§ (1) So much of Sub-section (3) of Section eighty-three of the principal Act as provides that the regulations made under that Sub-section shall require that in the case of a society or branch which has amongst its members persons resident in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, or any two or any three of such parts of the United Kingdom, the members in each such part shall, for the purposes of Part I. of the principal Act relating to valuations, surpluses, deficiencies, and transfers, be treated as if they formed a separate society, is hereby repealed:
§ Provided that where the Joint Committee are satisfied, on representations made within three months after the passing of this Act, that the members of any such society resident in a part of the United Kingdom other than that in which the registered office of the society is situated desire that they shall be treated as if they formed a separate society, the members of the society resident in that part shall for the purposes aforesaid continue to be so treated.
§ (2) A society shall not be required to be approved in respect of any part of the United Kingdom other than that in which its registered office is situated by reason of the fact that among its members are persons for the time being resident in that part of the United Kingdom, but a society shall not admit as a member any person resident at the time of admission in any part of the United Kingdom in respect of 3278 which the society is not an approved society.
§ (3) A society which has received approval for more than one part of the United Kingdom may relinquish approval for any part or parts other than that in which its registered office is situate, if it satisfies the Joint Committee that it fulfils one or other of the following conditions:—
- (i) that none of its members are resident in the parts of the United Kingdom in respect of which approval is proposed to be relinquished; or
- (ii) that any members who are so resident were at the time when they were admitted to membership of the society resident in a part of the United Kingdom in which the society will remain an approved society.
§ For the purposes of this provision admission to membership of a society means admission to membership whether for the purposes of Part I. of the principal Act or for any other purposes of the society, and in the case of a society which is a separate section of another society includes admission to membership of that other society.
§ (4) Where any members of a society reside in a part of the United Kingdom in respect of which the society is not an approved society, the provisions of Subsection (2) of Section eighty of the principal Act, which relate to payments into and out of the Scottish National Health Insurance Fund, and the corresponding provisions of the principal Act relating to the Irish and Welsh National Health Insurance Funds, shall apply as if those members resided in the part of the United Kingdom in which the registered office of the society is situated or, in the case of a society with branches, in which the registered office of the branch of which they are members is situated.
§ This Sub-section shall apply as respects the members of a branch of a society resident in a part of the United Kingdom other than that in which the registered office of the branch is situated, notwithstanding that the society is approved for that part, unless the Joint Committee, on the application of the society, otherwise determine, but no branch to which the said provisions apply shall admit as a member of the branch any person resident at the time of admission in any part of the United Kingdom other than that in which 3279 the registered office of the branch is situated.
§ (5) For the purpose of facilitating adjustments in respect of persons removing from Ireland to Great Britain or from Great Britain to Ireland the transfer values and reserve values of persons resident in Ireland shall be calculated as if they were resident in Great Britain, and where any member of an approved society is at the time of attaining the age of seventy resident in Ireland, the prescribed part of his transfer value shall be carried by the society of which he is a member to a separate account and dealt with in such manner as may be prescribed.
§ Clause brought up, and read the first time.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."
This is the Amendment which has already been circulated to the Committee, and which I have now put on the Paper. The Committee have had the Amendment and a memorandum upon it, and I do not think they will require any long explanation from me concerning it. It has been generally welcomed by the societies which are affected, and I have no doubt it will make a very great difference and improvement in their accounting arrangements. Practically, we do three things—first of all, small societies which have stray members in other countries in which they are registered will no longer have to count those stray members for a separate society. In the Bill as it stands, if a Welsh society has four members in London, those four members have to constitute a separate society. My Amendment puts those societies on the same basis as a London society having stray members in Norfolk. They will still count as stray members of the Welsh societies, and their sickness benefit and other benefits will be dealt with by the Welsh society. The second point deals with international societies and arrangements—that international societies shall all count as one society. They shall be valued together, their surpluses and deficiencies shall be reckoned among that society alone, and not in any degree pooled with any other society. They will transcend the limitations of the four nations. Each Insurance Fund will form the banking account for those societies. Sickness benefit will be paid out from those banking accounts, and contributions will be paid in to those banking accounts. Adjustments where neces- 3280 sary owing to migration—where persons leave their reserve values behind in the country from which they have moved—will be made at the time of valuation after the calculations have been made at what will normally be a three-years period. There is only one limitation I am suggesting, namely, that an option should be given to, those members or branches of an approved society which remain in one country, that they may be able to count themselves for accounting purposes as a separate society in that country. Supposing, for example, there is an approved society which is international in character, but which has a large number of its members in England and a certain number in Scotland, and those Scottish members wish to remain for accounting purposes as Scottish rather than as belonging to their own society; and supposing national considerations prevail over international considerations, in that case we give them three months to exercise the option, and, if they exercise that option, then they will remain as dealing entirely in their accounts with Scotland, just as if they were a local Scottish society.
The third change enables us to make migration from all the four countries possible without adjustment of transfer values. That is the change which readjusts the Irish transfer values so as to deal with the very tiny amounts of those values which make them differ from the English reserve values. These amounts are entirely due to the absence of medical benefit in Ireland, and are entirely in respect of the possibility of medical benefit being given to persons over seventy years of age in Ireland. They represent something like twopence a year, a very tiny amount indeed. If the present system remains they would go into the ordinary profit of the Irish approved societies. We propose that these amounts, representing twopence a year, shall be accumulated, and ultimately emerge in profit when members of Irish societies pass over the age of seventy. If, therefore, medical benefit is extended to Ireland, as apparently is the wish of a large number of members of this Committee of all parties, then medical benefit will extend to Ireland up to the full age of the person, and it will not be limited to seventy. These amounts will then be credited in the Irish Insurance Fund for the extension of medical benefits over seventy. By adjustment we put all four countries on a level so far as transfer values are concerned. A man may move 3281 from the Clyde to Belfast a dozen times a year. At present a society has to make an adjustment of transfer value in every case of such movement. Under the system we propose there will be no need to have any readjustment of transfer value at all, and there will be no more difficulty in removing from the Clyde to Belfast than from London to Plymouth. It will mean an enormous reduction in the present work of the approved societies. There will be no need to account to the four Commissions with regard to transfer values. All international societies will be valued as one society instead of as four societies, and in the matter of accounting there will be practically no difference between a trade union that has a branch in London and another in Belfast and a trade union which has a branch in London and another in Liverpool. The scheme has been worked out with very great care, and a great deal of time has been spent upon it in discussion with many representatives of approved societies. If the Committee are willing to accept it, they will find it will be a very great benefit in the practical working of the Act.
§ Mr. GOULDING
The right hon. Gentleman has attempted to deal with a most difficult and complicated question and one that has exercised the anxious attention of the approved societies throughout the length and breadth of the country. I am sorry to say that the right hon. Gentleman has only adopted a half-way house. He undoubtedly attempts to grapple with all the interminable difficulties from which we have suffered in the past as regards valuation, but if I take it aright all the difficulties of which we have complained in reference to book-keeping, and in reference to the four Commissions are still to remain, simply because the right hon. Gentleman will not face the situation. The upkeep of these four Commissions is a ghastly mistake. It entails enormous expenditure. The situation would have been more rightly dealt with by facing the question and simply abolishing the present position. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that I had an Amendment to Clause 10 dealing with this specific question. In that. Amendment I proposed that all these international societies should straightway be put under the Joint Committee and be responsible only to that Joint Committee, or, failing that, that they should be responsible to the country in which the society has its, registered office. I really cannot say that, in spite of very close 3282 attention, I see clearly what all this long Clause entails. It seems to me it will take a great deal of working and experimenting upon before it is properly understood. I am faced with the fact that it is a halfway house and that it will not settle the difficulty, and I believe that eventually the right hon. Gentleman will have to come back to what is desired, namely, a jointure of all these Commissions, and the work placed under one department. The right hon. Gentleman gets rid of the entity difficulty. I am making no excuse for my non-appreciation of this matter, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman plainly how is this Clause going to deal with the great difficulty of book-keeping, and the great difficulty of contrary regulations from four different Commissions, and how is it going to relieve the officials of the great approved societies from this mass of detail work which prevents them from applying themselves to the administration of the Act in their particular cases? May I take a specific case as regards numbers, and explain to the right hon. Gentleman how I find the thing works to-day, and then ask him, Will his Amendment as regards valuation affect this case, or will it be dealt with by administration? I take the case of an approved society of 70,000 members; 65,000 are resident in England, 3,000 are resident in Wales, 1,500 are resident in Scotland, and 500 are resident in Ireland. If £1,000 is to be applied from the Commissioners for that particular society, with its different constituent parts spread about in the different countries, an enormous amount of book-keeping and contra accounts is entailed. That £1,000 has to be applied by the different Commissions in proportion to the members in the constituent parts resident under their particular authority. In this case there would be £50 from Wales, £25 from Scotland, £8 from Ireland, and the balance from England, where the greater number of the constituent parts of the society are resident. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, Does his Clause attempt to deal with the perplexities which will arise in a case of that kind? My own opinion is that the more one looks into this question it becomes perfectly clear that the right thing is to say that all these international societies should be placed under a Joint Committee for all the countries, that they should only be responsible to one set of authorities, that there should be no variety in the regulations issued from time to time, and that by these means we should do away with some of the chaos that exists 3283 to-day. I do not believe that, this Clause, as I understand it, will effect the object we all have in view. We all know that these things are handicapping the work of the approved societies more than anything else.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I quite recognise that from the standpoint of the international societies this is not only an important Clause, but probably one of the most important Clauses that could be proposed in connection with this Bill. After having carefully gone into the application of this Clause as it relates to a large number of its members, I most certainly do not agree with the last speaker that no attempt has been made to meet the real difficulty.
§ Mr. GOULDING
I did not say that. On the contrary, I said the right hon. Gentleman had met the difficulty as regards valuation, but not as regards administration.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I think that when we discussed the Clause last, I pointed out the real difficulties of tile societies. We upon these benches have been opposed to the four Commissions, but not because we did not recognise that there were local and national needs that might be dealt with from a national standpoint. I do not think any hon. Member in any part of the Committee who has had any experience of local societies can do other than say that the separate Commissions have done well for local societies. It is no use, under the guise of attacking the four Commissions, mixing up an international society with a national society. From the standpoint of the national society there is absolutely no complaint. Therefore, it is only fair, when we are discussing this Clause, which primarily relates to international societies and not to national societies, that we should clearly differentiate between them. I am satisfied that the international society is treated as one entity for valuation purposes. That is one of the most important points. It is the point that has been agitating the minds of the whole of the societies. As I have pointed out, we have societies with over 5,000 members in England, Scotland and Wales, but because we have not 5,000 in Ireland we have had to group with someone else. That is got over in this Clause, and it is, therefore, clearly an advantage to the societies. With regard to transfer values, here again it is useless for the hon. Member to say 3284 that that difficulty is not got over. I am persuaded that not only as it reads, but in its intentions as well, the Clause gets over the difficulty of the transfer values going from one country to another. But there is the difficulty outlined by the hon. Member, that of the four Commissions remaining.
Four applications must be made, and the point I want a further explanation upon is this: If the society is relieved from keeping four separate accounts, as is alleged in the Memorandum, and they have to make four separate applications to four separate Commissions, they must have data to work upon, and they can only have that data by keeping four separate accounts. I should like the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to tell us clearly how we stand in this respect. The international societies are now called upon to keep four separate accounts, and, in making an application for money, they have to give an estimate for Scotland, England, Ireland, and Wales. How are they to give that estimate unless they keep four separate accounts? I submit it is useless to say that this Clause gets over the keeping of four separate accounts. It does nothing of the kind, and unless that point is met there will still remain one of the great difficulties that we have to contend with. It appears to me that the difficulty might be got over by a kind of clearing house. Let the adjustments he made by the Commissioners themselves, and instead of having four separate payments for England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, let the societies, so far as their estimate of income and expenditure is concerned, treat the society as a whole, and let the adjustments be made by the Commissioners themselves. In any case, I am perfectly certain it is useless to pretend that as matters stand at present, you need not keep four separate accounts under this Clause. I maintain that you are bound to do it or you could not give effect to the Clause. Having carefully considered the Clause, that appears to me to be the most fatal objection to it. Certainly, we require to have further information about it. However, having considered the effect of the Clause upon the international societies, I think it goes a long way to meet their difficulty, but it does not go sufficiently far, and it certainly needs some alteration, if it is possible to get it, to meet this point. I do think that we ought to recognise the difficulty—short of abolishing the Coinmissions—the absolute difficulty of dealing 3285 with the situation. I do say that a real, genuine attempt is made in this Clause to meet it, and if the right hon. Gentleman will give us a further explanation upon that point, I think it will go a long way to meet the difficulty we have experienced.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
I do not suppose the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary will treat very seriously the remarks of the hon. Member for Derby, because he knows full well—
§ Mr. GWYNNE
I will tell you why. He knows full well that when one of the members of the Labour party speaks out in that way, it does not mean very much. I do not wish to stir up again the indignation—
§ Mr. THOMAS
On a point of Order. I desire to ask your ruling upon the statement just made by the hon. Member. I spoke from practical experience, and whether that is not worth more to the societies than what is said by those who only speak what they are told. I will leave the Committee to judge.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I did not hear the hon. Member. I was engaged with another matter at the time, but, as far as I understand it, it is hardly a point of Order.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
I do not think that the taunt was unjustified, when we see day by day hon. Members opposite proposing Amendments and speaking strongly in favour of them, and then withdrawing them or not voting for them when we take them to a Division.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think I must ask the hon. Member to keep to the point before the Committee. It does conduce to the good conduct of the business if that is done. We have always avoided personal attacks in Committee. Will the hon. Member, therefore, kindly stick to the point of the Amendment.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
It is not a personal attack on an individual Member. It is merely the attitude and the relation of the whole party. I think I am justified in saying this sort of action does remind one of the nursery rhyme, "The King of France"—
§ The CHAIRMAN
It is quite feasible to bring up such a matter in the House during a general attack on the Bill, but it cannot be brought up here on every successive Amendment. It is clearly out of order.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
I do not wish to argue with you upon a point of Order, because I do not think it is a point of Order. I think I am justified in commenting upon the remarks of an hon. Member when I follow him.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
I was speaking first of the hon. Member's attitude, and I was pulled up before I had finished what I wanted to say. I do not think I had gone far enough for anyone to be able to say whether my remarks were general or particular. I think it is really wasting the time of the Committee when hon. Members opposite get up and make a strong stand upon any matter and then run away. If they mean to accept this—and it is quite obvious they will do so if they are told to accept it by the right hon. Gentleman—do not let us waste the time of the Committee. We have put Amendments down which we would like to discuss, and which we do not intend to run away from. I do, however, agree with one thing said by the hon. Member for Derby, and that is, that this is one of the most important Clauses of the Bill. I think it is unfortunate that it has been drafted in such a way. It is extremely complicated, and somewhat difficult to follow, but surely it is out of place to talk of this as an International Clause It is all right to talk about England and Wales from an international point of view if you are discussing a football match, but to make these distinctions in regard to administration seems to me rather a misuse of terms.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
Really, the hon. Member will, if he gets up, be called upon by the Chairman. He seems to make it his business to keep up a running comment upon my remarks. I am discussing the matter quite seriously, and I wish to deal with the observations made by the hon. Member opposite; but, whenever I try to do so, I am interrupted or stopped. That is not the way to get on with the work of the Committee, but I do not mean to be put down by foolish observations. If this Clause does not meet what the hon. Member opposite says is one of the main 3287 difficulties, namely, the question of keeping the accounts, then I do contend that the hon. Member opposite is justified in pressing the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to give us some explanation why he has not got over the difficulty if he really wishes to meet it, and what he intends to do to put the matter right.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I desire to say that I think the suggested new Clause is one of extreme importance to Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman, in moving it, referred to the possibility that insured persons in Scotland might desire to treat this as a national rather than as an international question; but I think when he said that he rather missed the point. It is not merely a national question; it is a question of the best terms—of pounds, shillings and pence—and it is my belief that by this Clause in its present form Scotland stands to lose very heavily and seriously. It is the case that more than half of the insured persons in Scotland belong to international societies which are centralised and have their headquarters out of Scotland. Now these members at present have the benefit of a separate accountancy in Scotland. They are treated as separate societies for the purpose of surplus and deficit, and if the Act is administered in Scotland by the local societies and officials in such a way as to give a surplus, or if they manage the funds more thriftily in Scotland, they get the benefit of it. I believe it can be shown, from the experience of the various societies so far accumulated, that at present the sickness rate in Scotland is very much lower than it is in either Wales or Ireland. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract, when the original Act was being discussed in the House, estimated that in England the sickness rate would be about the average, and that in Scotland it would be below the average, whereas in Ireland and in Wales the sickness rate would be above the average. I think the experience of the societies has justified that estimate. Now, by this Clause, the majority of insured persons in Scotland who are, as a matter of fact, members of centralised societies, having their headquarters in England, and who at present enjoy the benefit of being treated as separate societies, will be treated as if they belong to one society having its headquarters in England, and they will lose the benefit of their low sick- 3288 ness rate. Consequently, there will be a drain upon the funds of the Scottish members to meet the extra sickness rate in Ireland and in Wales. We in Scotland stand to lose very considerably by it. I submit that we ought to have any advantage that we have under the present system—the advantage of national habits and national characteristics. We ought to be allowed to retain that advantage.
There is a certain provision in the Clause as it stands—a certain vague and illusory provision—for allowing the Scottish insured persons to retain that advantage if they shall express their desire to do so; but that is in the Second Clause of this Section. I will put down an Amendment later dealing with that, and will discuss it then. I want to protest now against bringing forward the whole Clause to-day. At the end of proceedings yesterday, I asked a question of my right hon. Friend. It is true that this Clause has been circulated for some days, though it has not been upon the Paper. As, however, it has been privately circulated amongst Members, we have had the advantage of seeing it. Having seen it, I was anxious to put down some Amendments, so yesterday, at the end of the proceedings, I asked my right hon. Friend this, "Will the right hon. Gentleman give us some notice and put it on the Paper, so that we may put down Amendments if we desire to do so?" Now, to-day, the Clause appears upon the Paper for the first time. If I had put down the Amendments which I desired to put down, they would have been very extensive, and it would not have been fair to the right hon. Gentleman to put down these Amendments, involving very considerable and extensive alterations, and to hand them in verbally. My object was to have them circulated with the Papers, so that they might have been considered and judged upon their merits. I recognise that it is hopeless to do that now I will, therefore, content myself with making this protest, and at a later stage, when we come to the Amendments, I will move some particular Amendments which I think may modify it.
§ Mr. BOWERMAN
The hon. Member who has just spoken has stated that it is not a national concern but a question of pounds, shillings, and pence. One is not altogether surprised at his taking that view. May I remind him that there is such a country as England, and that most of the international societies—I think I 3289 may say the majority of them—have their headquarters in England. This is a question which very closely affects the members of those societies. I most heartily support the new Clause as drafted by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Treasury, and say that nothing will give greater satisfaction to the trade unions, not only of England but, I believe, of Scotland also, than the passage of a Clause of this kind. I do hope the hon. Member is not going to press his objection, but will rather support the Clause.
§ Mr. GODFREY LOCKER-LAMPSON
I only want to ask the right hon. Gentleman one question. He may have dealt with the matter in his previous remarks, and I may have missed the point. The fourth Sub-section, for the purposes of this provision, begins:—Membership of the society means the admission to membership, whether for the purpose of Part 1 of the principal Act, or for any purposes of the society.I want to ask whether the new Clause that he is bringing in is going to affect the voluntary side of approved societies, which has been very much affected by the National Insurance Act, and if something is not done they will probably disappear altogether? I should also like to know what the right hon. Gentleman means by the words "or for any other purposes of the society," and whether that refers to the voluntary work of approved societies?
§ Mr. DUNCAN MILLAR
I should like to associate myself with the protest which the hon. Member (Mr. MacCallum Scott) has made in regard to the effect of this Clause upon Scotland. It is extremely desirable that in a matter of this importance we should have an opportunity of putting down our Amendments on the Paper, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will keep this in view, that if we have not got an adequate discussion to-day and an adequate opportunity of dealing with Amendments relating to Scotland the Scottish Members at any rate will hold themselves perfectly free to raise any question they think fit on Report. It is extremely desirable that the proviso in the first Sub-section of the Clause should be altered to give effect to the views which the hon. Member has already expressed, and that it should be left in the power of the Commissioner for Scotland, instead of the Joint Committee, to deal with the representations which the different members of societies representing other 3290 parts of the United Kingdom may think fit to make. I should like also to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that the three months' notice which is referred to in that proviso is totally inadequate to deal with the situation, and that it is necessary to afford to members of societies an opportunity at least before each valuation to reconsider their position. I hope he will keep these points in view and will be prepared to meet us upon the Amendment which the hon. Member intends to propose and which I propose to support.
I think the Committee is in rather a difficult position with this Clause. After all, it is put forward as the second best. I still believe that the right way is to abolish the Commissions as Commissions and leave them as delegated bodies of the Joint Committee to carry out the local administration. We have put that to the vote, and I regret to say that Members of the Independent Labour party did not support us on that occasion. The hon. Member (Mr. Thomas) rather took exception to some remarks of my hon. Friend (Mr. Rupert Gwynne) when he moved his new Clause to abolish the Commissions altogether. He supported it in a very strong and able speech, and he showed that all the large societies, trade Anion and industrial societies as well, all supported hint, and then, when the Secretary to the Treasury said he was going to produce this new Clause, the hon. Member said, "Our object having been achieved, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment." No doubt he thought his object had been achieved, but when he comes to consider the new Clause in cold blood, the first thing he does is to call attention to a very important omission in the new Clause. I thoroughly agree with him that although this new Clause goes some way towards meeting the situation it undoubtedly does not go far enough. It seems to me, as far as I can gather, to fully meet one point—the question of grouping. International societies now are not to have their smaller branches grouped with other societies, but they can be grouped with the head offices. That is an advantage. The next point he dealt with was that the transfer value difficulty had been got over. I invite the Committee to consider how that has been got over, at what cost, and whether that is the right way to get over it. There are in Ireland nearly 700,000 insured persons and the transfer value difficulty has been got over by giving them an increased reserve value— 3291 a reserve value not in accordance with the contribution that they pay, not in accordance with what is required for the benefits that they get, but, in accordance with the English, Scotch and Welsh practice, by a larger payment for a larger benefit. The right hon. Gentleman brought this Clause in and never told the Committee a word about the cost that is going to be incurred. I do not think that is treating the Committee quite fairly. The Committee ought to be told what different Amendments are going to cost. If we propose an Amendment which costs £10,000 the right hon. Gentleman holds up his hands and says, "We cannot have it; it will cost £10,000." He brings in one on his own account to get out of a self-created difficulty, and he does not tell us about the cost.
It is worth accepting that challenge and seeing whether the right hon. Gentleman is right. There are 700,000 insured people in Ireland and the difference between the reserve value of a man, say, between forty and forty-one, is 6s., so that if all the 700,000 people were of the age of forty there would in a cost of something like £200,000 in additional reserve values given to the Irish for the purpose of getting over the transfer difficulty. The difference at sixty is 17s., so if all the insured people were sixty the cost of the Amendment would be very much larger. I do not know what the age distribution of the Irish insured people is and it would be impossible in the short time that we have had to consider this Clause to make any calculation of what the actual total addition to the reserve value is, but when the right hon. Gentleman says it costs nothing I hope he will show how it costs nothing and say whether or no I am not right that a very large increase in reserve values is being given to the Irish people. As I understand, the difficulty of the transfer was that the reserve values of Irish and English insured people were different and that when a man being insured, say, in Glasgow, went to Belfast, a different reserve value being attached to him, a different transfer value had to be credited and debited each time he left or came back to one or other of the countries. It is to get over that difficulty, as I understand it, that the reserve value is to be made equal. I do not think there is any doubt about the reserve values being 3292 different now. It is due, of course, to medical benefit, and the right hon. Gentleman even admitted, in his opening speech, that it is equal to 2d. a year. The aggregate of this 2d., according to the Blue Book, is the figure I have stated. If that is the cost, and I believe it is right, we ought to consider whether at a lower cost this difficulty could not be got over and whether there are any other alternative methods.
This does not meet the whole point. Four approvals and four sets of books and accounts are still necessary. I do not mean necessarily that individual accounts have to be kept, but certainly accounts have to be kept with the various Commissions for the purpose of advances from the Commission for benefits and administration expenses in the various countries and for reimbursements of expenditure already made which have to be taken up by the Commissions. The hon. Member (Mr. Thomas) said he hoped this could be met by setting up some clearing house, but that desire to set up a clearing house really amounts to this: If we do not have a clearing house, the international societies have to do this work for themselves. If we do have a clearing house, we shall shift the work on to the Commissioners and let them do it. It does not mean getting rid of the difficulty or getting rid of the work, but shifting it from the societies on to the Commissioners. That is not a solution of the difficulty. It may be, as far as the approved societies are concerned, a way out, but it still leaves what I believe to be a totally unnecessary amount of work to be done by someone and at someone's cost, either at the cost of the societies or at the cost of the taxpayers.
In order to get rid of another difficulty it seems to me that a most dangerous provision has been introduced into the Clause. The real reason of the objection of the international societies to these four Commissions was the danger that the international societies should be broken up into four units. Under this Clause there is a provision made that any one of the national units shall be allowed to refuse to come back again into the original parent society. Within three months they are to decide whether they are to be treated as a separate society or come back again to the original society. The hon. Member (Mr. Millar) was not even content with that. He said that option ought to be extended for much longer than three months and not only was it to be an option 3293 to be exercised originally, but it was to be renewed triennially, and that after every valuation each national branch of the international societies was to be allowed to say "we will break off." Is that the Clause which the hon. Member (Mr. Thomas) is satisfied with and for which he withdrew the Amendment which, if pressed, would have been carried and would have secured him actually what he wanted? There are other difficulties in the Clause which I will just indicate, and I hope to deal with them when we get into Committee. At the bottom of the second paragraph there is an expression which I do not understand: "A society shall not admit as a member any person resident at the time of admission in any part of the United Kingdom in respect to which the society is not an approved society." That means four approvals to be continued in respect of societies which are likely to have travelling members or members who are sometimes employed in one part of the country and sometimes in another. If what has been hoped for in the past happens, namely, that once a man gets into a society his brothers and his sons and others of his family would also come into this society, it will be necessary on the ground of safety for all societies to continue their approval in all the four countries. Then there is the passage to which the hon. Member (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson) called attention, which again is quite unintelligible to me. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will tell us, if this is going to cost nothing, this making up of transfer values, that he will devise some means—not by means of clearing-houses—of getting over the necessity for four sets of accounts and four approvals, and will generally do everything he can to get rid of the muddle which has been imposed upon him by the desire of Irish and other supporters in his party for this experiment in Home Rule.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I hope the Committee will now be prepared to give the Clause a Second Reading. I regret that from time to time in this Committee—I think it is generally regretted by everyone in the Committee—Members who are quite capable of dealing with the subject as such should consider it desirable to fling gibes over the floor of the Committee. I think there is plenty of room on the public platform for that, without bringing it into a business discussion of this sort. I only wish to ask the Committee to concentrate their attention upon the real proposal which is being made. I say without hesi- 3294 tation that it not only meets, I think, ninety-nine hundredths, certainly nine-tenths, of the practical objections in connection with the bookkeeping of the international societies, but that it goes so far as anyone can go so long as we keep four international Commissions. The Committee has already decided that four Commissions should be kept, and I have no wish to go back on that subject again. Given these four Commissions, I think that without any doubt at all this proposal does remove the grievance of the international societies. The hon. Member opposite taunted me with not giving a statement as to cost. I do not know of any cost at all in connection with the subject—certainly no cost to these societies, or of any limitations of the different international funds. He says that owing to our crediting to the Irish reserve values the amount which would necessarily be credited to them if medical benefit was extended to Ireland, we are adding some cost to the Irish Fund. We are doing nothing of the kind. Every penny added to reserve value in Ireland will emerge as credit to the Irish Fund when members, attain the age of seventy.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
It does not drop from anywhere. It is an adjustment of the account which, as I say, is a preliminary to the extension of medical benefit to Ireland, advocated so strongly yesterday by the hon. Gentleman.
Will the hon. Gentleman state what will be the total estimated increase in Irish reserve values when this Amendment is carried?
If it is a figure at all, it is a credit which has finally to be paid for out of contributions.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
No, no. It would be an extension of the Sinking Fund, but there is no loss at all. It all comes back in the way I have stated.
Does not the provision of the Sinking Fund postpone benefit to present insured people?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
Only to the extent it would do if medical benefit is extended to Ireland, but as to saying that there is a loss to Ireland—
I did not say it was a loss to Ireland. I said it was a loss to present insured people.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I can only say that it is no loss. The hon. Gentleman asked what was meant by the words "any other purposes of the society." That deals with the date of admission of the society. The question of the rights of members was raised by the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Goulding). If an international society, for example, requires £1,000 to pay benefits on the present system—I agree that the system is elaborate and complicated—under the new system they will be able to draw any proportion they like from any of the Commissions except that the total draughts in any period will have to be adjusted in accordance with the cash requirements of that period for the different Commissions. The international societies will be relieved from the onerous obligation of dealing with individuals on the transfer of individuals from place to place. They will have to keep a record analysing the cash payments which will be required from time to time for the periods of adjustment between the four accounts, but that will be a very simple record indeed, and nothing like the record which has to be kept at present. Except for that their accounts will be common accounts for the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. GOULDING
Will it not be necessary for four sets of accounts to be kept—one in respect of the members in each country? Will not these four applications have to go separately to each body of Commissioners?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
No, they will not have to keep four separate accounts. All they will have to do is to keep a record for future adjustments in regard to the different countries. The accounts will be kept as provided for in Section 83 (3) of the principal Act.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think it must be recognised that the question of four Commissions existing has been decided. It is impossible, as long as the four Commissions exist, in an amending Clause like this to alter the fact that there are four Commissions and four accounts.
§ Mr. GOULDING
The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to answer my question, which I did not mean as an interruption of a hostile nature.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I did not refer to the remarks of the hon. Member for Worcester, but to all the various questions in regard to the Commissions which have cropped up in the course of the discussion.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I make no complaint at all; but it is rather difficult to answer running comments. I am dealing with the various questions which have been asked. I can only say that, so far from there being anything in the suggestion that the Labour party first put pressure on the Government and then refused to put pressure, and all that kind of nonsense which has been talked this morning, the Labour party in these negotiations have represented to me, to a large extent, the international societies, and they have represented the trade unions.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
I was stopped from commenting upon the Labour party and its relations with the Government. That being so, I do not see why the right hon. Gentleman should be allowed to speak of the talking of "nonsense." We were told by the right hon. Gentleman that certain criticisms we made should be made on the platform.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I can only rule in regard to the word "nonsense" that the remarks which the right hon. Gentleman referred to were nonsense from the point of view of Order, because I have ruled that it is not in accordance with the procedure of these Committees to make such remarks. If these points are really to be raised, they should be reserved for use elsewhere.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I withdraw. All I wish to say is that this is not the result of a kind of political agreement. It is really the result of long negotiations with the trade unions and the approved societies. It is because the proposal represents the result of these negotiations that I believe this is a thoroughly satisfactory conclusion to the controversy.
§ Question, "That the Clause be read a second time," put, and agreed to.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I beg to move in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words, "where joint committee are satisfied, on representations made within three months after the passing of this Act, that the members of any such society resident in a part of the United Kingdom other than that in which the registered office of the society is situated," and to insert instead thereof the words, "the Commissioners for any country are satisfied on representations made by and on behalf of any members of the society resident in that part of the United Kingdom which is not the part of the United Kingdom in which the registered office of the society is situated, that a majority of the members so resident."
The effect of this Amendment may be stated in a word. It is to substitute the Commissioners for each country for the Joint Commissioners. The rest is merely verbal alteration to make that effective. This proviso to the first Sub-section mitigates to some extent the hardship of the whole Clause upon Scotland. The Amendment provides that the body which shall judge that a majority of the members do desire to be treated as a separate society shall be the National Commissioners. My reason for making that proposal is that the National Commissioners are in a position to form an opinion and to judge as to the wishes of members far inure correctly and far more judicially than are the members of the Joint Commission. The Joint Commission know nothing whatever about the members resident in Scotland, for they have no direct relations with them. They have not been administering the Act so far as the members in Scotland are concerned, but the National Commissioners have been doing so ever since the Act came into operation, and they have been in direct relations with those members. They have been in touch with them all the time, they know the officials, and they are, I submit, in a better position to form an opinion as to whether the members desire to be treated as a separate society or not.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I will not comment on that. The Amendment is designed to substitute the Commissioners for the Joint Committee. I think that I must ask the Committee to adhere to the Clause as it stands on the Paper. The procedure of the office is that all things that affect only one country are dealt with by the Commissioners of that country, but things that affect more than one country are dealt with by the Joint Committee, which, as my hon. Friend will recognise, possesses its members for all the countries. Take a Scotch case for example. You cannot say that the verdict whether Scotch trade unionist members in Scotland wish to forum a separate society for the Scotch trade union in Scotland is entirely a local matter affecting Scotland. It is a matter affecting trade unions in England as well as trade unions in Scotland. Of course a report would be submitted from the Scotch Commission. The Scotch Commission would, to a very large extent, endeavour to ascertain the real feelings of the members, but I think that the ultimate decision must rest with the Joint Committee that controls matters of international interests. Perhaps after that explanation my hon. Friend will be willing to withdraw his Amendment.
I quite understand the feeling of the hon. Member for Bridgeton in moving this Amendment, but I am not going to support it because I would not support the original Clause that was in the Act. What he is endeavouring to do is to get a little more local power into the hands of the Scotch Insurance Commissioners and to extend the Home Rule that is already in the Bill. As I object to the whole of this power, and think that it should all be vested in the Joint Committee, I shall oppose this Amendment.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I do not think that is quite a fair way to state it. I intend on this occasion to support the Secretary of the Treasury, but I do it largely because I am an English Member. This is purely a Scotch move, and I do not think that it should influence us too much. The point is that the Government have tried, I think very honestly, to meet what was a great grievance, and I am inclined to support it and give it a fair trial. It has not arisen out of any nationalities or any political abstract notions at all. It. has been forced to the front by the men who 3299 are keeping the hooks and conducting the correspondence and working under this Act. That being so, I think it is a proper thing to appeal to the Government to suggest a scheme. They have done it. There are some aspects of it which might not suit a certain kind of society, but I think that the approved societies, speaking generally, have passed this Clause and desire to have it. They will not try to work it to the disadvantage of any nation or anything of the kind, and I think it ought to have a fair chance of being worked successfully.
§ Mr. G. H. ROBERTS
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has decided to resist this, because it would very largely defeat the very purpose which we have in view in setting up this Clause. For my part, I cannot conceive how it is possible to ascertain with fairness and accuracy what is the positive desire of Members of the respective parts of a country; but I oppose this for an additional reason, as to which I do not know whether my hon. Friend has quite taken it into calculation. The basis of this claim presumably is that the sickness liability in Scotland is less than in other parts of the country, and therefore by the incorporation of Scotch members in an international membership you may be depriving them of some ultimate additional benefits. If I apprehend the hon. Member aright, that is the case he is seeking to establish. I do not think that that would really happen. I do not know what data my hon. Friend has. After all, we are simply speculating at the moment. But the theory which I always found to obtain a considerable amount of force in the friendly society world was
|Division No. 15.]||AYES.|
|Addison, Dr.||Dickinson, Mr.||Newman, Mr.|
|Baker, Sir Randolf||Goulding, Mr.||Newton, Mr.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Gwynne, Mr. Rupert||O'Grady, Mr.|
|Booth, Mr.||Harvey, Mr. Edmund||Parkes, Mr.|
|Boyle, Mr. Daniel||Jones, Mr. Glyn-||Roberts, Mr. Charles|
|Boyle, Mr. William||Lardner, Mr.||Roberts, Mr. George|
|Bowerman, Mr.||Locker-Lampson, Mr. Godfrey||Samuel, Mr. Jonathan|
|Buxton, Mr. Noel||Macdonald, Mr. Ramsay||Thomas, Mr.|
|Byles, Sir William||Macnamara, Dr.||Wing, Mr.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||M'Neill, Mr. Ronald||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Masterman, Mr.||Worthington-Evans, Mr.|
|Devlin, Mr.||Money, Mr. Chiozza|
|Davies, Mr. Ellis||Jones, Mr. Haydn||Scott, Mr. MacCallum|
|Hinds, Mr.||Millar, Mr. Duncan|
§ this, that sickness and other liabilities were determined more by trades than by localities. My hon. Friend in Scotland has a considerable mining membership, and I know that the sickness experience and general friendly society liabilities among miners is higher than among other sections of workers. Therefore in my opinion it is more profitable that you should average the liability over the whole mining industries than split it up into these sections, and thereby in my opinion deprive the membership of the real benefits which will ensue by the spreading over the wider area of this great liability. I have often heard it stated that in Scotland there is a large agricultural population and therefore the liability is less than in other parts of the country. There has always appeared to me to be a fallacy even in that respect, because even if there is a slight diminution in actual sickness experience during the working life yet the friendly societies have always experienced that there is an average' increase of non-activity and that the liability at the other end is much greater, and therefore I think, taking the individual members as a whole, there is no advantage added to Scotland in that respect. Therefore, because I believe that this would very largely decrease the very object which we have in view, and certainly split it up into sections again, and because in my opinion my hon. Friend is not quite serving the purposes even of Scotch membership, I feel bound to oppose this Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words 'joint committee are satisfied'" stand part of the Clause.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 35; Noes, 5.
§ sentations made within three months after the passing of this Act."3301
§ The object of this Amendment is to omit the time limit altogether. My reason is practically the same as before. I believe that in Scotland we should lose heavily by this Clause which is now being proposed. More than half of the insured people in Scotland are affected by it. That is a situation which does not exist in any other part of the United Kingdom. In England the proportion of people affected by it is comparatively small. I am perfectly certain that as soon as the insured persons of Scotland come to realise this they will desire to be treated as a separate society. Of course it will take a little experience, some years perhaps, before the full effect is seen. Some of the effect has already been seen by the small sickness rate of Scotland and the higher sickness rate elsewhere. But when the first valuation comes on and when the Scotch societies are separately valued, it will be seen how much better they stand than the members of friendly societies having their headquarters elsewhere. Why should the option of coming in and being treated as a friendly society be confined to three months after the passing of this Act? Suppose that after three years insured persons in Scotland discover that this is contrary to their interests to be treated as a friendly society, are they then to be denied the right of being treated as a separate society, although they wish to be so treated? I know that the effect will be exactly the contrary of what my hon. Friends on the back benches here believe. They believe that they are benefiting their unions and their centralised societies, but when it is discovered that by belonging to the centralised societies the people of Scotland are going to get smaller benefits then the tendency will be for these people in Scotland who are cooling into insurance for the first time, not to join the centralised societies, but to join purely national societies. The purely national societies will gain at the expense of the other societies. At present the members of purely national societies in Scotland are less than half the population, but as soon as the effect begins to be seen then all the members coming in at the age of sixteen will tend to join the purely national societies and not the great centralised societies for the purposes of the Act, and my hon. Friends on the back benches will lose then the object which they desired to achieve. I therefore, in the interests of the unions, wish to reserve for the members in Scotland the right at a later stage 3302 to be treated as separate societies if they so desire, and therefore I wish to abolish the time limit of three months which is proposed.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
The hon. Gentleman very fairly said that he was really fighting the same battle in this case as in the last, and therefore he will forgive me if I do not give him a very long answer since, as far as I can see, the mind of the Committee is made up, judging by the last division, as to the general desirability of this system. Three months may be too short a time after the passing of the Act because it might be impossible for the Commissioners to arrange in connection with the regulations. The Chairman tells me there is an Amendment further down to increase the time from three to six months, and I would be prepared to accept that.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I think it is long enough to make it six. It is most important. the choice should be made.
§ Amendment put, and negatived.
§ Mr. LARDNER
I beg to move in Subsection (1) of the proposed Clause, to leave out the word "three" ["within three months"], and to insert instead thereof the word "six."
My reason for doing so is that this is to be a final decision, and as it is a matter of such vital importance to the international society; situate in countries other than the head offices, I think they should get ample time to discuss the whole question as to what is best in the interests of the society. Three months is too short a time to deal with a decision of the kind on this point, and therefore I think it should be extended to six.
§ Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move in Sub-section (2) of the proposed Clause to leave out the words "but a society shall not admit as a member any person resident at the time of admission in any part of the United Kingdom in respect of which the society is not an approved society."
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain what this means. Why should not a society admit as a member any person resident at the time of admission in any portion of the United Kingdom? If you 3303 are going to make the societies really international, what does it matter where the person happens to reside at a particular moment of admission, seeing that if he were admitted while resident in England and the very next day went to Scotland or to Ireland he would not lose his membership of the international society. The mere accident of residence for a Question of, perhaps, ten or twelve hours should not alter the power of the society, and this seems to me to be an unnecessary limitation on those powers.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I think I can explain to the satisfaction of the hon. Gentleman. Sub-section (2) only refers to local societies and not to international ones. If a society wishes to be international it must be able to recruit members in all four parts of the United Kingdom. If a society definitely declares, as it has to under Sub-section (2), that it only wants to be local, then all that we are giving them is the right to deal with their own strays. Supposing a society happens to be a local society in an English county, a local village society, it does not want to be international and to carry on business and recruit members in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but does want to deal with three or four members possibly who may happen to have strayed, say, into Wales. We ask the societies to make a choice. If they want to be international they come under the full provisions of the international arrangements, and if they want to be local they want to make provisions for three or four strays, who happen to have strayed away possibly for a time from the locality. We say under those conditions that they must not recruit large numbers of members in other districts and still continue to be a local society and not an international society.
§ Viscount WOLMER
It does seem to me that the answer of the right hon. Gentleman is a very bureaucratic one. I cannot see what harm the local society does if it wants to recruit a few members who are resident outside the country of a society. Suppose the case of a man going into employment for the first time whose relatives are all in a certain society which is localised in another part of the United Kingdom. Why on earth should he not be allowed to join the society to which all his relatives and friends belong. What harm is done? It seems to me that the attitude of the Government is very grandmotherly. I cannot conceive what harm it 3304 would do to the scheme of National Insurance as a whole or to the person insured or to the approved society. Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman let the approved society do what it likes in this matter, and why should he put limits on their free will?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
The society can do just what it likes. This is only an enabling Clause for a society which does not recruit members in any other part of the United Kingdom. If it does want to recruit outside and does require approval, then of course it can do so.
It will not happen; but the Labour Party ought to support me in this matter, because if this were carried there would be no necessity for four approvals since any society could be approved in any one country and could recruit members elsewhere. By leaving out these words we should in fact get rid of the difficulties we are now struggling against. I quite agree, however, that this is a back door way of dealing with the matter, and I prefer to deal with the position on Report, and therefore I do not press the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3) of the proposed Clause, to leave out the words "for the purposes of this provision admission to membership of a society means admission for membership, whether for the purposes of Part I. of the principal Act or for any other purposes of the Society, and in the case of a society which is a separate section of another society includes admission to membership of that other society."
I move this because I am not satisfied with the reply of the right hon. Gentleman to a question I asked him a short time ago. I suspected that these few lines did refer to and roped in the voluntary side of approved societies, and it is perfectly clear from the right hon. Gentleman's answer that if we pass these lines the voluntary side of friendly societies will be included in the Bill. It is the first time during the passage of this Bill through Committee that we have dealt with the voluntary side of friendly societies. I believe I am correct in saying that the whole of the rest of the Bill has left the voluntary side of friendly societies alone, and I think this proposal is most undesirable.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
We do not touch the voluntary society and I think I can meet the hon. Gentleman's point. This is 3305 merely dealing with the date of admission and nothing else. All we say is this, supposing there is a man resident in Wales who has been a member of a voluntary society for ten years and joins an approved society, and we say that for the purpose of this provision admission to membership of the society means admission to membership even if he was a member ten years ago. Surely that is not interfering in the least degree with the voluntary side of the society.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I am not at all sure that that is what it really means, and I certainly do not like the words "or for any other purposes of the society."
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member has an Amendment down to leave out those words, and perhaps he would proceed to move it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I beg to move in Sub-section (3) of the proposed Clause to leave out the words "or for any other purposes of the society."
This is certainly a narrower point if the right hon. Gentleman is right on his previous point. These words seem to me to be very much too wide. I think we ought to do our utmost to preserve the autonomy of the voluntary side of the approved societies, and this is really the thin end of the wedge, and I am quite sure as time goes on the voluntary side of friendly societies is going to be raked in more and more into the Government machine.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I think the hon. Gentleman is misreading the Clause. He is really raising the same point. The provision reads "for the purposes of this provision admission to membership of a society means admission to membership, whether for the purposes of Part I. of the principal Act, or for any other purposes of the society." That is merely dealing with admission to membership so as to bring in those who were not under the Act but were members of the society.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I have consulted two or three leading members of friendly societies, gentlemen who are high up themselves in those societies, and they tell me that if the words really do not, mean more than that they are absolutely unnecessary, but they are very doubtful as to how far that provision would go. They 3306 say, if it does not mean more than the right hon. Gentleman says, then why have it at all?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I am assured that members of friendly societies are satisfied. If there are any words by which we can make it clearer I will do so on Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I am moving this because I want, if I can, to clear up what I think was the rather unsatisfactory way in which the financial question has been left. I have been making a little calculation in the meanwhile. The right hon. Gentleman told us in his speech that the difference in reserve values for Ireland would mean about 2d. per member. That is £5,833 per year and that on the twenty years' table would redeem a reserve value of about £85,000, so that it cannot be said, at least I believe it cannot., that this Amendment is costing nothing. On the contrary it is going to cost something which is equivalent to nearly £600,000 per year. The Committee will notice how it is to be dealt with. In the last portion of this Sub-section it is provided—the prescribed part of his transfer value shall be carried by the society of which he is a member to a separate account and dealt with in such manner as may be prescribed.I think whenever we see those words we ought either to move to omit them or get from the Government a definite statement of what is intended to be done. What is meant by "dealt with in such manner as may be prescribed"? Will the right hon. Gentleman also tell us if he has ascertained what the cost will be?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I have difficulty in understanding what the hon. Gentleman understands by cost. This is the Irish National Insurance Fund, and the additional amount of reserve values will be credited to the members in Ireland, and will form a charge on the Irish National Insurance Fund Reserve Value Fund. If that were lost altogether, Ireland would lose to the extent to which that fund was continued after eighteen and a half years by the amount, and the money goes back to the societies and is credited to the societies when the men pass out of in- 3307 surance, and that money will be credited to the societies "in such mariner as may be prescribed." The hon. Gentleman asked me why we put in the words "in such manner as may be prescribed." It is because we anticipate, what I might almost now say is the probability, of the extension of medical benefit in Ireland. In that case this money will be wanted, and we should have had to go through exactly a similar process in order to pay over medical benefit to men over seventy years of age. If medical benefit is not carried on to Ireland, then this will form a fund which will be used for the benefit of members. We want to keep it as a fund accumulating until that question is settled, in order that we may have it when medical benefit is extended to Ireland for people over seventy years of age.
It seems to me we are doing this in a most unsatisfactory way. Yesterday the Committee refused to extend medical benefit to Ireland, and to-day the Financial Secretary asks the Committee to give them the money, just as if, so far as the reserve values are concerned, the Committee's decision had been in the reverse direction yesterday. I confess I am not going to press this Amendment because I want it. I want the facility of transfer that can only be got by this Amendment if the whole Clause is to be accepted. We have either got to vote against the whole Clause or leave this Sub-section in. That I admit. It is an unfortunate necessity of the course which the Government have taken. The Financial Secretary seems to think that it is going to cost nothing. I think it is going to cost £60,000 a year. He says it is to emerge in a profit some twenty years hence. It is going to be taken from those who are at present in insurance, and, if it ever does emerge in a profit about which I have some doubts, it will go to very different people twenty years hence. I do not consider that that is a fair method of dealing with the matter. I would like to ask a question on one point. The Financial Secretary states that the last words of this Sub-section were put down in contemplation of the grant of medical benefit to Ireland. If those words are left in, and it is carried, would it be possible to grant medical benefit to Ireland without a fresh Act next year?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.