population; all those causes, such as sickness, low wages, dangerous trades, and all the sickness insured under the Bill, and yet there is one cause which produces more hardship than all the rest, and that is casual labour. This is not due to the 790 fact that it is unskilled simply because it is casual. What I urge upon the Government is that they should do something to remedy that in order that we may ensure that those classes who really need assistance most will come under the provisions of this measure.
Let me put it from another point of view. You have no exhilaration of assurance attaching to the casual labourer. There is no magic of averages in his case, because he conies in as a Post Office contributor. There is no doubt that a great deal of the casual labour could be remedied in this country by a measure of Tariff Reform, but I am not dealing with that question now. I think it may be remedied to some extent by labour exchanges, but they will not touch the soiled hem of the garment of casual labour, and yet the whole thing might be remedied. Other causes are bad housing and consumption, and yet if the angel of the Lord stood before anyone and asked them which of these three scourges would cause most hardship, the reply would be casual labour. I appeal to the Government to see if they cannot do something to remedy this state of things by taking this part of the question first of all, and then they will have a better insurable proposition with regard to unemployment on which to base their measure.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is sincerely to be congratulated upon the nature and character of the Debate which has resulted in this House from the introduction of this Bill. I am only a young Member of this House, but I have been a Member for some five years, and I may say that never before have I heard a Debate which reflected so much credit upon all sides of the House. The hon. Member who has just sat down has shown what a deep interest and study he has brought to bear upon this particular question, and I hope he will allow me to assure him and his colleagues who are equally interested that there will be no reluctance on this side of the House in accepting the help and interest of hon. Members opposite on this great question. I think the House of Commons is to be congratulated upon the number of Members in all parties who are now ready to give disinterested service in these particular matters. I hope this rivalry between the parties in matters of social reform may long continue. I should like to see another rivalry accentuated, and 791 that is one between nations in matters of social reform. It is indeed significant that while we are borrowing the conception of this particular reform in social legislation from Germany, which has done such signal service in this regard, reference is being made at the present time in the German Parliament to what we are doing here. Let us hope we shall have a healthy rivalry in these matters, and that, when the two-Power Standard comes to be referred to in this House in future it, may refer, not only to the question of armaments, but also to questions of social reform. Even my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) gave his adhesion to the principle of the Bill. It is true his affection took the form of a rather violent embrace, but I understand he does not intend to vote against the Second Reading. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might, perhaps, say to him:—Perhaps it was right to dissemble your love, But why did you kick me downstairs.In spite of that, I have no doubt he will join with the rest of us in supporting the passage of this Bill through the House of Commons. We must not too hastily boast that this measure is superior to what the Germans have been doing for their people. It is true in some respects this Bill promises to be a very great advance on what has been done by Germany. It is especially so in relation to the maternity benefit. As I understand it, the German legislation, although it is supposed to provide for a population of 60,000,000 yet only provides an expenditure of £300,000 on maternity benefits, whereas the measure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, while it deals with a population of 45,000,000, provides £1,500,000 for maternity benefits. It is therefore evident the provision for maternity benefits under this Bill are very much superior indeed to those in Germany. Another very important point is in regard to sickness, and to some extent in regard to invalidity. The principle of this Bill brings in as contributor not merely the employed and the employer, but also the general taxpayer, and I submit that is a very sound principle indeed. While the employer may be said to have a particular interest in, and responsibility for, his employés, at the same time it is only fair that the general taxpayer, who may be a professional man, or who may be the drawer of interest on an unearned income, should contribute towards the fund set up for the cure of disease and the prevention 792 of disease, because obviously a professional man, making quite a considerable income, is the employer of only a very few people, whereas a manufacturer making the same income is the employer of a great many people. Therefore, to call in a contribution from the professional man's income, from the drawer of an unearned income, is a fair way of causing this particular person to contribute towards such a scheme as this.
It is also unfortunately true we have not been able to include in our scheme a provision for death benefits. It is perfectly true, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said this afternoon, we must not regard those societies who have been providing death benefits at a great expense as anything but under the circumstances beneficent agents. I should like to point this out. When we once begin deducting from wages, as we do under the present Bill, it becomes, of course, quite easy to provide in a similar fashion for death benefits, and the whole of the expense of collecting for death benefits becomes then uneconomic, and indeed very heavy. I am not sure if the House knows how heavy it is. I am not referring to the profit-making company. I am referring to the Collecting Friendly Society. If hon. Members will refer to the last Blue Book by the Registrar—I think it is Part A—they will find that out of every £1,000 expended by the Collecting Friendly Society, £499, or as nearly as possible 6d. in every shilling, went in management expenses. That is a serious consideration. I am not at all sure, even at the beginning of our scheme, it would not be a good business proposition, if we cannot employ the tens of thousands of men who have been getting their living quite honourably in this respect, to compensate them, to buy up their books, and to grant death benefits under our Bill. If we did that, and merely regarded this as a business proposition, the gain to the community at large would be simply enormous, because 6d., and in some cases I believe more than 6d., in every 1s. would be saved out of their contributions for that particular benefit. In the meantime, if we are unable to do that, we are assured the collectors of these societies, under the Bill as it stands, will in no way have their interests damnified.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his speech, referred to the advantages which the members of friendly societies will gain. I am perfectly certain he was right 793 when he said those outside this House, and, indeed, many inside it, do not readily realise the great benefits which will accrue to members of friendly societies. I take it cases such as this will be possible: A man who has paid his contributions to the society for a good many years will get all the benefits he has insured for without paying another penny to the society because of the great gain which will accrue to his society under this Bill. I am perfectly sure the Members of the party below the Gangway did not realise, until the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was made, how great a gain will accrue to the friendly societies in this regard. It will be a tremendous advantage to the trade unions that they should have this relief with regard to sick benefits, which, after all, ought not to be the first of their activities, in order that they may vote more money and attention to the more popular objects of trade unions. While this House should study fairly and justly the interests, so far as they are legitimate interests, of friendly societies, I do submit we, in our turn, are entitled to address the friendly societies and to point out to them they have a very serious responsibility in this matter. While the opportunities under this Bill are great, and while it is true their gain under this Bill is great, yet their responsibility is great, and they must regard it very seriously. It is true, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for the Spen Valley (Sir T. Whittaker), that a certain number of the friendly societies—the branches of some of the societies—are not solvent at this moment. It is also true that many of the societies appear to have reached the height of their development, and, as a result of this measure, a very considerable gain of membership will probably accrue to them. It is also true, as indeed was shown by the figures submitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon, that the relations of some of the friendly societies to the medical profession have not been entirely satisfactory.
There is another point which I feel bound to add. It is that a very large number of lodges of friendly societies meet at public-houses. That is a point which this House should take seriously into consideration, because we are, I will not say forcing, but giving opportunities for the societies to gain a very considerable increase of membership. I cannot but ask, with regard to the artisan or clerk who, under this Bill, is compulsorily insured, whether that man —he may not be a teetotaller, but he may 794 have the strongest objection to attending at a public-house—ought to be invited to "step down to the 'Royal Oak,'" for instance, to be initiated as an Oddfellow or a Forester. I believe it is the fact that in connection with many friendly societies the initiation is attended with some hospitality, and I think this House should hesitate to increase the tendency for drinking. Would it not be possible to give non-members of friendly societies an opportunity of becoming members of approved societies at some place other than a public-house?
I wish to say a few words on the question of the doctors. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I have no doubt, has dissipated a great many fears which have been excited as to their position under the financial provisions of the Bill. A question was asked this afternoon as to whether the provision was made in the Bill. The reply was in the affirmative: it is made in the financial provisions on which the contributions are based. It is provided roughly that in respect of fifteen millions of what we may call potential patients under this Bill, something like £4,500,000 of assured income will accrue to the medical profession. That is a very considerable sum, even if it has to be divided equally among all the doctors in the country. There are, I believe, something like 30,000 doctors in practice, so that this assured society income, divided equally amongst them, would produce £150 per annum per head. But, of course, we must rule out a considerable number of the 30,000 as possible participants, so that the sum per year of assured income would be very considerable indeed. But, in addition to the fifteen million potential patients there are thirty million patients out side, who will still remain for private practice. That broad consideration alone will show any thinking man that the doctors, at any rate, do not stand to lose anything under this Bill. When it is shown besides that any physician of repute who desires to become a friendly society or approved society doctor can get upon the panel of doctors, of whom the Members shall have a free choice, it will be seen that no doctor need fear that he will be unable to get his share of the income. I hope the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Hoxton will have further consideration. It was that the health committees set up under the Bill should be responsible for the administration of the medical benefit leaving the approved societies to be responsible for the cash benefits. I think that would tend to 795 uniformity, and would assimilate the medical benefit and the sanatoria benefit; it would also get rid of the position in which every branch of the friendly society would be managing its own small share of what is a general scheme of prevention as well as cure.
I am afraid a speech of this kind must necessarily be rather discursive, but I wish to make some remarks with regard to the Post Office contributor. The position of the Post Office contributor is generally admitted, I think, to be not entirely satisfactory. I am not quite sure that the number will be as small as is hoped by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am not quite sure that they will wholly consist of bad risks. If the number of the Post Office contributors should be considerable, if it should amount to two millions, then that group of persons will suffer a very great disadvantage as compared with the remainder. The position will be that the approved society are to take their dip into this enormous number of potential patients—they are to take what they want. What will they want? The Bill, in fact, encourages them to select as nicely as possible, because the better selection they make the greater will be the supplementary benefits they will be able to provide by-and-by. Obviously the better their selection the larger the number of Post Office contributors. But you have not merely to consider the selection. There is the independent man, who does not want to become a Rechabite, a Forester, or an Oddfellow. I have here a letter from one of my constituents who is such a man, and who wants to know what the Bill is going to do for him.
I seriously suggest that the way out of this difficulty is the same as has been adopted in another part of the case. What we have done in regard to those who have not now the advantage of being sixteen years of age can be done in regard to these others. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made us all sixteen years of age. A new member coming into an approved society under this scheme takes the position as though he had been a subscriber for benefits ever since he was sixteen years of age. What is done is this. If a man enters at forty or forty-five years of age he is in fact treated as a young man. Let us apply the same method to those members of the community who have at the present time the misfortune to be bad lives. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer 796 can make a man of forty years of age sixteen years old again he can by the same operation make the ill well again. He can start such a man as though he had had the good fortune to be born, not in the past, not in the time before the Members of this House has risen to the height of such a Debate as this, but as though he had been born in some future time when this Bill was in operation. The House can perform this financial operation. It can start everyone on the same level, and I would urge very strongly that that is the proper way out of this particular difficulty. Just as we are treating everyone who enters under the scheme as though they were of the same age, so we can treat everyone as though they were in the same state of health. That would call for further financial provision from the State, and there is no doubt as to whether the country can bear that small burden. That can be seen on reference to the figures in regard to the taxable capacity of this country. With regard to the unemployed portion of the Bill, I hope nothing will be done to postpone the second portion of the Bill or to divide the measure into two parts. We want this Bill this year, and any hon. Member who has the interest of the measure at heart will, I think, be ill-advised indeed if he does anything even by the utterance of a word to postpone or injure the prospects of any part of it.
The hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Bonar Law) made some remarks with regard to the comparative charges which are borne by British and German employers, and his point was that the new charges which British manufacturers and British industry will be called upon to bear will be so heavy that our competitive power in the world will be seriously endangered. I hardly know how the hon. Member can suggest such an argument as that in view of the facts which have been published by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the explanatory memorandum in regard to Germany which has been put before the House. If the hon. Gentleman will refer to that memorandum he will find that the burden borne by the German employers at the present time is so great that even if this Bill is passed this year, as I think assuredly it will, the British burden will be very much less than the German burden. Take one or two examples given by the memorandum. The great firm of Krupp in order to insure their workmen pay £3 per head per annum in premiums. That firm pays something like 797 £100,000 a year in contributions under the State scheme to cover their workmen in regard to sickness, accident and invalidity. Take the case of a mining company at Cologne and what do we find? The amount paid for workmen is £6 per annum, and let me compare on that head the difference between one particular part of the insurance. If we take accident alone, it costs in this country the firms engaged in metal extraction, 7s. 5d.a head to cover the risks of the Workmen's Compensation Act, whereas in Germany it costs a similar firm 16s. to cover their workmen under the accident insurance. Why is that? Because the German accident insurance scheme is so much more thorough, and the benefits under it are so much greater than the benefits received by the British workman under the British compensation law.
Take one point. Under our Workmen's Compensation Bill if a workman is incapacitated, he is supposed to have, although he does not, half of his wages for general incapacity; but in Germany the amount is two-thirds instead of a half, and when we add to that fact that in Germany we do not get these miserable compoundings for small lump sums which are so often effected here, we can well understand why it is that in Germany accident insurance costs the employer so much more than here. I would say very respectfully to the hon. Gentleman in view of such facts as these, that it is idle to speak of this Bill or any part of it as endangering our competitive power in the world. On the contrary, the whole end and aim of the Bill is to increase the efficiency of the British people and by every penny which will be spent under this Bill, the vital and therefore the competitive force of this country so far from being endangered will be raised to a much higher point. With regard to the women, I confess I am puzzled by the actuaries. I have not had the opportunity which has been so kindly offered this afternoon to go into the matter with them, but I really cannot understand, even in view of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, how it is that in spite of the that that you cut, so to speak, out of the woman's life the whole period of her marriage, and she marries in the majority of cases, in spite of the fact that a number of women, even if left widows, will not come upon the fund—I cannot understand why it is that the contribution paid in respect of women should be eightpence, 798 whilst that for men should be ninepence. I cannot understand why it is the ratio by which the Exchequer benefits is as nine to eight, and therefore I shall look forward with great interest to an explanation of it. At any rate, we have had this assurance this afternoon, that even if the women pay too much, the women's fund is a separate one, and therefore the women will get back every penny if they should prove to have paid too much under actuarial calculations. In the meantime this point remains in regard to them and also in regard to many men. It may be that they are getting good value for their money and good value for their threepence, but we have got this terrible consideration before us, that so many of our working women cannot afford threepence or twopence, and that the women's trade unions often find the greatest difficulty in getting a contribution even of one penny from working women.
Here, again, we are brought face to face with this consideration of the lowness of payment in this country which is so unfortunately forced upon us in many directions. It is exactly the same problem as it is with regard to rent. We know that a decent house with certain minimum accommodation can only be built for such a capital sum on the most economic basis as to produce a certain rent which the workman cannot afford to pay. That is exactly the same problem which is forced upon us in regard to this insurance. It may be that the women are getting good value for their money, but then we are face to face with the consideration that they very often cannot afford to pay the amount of the insurance which we know they ought to have. I hope in this and in other ways the prosecution of this great scheme in our country will serve as a stimulus to legislation and effort in many different directions. I hope that the passage of this measure through Parliament will not be a soporific but a stimulant, and that we shall in turn consider all the phases of the problem of poverty which is almost the same as the problem of ill-health. It should be remembered that it is wholly true that you can cure certain cases of tuberculosis in sanatoria; but this is also true, consumption is bred in bad houses, and if we care to replace the millions—it is millions—of in-sanitary, badly-built, and ill-ventilated houses in this country—if we care to replace them with houses which are fit for habitation for self-respecting people—if we care to do that, any medical 799 men in this House or out of it will tell us we can end consumption as soon as we care to do so. So it is with regard to insurance also. If we give attention to other departments of legislation with regard to the Poor Law, and unemployment, and other matters, we shall find that our labour in the sphere of insurance will be very greatly lightened. I support this Bill not only in the earnest hope, but with the earnest confidence that it will prove to be such a means of measuring our national life, such a means of putting on record our progress in these various directions, that instead of being the end of legislation it will prove to be but the beginning of a series of measures made for the health and well-being of all classes of the community.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. GOLDMAN
I am sure the House listened with the closest attention to the explanatory and instructive speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this evening. It will promote a better understanding of the conditions of this great measure. I am very pleased that he made his position clear with regard to the doctors. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has largely brought the agitation on himself, because, instead of defining the position of the doctor this evening, had he done so when he produced the Bill he anyhow would have focussed the whole controversy with regard to the doctors on certain distinct issues. He explained that it is the intention of the Bill to make the basis a capitation basis, the payment to be 6s. He has also explained that there is to be a limited free choice of doctors from among the contributors. He has further explained that the doctors are to form a panel of their own, and, if I understood him correctly, to form a court of reference amongst themselves, to decide disputes which arise between them and the contributors, which will greatly relieve the tension which exists on this great controversial question. I should like to associate myself with the hon. Member (Mr. Chiozza Money) in saying that this is the first occasion for many years on which a Bill has been introduced and has received such unanimous and hearty support from all quarters of the House. The Debate as far as it has gone has convinced me in the observation that I had myself formed in my association with Members of different political parties. In matters of real social reform there is very little difference of opinion, and they are keenly determined to support and help 800 measures from every section of the House. I was pleased also to notice, in the speeches which have been made by Members of the Government that they fully recognise the sincerity and the support which we on this side of the House are determined to give in promoting this measure at any stage. I hope I shall not be misunderstood if I repeat what has already been said in this House that I think it would have been better if this Bill had been produced in two separate measures. The Government themselves have emphasised the inconvenience of dealing simultaneously both with unemployment and also with sickness. Practically all the Members who have taken part in this discussion, and certainly the Members of the Government, have devoted their observations either to Part I. or Part II. of the Bill. So comprehensive, so wide is the basis of this Bill, so complicated are its provisions that it is only natural that any Member should fall under the temptation of devoting his attention to mastering the details of one part of the Bill while totally ignoring the other. It is an unfortunate result as far as the Bill itself is concerned. Sickness to a certain degree and unemployment are very largely related. Sickness largely produces unemployment, and unemployment largely produces sickness. In any comprehensive measure these two co-related considerations would have to be dealt with. But what we suggest, and all that we suggest, is that if the two measures are separated they should come into operation simultaneously.
Whereas the provisions of this Bill seem to have had the most earnest and careful thought of those who are responsible for it, the drafting seems to have been carried out with some considerable haste. In Clause 4 there is a reference to Part I of the Schedule to this Act, but in the Schedule there is no sub-division whatever, and we are left to infer that in its earlier existence, or in its pre-natal condition there was a second Schedule to the Bill which has now disappeared. We must assume that the draftsman in his haste has only been human, and has declared what is untrue. There is another evidence of this condition of things. Clause 26 deals with the transfer of policies from membership in this country to societies in the colonies, and it speaks of any branch established outside the United Kingdom. Very little knowledge of the legal position of friendly societies is required to 801 know that there is no such thing in law, and that branches of friendly societies do not exist outside the United Kingdom. We know that a number of affiliated orders exist in the Colonies, which frequently are the agents for the parent order, but the parent orders do not recognise them, and obviously they will not because they can exercise no control whatever over them, because the whole experience of these societies is so entirely different from what is known in this country.
Reference was made by the hon. Member (Mr. H. W. Forster) last week to the enormous liability with which this scheme has been arranged. You are charging all classes of lives in this country, irrespective of age, health, and trade and place of domicile with the same contribution. If you examine the experience of the Manchester Unity quoted in the actuarial report, Table 0, the sickness rate for the male lives of the age of twenty to twenty-four is at the rate of six days per year. On the ages fifty-five to fifty-nine it averages over twenty-eight days per year. In the case of a person who joins young, the contribution of 9d. is likely to be largely in excess of the amount that he will draw. The average sick pay that he would draw would be 9s. per week, whereas the contributions that are payable by the State, the employer, and the contributor himself will be £1 18s. 3d. per year. In other words, even allowing for administrative expenses, medical expenses, and any other benefits he may be entitled to, there is likely to be a considerable surplus. This surplus, accumulating for many years, will be further swollen by the lapses for profitable lives, owing to death and other causes, and is regarded as sufficient not only to give him sick pay at greater frequency after the age of fifty-five, but it is also regarded as sufficient in respect of older lives that are to come into the scheme without any extra payment. It is the younger lives, by paying higher contributions, who will be paying largely for the benefit of those who are in old age. These accumulated surpluses are not available, however, in the case of any person who joins at one of the higher ages, and what you are doing in the Bill is to compel the younger people to pay a higher contribution than might have otherwise been necessary in order to enable the benefits to be paid to the people who have joined at a later age.
Merely an illustration, but without binding myself to accuracy of the figures, I 802 may put it this way: A young man joining at age twenty might be able to insure against sickness till he reaches forty by a payment of 2d. per week. If he desires to insure through life, his contributions would be 3d. one additional penny paying for the greater frequency of sickness after forty. In this Bill you are making him pay 4d. The older man is to draw the same benefits as if he had been insured from youth. The actuarial estimate of this initial capital liability is sixty-three millions, and the contributions exacted are such that it is expected you will be providing a sinking fund to extinguish this liability in fifteen and a-half years. That is, assuming a 3 per cent. rate of interest, you are imposing an annual charge of £4,800,000 on the younger lives to pay for the older ones. That sum will be exacted from the younger lives as a penalty, if you like, in order to pay for benefits to the older lives. The point I wish to make is that it would be quite possible to reduce the contributions for both men and women contributors, Under Section 40, Sub-section (3), the sum retained by the Insurance Commissioners for the purpose of wiping out this liability is fixed at 1 5–9d. for men and 1½d. for women. It would be possible to reduce these sums by 1d., reducing the contributions to 3d. for men and to 2d. for women, and thus affording very real and substantial relief to the contributors. The only effect of this Amendment would be to protract the period of repayment from fifteen and a half years to eighty-two years. The surplus of 5–9d. will, of course, be payable for this longer period, but the relief is so great, and the demands of equity so insistent, that I think it will be more reasonable to adopt this amended rather than the proposed course. I acknowledge that I do not see how it would be possible to start a scheme of this character without snaking some such provision. I admit that an attempt has been made to reconcile the younger lives by promising that at the end of fifteen years they shall receive either increased benefits or a reduction in the contribution. This leads me to a criticism of the actuarial basis of the whole scheme. If you look at the report you will find that the actuaries have based their calculations on friendly societies' experience, and particularly on the experience of the Manchester Unity. The Report states:—A steady increase in the average rate of sickness among male lives among all ages had been taking place for many years previously.803 For example, at ages forty to forty-four, the average sickness per member in the Manchester Unity was 1.26 weeks per year during 1866 to 1870; in 1893 to 1897, it was 1.58 weeks, or an increase of 25 per cent. in thirty years. A similar movement is observable at all ages. In view of this, it is surprising to find the following statement in the actuaries' report:—The Manchester Unity experience showed that there had not been any material change in the rates of sickness prevailing in the society since 1897. Hence, the experience of the Manchester Unity for the years 1893 to 1897 may still, probably, be regarded as a satisfactory exponent of the average rates of sickness to be expected among the members of the best class of friendly societies throughout the country.There are several statements in this quotation about which I would like to raise some questions. It is stated, first, that the experience of the Manchester Unity is the tendency to increasing sickness among its members has been checked. Apart from the question of the validity of this conclusion as being applicable to the country as a whole, the statement itself has caused me some surprise. In a paper read before the Institute of Actuaries in April, 1910, by Mr. A. W. Watson, the well-known actuary of the Manchester Unity, I find the following statement relating to this order: "The comparison of the sickness experience of the quinquennium 1901 to 1905 showed that the claims of the first twenty-six weeks were equal to 103 per cent. of the expectations, those of the second twenty-six weeks 119 per cent., and those of the remaining period 113 per cent." Here we find the actuary himself pointing out an increasing rate of sickness while the Government actuaries are asserting that the rate of sickness may be regarded as stationary since 1897. More than that, I say that if the tendency of the last forty years remains unchanged we may look forward to the absorption by increased sick pay of the greater portion of the sixty-three and a-half million pounds which are to go in redemption of the liabilities and I do not see how the promises that are being held out to young lives joining this scheme will be fulfilled.
I should point out that these criticisms are not intended to be unfriendly to the Bill with the principles of which I am in complete sympathy, but I do believe that it is only fair to the House and the country that we should be perfectly frank and that we should give accurate and absolute information to the potential members of the 804 insurance scheme, so that they shall know not only what they would be called upon to pay, but what they may expect to receive. I would also like to know whether the actuaries have made sufficient allowance for the fact that the Manchester Unity cannot necessarily be regarded as a fair sample of the risks and the lives that are going to be forced into this scheme. I am perfectly aware that they have made a certain amount of allowance for certain trades which the industrial classes are following, and that they have weighted their table based on the experience of the Manchester Unity. The right hon. Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) referred to this very subject, and asked is it fair to take a sample of one particular society and say that this is to be applicable to the class as a whole. Take the case of miners. What do we know of the whole class of miners for the purpose of insurance? All we do know is in respect of these miners who are in the friendly societies. But there is this large class outside the friendly societies, including those who have been rejected by the friendly societies. For all we know they may be disappointing classes for the purposes of insurance, and the rate of sickness may be greater with that class as a whole than with the class who are merely members of friendly societies. And what applies to this particular trade may apply to other trades as well. The actuaries seem to have made no allowance for this, at all, because they have dismissed this question with this observation:—We consider that the Manchester Unity Table referred to without modification may he used to measure the probable rates of sickness among female contributors to the scheme and we have accordingly adopted as the basis of our calculation for both sexes.Another aspect which appears to have been overlooked is the question of the indiscriminate admission of members. We know that the friendly societies have approximately four-and-a-half million members. But this scheme proposes to compress within a period of twelve months from ten to eleven million of lives. I understand that the exercise of freedom is to be given to the friendly societies, and that the only bar to selection that is to be removed is to be with regard to the age. I think we heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer this evening that there is to be a medical examination in each case. I would ask the House, looking at the enormous volume of work that this will entail, how can you possibly expect ten million lives to be examined within a short period of twelve months unless you assume that the 805 work must necessarily be done in a perfunctory and unsatisfactory manner? This in itself has a very great bearing on the whole actuarial estimate of the scheme, be cause the friendly societies' experience shows that indiscriminate admission is one of the most potent causes of the increasing rate of sickness. The learned Attorney-General (Sir Rufus Isaacs) in his speech last Wednesday laid emphasis on the fact that invalidity and accident are part of a compulsory contribution system in Germany. I think, perhaps, it would have been better if the Government had dealt with the proposed scheme in a more comprehensive manner and had extended this particular scheme to accidents, because, seeing that you have got two distinct compensating authorities, I see an enormous number of disputes and an enormous amount of litigation arising between these authorities on the question when is sickness due to accident and when does it come under the ordinary term of sickness. You have a great deal of consequential sickness arising on accidents, and I do believe that much of this difficulty would have been removed if the Government could have seen their way simultaneously to have introduced that subject.
It must have been largely in the mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, because in a book that has only been published within the last few days he says in an explanatory note written by himself, in reference to the question of accident insurance and the advantages that will accrue to this class, this will cover an exceedingly large and important class of people who are thoroughly deserving and ought to be helped better against the effect of sickness and accident. Another question on which I would like to have information from the Government is on what basis have they arrived at the administrative allowance of 4s. per head. We know that in a society like the Manchester Union, which has been most economically administered, the cost per head amounts to 3s., and anybody who has any acquaintance with friendly societies knows the enormous amount of voluntary and under-paid work that is given by its members. In one of the small societies with which I myself am associated we have only about eighty members, twenty of whom are living a considerable distance away from the lodge. Yet within the last year there have been no fewer than twenty-six meetings. We have a secretary who is doing a considerable amount of work, writing up 806 minutes and filling in returns, and he received a remuneration of £5 for his work. The point I should like to raise is that when the friendly societies begin to realise that, after all, they are nearly all mainly distributing centres of the Government, and that they are largely only clearing houses, do you not think, with the largely increased volume of work that will fall upon these men taking out duplicate returns, and so on, they will look in future for payment on the commercial value of their work?
Indeed, some high authorities with whom I have discussed this subject think that, with the administrative expenses, the amount will be nearer 6s. than 4s. In regard to emigration, I think that the actuaries justly complained of the staleness of the census returns. Another twelve or eighteen months, at most, would have given them fresh and accurate material, and certainly have rendered much that is speculative and hypothetical quite unnecessary. For instance, the assumption with regard to emigration might prove contrary to the facts. A sound knowledge of the whole emigration question seems to me absolutely essential to the financial stability of the whole scheme. Emigration from this country reaches approximately 250,000 a year, and we know that these numbers are steadily and rapidly increasing. Of this number many would be likely to come under this scheme, and they are all of the class who would be the most profitable lives; but, they are going every year, and we are left with the older lives and the greater risks. I have failed to discover that any allowance has been made in regard to this emigration, and I do think that, you should have waited until tables could be arranged to meet this very essential clement in the case. By Clause 26 of the Bill it is provided that a man intending to leave this country shall have the right to transfer his insurance to another society either in a foreign country or in the Colonies. How many are likely to avail themselves of this provision?
As I have explained, there are no approved friendly societies in the Colonies, and the Government is illogical in this sense, that they make a condition that any emigrant from a foreign country or Colonial possession coming to this country shall be transferred to a friendly society here, when at the same time they exclude any foreigner from the benefit under this particular scheme. I know that they make exception with regard to those 807 particular classes I have referred to, but in that case an international treaty is necessary. With regard to the doctors, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained this evening, they are an essential factor in the scheme. They can make it economically workable, or they can make it wastefully expensive. It is a fundamental element of the whole scheme that it depends on the doctors. As I understand the Bill, the doctor is to be responsible for a number of contributors, and each contributor is to receive medical attendance by one particular doctor. This doctor is to be nominated either by the friendly society or by the Public Health Committee, but, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained, there will be an exercise of freedom on the part of the contributor to select his own doctor from among a limited number. That would be relatively easy and simple if the medical man and the contributor are living in the same district, but supposing they are separated. A man may be going away for his holidays, a domestic servant may be exchanging from one town to another, or a number of labourers may go to some contract work in some distant part. You have one out of the 20,000 or 30,000 Irishmen coming every year to Scotland or England; or, again, it may be that you have one out of the 10,000 or 20,000 who are moving from fishing centre to fishing centre during the season, or it may be a sailor who is away from his home for many months.
These very people represent many thousand of lives, and what is to happen in the case of sickness? Is a man in that position going to be entitled to employ another doctor, and will the certificate of that doctor be sufficient to enable him to get sick benefit? Further, who is to pay? If not the Government, is the friendly society to pay? Of course, this brings us to the whole question, that apparently was settled this afternoon in the mind of the Government, that the doctors shall not be paid by attendance but by a capitation fee. If I have criticised this Bill, I hope my having done so will not be interpreted as any want of appreciation on my part of the great value of the constructive part of this scheme, which is intended to raise the standard of health, the efficiency of work, to prevent sickness, and detect and prevent the transmission of disease. I think it deserves on the part of the House full consideration on its merits, 808 and, for these reasons, I have pleasure in supporting the Second Reading.
§ Sir GEORGE WHITE
The hon. Member who has just sat down affords, I think, an illustration of the amount of criticism which can be devoted to a great measure like this, and especially coming from a friend of that measure. His criticism occupied some time, first of all, in showing that it was wrong to include in one Bill the sick benefit and unemployment. Then the hon. Member went on to show omissions in not including compensation for accidents and other things which would have greatly amplified the Bill. I fear such criticism as that, however friendly its intention, does not really add to the judgment of the House in coming to a conclusion on the merits of the Bill. At least I am not prepared to follow on those lines. I have risen with the object of saying a few words from the aspect of the large employer of labour, upon whom this Bill lays a considerable financial burden. I do not use that word in any antagonistic sense to the operation of the Bill. I have ventured to rise because I think that Members of this House who belong to the class of employers have perhaps not figured as prominently in this Debate as the consequences of the Bill upon them warrant that they should do. Therefore, whilst not entering into the details, I desire to express, on behalf of myself, and, as I know on behalf of a very considerable number of employers who are similarly situated, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer our deepest sympathy and support in the great measure which he has presented to this House. I am particularly anxious to give expression to this sentiment after the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth), who suggested that, though there was apparently a unanimity of opinion as to the principle of the Bill so far as the House was concerned in this Chamber, that we could hear very different expressions of opinion in the corridors and smoke-room of this House. I am not prepared to endorse that statement. My opinion is that so far as the general principles of the Bill are concerned even those that have to bear its heaviest weight are fully in sympathy with its objects and are prepared to receive it in that spirit.
I have been, I may say, in lifelong contact with large bodies of workers both in business and out of it, and I have long since come to this conclusion—that by far the larger portion of the poorer classes 809 amongst us are in the condition in which we find them through no fault of their own. I do not, in making that statement, ignore the fact that drink, for instance, is a factor of poverty in our midst and a large factor, and that there are such evils as gambling and other things that help to produce poverty. But if those are put on one side and if we came to the conclusion that they deserved no help at all, a conclusion which I am far from arriving at, we shall still have the greater portion of undeserving poor and the necessitous people amongst us who are in that condition through no fault of their own, and for this class of our population I think society in general is responsible. I take it that the object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in bringing this great measure before the House and the country is to try and do what he can for this large portion of society. Times of sickness which come upon them and times of unemployment find them already so near the border line of destitution that those misfortunes cause them to sink so that the respectable industrious artisan may never be able to rise again. In my own city we have old industries that for the last two generations have been gradually dying out and been superseded by new industries. That affects a very large number of deserving men and women who would work at their trade if they could get it, and who are not in a position to learn any new occupation whatever. We have, as all of us know, constantly to introduce new machinery, which, for the time being at least, supplants a good deal of labour which is occupied and places it in the position of needing help, at least temporarily. I know from the peculiar experience in which one is placed in having to deal with a large number of applicants for the great charities that we have in Norwich, how many of those who fail to get help although they need it, and how few comparatively there are, when you search into the matter, whose circumstances are really undeserving of the charity we would be only too glad to give them if we could. I quote a sentence with the sentiment of which I entirely agree:—No man whose standard of life lies at the mercy of personal accident or trade crisis has the true freedom which it is the business of the State to provide.I may be pardoned for a personal reference, but for a long time I have advocated some such system as that of the great measure which we are now discussing. I am bound to say that I have some sympathy with the proposition put forward by the 810 hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) when he said he thought the division of the contributions should be 3d. from the employer, 3d. from the State, and 3d. from the workmen. That is the principle upon which I have always thought that a scheme like this should be carried out, but I am sure we must have sympathy with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the objects he has before him, dealing as they do with a large measure of taxation. Therefore I am not prepared myself to press that view. The ordinary employer who is dealing with businesses that are of a competitive character, is practically helpless, except they are great monopolies, to do very much above the ordinary level of what is done in the trade with which he may be connected.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester very properly said that the real remedy for all those evils was an increase in the general rate of wages. With that I entirely agree, but unless legislation can do something to help in that direction, the employer is practically unable to do anything or very little of himself. Therefore, when one sees a scheme like this, that will do something at any rate to help to adjust the balance, which, I think, needs adjusting, one feels, especially as the principle of the measure receives the support that this measure has received from all sides, a feeling of delight that the principle of State interference in a matter of this kind has at length been supported as unanimously as it has been. I think, perhaps, the only whole-hearted opponent of this measure is my hon. Friend the member for Pontefract, though I must confess his independent spirit, independent as it is, had to do some amount of homage to the general favour with which this Bill was received. But it could not be disguised during the whole of his speech that really the principle upon which the Bill was based was not one that received his favour. Therefore, whilst I admit that many of his criticisms were very valuable, still I think they may be fairly discounted because of the way in which he opposed the general principle of the Bill. I want to justify the position which the Government has taken up by the changes which have taken place in this country during the last generation or two in regard to the large increase of capital and the power of capitalists and through the growth of monopolies in our midst. I am naturally a strong individualist, perhaps a stronger individualist than the hon. 811 Member for Pontefract, but I have lived long enough to realise that the economic conditions of our country have changed enormously, and that the growth and power of capital requires the State to deal in some such way as this with the large body of unemployed which we have amongst us.
Therefore I am proud to stand here as a whole-hearted supporter of the Bill. We all admire the work of our great friendly societies, but perhaps it has not been sufficiently emphasised in this discussion that there are many more of the working classes outside friendly societies than there are inside. The condition of these people is, to my mind, a reproach to a wealthy, not to say a Christian, nation. We are told that we are putting an intolerable burden upon industry, and that if we do this we shall really do more harm than good I cannot ignore the figures that have been given, and with which many of us are familiar, showing that in the last few years there has been a large increase in the profits accruing to industry—an increase much larger in proportion than the amount which has gone to the workers. Therefore I am sure that we are rich enough as a country to help to take care of that portion of our workers who are unable to take full care of themselves. A measure like this helps to distribute the burden which, if it lies on one class of society, reduces that class almost to a helpless mass; whereas, if the burden is fairly distributed, it will not be felt by any individual or any set of individuals in the country. After all, the burdens which are laid upon the great industries of this country, even if this Bill passes into law, as I hope and believe it will, are much less than the burdens in Germany or in France. The figures which have been given in regard to Germany I will not repeat, but the French employer has considerable burdens to bear from the old age pension scheme which is in operation in that country. Until we can say that the wages of the mass of the people of this country are sufficient to enable them to meet the demands which a Bill like this seeks to provide for, it is both our duty and to our advantage to make some provision for the deficiency which exists. The mere fact that we help towards giving that equality of opportunity to a large body of people who do not possess it now will be a stimulus to them in regard to their efficiency and 812 the effective way in which they will work, which will be at least some recompense for the burden that may be laid upon industry. It has been said that this Bill alters the whole relationship between employer and employed. That relationship has been altered for probably more than a generation. Those of us who have been occupied in manufacturing for a number of years can go back to a time when the relationship of the employer to the employed was very different from that which exists today. It may be that in those days no deductions were made for sickness, but, on the other hand, no pay was offered for overtime, and the bargain was a very hard one between the capitalist and the employed when the latter had no powerful trade union at his back. These times may have been all right when the employer was a real Christian gentleman, but when he was not there existed hardships which have been altered, and now, if we have no charity or benevolence in these matters, we have at least justice, and I think that that will go the further of the two. It is also said that the Bill alters the relation of both employer and employed to the State. So far as it does it is going upon lines which this House has sanctioned again and again during the last few years. Whilst it may be said that in a sense the Bill takes from the wage-earner a certain amount as a deposit for the benefits which he is to receive, I am sure that the statement of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) that it forcibly takes from the working man a sum of money for which he could get greater benefits elsewhere cannot be borne out by the facts of the case. It is certain that the benefits offered by the Bill are greater than the man could obtain elsewhere for the 4d. that he will have to pay. Moreover, he has the certainty, which often does not exist in connection with many friendly societies today. There may also be a great reduction in the expense of carrying this matter through.
We are told that the Bill differs from any other Bill that has been presented to any constitutional Assembly in the world. It may not be any the worse for that. I believe it is all the better, because the pains that have been taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and those associated with him to get the best evidence possible upon which to base the Bill and the calculations connected with it, have enabled him, as we believe, to produce a measure superior to any previously produced. We have also had held up to 813 us the bogies of German supervision and police. We are told that the Bill differs altogether from the German provision, but at the same time an attempt is made to alarm us with the bogies connected with the German system. I hope and believe that we shall avoid the defects while at the same time accepting whatever may be good in the German system. I will not waste time by standing up for the interests that are attacked. My object in supporting the Bill is to do something for the fourteen million people who need the help of a measure such as this. Whatever interests may be attacked, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has shown us that their claims will be considered in the most kindly and considerate way. Many of those who think themselves injured are under an entire misapprehension. Take the case of the small property holder: what is it that the Bill says? That you shall not evict a man who is in a state of sickness; that you shall not take the opportunity which the payment of this insurance money might give to secure your rent whilst the man is in a state of sickness. It does not take the rent away from the property owner. It gives him the opportunity, where circumstances are favourable, to get the rent which is his due. Therefore it seems to me that it is only a humane provision in order to prevent any hardhearted property owner—and there are some such in the world, I believe—from taking the opportunity of seizing the insurance money to pay the rent due.
After the way in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has dealt with the doctors, I need not occupy the time of the House by saying anything on that question. If they look upon this as an opportunity of paying off old scores between themselves and the benefit societies, I think the House should not support them. At the same time I am sure the House desires to do not only what is fair, but what is generous, towards such a noble profession. Our whole object is to see fair play. The Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to the example which might be given from my own city with regard to the scale upon which these payments are made. We have there what is called the Medical Institute, which is the medical centre of a large number of friendly societies. This Medical Institute covers 11,000 members. Six thousand six hundred of these are friendly society members, with their wives, and in some instances their families. The doctors of this medical 814 institute attend to the members for 4s. per head per annum, with 4s. additional for the wife, and 4s. for the family, whatever the number may be under sixteen years of age. The Institute keeps its secretaries, its offices, and pays its way. This 4s. is inclusive of drugs. This is the arrangement made by the doctors. The members have a choice of doctors within a certain panel. I am quite sure that with an example of that kind put before the House, the Members will see that the suggestion that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made of 6s. per head per member is really liberal, and I think is a very reasonable suggestion. The only suggestion, I think, that has been made in regard to dealing with this question is that the State had far better contribute to existing bodies. I desire again to point out to the House that such a system would only touch the very fringe of the great body of men and women who are outside the friendly societies. It is for their benefit and profit, and through them for the ultimate benefit of the State, that I feel we shall owe the value of this great measure.
One word or two only on the question of unemployment. I do not think, in the circumstances, that it is fair to criticise a Government scheme which is only intended as an experiment. Otherwise I should have suggested that possibly the wrong trades had been chosen, and that there are a very large number of other trades in this country subject to more frequent unemployment, though not for so long a period when it does come, than the trades which the right hon. Gentleman has selected. There are a large number of great businesses in this country to whom it seems almost impossible to avoid having for six or eight weeks in the year some amount of surplus labour which they cannot possibly employ. That surplus labour is wanted during all the rest of the year. It is unfortunate for the manufacturing industry itself, and it is unfortunate for the State. I, for one, should be quite prepared, and I believe the manufacturing trades generally would be prepared to take some amount of the burden of that surplus labour upon their shoulders if the Government would deal with it at some future time—it may be by assisting to tide over the difficult times which these men experience probably every year as the season comes round.
I thank the House for listening to these few words. I confess, with one or two other speakers that having been here for some 815 now dozen years, these last two years appear to me to make some amends for a good deal of the waste time within the precincts of this Chamber. We are now doing more serious things in dealing with the great questions of the social needs of the nation. We have had old age pensions, allotments and small holdings, and labour exchanges dealt with, and now we have come to State Insurance. I believe that the combination of these great social Acts have had and will have a very far-reaching effect upon the condition of a large part of the population of this nation. If we are inclined to think, as we are sometimes, that this is burdening wealth, I say of myself, and I should desire it of all others who are situated in the same way, that what is for the general elevation of the condition of the great mass of the people of the land cannot ultimately be an injury to the capitalists of this nation.
Seeing around us more human happiness will certainly bring more general contentment. After all, though our incomes may be decreased by measures of this kind, I am quite sure that the increased amount of happiness around us will conduce to our better and more happy living when we see, and are reminded, of what has been well said by one of our great writers that:—Wealth consists not in the greatness of a man's possessions, but in the fewness of his wants.
Lord HENRY CAVENDISH-BEN-TINCK
I shall endeavour in consideration of the Members who wish to speak to compress my remarks into the briefest possible space. I will only say by way of preface that I am heartily in sympathy with the objects of this Bill. It is impossible not to recognise that it is an honest attempt to solve problems which have been crying out for many years for solution—namely, the harassing uncertainty of sickness and unemployment which have been the curse of our working population. That being so I shall endeavour, to the best of my ability, to keep under lock and key what partizan spirit I possess until this Bill passes from this House. There are one or two points which I would wish, in all humility and with all deference, to put to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. No doubt this measure is a great measure of social reform. That being so, it ought to be free from any kind of criticism. One of the worst evils which we suffer from is the exploitation of juvenile labour. The unfortunate fact is 816 that the practice exists of taking boys for work and throwing them on to the scrap-heap when they reach a certain age. This, to my mind, is one of the greatest causes not only of unemployment but also of low wages. It is one of the reasons why certain trades are now shouting out for skilled labour whilst the labour exchanges are crowded with ignorant and inexperienced boys.
I think it is rather an unfortunate thing that this Bill, as it stands at present, rather increases the tendency to exploit boy labour. Let me explain: The unemployment section says that no boy shall become an insurer until he has reached the age of eighteen. What will be the effect of that? The employer of labour who wishes to get cheap labour, and to save 2½d. for every workman, will get rid of as many adult workmen as he can and employ as many boys as he can. Again, take the sickness and insurance section. There is an exemption provision in the Bill whereby there is to be gradation of the contributions for those who are employed at very low wages. A boy and a girl under the age of twenty-one are exempt from gradation. What will be the effect of that? No doubt it will be that the employer who wishes to employ cheap labour will again get rid of as many adult workmen as he can and save his 2d. and 3d. on them, and employ as many boys and girls as he can. I think the House will agree that these are rather unfortunate lapses in a well-intentioned measure. I hope I may have the Chancellor's consideration for these two points before the measure reaches the Committee stage. There are a great many women workers in my Constituency, and I would like to raise one or two points in connection with them. I fail to understand why the contribution of 9d. on behalf of a workmen produces 10s., whereas a contribution of 8d. on behalf of a woman only produces 7s. 6d. whereas I believe, strictly speaking, the actuarial calculation makes it 8s. 11d. Of course, it may be said women workers are more liable to illness than men owing to the child-bearing functions of women.
If you take into consideration the fact that you do not ask a boy and girl under sixteen to contribute, I think you are taking an undue amount from women, and I cannot help thinking that if you decide to maintain this very high contribution from women you ought at all events to ordain a similar benefit as this provided for women trade unionists. I believe 817 Most of the women's trade unions provide that there shall be some surrender value when the women leave the union. For instance, in the federation of women workers, if a woman has not drawn anything out for two years she gets the surrender value of the whole of her contribution. I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to arrange for some surrender value in the case of a woman who marries and leaves the trade union. I should like to know what is to happen in the case of women piece-workers. How is her contribution to be assessed? Is it to be assessed over a long period of the varying earnings of the woman? As the House knows, a woman worker, although working at a high daily rate, may be only employed for two or three days a week. She may earn 2s. 2d. per day, but she only may earn 6s. 6d. in a week, and it would be very unfair to ask her to pay at the rate of 3d. per week. And again, what is to be done in the case of women workers at seasonal trades? A woman may fall out of employment and fall behind in her contributions, or she may be superseded altogether. As a solution of these difficulties the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be pressed to exempt them altogether, and I must say there is a very great deal to be said for it, because after all the contribution of 1d. a week in such case is a larger contribution than 3d. or 4d. a week from a man whose wages are £2. or £3 a week. It is very difficult for a widow with a large family to keep up a contribution of 1d. a week, and I should think it is well worthy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's consideration whether workers who only earn 8s. or 9s. a week should not be exempt from contribution altogether.
There is another point as regards women workers, and that is the question of shop clubs. The Chancellor of the Exchequer puts no limit to shop clubs, they can be as small as the employer likes, whereas there is a, very strict limit to the trade union societies. The result of that would be that it would be more difficult than ever to organise women workers, because the more shop clubs the fewer trade unions, and I am told by those who have made it their duty in life to try and organise women workers that the one way of avoiding this is to start shop clubs and to give a handsome contribution to them. It is the one thing necessary for industrial women to have common organisations, and I think it would be a thousand pities if the result of this measure was to discourage 818 the organisation of women workers, which is the only hope of improving their industrial position. Once more let me assure the House I shall be only too delighted to give what help I can to make this measure a workable one.
§ Sir ALFRED MOND
I do not propose at this stage of the Debate to follow the hon. Member who has just spoken into the details of the women workers' question which he cited in connection with this Bill. With many of the points he has made I am personally in great sympathy, and I hope they will get all the care and examination which they require under Committee stage of the Bill. The women's side of this Bill is undoubtedly one of the most difficult. Their condition is different to a large extent in different parts of the country. For instance, the textile factory worker in Lancashire is industrially, and in wages altogether, in a very different position from the poor young girls in the East End who are struggling to get into the trade unions, where with great difficulty they are able to pay the contribution. I do not think, however, any useful object would be met now in going into these points. There is one point to which I should like to refer which was made by several speakers, and amongst others the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), who made such an excellent speech upon this question. It was in reference to the case of women who when unmarried paid the insurance premium, but who when married passed out without getting any return.
In the German Invalidity Act this is remedied. In Germany under that Bill a woman receives on marriage half of her whole premium with two and a-half per cent. compound interest as the surrender value of the money she has contributed in her time. Of course our scheme is a benefit scheme as well as an invalidity scheme, and I do not know whether we could afford to be as generous as the Germans, but I think something ought to be paid back to the woman for her premiums paid in in those years in which she got no advantage as far as invalidity is concerned. Anyone who studies the actuarial returns will see that disability only occurs later on in life. In Germany invalidity pensions mostly begin at the age of sixty, and no girl will get married before she is twenty, three or twenty-four, so she will have no invalidity pension at all. The actuarial returns unfortunately do not give us the 819 difference between the invalidity part of the insurance and the benefit part, but I think we could afford, at any rate, to give these women workers back part of the disability portion of the insurance money which they have paid in. In Germany young people when getting married look forward to this money to furnishing the home as a very great assistance at the moment when they are at very great expense in setting up housekeeping.
In the Debate to-day we had a very remarkable and interesting speech from the hon. member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald). I must confess I listened to it with some astonishment, and I was still more surprised when he described himself as a Socialist, for a more anti-Socialist speech I never heard. I think it was a very good individualistic speech of the old school, and would have suited the time of the Reform Bill or the Poor Law of 1832. The hon. Member must have entirely misapprehended the principle upon which this Bill is based. This Bill is a recognition that illness is more than an individual matter, that it is a social evil of great magnitude, and, being a social evil, we are all of us in some way responsible for it and interested in its removal, and on this logically and rightly and naturally is based the principle of compulsion, and the only justification of the compulsory principle which we propose to set up. The hon. Member for Leicester says that what we want is higher wages. It is not merely a question that a large number of our population cannot afford to insure, but that, as a matter of fact, many of those who can afford will not insure, and those who will not insure are the very people who ought to come under a compulsory system, because their illness is often a burden to the rest of the community. I am rather astonished that the hon. Member for Leicester does not see that the object of this Bill is not either to raise or lower wages or deal with them at all: it is not an attempt to give doles and charities, but an attempt to deal with one of the greatest evils which all students who have studied Poor Law reform, unemployment statistics, and any movement in the direction of social reform recognise—namely, that illness is one of the most frequent causes of that general slow, gradual, and often very steady fall from the higher to the lower grade, and then down to the lowest depths of degradation in the labour world which we all so much deplore. That 820 I take it is the fundamental basis of this Bill, and it has my very hearty and sincere support.
I congratulate the Government, not only upon having the courage to introduce this measure, but still more upon the acceptance it has met with from all quarters of the House. It is one of the greatest changes of the sort in this country which we have ever witnessed. For years I have been advocating compulsory insurance against unemployment and invalidity, and for years I have been told that any such scheme was quite impossible. I was told that nobody would submit to a compulsory system, that it might do for the Germans and for other countries, but it would never do here. I never believed in that view, and I never believed it was true. English workmen are more used to contributing to sick clubs, friendly societies, and trade unions than any other workmen in the world. To use such arguments as those which I have mentioned against a compulsory system is to display a curious want of knowledge of what is actually going on in our great industrial centres. There is scarcely one large works which has not got a sick club, or where some system of insurance between employer and workmen does not exist. We have had in existence at our own works for many years a system of insurance, but we adopt the simple plan of doing all the contributing ourselves. The objection which has been raised with regard to malingering is, in my opinion, very much exaggerated. The Germans get a certain amount of malingering, and you get it under all schemes.
Something has been said about the administration of these funds by the workmen's committees, and it has been urged that they are not likely to administer the funds efficiently. In my view experience has not borne that out. The workmen's committee managing our sick club spends thousands of pounds a year, and they are every bit as anxious to spend our money economically as they would be with their own. I think if you can get them to co-operate through their local friendly societies and other organisations you will find that, although most of the money comes from the employers and the State, they will administer it honestly, and with exactly the same amount of scrutiny and care as they have done with their own funds in the past. I have been rather surprised at the enormous attack made on that portion of the 821 Bill which deals with the health committees. I do sincerely hope the Government will not allow themselves to be driven from what to my mind is a valuable and important and fruitful part of the entire Bill, and that is the setting up of these health committees. There may be modifications required in the composition of them, there may be modifications required in their powers, and it may be exemptions will have to be made in the case of the larger municipalities; but the health committees seem to me a creative and fertile thought which ought to assist us immensely in doing what we want to do most of all. After all, you do not want to lock the door after the horse has gone, and to begin to treat a man when he is ill is very much that process. We do not want to spend millions in putting people in sanatoria when they have got consumption. What we want to do is to prevent people becoming ill, and the cheapest method is to stop people getting tuberculosis and going to sanatoria.
Why do I attach importance to the health committees? We all of us know there are a large number of so-called public health committees, particularly of the smaller type, which are extremely slow and lax in administering the laws which this House has passed. If the sanitary laws were really enforced there would be much less necessity for this measure. We have passed endless Acts of Parliament to improve the public health, and very often they are not carried out because the people are indifferent, ignorant, or interested in preventing sanitation being done. These health committees, consisting largely of people interested from the financial point of view in keeping sickness down and of co-opted members who take a natural interest in this matter, will exercise to my mind a very healthy effect. In every area in the country you will find some people who are both students, and I might say zealots, on social reform, on sanitation, and on medical reform. These people will find their home in the health committees, and, although the powers of the health committees are small under the Bill, I think their moral effect will be incalculable. It is not the case that they will always be quarrelling with the public health committees, but I think they will have a good and stimulating effect on them. The fact there are some people who can make recommendations and may get a Local Government Board inquiry will shame many reactionary local authorities. I am thinking of the conditions in South 822 Wales. Many of the valleys are anything but satisfactory to those who care for housing and sanitation. The health committees will shame them into action. They will be an enormous help and greatly relieve future generations of the cost which this Bill must necessarily inflict on us at present. I am told the London County Council, that mighty body, will never be advised by a health committee. I do not believe it for a moment. Why should they not? If the health committee's advice is good and reasonable, why should they be foolish enough not to accept it? Why should they imagine there is no wisdom outside their own body? I do not believe that any intelligent body of men would take to themselves such a narrow and stupid view of their own position. The health committee would be very valuable in dealing with questions of this kind. We are prepared, under this Bill, to shoulder the burden of common ills, common evils, and common ailments. We are ready as employers and workmen to bear our due proportion of that burden, but we are not prepared, neither should we be asked, to take on our shoulders burdens caused by slack, careless, or inefficient working and management. We are not prepared to take upon our shoulders the products of slum property, or the result of neglect on the part of the local sanitary authority. And it is because the health committee would have some small power—and I hope that power will be added to before this Bill passes—to deal with these non-social elements of our social life that I earnestly implore the Government to resist the criticisms levelled with the object of limiting the bill, and to add greatly, if possible, to its functions in this respect.
We have been asked—many of us—to secure a postponement of the Second Reading. We have had many letters pointing out defects in the Bill. No doubt defects do exist, but I am glad the House is not adopting a cowardly position. I am glad it insists instead on taking the leadership to which its intelligence and position entitles it. In a measure of this magnitude, when you are trying to produce schemes of this kind it would be impossible for anyone to devise a scheme which would be perfect, which would not require amendment, or which would work straight away. Take the German experience. The German sick benefit was introduced in the year 1883. Since that time there have been five amending Acts, almost entirely remodelling the sick bene 823 fits, and at the present time they are engaged on amalgamating and remodelling the different benefit schemes. Their Invalidity Bill has been remodelled twice. Their Old Age Pensions Bill has also gone through many modifications. What does experience teach us? The German Government can never be accused either of haste or want of preparation. Before the presentation of schemes they compile enormous masses of information—in one case, by favour of a member of the Reichstag, I saw five immense volumes—yet in spite of that enormous work they have never yet produced a practical working measure which did not require altering. So with regard to ourselves, there is no reason for not making a beginning: there is all reason for making a quick beginning. It is when you have had practical experience that you are enabled to make the necessary alterations.
It may be suggested that as a business man. I am arguing in an unbusinesslike fashion. Nothing of the kind. My experience is that no contract is ever entered into, however carefully considered by oneself and his lawyer, and indeed by all parties concerned, which does not require altering at the end of a year. Something is always turning up. No business contract can cover every possible contingency, and if we are never to have social reform of any kind until we have reached a point when no one either inside or outside the House can suggest any possible Amendment, we shall do very little for social reform. Reference has been made to the fears of the employer. I cannot understand on what that fear is based. A burden of this character is one which will not in my opinion increase the cost of production. I think it would rather tend to diminish it, and any experience that I have been able to gain leads me to the conclusion that all the money spent upon improving the efficiency of the working man is of great benefit to the employer. It is a policy which my firm has pursued for thirty years, in which we have had results far exceeding our wildest anticipations. That has been the general experience of this country, and there has been exactly the same experience in Germany. I was reading only yesterday a very interesting speech by Count Dolgorouski, who was formerly Minister of the Interior in Russia, upon insurance, and he said that the fear had been expressed that it would be a burden upon the employers, but that had not been found well grounded, and that 824 the greatly increased efficiency had been of benefit to the employing class, and nobody would dream of going back to the conditions existing before. Upon considering the figures I cannot see what we have to be afraid of. The employers' contribution is 3d. a week, and if you take the average wages in the county at 25s., that makes about 1 per cent. on the cost of labour. Putting the cost of labour at the very high and incorrect figure of half the cost of the article, that would mean a half per cent., and I think a quarter per cent. is nearer the mark. Surely a quarter or a half per cent. is not going to make a difference in our command of the markets of the world. Whatever the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Bonar Law) can do for the home manufacturer in regard to foreign competition by means of Tariff Reform, he can do nothing for the manufacturer competing with foreign manufacturers in neutral markets, and if this percentage seriously endangers our trade in home markets, how is the great cotton industry going to maintain its hold in Far Eastern markets under these conditions? I do not think this burden will endanger our position, and I have not found any employers who think so.
In the few moments that remain I should like to say a few words on a point which has not been dealt with very largely in this discussion, and that is the unemployment insurance under this scheme. It may be that the back part of the Bill has not received the same attention as the front part of it. The grey matter of our brains has been so exhausted by reading the benefit part that when we come to the unemployment portion we no longer felt competent to grapple with it. But this to my mind is the most important part of the two, and the most novel and most daring. Insurance against unemployment has been the dream of many of us for a good deal of time, and of many social reformers all over the world. It has been tried in many countries. Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium, and the result has been so negative that it has been almost abandoned. If one goes carefully into the question why the Ghent or Cologne unemployment insurance schemes have not been successful, the chief reason is that they have been so local in their character that, from their very nature, they could not possibly hope to succeed. A local unemployment scheme is in itself an economic absurdity. You are putting a burden on the place which can least stand it. When unemployment 825 is most severe you are putting a burden on the place which is most subject to it, instead of spreading it over the country, because unemployment is never equally severe in all industries in all parts of the country. That and the very partial and half-hearted manner in which these schemes have been carried out explains why unemployment insurance has, up to now, given such negative results where it has been tried. I am very glad we are going to try, at any rate, a national scheme limited to industries which the Board of Trade Returns and the evidence before the Poor Law Commissioners have shown us are those in which fluctuations, either seasonal or cyclical, are most severe. I only regret that one industry which I hoped to see included is not included, and that is that of the dock labourers. Of all the casual employment, the greatest curse of our industrial system—the dock labourer, is in the worst position, both as regards unemployment and under-employment, and he certainly ought to be included in any scheme either now or as soon as possible.
This scheme really is a daring and a bold one, but I think it will be a successful one. I have no doubt myself that it will be successful, difficult as it is. The hon. Member (Mr. Worthington-Evans) made an extremely able speech the other day, and endeavoured to induce the Chancellor of the Exchequer to alter the provisions of the Bill. He seemed to me to misunderstand the whole idea of unemployment insurance. Unemployment insurance surely must be based on the following line of thought—that all industry is liable to fluctuation. Over these fluctuations we have no control. They are due to causes far beyond our control—the failure of a crop in the Argentine, the want of a monsoon in India, spring frost in Canada, drought in Australia, all or any of these causes, factors which largely influence the demand for our goods, and, therefore, the demand for our labour. But if you wish to have a sufficient surplus of labour at your command in this country at a time of maximum intensity of industrial production to have enough to keep your factory going, you must have a position of underemployment, and unemployment at the time of minimum industrial activity. The employers of this country have been extremely spoilt. They are in the habit of thinking that when they want workmen they can always find them, and as a result they are careless of what you might call the reserve of labour. If they lived in some 826 country where labour was scarce they would find that they would have to pay men to have them ready when they wanted them. The burden that has been borne so many years almost exclusively by our great trade unions and on the shoulders of the employed should largely rest on the shoulders of the employer. It is not a question whether the employers can make a profit. That may be a question of business management, capacity, or judgment, or a hundred other things. The question is: Are employers at a given moment to be able to find workmen to fill their shops? If they expect that, they must be ready to come into the insurance scheme. That is why, I think, the scheme which the Government have adopted in this Bill is the best which could possibly be obtained. The whole question of unemployment, or what I might call lack of work at different times, is one that requires the most careful scrutiny. I think this is the only method of dealing in a large measure with unemployment. The conditions which cause fluctuations of trade are far beyond our control. The producer cannot accurately estimate a short time ahead, say twelvemonths or two years, what demand will be made for his goods. He can do one of two things. He can invest in stock, and that involves an outlay of capital, or he may shorten his production. Very often he finds it more convenient to shorten production, and when he does that he lessens the labour he employs for the moment. You have to take considerable care to prevent the employer, the employed, or the State from being swindled. Of course, you have taken in the Bill rather severe precautions against this, but for all that, I imagine we shall find that the provisions of the Bill will work more smoothly than some people anticipate. There is no reason why they should not. The scheme will relieve the trade unions of this country of a large burden which they have hitherto cheerfully carried. One of the difficulties of the whole question of unemployment has always been the separation of those who could work and would not from those who would work if they could find employment. The separation of the sheep from the goats has been one of our difficulties. We have been chasing the unemployed from casual ward to casual ward; we have been employing them on relief works, and we have been allowing them to go down hill until the time comes when you wish to mobilise your reserves of labour, and you find that your reserves are entirely unable to take the field.
827 It is this wasteful, uneconomic, inhuman process that we are trying in this measure to put a stop to. I am quite sure that as it is good from the human point of view we shall find it good from the economic point of view. Adopting as I am glad to think all sides do in this House the view that we are fundamentally responsible for the economic conditions under which we live, and that we are responsible for endeavouring to improve those conditions, I feel certain that even if we are not successful we shall command the greatest sympathy, not only inside, but outside the House in the effort which we are making in this direction. Since this Bill was introduced it has been the subject of much criticism—criticism by its friends, for none have dared to avow themselves its enemies. It has been subject to criticism inside the House, and to more criticism outside the House. Criticism a measure like this not only requires, but it is our duty to give it. When the Committee stage comes on I have a number of points to raise with the object of remedying what I think may be defects of the measure. But after all I feel certain that no one wants the progress of this Bill to be delayed. I am sure we all wish to see this Bill on the Statute Book as soon as possible, so that the machinery which it creates may get into action and that its utility may be more generally recognised by people outside. I am certain that whatever criticism of this Bill there may be in the Committee stage there will be no obstruction. I am equally sure that we are all prepared to give whatever time may be required in order to get it passed this Session.
I hope that nothing will induce the Government to fall in with the idea of postponing this Bill to another Session. This is the year of the Coronation. I should think that this is a measure which it is very becoming to us to present to the country in a year of such general rejoicing and such general solemnity. I think it is a Bill which the country at large will regard as a non-controversial measure, taken out of the heat of party politics, enabling us to cool down from the struggles in which we have been engaged, and I feel for this reason that it is a Bill which is particularly adapted for this Session. The measure is one that requires all the time that we can give to it. There is a vast number of people outside who are waiting for this Bill to become law, 828 people who are suffering and who will suffer no longer when it is passed. It is to us a great responsibility and a great honour to be able to assist this Bill through the House. I think it is a great crowning measure in this very notable year to be able to extend a helping hand to those who have been waiting so long for relief, and afford to them the great boons of medical treatment and insurance against unemployment which this measure contains.
§ Colonel HICKMAN
I wish to join with those hon. Members who protest against what I must call the indecent haste in hurrying through the Second Reading of this Bill. I wish at the same time to protest against the small chance which private Members have had of expressing their opinions and the opinions of their constituents which have been sent to them in every possible manner during the last fortnight. I cannot say myself that. I am one who joins with the rather general body who bless this Bill. I cannot see myself that the Bill as I at present read it will be a blessing to the country at all. There are three sorts of philanthropists—one who spends all the money he possibly can, after keeping himself, on his fellow men; the other, a very rich man, who gives just as much as he chooses and does not miss it; and the third who spends other people's money, and in that class I think we can rank the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Personally, I am not one in any way to advocate flat catching or vote catching. I cannot help thinking that there is something in this Bill which reminds one of that sort of procedure. If this Bill were dealt with in a thorough manner it should have a full Session devoted to it. You are going to do very great damage to all the small friendly societies, and you are going to do great injustice to the medical profession. We have heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer defend his proposal as regards the doctors, and how he is going to confer upon them great benefits. But he has not told us what benefit is going to be given to the doctor who is not one of the six on the panel. I think that was the number he mentioned.
§ Colonel HICKMAN
At any rate the right hon. Gentleman told us nothing about the medical man who has spent £2,000 in buying a practice among the poor of the community, and who has by 829 his industry raised that practice until it is worth £700 a year. If he is not chosen one of the panel he loses the whole of his practice, and all his money, because if he is not one of the panel he has no chance whatever. He has invested his money, and he loses it without any compensation. Then, again, I look upon this Bill as very bad for the domestic servant. The right hon. Gentleman has not explained how it is going to do good to the class of domestic servants. You take 3d. a week from the ordinary domestic servant, to whom at present you give nothing when he or she leaves the employer's house. The ordinary custom of the country is for the domestic servant to receive aid and doctor's treatment at the expense of the master, who looks after his servants when they are sick. Under this Bill the servant will pay 3d., and the master will pay 3d., and the servant will get nothing when he or she leaves the master's house. I do not think that that is fair treatment for the domestic servants. You then have young girls of sixteen paying 3d. per week, and when they marry they lose all the money. The one thing I am more especially interested in is the way soldiers and sailors are treated. I see that under the Bill soldiers and sailors have to give 2d. per week, but they are not going to benefit anything by it. Their pay is very small at present, and under the conditions of service they get all medical treatment which other people get
§ under the Bill. Therefore it is not necessary for those benefits to be considered as regards soldiers and sailors. I do not think there is any necessity for taking 2d. from their very small pay. I cannot help thinking if the Noble Viscount who is at the head of the War Office considered the chances of getting more men to fill the Army he would not consent to such a measure which would reduce the small pay which at present prevails. I also think that it would be a very good point if the right hon. Gentleman would consider the advisability of letting in the Territorial soldiers on the same terms as the Regular soldiers—that is to say, the payment of 2d. instead of 4d. I think in that way he would conduce very much to recruiting, and I believe the Secretary of State for War would get over his troubles in filling the Territorial Army. I think, moreover, that this Bill as at present framed will interfere very much with trade, and that it will either lead to an increase in the price of the article to the consumer—or else will eventually put up the price of wages. Under those circumstances I frankly say I am no friend to this Bill.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 180; Noes, 48.831
|Division No. 244.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Chancellor, Henry George||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Griffith, Ellis Jones|
|Adamson, William||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Clancy, John Joseph||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Clough, William||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Clynes, John R.||Hardie, J. Kelr (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Armitage, Robert||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Harwood, George|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Hayward, Evan|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Barry, Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Dawes, J. A.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Barton, William||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Beale, W. P.||Devlin, Joseph||Higham, John Sharp|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Dickinson, W. H.||Hinds, John|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Dillon, John||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Doris, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel|
|Black, Arthur W.||Ellbank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Johnson, W.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Essex, Richard Walter||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Brigg, Sir John||Esslemont, George Birnie||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Falconer, James||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Kelly, Edward|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Kilbride, Denis|
|Byles, William Pollard||Gibson, Sir James Puckering||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Gill, A. H.||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumbr'ld,Cockerm'th)|
|Leach, Charles||O'Doherty, Philip||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Parker, James (Halifax)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Logan, John William||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Summers, James Woolley|
|Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Pointer, Joseph||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Pollard, sir George H.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Maclean, Donald||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Toulmin, George|
|M'Callum, John M.||Radford, George Heynes||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Manfield, Harry||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Marks, George Croydon||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Ward. W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Wardle, George J.|
|Millar, James Duncan||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Mond, Sir Alfred||Robinson, Sidney||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Mooney, John J.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Morgan, George Hay||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Whyte, A. F.|
|Muldoon, John||Rowlands, James||Wiles, Thomas|
|Munro, Robert||Rowntree, Arnold||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Winfrey, Richard|
|Nolan, Joseph||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Shortt, Edward|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Ingleby, Holcombe||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)||Snowden, Philip|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)||Spear, John Ward|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Boyton, James||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Lansbury, George||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Butcher, John George||Macmaster, Donald||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Cassel, Felix||Magnus, Sir Philip||Touche, George Alexander|
|Croft, Henry Page||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Frewen, Moreton||Perkins, Walter Frank||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Bottomley and Mr. Wedgwood.|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Rutherford, Wm. (W. Derby)|
|Hickman, Col. Thomas E.||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
Bill read a second time.