§ 31. Mr. PETO
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been called to the decisions of the Umpire, the practical effect of which Mr. Bickerdike, the Registrar, informs the Secretary of the Provincial Water Companies Association, under date 29th June, is that contributions are payable under Part II. of the National Insurance Act in respect of water companies' workmen engaged wholly or mainly in constructing mains other than services, the cost of which is usually chargeable to capital account, and are not payable in respect of workmen engaged in laying services or mains the cost of which is usually chargeable to revenue account; and whether he can say what steps the employers should take to comply with the Umpire's decision, seeing that it is frequently impossible to decide at the time to what account particular work of this kind is chargeable, and that in respect of replacing mains with pipes of a larger diameter only that portion of the cost is chargeable to capital account that represents the greater value of the larger main, and further of the effect of the payment of only an occasional weekly contribution under the provisions of the Seventh Schedule of the Act?
I understand the distinction drawn by the Umpire not to refer to the account to which the work performed by any particular workman is actually charged, but to the classes of work which, according to ordinary trade practice, are usually charged to capital or to revenue account respectively. I have no authority to interpret the Umpire's decisions, but it seems to me that the distinction drawn is likely to be helpful in determining a number of borderland cases. If any cases of real doubt remain the Board of Trade will be glad to give their assistance in clearing up the difficulty if the company affected will communicate with them. The case of the workman in respect of whom contributions are only payable for a portion of the year does not appear to me to present any difficulty of principle, in view of the fact that his claim to benefit is in proportion to his number of contributions.