HC Deb 31 October 1911 vol 30 cc777-836

(1) Until Parliament otherwise determines, the following provisions shall apply in the case of insured persons (in this Act referred to as deposit contributors), who being employed contributors, have not joined an approved society within the prescribed time, or who, having been members of an approved society, have been expelled therefrom and have not joined another approved society:—

  1. (a) Contributions by or in respect of a deposit contributor shall be credited to a special fund to be called the Post Office fund:
  2. (b) The sums required for the payment of any sickness, disablement, or maternity benefit payable to a deposit contributor, except so far as they are payable out of moneys provided by Parliament, shall be paid out of the money standing to his credit in the Post Office fund, and his right to benefits under this Part of this Act shall be suspended on the sums standing to his credit in that fund being exhausted, except that his right to medical benefit and sanatorium benefit shall continue until the expiration of the then current year:
  3. (c) A deposit contributor shall not be entitled to sickness benefit unless at least fifty-two weekly contributions have been paid by or in respect of him:
  4. (d) Such sum as may be prescribed shall in each year be payable in respect of each deposit contributor towards the expenses incurred by the local health committee in the administration of benefits:
  5. (e) Such sum as the local health committee may, with the consent of the Insurance Commissioners, determine shall in each year be payable in respect of each deposit contributor for the purposes of the cost of medical benefit:
  6. (f) The sums payable in respect of a deposit contributor for the purposes of medical benefit and sanatorium benefit, and towards the expenses of administration, shall, except so far as they are payable out of 778 moneys provided by Parliament, be deducted at the commencement of each year from the amount standing to his credit in the Post Office fund:
  7. (g) The amount standing in the Post Office fund to the credit of any deposit contributor shall, upon his dying, be forfeited.

(2) A valuation of the Post Office fund shall be made by a valuer to be appointed by the Treasury at the expiration of every three years dating from the commencement of this Act, or at such other times as the Insurance Commissioners may appoint, and if the valuer certifies that the fund shows a disposable surplus the Insurance Commissioners may carry the surplus to the credits of the deposit contributors in proportion to the number of contributions paid by, or in respect of, them respectively:

Provided that if the local health committee for any county or county borough in which more than 20 per cent. of the insured persons resident in the county or county borough are deposit contributors makes an application for the purpose, the Insurance Commissioners shall make provision—

  1. (a) for crediting and debiting to a separate account the sums to be credited or debited under this Part of this Act in respect of deposit contributors resident in the county or county borough; and
  2. (b) for a separate valuation being made of such account and for distributing any surplus found on such valuation to be disposable amongst the depositors resident in the county or county borough, who shall not be entitled to participate in any distribution of any surplus in the general Post Office fund.


I think it will be convenient to the Committee if I rule on one or two points before approaching this Clause. It was understood yesterday that if possible an opportunity should be found for a wide Debate on an early Amendment to this Clause. I think that opportunity offers on the Amendment which has no name to it and which appears third on the Paper. What I would suggest in the interests of the Committee is that we should have a Debate on that Amendment which would cover the general scheme laid down by the Clause of the Bill and also any alternative which hon. Members have to propose to that scheme. Then, later on, when that general Debate is concluded, we should not re-argue these various schemes, but whatever Member has one put forward on the Notice Paper, it could, with a brief explanatory speech, be put before the Committee for decision. I think that would leave the main part of the time for the discussion, which I understand the Committee desire, and will leave the Committee to vote and decide the form in which it will leave the Clause in the Bill. If it is agreeable, I propose to allow that general discussion to be taken on the Amendment, to leave out "until Parliament otherwise determines," in order to insert the words "First day of January, nineteen hundred and fifteen."


I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "Until," to insert the words, "the first day of January, nineteen hundred and fifteen."

That is the Amendment which I handed in, and which I thought would bear my name. It is common ground between Members on both sides of the House that in the consideration of Clause 32 we are really approaching the consideration of what is the weakest point, in the general estimation, of this particular scheme of insurance. There are those who have suggested that this Clause 32 is the great blot on the Bill. I am not prepared to adopt that phrase, because the phrase "great blot" implies responsibility and blame to the framers of the Bill, which I do not think can be legitimately imputed to them. But it is certainly the part of the measure which causes the most misgiving to those of us who welcome wholeheartedly the spirit of this Bill, and who believe it, in its main object, to be probably the most notable, and, as I sincerely believe, the most far-reaching contribution to social amelioration and to the improvement of the quality of national life, that this generation has seen. Those of us on this side of the House, who have had occasion from time to time to criticise adversely certain parts of the Bill, have not done so in any unfriendly spirit, or from any lack of appreciation of the splendid benefits, which, in its main proposals, it confers upon many millions of our fellow citizens. But we have ventured to criticise it in certain of its provisions because we have felt that the benefits of the Bill were not of equal advantage to all, and that those provisions give least to those who in many respects have a claim to most at the hands of this Parliament and at the hands of the State. But I would venture to suggest that this is not really the fault of the Bill; it is really the price that must be paid for a wide measure of constructive social reform. I respectfully submit that it is one of the tragedies connected with social reform to-day that it must sometimes, while benefitting the many, appear to make life harder for the few.

In some cases our social legislation actully does make life very much harder for the few. I might quote, for example, the Labour Exchanges Act, and the Workmen's Compensation Act, as instances of the fact that while doing something to benefit the many you are bound to appear, at least, to make life harder for the few, I think it is really due to the fact that there are two classes of people whom this House always has to keep in view in any attempt at legislative social reform. There is that class, happily overwhelmingly the largest class, who can be effectively helped by means of schemes such as this. There is the other class, happily an immeasurably smaller class, who cannot be effectively helped by social reform and whose lot and conditions of life can only be alleviated. This Bill, and particularly its main provisions, is primarily concerned with those who can be effectively helped, those whom a little kindly succour or help may keep at the top, or near the top, of the industrial classes, those who can be prevented from sinking lower and lower and eventually recruiting the ranks of the most destitute, the weakest and the most helpless class of the community. For this particular class the Bill unquestionably offers splendid benefits, but for the rest, those who cannot be effectively helped, whose lot can only be alleviated, the benefits offered by this Bill are indisputably scanty and inadequate. I am happy to think that in the construction of this scheme the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not altogether ignore this second class, and he certainly has not left them out of account in the provision of his benefits, but in comparison with the benefits that are offered to the more efficient and the more regularly employed and the more highly paid industrial workers, they are certainly wholly inadequate and extremely scanty and small.

What, as a matter of fact, is offered under this Clause to those whom I have summed up in the second category? Under the Bill as it stands, and under the Clause as it stands, any employed person who becomes a deposit contributor shares in the ordinary benefits provided under the Bill. That is to say, he receives sickness benefit, he receives maternity benefit, and he receives disablement and other benefits. But he receives those benefits to an extent and during a period of time that are strictly determined by the amount of funds standing to his credit in the Post Office account. In one particular instance there is an exception. In regard to sanatorium benefits and medical benefits, he does receive under the Bill, or may receive, a somewhat larger benefit than is represented by the amount standing to his credit, because it is provided in this Clause that he may receive sanatorium benefits and medical benefit up to the end of the current year. But in the strict sense the deposit contributor under this Bill is not an insured person at all. He does not share in any pooled fund. He has none of the ordinary advantages of association with his fellows. He has no special consideration shown to him in regard to arrears, and especially in regard to arrears due to unemployment. He stands in a class by itself, in a position of complete isolation from his fellow-depositors, and he is treated strictly and solely on a cash basis. That which he pays in and that which others pay in in respect of him, he has, and he has nothing more. Indeed, in one very important respect, important because of its effect, but not important from the point of view of sense of proportion—in one important respect the deposit contributor suffers, and gets less than he actually pays in, because, under paragraph (g) of this Clause, it is provided, for some inexplicable reason, that should a deposit contributor leave a surplus standing to his credit in the Post Office Fund the surplus is forfeited, and does not go to his next-of-kin and relatives. I venture to suggest, in passing, that that paragraph cannot, I hope, continue to be a feature of this Bill when it passes through Committee.

I am far from suggesting to-night that there are no advantages for the deposit contributor under this scheme. As a matter of fact, the deposit contributory arrangement is in certain respects a generous arrangement. The deposit contributor has his contributions enlarged by the contributions of the employer and of the State. In that respect, therefore, the deposit contributory arrangement is a very great improvement upon the ordinary Post Office Savings Bank account, but my quarrel with the Clause as it stands is this—that the benefits conferred under this deposit contributory principle do not suffice for the special needs of the particular classes who must be included in the ranks of the deposit contributors. If the deposit contributor represented the average life of the community and the average liability to sickness and disablement, then there would be a good deal to be said for the advantages under the Post Office deposit contributory scheme. We all know, as a matter of fact, that those who will be included and who will be grouped under the category of deposit contributors, represent not average lives, but the worst lives and the most heavily handicapped lives in the community. They represent a class of persons who are peculiarly and quite exceptionally liable to a high rate of sickness, and who live precarious lives, and who are peculiarly liable to the ills of permanent disablement. The real effect of the scheme is seen if one attempts to consider and to conjecture who are the people who will be included in the ranks of the deposit contributors. It is extremely difficult to say who they will be. We have very little data to go upon; we have only general, social observations, and the results of general investigations of social facts to guide us.

It is perfectly impossible to say with any approach to exactitude, who are the classes which will be represented by the Post Office depositors, but I think we may for the purpose of this discussion sum them up briefly into two or three particular classes. There will be, in the first place, the physically bad life, the man or woman who is rejected on the grounds of health by the ordinary approved friendly society, and who may be rejected on the ground of health and physical unfitness by the industrial and other societies which are to be brought in under the scope of this Bill, and who therefore will be forced, under the mere compulsion of physical disability, into the ranks of the deposit contributors. There will then be another broad class, and it is impossible to say how numerous this second class will be, of what I may call the morally bad life, the class of thriftless person, the class of people whose characters and local reputation are against them, and keep them out of membership of the friendly societies. I think we may say that to a greater or less extent there will be a third class made up of the casual worker, the casual labourer whose employment is always precarious, and which includes in its ranks many women whose occupations are precarious and casual. All those casual workers will, I assume, inevitably be forced into the ranks of the deposit contributors. I suppose there may be a fourth class, though not very numerous, and that is the class of person who has failed to join a friendly society within the specified time, and who will find that there is a way out of the difficulty by joining the Post Office fund. So far as the last class is concerned, a class that may be represented to a very large extent by domestic servants, they represent average lives, and the deposit contributory scheme might have certain advantages for them, advantages sufficient to suffice for their particular needs.

But for the rest, the first three classes, it is perfectly obvious to anyone who has oven a superficial knowledge of social facts that the benefits of this deposit contributory scheme fall very far short of what they really need if they are to be succoured and effectively helped. They are not average lives; they are persons who suffer in an exceptional way, and are exceptionally liable to sickness and disablement. For them, this Clause absolutely gives no security in times of prolonged sickness, and offers absolutely nothing in the way of an invalidity pension in case of permanent disablement. I am bound to say, and I desire to say this with all possible emphasis, that from the very first introduction of this Bill the Chancellor of the Exchequer has shown himself fully alive to the drawbacks of the proposals included in this Clause. He has very freely avowed the limitations of the Post Office contributor proposals, and he may very fairly ask some of us to-night how we propose to improve the situation for those who will be forced into the Post Office scheme. Speaking for myself, I desire to say in the fullest and frankest way that I do not see that you can possibly do much more for these people on the present basis of the Bill. To say this is not necessarily to indict the basis of the Bill. On the whole I am inclined to think after careful consideration that the basis is not merely the best, but the only practicable basis for a national insurance scheme of these dimensions, but I desire frankly to say, speaking for myself, that I see no possibility of materially improving the conditions of these workers under the basis of the Bill as it now stands.

I am well aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have chosen an altogether different basis. He might have started out by taking no account of the artisans and of the more regularly employed and better-paid workers, and he might entirely have ignored the existing friendly societies, and he might have set up under a heavy State subsidy special societies to meet the needs of this particular class. That was an alternative which, I am bound to say, appealed to me very strongly when I first started to consider the question. But the more I have considered the point, the more it has seemed to me that at was not a practicable alternative in the actual existing circumstances of the case. What would have happened if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had concentrated on this particular class and had attempted to establish under a heavy State subsidy special societies for their benefit? He would instantly have set up a very dangerous rivalry to the existing friendly societies, and he would have incurred their unmistakable and uncompromising hostility. Moreover, he would have found himself face to face with an almost insoluble difficulty as to the employer's contribution. It is perfectly impossible in the nature of things to exact an employer's contribution on behalf of a certain portion of the population and to fail to exact contributions in connection with the other and more prosperous portions of the working classes. On the other hand, it is inconceivable that any responsible Minister of the Treasury should at that Table propose to hand over to the friendly societies, without security, safeguards, or regulations, contributions taken compulsorily from the employer and the taxpayer.

Moreover, I think that by attempting to set up separate societies for this particular class the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have concentrated the energies and resources of the State upon the most urgently needy but not necessarily the most important class of workers in the community. Everyone who has studied social questions is alive to the very plausible danger of addressing oneself to an urgent need and forgetting the larger and more permanent need of the rest of the community. Whilst it is much to help to lift up partially the man who is at the bottom, it is infinitely more to keep at the top those who are already there. But my strongest objection to this alternative is that by setting up special societies for this particular class you will have begged the whole question whether or not these particular people are insurable persons, whether their needs can be dealt with in an insurance scheme, or whether, as I believe, to deal with their case and their needs you will not have to use entirely other machinery and other agencies altogether. I know that in arguing this I am opposing myself to the view very strongly held by the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Worthington-Evans) and other Members opposite. The hon. Member for Colchester has put down certain Amendments, and, as far as I can gather, he would propose to set up separate and special societies under the local health committees with a heavier State subsidy and with reduced benefits for those who participate in the scheme.


I would point out, in the absence of my hon. Friend, that we cannot accept that as a proper description of his scheme.


It was obviously a summarised description, but I believe that it is true in fact, so far as the Amendments on the Paper are concerned. The hon. Member may have other Amendments in view that do not appear on the printed Orders of the Day. I will leave it with this remark. I should not refuse to support any proposal for an increased grant from the State in the interests of this particular class of persons if I were persuaded that they could be most effectively helped in that particular way. Nor should I press the objection against any such proposal, supposing it were placed before the Committee, that from an administrative point of view it would be extremely difficult. What seems to me to be the radical defect of every proposal for separate machinery and a separate class of society, is that by setting up a separate class of society you do really beg the vital question whether or not these people, who are to be included in the deposit contributor class, are really an insurable class. I hold that they are not. In connection with these persons you are brought up against that ultimate problem of poverty and helplessness which makes the most urgent demand upon the consideration of this House. I believe that in reference to them you will have to set up wholly other machinery and entirely different agencies before you can address yourself in a really effective way to their particular needs. Therefore I am opposed to this alternative of setting up separate societies for fear that it would only give me a palliative where I want a cure, and because I greatly fear that by constructing special insurance societies I should really be establishing a barrier in the way of the more radical and comprehensive treatment of those needs when occasion offers.

I may be asked quite properly by Members of the Committee what alternative suggestion I have to make. In the first place, I think it will be possible, without accomplishing a very great deal, to modify the proposed arrangements so far as the particular provisions of this Clause are concerned. For instance, I believe that the provision included in Subsection (g) must go. I do not think it could stand examination for half an hour in debate in Committee. I would have liked, had it been possible, to have offered some inducement to approved societies not to reject applicants wholly on medical grounds. Unfortunately, that issue was raised in what I regard as an impracticable way last week, and I understand that the question is closed so far as we are now concerned. But there is one point on which I wish to make a special appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I sincerely hope that on reconsideration he will consent to meet us by some concession regarding arrears of contributions due to unemployment. I believe that he could make a concession of that kind which would not cost much in money, but which would stop one possible source of recruits for the deposit contributor scheme, if he could see his way to make it. I fully admit—it is necessary to admit—that the proposals he has made with reference to arrears are exceedingly generous; they are quite unparalleled in their generosity. But we cannot hide from ourselves the fact that it is a compulsory and not a voluntary scheme, and that the injustice of this proposal will be felt to a degree far greater than its intrinsic importance warrants.

What I think most important of all is that we should try to stop the stream of deposit contributors at its source. In connection with this, I want first of all to appeal for a very considerable extension of the sanatorium benefits under this scheme. Whatever else may be doubtful about the deposit contributor, this much I think is certain. To a very large extent he will represent the tubercular person, who, on the ground of tuberculosis, is rejected by the approved societies. I am perfectly well aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already promised a concession on that point. He has promised to make arrangements whereby, with the co-operation of the local authorities, he will extend sanatorium benefits by means of special grants from the State to the wives and children of insured persons. I want him to go further. Under the provisions of Clause 32 it is possible for a deposit contributor, who may himself be a tubercular person, to drop out of the benefits of the sanatorium, and out of the treatment he most urgently requires, because his surplus at the Post Office is exhausted. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way to extend the benefits of this sanatorium treatment, one of the most beneficent proposals ever introduced, to every man, woman, and child who needs it in the community at large.

May I say, in closing, that I do not think this in itself is enough. It does not go far enough back. The problem of the deposit contributor is not, as we have been accustomed to regard it, a problem of the adult. I believe it to be a problem of the child. Parliament, in common with most social reformers, is accustomed to treat social problems as adult problems, and not as problems of child life. The real tragedy of social life is not that we have here and now a certain number—it may be thousands—of persons who are reduced to a state of comparative helplessness, great physical unfitness, and great physical need. The real tragedy of civilisation is that we go on from generation to generation perpetuating this class, and never make any effective effort to stop the stream at its source. The object of this Bill is to modify and diminish the problem of poverty by improving the quality of the national health. I venture to tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he cannot hope to improve the quality of the national health so long as he treats it as an adult problem and not as a problem of the child. May I illustrate my point? We are all agreed, I think, that two of the main classes of the deposit contributors will be casual labourers and physically unfit persons. Anybody who has made even a cursory examination of the problem of unemployment as it concerns the casual labourer has, I think, realised that it is not always, and sometimes not very largely, an economic problem. It is rather a problem of physical unfitness or physical inefficiency and need. Whenever you can catch the unemployed unskilled labourer young enough to link him up with his school history and the history of his youth, you will find that the problem in his case is not an economic problem. It is a problem of weakness and poverty in youth, sometimes in infancy, which has handicapped him from the start in the industrial world.

So, too, with those who are physically unfit. I venture to say that those who come into this scheme as physical unfits will not be physical unfits at the adult stage only; the great majority of them will have been physically unfit in their infancy, childhood, and youth. It is not enough to catch the unfit man in the years of adolescence or in the adult stage. It is absolutely essential, if we are to build up the national health, that we should go further back, and try to stop the stream at its source. I have been reading, in common with many other hon. Members, I suppose, during the last two or three days, the in some ways inspiriting, in many other ways saddening, report of Sir George Newman, the Chief Medical Officer of Health of the Education Department. That report outlines to us a condition of things which makes it perfectly hopeless to attempt to build up the national health while we allow this condition of things to go un-remedied. When you have, as according to the report you have, nearly four million out of six million children on the registers of your public elementary schools of England and Wales suffering from defined and, in many cases, most serious weaknesses and physical defects, it is impossible to hope for a radical improvement of the national health. It is not merely a question of England and Wales. Anybody who has read the report and the evidence of the Royal Commission on Physical Training in Scotland, or has mastered the reports of the investigations in Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow, and elsewhere, or has read the Report of the National Commissioners of Education in Ireland, knows how widespread and universal the problem is. In Ireland we are killing the people by allowing the springs of health to be poisoned in the child. It is not, in my estimation, until we link on to this great insurance scheme provisions for the child and for the needs of the child that we shall make as effective a contribution to the improvement of health in this country as we otherwise might. I sincerely hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will realise that he has to supplement the present scheme by dealing with the problem of child life. If he will only give from the Exchequer some financial aid, toy subsidy or otherwise, to second the efforts of local education committees, the condition of things that is outlined in Sir George Newman's report will, I venture to say, become an impossibility in the next genera tion. This Bill in certain quarters has been attacked and criticised as if it had created the problem of the deposit contributor. The Bill has not created the problem represented by the deposit contributor. The Bill has done inestimable service in segregating that problem, isolating it, so that we may know its nature and dimensions. I venture to say that when this scheme has been in operation for a few years we shall be in a far better position to understand both the nature and the dimensions of the deposit contributor problem than we do at present. That is why I hope we shall not hurriedly, and in haste, attempt to set up alternative machinery to the proposals in the Bill. We are at present in the dark. We do not know how many deposit contributors there may be. We do not know what their general character will be. It may be that the number of deposit contributors under the scheme will be far fewer than is now supposed.

I believe that the concession which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given to exempt entirely from contribution those adult workers whose earnings are less than 9s. per week will materially simplify the problem. I also think that the inclusion of industrial and other societies will also, by increasing the pressure of competition, help to introduce into the benefits of the larger scheme many who otherwise would be forced into the position of deposit contributors. What I do most earnestly implore the Committee to do is to allow us time to see this scheme at work. Meantime I am not content to leave the condition of things we now find to go on indefinitely. I believe that the problem of the deposit contributor is a problem which this Parliament is morally bound to deal with, and I want the Parliament that is to deal with the adults, with this general scheme of National Insurance, to be a Parliament that will complete its work by solving the problem of the deposit contributor also. Therefore, I would venture to suggest the Amendment that we put in a time limit, and say that this scheme shall continue on its present lines until the 1st January, 1915. That will give us at least three years' sure evidence of the working of the scheme We shall know more about the problem in three years' time than any man in this House knows at the present time. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer will accept some Amendment of the kind I have put forward I think that he will certainly greatly improve the character and prospects of his own scheme, and he will send forth a message of hope and an assurance of help to those who are the most needy and the most pathetic class of the community.


I am sorry that no other Member of the House has risen to discuss this question, because I should have preferred to wait and hear some other alternative proposition which might have been made in regard to the Post Office depositors. I think everyone must agree that we have to-night reached a most difficult, and, I think, a most important part of the Bill. The proposition, as outlined by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sherwell) as to what the deposit contributors' part of the scheme really means is, on the whole, a fairly accurate one. But I dissent almost entirely from him that by any such means as he proposed we would get really at the root of the difficulty. I contend that it is not that the problem of the deposit contributor is one that is inherent in the commercial life that we live under to-day. It is inherent in the housing conditions under which so many thousands of our people live, and it is inherent in the fact that multitudes of men and women are unable to earn enough wages to provide the necessaries of life. The very report that the hon. Member mentioned, that of Dr. Newman, it self shows that a good deal of the disease and bad health amongst the children is due to malnutrition, bad feeding, and generally bad home conditions.

No amount of insurance—and I was expecting to hear the hon. Member say this over and over again—against the result of that condition of things can be any satisfactory solution to the problem. I want very emphatically to say that in my judgment this scheme that we have been discussing all these months starts on the assumption that when you have evils arising from bad health, or evils arising from unemployment, the proper thing to do is to set up a scheme of insurance against them. In contradistinction to what has been said, I want to say that this proposal to insure, against ill health and unemployment, is proceeding altogether on the wrong lines. If there is anything in what the hon. Member said, it is that most of these evils are preventable. Most of the things which he has pictured to us in a fashion that I think everyone of us must appreciate, arise not at all from causes over which we have no control, but from causes over which we have control. My objection to the whole of this scheme is that we are proposing to set up an elaborate scheme for insuring against the effect of evils which we might prevent if we took the necessary steps to prevent them.

I want, at the risk of boring the House, in a very common-place sort of way, to put before hon. Gentlemen the proposition that you have in every slum area children and young people suffering from phthisis and tuberculosis, and I understand that some steps are going to be taken to deal with them when they are first attacked with these diseases. Let me just give the House my experience of dealing with them in that particular way. For my lifetime I have lived amongst the people, and am still living amongst the people, who will make up the great body of Post Office contributors. In that lifetime I suppose I have raised money to send some dozen or more quite young people to a sanatorium. It cost a good deal of money to get the treatment. Nearly everyone of them has come back to live under their former wretched conditions and the disease has got hold of them again. Under this scheme we are invited to send people to sanatoria and to give them the benefits of fresh air. I invite the Committee before it embarks on any such proposal to pay a visit to the slum areas of Poplar, Hoxton, Bethnal Green, and Bow, and ask themselves whether it is any use pouring out money over sanatoria treatment and then sending the people who are suffering back again to those same kind of conditions?

I imagine that some hon. Members have thought that I and others were extremely bitter about this Bill. The reason I am bitter about it is that we are raising up hopes among these unfortunate people that something is now going to be done to lift them out of the slough of despair and misery that they are in. I say very respectfully to the House—and I speak what I know, not theoretically—that any such proposal as this to lift people out of the slums is foredoomed to failure unless you, first of all, prevent people living in slums. The first thing to be done is to give people living conditions. You do not do that; you come forward with this Bill, which, I say, leaves the helpless and destitute just where they are. People talk about these Post Office depositors sometimes as if they were ne'er-do-wells. Aye, and just now as if they were casuals, and, indeed, men who are physical wrecks. You have only to go and see the problem at the docks and in building jobs, in the loading and unloading of coal on the river, to see at once that the men who are casual labourers are not the physical wrecks they are sometimes thought to be. They are fulfilling a service that our commercial business arrangements make it absolutely necessary should be fulfilled by someone or the other. Until that is altered we will not go far ahead.

People ask what other scheme we have. There is one written. It may not be a perfect scheme. No scheme is. But you have the Majority Report and the Minority Report of the Poor Law Commission. Not a shred of evidence taken by that Commission and embodied in those Reports need to have been printed for all the good they have done in helping to draft the measure that is now before the House. I am throwing no blame upon either of the Reports, either the Minority or the Majority, but what is the evidence of the four doctors of the Local Government Boards of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, together with the head of the Public Health Department of the Local Government Board? Their evidence need never have been given. What did each one of them put on record? That it is quite useless to pour out money in mere treatment. Each one said that it is useless to attempt to tackle the problem of the destitute poor merely by doling out treatment or money. Each one of them put it on record that the thing, and the only thing, to be done is to prevent people ever slipping into living under those conditions at all. This Bill, and certainly this part of the Bill, does nothing to prevent that.

8.0 P.M.

You may, if you please, carry the proposition as it stands. I join the hon. Member in condemning paragraph (g), which forfeits the amount of money that a deposit contributor may have to his credit on death. I think I should be ashamed to be a Member of this House if any such proposition as that is carried. A more barefaced robbery, I think, could not possibly be imagined. I want to put my own proposition as it stands on the Paper. I maintain, first of all, that these people are victims of their conditions. I hope someone will attempt to prove that they are not. These conditions they have absolutely no control over. They are conditions which society has driven them to. I want to repeat something that I stated in the House once before, and I hope the Committee will excuse me doing it. If you go into the Local Government Board offices you will see there maps of every great capital of Europe. According to these maps the poor people live right down in the lowest part of every city, and in the lowest part of each of the great towns. No matter what the great town is the poor are herded in the least healthy part of it. I spoke a little while ago of the district I come from. There tuberculosis, phthisis, bronchitis, and all these diseases are most rife, most prevalent in those parts where we are nearest the river, and where the people are living on unhealthy land where people ought never to be living at all; along the banks of the River Lea. These people, according to the Bill, are to be called upon to insure against the result of living under these conditions. That goes on the assumption that these people had some choice as to where they should live, whereas we all know perfectly well if people could choose where they were to live they would select the healthiest spots they could. The problem of East London is proved by the fact that every one who can live outside it does so. But there you have them segregated together under wretched conditions. Everyone who knows the conditions of London knows that is true. I put it as a sane proposition to sane people that it is not fair that these people should be called upon to insure in the way proposed in this Bill and to insure as those will have to do under the Post Office scheme of this Bill. I call the attention of the medical men particularly to this fact. Not more than fifty or sixty years ago the system of dealing with house refuse and sanitary arrangements in the City were a disgrace to civilisation. When I was a boy I used to be taken to church to pray for the removal of small-pox, cholera, and other diseases. Everyone in his senses to-day knows that small-pox is not a plague sent by the Almighty, but that it is a dirt disease, and that by getting rid of the dirt you get rid of the disease, and that by proper and capable prevention you get rid of the diseases, as your fathers got rid of the plague and small-pox. If our forefathers were lunatics enough to set up State Insurance against cholera, small-pox, diphtheria, and all other such preventable disease when I was a boy these diseases would still be with us. Instead of that they took the sound and sensible course which the Government and those who make eloquent speeches on the evils of consumption and other diseases are not taking. I contend what the Government ought to do is to follow on the lines of public health legislation which our fathers adopted to put an end to disease, instead of insuring against preventable evils—I want to emphasise that point as strongly as I can—and to impress upon the local health authorities the duty of combating diseases in their districts and giving the poorer district what help we can nationally to rehouse their people and to get rid of the conditions against which this Bill wants them to insure. I set against the phinciple of mere insurance the principle of prevention and treatment.

I do not want to be told I am not in favour of helping the poor consumptives. I am in favour of helping the consumptive, but I want to lift him up permanently and not to tumble him back again into the same condition. I ask the Government to stick to the lines of the public health legislation of the past, and in doing that I am only asking what I should have thought was the natural thing to do. Will anyone tell me what is the difference between the public health authorities taking a consumptive patient and treating him in an efficient manner and finding out the cause that produced consumption and phthisis and dealing with small-pox patients. Anyone who knows anything about public health knows that if a person gets small-pox he is taken hold of and treated in a certain manner, no matter what his income may be; he is isolated by the public health officer, and no charge is made unless he is able to isolate himself. You want to protect society from smallpox, and the medical officer finding a person suffering from small-pox goes right back and traces where the case came from, sees that the conditions are cleared up, and that nobody else gets the disease. I put that case to the Government, and I am sorry the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not here to hear what I suggested, because I expect to learn to-morrow that no one has made any proposal to him about this matter. I hope somebody on the Government Bench will remind him that however stupid that proposition may seem it was the course our fathers adopted. They dealt with the person affected, and they took precautions to prevent anyone else from being affected. They never dreamed of putting an insurance scheme in force against a disease which was preventable. One other word, and again I am sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not here. I say when the Chancellor of the Exchequer goes to the country and makes the public speeches he has made upon this subject, and tells these people that he has a message of hope for the poor and the destitute and those who are low down generally, he is playing with words and playing with the problem which exists amongst the poor.

Any man who knows this problem knows perfectly well that this scheme will not help the destitute, will not help the casual, and will not help the sick poor in our cities. They know as well as I do that all the evidence you can accumulate proves that the people who will be refused by the friendly societies, and will not be able to get into them are people you are going to tax just the same as if they were in the friendly societies, and in the end they will not have any insurance at all. People talk about 9s. a week. Everyone knows that according to the schedule the rates are to be deducted per day, in these cases. The question was asked as to which employer ought to deduct the payment under the Bill, and the answer was "the employer who employs the person on the first day." That does not mean that you are going to deduct 4d. or 3d. or 2d. from 9s. or 12s., but from 1s. 6d. a day and upwards. Take the case of the charwoman. I know a good many of them, and you are going to say to the woman who gets 2s. a day charing that her wages are based upon 12s. per week, and that she must pay 2d. Another woman who may be earning 9s. a week will get off scot free. Some Members disagree with that, but I am only going by the Schedule. There are people who may have got some backstairs information, something different as to what is going to happen; that is not my fault. I take the Bill and the Schedules of the Bill. When that proposition which is lauded in the country as a proposition to help the poor it is a fraud upon the poor. It is telling them that there is help for them where there is really none. I do not want that there should be any misunderstanding about my position in regard to this Bill. Not only do I say that the landlord and other people who own land drive the poor into these slums, but I say this country of ours is getting richer and richer every day while the poor and the workers are getting poorer and poorer every day, and I am not going to have any sort of hand in a mere insurance scheme for the purpose of exploiting the poor. You and I are borne upon the backs of the tellers and the workers and you never will get them out of their misery until you take that load off their backs, and because this Bill postpones that day I am opposed to it and hope it will not be carried.


I do not generally agree with the hon. Member who has just sat down, but I am bound to say that I do agree with the greater part of what he has said to-night. We are dealing here with what I believe to be the crux of the whole Bill. So far we were dealing with the better off among the working classes who can insure themselves as members of friendly societies. Now we are dealing with the poorest of the poor, who cannot get into friendly societies, who represent the very poorest casual labourers and bad lives. These are the people who, above all, want the help of the Government and of the House of Commons, yet what is the proposition made on their behalf in this National Insurance Bill? I venture to say it is a most ineffectual proposition, and the worst part of the whole Bill. It is called insurance; it really is not insurance at all, it is compulsory thrift amongst people so poor that in most cases they cannot exercise any thrift at all; they ought not to be compelled to exercise thrift. It is compulsory thrift of a very ineffectual order, with the result that it will be impossible for those people, and after a short time they will be turned out of the scheme and will get nothing at all.

The hon. Member has put his finger on the right spot when he pointed out that the proper way in which we ought to proceed is not by thrift but on practical lines of health and by going to the root of the matter. I think he was perfectly right in saying that the chief cause at the root of the difficulty is the terrible housing conditions of the people in many of our large cities. The hon. Member said that the deposit contributors will be largely drawn from people living in very unhealthy conditions; he pointed out that the sanatorium plan would have no permanent effect, because when these people left the sanatoriums they would have to return to the horrible unhealthy hovels from which they came. Speaking for myself, and I speak with some experience as Chairman of the Housing Committee of the London County Council, I say if this million of money which is to be spent in sanatorium benefits was handed over to the local authorities to get rid of the slums we should do a great deal more than trying to cure that which requires prevention at the very source. This Bill, in the Clause which I cannot discuss and in this Clause, strikes the evil too late. We want to go to the source, and I quite agree with the hon. Member that instead of spending money on compulsory thrift if we went to the source and dealt with unhealthy conditions and the clearing away of those horrible slums which the local authorities cannot clear themselves, we would be doing a great deal more good than can be done by the sanatorium Clauses in this Bill and under the Clauses we are discussing at the present moment. I do not hesitate to say if I had £1,000,000 a year from national sources to spend in the slums I should do a very great deal more good for the poor than this Bill will do. Can it be supposed that by these provisions we are giving any substantial help to the poorest of the poor? I do not want to say a word against helping the better-off amongst the working classes. I have supported this Clause, and I have supported this Bill all through, but this House should try to assist those who are the worst off of all. What is this Clause? After all it is only compulsory thrift. A man has to contribute for fifty-two weeks before he can get anything, and at the end of that time he can only get just what stands to his credit. It has been calculated that he can get about two and a-half weeks' sick benefit. Suppose a man falls sick and is out of work, and he has contributed for a whole year. He gets two and a-half weeks' sick benefit, and then he is turned out of the scheme. What is going to become of him? This is called a universal scheme of national insurance.

The case made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is that although there are only about six million people insured in friendly societies there are fifteen million who ought to be insured, and the right hon. Gentleman thinks that by this scheme you will drag in the other nine million. I venture to say that he will not drag in anything like the nine million, and of those which you succeed in dragging in by the end of the year half of them will be out of it again, and they will never come back. What becomes of the universality of the scheme? You are compelled to subscribe and to insure for a certain number of years, and when you have done that out you go. This is supposed to be a scheme, not for the better-off of the working classes, but for the weakest and the poorest of all. Look at some of the other provisions: a man may go on getting medical and sanatorium benefits after he has lapsed until the expiration of the current year. If it is the 30th of December, he will be able to go on for one day. Take another extraordinary provision which has already been alluded to by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley. The Bill says, "The amount standing in the Post Office fund to the credit of any deposit contributor shall, upon his dying, be forfeited." These poor people get no benefit during their lifetime, and they can merely draw what stands to their credit, and why should they not get the benefit of what stands to their credit at death?


The insurance companies will not allow it to be done.


I think that provision ought to be taken out of the Clause. To be strictly in order, we are discussing the Amendment of the hon. Member for Huddersfield, which, I understand, aims at limiting the provision of this Clause to the year 1915. His object is that by that time we shall have arrived at something very superior to what is contained in this Clause. I hope his ideas are correct, and if I thought there was any chance of Parliament being able to evolve by the year 1915 some better scheme than this Clause contains I would support the Amendment. I venture to tell the Government that they will never evolve anything better so long as they proceed on the lines which they are now proceeding upon, and they must in this matter follow the lead of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley. They must go to the cause of the trouble rather than come in at a later stage and provide an absolutely inadequate remedy. If they would expend a great deal more money upon assisting localities to carry out the laws of public health and such matters as getting rid of slums and rehousing the people under more decent surroundings, they would do more towards, solving the difficulty of the deposit contributor than in any other way. Who is the deposit contributor? As a rule he is a man unable to join the friendly society because he has got some inherent disease which probably he picked up in his early surroundings. If you get rid of the horrible conditions of the early surroundings of these people you prevent them growing up in this state in the future, and in that way you will do more to solve the terrible question of the deposit contributors and help the poorest of the poor, and the people want to help most of all, than by any amount of compulsory thrift, even when it is State-aided.


I think the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley has very much under-estimated the preventive character of this Bill. One of the most serious charges made against this Bill in the country is that it is not really preventive in character, and that it does not go to the root of the question. I think we must readily admit that you cannot sweep away in one Bill all the great social evils, the vast and complex social evils to which the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley alluded. I think we may claim that in curing and asking for the means of curing cases of sickness which are at the present time considered incurable, we are doing that which is essentially preventive in character. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley gave an instance of this. Although he does not consider this Bill will be useful, actually he has personally acted along the lines which this Bill proposes to make national, because at great trouble and expense he went to the extent of raising funds by means of which a number of men could be sent to sanatoria. The hon. Member says that is not all that is necessary, and we all admit that, but if he did that as a private citizen and for his neighbours, surely we should not be condemned for doing our best to make possible a great national measure like this under which we do for the whole community what the hon. Member, as a generous citizen, was willing to do for his neighbours.

I want to appeal to the Committee to realise that the Bill is really far more preventive in character than the hon. Member will allow. Remember that by curing a single case of consumption you are preventing the growth of a large number of other cases. We cannot be quite hopeful as to the immediate preventable character of all our social evils, because after 2,000 years the medical profession are unable to cure, or to prevent even such a complaint as cold in the head. We shall have for centuries a vast number of serious diseases to fight against in spite of the advance of science, and, therefore, for generations we shall need to have national measures such as this to help to deal with sickness when it arises. We cannot hope in two or three generations to stop the causes of sickness altogether, in such a way as the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley seems to think possible. I want, in a few words, very strongly to appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to turn a favourable ear to the request which has been so powerfully made by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, that he will supplement his scheme, generous as it is, by an additional Treasury Grant to deal with the case of the children. I think the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley will agree it would be essentially a preventive measure if, along with this Bill and as a foundation for it, we got the promise of an increased Treasury Grant for the medical treatment of children. It may be urged that this has nothing to do with an insurance measure, but surely it is essential for the final success of an insurance measure that we should prevent in childhood diseases which, if they are not prevented, will make very serious inroads upon the insurance fund at a later stage. It is in the case of the deposit contributors that such preventive measures will be most of all needed, and such a Grant-in-Aid to help the local authorities in their treatment of children in connection with the already existing medical inspection would be the most important step that could be taken to prevent future great inroads upon the insurance fund, and it would in particular protect the interests of the deposit contributors. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley spoke especially of the hardship that would be felt under the Bill by such classes as domestic charwomen. The ordinary domestic charwoman would not be a compulsory contributor. It would only be the charwoman employed in a business house under the Second Schedule—


That really does not affect it, because there are many women employed even in business houses just one or two days in the week.


I quite accept that. Although I think the hon. Member has overstated the hardship that would arise, I do think it remains a very real one, and we must add to the class of charwomen employed in business houses those persons engaged in seasonal trades, such as the workers in the slipper-making industry in East London, the workers in trades connected with furriery, and the Irish labourers who come over to this country for the harvest season. All these people will inevitably come into the deposit contributor class. They would not attract the friendly societies as prospective members, and undoubtedly in their case the hardship would be very great if this were to be the final provision for them. We on this side of the House do not for a moment regard this Clause as a final provision any more than we regard the Bill in its present form as the last word on the subject. It is the first essential and by far the greatest step in probably a series of measures and, regarding it in that light, we can support the Clause, but we can only support it as a temporary measure. We therefore appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make this perfectly clear to the country by accepting some such Amendment as that which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Huddersfield.

In conclusion, I want, if I may, to add my own plea that paragraph (g) may disappear in its present form. I am one of those who put down Amendments dealing with that particular point, and, if it is not possible to be more generous—and I understand there are reasons which make it almost impossible—I hope it may at least be possible for the Government to accept in that particular case the suggestion I have ventured to make. Although it may be impossible upon the death of a deposit contributor to return the whole of the money which stands to his credit in the Post Office account, it should be possible to return the money which he himself has paid in, as distinct from the money paid in by the employer and the money received from, the State. If that money, possibly with interest, could be returned, and if it could be administered for the benefit of his widow and his dependents by the health committee, I think we should remedy a great injustice which may arise from the Bill. I venture to say it would not be death benefit in the ordinary sense of the word. There would be no insurance. There would be no additional advantages. The actual contributions the man himself had paid in would be returned, and no more. I venture very strongly to plead with the Government to be willing to accept some such proposal.


I do not see my way to supporting the Amendment, because I consider the whole scheme with regard to the deposit contributors is so thoroughly bad that it is no good saying it shall be reconsidered in three years' time. It will be far better to drop it out altogether. Unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer has some new scheme he intends to put forward at the last moment to meet the case of the deposit contributor, I believe there will not only be no benefit for the people who come in under the Post Office scheme, but there will be serious harm. The Clause says deposit contributors may be insured persons who, having been members of approved societies, have been expelled therefrom. That shows one great class who would come in as deposit contributors would be members who had been expelled from other societies. How many employers would be prepared, after this, to take on, except under stress, a man who is a deposit contributor? The very first question asked by any employer taking on a new workman would be, "What society are you insured in?" and when the man said he was a deposit contributor the employer would know he was a man who had been expelled from a friendly society, or was a man whose life was too bad for the friendly society to accept. How many of these men under those circumstances are going to be employed? It is perfectly obvious that far from doing anything to benefit or assist this class, you will be deliberately hurting their future chances of getting employment in this country. Surely there ought to be some other system found. Surely it is not beyond the power of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in making this Christmas Box to find something to give to the class who want it. This class is not going to be benefited in any degree.

There will be a great many people who will not come in. How are you going to get the large number of casual labourers, the people who do odd jobs on their own, such as porters? How do you propose to get them in? If they come into this Post Office scheme as deposit contributors they will be very seriously penalised indeed in their chances of getting employment in the future. I hope the Government, if they have no proposal for remodelling this system of deposit contributions, will put the whole thing aside for future consideration. We are hurrying this thing through, heaven knows, fast enough. Is it possible in the time to produce a decent scheme? If not, drop this class out altogether and deal with them next year. Pass your Bill as it is and deal with that problem in a different way another year. I do not think it is possible that the machinery to be set up by this Bill will assist or help this class. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he makes his statement on this scheme as a whole will be prepared, if he cannot propose anything better, to drop this out and deal with the question as a whole next year.


I do not quite appreciate the view arrived at by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley—


I thought I made it clear that I desired prevention rather than treatment.


I am very glad to have that admission from the hon. Member, but I confess I do not quite understand his objection to the measure even in its present form. The hon. Member referred to the housing question, but he forgot to mention that that question was very much one of wages, and if the hon. Member should introduce into this House some measure calculated to increase the wages of working men I, for one, shall be most pleased to support him. It is only fair to say that the new provision with regard to members of the smaller friendly societies has considerably increased the advantages. But then there is the case of the casual labourer: the man whose wages are very low, even when he is in full employment. Take the case of the agricultural labourer in North Wales. His average is 18s. 7d. per week. In Denbighshire it is only 18s, and in another part it falls to 17s. 6d. Allowing for the time that the man is out of work, and for other contingencies, it is easy to see that he will soon be out of benefit. I agree that there is considerable difficulty with regard to the question what can be done in such a case as that. But I am entirely at a loss to understand the position taken up by the hon. Member for Blackburn. He condemns the whole Bill, root and branch, because he says it is intended to tax the workman and compel him to contribute out of his hard earned small wage. Anyone who takes an interest in the question knows that the average wage of the working man is very often insufficient to meet the needs of his family, and I for one would have been pleased if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been able to apply to all who receive less than 20s. per week the rule he now proposes to apply to those obtaining less than 9s. But I do not understand why if the Bill does not go so far as we could wish we should object to it in toto. I agree that any man obtaining less than 20s. a week should make no contribution, and I should be very pleased indeed to see accepted later on an Amendment excluding those who get less than 20s. from making this contribution. I would like to see the whole burden of their insurance put upon the Imperial Exchequer.

Under Clause 59 there are special provisions with regard to Ireland, including one for the establishment of county societies. One of those provisions provides for a reduction of benefits below the minimum fixed by the Act. I take it that that provision is intended to meet the case of the agricultural labourer in Ireland who may not be able to contribute even 4d. per week. If so, that is a provision which may well be applied to rural districts in England and Wales, and county councils might be vested with the power of making rules laying down conditions applicable to the circumstances in which they find themselves. The Welsh Members have suggested that such a provision should be applied to Wales, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to say, even if he cannot apply it to England, that he will do so to Wales.


We all listened with deep attention to the speeches of the hon. Members for Huddersfield and Bow and Bromley—speeches which impressed the House because they were delivered by men speaking from practical experience. I am sure every Member of this House shares the sincere desire to improve the conditions of the working classes and, as far as possible, to prevent illness. But, after all, this is an Insurance Bill. Its object is to mitigate and improve the lot of a man who is ill, but it does not profess or pretend to have within its purview an alteration of the Poor Law. It does not pretend to ameliorate the lot of the working classes of the country except in so far as it improves their conditions when they are ill. Therefore it seems to me, deep as everybody's sympathy must be with the real need in this country for preventing conditions which give rise to illness, there is no reason why we should not support a Bill the purview of which is, as far as possible, to mitigate the lot of those who are already ill.

The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley objected to the whole of this Clause because, he said, it would be a terrible thing that a man suffering from phthisis should be taken from the place where he incurred the disease, that he should be treated under the Bill and then return to his old conditions. Everybody would desire to see a man who had been under treatment return to healthy instead of unhealthy conditions, but I cannot go to the extent which the hon. Member's logic seemed to carry him that one must oppose this scheme altogether and not treat a man who is ill because you have unfortunately to return him after his illness to the old conditions. We would rather have the conditions altered so that as soon as he is cured he will be enabled to live under such conditions as would eliminate the danger of his again incurring the disease. But I would rather see him treated under this Bill than that he should not get the advantage which it gives him, even if he has to return to the bad conditions—I say I would rather see him thus treated than that he should get no treatment at all. I venture to think that the energy of the Members of this Committee would be better directed to improving the scheme of insurance for deposit contributors rather than dealing with a condition of things which does not come within the purview of a national insurance scheme at all, and which does not provide a remedy for things which are crying out to be remedied.

My criticism is that this deposit insurance scheme, treating it as an insurance scheme, is so faulty. We are all at one that the deposit insurer will be the man who is not acceptable to an insured society because of the state of his health. He is the man deserving of help under this particular scheme, but how are you going to give it? You treat him less generously than any other class to whom you are extending the advantages of insurance under this scheme. The Clauses relating to him are more drastic; indeed, they are so drastic that a good many of us think that the Clauses relating to deposit insurance are not Clauses relating to insurance at all. Insurance involves that there is an advantage to the insurer beyond the actual accumulation of premiums that he pays. Every insurance scheme is founded on the principle that you average the risks, and that you create a fund to which we can contribute, the advantage of which may fall to you or to me, but does not fall to all alike. It is the averaging of the risks that creates the fund. Under this Bill you provide nothing more than this, that the insurance premiums are to be paid to a fund, and that the man who insures under certain conditions is to get back the amount of those premiums and no more, less, perhaps, a heavy percentage for management expenses. That is not insurance at all: it is merely a scheme by which you and the employer pay into a savings bank a certain sum, and you are entitled to have it back if you are ill, and even then you are only entitled to have it back if you fulfil the drastic conditions set out in the Clause.

The deposit contributor is to pay in fifty-two weeks' premiums before he gets any benefit at all. Why? I assume the Chancellor of the Exchequer had some scheme in his mind when framing this Clause, but it is very difficult to understand it at the present time. If the whole deposit insurance scheme is based on this, that the contributor is to have back only what he pays, why should he not get it back at the time he ceases to pay the instalments? On what logical basis is a contributor to pay fifty contributions and lose the lot? Paragraph (g) has been the subject of drastic and well-deserved criticism. What can the Chancellor of the Exchequer have had in his mind when he proposed that if an insurer has paid contributions to the Post Office and then dies, that the whole of his contribution is to be forfeited? Forfeited to what, and why? There would be some sense if it were forfeited to a central fund and the advantages were to be spread over the whole scheme, but it is absolutely forfeited, it disappears into the ewigkeit. There is no pooling of the fund under this scheme. I suggest that the details of the scheme are such that the Committee would be well occupying its time in carrying out the expressed desire of every Member to improve the Bill if, instead of devoting eloquent speeches to social conditions we all deplore, we were to join in trying to make this deposit insurance part of the Bill rather run on more effective and more generous lines, and make it real insurance instead of leaving it as it is at present—a mere sham.


The hon. Member appears to think that it is a defect in the Bill that it does not reach everyone. Surely an insurance Bill can only insure those capable of paying premiums. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) made a rather fierce attack on this part of the Bill, and said it attempted to treat symptoms without getting down to the cause of the evils. He treated the Bill as if it were a substitute for other reforms, and not supplemental to other reforms. If I thought this Bill was to be treated as a substitute for deeper and sounder measures, I would oppose it, but, as a matter of fact, the Bill supplements the efforts which are now going on, and which will go on concurrently with the operation of this Bill. If we pause for a moment and examine what is being done in those deeper regions to which the hon. Member directed his attention, we find that the silent, unostentatious, and effective efforts of the Local Government Board have been dealing with the very evils on which the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley places his finger. Within the last two years the representations made by the Local Government Board to local authorities have gone up from 6,000 to 23,000. The number of closing and demolition orders, and orders for improvements in the houses in the slums, has enormously increased since the Town Planning Act came into operation. The efforts of public health authorities here and elsewhere have, during the last ten years, reduced the percentage of diphtheria by 50 per cent., infantile mortality has dropped 30 per cent., and the general death rate has dropped 20 per cent.; mortality from phthisis has gone down by 15 per cent. During the same period other tuberculous diseases have dropped by 20 per cent. Puerperal fever has gone down by 20 per cent., and enteric fever, a slum disease, by no less than 70 per cent. All these efforts have been going on, and are intended to go on, notwithstanding this Bill. Most of the diseases I mentioned are slum diseases, due to overcrowding, defective houses, and insanitary conditions, and most of this change has taken place during the last six years. The hon. Member (Mr. Lansbury) treated this Bill as if it attempted to cure these evils instead of preventing them. It is a preventive measure, because if you prevent the lower strata from being recruited from those people who are now enjoying good health, you have a preventive measure. You can prevent excessive illness and distress in the future, and the Bill is going to do that, and in that sense it is a preventive measure.

I think it is a matter of criticism against the Bill that it deals with symptoms and not with causes. Let me give a simple analogy. A practitioner of the old school used to treat symptoms of disease and not causes. If he had a patient with pain, he put something in his medicine for the relief of pain. If he had loss of appetite, he gave him something to stimulate his appetite. If he had loss of sleep, he gave him something to make him sleep. He treated symptoms simply because he could not make a diagnosis. A practitioner of the modern school ignores symptoms altogether and deals with causes, but if a case would take some considerable time treatment, a practitioner of the modern school would treat the symptoms promptly. If a patient were suffering acute pain he would get relief at once. If he were suffering from any of those symptoms which require immediate treatment, it would be given pending the subsequent treatment of the cause. The Insurance Bill is treating urgent conditions. I admit they are symptoms. Tuberculosis is a disease of the individual, but it is a symptom of disease in the social body. Sickness is a disease of the individual, but it is a symptom of a condition. It is a symptom of slum life and of alcoholism. Loss of employment is a symptom in the individual, but it is a disease of the social body. Unemployment is due to defective constitution, to irregular habits, such as intemperance, and to slum life and low wages. So that you have these symptoms and the Bill deals with them, but the conditions exist now, and you cannot wait for the treatment of the cause. Consequently, the question is so urgent that this measure deals with the symptoms as they exist, but does not in any way do away with the effort that is still carried on, and in the future will be carried on, by the Local Government Board and by our health authorities.

9.0 P.M.

I do not look upon the Ball as being the end of the matter. It is going to be followed by other reforms. The Local Government Board effort will increase in geometrical progression from the fact that we are discovering how effective those reforms are. We are discovering how effective the Town Planning Act has been. We are discovering that if you clear out the slums you clear out the disease that belongs to the slums. We are discovering that these precautions which are being taken and these preventive efforts which are being made, are so fruitful and so immediately beneficial, that the efforts of local authorities and the Local Government Board have increased enormously in a few years, quite independently of this Bill. We are going to have compulsory notification of tuberculosis, another public health effort quite independent of the operations of this Bill. Then there will be constant supervision of defective homes which I think is necessary, and the Bill will be a great educative measure. It will suggest reform in the method of grappling with disease, and you will find that the educative value of the Bill alone will give an enormous impetus to the cure of disease and the diminution of poverty and distress. Then licensing reform will come up as a supplemental local reform, which will deal with the evils to which the hon. Member (Mr. Lansbury) referred. I look forward with great hope to the Bill, not that it is going to accomplish all that those who applaud it now suggest, but that it will go to prevent many of those evils to which the hon. Member refers, and prevent the recruiting of the ranks of the lower strata in our social life from those who are enjoying constant employment and good wages to-day. In that sense it will prove to be a preventive measure.


I do not really feel that because the Bill happens to suggest new methods that is saying very much in its favour. Everyone will agree that the hon. Member (Mr. Lansbury) made an extraordinarily interesting speech, and really exposed the grossly inadequate character of this part of the Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, I think on the Second Reading, or perhaps on the First Reading, in connection with the deposit contributors, that he could not insure a burning house. The Chancellor of the Exchequer obviously regards the deposit contributors as uninsurable. I do not want to go into the question of whether they are really insurable. I am sure a great many Members think very much more should be done for them. But if the Chancellor of the Exchequer really believes that the deposit contributors are uninsurable, why does he go out of his way to put the word "insurance" into his policy? Why does he speak of deposit insurance when we really have it, on his own authority, that it is not insurance at all. The curious thing is that we are even to have the solemn farce in this Clause of a fall in the valuation of the banking accounts belonging to the deposit contributors, although it is not a question of valuation at all, but merely of arithmetical addition. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot really give these people under these Clauses proper insurance, would it not be wiser to make it perfectly plain not only on the floor of the House, in a speech, buy in the Bill itself? It would really raise a good many fewer hopes, and I think would be a fairer policy in the end. I hope I am saying so with all respect, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a very ingenious salesman. We know that he can persuade anybody to take anything and practically pay what price he asks. But it is when you get your bargain home and begin to unpack it that the trouble begins.

We have heard a great deal lately in the House and in the country about rare and refreshing fruits for parched lips. Will there not be some natural disappointment when it is found that the poorest of the poor and the most unfortunate of the community have only got the damaged goods at the bottom of the basket. It certainly would be very gratifying, and I think it would vastly raise one's opinion of human nature, if some part of the fruit out of the right hon. Gentleman's basket would go to those who have no organisation, very few opportunities of protest, and, alas for them, very little voting power in the constituency. I am afraid this kind of principle is not very likely to take place in any administration and I am quite sure it is not very likely to take place if ever the business Government comes into power which is so dear to the hon. Member (Mr. Bottomley). The worst thing it seems to me for social reform in the future is that its path should be strewed with the debris of the ill-fashioned schemes of the past. If anything has got to be done and can be done for the deposit contributors, it ought to be done now without any delay. When the present fluidity of the Insurance Bill has solidified into an Act of Parliament it will be practically impossible to do anything to insure these classes of the community who are now left in the lurch. The right hon. Gentleman has said at various times in this House that it is impossible, but I do not believe anything is impossible to the genius of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has surmounted many difficulties before now, and especially during the last few weeks. The whole difficulty which I think the Committee are experiencing at the present moment is due to this hasty legislation, which is being rammed through without any adequate discussion, and without any opportunity of considering any alternative policy.


I do not altogether agree with the remarks of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson). I differ from him absolutely with regard to the possibility of amending this Bill at a later stage. If I understand aright the German State Insurance scheme, which is a very complex measure, has been frequently and constantly amended, and I imagine that Clause 32 of this Bill which we are now discussing is one which is intended as an experiment in the direction of helping, perhaps not in a very substantial way, a body of people who are too weak to help themselves. I was looking at the latest of Mr. Charles Booth's books in regard to London, and one sentence struck me very forcibly. He is asking whether it may not be possible by some means to raise the lowest levels of human life without checking expansion and development above. I do not say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has gone absolutely the right way to raise the lowest levels of human life. Personally, if I may give my own candid opinion, I do not think he has. If I wanted to reach those people who are most helpless, and yet not altogether undeserving—I mean the ineffective, the unemployable, and the casual labourer—I should begin with the children. I should begin by making a large grant, or, at any rate a substantial grant, to local education authorities for the medical treatment of children after they have been inspected. [An HON. MEMBER: "In this Bill?"] I would do it in this Bill, because I am perfectly certain that you can never remedy the weakness of a man who is called unemployable, or ineffective, in later life. You can never place him on a level with the average citizen. You must deal with that class of people while it is possible to cure their disease, and I am certain that you could make no better investment, looked at from the point of view of a State investment, than by paying a few hundred thousand pounds for the medical treatment of children who at that age can be salved and made useful citizens later on in life. That is what I feel most strongly about in connection with this measure.

I want to say a word or two about the casual labourer. I remember speaking at a street-corner meeting a few years ago, and I admonished my audience to be more optimistic and to have better courage. A big dock worker came to mo and said, "You know Shelley's saying, 'Hell is a city very much like London,' and the whole world is hell for the casual docker." I have come to the conclusion that this Bill cannot do very much for the casual labourer. It cannot do very much for the man who is almost cursed and damned from his birth, who has never had a fair chance, who is never properly fed, and whose tissues have been devitalised. He has no real opportunity for developing his physical and mental powers. What we want is to give him a chance and opportunity. It is almost too late with the men who are grown up, but you can help the children, and, so far as these men are concerned, I am going to vote for the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sherwell), fixing the date at 1st January, 1915, because I believe that by that time we may see our way out. I confess I do not think the Insurance Bill, as ordinarily understood, will do it. I have had the opportunity of speaking at a large number of meetings on this Bill, and I have always challenged anybody to come up to the platform and tell me what is to be done with those men who have been always more or less sick or ill since childhood, and who are thoroughly ineffective and incapable, not through their own fault. I have not a bit of condemnation for them. It is the fault of their parents and of society. I challenge anyone to come up and say how you can insure these people adequately. Is there a society in existence that will take them? I contend that there is not. There is no society that will receive them. It is clear, then, that you cannot put them in an Insurance Bill except in an exceptional way, and that is the only apology I have to make for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He puts them in a class which he calls "deposit insurance," which is not insurance at all, in the hope that by the experiment some way may be discovered later on to help this large class of people, who seem to be unable to help themselves.

All I contend for to-night is that if we support this Clause, we must not regard it as in any sense a permanent thing. It is purely an experiment until better and more satisfactory measures are devised for meeting the needs of the casual labourer, the inefficient, the unemployable, and the other classes of men the hon. Member for Huddersfield enumerated. I have listened to the speeches on both sides of the House, and I find there is a very general desire everywhere to help these people, and I am sure that general desire will find expression at no very distant date—at any rate we will say 1915—when this Government or some other Government will be compelled to bring forward a measure either amending this Act—though I cannot see how it is to be satisfactorily amended in the way of helping these people—or giving us another Bill that will do for the weakest, the most ineffective, and the most incapable, what is being done for the skilled artisan to-day.


It is very agreeable to see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has returned to the House, and I must say that during his absence we have had proof of the proverb, "When the cat's away the mice will play." If anybody had wanted more candid criticisms of the Clause now before the Committee, it would be impossible to express them more clearly, concisely, and convincingly than they have been expressed from the other side of the House. Perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer will read them to-morrow. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he endorses the view of his Friends on his side of the House, that this Clause is an experiment, and to state if this so-called deposit insurance—there is a great deal more deposit than insurance about it—is an experiment, at whose expense it is to be carried out. Surely that is the point. We have had a great deal of sympathy expressed for the poorest classes of the population—sympathy with which everybody is in agreement—but after all if you are going to try experiments which entail that the poorest people in the country shall first of all make a considerable deposit, then by no stretch of imagination can you include these poor people among those who are to be the recipients of "gifts," which I believe is the technical name for the benefits to be given by this Bill. Everybody will be in agreement with the desire to introduce preventive measures to go to the root and the cause of those evils.

But can anybody pretend that this goes to the root of any of the evils which have been complained of? The hon. Member who gave such an eloquent appreciation of the President of the Local Government Board alluded to all that had been done by that Board. Can it be maintained that this Clause is going in any way to assist the kind of work that is being done by the Local Government Board? So far from helping anybody it will increase the amount of destitution, particularly with regard to casual labour. Under present conditions a man may employ during the worst part of the year a number of men on short time. This Bill compels him to pay 4d. a week for every man in addition to his wages. The natural result will be that instead of employing as many men as possible he will employ as few as possible. So far, therefore, from helping those most in need of employment at the worst time of the year, this Clause is calculated to diminish employment and wages. I see an hon. Member shaking his head as if he thought this extra payment did not matter to employers. In the part of the world from which I come there are two big concerns, one of which has made a loss consistently for ten or twelve years, while the other has never paid any dividends at all on its common stock. They employ normally about 3,000 men. They are not private concerns, but companies responsible to their shareholders, and while concerns are in that condition there is no room for generosity. After all, 4d. a week mounts up when you are employing from two to three thousand people. You are deluding people with false hopes if you lead them to suppose that generosity of that sort is possible when at the same time industry is being hit by this burden of £25,000,000 which is being put upon it. The hon. Member who made that eloquent speech in admiration of the President of the Local Government Board indicated that this measure was to be followed by a good many others. No doubt it will be. Whichever party is in power it is bound to be followed by other measures of considerable reform, but it is idle to contend that this particular Clause in any way fits in with any scheme of social reform, or is going to assist in uplifting the lowest grades of the population. Therefore I welcome most cordially this Amendment which practically sets back the Clause to the Greek kalends. 1915 is a long way off, and whatever provision is made for these unfortunate deposit contributors so long as it does not come into effect until 1915—


That is not the Amendment at all.


I am sorry I misread it. I do not suppose there is very much in it, to say that a measure is only for three years. There is no time limit in the Bill or in any of the Clauses. Consequently I think I am justified in saying that if that is the Amendment it is pure waste of time to put it in. Doubtless it is put in for some other reason. The fact remains that so far as these deposit contributors are concerned very little is done for them in the Bill. Figures are quoted of social reform, about the diminution of sickness, and of overcrowding. Good work has obviously been done and improvements are taking place in the condition of the poor. But there are figures which hon. Members are not in the habit of quoting—those with regard to emigration. Whatever has been done you have not been successful in creating a state of affairs which will keep the most active people in the country. They are leaving it now-faster than ever they did. This year so far the emigration has been greater than in any previous period. That does not seem to indicate, whatever else social reform has done, that it has succeeded in making this country a, better place for working men than the other places they have gone to. When you are discussing broad questions of social reform, if you are making a levy, as you are doing, to the extent of 1s. per head per week on the working people of this country, the first thing to do is to take steps that they shall have that shilling to spare from their wages. They are not going to get it out of this measure. The cost of living has gone up, but wages have not gone up, and the working classes are not in a position to bear any burden; nor if we consider the returns of trading and the dividends paid by companies can you contend that the business of the country is in a condition at this moment to bear any burdens. If you wish to include this measure in your scheme of social reform you are bound to take some steps to secure at any rate that those who may be called upon to pay the Bill will be in a position to do so. It is because this particular Section of the Bill which is not insurance, and is nothing resembling anything put into any other insurance Bill, seems to me by far the worst that I trust that some large Amendment will be put into it for the purpose of making its effects less harmful than they would be if it remains unaltered.


I do not wish to follow the last speaker in all that he has told us, but I think it important in a measure like this that we should recognise that we cannot do everything by one measure. Several of us on this side agree that the remarks of the hon. Member have made out an excellent case for a more drastic Land Bill, and I hope that when this Government are able to look into this question, we shall have his support in doing something to stem the tide of emigration. I wanted to combat the view he put before us that this measure could not be understood to be a preventive measure. It may not go as far as many of us desire, but if it be true that the great reason of poverty is because of sickness and unemployment, surely anything that we do to deal with unemployment, or to provide a certain sum for sickness, is in the best sense of the word a preventive measure. Very largely I agree with what has been said, that this Bill does not go as far as we desire, and I hope very much that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give us some hope to-night that he is prepared to weave into this measure some suggestions that were made by my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sherwell). I think it is most important for us to remember that if this Bill is to be successful, and if the funds of the society are to be solvent, it is immensely important to lift up the whole standard of the health of the nation, and I believe one of the best ways in which this can be done is to start with the child. I believe that one of the best ways of decreasing the number of men or women likely to become deposit contributors is to deal with the child, and make him or her physically fit. I hope, also, that the Chancellor will recognise how many of those who come in the class we are talking about to-night are there because of tubercular disease in one form or another. And when we remember that the results of medical inspection have been to show that there are at the present time 60,000 children in this country who are tubercular, I think that is an indication of the immense importance of dealing with that branch of the subject.

I hope that before this Bill passes through this House the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to tell us that he is determined to deal with this question of the eradication of consumption in a national way, and apply it not only to insured persons but to all who need it. I want also to refer to another remark that the hon. Member made. He seemed to ridicule the thought that it is worth while making this experiment with regard to the deposit contributors, even for three years. I do not think we shall find that that is the case. I am one of those who believe we shall find that these people whom we are talking about are not an insurable class, and that they must be dealt with in another way. I think it would be a real advantage to any reform measure that may follow this, if we use these three years in trying to find out exactly who these people are. We must have classification. We must find out exactly who they are, and what they need. We must collect our facts, and one of the first things to do is to try and classify the people. When we classify them, I think we shall find that a large number are unable to contribute anything at all to insurance. I think we shall find, when we come to deal with these people, that the problem raises all those difficult questions of the restriction of personal liberty, questions like compelling the people to work, of removing temptation out of the way of the people who are not morally fit to stand against it, possibly difficult questions such as separating husband and wife. It is far better for us to employ those two or three years in classifying these people, in getting our facts, so that when we do deal with the question we can deal with it in a thorough and statesmanlike way.

I think, also, we shall find that it is a question that comes very close to the reform of the Poor Law, which is a question I am perfectly certain that this Government cannot leave for very much longer. For these reasons I warmly support the Amendment that my hon. Friend has moved. I also support the suggestion that he has made for making this measure a still further preventive measure, and the suggestion that he has made that we should do all that we can to prevent men and women slipping down from membership in approved societies to becoming Post Office contributors. I believe, in that connection, that the two suggestions my hon. Friend has made will be found to have considerable substance in them. I believe that the question of arrears does want looking at, and I think that if something could be done to give some advantage to those societies which let in members without a medical test, there again we should find that we should save a considerable number from slipping down and becoming Post Office contributors. I earnestly hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to respond to these suggestions, and, if he does, I think he will immensely improve this Bill. I believe that he will give encouragement to those who have already been working in every kind of way in the localities with the object that he has in view, and I think nothing would be more likely to bring about the co-operation of the local authorities and the local education authorities than some grant given to those bodies for dealing with the question of consumption and with the medical treatment of children. I warmly support the Amendment that my hon. Friend has moved.


I am sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not in his place during the Debate to hear not only Members on this side but several of his own Friends. My sense of humour prevented my making an appeal to an absent Chancellor of the Exchequer. I wish in particular that he had heard the speech of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), whose election the right hon. Gentleman was so anxious to secure. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley made a speech with the greater part of which, I believe, everybody in this House, except perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is in accord. I say the greater part of the speech, because I think the hon. Member spoiled a statesmanlike utterance by a very cheap and Socialistic peroration. What was his peroration? He endeavoured to prove that all the evils, that everybody deplores, of the poorer classes were due to the tyrannical capitalist and to the murderous landlord.


I am sure that the hon. Member does not want to misinterpret me. I neither think that the capitalist is a murderous capitalist or that the landlord is a tyrannical landlord as individuals. I only attack systems, which very often make men perfectly brutal when they otherwise would not be so.


Nothing is further from my mind than to misrepresent the hon. Gentleman, but I do not think he can deny that he did say that all the evil which we deplore and all the miseries of the poorer classes were due, if not to the individual, then to the capitalist system. I thought those were arguments which had been relegated to street-corner orators, and I thought that the audience of the street-corner orators had relegated those arguments to the dustbin.


They have relegated me here.


You were not relegated here for the argument advanced at the end of your speech. With the first part of that speech not only I but I believe nearly all the other Members are in accord. In that part the hon. Member said that in order to get rid of the evil we must get to the root of it and extirpate it. He also said he would like to see a large sum of money voted from the Exchequer for the benefit of the children, because I suppose he looks upon the child as a national asset. If the hon. Member will only continue to advance those arguments, which are not Socialistic, but which are sound social reform, human arguments because, believe me, it is not Socialism but social reform to help the individual to help himself, I say that if only he will continue to advance those arguments that he will get not only sympathy but support from a very large number of people who sit on this side of the House.


I must confess the hon. Member who has just spoken did not seem to me to be addressing himself particularly to the Amendment before the House.


Who is?


If the Chancellor of the Exchequer has no more serious criticism to meet than that advanced during the last hour, then I think that his Bill has a very great prospect before it. The criticism of the hon. Member for Rugby was that, in consequence of the contribution of the employers, there will be more unemployment and, therefore, there will be more deposit contributors, and that being a large class you should do nothing for them.


I am surprised at the hon. Member's description of my argument. Since anything less like it I never heard.


I quite recognise that the hon. Member may not recognise the conclusion, but it is the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the position he placed before us. There is one point I rose to speak about, and it is in reply to criticisms made by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). He said that this Bill was a fraud on the poor, and that it was doing nothing to prevent the people living in slums. Why do a large number of people go to live in the slums, and in the overcrowded areas. There is an instance of 540 to the acre in part of my own constituency which is a, shame and a disgrace. They go to live in the slums for various reasons, and one of them is dealt with in this Bill. That reason is, when a man gets ill, his source of income is dried up, and if he remains ill for a considerable time he moves into less desirable quarters because he cannot afford to pay as large a rent as he paid before. He gets nearer and nearer at every step to the slum to which the hon. Member refers, and the way to prevent him degenerating to the slum is to find him sick pay and medical treatment when he is ill. There is no question whatever that the provision of sick pay for those who join the approved society, and especially for those who are in the poorest group of approved societies, will be a most effective means to prevent them recruiting the class which will make up the deposit contributor.

As far as I can follow the argument of the hon. Member, he says there are a large number of people who are unable to enter this scheme because they will not be able to contribute, and so far as I can understand his suggestion, it is that we should treat those people by giving doles to municipalities or other authorities who will deal with them. That is the only conclusion which can be adduced from his argument. What does that mean? It means that in the first place you are sacrificing all the element whom you can induce or assist to contribute towards their own relief. You are losing them entirely, and you are giving doles to local authorities, but who for? The hon. Member is not able to tell us who for, and we must have some means of finding out. If you are going to deal with the question in that manner, you must have a basis to go upon. I must say that the argument of the hon. Member, unless this House is to commit itself to a system of wholesale doles, simply reinforces the rationale of the Bill. His contention that the Bill will do nothing to prevent the degradation of people of the poorest class, I am heartily of opinion is thoroughly unsound. It will prevent adults degenerating, for the reasons I have mentioned and which I need not dwell further upon, and it will prevent children—and I hope the Chancellor may develop the suggestion made on this point—it will prevent the children growing up and reinforcing that class, and in that way it will prevent the recruiting, both of the child on the one side and the man on the other.


I have endeavoured to give some consideration to the position of the deposit contributor, and I have come to the conclusion that under the Bill, framed as it is, his position is inevitable. It seems to me a necessary defect, for I consider it a defect on a scheme of compulsory insurance on these lines. An alternative would be to compel all friendly societies to take lives which they would otherwise reject. That is a course which no Member of the Committee would wish to adopt. Another alternative would be to give to the deposit contributor more State aid than is given to a member of a friendly society. That, again, is a course which no Member of the Committee would wish to take. You have only this position left, that you have a certain proportion of the population who really are uninsurable, and your Bill is to compel that uninsurable residuum to insure. That is the real defect of the position of the deposit contributor. It is an attempt, in order to fit them in with a general scheme of insurance, to compel the uninsurable persons to insure. The only way of dealing with that position is frankly to acknowledge that it is not insurance, and to make it, honestly and completely, simply compulsory thrift. I have put down a number of Amendments with that object in view. In the first place, treat the deposit contributor as if he were putting money into the Post Office Savings Bank, and give him interest on his money. Under the Bill he gets no interest whatever. If it is not really insurance, give him interest as if it were an investment which he had made in the Post Office Savings Bank. I agree that he gets the contributions of the employer and of the State; but as the money stands only in his own name there is absolutely no reason why he should not have interest on it.

Why should the long waiting periods apply to the deposit contributor? Why should a deposit contributor, when he has, say, ten months' accumulation standing to his credit at the Post Office, not be allowed to withdraw a portion of it if need be? Even though it compels him to go into the workhouse, he is not allowed to draw on his accumulation. That is an absurdity. The long waiting periods, which have a proper relation to insurance, have no relation to the case of the deposit contributor. Could anything be more objectionable than that a man should have a year's accumulation standing to his credit in the Post Office and not be able to draw on it because of a hard and fast rule which properly applies to the case of a friendly society, but has no proper application to the case of a deposit contributor? Take the case of a deposit contributor who wants to emigrate. He has money standing to his credit in the Post Office. It is in his own name; it is not mixed up with any general fund. Why should he not be allowed to draw on that? Why should it be absolutely forfeited if he emigrates? The series of Amendments which I put down is directed to making this provision what it really is, namely, compulsory thrift, pure and simple. You cannot give the deposit contributor proper insurance; therefore the best you can do is to give him his own fund when he wants it, and not tie him up by rules and regulations which have no real application in his case.

The same argument applies to the married woman. Why should a woman forfeit what stands to her credit in the Post Office when she marries? I could understand the argument in the case of a married woman who is a member of an approved society, but in the case of a married woman who has a fund in her own name at the Post Office I cannot see why it should be forfeited. If I may summarise my view, I regard the Post Office contributor as a necessary evil of the Bill. If you have a Bill of this character I do not see how you can avoid the evil, but it would minimise the evil if you made the position of the deposit contributor more nearly that of a man who has a sum standing to his credit in the Post Office Savings Bank. The general merits of the Bill it would be out of place to discuss, but I regard the position of the deposit contributor as a blot on the whole scheme.


We all recognise—the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be the first to do so—that this particular portion of the Bill is the weakest part of the scheme. It is undoubtedly the most difficult portion; it is the crux of the whole question. The difficulty is intensified by the fact that, not only at one end are you likely to get together the least satisfactory portion of the community in the matter of health, but, by working the scheme through societies, you are likely to get the best at the other end also separated. That seems tome almost inevitable when you once concede the principle of allowing separate societies to work the scheme. The more societies you allow to come in, the more you will allow select classes and select sections of the community to aggregate and get special benefits. That means that you lose the great advantage of averaging the whole community. If you could average the whole community, the strong, the healthy, and the fortunate would easily carry the burden of the weak and the ill. You lose some of the advantage of the general principle of insurance, but that seems inevitable. The point is, how are we going to deal with the difficulty before us? I have thought that there might be a possibility of, if not making, tempting by some inducement the societies to take in all these people. That would be the best possible solution if it could be managed. The more I think of it, the more I am convinced that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to compel societies to take in these men, for this reason. Some of them are sectional societies. You have, for instance, denominational societies. You could not compel them to take in men of another denomination. The same with temperance societies. You could not make them take in men who were not abstainers. Then there are trade unions. You could not compel them to take in men who were not members of their particular trades.

Then you have employers' organisations for their own staff and workpeople. You could not compel them to take somebody else or some other employés in. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Pancras passed on to criticise this scheme, describing it as compulsory thrift. It is something more than compulsory thrift. You are not only compelling the men themselves to subscribe, to contribute something, but you are adding to their contributions a still larger contribution from the State and from the employer. Therefore it is something more than compulsory thrift. Further, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that there was no interest. Oh, yes, there will be. This money will accumulate and will earn interest, and the whole of the fund is to be for the benefit of those concerned. Any surplus shown at the valuation will be available to add to the money which has been contributed by the men, by the employer, and by the State. They will thus get interest not only on their own money but on the money of the employers and of the State. It is therefore altogether erroneous to say that they are not getting interest. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, "It is not insurance."

It is not the best kind of insurance. But surely the principle of insurance is that those who have not fallen upon the funds should pay their contributions, should bear the burden of those who have fallen upon the funds. That is, the healthy and the fortunate will pay for the unhealthy and the unfortunate. But according to the hon. and learned Member, if a man has not had his money out, if he has not drawn his money in sick pay, he ought to be able to take it out for himself. That is not contributing to the weaker brethren. If a man has been fortunate enough not to be ill, under the scheme of the Bill his money is to remain in, and it will remain in for the benefit of those who have been unfortunate, and who have been ill. At any rate, we do get the element of insurance there. I do not know what the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to do in this matter. I am satisfied that he has devoted an enormous amount of attention to this very point, and that he has obtained whatever advice and suggestions he could—and we have had very little practical suggestion to-night. I do not complain. But when complaint is made we must remember that before we criticise that the right hon. Gentleman has been doing his best. He may be able to-morrow to make some suggestion.

10.0 P.M.

I attach enormous importance to what the hon. Gentleman the Member for York brought before the Committee. Let us know what we have to deal with. Let us wait a bit. This scheme will sort out those who can pay and those who cannot. Until you get them sorted out it is all guess-work. Let us know how many there are who do become Post Office contributors. If we wait two or three years we shall know how many of them there are. We shall know what stamp of people they are. We shall know why they are there, and then we shall have information and facts before us which will enable the Chancellor of the Exchequer to develop, his scheme. I am not very anxious to make the Post Office part of this scheme attractive just now. I do not want a lot of people in there. I want everybody to be got into the societies—the friendly societies, the trade unions, and the collecting societies. I want as many as possible to be got in there. Therefore I do not want the Post Office portion to be attractive at present. Let us get them into the societies as far as possible. Then when we have got all in that we can we may find that the number in the Post Office is so comparatively small that we may be able by some inducement to persuade the friendly societies to take those who remain. I have the impression also that the changes which have been made in the Bill bringing in the collecting societies and the great industrial insurance companies will lead to the door being opened very widely indeed for the admission of these people. There are 10,000,000 people going to be driven in—the bulk of them compulsorily. It is a fact that if these societies could have the whole of these 10,000,000 they could take them all, no matter what their state of health practically, and carry the burden easily.

Let me give a fact. It is the custom for ordinary life insurance offices to medically examine everyone who applies before admitting them. But very few people are aware that if a life assurance office could have every person who passed its door it could afford to take the lot without any medical examination at all. It is a fact that the mortality amongst insured persons who have passed a medical examination, as compared with the mortality of the whole of the community, differs comparatively little. The object of the medical examination in life insurance is not to select the best; it is to keep out the worst—which is a very different thing. The only reason why a life office does not take everybody who goes is that it would get all the rocky lives and would not get all the others. There is a difference in the mortality of those who are what are called "selected" and "accepted" lives, and the general mortality of a country, but it is not so large as to make a serious difference. If some large societies and large offices laid themselves out to take these people in without a medical examination at all they could get them in by the thousand. They ought to do something out of the ten millions, and I should not wonder but that you will find that enterprise will be developed amongst these organisations and that indeed a very much larger number of these people will be taken in than is at present thought of.

It is, at any rate, a good reason for waiting a while, so that we may know what are the facts with which we have got to deal. When we have admitted to the full all the difficulty of this problem do not let us forget that it is a temporary one, that it will run off; that in a few years' time we shall have had all the population taken in. We shall have taken the young ones in as they come along, and the Post Office element will practically disappear. It is, therefore, only a temporary arrangement. I do not agree with those who think that this is the wrong way of dealing with the problem. Some hon. Member suggested that we ought to begin with the very poorest; those who need it most. I do not think that would be practical work. What we have to do is to ascertain who can insure themselves, and get to know what the residuum is. Then we will know what we have to deal with. It is all very well to tell us to clear the slums. Certainly we desire to clear the slums. Good housing is very desirable. We have heard a great deal of it to-night. But what is the fact about housing? Anybody who knows anything about it knows that when you clear a slum and erect in that neighbourhood any kind of dwellings that you like, that you do not get the people into those dwellings who were in the slums before. You do not get 1 per cent. of them in. You scarcely get one in a thousand of them in. When you clear a slum area what you do is to move the people from that area to somewhere else, where they create another slum.

You house in the new buildings a superior class of working people and you do the very thing which the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) wishes to avoid. You do not help the poorest and you do not help the slum- dweller, you help the men who can help themselves. There is a good deal of illness resulting from dwelling in slums. Is there no illness among the well-to-do and the middle class? Is there no illness that does not result from slums? If we all had desirable dwellings there would be illness and suffering. It is a good thing, therefore, to provide in this way for healing it. Everybody knows that illness and inability to secure a proper manner of attention and the loss of income that results from illness and poverty and misery, are reasons why people drift into these slums, and the way to keep them from illness is to keep them healthy, to provide proper medical attendance, to give them some assistance to keep home and family together, before they drift into the slums. We are told we are not helping the poorest. We are doing something to prevent the creation of the poorest. People become poor because they become ill and lose physical power and vigour for the want of money, and, little though the money be which this Bill provides, it will be a great help and will prevent people from going into the slums. We want to prevent the creation of that poverty and when we have done that, we want to know who are those that still remain.

It is true the slum is a great trouble, but the slum does not create the majority of those people. The great majority of the slum-dwellers were not born in the slums: they went there from better conditions, and one of the reasons was that at the time of misfortune and illness and unemployment no one went to help them to tide over their difficulties. The Member for North Dorset suggested that we should drop the Clause as it was unsatisfactory, and he held out the view that it would prevent men from getting employment, and that no employer would give work to a man who was not a member of a friendly society and who was but a Post Office contributor. If you strike out this Clause you would not get men into friendly societies. He said every employer would ask a man, "Are you a member of a friendly society?" If that be true, and I do not think it is, he would ask that question still, and the man would not be a member of a friendly society, while at the same time he would be deprived of the benefit that this Clause would give. That is not a practical suggestion. My hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham is anxious to deal with the children who have no chance from their birth. But one of the best ways of doing that is to help the parent and to prevent the home from being broken up. Is this maternity benefit nothing? Help the mother to keep the home together, and that will do something to give the children a chance which at present they have not. It is easy to make proposals and to suggest that we ought to do something other than what we are doing. There are always people who will talk widely and generally, who will talk what I think the Chairman of the Labour party very wisely described the other day as "sentimental slush." It is very easy when definite proposals are brought forward to say "Not thus, and not now."

We all know that these social problems are extremely complicated, because causes and effects act and re-act; there is no one remedy. Some people always want something else whatever it is you may propose This Government are doing many other things, but they are not neglecting this. The whole history of the world shows that what has always been the worst enemy of reform is that people will not do what is practical and possible simply because they want to do something else. This is a splendid scheme; it will confer great benefits upon the community; it will not accomplish everything, but what it does is worth doing, and let us do it.


The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down slightly invaded the principle which he himself laid down. In his elqouent peroration he paid a tribute in very general terms to the Bill, but upon the subject on which we are actually engaged he admitted that this Bill was unsatisfactory at present so far as I understood him, and that it should be experimental. That really is the question which I think divides us. For my part I wish to speak entirely without dogmatism, and I say that this measure, taken in its relation to the very poor, is extremely difficult to make experimental. You have no right even for three years, as the proposal of this Amendment suggests, to experiment upon the very poor. I submit your duty and obligation is to ascertain—I do not pretend to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not given great labour to this subject—by seeking information from all quarters after public discussion of the Bill what the experiments are and what the requirements are in this Bill before it becomes law. It is all very well to talk about the Bill becoming experimental, but the first point I venture to make is that as to this very heavy impost you are suggesting on the poor for three years, and which will involve a very heavy cost upon them, you should first of all look at the nation as a whole. What are you doing in this Bill? You are fashioning a vast organisation at enormous cost. We were told at the time when the Old Age Pensions Bill was passed that it would cost £6,000,000. It now costs £13,000,000. That is, that in four years the estimate has been more than doubled. The estimate of the Chancellor of the Exchequer under this Bill, as I understand it, is £5,000,000. That, together with old age pensions, will make £18,000,000. If the estimate of cost is anything like that which it has been under the Old Age Pensions Act the figures put by a very experienced and authoritative person of the ultimate cost of these two will be in the next generation something like £40,000,000. That is a tremendous burden—[An HON. MEMBER: "What about Germany?"]—and a tremendous organisation which you are setting up.


Whose estimate is that?


It is the estimate of an authoritative writer in "The Times," who has written some nine or ten articles thoroughly well informed on the subject. At any rate, I think I am entitled to say that it is not an unlikely total when we contrast it with the fact that the estimated cost of the old age pensions scheme was £6,000,000 and the actual charge to the country £13,000,000. If I am wrong I shall be glad to be set right when the representative of the Government or the Chancellor of the Exchequer replies. Everybody will admit that the difficulty of accurately and precisely calculating the effects of this Bill is very great. With regard to the broad question raised by this Section, it appears to me that this is not a Bill for mutual assurance which, as the hon. Member for Spen Valley stated, has the merit of the strong supporting the weak, but it is really a compulsory association of individuals for insurance purposes in which the heaviest burden falls upon the poorest section of that association; and, so far as I can inform myself in this competition between the strong and the weak, the weak go to the wall. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] One thing has been adverted to often in this Debate, and it is the liberty of friendly societies. I am not complaining of the liberty left to the friendly societies, and I do not desire that that liberty should be taken away. That liberty, however, enables the strongest friendly societies to select the assured, and it will not any longer be necessary for them to canvass for lives and for assured. Inevitably the strongest societies must attract the strongest and the wealthiest members, and just as they are powerful, so they will be able to give the highest benefits. I submit to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is inevitable you will break down these benefits. Hon. Members have no doubt heard of a society for the Painless Extirpation of the Unfit. I know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not advocated this Bill on that basis, and I am sure he would not do so, but if you come to think of the increasing burden on the unhealthy and the poor, and if you further remember that the small employers, working upon a narrow margin of profit, will be by far the hardest hit, then you have a state of things in which you have operating against you the weak employer and the weak employed. So far as I have been able to follow the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—unless the reporters have done him some injustice—the Bill does not provide for this, and the right hon. Gentleman has only met these points broadly in the country by saying that, after all, the workmen are going to contribute 4d. and they are going to get 9d. That is a very popular way of putting at, but do the poor and the weak get this 9d.?




I think not, and I will tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer why. The distribution is not such as to give the poor and weak contributor 9d. for his 4d. I say, without fear of contradiction, that a considerable part of this 4½d.—it is not 5d.—which he is supposed to get over and above his contribution is infructuose and unnecessary. A quarter of that money is spent in wiping out the great debt which has been necessary in the first place to subsidise the friendly societies; and, in the next place, to level up all agencies.


On a point of Order. The right hon. Gentleman's calculation was solely concerned with approved societies, and not with the deposit contributors.


I think the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to argue by analogy and comparison, and I take it that is what he is doing.


It was specially arranged yesterday there should be a general discussion on this Clause, raising broadly the question of the position of the hundreds of the weak under this scheme. The subsidy is a very large one, estimated to amount to £20,000,000. It is meritorious up to a point; at any rate, it benefits those who are members of friendly societies, but it does not benefit many of the very poor. What does the levelling up of all agencies mean? It means that the man between thirty and sixty-five who has not for some reason or another been a contributor, is by this Bill placed in the same position as if he had originally contributed. So far as that assists the man who by his poverty has been unable to insure himself, I do not complain. The charity should go, and it does go in that case, to the poor persons who have been unable to insure themselves by reason of their poverty. But that is not the whole class. There are very many men who have not insured themselves because they would not. They would not insure themselves for two reasons, either because they were reckless about the future or because they considered they might invest their money to some better purpose. It surely is a strange thing—I would almost say an outrageous thing if I were not going to dogmatise—that the contributions of the poor contributors and the young contributors, who are very often very poor, should go to assist, not the indigent among those who have not insured, but those who have not insured because they have other reasons for not doing so, or because they are too well off to require to make the provision. That is a portion of the funds being expended in an unnecessary way. Is it not inevitable if the Bill in its present form goes through—


Is the right hon. Gentleman opposing the proposal to equalise the benefits? Does he suggest we should charge people according to their age? Otherwise I do not see the point of his observations.


My point is that the deposit contributors who are making certain contributions by compulsion under this Bill are contributing to give benefit to people who really do not need it—to people who have not insured themselves through perhaps recklessness of life, or who have considered that they are entitled or justified in not insuring themselves because they have a better investment elsewhere. My position is that this money compulsorily drawn from the very poor is going in certain instances to the benefit of people who really do not require it. There is further the enormous cost of administration—the two hundred new bodies to be created. I do not suppose it can be imagined that they will work entirely voluntarily or gratuitously as in most cases they have done in the past. Then there is the institution of the Insurance Commissioners, and further the cost of the Post Office. We have the staff in addition; that is a further heavy cost. I am not saying that if the Bill remains in its present form that cost is not to some extent necessary.

But I shall later on suggest that there are forms which this Bill might take in which this element of cost might be withdrawn. There is the reduced interest which will result from the investment of public authorities compared with the investments of the Post Office. Then there is a very large sum which, I am afraid, must be put down to litigation which will inevitably ensue when it comes to be a question between two public bodies as to whose fault the increased sickness in a district is due. I am not complaining of these elements, but the suggestion I am venturing to make to the Chancellor of the Exchequer is that he should leave the organisations, which exist for the moment to deal with the sick benefits, and should use the large funds which will be set up by this Bill for the purpose of dealing far more efficiently than this Bill does with the disability and inefficiency arising from age. I think the House will admit that the most terrible spectre for the working man of this country is not sickness, but inefficiency arising in middle age and partial disability arising from sickness. These two evils are not dealt with in any satisfactory degree in this Bill. If you assume a man to become, I will not say inefficient, but not so efficient as he was, and that as a result of the tremendous competition which has already begun as a result of this Bill he is dismissed from his employment, and unable to find employment worth one-third of that he was formerly earning, that is a tremendous contingency, which, so far as I read the Bill, it does not deal with at all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has admitted on former occasions that unless a man is totally disabled he does not get any disability benefit by this Bill at all. A man at forty-five or fifty, in many employments where high manual skill is concerned, where he may be earning 30s. or more a week, would come down to not half that amount, yet he would not, although a contributor under this Bill and one who had paid for many years to it, receive the smallest possible benefit from it. Then there is the case of premature death. That is not dealt with under the Bill at all. Although the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sherwell) and the right hon. Member for the Spen Valley Division (Sir T. Whittaker) dwelt with great force and feeling upon the question of children, how does this Bill deal with them? Take the case of a young married couple, the man earning excellent wages. Say that, after he has three or four children, he dies at the age of twenty-four or twenty-six, leaving a widow with the children. How is she or how is he benefited under this Bill? He gets nothing, and she gets nothing. She is obliged to remain at home to attend to the children, and is, therefore, not the subject of insurance. She does not reenter the scheme again by entering industrial employment. The nature of the case prevents her from doing so. Therefore this Bill, for which so earnest an appeal has been made, because it cuts off the mischief at the source, is extraordinarily neglectful of children, and also neglectful of widows who are doing their duty to the State and to the family by remaining with their children instead of going into industral employment. That I think is a very serious consideration. Why is not this done? The Chancellor of the Exchequer will say, "I cannot do everything." He will point out evils that exist now and say, "I will redress some mischiefs. I cannot redress all." I put it to him that the sick pay he is giving under his Bill with so bounteous a hand to the working classes is really, to many of them, almost unnecessary. The Chancellor of the Exchequer smiles at that. I have figures which I will ask him to deal with showing that, with reference to eight or nine millions of the population of this country, sick pay is already a subject of insurance. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, on the authority of his actuary, he can deny that figure? In the next place I say there are large classes to whom sick pay is really superfluous.

Two and a quarter millions of domestic servants do not require sick pay or insurance for sickness. As the House knows perfectly well, domestic servants are almost invariably cared for by their employers, and if they could be polled say that inasmuch as they are insured to say that inasmuch as they are insured to the extent of a month's wages in the great bulk of cases, this sickness insurance is superfluous for them, and they would far rather, if they were able to do it, have some system by which they could obtain a pension at a much earlier age than seventy—at an age, in fact, when their efficiency as domestic servants ceases to exist.

There is a very large number of other cases to whom also this sickness insurance must be a matter of indifference, that is to say, the industrial classes, who are already secure in that respect. We need only point to servants like railway servants, bank clerks, insurance clerks, servants of corporations, nurses, and many other large classes who are already secure as regards their sickness, to whom, therefore, sick pay is superfluous. This is the suggestion which I press upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer for consideration, the suggestion that as the Bill stands at present the poor and weak contribute unnecessarily to the support of the strong and the healthy, and that they contribute in respect of a matter in which many of those who are going to be objects of benefit really do not need that benefit. That is to say, many classes who are going by the organisation of this Bill to receive extensive sick pay are really not in need of it, and a very large class who are affected by this Bill, if it was left to their free choice, would be enormously benefited by much stronger and much more beneficial provisions in place of sick pay, I mean provisions in favour of disability and a pension arising at an earlier age than seventy—pension on disability—who earn their wages as under the German system to the extent of one-third, or at any rate a pension arising at a much earlier age than seventy. That is the suggestion I make. I have no doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer will say there has been no time to consider such a proposal, and that to do what I suggest would mean a bouleversement. That is no answer to the general conclusion that the proper course would have been, in dealing with this great subject, to thoroughly debate the matter in the House on Second Reading, say a longer Second Reading Debate, and then, as has often been done in the past, allow this matter to rest, with the information obtained in that Debate, instructing the country for another twelve months, obtaining from the country during that time an infinite number of criticisms and suggestions which it is quite impossible for the Chancellor or any man with ten times his brain to anticipate, to have thoroughly digested those criticisms and then to have come to this House definitely stating what your plan was after thorough consideration of all those difficulties and a thorough resolution of the manner in which you treat it, instead of coming here and treating this as an experimental Bill and at the same time asking very considerable classes of the community to make very heavy contributions under it.


Like other Members of the Committee I am not absolutely satisfied with the Clause as it stands. There is one particular part to which I wish to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Under the Clause as it stands, when a man is ill, and the end of his year comes, he may be receiving medical benefit, and the doctor may cease to attend him, no matter how ill he may be. The same thing happens if he is in a sanatorium. When the time comes, out he must go. That seems to me to be a flaw in the Clause, but when all that is said I cannot help feeling that its defects have been grossly exaggerated, and by no one more than the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lyttelton). In the first place, he referred to this part of the measure as experimental and said, "You have no right to experiment with the poorest of the poor, and put on them a heavy burden by way of expenditure."


indicated dissent.


The right hon. Gentleman said, "You have no right to make this experiment," I agree with him in the sense that the giving of undoubted benefits to those who are the poorest of the poor is an experiment, but it is proposed in order to see whether that is sufficient or not. To my mind there is no harm in trying to benefit these people with the object of ascertaining whether what is being done is sufficient. That is quite a different thing from imposing a heavy burden on them by way of experiment. There is a complete misapprehension as to what is to happen under the Bill. Under this Clause one thing is certain, and that is that the deposit contributors, man for man, get the same money value as others. The right hon. Gentleman objected to the Clause because some part of the 9d. is to be taken to pay into friendly societies. Under the Bill not a halfpenny paid on behalf of the deposit contributors goes to a friendly society. Every halfpenny paid into the deposit scheme is paid out for the deposit scheme and to nobody else. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is forfeited."] That is another misrepresentation. On the death of a deposit contributor his accumulations are forfeited. What for? For the benefit of the other deposit contributors. Every halfpenny is used for the benefit of the deposit contributors. Taking the thing on an average—and every scheme deals with averages—for every 4d. the depositor pays he gets 9d. worth of benefit. You talk about the medical examination excluding people from medical benefit. Who will be excluded? People suffering from consumption or likely to suffer from consumption. The sanatorium benefit is to be paid for out of the scheme as a whole, and if more people as deposit contributors come in for sanatorium benefit than under the rest of the scheme, then they are given more. I think that the point as to the medical examination excluding most of them has been very grossly exaggerated. Doctors are not infallible. I do not think that they can say as a whole which men are going to come on the expense. What they can say is which men are likely to die. Such men are bad lives. They may exclude heart disease and consumption, but neither of those will bear hardly upon the particular society because the particular society does not pay for its own members. The sanatorium benefit is under the Bill as a whole. Therefore I think that the hon. Member for Pontefract was perfectly right in saying that a great many societies will be found which will not impose any medical test at all. If they do exclude those consumptives then they will be able to get just as good sanatorium benefit as deposit contributors as they would under the rest of the scheme. For every two weeks' contribution a man would be entitled, as I work it out, to one year's sanatorium benefit. Therefore these men are getting more sanatorium benefits than members of the societies.

There is one point where it may be said these people gain to a certain extent over others. Under any scheme of insurance you must have arrears, and you must have provision for a certain amount of arrears. I, and I expect other Members of this House, have received representations that under this scheme the people who are worst off are the poor men who are badly employed and therefore run into arrears and get no benefit from their contributions. A great deal has been made of their case, and I believe rightly made of it; but those men are better off under a deposit scheme than they are under the rest of the scheme. They, at any rate, get full value for all that they pay in. I do not mean that depositors will be very numerous under this Bill. The provisions of the Bill are so much more generous than those that are usual with friendly society schemes that they will not be as big a body as they would be if they came in under a friendly society scheme, but it seems to me that the class of man who is very much unemployed, and therefore, if in a friendly society, would be apt to get into arrears, and get no benefit, under this scheme will get full value for any money paid, and will be far better off as a deposit contributor than he would be under a friendly society. For that reason it seems to me that the position of the deposit contributor is nothing like so bad as it has been made out. I admit that he is not insured, but he will get as much and probably more money value than is given under the rest of the scheme.

Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow (Wednesday).