§ 11. Mr. BUTCHER
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in cases where husband and wife are living together and domestic servants are employed in the common household, and such servants, 1173 although engaged by the wife, are paid by or out of funds provided by the husband, the husband is to be deemed to be the employer for the purposes of the National Insurance Act and, as such, liable to pay the contributions and to suffer the penalties prescribed by the Act; why the official explanatory leaflet No. 21 uses the word mistress instead of the word employer in describing the obligations and liabilities of employers as regards the insurance of domestic servants, and why that leaflet asserts that the mistress must obtain the stamps, stamp the cards, and pay the weekly contributions, and that if the mistress fails to pay any contributions which she is liable to pay in respect of her servants she is for each offence liable to pay a fine not exceeding £10 and a sum equal to the amount of the contributions she has failed to pay and is also liable to civil proceedings at the suit of such servants if they are members of an approved society; whether the use of the term mistress in this connection is inaccurate and misleading and calculated to inspire alarm in the minds of women who regard these official leaflets as trustworthy; and whether he will at once take steps to withdraw the leaflet in question and to substitute for it another leaflet which will correctly state the person upon whom the obligations and penalties in respect of the insurance of domestic servants will fall?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
In the majority of cases the wife acts as the husband's agent in all dealings with domestic servants, and it will normally be part of the wife's domestic duties to stamp the insurance card. It would be misleading in a popular exposition to suggest that this duty should be undertaken by the husband personally. In cases where the mistress is herself the employer, she must herself pay the contribution and will be liable to a penalty as stated in the leaflet if she fails to do so.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the first part of the question as to whether, under the circumstances stated, the husband is not the employer and as such liable to pay the contribution?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
In normal conditions the husband is the employer, and the wife is the agent of the employer.