§ (1) If upon any such valuation a surplus (certified by the valuer to be disposable) is found, the following provisions shall apply:—
- (a) If the society is a society with branches, the surplus shall, subject to the provisions of the next succeeding Section of this Act, be applied in the first instance in making good any deficiency shown by any of its branches:
- (b) Subject as aforesaid, the society may submit to the Insurance Commissioners a scheme for distributing out of such surplus any one or more additional benefits among insured persons who are members thereof, and upon any such scheme being sanctioned by the Insurance Commissioners the society may distribute such additional benefit or benefits in accordance with the provisions-thereof:
- (c) If on the valuation of a branch of an approved society a surplus is shown in respect of such branch, there shall be transferred to the central body or other central authority of the society of which it is a branch one half of the surplus, and the branch may itself, or through the society, submit to the Insurance Commissioners a scheme for distributing out of the remaining one half of such surplus any one or more additional benefits, and upon any such scheme being sanctioned by the Insurance Commissioners, the branch may distribute such additional benefit or benefits in accordance with the provisions thereof:
- (d) If at any time after a scheme submitted by a society has been so sanctioned as aforesaid there is found to be a deficiency in the funds of the society or of any of its branches which the society is required to make good, or if at any time after a scheme submitted by or on behalf of a branch has been so sanctioned as aforesaid there has been found to be a deficiency in the funds of the branch, no additional benefits shall be distributed under the scheme until such deficiency is extinguished and a surplus shown.
§ (2) A scheme made under this section may prescribe the conditions to be complied with as respects any additional benefit conferred by the scheme, and every such scheme shall so far as practicable provide for the reduction, suspension, or deprivation of the additional benefits conferred by the scheme in the case of members who are in arrears, and may make a corresponding reduction in the amount to which such members are to be deemed to be in arrears for the purpose of reckoning the rate of sickness benefit.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the 605 word "valuer" ["certified by the valuer"], and to insert instead thereof the word "actuary."
It is not at all clear whether the person to be appointed is going to be a Government official or whether some qualified person who now works for the friendly societies will be able to do that work in future. The calculations that would have to be carried out will be enormously complicated. Let me give just one instance, and that is the case of surpluses and deficiencies. The valuer or actuary will have to make up his mind whether a surplus exists or whether there is a deficiency, and it will be extremely important for the future of the insured persons in the societies, because it may lead either to increased contributions or to reduced benefits. In reply to an inquiry addressed to Sir G. H. Ryan, who is President of the Institute of Actuaries, the following was received:—In reply to your letter, I beg to say it is the wish of the council of the Institute of Actuaries that the words 'qualified actuary' should be substituted for 'valuer.' I may add, looking at the complicated and responsible duties which will fall upon the technical advisers of the friendly societies under the operation of several Clauses in the Bill, the council of the Institute are of opinion that the public interest requires that such duties should only be entrusted to, and performed by persons with acknowleged qualification.I think the Committee will agree that no one is more qualified to give an opinion on the subject than Sir G. H. Ryan, and I think there is no necessity to add anything further.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
This matter has already been dealt with by the Amendment to Clause 29 introducing the words "or with the approval of." The word "valuer" is a word of wider interpretation than the word "actuary," and would be interpreted not only to cover "actuary" but also other kinds of valuers.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I have no doubt in most cases actuaries would be employed, but there are cases in which the persons employed by some of the societies have not been actuaries, and the societies are satisfied with their work. The word "valuer" is the word used in the Friendly Societies Act, where the valuer has very much the same obligation as would be imposed under this Bill, and where he has to take into account not only assets but liabilities. He would have, therefore, to make actuarial calculations. We propose to keep the word "valuer" because we 606 think it meets the exigencies of the case. It is a little more elastic than the word "actuary," and we think it is better that we should have that elasticity under the Bill. In any circumstance the person to be appointed must be approved by the Treasury, and therefore you are not likely to have a person appointed who is not capable of making proper actuarial calculations and proper valuations. I would submit to the hon. Member that, bearing in mind the much wider application of the word "valuer," that he might well withdraw his Amendment.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
In the Insurance Bill of 1909 dealing with small insurance companies of all kinds and description the Government inserted the word "actuary," and made it compulsory on all those companies after the 13th June of this year, and once again every five years, to be valued by an actuary. I should have thought that the Amendment was an exceedingly proper one under the circumstances, and that it is an actuary who should be appointed, unless the Government intend finding jobs for some of their friends who do not happen to have actuarial qualifications.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I think the Amendment is a very useful one, and that the Attorney-General has supplied the reasons. He says they want a man who must be a valuer used to making actuarial calculations. I think that the way to bring that about would be to insert the word "actuary," as he is a person generally used to making actuarial calculations. He suggests that the object is to give elasticity in the Clause. I think the hon. Member who moved this Amendment showed that the object of it was not to give elasticity, but to provide that a really competent person should be apponited to look after the accounts of the friendly society. The Amendment is brought forward in the interests of friendly societies and their members, who at present employ actuaries to audit their accounts. Another argument used by the Attorney-General was that he wanted a man who would deal not only with the liabilities, but with the assets. Does he really suggest that an actuary is not capable of dealing with assets as well as liabilities? The arguments brought forward against the Amendment do not commend themselves to my mind. We are anxious that there should be appointed a man really capable of carrying out the object of this Clause, and nobody but a person so capable.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I would much rather have the word "actuary" than the word "valuer." There is, however, a great deal of force in the argument of the Attorney-General that the word "valuer" is actually in the Friendly Societies Act at the present time, and covers the official who advises friendly societies under existing conditions. I was anxious that the word "actuary" should be used in order to make quite certain that the practice now obtaining among friendly societies of securing distinguished actuaries to advise them and make their calculations should continue. I know that the Manchester Unity are particularly anxious to be able to continue to enjoy the services of the distinguished actuary who now acts for them, and, if we have an assurance that the present practice may continue, I do not think the Amendment need be insisted on.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
Will the Attorney-General give an assurance that the societies who now enjoy the services of distinguished actuaries will not be interfered with?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I thought that that followed. If a society employs an actuary, and the word "valuer" covers "actuary," the society may continue to employ an actuary.
§ Mr. CASSEL
Is it not the fact that the valuer or actuary must be appointed by or with the approval of the Treasury? Therefore if the Treasury do not approve of the present actuary of a society they can refuse to sanction his appointment. It is another case where the economy of the societies is so far interfered with that their actuary must be approved by the Treasury.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The societies do not think that we are interfering with them, as they wished an Amendment to be put down.
§ Mr. BOOTH
The word "actuary" used in the manner proposed has no meaning whatever. If the hon. Member suggested a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries there might be some force in the term, but seeing that every insurance company has an actuarial department in which they have a large number of clerks who call themselves actuaries, I do not see any meaning at all in the Amendment.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I would be quite willing to substitute the words "a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries." I hope that care will be taken so that the actuaries who have served friendly societies so well in the past will be able to continue so to do.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1) paragraph (a), after the word "surplus" ["If the society is a society with branches, the surplus shall, etc.,"] to insert the words "in any central fund."
This Amendment is really consequential upon an Amendment guillotined on a previous Clause. We ought, if possible, to connect branches according to the amount of sickness and the rate of wages in the locality. Under the Bill surpluses will flow from branches with a surplus to branches with a deficiency, and the object of the former Amendment was to enable branches to group together so that they might keep the surpluses within a district or combination of districts. Under the Bill surpluses will flow from healthy districts to unhealthy districts. The healthy districts may be earning low wages and the unhealthy districts high wages, so that the surpluses may be continually flowing from the pockets of the small wage-earners into the pockets of the large wage-earners. I do not know whether it is possible for me to move the Amendment now.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I do not see why you should not move it now, because if it is accepted by the Government any necessary Amendments can be made on Report.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
The Government were not quite clear as to the intention of the hon. Member in putting this Amendment on the Paper. There is, however, a drafting point which we ought to meet. It it not quite clear what surplus is referred to in paragraph (a), and in regard to that I shall offer words which I hope will be satisfactory to the hon. Member. As to the question of grouping branches, I do not see how that arises. The hon. Member has later Amendments dealing with that very vital question. On that the Government propose to meet him and to allow such grouping, but we are advised that it can only be done by a short new Clause, which will be on the Paper in a day or two. That Clause will provide that the 609 system at present operative in the Manchester Unity shall be allowed to continue, that branches may be grouped and pool their surpluses in a "group central fund" apart from the main central fund. One great demand for that comes from Scotland, where they contend that they have less sickness in their branches than is the case in the English branches, and the Manchester Unity wish to continue their present system of pooling the Scottish branches. We are prepared to accept that system, but that does not involve this Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I beg to move, to leave out the words "the surplus" ["If the society is a society with branches, the surplus shall, etc."], and to insert instead thereof the words "any surplus in the central fund of the society, including any surplus transferred from the branches to the society under the provisions of this section."
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
It is not possible to go back to insert an Amendment after the word "branches" when you have allowed an Amendment to be moved after the word "surplus." If the Government were not alive to this difficulty before, they cannot deal with it now.
I hope the Government will tell us what this jumble of words really means. It is difficult to write the Amendment down, and still more difficult to read one's writing when it is written under these circum-stances. Apparently it refers to a surplus in the central fund. Is that surplus to be created by the branches direct or by the groups? If it is to be created by the groups, why is it to be applied to the deficiencies of the branches? Some explanation is certainly required before the Committee can vote on a complicated question of this sort.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
This is purely a drafting Amendment, and has nothing whatever to do with uniting societies. That we propose to deal with in the new Clause. The present Amendment is solely for the purpose of making it clear in paragraph (a) that the surpluses dealt with later on are the surpluses of the central society, and not the surpluses of the branches.
§ 8.0 P.M.
As I understand it, this is supposed to be a drafting Amendment, and it is a drafting Amendment in consequence of the new Clause—
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
No, no; no new Clause at all. It is just a drafting Amendment, and has nothing whatever to do with a new Clause.
The hon. Member's explanation of this drafting Amendment may be all right, but he appeared to think it necessary to propose a new Clause, and I imagined that this had something to do with that. I confess personally I do not understand what it is. This half surplus which is going to make up the deficiency—that is the scheme of the Bill—is that to go from the branches direct to the central fund, or to some intermediate fund, which I think you are going to call a group fund? After it is given, is it going to be applied amongst the groups or amongst the branches?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
All we are dealing with is that we are making a drafting Amendment which, as my hon. Friend has explained, would be necessary whatever you do with the subsequent part of the Bill. It is simply an Amendment which has been rendered necessary in consequence of our seeing the Amendment put down by the hon. Member for South Wilts (Mr. C. Bathurst), by which we saw that it was desirable to make quite clear what is the surplus that you are dealing with. I am quite sure the hon. Member understands the thing quite as well as anybody.
I apologise to the Attorney-General for saying so, but at the present moment I do not understand.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
The Attorney-General asks us to walk by faith and not by sight. What one wants to guard against is in adopting words which carry the purpose of the Committee rather further than the Committee understands, and which will prevent subsequent discussion. Formerly we had the words "a surplus." This is a surplus which comes from the branches. This introduces a very important matter indeed, because if it is contemplated that this surplus is to be drawn from the various branches into the central fund, it may be that there will be a steady flow of 611 money from some branches for the purpose of other branches. That introduces serious difficulties. These are words that the Committee should have an opportunity of discussing, but it must be remembered that under paragraphs (c) and (d) there are references to the question of a surplus or a deficiency. What we want to understand is that it is almost impossible to discuss this matter by merely what is called a drafting Amendment. This is the first time that we find arising the question of discussing surpluses arising from the branches. What we want to know at once is what branches are contributing to this surplus? Are we going to have surpluses drawn from the agricultural branches for the benefit of the industrial branches, or what is the scheme proposed? I ask the Attorney-General to give us a little more light and not merely ask us to accept this as a mere drafting Amendment, because it embodies very important alterations in the system as at present suggested.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I rather agree with my hon. Friend opposite that this ought to be treated as a drafting Amendment, but in fact the hon. Gentleman realises there are a considerable number of Amendments down to portions of the Clause on the following page dealing with the substance—that is the question of allocation. I am bound to say in the matter of drafting I cannot quite accept the hon. Gentleman's words as being an improvement on those of my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury. I imagine what he seeks to attain is some sort of parallel words to those found in Sub-section (c) "a surplus shown in respect of such branch." That refers to the surplus fund after the valuation of the branch in respect of such branch. Surely all it wants in that case is similar words. What I fear is that if these words which the hon. Gentleman has suggested are tacked on besides those which my hon. Friend has suggested it will prejudice to a large extent the discussion which will follow on the Amendments on the following page. I do at any rate appeal to the hon. Gentleman that if better words are all that he wants to achieve that he should leave it as a mere drafting Amendment in the way that I have suggested. Perhaps better would be the words "shows in respect of such society." We have already got the word "the" in part of the Clause, that is "the 612 surplus." If we referred back to "the surplus," not "any surplus," that would meet the case. I appeal to the hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment in the form in which I suggest it.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
We have explained that it is purely a drafting Amendment. Whatever question there may be one way or another as to the exact wording, or whether our word may be better than a subsequent word, we have a preference for the words which we have ourselves here suggested, and I would ask the Committee to pass those words. This will not prejudice any discussion which will take place afterwards.
§ Mr. FORSTER
May I appeal to the Attorney-General that the next time the Government admit that an Amendment which has been put down by any hon. Friend behind me makes it necessary for them to make a drafting Amendment to their own Bill that they will give us a little more notice of the form of the words that they propose?
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I desire to move, to add to paragraph (a) the words: "and subject thereto with the sanction of the Insurance Commissioners in the reduction of the contributions of its members." What this Clause proposes to do is, in the event of there being a surplus to the credit of the society, to apply it in the first instance in making good any deficiency shown by any of its branches. Secondly, you will find in paragraph (b), subject to such application, the society shall submit to the Commissioners a scheme for distributing additional benefits. There is a very strong feeling amongst agricultural labourers that the flat rate, to which reference has already been made, does impose very serious burdens upon them as compared with other classes of the community. What they ask is that if there is to be a flat rate at all, and if as a result of the flat rate and the enjoyment by them of a higher standard of health, there is to the credit of their country societies a substantial balance, that that balance, after wiping out the deficiencies in other branches of their own society, shall be applied—a very reasonable suggestion—in reducing their contributions, which are already very large, bearing in mind the small wage which they receive.
I have had several representations made to me, as other Members representing 613 other agricultural constituencies, in favour of the reduction of contributions, if there is a balance available, rather than an increase of benefits, which in most cases will not be enjoyed by persons in the agricultural industry. If the Committee refers to the Schedule which sets out additional benefits they will find that they refer very largely to benefits consequent upon serious and prolonged illness, the kind of illness from which the agricultural labourer does not as a rule suffer. In spite of the hon. Member for Pontefract, I should be very glad if he were to try to make good his case in the agricultural district. I fancy he would find himself, not only very unpopular, but would find it very difficult to justify his arguments. It is perfectly true to say that the agricultural labourer is strongly in favour, if there is a surplus to the credit of his society, of being allowed as a result of that surplus to make a reduced contribution, instead of having so-called additional benefits. For these reasons I beg to move the addition of the words to which I referred.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
The hon. Member always puts his case so lucidly and so appealingly that it is sometimes difficult to argue against him. But I think in this case he is really cutting at the proposed scheme of the Bill as it stands at present. We have already passed the scheme of the Bill that 4d. shall be regarded as the insurance amount—
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
With all respect, I should like to interrupt and say that I do not think we have passed that. That appears in the second Schedule, and we have had an undertaking from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that if necessary it shall be reconsidered.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
All I meant to signify was that the whole discussion on the Bill, both in this House and in the country, has, up to the present, proceeded on the assumption that 4d. shall be required to meet that insurance. Any reduction of that amount would, if it came about, seem to be less desirable than the granting of additional benefits, which are in themselves exceedingly desirable, as much to the agricultural labourer as anybody else in the country. The hon Gentleman said that the Schedule of additional benefits does not provide anything very attractive to the agricultural labourer. Let me take one example—payment from the first day instead of the fourth day. I suppose 614 there is no class of men more than the aged agricultural labourer, whose chief complaint is chronic rheumatism, who would more desire payment from the first day—
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I have looked in vain for that additional benefit in the Schedule, and I cannot find it.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I think it is in the Schedule and it is a very liberal suggestion; the hon. Member will not expect me, for the moment, to give him the exact reference in the Schedule, but if it is not in the Schedule, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has promised that it shall be one of the additional benefits. In that case I am glad to say that the force with which the hon. Member advocates this Amendment will be removed if we give benefits that will be attractive to this particular class. Any other benefit that the ingenuity of the hon. Member can devise which will be attractive to the agricultural labourer, and which might give him additional benefit, will be received favourably by the Government. We are anxious to make the Bill as attractive to the agricultural labourer as to any other. There is disagreement with the contention of the hon. Member, that the agricultural labourer will have less sickness in the long run to be paid for under the Bill than any other class.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I hope the hon. Gentleman does not desire to go into that question to-day, because I absolutely challenge the accuracy of his statement. We on this side of the House deny it.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I agree there is a difference, and we acknowledge the difference on account of his longevity. Probably in the long run it will be found it is as difficult to give large additional benefit in respect of the agricultural labourer as in that of any other in the country. Passing for the moment from the agricultural labourer, it would be exceedingly undesirable to have a series of varying rates of contribution by different classes of the community. It would throw very great responsibility and additional work upon the employer supposing he had many hundreds of persons in his employment belonging to different societies all paying different rates, and from all of which he has got to deduct different rates in accordance with the valuation that might take place for three years. We have already put upon the employer a small amount of 615 differentiation in connection with the compulsory levy Clause, and I think it would be unreasonable to throw more upon him.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
He might have numbers of persons all paying different insurance rates or sums, which he will have to deduct at different times. Is not that so?
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
There would be no difficulty about that. The indication would be given by the society to which a man belongs, if he is entitled to make smaller payments.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
It would involve difficulty. There is complaint both here and in Germany, and the employers in Germany ask for one rate and additional benefits rather than that there should be a continual variation in the amounts paid for insurance. We are anxious to keep 4d. as the standard, because we believe that with this amount of insurance the additional benefits would still be exceedingly useful to those entitled to them. There is not an additional benefit that has been suggested that we should not like to include in the Bill if we could. There is no end of additional benefits, but additional benefits mean additional help from the Exchequer. The point about the lowering of the insurance rate is a point which has been considered very largely in connection with a certain class of labourers. I know that the hon. Gentleman could reply to me that there is this option in many local agricultural societies. On the other hand, we find agricultural labourers and others in comparatively low-rated counties, such as Norfolk, paying a larger amount than this 4d. per week, and willing to pay it. We think the labourer will be content to pay the amount and will be glad to get the additional benefits from that amount, and as experience has shown, this amount is not a costly sum to obtain from him.
§ Mr. CASSEL
The object of this Clause is merely to give liberty to the societies. It is not to compel them to apply their surplus in reducing subscriptions; it is simply to give them an option. Take the case of a society which through good management has accumulated a surplus. Why should not that society be free to deal with it as it likes in the future, 616 either in increasing benefits or in reducing subscriptions? An hon. Gentleman opposite says it is. If that were so it would not be necessary to move this Amendment.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I do not think Clause 55 has anything to do with that at all. It only deals with the existing surpluses of existing friendly societies. That is entirely different from surpluses which may be accumulated in future by societies working this scheme. Why should not societies with surpluses accumulated in the future be at liberty to apply them one way or the other? Some people may find it suits them best to apply them in reducing subscriptions. Why should they not be at liberty to do that? A man is earning 15s. or 16s. a week, which, according to every standard, is barely a living wage, and he says instead of a deduction of 4d. off that wage, he would prefer to have the subscription reduced. If he says that, why should any autocratic bureaucracy of officials decide that the society shall not apply their surplus earnings from good management in that way? It is another instance of how the Government are uniformally imposing on every society their own scheme, and will not allow any society, even in regard to the surplus it gets through its own good management, to deal with it in the way it pleases, even though there is a possibility that it might put a little more trouble upon the employer. If you give as much trouble to the employer as you are giving by this Bill, why should you hesitate with this little additional one? Employers, if they are to have these burdens placed upon them at all, would not object to this one. I object to this on the same principle on which throughout I have objected to this Bill. From start to finish this measure is an interference with liberty of action; it is an interference from the time the society is born until finally it is given leave to commit suicide under the Insurance Bill. At every stage it is hampered, and here you have a case in which a society cannot deal in the way it likes with its own accumulated surplus.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
Anyone who heard the arguments from the Government Bench must have wondered why there is not a stronger case to be made out in defence of the position taken up by the Government. A lamentably weak case has been made 617 out. If the hon. Member wants to know the opinions of the agricultural labourers as to whether they would prefer a reduced contribution or additional benefit, he should ask them. In the great bulk of agricultural districts I am sure the hon. Member would be told that under the present condition of wages they would far rather have the option of reduced contributions than increased benefits or fancy benefits which they do not require. In the case of Norfolk we have been told that no objection is made there by the agricultural labourers to paying larger contributions to their friendly societies than are required under this Bill. May I point out that the main object for which those contributions are paid in the country districts is for insurance against death, and that is a thing which this Bill does not touch. If you are going to allow an option of insuring against death the case would be different, but I am sure the Government are not going to do anything of the kind. If they were there would be some force in the contention which has been put forward. On these matters we all represent our constituents, and they put forward views which very often do not agree with the Government of the day. As far as my experience goes, what they all say is that the one thing they object to in this scheme is that no provision is made for death benefits. If the Government can assure us that death benefit is going to be included, then the hon. Member would have a much stronger case, but to say that the agricultural labourer prefers to have increased benefits rather than a reduction of his contribution is to say something which is not actually the fact. I do not think there is much in the argument that more trouble would be put upon the employers. When the Government proposed a compulsory levy, there was nothing said about the increased trouble to the employers and we were reminded of the argument used in the opposite direction at the earlier stage of this Bill. There is a strong case against this Amendment, and I hope my hon. Friend will go to a Division.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I was glad to hear the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Barkston Ash, but I am surprised that in looking for consistency he should look for it in the House of Commons, because that is the last place I should think of looking for it. That argument ought not to weigh very much with hon. Members. Apparently, it is conceived by hon. Members opposite that 618 this proposal has something to do with the agricultural labourer and the farmer, but it has nothing whatever to do with them. It is assumed that there are going to be surpluses in agricultural districts and nowhere else, and one hon. Member hinted that there was practically going to be a transference of money from the poor agricultural districts into the richer artisan districts. A more grotesque idea as to how this Bill will operate I never heard. I have made what inquiries I can upon this subject, and I have consulted people who have statistics to guide them, and I am prepared to stand by my prophecy that if approved societies are formed separately for agricultural labourers they will find theselves doing very badly. Time will show whether the hon. Member opposite is right or myself. I have not made this statement without consulting statistics and authorities likely to know. The hon. Member must surely be aware that the great insurance companies of this country go into every street and hamlet and have access to information of the utmost importance on this subject. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite have consulted them, but I think if they had they would not have made the speeches which we have heard on this subject. I suggest that there is nothing in this Clause or in the Amendment to the Clause relating to agricultural districts at all.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I think the hon. Member is going entirely beyond the purport of this Amendment, but if he does make the statement that the experience of large friendly societies leads us to believe that agricultural sickness is as great as other industries, that is contrary to the tables of the Manchester Unity, from which this scheme is largely based.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I knew very well the hon. Member would soon go off on to other ground, and he is going into past history which has nothing to do with this Bill. In the case he mentions they pay for sickness during accidents, and this scheme does not do that, and that alters the whole fabric of the scheme. What I was putting before the House was something quite germane. The claim put forward by hon. Gentlemen opposite was that they were speaking on behalf of the agricultural districts, and if their argument does not rest upon that, then they have made out no case at all. The case put forward by them rests on the assumption that there is going to be something superior in agricultural 619 districts to that of the towns, and I do not admit that. I do not think they will be worse off, although I am afraid some of them may be, but I ask hon. Members to look upon them as a neutral position, and there is nothing in this proposal with regard to town or country. The hon. Member opposite has challenged my experience of rural districts. May I point out that I am a rural guardian. I know the hon. Member for Barkston Ash is the Master of the Foxhounds in the district in which I live, and he knows the agricultural districts thoroughly. I do not think, however, that he would claim that under the operation of this Bill there is going to be a great difference in the rate of sickness in the Barkston Ash Division. I would appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite to listen to the arguments of the Minister who just now gave us his explanation. It it is all very well to say it was a lame explanation and expressions of that sort, and I am not concerned to defend either one Member of the Government or the other, but I think my hon. Friend who spoke for the Government made out a very straightforward case, and he did it in very respectful language.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
May I point out to the hon. Member for Pontefract that the Amendment which has been put forward on this side of the House was supported by a very forcible speech by the hon. Member for St. Pancras, and, as far as I know, there is not an agriculturist in St. Pancras. It is a mistake to suppose that this Amendment is brought forward solely in the interests of the agricultural districts. It seemed to me from the speech made by the Under-Secretary for the Home Department that he regarded this proposal as coming from those representing only agricultural districts. But I do not think that is so. There may be a case why 4d. ought not to be paid by a certain class. I will take the agricultural labourer. The hon. Member says we are going to say to the agricultural labourers, "You must pay your 4d., but we will give you the opportunity of having additional benefits." Why should we say that? Why
§ should we interfere if the agricultural labourer is content with the ordinary benefits set out in this Bill? As far as I can judge the benefits in the Bill are quite enough for the agricultural labourer, and what we want is to reduce the amount the labourers will be compelled to pay instead of increasing the benefits. Why in the world should the agricultural labourer not have that option? It is all very well for the Under-Secretary to say that the agricultural labourer in Norfolk at the present time is quite prepared to pay 4d.—he might have said 5d.—but I hope the hon. Member will recollect that that is a voluntary contribution. He is making his own bargain. He thinks he is going to get a quid pro quo for his 4d. or 5d., but here you are laying down a hard and fast rule, and it is our object to try and give those who have to subscribe as much latitude as possible. I do appeal to the Under-Secretary to consider this Amendment earnestly and seriously. I speak with no disrespect nor do I say anything against his courtesy or ability, but it is somewhat of a misfortune that the hon. Gentleman is the only occupant of the Government Bench at the present time, and that he is left there, with nobody to consult, to see whether this is an Amendment he can accept. When the Closure takes place the Front Government Bench is full of Ministers, but when we are discussing an important Amendment affecting the interests of a great number of people throughout the length and breadth of the country, then the whole responsibility is thrown upon the Under-Secretary. That is a matter of which we are perfectly entitled to take notice and to protest against. I hope, if the hon. Gentleman does not feel himself in a position to say the Government will consider this Amendment, at all events he will take time to consult with his colleagues.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 82; Noes, 184.623
|Division No. 353.]||AYES.||[8.40 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Barnston, Harry||Cassel, Felix|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bird, Alfred||Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Baird, J. L.||Bridgeman, William Clive||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Crean, Eugene|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Croft, Henry Page|
|Doughty, Sir George||Ingleby, Holcombe||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Jowett, F. W.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Fell, Arthur||Kirkwood, J. H. M.||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Forster, Henry William||Lansbury, George||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Thomson, W. Mitchell (Down, N.)|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Gretton, John||Mackinder, Halford J.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hall, C. B. (Isle of Wight)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks., Abingdon)||Neville, Reginald J. N.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Peel, Hon. William R. W. (Taunton)||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Pollock, Ernest Murray||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hunt, Rowland||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Mr. C. Bathurst and Mr. Sanderson.|
|Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Gulland, John W.||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Hackett, J.||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Neilson, Francis|
|Adamson, William||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Alden, Percy||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Harwood, George||O'Dowd, John|
|Allan, Charles P. (Stroud)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Grady, James|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Ogden, Fred|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick)||Hayden, John Patrick||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hayward, Evan||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Henry, Sir Charles S.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Boland, John Plus||Higham, John Sharp||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Hudson, Walter||Pointer, Joseph|
|Brace, William||Hunter, W. (Govan)||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Brady, P. J.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||John, Edward Thomas||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Johnson, W.||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Joyce, Michael||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Keating, M.||Reddy, Michael|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Kelly, Edward||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Randall, Athelstan|
|Clough, William||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Leach, Charles||Robinson, Sidney|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Levy, Sir Maurice||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Rowlands, James|
|Cotton, William Francis||Lundon, T.||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Lynch, A. A.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||McGhee, Richard||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Macpherson, James Ian||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Dawes, J. A.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sheehy, David|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||M'Callum, John M.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Devlin, Joseph||M'Curdy, C. A.||Shortt, Edward|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness)||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Doris, W.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, W.)|
|Falconer, J.||Martin, J.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Masterman, C. F. G.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Meagher, Michael||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Menzies, Sir Walter||Verney, Sir Harry|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Molteno, Percy Alport||Wadsworth, J.|
|Gibson, Sir James P.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Wardle, George J.|
|Goldstone, Frank||Morgan, George Hay||Watt, Henry A.|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Munro, R.||Webb, H.|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Whyte, A. F.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain|
|Wiles, Thomas||Young, William (Perth, East)||Guest and Mr. G. Howard.|
|Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Perhaps the hon. Member for the Bassetlaw Division of Nottingham will explain the object of his Amendment.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
I do not propose to touch Section (a) of Clause 30, which provides for the ascertainment of the surplus, but I propose to deal with the allocation of the surplus. I shall move to leave out paragraph (b), and to make consequential alterations in (c) and (d), my object being to provide that half the surplus when it has gone to the central fund shall be returned under certain circumstances.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
I beg to move to omit paragraph (b) of Sub-section (1).
Clause 29 provides for the taking of a valuation, and for the way in which it shall be carried out. Clause 30 begins by saying that if upon any such valuation a surplus is found certain provisions shall apply. The first thing to happen is, if the society has branches, the surplus is to be devoted to wiping off any deficiency shown by any of its branches. With that I agree. What apparently happens under Sections (b) and (c) is this. Under Section (b), subject to wiping off the deficiency, the surplus that belongs to the branch, and which has been created by it, may be dealt with in such a way as the Insurance Commissioners, who are a sort of guardian angels hovering over every effort of the society, may think fit. That seems to be rather hard. If these people have created the fund for themselves, I do not see why they should not spend it as they like. If you go on to another Clause you find almost an absurdity. What is to happen under Clause (c)? If you have got a valuation of the fund and a branch shows a surplus you are to divide that surplus into two halves, and one half is to go to the central fund for the purposes of meeting any deficiency which may exist in the other branches. That I leave untouched. But it does not say what is to happen with the other half of the surplus which has been transferred. If there is no such deficiency, apparently, as the Bill now stands, the central fund would keep that half altogether 624 instead of its being, as it should be, at the disposal of those who have contributed the money. I seek to meet that difficulty in this way: I have got an Amendment down to Clause (c) which, while leaving the first part untouched, provides that "if at the next valuation succeeding the said transfer there is no such deficiency then the said amount shall be forthwith retransferred to the said branch to be distributed in such additional benefits as the branch may determine." I think that is commonsense. I agree if a branch has a surplus half of that surplus should be transferred to the central fund for the purpose of meeting any deficiency that may exist in other branches. But I provide that if at the end of the valuation which takes place every three years it is clear no such deficency exists, then the purpose of the transfer has failed, and I submit it is commonsense that the surplus should go back to those who have contributed it. There is no reason why it should accumulate in the central fund. It belongs to the branch. If at the end of the triennial valuation no deficiency is found to exist it should go back to that branch.
As to the other part of the Amendment, the deletion of (c), I venture to suggest to the Government that there is no reason for this constant interference with the disposing rights of those who have contributed funds. Why should they be put, if it be that they have a surplus they have accumulated, to the trouble and expense of preparing and submitting to the Insurance Commissioners for their approval how they should spend their money. These are admittedly societies worthy of all admiration. They have inculcated thrift; they have done what a good many of us have not done, they have practiced what they preached. They have accumulated funds by their own industry, and why should they not be left to spend their own funds as they think fit, subject to the very proper provision in the Bill that one-half of the surplus should be made available for meeting deficiencies. I venture to press the claim of these three Amendments, and I press for some explanation as to what is to happen to the one-half of the surplus which has been transferred to the central fund to meet a deficiency which does not exist. I submit that if at the end 625 of the triennial valuation a deficiency does not exist, the surplus should be re-transferred to the branch society.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I think that the Amendments in part are due to a misunderstanding of the Government's proposal. I should be grateful if the hon. and learned Member would look not only at the proposals in the Bill, but also at the Amendment dealing with them, which in part falls in with the scheme he has outlined. The method of dealing with the surplus has been already explained. At every three years' valuation the surpluses of the branches of the various societies, if the society has branches, are divided in half. Half is retained by the branches themselves, and one-half is paid into the central pool. The half retained by the branches themselves can be used for additional benefits under "C" for the branch which has made a surplus. The half paid into the central pool goes to build up a fund whose primary object is the satisfying of deficiencies in branches where there is a deficiency. That is a system of spreading the risks approved by the affiliated orders. Then the hon. and learned Member says that if the central fund is larger than the deficiencies at the three years' valuation there is no provision for that central fund being redistributed.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
Not only is there a provision in (B), but there is an alternative offered by the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
They are both optional. A society may if it likes declare additional benefits to all its members. By the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer they are now offered an alternative, that is the adoption of a system we discussed last Thursday. They can return the surplus to the branches in proportion to the surplus the branches have made, and the branches can use this surplus for additional benefits. If they have no branches, the society can declare additional benefits. We adopted this after long negotiation with the societies, and this having been explained to the Committee, I think it will be found to be a satisfactory method of allowing elasticity, guarding against mismanagement, and at 626 the same time encouraging local branches to make as large a surplus as possible.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. FORSTER
The explanation of the Under-Secretary for the Home Department, to a certain extent at any rate, meets the points urged by my hon. and learned Friend. I think my hon. and learned Friend was able to make a very good case for the series of Amendments to which he has referred, but I think he will be satisfied now that the Government has come to the same conclusion he himself reached. I think if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been able to place his Amendment on the Paper rather earlier than he has found it possible to do, my hon. and learned Friend would have been able to see that the Government were really working in the same direction as himself, and in the circumstances perhaps he would not have found it necessary to move his Amendments.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
As it is quite clear that the surpluses are not to remain for ever with the central fund when no deficiency occurs, I shall be quite satisfied with the undertaking on behalf of the Government to make that clear, either upon an Amendment or upon the Report stage. What I want to guard against is that where there is no deficiency in the branches the surplus is to go on being transferred to the central fund and accumulating in the central fund without any part of it being repaid to the branches.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
If the hon. and learned Member will look at our Amendment I think he will see his point is dealt with.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
I take the word of the hon. Member that that is so, and ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I beg to move in paragraph (b), after the word "of" ["for distributing out of such surplus"], to insert the words "one half of."
This Amendment really raises in another form a question which we raised a few days ago in connection with this Bill. We moved an Amendment that approved societies should not be allowed to admit members upon a medical examination. The object of that Amendment was to make some provision—so much provision as we could—to secure that approved societies should take a fair share of the 627 burdens of ill-health. That Amendment was defeated, and in this Amendment we are approaching the same problem in a different way. This Clause provides that we are to have triennial valuations, and at the end of three years the surpluses are to be devoted to additional and special benefits. The point we desire to raise before the Committee is this. If a society desires it can bend its energies in an unfair way to the accumulation of these surpluses. It can erect a standard of admission, it can select its members, it can create a sort of oasis of good health, and then it gets the employers' contribution and the States' contribution, in addition to its individual members' contribution, and the scheme which is proposed as a scheme of social reform is robbed altogether of its qualities as a scheme of social reform. It simply becomes a method by which a small and select body of men can keep on accumulating surpluses at the end of every third year, and refuse to take upon themselves the social responsibilities which the approved societies ought to take. I think the Chancellor quite appreciates the point, and, however difficult it is to meet it, I feel quite sure that he agrees with our intention, although he has to oppose the Amendment. I do not want to stand by the half, although that is on the Paper. The purpose of the Amendment is not to divide upon the question whether it is half or a quarter or a third, or whatever it is. We simply put down a half in order to raise this principle, that these surpluses ought not to be regarded as the property of the members of the society, but that they ought to be distributed amongst the good and bad lives in order that we may arrive at some sort of national as opposed to a select society risk. That is our idea.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us the other day that, in drafting any scheme of insurance, you had to consider one of two alternatives—either insurance through existing societies, with the resulting segregation, or the creation of some great amorphous national scheme which was going to be undertaken by one society stretching from John o' Groats to Land's End and from the Atlantic to the North Sea. But I think we ought to try and combine the two ideas. The foundation of the scheme is the society—insurance through societies—but the result of that is the Post Office contributors. I do not think it ought to surpass the wit of the very 628 clever Treasury officials, who have been drafting this Bill, to amend it so that the deposit contributors may receive, at any rate, a greater part of the benefit of the national scheme than they have at present; and I am not sure how that can be done, except by one of two ideas. One is the idea which the Committee rejected the other day, and which, of course, we cannot, I am sorry to say, raise again. The other suggestion is that we might take a certain percentage of the triennial surpluses and divide them out, especially amongst the rejected lives.
Might I refer to the importance, from the trade union point of view, of the proposal. I must apologise, because I made the point the other night, but it is germane and, in fact, essential to this Amendment too. The trade union, from its very nature, can select its lives. The trade unions cannot possibly say to one man, "I beg of you to declare me as your approved society," and to another man, "I beg of you do not declare me as your approved society." The trade union must go to every man who is engaged in an industry, whether his health risk is high or low, and try and get him in; and if a trade union is going to work this Bill, and I hope they are all going to try and do it, it is bound to bring in everybody it possibly can, and induce everybody it can to declare it as his approved society. What is the effect of that? If you are having one set of societies, say friendly societies, selecting lives carefully, then their surpluses at the end of the triennial period will be large. Then, if you have trade unions not selecting their lives carefully, but simply taking in everyone working in the workshop and factory, their surplus at the end of the triennial period will be comparatively small. They are bearing a burden of ill-health which the friendly society is not bearing at all. What is going to be the effect of that? Your far-seeing trade unionist, your careful man who wants to possess himself of every halfpenny he can, will very soon discover that if he declares his trade union to be his approved society he is losing compared with his fellow-workman who has declared a friendly society with a high medical admission as his society. The member of your specially selected approved society at the end of every third year is getting more and more special benefits and more and more extra benefits compared with your member of a trade union who has declared that trade union as his approved society. I am afraid the effect of that will 629 not be good for trade unionism, and that the further seeing men, the more anxious and careful men will leave their trade unions as their approved societies and transfer to friendly societies with big benefits. It is, therefore, partly in the interests of trade unionism that I make this proposal. My position is simply summed up in this, that I regard these surpluses only partly as personal possessions. They are the result of a great national effort. They are the result of State subsidy, of State effort and of public enterprise, and whilst it is perfectly true that part of them ought to be regarded as personal property, and ought to be attached to the individuals whose premiums have brought them into being, nevertheless, another part belongs not to the healthy men apart from the unhealthy, but to the general average life, and that can only be secured by some method of distributing a portion of these surpluses.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I rather regret that so important an Amendment has come on during the dinner hour, when there is a small House, because I think it deserves very serious consideration. It is a suggestion which no man can dismiss without going very carefully into the pros and cons of the matter. Of course, it is an Amendment which will be resisted by all the friendly societies in England. You unite every society under this—friendly societies, collecting societies, dividing societies, Holloway societies, deposit societies, and agricultural societies. There is not a society in the Kingdom which would not oppose this, and I am not so sure, though my hon. Friend is better able to speak than I am, that he will carry every trade union with him. I do not say that is conclusive, because when the State is prepared to assist in the expenditure of millions the State is entitled to over-rule the objections of each society provided there is a sufficient grant for the purpose, but it does make it necessary for us to consider whether the reasons are so overwhelming as to induce us to defy the opinion of all the people who have been engaged in the administration and distribution of benefits of this kind during the last fifty and even one hundred years. I have looked into this proposal very carefully.
I may say that I regard the Amendment with a certain amount of favour from one point of view, but when you come to examine it closely you will find that it is not so just in its application as my hon. 630 Friend seemed to imagine. On the face of it it looks as if you were calling upon societies which make a profit out of the selfish selection of good lives—make a profit out of their own selfishness—to distribute some of that profit with their brethren. That is what the Amendment appears on the face of it. How are these surpluses to be made? They will be made far more out of good management than out of good lives. Societies that happen to have skilled, able, and experienced men at their head, and not merely at their head but in all branches of local administration, that have the courage to stand against malingering, even at the risk of losing membership, will have a good surplus. Money will be lost far more from cowardice than ill-health. It is a very difficult thing for societies to apply their rules ruthlessly. Anybody who has been working the great friendly societies declares that there is no doubt there has been real slackness till within the last few years, with the results which the returns of the Registrar of Friendly Societies eloquently speak of. You had great deficiencies, and then one or two societies began to seek skilled advice and to find out the causes. They found that the payments were too high and the contributions too low, and that they were much too slack in their methods of administration. Then they began to improve their financial position, and the most of the improvement that has taken place in recent years in the position of friendly societies has been due very largely to the ruthlessness with which they are beginning to exercise their functions.
What is the result? Mr. Moffrey, in his speech at the Edinburgh conference, pointed out what had been disastrous to the recruiting of friendly societies. They had been standing still during the last few years because the societies were beginning to exercise strict disciplinary powers, to administer their funds in a more businesslike and relentless fashion, and to discourage mere raids on the funds without any regard to the future prospects of the societies. That is the position. Therefore I say that surpluses will not be attributable to the good health of the members, or to the choosing of good or bad lives, but rather to the skill and courage of administration which will not make for immediate popularity but rather for the establishing of a sound basis, which will appeal in the long run to the best instincts of the 631 community. Is it fair that we should go to a society that has saved a large surplus through management of that kind and say, "You have got a surplus. Here is another society that has got a deficit"? That deficit may be attributable not to the fact that they are not applying medical tests, but to the fact that they are not very strict in examining claims. Is it fair to say, "Half of your surplus you have to give in order to make up the deficiency of this ill-managed society"?
I do not wish to anticipate the argument which will be advanced in respect of the Post Office contributors. I am sorry to say that the area of our discussion in respect of them—the area in which we can amend the proposals—has been limited by the fact that an Amendment was negatived in spite of the appeal of the Government that the question should be left over for discussion later on. It was not the fault of my hon. Friend, and it was not the fault of the Government that that was done, but it may affect the proposals when we come to deal with the Post Office contributors. I wish to have it debated very thoroughly. I have constantly invited Members of this House and others outside to criticise the Post Office contributor scheme and to submit alternatives. So far as I can see my hon. Friend's Amendment is the only important and substantial contribution to that scheme. It is a courageous one. I admit that, because my hon. Friend has taken the responsibility of proposing an Amendment which is unpopular, and I think for that reason it is entitled to respectful consideration. But it is not because it is an unpopular one that I am opposing it. I have opposed popular Amendments during the course of our discussions on two or three occasions. I am opposing the Amendment, because I do not think I would be justified in accepting my hon. Friend's proposal. It penalises good management and rather encourages bad management. That is the worst thing that could be done in connection with the administration of the funds. There is one thing in regard to which I could not agree with my hon. Friend. He said that the more a society took good and bad lives indiscriminately the worse would be the position. This is really a temporary qualification. The medical test will be more important during the first twelve months than it will ever be afterwards. After that persons will come in at 13, 14, 15, and 16 years of age. They will come 632 in when young, and although there may be ill-health at that time, it is not a serious element. It is not an element that disturbs any actuarial calculation. It is only in the initial stages that this test is an important matter. Therefore the members of trade unions will not be ultimately in a different position from others. Afterwards they will come in exactly in the same position as any other society. Societies that think they are going to be in an extremely high position merely by a selfish scrutiny of the physical condition of the claimants to membership will, I fancy, soon find they are mistaken. I am not afraid of what will happen if the Committee of the House of Commons include all these societies and allow them to come in. I think the competition will be so keen that too close an examination of infirmities would be rather a drawback than otherwise.
After all, there are only two or three diseases that make any serious difference to a sick club. There are many that make a serious difference to an insurance club, but the diseases which make a serious difference to a sick club are not diseases that make a difference to life insurance. I have no doubt they will rule out those who will be likely to have prolonged diseases, but with every desire in the world to accept an Amendment of this character I have come to the conclusion that it does not encourage good management, that on the contrary it discourages it and it may have the effect of allowing societies to be managed in a slipshod fashion, with proper supervision not exercised over the claims, because that is the real point. It is the way in which the management of a society examines the claims for sick benefits that is important. If it just looks at a claim the moment a man sends it in with a medical certificate and decides to honour it and pay its ten or twelve shillings a week, that society will soon have a deficiency. On the other hand, a society that examines claims carefully and has checks upon them will have its surplus. I do not want to say that a surplus built up in that fashion taxed to the extent of 10 or even 20 per cent. for the benefit of the other society.
I hope there will be other methods of dealing with these poor people than those suggested by my hon. Friend. After all, a trade union has other compensation. Men do not join it merely for the sake of the benefits. They join a trade union for the sake of the protection which it gives them in their conflicts with capital. They 633 join it for the sake of combining in order to establish better conditions and better terms and better wages, and no doubt these subsidiary advantages will be an element in strengthening a trade union to be able to say, "in addition to the fact that we are helping you to get better wages and better conditions and protect you against the tyranny of employers, we shall be able to give you these substantial benefits." I do not think that is a dominant motive in the mind of any man who joins a trade union. A trade union therefore will have to depend upon that. Why is it that my hon. Friend says that they will not examine a man's chest, but, on the contrary, they look at his heart before allowing him into the society? It is because that is not quite their motive? They have, therefore, other objects, whereas the principal object of the friendly society is to provide for sickness and infirmity. The man who joins a friendly society joins for that purpose, and he has not the double motive which exists in the case of trade unions.
That is the strength of their position. They have got the advantages of double motives. I do not think that the friendly society has got such advantages as were stated. In fact I think not. There might be a certain slight advantage. Everybody knows that there is not that searching medical examination in these cases. I regret that I cannot see my way to accept this Amendment. At the same time I am glad that my hon. Friend has raised this question because it does indicate the difficulty of dealing with the Post Office contributors. My hon. Friend admits frankly that there are those two ways of dealing with the matter; one is working throne the societies, and the other is working not through the societies. That involves practically the wiping out of all societies. No man could face that problem in this country. I do not think that any man could face the problem of wiping them out altogether, and I do not think it would be desirable. I think there is something good in keeping these societies, and in encouraging them to spread their operations there is something to be gained which is almost as valuable as the pecuniary benefits which they extend. The Committee of the House will have to decide, therefore, to retain this system with its disadvantages. I shall have something to say further as to the Post Office contributors when I come to them. Meantime I regret very much that I cannot see my way to accept the Amendment.
The Chancellor has not by way of any suggested alternative dealt with the case that has been made when the hon. Member proposed his Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman has recognised that the Government have failed in connection with the deposit contributors.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
No, I cannot benefit Post Office contributors under this Clause, and I was confining myself to the Amendment before the House, but when I came to the Post Office contributor I shall certainly defend the suggestions of the Government. Therefore, I must demur at once to the suggestion of the hon. Member.
Of course I accept the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, but I will say that the proposer of the Resolution certainly thinks that the Government has failed in connection with the Post Office contributors, or it would not have thought of taxing a series of people who may be poor or rich in order to assist the subsidy which the Government are giving to these contributors. The Chancellor has in his speech been endeavouring to find excuses for the position of the Post Office contributors. Accordingly he recognises that there are two possible schemes: a national scheme and some form of subsidy for the approved society. A national scheme he puts on one side, although apparently at one time he had an idea of proposing a national scheme which since at any rate has been withdrawn, and he has received some support from the friendly societies. The other alternative of the hon. Member who proposed this Amendment the Government will have nothing to do with. I do not think the hon. Member in proposing his Amendment put the case one bit too high. There will be an enormous difference between the benefits given by one society and those given by another, as any one considering it must be willing to admit. The Chancellor tried to minimise that difference. He suggested that there will not be any selfish scrutiny by an approved society of the lives of the people who are proposing to join, but is it selfish? Is not it their business, are not they bound to protect their existing members, and are not they bound in good management to see that people who are going to be large claimants on their funds are not admitted into their societies? Does not the whole scheme of the Bill give a premium to those who manage their societies by the 635 selection of lives as well as by ordinary methods and give their members a better benefit?
It seems to me that they would be obliged to make a serious selection, a very close selection, of lives. Now they will be able to do so. Formerly they had to entice members into their societies, and very likely they allowed to come in those whom, if they did not want to keep up their members, they would have left out. But now, when ten millions extra people are to be forced into insurance, it will be quite easy for the best societies to make a very strict selection indeed. There will be really more applicants than they have need for. Under this Bill, also, there is an additional reason beyond the existing reason for the good lives piling up an extra large surplus, because it is recognised that amongst agricultural labourers, at any rate, the rate of sickness is less than it is among miners, for instance; and the reason why there is an equilibrium in risk is that the agricultural labourers' lives are longer, and, therefore, more likely during the age of seventy and during later ages to come on the sickness fund. But this Bill cuts off the benefit at seventy, so that the society gets all the benefit up to seventy, and then, just at the time when under present conditions claimants naturally expect to come on the fund, the Bill cuts them off, and does not give them any benefits at all. So that the actual framework of the Bill is likely to aggravate the piling up of surpluses. I do not think the hon. Member who proposed the Amendment stated his case the least bit too high. The Chancellor of the Exchequer tried to minimise the societies piling up surpluses, and said it was largely due to good management that surpluses would be created.
With regard to good management, I think it is a good thing in two or three ways. One way was that the societies had to overhaul their financial arrangements and reduce benefits and increase the contributions so that their financial position would be much better. But under this Bill there is no question of reducing benefits or increasing contributions unless an actual deficit occurs; so that in all those cases where there is a surplus the argument which the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought forward cannot possibly apply. He claimed also that some of the surpluses arose out of the strict supervision of claims. That is perfectly true. I am not wishing to minimise that, but, 636 in future, the doctors will not be under the same control of the friendly societies as they have been in the past, and does he think that the doctors will be able to render quite the same assistance to friendly societies in scrutinising claims? That will not be the case. I do not minimise the statement made by the hon. Member who proposed the Amendment. There is no doubt there will be societies who will have enormous surpluses and who will be able to give very much larger average benefit. But, on the other hand, there will be societies which will give less than the ordinary benefit.
The hon. Member suggests that they should take half those surpluses, and should give them to the deposit contributors. Why? The deposit contributors are in my opinion not given any insurance at all under the Bill, and the hon. Member does not suggest it gives them insurance. All it does is to give them some sort of additional subsidy beyond that which the Government gives. If they require that subsidy, I think the proper way to get it is from the Government, and not from the members of societies, who are many of them just as poor as the Post Office contributors. And you are suggesting that they should be specially taxed on their surplus, which would otherwise go to them as additional benefits. You are suggesting that that should be taken away, and that these poor people should be specially taxed to give some form of insurance to others who have not been able to join the society. While I want to see the deposit contributor given a form of insurance, which I think it is quite possible to give, I cannot support this Amendment, which is not giving that insurance, but giving it out of the funds of people who very possibly are no better off than those to whom the surplus is given. Certainly the younger men are being made to pay more than enough for their insurance under this Bill, and you are taking from them something which may make it worth their while to come into insurance and giving it to another class. I do not think myself, because one injustice is contemplated by this Bill, the Committee would be wise in adding another injustice to it. I shall oppose the Amendment.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I think the proposer of the Amendment has made two or three distinct claims. The first claim is one which is to be met by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in future stages of the 637 Bill, and that is to make better provision for the Post Office contributor. It was with that side of the Amendment that the hon. Member for Colchester has principally dealt. I am quite confident myself that the real reason why the Amendment is brought forward by the Labour party is that they see in it one possible means of enabling the trade unions of this country to compete with approved societies and with the friendly societies and the insurance companies. The Chancellor of the Exchequer explained to us how, in future—and I think he is perfectly correct—the success of an approved society will not depend so much upon the selection of lives as upon the management of the branches and upon the strictness with which the examination of possible claims for benefit is carried out. I think he perhaps unduly minimised the question of the selection of lives. I think certainly the Manchester Unity will have an enormous pull over trade unions and other friendly societies. But it is this question of management that is bound to affect the real future of the approved society. You have coming into the field collecting societies, and I have no doubt they will be most strict, as they have been in the past. They have really got the most rigid management and will have probably the largest surplus. They have traditions behind them. The strictness of friendly societies has also become far greater in the selection of sick cases. We have far more careful conditions in those societies. A man who is receiving sick benefit is inspected, and every member of the society constitutes himself an inspector in order to keep down the rate and keep down the benefits. What is the position of trade unions in this regard. There you have an entire difference of origin, a difference of sentiment, and certainly a difference of inspection. You have not there the rigid examination into the justification of every claim. From the very nature of the circumstances you cannot expect a rigid inspection from the trade union. You cannot expect the secretary of the society, who has to look after something of more importance than sickness benefit, to make rigid inquiry into the case of the member who is sick. The trade union has got to be popular. It is not necessary for the friendly society to be popular; it is not necessary for members of the friendly society that it should be popular. It is necessary for the trade unions to be popular, and if they become approved societies under this Bill, there 638 is no other possibility except to look forward to an increasing state of insolvency so far as they are concerned. You are bound to have less exacting management, less exacting inspection, and, in addition, you have got to take in every life that offers. The hon. Member for Leicester has moved this Amendment, which suggests that those branches of any approved society which come out with a surplus should pay back one-half, or, rather, one quarter, of the surplus, and that that money should be used for the deposit contributors. I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Colchester that if you are going to help the deposit contributors you had better help them by a tax on the whole community, and by insurance, and not by a tax on solvent branches of approved societies. But the main question here is not the assistance of the deposit, contributors, but some means of prevent-those societies which are strictly managed, and which select the lives, from becoming far stronger than all the other societies in the field, and getting all the insured persons of the country. So far as that is concerned, I think this Amendment might do something in that direction, but I do not think it is desirable that it should be done.
I think the best way, so far as trade unions are concerned, and I have expressed this opinion in "The Labour Leader," is that no trade union should, under any circumstances, become an approved society. Trade unions are not out in order to insure people against sickness. It is not their main function. Their main function is to get better conditions and better wages for their members. The more they develop along friendly society lines the more they will go away from their original purpose. In so far as this Bill will certainly drive trade unions far more along friendly society lines and take them away from the real purposes of trade unionism I think it will injure trade unionism in this country. Trade unions can avoid that by the simple expedient of not allowing the trade unions to become approved societies, and by allowing the members to join any other approved society. It will still be possible for members of trade unions to contribute to sick funds in the unions, if they want to do so, in addition to the approved societies. I think you will find that a large number of trade unionists will remain in the sick benefit fund under the trade unions in addition to those of the approved society. If they become approved societies whether with 639 this Amendment, or any subsequent Amendment, they will become the worst form of approved society, with a constant deficiency and reduced benefits owing to those deficiencies, and put the whole trade unionist movement on an inferior plane as compared with the rest of the insurance world.
§ Mr. J. WARD
I rise especially to reply to the last statement of the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood). I quite agree with the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Worthington-Evans) that it would be, I should imagine, improper to take away the surplus of a society that by good management created the surplus, in order to give it to someone else. I think that that would be the worst possible way we could proceed. I am not, however, so anxious to combat that, because it has been combated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I think there is very little more to be said about it. I do wish to refer to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme that the great trade unions of the country should make no effort to become approved societies. I am positively certain that there is no trade unionist in this House who will second this proposition, and, after all, I should take it for granted that the officers of the trade unions who have been connected with the trade-union movement for the past quarter of a century are the best judges as to the duty of trade unionists in a case of this description. What is the suggestion? The suggestion is that the moment trade-union societies take up the business of sick or provident benefit they begin to neglect, or at least to suffer from some serious disadvantage in taking part in the ordinary industrial contests of the country. As a matter of fact, the whole history of the trade union movement is in the completely opposite direction.
§ Mr. J. WARD
You can take the whole of the trade societies of the country, and you will find that those that have expended most energy and most money in labour disputes, and those that have been most solid and most secure, not merely from the point of view of benefits, but from the actual assistance they are able to give to their trades in the case of labour struggles, are those societies which, in addition to their 640 trade benefits, have friendly benefits attached to their work. Any novice in trade unionism will tell you that. There is not the slightest doubt that so far as stability is concerned, and so far as their general aptitude for dealing with labour questions is concerned, that a society that has a provident business attached to it is infinitely superior to the society that is merely a twopenny-halfpenny strike club. I have had experience of both sorts, and I know.
Anyone acquainted with the facts knows as to the society established purely for trade benefits and which has to rely almost exclusively upon some agitation with reference to wages and working conditions. The probabilities are, if you were to take the whole of the labourers' unions in the country, so unstable are they as to members that the probabilities are that once every five years there is an entire change of personnel. The men want an advance of wages, though the opposition say it is the officer of the trade union, and what happens? The men get into such a condition at their work that they can stick it no longer. The moment they get into that condition they want a trade union. They come forward and join, sometimes in droves, just for a short time. Then when the immediate necessity has gone by, such as an advance of wages or an alteration in the working conditions, the whole of the membership evaporates again. What is the experience of the societies that have provident benefits? Their experience is that not only can they hold the members together in the case of labour disputes when agitations for advances are on, but that their provident benefits keeps the society in a stable condition all through. That is the experience of every man in the trade union movement, and I say that this advice that the trade unionists should not have anything to do with provident benefits because that would militate against their power to carry out their work of organising demands for increases or of giving protection to the workmen in getting better conditions, why as a matter of fact it would be suicide on the part of the trade unions to take the view of the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme—absolute suicide. Every society that has taken in the slightest degree provident benefit as part of its business has established itself on a permanent basis, whereas scarcely one of the societies that has not done so can claim to be in that position. I agree that if it was likely that anything would happen such 641 as the hon. Member has suggested to take the great trade unions entirely into the provident business, so that they neglected altogether the business of improving the wages and working conditions of their members, it would be a danger which every one of us would do our best to avoid. But the hon. Member can take it from me that it is not good advice to tell trade unionists to keep out of this work; it is much better advice to tell them to go in and take their share in the business and to see that other people do not have the controlling influence. At any rate, that is the advice I shall give as far as my voice and influence go.
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
I must point out that we have travelled rather wide of the Amendment. The proposal before the Committee is to allot part of the surpluses arising in the approved societies to the benefit of the Post Office contributor. We must endeavour to keep the discussion to that point.
§ Mr. AMERY
It seems to me that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his remarks entirely left out of account Clause 25, which does allow freedom of transfer to anybody who wishes to transfer. In regard to the initial stages, by the reserve value scheme societies which have considerable reserves now will have those reserves liberated in such a manner that they will be able to offer outside the Act very substantial additional benefits. That will enable them to pitch their standard of health very high, and, therefore, at an early period to accumulate substantial surpluses. Once having accumulated those surpluses, they will continue to draw from the weaker societies all round. I know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks that the real success of these societies will depend upon the rigidity with which they deal with sickness claims, and that any efficient control of malingering which the health committees secure will insure to the benefit of all the societies in an area, and not to the benefit of any one society. I submit that in the main the position of the different societies will be affected not by the effectiveness with which they control sickness, but by the surpluses they have at the beginning, and the prudence with which they exclude inferior lives. Therefore, without wishing to support the Amendment, I feel that the hon. Member for Leicester has put forward a very strong case against a fundamental weakness of the Bill.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I hope that Members of the Committee will be able after this interlude to consider the matter on its merits. I have been trying to keep my mind on the Amendment; therefore I did not take much notice of the last three or four speeches. As I understand the Amendment, which I can scarcely think the hon. Member will press to a Division, it is that half the surpluses are to be devoted to the Post Office contributors. That means that the trade unions, if successful, will subsidise the blacklegs. If the trade unions get a large number of members in their approved societies, they will, under this Amendment, hand over half their surplus to benefit the blacklegs who refuse to join them and go to the Post Office—because in future all men will be able to get into approved societies if they wish, as they will start when they commence work. At first those outside will be those who cannot, and those who will not get in, but after a few years—at any rate, long before we get the extra benefits—there will remain in the Post Office only those who will not go into approved societies, namely, blacklegs so far as trade unions are concerned. Therefore, I appeal to the Committee to consider whether they ought to take the surpluses of nine-tenths of the people in order to distribute them amongst a small section. My own calculation of the number who will eventually be found in the Post Office is about 5 per cent. Therefore it would mean taking the surpluses from approved societies dealing with 95 per cent. of the insured persons in order to make a handsome present to the small residue of cranks and blacklegs who refuse to associate with anybody. I make that forecast in all seriousness. Owing to the free competition of the various societies there can be in future only a small percentage of the population—some say 10 per cent., but I put it at 5 per cent.—in the Post Office. How absurd it would be to make such a present to these Ishmaelites, who decline to stand shoulder to shoulder with their fellows. Hon. Members opposite who suggest that there will be a huge surplus in some societies cannot have had two minutes' conversation with an actuary. They cannot understand the question at all. Certainly the better managed societies will have a surplus, and those that are managed badly will have a deficit. It is to the operation of that law that we look to keep the societies right. But any idea that by some mysterious assortment of individuals you 643 will find societies with enormous surpluses is to my mind a wild flight of imagination. I hope the Committee will put that idea entirely on one side. Hon. Members have spoken as if all the new societies will have rigid medical tests, and that trade unions will suffer in consequence. I believe that many societies will open their doors without any medical examination at all, and take their members in exactly as trade unions do. To my mind there are difficulties in the administration of the Bill which will require to be surmounted, and I think in this particular that good management ought to be rewarded. If the societies, being managed by trade experts, careful people, are able to show good results, their members are entitled to their reward. It can only be by a good deal of self-sacrifice and a good deal of care that any society, whether trade union or insurance society, can make a success of this Bill. I hope men will be public spirited enough to do it. I do hope when they have done that they would not have the natural fruits of their labour taken away from them to be given to people who refuse to associate with their fellow men.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I think it is a little ungracious on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that no one has put in before him or those in charge of the Bill a proposition in reference to the Post Office depositor. I have had several Amendments down for a considerable number of months, and I think the hon. Gentleman the member for Colchester also has had Amendments down. But either they have never been considered, or at any rate the Chancellor of the Exchequer—well, he may have considered them—but I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has any right to assert that no alternative Amendments have been put down but the one now being discussed. I protest against the statement of the Chancellor made earlier in the evening that some of us by our action last Thursday, mine in particular, had prevented, and would prevent the Government doing all they might do for the Post Office depositor, because I and others forced a Division on a certain Amendment. I never forced any Division. As a matter of fact, through a sheer accident, I voted for the Government on the matter. Whether or not that be so, it is quite beside the point to say that I forced a Division. I had nothing to do with forcing a Division. What is more, no Division took place.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
Whilst I do not associate myself with the last words of my hon. Friend from across the Channel, I do associate myself with much that he has said and much that the Member preceding him said. I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer were here for the moment, for I would like him to understand what is the experience in his own constituency of a Member who tries to explain the Bill. I think the only really unpopular moments I have had with my own party, and with the Members of the Radical and Labour parties in my Constituency, were when I tried to put this Bill fairly and squarely at a conference which was held. There was one thing that was deep in the minds of every working man, whether trade unionist or friendly society man. He had got it into his head that this Bill was going to put an extra burden upon friendly society men for the benefit of men who were not naturally thrifty whom it was desired to force into this national scheme. Their idea was that the friendly societies were going to pay as they had never paid before for extra benefits for those who had not shown themselves eager to protect and defend themselves against sickness and invalidity in the past.
I would like to say to the representative of the Government, the Attorney-General, in connection with this Amendment, that if the Government want their Bill to be popular in the country, and had any idea of accepting this Amendment, that this Amendment would make the Bill extremely unpopular. There is no friendly society man in the country, not one, that would not say it was bad enough as it was, but to take that which is the result of their own thrift, their own natural thrift and successful agglomeration of efforts in their friendly societies, and to give to those whom one hon. Member—rather unfortunately—described as "blacklegs," and who would not, were it not for this scheme belong to a friendly society, nor associate themselves in national thrift—if I say the Government were to persist, and the hon. Member for Leicester succeeded in carrying his Amendment, I can assure the Government that the fate of this Bill would be soon known in the country. I am absolutely certain that the friendly society representatives who waited upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer would poll against any such Amendment. I appeal as a friend of the Bill to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to friendly Members in this House, if 645 we go to a Division to oppose the Amendment, because I think that the foundation of the Amendment is one which is to take from those who have to give to those who have not. It is unwisely, ungenerously, and unfairly trading upon the resources of the friendly societies in order to bolster up a portion of the Bill. It is most difficult to defend in the constituencies. If carried out I am absolutely certain it will be found very difficult to make successful the Post Office depositors part of the scheme.
§ Mr. W. E. HARVEY
The hon. Gentle man the Member for Stoke, in a speech which he delivered a little while ago with a great amount of warmth, distinctly declared himself in opposition to the hon. Gentleman the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme. He said that the great trade organisations based their stability on their provident benefits; in other words, that it was impossible for trade unions to live that did not pay provident benefits—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but his speech would be leading the Debate again into the lines which I warned the Committee a few moments ago ought not to be followed.
§ Mr. W. E. HARVEY
My statement was in reply to the observations of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke. I want to say that of the miners' associations of Great Britain two-thirds of them pay no provident benefits, and yet they are stable societies. They have large accumulated funds. They have brought all their men into their trade society. They are friendly society men too, but they are friendly society men apart from their trade unions. They are as interested in friendly societies as any other class of workmen in the country. They contribute over and above that into another society for the protection of their interests that the Chancellor referred to in the speech which he has just made. What I do want the House to understand is that there are powerful organisations in this country who have no friendly society benefits. They are in existence for protecting the employment of the men and for getting better wages.
It appears to me several things have been said in the course of this Debate that ought not to pass entirely without notice. In the first place, I protest against the assumption that lies at the bottom of certain statements made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He 646 seemed to indicate by his arguments that he thought the position of the societies having respectively good lives and bad lives would not make much difference in regard to the positions he tried to set forth. In the next place, he argued rather strenuously, it was all a question of management, and in order to prove that he went on to point out how certain societies, notably the Oddfellows, are very strict in their supervision of claims. Right down at the bottom of this there appears to be the assumption on the part of the Chancellor, and it seemed to be taken as a foundation by some subsequent speakers, that there was a strong tendency towards sponging on the part of some members of friendly societies. I protest against that. The same root idea seemed to exist in connection with the nonsensical attempts in connection with other parts of the Bill such as the two-thirds resolution to prevent malingering. The idea seems to be that the workers are more inclined to, escape their responsibilities and to sponge upon the funds to which they themselves and their fellow workers contribute. I believe that fear is greatly exaggerated, end has led the Chancellor not to take that judicial view of this Amendment which he might otherwise have done. I believe the two points advanced in favour of this Amendment by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) are points of substance. In the first place, I think it is a fact that trades unions will not be able to exercise that same jurisdiction in regard to matters of health in regard to persons who come forward for admittance to their society as friendly societies can do. As has been pointed out, their chief consideration is organisation for industrial purposes. On the other hand, they have for many years past taken on the other work. I am a friendly society man of twenty years' standing, and I am not arguing against friendly societies. I have heard the argument advanced that nothing in this Bill ought to interfere with the management of friendly societies, or to alter their custom and practice established for long years. I think we can do little less than claim the same for trade unions. Just as trade unions are confined to industrial organisation with sick insurance in the past, nothing in the Bill ought to take away from the possibility or probability or indeed from the certainty that they will be able to continue their activity after the Bill becomes law just as before.
647 With regard to the Post Office contributors, I see nothing inequitable or unjust about the suggestion that underlies this Amendment. I join issue with some of those who have already spoken. There seems to be an impression in the minds of some hon. Members that if there be a certain section of people gathered together in the Post Office scheme, they are, to use the words of the hon. Member (Mr. Booth), "blacklegs." I suppose those referred to are ne'er-do-wells who are outside any of these societies because they are too apathetic, too mean, or too low down in the scale of social order as to recognise any necessity for joining a thrift society. That view is inconceivable to me. If this Bill becomes law, and does anything towards fulfilling its promises, I cannot understand one single worker remaining outside some approved society. I think it is very likely that the whole membership of the Post Office Department will consist of men only prevented from joining an approved society because they have not the necessary health qualification. If that be so, I believe we are not asking for anything that is unjust or inequitable, when we ask that something should be done for these unfortunate people who are Post Office contributors, not from choice but from stern necessity. I am not going to argue that this is the best of all possible ways, but at least we can claim that it is the only practical way which has been outlined and suggested up to the present. When we are met by hon. Gentlemen opposite who are so anxious about the poor, and express crocodile sympathy for them—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not crocodile sympathy."] Do hon. Members object to my statement that they profess sympathy for the poor? [An HON. MEMBER: "Not crocodile sympathy."] Then I withdraw "crocodile sympathy," and say hon. Members have expressed sympathy, and I am surprised that arising out of that sympathy they cannot see that the Post Office contributor will be practically a scapegoat for the rest of the scheme. Unless they are prepared to bring forward some alternative scheme whereby these unfortunate people can have their lot made better they must excuse me saying that their sympathy is not taking a practical form. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer would rid himself of that suspicion, that obsession which he has in regard to malingering of the workers and the rest of it, he would see the matter a little more clearly. We are entitled to hope from certain suggestions 648 which have been made that at a future stage of the Bill the right hon. Gentleman will be able to do something to make the prospects of those who belong to this unfortunate class a little brighter than they appear to be under the present scheme.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I take it to be the desire of the Committee that this question should not be closed in connection with this class of contributors in order that we may be able to return to it. Therefore I do not propose to close the question by calling a Division. If hon. Members care to consider the matter further they might remember that about two-thirds of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech and the whole of my hon. Friend's speech were quite outside the scope of my Amendment, which contemplated, not the scallywag who of his own free will remains outside approved societies, but the person who is very definitely defined as the contributors who have been rejected from membership of an approved society. I hope in any further consideration of the scheme that limitation will be borne in mind, because it is very essential to the idea I have in mind. If the Committee will allow me I will withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I have some doubt whether the words are necessary, but I am quite willing, if the hon. Gentleman wishes, to consider them. I cannot accept them now.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), paragraph (b), to insert the words "or the society, if a society with branches, may in lieu of submitting such a scheme distribute the balance of the surplus, after making good deficiencies as aforesaid, amongst such of its branches as have a balance in proportion to the amounts of such surpluses, and in such case the sum so apportioned to a branch shall be treated as an addition to the disposable surplus of that branch."
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), paragraph (c), after the word "branch" ["a surplus is shown in respect of such branch"], to insert the words "such surplus may, with the sanction of the Insurance Commissioners, be applied in the reduction of the contributions of its members, or failing such sanction."
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
It is a totally different point. The Amendment which I moved to paragraph (a) related to a surplus standing to the credit of the society itself. This is far more important. It relates to a surplus standing to the credit of the branch of the society. I venture to hope nothing which has been said with regard to the surplus of the society will in any way prejudice this more important question.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
This is a totally different question. That was a question between society and society; this is a question as between different branches of one of the affiliated orders, and it raises an entirely new point as regards the administration of the funds of those orders. This proposal would constitute as it stands a new drain on the branches, and my Amendment is that in the case of a particular branch of an affiliated society that is able to show a surplus it Shall be possible, with the sanction of the Insurance Commissioners, to apply that surplus in reduction of contributions of members before devoting it to an increase of benefit. The branches of most of the large affiliated orders to-day do not make any substantial contribution into the central fund; indeed, same of them make no contribution at all. These branches enjoy the full benefit of any surplus that may stand to their credit. It is now proposed that one-half of the entire surplus shall be applied towards meeting the deficiencies of less fortunate branches. But what I would like to 650 remind the Committee is that the majority of the members of the affiliated orders to-day are members living in country districts.
Of the fifteen million persons who come to be insured under this Bill, four millions only are at present insured in friendly societies, and the bulk of these are country members. Under this scheme a very large majority of the new members will be those who are either so thriftless that they have not thought of undertaking their own insurance in the past, or they constitute the worst lives to be found largely in the over-populated towns. The suggestion is that they will deliberately form one of the large affiliated orders and stand a chance, at any rate, of a levy being made on their branch for the purposes of the central fund. But there is a great distinction between a voluntary scheme and a compulsory scheme, and if a man with his eyes open chooses to join a large affiliated order, knowing that a large portion of the surplus will pass to a less fortunate branch, he cannot complain. But here you are insisting that he shall become a member of an approved society, and consequently the argument will not bear scrutiny; he has to join the society, knowing that a part of his health benefit will be derived, not by himself, but mainly by others who live under less fortunate circumstances in the towns and yet enjoy, fortunately for themselves, much better wages. I think there is very strong grounds, bearing in mind that this will be an entirely new drain on a healthy branch of the large affiliated orders, for accepting this Amendment.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
There is very little that is new in what the hon. Member has just said. I quite agree that he is applying it to branches in a different manner from the proposal that he put forward during the early part of this discussion, which was answered by the Under-Secretary for the Home Department. I put it to him that there has been no request come forward to us from any of these branches or from any of the societies that there should be this reduction in contribution he is pressing for in this Amendment. It is a curious thing that if it is so much desired, we should not have had a request made for it. We have had everything put forward by the friendly societies, but there is no real demand for the Amendment he is putting forward, and I submit to the Committee that it is covered, although not strictly covered, yet 651 it is in principle covered by what was discussed and decided in the earlier part of the evening. I am quite unable to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I am assured that there is a very genuine desire on the part of some of the smaller branches of the affiliated orders that this Amendment should be inserted. I would only remind the Attorney-General and the Committee that you are giving an option to the branch to dispose of its surplus in this way with the assent of the Insurance Commissioners. You are imposing no obligation
§ upon them; you are simply giving them the opportunity of using the surplus their own efforts have created in the manner they themselves prefer, provided they are able to obtain the assent of the Insurance Commissioners. I cannot understand why the Government should refuse the Amendment, and I hope, even though the Attorney-General says that he cannot do it, reflection will convince him that it is necessary.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 102; Noes, 219.653
|Division No. 354.]||AYES.||[10.40 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Goldsmith, Frank||O'Grady, James|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Grant, J. A.||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Gretton, John||Peel, Hon. William R. W. (Taunton)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Hills, John Waller (Durham)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Barnston, Harry||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Hunt, Rowland||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Bird, Alfred||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath)||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Ingleby, Holcombe||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Boyton, James||Jowett, F. W.||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Kerry, Earl of||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Cassel, Felix||Lansbury, George||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Valentia, Viscount|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Mackinder, Halford J.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Crean, Eugene||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Malcolm, Ian||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Doughty, Sir George||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Fell, Arthur||Mount, William Arthur||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Newdegate, F. A.||Younger, Sir George|
|Forster, Henry William||Newton, Harry Kottingham||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Mr. C. Bathurst and Mr. Lane-Fox.|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Brunner, J. F. L.||Davies, E. William (Eifion)|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Bryce, J. Annan||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)|
|Adamson, William||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Dawes, J. A.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||De Forest, Baron|
|Alden, Percy||Byles, Sir William Pollard||Devlin, Joseph|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Chancellor, Henry G.||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Doris, W.|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Clough, William||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Falconer, J.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Ffrench, Peter|
|Black, Arthur W.||Cotton, William Francis||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward|
|Boland, John Plus||Cowan, W. H.||Gelder, Sir W. A.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Crumley, Patrick||Gibson, Sir James P.|
|Brace, William||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Brady, P. J.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Goldstone, Frank|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||M'Callum, John M.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Rowlands, James|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Laren, H. D. (Leics.)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Gulland, John William||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Hackett, J.||Marks, Sir George||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Martin, J.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Masterman, C. F. G.||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Meagher, Michael||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Sheehy, David|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||Morgan, George Hay||Shortt, Edward|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Morrell, Philip||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Hayward, Evan||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Munro, R.||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Henry, Sir Charles S.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, W.)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Neilson, Francis||Summers, James Woolley|
|Hinds, John||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Nolan, Joseph||Tennant, Harold John|
|Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Doherty, Philip||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Hughes, S. L.||O'Dowd, John||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Hunter, W. (Govan)||Ogden, Fred||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wadsworth, J.|
|John, Edward Thomas||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Johnson, W.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Wardle, George J.|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Pointer, Joseph||Watt, Henry A.|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pollard, Sir George H.||Webb, H.|
|Joyce, Michael||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Keating, M.||Power, Patrick Joseph||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Kelly, Edward||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Whyte, A. F.|
|Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Pringle, William M. R.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Radford, G. H.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Reddy, Michael||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Redmond, William (Clare)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Rendall, Athelstan||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Lundon, T.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Wilson, W. T. (West Houghton)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Lynch, A. A.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|McGhee, Richard||Robinson, Sidney|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Mr. Dudley Ward and Captain Guest.|
§ Amendment proposed: In paragraph (c), after the word "surplus" ["the remaining one-half of such surplus"], to insert the words "together with any such addition as aforesaid."—[Mr. Lloyd George.]
§ Mr. FORSTER
I do not rise to oppose this Amendment. I want to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he can say how far we ought to go to-night?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
There is no time limit to-night, but I would suggest that we should get through Clause 30, so that we may begin Clause 31 to-morrow. The Amendments to Clause 30 are mostly drafting Amendments, and, when we get through them, I will move to report Progress, if that will meet the views of the Committee generally.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I have looked through the Amendments, and, while one or two 654 may lead to discussion, I agree that most of them have already been covered by previous decisions. There are points which will be met by Amendments standing in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We are very anxious to have such opportunity as will be permitted to us to discuss Clause 31 to-morrow, and we will do our best to get through Clause 30 to-night.
§ Amendment agreed to.
EARL of RONALDSHAY
I beg to move, in paragraph (c), after the word "benefits" ["or more additional benefits"], to insert the words "or so reduce the contributions." I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave it to be understood that this Amendment would be accepted.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
It is the general desire of the House that there should be a 655 provision of this kind. It is best met by the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on page 41 of the White Paper, which meets exactly the point raised by the Noble Lord, and will come in more conveniently there.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Further Amendments made: At the end of the Clause to add the words, "(3) No surplus and no part of any surplus shall be applied for the purpose of paying any benefits payable on death or any benefits other than one or more of the additional benefits specified in Part II. of the Fourth Schedule to this Act."—[Mr. Lloyd George.]
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I beg to propose, at the end of Clause, to add the words, "Provided that, if a majority of the members so decide, such portion of the surplus as may be decided by the members shall be applied to the extinction of the arrears in whole or in part, and for the application of the remainder of the surplus only in the provision of the additional benefits herein referred to."
The object of this Amendment is to enable a society to use a surplus in paying off arrears. In the event of arrears there are to be ten different rates of benefit below the ten shillings rate, and ten different periods at which a member will come into benefit. This will lead to extremely complicated calculations, and it would be a benefit if a society or its branches could apply the surplus for the wiping out of arrears and bring its members into a position of equality.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
Arrears are already sufficiently dealt with, and as this proposal would be somewhat complicated and would add to the complexity, we see no reason why we should accept this Amendment, which would add another to the Clauses that deal with arrears.
This Amendment continues the present practice of existing societies. They have a benefit fund, out of which large grants are made to those who cannot pay up their arrears. It is quite true that the provisions of the Bill are complicated with regard to arrears. But this does not add to the complication at all; it simply gives the particular society the power to dispose of a portion of its benefits in assisting a man who has fallen by the way. It seems to me that if a 656 society chooses to do that it is not for the Government or for the House to object. It is a matter for the local government of the society. We are not compelling the societies to use their surpluses in this way; we simply seek to give them power to do so. It seems to me that the Government might well, if they wish to continue the friendly societies in the way in which they have undoubtedly been of service to the community in the past, allow them to use their surplus for the purpose of paying up the subscriptions of those who fall into arrear.
§ Mr. W. PEEL
I should like to support the Amendment because I am thinking of the case of seasonal workers who fare very badly under the Bill as drawn, though it is quite true that there are changes as regards arrears. I think it would be only a fair thing that the society should be able to devote some surplus revenues to some of these arrears. It would take off the sharpness with which the Bill does fall on some of this class of persons to whom I refer. I have very great pleasure in supporting the Amendment which is purely optional.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I am rather amazed to hear these remarks about distress and the charity box. It sounds very noble, but it has nothing whatever to do with this point. The hon. Member talks about the sharpness of the Bill, or the strain of the Bill. Language of that kind, he must know, is not satisfactory. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] At any rate, hon. Members must recognise that as regards arrears the Bill is more generous and helpful than any friendly society that ever existed. I know that it is very liable to be misinterpreted in the country by some of those canvassers that I have found in my journeyings to and fro, but the Bill does deal far more sympathetically with the workman in arrears than any friendly society has ever done here or elsewhere. I see no necessity whatever for a provision of the kind proposed.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I must appeal to the Attorney-General to leave some freedom of action to the majority of members who form a branch of a society. That is all this Amendment does. Surely if the majority of members of a society, or branch, wish to employ the surplus to relieve members who have fallen into arrears, the Government might well give them the liberty to do so.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
I join in the appeal to the Government on this point. It is quite true that the provisions with regard to arrears are exceedingly complicated, but they would become much less so if there were no arrears. It is only the existence of the arrears which makes the provisions complicated. The Amendment is not compulsory, but only enables a majority of the members to deal in this way with the surplus if they so decide. I appeal to the Government to allow some latitude in a matter of this sort. It is not that we are asking that the society should be forced to consider this point, but simply that it should have the power of discretion.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
As I understand the Attorney-General does not deny, or rather he suggests, that in the Bill there is some provision under which it would be possible to pay up arrears because the surplus is to
§ be disposed of by providing increased benefits. The suggestion, I suppose, is that a table might be made of benefits, and it might include payment of arrears. I think my hon. Friend is quite right in not being satisfied with that. His proposal is only a provision which might be adopted if the majority of the members so decide. They are quite capable of forming the best judgment as to whether they should adopt this provision or not. It may be that the societies will take legal opinion and find out their powers as well as the Attorney-General, but I would like to have the Bill as plain as possible, and if they are to have the power it would do no harm to merely point that out, while a great benefit would be conferred on those in arrears.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 66; Noes, 203.659
|Division No. 355.]||AYES.||[11.5 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Forster, Henry William||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Ashley, W. W.||Gilmour, Captain J.||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Baird, J. L.||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Balcarres, Lord||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Henderson, Major H. (Berks., Abingdon)||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Barnston, Harry||Hills, John Waller||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hohler, G. Fitzroy||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Bird, A.||Hunt, Rowland||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'm'ts, Mile End)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Mackinder, H. J.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Malcolm, Ian||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Mount, William Arthur||Younger, Sir George|
|Doughty, Sir George||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Fell, Arthur||Newdegate, F. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)||Mr. G. Locker-Lampson and Mr. Pollock.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Chancellor, H. G.||Falconer, J.|
|Adamson, William||Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Ffrench, Peter|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Clough, William||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gelder, Sir W. A.|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Barnes, George N.||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Gibson, Sir James Puckering|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick, B.)||Cotton, William Francis||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Cowan, William Henry||Goldstone, Frank|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Crumley, Patrick||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Boland, John Plus||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Griffith, Ellis Jones|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Davies E. William (Eifion)||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Brace, William||Dawes, J. A.||Hackett, J.|
|Brady, P. J.||De Forest, Baron||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Bryce, John Annan||Devlin, Joseph||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Doris, W.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Masterman, C. F. G.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Hayward, Evan||Meagher, Michael||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Henry, Sir Charles S.||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Higham, John Sharp||Morgan, George Hay||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Hinds, John||Morrell, Phillip||Seely, Colonel Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Sheehy, David|
|Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Munro, R.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Shortt, Edward|
|Hudson, Walter||Neilson, Francis||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Hughes, S. L.||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)||Nolan, Joseph||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon Sir Rufus||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|John, Edward Thomas||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Summers, James Woolley|
|Johnson, W.||O'Doherty, Philip||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Dowd, John||Tennant, Harold John|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Grady, James||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Joyce, Michael||Phillips, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Keating, Matthew||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wadsworth, John|
|Kelly, Edward||Pointer, Joseph||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Pollard, Sir George H.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wardle, George J.|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Power, Patrick Joseph||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pringle, William M. R.||Webb, H.|
|Lundon, T.||Radford, George Heynes||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Reddy, Michael||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Lynch, A. A.||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Rendall, Athelstan||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|McGhee, Richard||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Robinson, Sidney||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Leics.)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Rowlands, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Rowntree, Arnold||Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Martin, Joseph||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow (Tuesday).
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 24th October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."