HC Deb 15 August 1913 vol 56 cc3275-7

"Farmers and members of the families of farmers employed in assisting neighbouring farmers temporarily in time of harvest shall be exempted from the provisions of Part I. of the principal Act."

Clause brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made [Tuesday, 29th July], "That the Clause be read a second time."—[Mr. Charles Bathurst.]

Question again proposed. Debate resumed.


I think I was in possession when we adjourned yesterday on this question, and I hope the Government are going to meet us on the matter. I do not want to go over any argument already put before the Committee, but there seems to be some question whether this word "exemption" ought not to be "exception." If the Committee will accept the word "exception," it will meet my hon. Friend's point, and will do away with certificates of exemption. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will accept that suggestion.


I feel great difficulty in the Clause as it stands, and I think the Mover does also. You are dealing with neighbouring farmers and relations of farmers, and I could not do anything that would lead to casual labour. I have had some communication with the hon. Member for Wilton, and he is prepared to bring a deputation to me on the subject. If that is so, I will see if there is a possibility—although I cannot make any promise—of meeting the point with which we have to deal with without any objections to the particular Clause.


I should like to say at once that I was wholly unaware when I had a conversation last night with a gentleman from the Insurance Commission that I was, in a sense, negotiating with the right hon. Gentleman, and I did not expect what passed between us would have been quoted this morning. I think there are difficulties, but I think they would be largely removed if the word "exception" is substituted for "exemption."

It was quite an oversight that the word "exemption" appeared at all, and if words are added after "the families of farmers" to show that they are not otherwise insured persons, that would put it right. As regards vagueness, I should like to say that there are a good many of these paragraphs under the head of exceptions in Part II. of the First Schedule which are couched in very much vaguer language than this new Clause. I am not quite sure that a deputation to the right hon. Gentleman is going to do what is required, but I think the Committee will admit that this is a case which ought to be exempted or excepted from the provisions of the Act. It is more a question of how the Commissioners will deal with the matter rather than what the right hon. Gentleman himself can do by receiving a deputation. All the deputation could say is what I can tell him to-day, and that is that here is a case which requires treatment; and we must leave it to him to see how it can be best dealt with, without leaving any gaps through which persons who ought to be insured persons may slip. I may illustrate the importance of the case by telling the right hon. Gentleman of the custom of receiving forecasts. It is becoming a very common custom in all parts of England; and it is quite conceivable that when hay is lying about the fields a message may be received from the Post Office on the following day that heavy weather is expected, which may be expected to last for a considerable time, and a farmer will ask his neighbours to join with him in getting his hay crop in as soon as he can; and the same would apply to the corn harvest. The case is a very strong one, and it rests with the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers to find a way out of this difficulty. It is a case that requires treatment. There ought to be a way of meeting the difficulty, and I leave it to the right hon. Gentleman to find some way out of it and to bring us something on Report to meet this case. I have made those remarks with the object of eliciting further assurances from the right hon. Gentleman that he will on Report meet our views without a deputation, which I think will result in nothing very much.


I am sorry if I betrayed what I ought not to have done, but we will see if we can meet these very special cases that the hon. Gentleman mentions. No one of course wants a man to come into insurance for three days when he is not doing any work for the rest of the year, but we must not give preference to casual labourers. I will see if anything can be done.


In those circumstances, and with that assurance, I ask leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Proposed Clause, by leave, withdrawn.