I beg to more, "That, in view of the loss of individual liberty and the consequent hardship arising from the compulsory nature of the National Insurance Acts and in view of the grave doubts which are now widely entertained as to whether it will be possible to continue to pay the minimum benefits promised by the Acts, an impartial and competent Committee should be appointed by the Government to inquire into the whole question and report, after considering the working of the present Acts, whether it is possible and desirable to substitute a voluntary system aided by subsidies at least as valuable as the contributions now obtained from the employers and the State."
Before referring to the Motion, I would like to say that we on this side of the House regret very much that the right 1861 hon. Gentleman (Mr. Masterman), who has, ably I think, represented the Insurance Acts in this House for some time, is not able to be present. Naturally, we also somewhat rejoice owing to the reason the right hon. Gentleman is not here. I would like at the very outset to ask hon. Members in all parts of the House to realise that this is not a Motion to ask this House to immediately alter the whole basis of the Insurance Act, and to convert it from a compulsory to a voluntary basis. That is not the proposal. The proposal we are submitting to the House tonight is that this House should appoint a competent and impartial Committee to consider the whole working of the Insurance Acts, and further to consider whether it is possible to alter these Acts so as to do away with their compulsory nature, and to return to the subject his liberty by making these Acts voluntary. As far as I am personally concerned, I have studied these Acts for a very short time. I have only been in this House for a very few months, and, as far as I am personally concerned, J cannot possibly declare that I am either in favour of a voluntary or compulsory basis. I am quite sure of this, that I am in favour of the proposal set down in this Resolution. I am in favour of the appointment of a Committee to consider the Acts from all points of view.
I am of opinion that it is wise to set up a Committee and to leave it to that Committee to state whether it is possible and advisable to alter the basis of the Insurance Acts to a voluntary basis. On that point I have quite made up my mind. I am also convinced that amongst insured persons and the general public there is a very great demand for such a Committee. I am convinced that amongst insured persons alone there is sufficient demand to warrant this House in setting up such a Committee. Surely it must be obvious that the working of these Acts is such that some alteration must be made, and I advance my proposal with all the more confidence because, since this House met, the Government have already shown that they agree with us that on important questions of this sort there is nothing like setting up a competent Committee to consider them. Since we met in this Session the Government have, I understand, promised to set up a Committee to consider the great question of the housing of the working classes in this country. That is a question in 1862 which we on this side of the House are, and have been for many years, extremely interested, and we welcome the promise of the Government that they intend to set up that Committee. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Perhaps I misunderstood the promise which came from the Government Bench, but I certainly understood that they intended to set up a Departmental Committee between the two Offices to consider the question of the housing of the working classes, and to report.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
I regret, then, that the Government do not agree with me that this question of the housing of the working classes is a question which requires a Committee. I hoped that they agreed with me that far. That is an urgent and a pressing question. Is not this question of the working of the Insurance Acts, as it affects our poorer population in the country equally urgent and equally pressing? Is it not equally necessary, or, if the Government do not consider it necessary in the question of the housing of the working classes, I appeal to them to say that it is necessary to set up a Committee to inquire into the working of the Insurance Acts. I do feel that this question is so urgent and so important that hon. Members in all parts of the House must realise the perpetual hardships to which insured persons are put, largely due to the compulsory nature of these Acts. I do not think that I would be justified in wearying the House by producing the numerous letters I have had during the last few days giving me instances of the hardships under which individuals are suffering in this matter; but I would like, if I may, to ask the Government a perfectly clear question. Are they satisfied that insured persons in this country are getting to-day the benefits promised under the Act, and the benefits which have been so clearly outlined by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer?
May I take the benefits in order? The first that occurs to me is the maternity benefit. The maternity benefit is one that has been welcomed, and which has been supported in all parts of the House. The maternity benefit, in my opinion, and, I think, in the opinion of all my hon. Friends on this side of the House, is a benefit 1863 which is doing really good work, and is the only benefit which is being really well administered. Surely, I am justified in saying that the maternity benefit is the one benefit under these Acts which it is easy to administer. It is very difficult, indeed, to malinger under the maternity benefit. Even with the cleverness of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench, it would be very difficult to get that 30s. unless they can show just cause. I submit that the maternity benefit is an easy benefit to administer. It is a benefit which is doing good, and it is a benefit which everybody in every part of the House supports most heartily. I will leave that and come to the sanatorium benefit. I think it is in the recollection of the House that the right hon. Gentleman, in a famous speech, referred to the sanatorium benefit in graphic words; he told insured persons that when they suffered from consumption they would be taken away from their work and their poor dwellings and put into a first-class hotel, where they would receive the best possible treatment until they were cured of the Accursed disease from which they suffered. Is that the way in which the sanatorium benefit is being administered to-day? No; instead of getting first-class hotel treatment, those unfortunate people who are suffering from consumption get canvas tents and wooden shelters. One of my hon. Friends on this side of the House has elicited from the Government some particulars about this sanatorium benefit. The county councils are left to administer this benefit, and to set up these first-class hotels, which we on this side of the House are looking for all over the country. But what are the actual facts, as given by the right hon. Gentleman? Nine county councils have bought old or have built new buildings, and eight county councils have hired beds in existing institutions. That is better than nothing. But what has happened to those people who would have used those beds in existing institutions if they had not been acquired by the eight county councils? Surely they are, left without the treatment which they would have got in olden days. Ten county councils have bought or proposed to buy sites for the building of these first-class hotels; it is better to have bought a site or to propose to buy one, than to do nothing. We are also informed that the other county councils—I have worked out the number for 1864 myself, and my arithemetic may not be very accurate, but, I think, that approximately it is thirty—have not yet decided what to do. There are also, we are informed, seven county councils which have limited their scheme under this sanatorium benefit to dispensary treatment. Well, that can hardly be equal to first-class hotel treatment. What is dispensary treatment? It means that these unfortunate people are to get, in lieu of the promised sanatorium treatment, eggs and milk, and occasionally a bottle of cod liver oil. The eggs, milk, and cod liver oil are all to the good, but I submit that they do not constitute first-class hotel treatment.
The hon. Member for Pontefract thinks they are better; perhaps he has been judging by his experience of first-class hotels in Dublin. I submit, however, they are not in accordance either with the undertakings of the Insurance Act or with the speeches and promises of the Exchequer. Now I come to the medical benefit. I do not propose to give my own views on that. I propose, with all respect, to submit the views of a Radical-Socialist paper which, no doubt, has great authority with the hon. Member opposite who is so noisy. At any rate, it has more authority with him, and may possibly appeal to the House more than anything that can be said by a humble Member from these Back Benches. This Radical paper writes with regard to the medical benefit:—At present, so far is the medical service from being adequate, in any sense, that to say that the Act as administered is in this respect a fraud upon the poor, is a strictly accurate and moderate description of the position.This Socialist-Radical paper from which I am quoting is the "New Statesman." It is a Socialist paper. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not a Radical."] I have given its view, that the medical benefit is a fraud on the poor, and I do not think that I need add any words to that. Next comes the question of the chemists. I understand that the chemists in the Manchester district are still waiting for a sum of £16,000 with which to pay their bills. In a big city like Manchester, the chemists in the poorer districts, since the compulsory Insurance Act has been brought into operation, are practically dependent upon the insured persons' business for their livelihood, and here are a number of them waiting for this large sum of money 1865 which, for some reason unknown to me, they cannot get. Are the Government satisfied that the chemists in the Manchester district should be kept waiting for this money I There may be reasons for it, but you must remember that my Motion is not that these chemists should be paid to-morrow, but that a Committee, competent and impartial, should be set up to inquire why they have not been paid the money. Then there is the sick pay benefit. I should like to give one incident to the House which covers the case of the unfortunate Post Office contributor. I have chosen this incident from among many because the right hon. Gentleman can verify it at a moment's notice. It is the case of an employé of one of the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues—the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I have the extracts from the newspapers, but I will give the facts as shortly as I can. The agent of the Secretary of State for the Colonies attended a meeting of a certain board of guardians, at which an employé of the right hon. Gentleman was reported to be destitute, and application was made for assistance. It was pointed out that the agent had stamped the man's insurance card for thirty-two weeks, and that the man had received from the Post Office 13s. 9d., while there had been paid in by him, by his employer, and by the State, a sum of 24s. The right hon. Gentleman's colleague had assisted this poor man by giving him 30s. to help him along, but his agent pointed out at the meeting of the board of guardians that in view of the fact that he was compelled to contribute under the Insurance Act, he could not see his way to contribute any further. No one, indeed, would expect any employer of labour to do more than voluntarily give 30s. But this man, under the compulsory clauses of the Insurance Act, contributed out of his own pocket 10s. 8d., and he has only received 13s. 9d.
The hon. Member seems very pleased, but I will go on in spite of him. I There has actually been paid in on the man's account, by the man himself, by his employer, and by the State a sum of 24s., and it appears to be a little bit unfortunate that the sum he has actually received ends with 9d.; it cannot but remind us of the right hon. Gentleman's promise of 9d. for 4d. This is only one instance of hundreds throughout the country of the position of these unfor- 1866 tunate Post Office contributors. I would like next to refer to a rather different aspect of this question—that of by-election bribes. One of the reasons that this Motion has been put down to-night is to be found in the accusations which have been brought, quite unjustly, but quite naturally, against our party in connection with this proposal of a Committee to consider the question of voluntary insurance. I would like to read to the House a short extract from another Radial paper, which happens to circulate in my Division. It is as follows:—In order to gain the small shopkeepers' vote in Bethnal Green,.Mr. Bonar Law has promised to appoint a non-political committee in the event of the Unionists coming back to power, which is to consider whether the Act can be placed on a voluntary basis. After this, the less said about rash bribes and promises made on the eve of a by-election the better.The right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members opposite know just as well as I do that the right hon. Gentleman my Leader made this declaration about a Committee to consider this matter of voluntary insurance at Norwich several months ago, and for any Radical paper or any right hon. Gentleman or hon. Gentleman to say this was a bribe on the eve of the Bethnal Green By-election is quite untrue. It would be just as true to say, if one of my hon. Friends went down on the eve of a by-election and assured the electors of Bethnal Green or elsewhere that if and when our party came into power our Leader was going to bring in our Tariff Reform proposals, that that was a bribe to the electors. If one of our supporters went down to a by-election and assured the electors that if and when we came into power the right hon. Gentleman our Leader had pledged himself that under no circumstances whatever would he appoint the right hon. Gentleman opposite as Chancellor of the Exchequer, it would be just as true to call that an election bribe. It is perfectly clear to this House and to the right hon. Gentleman that our Leader clearly laid down his policy at Norwich many months ago, and for the Radical Press or any other portion of the Radical party or of the party opposite to say that it was a bribe at the Bethnal Green By-election is a statement which I consider to be quite contemptible, whether it comes inside a paper or outside a paper. I submit that it is entirely due to our Leader's declaration at Norwich that this Resolution appears on the Paper to-night. We have taken the very first possible opportunity—for last night was engaged with more important business—of 1867 submitting to the House and the country the principles of our party with regard to the setting up of a Committee to inquire into the Insurance Acts. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in one of those bursts of fiery oratory which took place on the 1st December at Holloway, accused our party, wholesale, in these words:—The Tory party were at their old game again.''He went on to say that the policy laid down by our party during the Recess was:—A policy of nauseous hypocrisy.One of the reasons why we have put this Motion down to-night is that we do not intend that the right hon. Gentleman shall have any justification whatever for saying that our action with regard to the proposal to set up a Committee to inquire into the Insurance Acts and to see whether they can, in the interests of the people, be made voluntary, was prompted by "nauseous hypocrisy." We are appealing to the Government to-night to take all the credit they can get for setting up this Committee. We want the Committee—we do not want the credit. I will ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider his own knowledge of the working of these Acts and to search his own conscience, and if his own conscience does not tell him that the working of these Acts is so bad that something must be done, then. Sir, his conscience has failed him. I would like to leave the right hon. Gentleman, with his great knowledge of the working of these Acts, to argue it out whether it is possible to carry on, as we are, or whether some alteration is not necessary, and urgently necessary. If his conscience has failed him and is of no further use to him or to me, then I would ask him to cast that electoral eye, which we know is so very useful to him, round the horizon. Surely he sees that in Bethnal Green, in Poplar, and in every working-class district of this country complaints are rising up of the unfair and unjust working of these Acts. I appeal to him, if his conscience has failed him, to use that electoral eye, for I feel that he would see that by setting up this Committee he might catch some votes. I believe that would appeal to him more than anything I could possibly say. I do appeal to him to set up this Committee, and to take all the credit he can get from doing so, now at once, while he can do it in a pleasant and satisfactory manner. I appeal to him to do it now, 1868 and not to wait till he is forced to do so, which is bound to happen within a very few months.
§ Mr. RUPERT GWYNNE
I rise to second this Motion. There are many reasons why I am glad to have this opportunity of supporting my hon. Friend. One is that I do not think there has ever been a matter of legislation before this House which more urgently calls for immediate attention than the Insurance Act at the present time. There are many reasons why we on this side of the House feel we are right in urging that this Committee should be appointed without delay. I do not propose to deal with more than two of them, and with those only briefly. The first one I should like to bring to the attention of the. Chancellor of the Exchequer is the loss of individual freedom from which the workers of this country— indeed, the whole populace of this country—are at the present time suffering, thanks to the compulsory Clauses of the Insurance Acts. Let me remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the attitude taken up by the Radical party before they come into power. I quote from the speech of the late Sir Henry Campbell-Banner-man shortly before he became Prime Minister, when the Unionist party was in power. He said:—I observe that some people, who surely have been asleep, are asking what is the policy of the Liberal party. It seems to me to be an idle and ignorant question. We stand for liberty. Our policy is the policy of freedom. It is the policy of freedom in all things that affect the life of the people—freedom of conscience, freedom of trade, freedom of combination, freedom from injurious privileges and monopolies, freedom for each man to make the best use of the powers and faculties implanted in him. That is our policy.I will ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his definition of freedom is the same as Dr. Johnson's? If so, we find that freedom means liberty, independence, and unrestraint. I ask him whether he thinks now that the provisions of this Insurance Act carry out that definition?
I will take only one instance, and that is one of the many papers which have been issued from the Insurance Commission at Buckingham Gate, It is Form X1 revised, and it is a claim for exemption, and this is a form which has to be filled in, not by a man who comes under the provisions of the Insurance Act, but by a working man who wants, and is entitled, to get out of the provisions. This will show the loss of freedom, not only to workers who come under the Act, but to every worker in the country. I will read a few of the questions 1869 which he has to answer: "What is the employment in respect of which you are now claiming exemption I What are your earnings from this employment I How much time does it occupy? Is it continuous throughout the year, or for a part of the year only? What is the name and address of your employer?" That is with regard to the work which he does. in an insurable capacity. Then this is with regard to any subsidiary occupation which he may do besides his insured work: "State full particulars of the occupation on which you claim to be ordinarily and mainly dependent? State what grounds you have for considering that this occupation does not render you liable to compulsory insurance? State the place at which the occupation is carried on? State your average earnings a year from this occupation?" I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he would like to fill in this form himself in regard to his occupation? "State whether the occupation is continuous throughout the year? If it is not, for what period of the year are you engaged in it?" Is it fair to ask a working man to fill in a form which hon. Members themselves would not care, and would not be able to fill in, I believe. We all know what the Chancellor of the Exchequer's ordinary occupation is; but supposing he had to fill in a paper showing how much he made in his extraordinary speculations, how would he like to have to do that, and would he do it, and if he would not, do it himself, is it fair to compel every working man in this country to do what he himself would not do.
Surely it is adding insult to injury, when you find the end of the declaration that you have to swear, "I have clearly understood all the above questions." The footnote is not without some significance. "If any person wilfully makes any false statement with a view to obtaining a certificate of exemption, or is otherwise guilty of contravention or noncompliance with the Regulations of the Commissioners dealing with exemptions, he shall be liable for each offence, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £10." Then it goes on to say that this unfortunate working man, after having filled up this form, and having sworn that he has understood all the conundrums which have been put to him— I ask how can a working man fill in a form saying what his average earnings are from a subsidiary employment during the last three years— has to go and make this declaration himself, either before a cus- 1870 toms and excise officer, or get some householder to witness his signature. Even the right hon. Gentleman when he pays his Super-tax, can send in a form direct without having to deliver it to an excise officer, or get a householder to witness it. As regards the liberty of the subject it has been at the present time, thanks to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, more interfered with than by any other Act of Parliament during our own time. I am reminded of the Englishman who wished to see what life in a Re-public was like, and went to America to see how much more free that country was, and after he had been through the customs, he remarked: "The only freedom I have found in this country is the liberties they have taken with me.'' That seems to be the kind of freedom which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is bringing about among the working classes of this country.
Then I should like to raise the question of sanatorium benefit. I should like to quote two cases out of hundreds which come daily before Members of Parliament and the public. One is the case of Mr. Hugh Storey. Here was a case of a man who applied for sanatorium treatment. I do not think it will be disputed that ho was suffering from consumption in a bad form, and owing to insufficient sanatorium accommodation in the county in which he was living he was provided with a shelter in which he could sleep, and in the second week of September he was granted a supply of ancillary nourishment consisting of three pints of milk and two new laid eggs daily. That did not seem such very generous treatment, but even that very soon came to an end. On 22nd November he got this letter:—Sir, owing to the large number of patients receiving sanatorium benefit who have applied to the Kent Insurance Committee for extra nourishment, and to the fact that the sum of money available for this purpose is limited, it has become necessary to reduce the quantity of nourishment supplied. As you have been receiving such assistance for a considerable period, that is about a month, and as it is impossible to continue this indefinitely, I am compelled reluctantly to cancel any further supply in your case for the present. Accordingly I am instructing the tradesman concerned to discontinue the supply of food after Saturday next, 22nd November, 1913That is an example of the benefit under the Insurance Act to a man in an advanced stage, of consumption.
Let me take a case which has come under my personal notice, as it happened to a man in my own employment. Just before Christmas he was found to be suffering from his lungs. I saw the insurance doctor myself, and he said the man must 1871 leave off work at once and go to a sanatorium. I let him go off work that very day, 23rd December, and sent him where he wished to go, to his home, in order that he should at once avail himself of the benefits of the Act. On 14th February, after waiting since 23rd December, during which time he had been recommended by three different doctors to have sanatorium treatment, he was told he would be given dispensary treatment, and I have to-night received this letter from him. I wrote yesterday to ask what he was getting now. He says: "The only treatment I am getting is medicine from my doctor—cod liver oil and malt. I receive nothing else. That is all I receive from the insurance committee." [An HON. MEMBER: "Was he a deposit contributor?"] No, he was not. [An HON. MEMBER: "Did he get sick pay?"] He says he is not getting sick pay here. He is a member of an approved society. In any case, whether he is receiving sick pay or not, where is his sanatorium treatment? Where is the first-class hotel? I will give the right hon. Gentleman the full particulars if he will inquire into it. [An HON. MEMBER: "What county?"] It is Essex. Let us just compare the present state of things with the Chancellor's promises. We have heard a great deal lately of the Chancellor's promises. May I remind him of one which he uttered on 13th February, 1912, at the inauguration of the National Liberal Federation, at the London Opera House, when the Chief Whip of the Liberal party, the Master of Elibank, was in the chair. The chairman made several complimentary allusions to the ability of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer returned the compliment and proceeded to scratch the back of the Chief Whip. He finished up his remarks in regard to that matter with these sentences:—The chairman is nut merely a man of words, but a man of notion. If there is going to be an organisation started by him, you may depend upon it, it will be the best thing of the kind that can be produced. He is the Carnot who has had to fight the reactionaries up to the present, and who will fight them up to the end, and finally drive them away routed, discomfited, and disappointed.I wondered why the right hon. Gentleman likened himself to the good Samaritan. I wondered why he compared the Chief Whip to Carnot, and I went into the Library to-day and turned up the Encyclo-pædia Britannica. I find there that Carnot is described as the General called the "Organiser of Victory." Then the 1872 article goes on to give certain characteristics of him. It says:—Contrary to custom Carnot refused to take presents from contractors. He tendered his resignation, and the First Consul would not at first accept it.That seems to me extraordinarily appropriate if we regard the First Consul as the Prime Minister. Then it is an extraordinary coincidence that Carnot was made a peer of France. But I should add that at the end the story was rather sad, because it says:—After all these triumphs he was finally proscribed and had to take refuge abroad,Members on this side of the House are apt to accuse the Chancellor of the Exchequer of making misquotations and inappropriate applications, but I think that in this case we must give him credit for having made an extremely good prophecy, because at that time, though he possessed greater information than we had, we did not known that the Chief Whip was possessed of so many characteristics similar to those of Carnot. [An HON. MEMBER: "Did he return to his country?"] I will tell you more about Carnot if you wish.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
On a point of Order. I desire to ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to whether these remarks are in order upon this Motion?
§ Mr. GWYNNE
I do not mind which way the lion. Member takes my remarks, but whether they were jocular or otherwise, I wish to say that they were statements of facts. After the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given this eulogy to the Chief Whip at this meeting, he began to deal with the question of insurance. He said:—Look at the provision regarding consumption, one of the most terrible scourges, that can afflict any community. Hundreds and thousands are suffering from it throughout the land. The deaths number something like 70,000 a year. It urgently cries for national treatment. We propose expending a capital of £1,600,000 to set up sanatoria and other institutions for treating this scourge, and there is a sum of £1,000,000 a year set aside for the purpose of running these institutions, and fur the purpose of treating the complaint, in the men's homes. And not merely the men, but the women and children. And they say. Why don't you postpone it? Do they realise what that means for the consumptive patients?[Cheers.] Hon. Members opposite cheer that statement. How much of the £1,600,000 has been spent up till now? Has £200,000 been spent? Why was not that promise carried out? Hon. Members ought to be as indignant as I am that the money promised to be spent has not been 1873 spent. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is the fault of the county councils."] It is the fault of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for not seeing that it is spent. The people are asking questions about this, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not answer them. In the same speech the right hon. Gentleman said:—You will have many a consumptive child and parent restored to their households as the result of the treatment of the Act.Then we find some more references made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a speech at Whitefield's Tabernacle on 14th October, 1911. What did he say there about the consumptive? He said:—Now this is the first thing I want to get into your minds. The moment life is examined the doctor goes to the root, but lie cannot recommend the one treatment that will save his life. Why? Because he knows poor people cannot afford it. It. is no use telling a working man that he must go for three or four months to a sanatorium. How is he to get there? There are few of them in this country fur all classes. There are just a few thousand beds. Therefore a doctor knows that, whatever he does, in the limit of the man's means the patient is doomed, and all he can do is to prescribe some medicine which will just for a short time perhaps arrest the evil. Hut the end is inevitable.The right hon. Gentleman told us at that time that he had made a special study of tuberculosis. He told us that merely to prescribe medicine was no good. Why then does he now insist that the man who was in my employment should go on with medical treatment? He want on to say:—''Now let me tell you what happens to the consumptive worker —and there are in this county at the present moment between 200,000 and 300,000 people suffering from this fell disease. A man goes to the doctor; he is examined. The doctor discovers at once that he is attacked by tuberculosis, and he says to him, 'You must knock off work at once: you must go to a sanatorium.'It is all sanatorium,.sanatorium, sanatorium! The right hon. Gentleman proceeded:—The workman says to him, You are mocking me. How can I go to a sanatorium I cannot pay. To go to a great building in the country where tie gets the best nursing, the best doctoring, the best food, for his case, open air "——very open sometimes—and lives practically in a sort of first-class consumptive hotel for three or four months. The doctor will say. 'Have you not heard that the Government are finding £ 1,500,000 by the Insurance Bill to build sanatoria throughout the country?'I challenge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say how much of that £1,500,000 has been spent at the present time. Then he goes on to say:—At the end of three or four months he comes back cured. In the early stages the vast majority of the people sent to these institutions come back cured and fit for work. More than that, he is trained to fight the evil for the future. But it does more than that: we have an Amendment in now, and I am very glad the House of Commons are prepared to support the Government, in it. I put it to them. It was purely a matter for 1874 them on the question of finance, and if they were prepared to take the responsibility, I certainly was. Now, not merely can the man go to the sanatorium, but his wife can go and his children. There you are. The little chap who under the old system would have, languished away amid the tortured anxiety of his parents, a source of peril and infection to all those who love him best. What happens to him now? In three months he comes back a, plump, chubby, rosy-cheeked little fellow, leaping with life and energy and joy amongst, his welcoming comrades, and he will have to thank the Insurance Bill for that.The Chancellor may say that there are many cases in which people have had the relief and have been cured. What are people paying the money for? Are they not entitled to it? But in regard to those people who are fortunate enough to be sent to these so-called first-class hotels, the policy pursued has been a wrong one. The one idea in regard to working the sanatoria has been to show in this House that as many people as possible have had treatment there. Therefore people are rushed through the sanatoria with all speed possible; they are hustled out of them with indecent haste. The direct outcome is that not only does the patient not derive the same benefit from his stay there, but it is getting the sanatoria a. bad name, throughout the country because people going there come back not cured, and it takes away the confidence of the people who are waiting to get in. But if the Chancellor cannot carry out his promise, lot him say so candidly, and let those who do get into the sanatoria remain there long enough to get properly cured and not be pushed out. Let the right hon. Gentleman come down to this House, and if he gives us the figures of the people who have been through the sanatoria, let him say how long they have been there individually, how many have been there six months, how many four months, and how many three months. The House will find that there are a great many who have been there for a lesser period. There is no use in the Chancellor saying, "I am not responsible for this." He has taken the responsibility; it was on his pledge that the thing went through. He said:—I am prepared to stand by every statement which I made, and I ask you afterwards to read the Bill itself as amended in the House of Commons and find out. whether every statement I make is not strictly accurate.''I have challenged those statements, and I hope that when the right hon. Gentleman gets up he will deal with that challenge. Last year there was a book published, edited, I believe, by Mr. Master-man, as Chairman of the Joint Insurance Commission, giving an account of the working of the Insurance Act up to date. It says in regard to sanatorium benefit 1875 arrangements had been made by various insurance committees, and it goes on to sayall arrangements are required by the Act to be made to the satisfaction of the Commission.The Chancellor of the Exchequer at the present time is the mouthpiece of the Commission; he is the only person whom Members of Parliament can approach on the subject, and I ask him quite seriously if he is satisfied with the working of the Act, especially as regards sanatoria? If not, how can he resist the setting up of the Committee to inquire into this? And, if he is satisfied, let him say so straight out, and the people of this country will be able to judge as to whether his views at the present time tally with the promises which he put forward when the Bill was before the country.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
The speech to which we have just listened left us in complete ignorance as to the position of the hon. Member in reference to the Resolution. He produced a form which he announced as X1; but what has that got to do with the Resolution? The Resolution asks that the Committee should be appointed for the purpose of inquiring whether the voluntary principle of the Insurance Act is practical or not. Suppose the Committee decides that the voluntary principle is not practicable, and that we should maintain the status quo? Suppose that it reports that all this is necessary, if we are to have State insurance at all? What becomes of X1? According to this Resolution, the hon, Member says, "We do not know whether all this is necessary or not." The hon. Member puts the cart before the horse, because if he does support this Resolution—I am not sure whether he docs or not—
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
We have known hon. Members to go into the Lobby before for things which they did not support, [HON MEMBERS: ''The Labour party."] It is a profound mistake, which I am sure the hon. Member makes in the innocence of his heart, to assume that we voted against Resolutions which we supported. We voted against Resolutions when they ceased to be effective, having got pledges. In this case the hon. Member is not going to have even that excuse, 1876 because he is certainly not going to get a pledge to-day that this rather amusing Resolution of his, which he has not supported, is going to receive generous and sympathetic consideration from the Chancellor.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
No, but I assume that they have some common sense. The hon. Member was very indignant and very vociferous about sanatorium benefit. What is the fault there? It is the fault apparently of money. But what does the hon. Gentleman commit himself to in his Motion? He does not want more money, and he will not commit himself to that. He says he wants to appoint a Committee to inquire and report as to "whether it is possible and desirable to substitute a voluntary system aided by subsidies at least as valuable as the contributions now obtained from the employers and the State." He is not even prepared to tell us—I do not know what he says to the poor electors at by-elections— that the subsidies that are going to be paid as the result of this inquiry are going to be more valuable, and how he is going to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear I cannot understand. He has not told us. As a matter of fact, this Resolution is one of the most extraordinary declarations ever put upon the Order Paper of this House. Both hon. Members began their speeches in the same way as they began the Resolution. They said that the National Insurance Act entails a loss of individual liberty. Have they only discovered that? Every piece of legislation that is passed entails a loss of individual liberty. I suppose the hon. Member does not agree that it is a loss of individual liberty to pay Income Tax. I certainly do. It is a very serious loss of individual liberty if you pay Income Tax, especially for things you have no sympathy with. Nevertheless, for anybody of any practical political sense to lay down as a fundamental proposition in respect of this legislation that it is a loss of individual liberty is certainly most absurd. It is a loss of individual liberty to pay Income Tax—
As far as we are concerned on this side of the House, we have no objection to pay Income Tax which is necessary to carry on the State, but I appeal to the hon. Member will he have any objection if the Prime Minister—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
When the hon. Member intervened, I thought it was for the purpose of his making a personal explanation.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Quite apart from that, they say that the Act involves a loss of individual liberty. Income Tax involves a loss of individual liberty,.and on that ground do they object to it?
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I leave the hon. Member to think over that suggestion. The Resolution says that the National Insurance Act entails a loss of individual liberty, "the consequent hardship arising from the compulsory nature of the Insurance Acts." They have lost individual liberty arising from the compulsory nature of the Acts. How any hon. Members can put down a Resolution and say that it entailed a loss of individual liberty, and consequently is compulsory, I do not know, but that is the magnificent declaration and product of those who have been trying to-night to persuade this House to reconsider the National Insurance Acts Then they go on to say, "and in view of the grave doubts which are now widely entertained as to whether it would be possible to continue to pay the minimum benefits promised by the Acts." The financial consequence of this is that the Committee is to inquire whether the State ought not to pay as much at least as the employer did. The Resolution does not say so. Are they going to say in one breath that the Act in its operation is proved to be bankrupt, and that the only thing they expect from this Committee is to recommend that precisely the same sum of money is going into the fund at the end of the year as is going in now. Let us go back to the speech of the hon. Member opposite, who spoke about one of his employés, who had the misfortune to be overtaken by this disease. Supposing the Act had been voluntary, what would have happened to the hon. Member's employé. He would either have been in it, or out of it. I think the hon. Member will agree to that. If he had been in it, and if the State had been paying precisely the same as the State's contribution plus the hon. Member's contribution, what better would the man have been then than he is now. Supposing he had been out of it, as a matter of fact he would not have left the hon. Member's service, but would have been working without the ghost of a chance of getting rid of this terrible 1878 disease. That is if he had been out of it. What else could he have done?
There is Form X (1) Revised, and there is the case relating to sanatorium benefit, both of which are shown to have nothing to do with this Resolution, and if the hon. Member objects to both, then he should put down a Resolution totally different in terms from those of the Resolution before us this evening. What I really ask is this: There is not the least doubt but that some inquiry will have to be made into the working of the National Insurance Acts. The only apology I tender to the House is that I have to make such a very antique request again. But the inquiry will be of no use if it is confined as suggested here, to whether it should be voluntary or compulsory insurance. What did the hon. Member himself say on the Second Reading of the Bill:—One is compelled, the more one studies the question, to come to the conclusion that, if anything like these large numbers"——the number of people to be included—"are to be brought within this scheme, there is no other way of bringing them in except by compulsion.If you are going to bring in great masses of people with a range of incomes of 9s. and 10s. a week to £150 a year—let us make it that limit—the hon. Member knows perfectly well, and we know perfectly well, that if you are to have an insurance scheme with State subsidies, which are very essential, covering the whole mass and variety of income and social conditions, it must be compulsory, and the problem is not whether it is going to be voluntary or not. As a matter of fact, if the Committee is to be appointed, in order to save its time, the reference ought to be such as to exclude the consideration of a voluntary scheme. It would be a pure waste of time. It is all very well to tell small shopkeepers when you want their votes at Bethnal Green or elsewhere about a voluntary scheme, but as a practical measure it is absolutely absurd. When the Bill was going through on the Third Reading we stated that we were going to vote for it, knowing that in several respects it would be very difficult to work. We said that anomaly after anomaly would be revealed in its practical operation. We pointed out several of them, and we said in the House of Commons that we were going to wait, as was suggested, to give the measure the very best consideration when it was put into operation, and experience of its working had been obtained and its faults disclosed. I 1879 want to repeat it in another form to-night. The Bill has been in operation. We are beginning to experience its faults; we are beginning to see the enormous good it is doing; we are beginning to see how, in certain points, it is not quite touching the spot, and that Amendments must be made even more drastic than the Amendments of last year. Therefore, what I want my right hon. Friend to do is to let us clearly understand that in his view— not now, because there is a richer experience going to be gained before the Committee can be appointed; the harvest is not quite ripe yet for reaping—but before the statutory valuation, slightly before it, though not too long before it, a Committee shall be appointed to inquire into the medical benefits needed, into the varying pressure upon the backs of the people that the premiums impose, and whether it is not possible to vary the scale a little bit more, and whether it is not possible to give special treatment at the bottom of the scale, and so on. Apply your inquiry to those practical points, and leave out all sorts of fancy things whether as to voluntary or compulsory insurance. And then, get your Committee to keep at work in that general investigation until the statutory valuation has been declared, and then let your Committee take the statutory valuation as part of its reference and consider the whole thing and work it all into a Report, and then let us here who are Members of this House have from this Committee a complete full Report on the working of the Act, the administration of the Act, the finance of the Act, so that we will then be in a position to make such changes in this Act as will establish it firmly and securely as part and parcel of the social legislation of the country.
I think the House will have been interested by the speech of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Earn say Macdonald). He seemed to me to largely confirm the desire that is felt on this side of the House for an inquiry. It is quite true he proposed to postpone it and to limit it, but he does not deny that an inquiry is necessary. Let us see how he proposed to limit it. He proposed to limit it by keeping out what he calls "fancy things" like voluntary insurance. Before I sit down, I hope to persuade him, or some other hon. Members, that voluntary insurance is not a "fancy thing," but that, on the other hand, it is a practical cure for a large number of the 1880 hardships and evils which the insured population are now suffering under. As I understood the hon. Member for Leicester, he wished that this inquiry should be postponed until the statutory valuation had taken place.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Just shortly before the statutory valuation, so that they might be sitting after it had taken place.
I am very glad the hon. Member has corrected that, and said he meant just shortly before the statutory valuation, so that they might be carried on concurrently, and so that the statutory valuation might be made at the time the Committee is in Session. I will deal more particularly with that in a few moments, but I will say, briefly, now that the statutory valuation cannot possibly be ready for at least two years, and does the hon. Member propose that the inquiry should be postponed for two years. I would like, if he could saw whether that is so?
I say at once, as far as I am concerned, and I believe as far as my hon. Friends are concerned, that the postponement of the inquiry for eighteen months would be nothing short of a calamity. The hon. Member took some pride in the prescience of the Labour party in that on the Third Reading of the original Bill he foreshadowed the necessity of an inquiry. I wish he had supported the Amendment that was moved from the Front Opposition Bench on that occasion, rather than support the reading of the Bill a third time. We asked then and there for a further consideration of the Bill, so that an inquiry should be rendered unnecessary, and so that the job should be completed by the House before the House parted with; the Bill. The hon. Member taunted me with inconsistency—I do not mind being taunted in the least with the inconsistency —of my present position with the position I took up on the Second Reading of the Bill, and other speakers opposite have done so. I see the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) is nodding vigorously. He has got the passage. I am not denying the accuracy of the OFFICIAL REPORT—I am just saying this, that my study of insurance at that time was, I confess, not as great as I have been able to devote to it 1881 since that time. My fault, if a fault it is, was believing the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He told us if you wanted contributory insurance, it must be compulsory insurance. I believed him then. I am sorry; I will never do it again, and such consolation as the hon. Member can get from making us particeps criminis with the Chancellor of the Exchequer he is entitled to. I am not in the least afraid of admitting that I made a mistake then, and I promise not to make it again.
I want now to address myself more particularly to the Resolution which is before the House. My hon. Friends who moved and seconded the Resolution have called attention, as I think, quite adequately, to the necessity for an inquiry, and an immediate inquiry, on the ground that the sanatorium benefit, for one thing, was not being carried out in accordance with the promise of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that other benefits promised under the Act were falling far short of the statements he made with regard to them. I, myself, propose to ask the House to consider the real urgency of an immediate inquiry, on account of the growing uneasiness regarding the financial basis of the Act. People have been led to suppose by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, provided they paid their contributions regularly, they would receive from well-managed societies minimum benefits of 10s. for men and 7s. 6d. for women per week. That was the minimum benefit which the Chancellor of the Exchequer said was guaranteed by the State, and I remind the House of what it was he said:—My first principle is that every friendly society must be passed as sound before it can be guaranteed by the State. That is essential, otherwise the state might be in the position of defrauding its citizens.I ask the House to contrast the comfortable feeling which was engendered by that statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer just before the Bill was brought into this House with the feeling of unquiet that is now pervading all the societies which are administering the Act, and which is making those who are connected with the administration wonder whether, in fact, the benefits that have been described as "minimum benefits" can in fact be given. There is now the greatest doubt as to the solvency of many of the societies. I have asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to publish the result of the first year's working of the Act and to compare it with the statements made by the actuaries when 1882 the Bill was under investigation. He has been unable to give those figures, and it may be true that the material at present in the Insurance Office is insufficient to give a complete and final comparison or a complete and final judgment on the question of solvency. If the work is behind hand, it is not the fault of the Insurance Commissioners, because they have had imposed on them a duty far greater than anybody could possibly attempt to fulfil in the time. The ages of the insured people—14,000,000 people—are not yet admitted, and no society knows whether the age given by the insured person is agreed to by the Insurance Commissioners, and the reserve values which depend upon those ages have not yet been credited to the societies, and, of course, the audit is not yet complete. It will take two years—in my view, three years—before that first valuation can be completed, and it is for three years the Leader of the Labour party really proposes that the inquiry should be postponed. But although complete and final information has not been obtained, sufficient has been allowed to leak out to justify grave fear. Let me take the case of small societies. The Secretary to the Treasury has caused an answer to be given to me to the effect that 109 societies have been called upon by the Insurance Commissioners to claim reserve values. That is a technical procedure, but in effect it means that in 109 societies the claims upon the Insurance Fund have been so much greater than were expected that the Insurance Commissioners have called for an explanation. I do not pretend to be able to give a final judgment upon why these claims have been greater. It may be that the ages of the members of these societies are different from the average. It may be that the sex distribution is different. There may be more married women than men in these societies. The fact remains that in these societies more has been drawn from the Insurance Fund than was expected—so much more that the Commissioners have become alarmed, and have taken the first steps towards a valuation of the societies. I believe that in these cases, in fact, about £2 has been drawn for every £1 that was expected. In other words, the expenditure on sickness has been twice as much as the Commissioners expected.
I do not suppose that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deny that in these societies insolvency is almost certain. In 1883 one or two cases there may be some special explanation, but in the majority of these societies insolvency is to-day, without waiting for two or three years, a practical certainty. It may be said that these are only small societies. But there are 986 other small approved societies, founded only eighteen months ago, which, for one reason or another, have been absorbed, amalgamated, or wound up. Four have been wound up or amalgamated for good causes—because the private side was amalgamated, or because they were parts of trade unions which have amalgamated, or for other good causes. The others have been absorbed, either because they found that the management of the working of the Act was too much for them, because they could not get competent officials in the societies to carry them on, because they found their numbers insufficient, or because the claims upon their benefits were too great, and they have had to take refuge in larger bodies. I do not say necessarily that the members of these societies have actually suffered. They have in some cases been taken over en bloc, and in other cases transferred individually to other societies. But it is obvious that when they formed the individual societies, when they took all the trouble to get a society suited, as they thought to their needs, they did not set out to be wound up, amalgamated or absorbed. Any hon. Member familiar with the working of such societies knows the hopes that are founded on the getting together of a group of men, and the disappointment that must be spread throughout those members on having their society —the society which they thought better than any other—broken up, because they cannot manage under the National Insurance Act.
These are small societies, and it may be said that they are subject to special conditions. Let me, therefore, take the larger societies, where the age distribution may be assumed to accord very generally with the age distribution of the general population, which was the basis of the actuaries' report. Mr. Cross, of the Amalgamated Weavers' Association, which has 65,000 women members, says that they have overspent the actuaries' estimate in the first half-year £10,500, and in the second half-year much about the same. That is an excess expenditure of about 75 per cent., which means, if con- 1884 tinued, not only absolute insolvency for' that society, but a reduction of the guaranteed minimum benefit of 7s. 6d. to 4s. or 5s. I wonder what the Chancellor of the Exchequer will say to that. Mr. Omrod, of the National Amalgamated Approved Society, a very big society, said that all those associated with the working of the Act knew that the financial position was becoming weaker as the days went by, and that the basis upon which the calculations were originally made was inaccurate. Mr. Appleton, secretary of the-General Federation of Trade Unions, another very large group of societies, stated that the sickness amongst women at Cradley was about three times the estimate. That agrees also with the experience-of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth), who said publicly that, speaking of a period, not necessarily the whole of the year, the experience of a society, in a district which he named, showed that the married women were suffering from three times the sickness that the actuaries had estimated as the basis of the Act. As regards single women also, the hon. Member said that, in his judgment, the benefits ought to be reduced from 7s. 6d. to 6s. Later on he said that some societies ought to take drastic steps to meet the situation.
What steps do the Government propose? I cannot hope, after the pronouncement of the hon. Member for Leicester, that the Government are going to accede to our request. But what steps do they propose to meet a situation which, not politicians, but men actually working the Act, declare to be dangerous to a degree? It is true that the Government have appointed a Committee to consider malingering, but that Committee cannot report in the wide sense that the Committee we propose would be able to do. These gentlemen whose statements I have quoted have challenged the whole actuarial basis of the Act, which is not solely affected by malingering, because no one suggests that malingering is causing three times the expected sickness. It may cause some increase, but no one suggests that it is causing anything like two or three times the amount expected. If this information is correct, and I have every reason to believe it is, enormous reductions of benefit are bound to occur in the near future. In that case, the State is preparing, to use the Chancellor of the Exchequer's expression, to defraud its citizens. Is the State going to drift on to 1885 the position of defrauding its citizens, or is it now going to take what steps it can to make good the statements which have been made to its citizens, to inquire into the causes, and, if necessary, to strengthen the financial basis of the Act? Personally, I think the credit of the Government is at stake. But something much more important, in my view, is this: that the credit of State-aided insurance is at stake, for if once a State-aided scheme fails, then—"once bitten, twice shy"—it will be almost impossible to persuade the people of this country that State-aided insurance, even in a voluntary form, is a good thing for them.
It is for the Government now, if they do really desire a national insurance scheme, of whatever sort, to take steps immediately to save the credit of national insurance, even if they do not care about their own credit. Personally, I believe in a State-aided scheme of national insurance, but I think it should be on a voluntary basis. To that part of the Resolution I propose for a few moments to address myself. The Leader of the Opposition in November at Norwich stated what the policy of the Unionist party was. It was to set up a Committee to consider and examine into the whole— [Laughter.] Is there anything ridiculous in that? For an impartial and competent Committee to consider and examine into the whole subject and working principle of the Act, and to consider whether it is possible and desirable to convert insurance into a voluntary system. What was the answer? The answer of the right hon. Gentleman opposite was a flood of misrepresentation and abuse. The First Lord of the Admiralty, at Alexandra Palace, speaking only a few days afterwards, immediately began to misrepresent the policy of my right hon. Friend. He said that my right hon. Friend's remedy was to return to the old voluntary system, which all parties knew was hopelessly inadequate and financially unsound. Hopelessly inadequate! It covered some six millions at least of the people in the country. Does anybody dispute that? [An HON. MEMBER: "Four and a half millions."] It covered some six millions of people. Why did it not cover more I It did not cover more, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been forced to admit more than once, because the people were too poor to go into insurance, or, if they were in insurance, were too poor to keep up their contributions. That is why. It was not because they were not willing to insure; it was because 1886 they were not able to insure. Did the First Lord of the Admiralty at Alexandra Palace put that before the people? No. Did he say how many would come in if the same amount of money that is devoted to compulsory insurance were devoted to voluntary insurance? The picture is changed. If you put fifteen millions sterling a year at the back of voluntary insurance, do you think you would not get the numbers up? Of course you would. It is true there would still remain others out of insurance. As the right hon. Gentleman said, voluntary insurance was sufficient to provide for the sober, the self-reliant, and the far-seeing; but, he said, the great majority were excluded: the weakest were always excluded. Why did the Government in their scheme apply compulsion to also the self-reliant and the far-seeing, who had already made their provision for insurance? If you take the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, can you test the present compulsory scheme by that statement, and does it answer that test? Are the weakest included in National Insurance to-day? [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] An Hon. Member says "Hear, hear." Who are the weakest? The deposit contributors; are they included in the insurance?
The outworkers, are they included in insurance, or are the casual labourers? [An HON MEMBER: "Yes."] Yes, they are included in the contributions, but not in the benefits. They never will be included in the benefits. So long as they have work they have to pay contributions, and the contributions can never amount to, enough to give them adequate benefits. If I had more time I would like to deal with other statements made by the right hon. Gentleman and by other hon. Members, including the Chief Whip of the Liberal party, all statements which one can summarise in. this way; statements to bluff the public off considering voluntary insurance; intended to prejudice the public against considering it fairly and quietly; intended to make them fear that under voluntary insurance the contributions would be increased or the benefits would be reduced. The fact is—as they should know if they do consider it at all—that under voluntary insurance the benefits, far from being reduced, would be likely to be increased, because of the better feeling which has always been exhibited towards club funds 1887 compared to that exhibited towards State funds. The same amount of money in voluntary insurance goes further, and would give those who are in better benefits for their money. I believe myself that this Motion for inquiry is the first step—and a long step—in the right direction. I believe myself that voluntary insurance is the only way of removing the hardships which are now being suffered by a large number of the people of this country. It is the only way, in my view, to restore freedom to the individual, and freedom to the big democratic societies. But this is not the only ground for an inquiry. The compulsory scheme, in my judgment, will fail upon its present basis. Even if more money is poured in you will not remove the hardships for hundreds and thousands who have to contribute without benefit. To postpone an inquiry for two or three years is to gamble with insurance. Whatever you do, however you choose to gamble with your own money, you have no right to gamble with the people's pence. Remember this was not passed merely without a mandate from the people; it was passed— there is no dispute about it—against the wishes of the people!
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in one of those rare moments of candour, has made a valuable admission in this connection. On 22nd November, at Oxford, he said:—I will admit that if you had had a plebicite on the Insurance Act when it was passing through the House of Commons it would probably have been thrown out That is my conviction. I believe yon would have had a majority of the people of this country against it.Truth will out. When the right hon. Gentleman had spoken that he added:—That is an admission. I do not know whether I have ever made it before. I make it frankly now.So surprised was he that he had made such an admission! But he took great care to hide that admission from the House when the Bill was going through. He not only refrained from telling the unpalatable truth; he did not hesitate to make statements which he cannot now defend. He wanted to get the Bill through. He talked always of the benefits as minimum benefits; he said that the 10s. and 7s. 6d. were safe and secure and guaranteed. I have the statement here. I do not know that it has suffered by being translated from the Welsh, or that it has even been 1888 "touched up" by the reporter. I do not know the exact date, but I think it was made in May, 1911; at any rate it was when a favourable impression in the Bill was required:—The societies are guaranteed by the nation. In place of the insecurity of the present societies, in place of the number of lapsed insurances, the workmen will have behind them al ways security. The societies through which we shall work will be guaranteed by us; we shall have a valuation of the societies, and we shall rot work through any society which is not solvent and sure.If that statement had been made in a prospectus, dealing with the commercial proposition, instead of a legislative proposition, the right hon. Gentleman would have been liable for an action for fraud. He would have been liable to have returned every penny subscribed upon that statement—indeed, by now, finding out the untruth of that statement, he would be probably on his way to Bogota or some other place where the King's Writ does not run. At any rate, he has a duty now to perform, to inquire at once before the deficiencies are piled up, and before the societies are swamped by the burden of the deficiencies. It is no answer to point, as he often does, to the benefits of the Act. No one has disputed that there are benefits under the Act. No one doubts that, being able to take £33,000,000 in contributions, they are able to give some benefits in return; and if you do not shirk the inquiry you will find out for yourselves that if that sum of money were at the back of a voluntary system the benefits would be better and not worse. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer and every hon. Member on both sides of the House just to face two questions. I ask the Chancellor these questions: Can he assure the House and the country that the doubts thrown, not by politicians, but by those working the Act, on the actuarial basis of the Act are groundless? And can he assert categorically that in every well-managed society the minimum benefits for men and women are safe and secure? Unless he can answer both those questions in the affirmative he has no longer any right to continue to take contributions under the Act, and I put it to hon. Members opposite that they have got also to be satisfied with these answers, for they have a duty to do. They have in their constituencies thousands of insured people who have been told what to expect by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and who, unless he can answer these questions in the affirmative definitely, are not going to get the benefits which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told them they are 1889 going to get. And if you postpone the inquiry you are taking an immense responsibility towards your constituents. As time goes on these deficiencies will pile up, and you cannot for long postpone that time when the societies will have to reduce their benefits. You will have indignation meetings in your constituencies. You will be called upon to do something. You will be called to account for not having now put the knife in and taken steps to at least reduce the loss your constituents are going to offer. To-day you can, of course, do as you are told and follow your Whip into the Lobby against this Resolution, but if you do make no mistake you are doing it at the sacrifice of the interests of the working men and working women in your constituencies.
§ 10.0 P.M
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
We have had three speeches from the other side of the House, very bitter, very vehement, very violent and most irrelevant. I listened to the first two speakers, expecting to hear something about the Resolution. But not a word of explanation of that Resolution. Then came the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down—the great authority on insurance on the other side of the House—and I said, "Now, at last, we are going to have an explanation of the Resolution." I ask any hon. Member of this House, has he any notion what all these words mean about subsidies, about the amounts of them, and who pays the employer's subsidy. That is most relevant. Who is to pay the employer's subsidy? What does this equivalent amount mean? Not a word about that. There were covert attacks absolutely irrelevant upon a gentleman who is to appear before a judicial and impartial tribunal, and the fact that these attacks were made in these speeches show the sincerity of the belief of those gentlemen in the judicial character of that tribunal. The hon. Gentleman opposite forgets when he is lecturing us that he himself was a supporter of compulsory insurance. He said at that time: "I do not know anything about insurance. I know nothing at all about it—I trust the Chancellor of the Exchequer." He has forgotten what he said on the Second Reading of the Bill. After saying, first of all, that he was very reluctant to leave the voluntary principle, he went on to say:—One is compelled, the more one studies the question, to come to the conclusion that if anything like those large numbers are to be brought within this scheme 1890 there is no other way of bringing them in except by compulsion.It is not the case of an hon. Member who just comes in and hears the Minister on the other side in whom he has great confidence. I must say I never discovered that, and I hope he does not always manifest his confidence in the way he did on that occasion. He did not say "I accept his statement." Not at all. He said he studied the question, and the more he studied the question the more he thought it necessary. He now says he was wrong. That is a perfectly frank statement to make. I should like to know whether that is the view of the hon. Member for Seven-oaks.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Certainly, if the hon. Gentleman tells me how long he wants, I will certainly see he gets the chance. He need have no apprehension upon that. The hon. Member made a very interesting speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, and what did he say? It is well worth studying at the present moment, because it is about the best statement for compulsion I have heard. He said:—I confess, speaking for myself, I still believe in the main that a voluntary system is the best, provided that the voluntary system will give you the result at which you aim. I should be glad, speaking personally, if I could see a. prospect of success for creating a system of national insurance against ill-health founded upon a voluntary basis. I regret to say that I cannot do so. The experience of every foreign country goes to prove the contrary. You may expunge from this Bill every element of compulsion which it contains, and place it upon a purely voluntary basis, and yet you may fail in your object. I think if it were placed upon a voluntary basis, it would be only local and parochial in its administration and operation.The hon. Gentleman goes on later to say—if that be so, and if it be admitted that the best method of treating this difficult question is by a policy of insurance, then I am forced to abandon my natural predilection in favour of a. voluntary system, and accept the compulsory basis upon which the Bill is founded.The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme moved an Amendment in favour of a voluntary system. The subsidies were there, subsidies by the State and by employers; it was practically the scheme that is now put before the House. The hon. Member moved it, but he got no support, and not even a Division was challenged upon it. That was two or three months after the hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester had been pursuing his studies, and even then he was not in favour of a voluntary system. Not a word was said then about a voluntary system 1891 at all. The hon. Member for East Birmingham stated:—That the whole principle of the Bill is whether you are going to apply compulsion to a great measure of insurance throughout the whole length and breadth of the country.That is his statement of the principle. Now, what did the Leader of the Opposition say? He was asked what he was prepared to do, and this was on the Third Reading of the Bill. He said:—On this question we decline to say either 'yes' or 'no' If we say 'no' it implies that we are opposed to the principle and the object of the Bill. We shall not say "'no.'He goes on to say:—If we say 'yes,' it implies that we approve of the Bill as presented, and of course we shall not say 'yes.Here you have the Bill before the House seven or eight months, and given to the Third Reading, when they have had the fullest opportunity of making up their minds about the principles, and the Leader of the Opposition says he will not say "no" to it, or to use his own phrase:—He came to the fence and then turned round.That was the position at that time. What is the position now? It is practically a demand for a voluntary scheme. I should like to know, first of all, what is meant by a voluntary scheme. If you come to consider a voluntary scheme, the first thing you want to know is this: Are the employers of the persons who come into insurance to pay their threepenny-bits? That is an important question, because it is vital. If the employer is not called upon to pay, what does it mean? It means that it is a premium upon the employment of persons who are not insured. The employer says to one man, "Are you a member of the Oddfellows, or the Foresters, or the Hearts of Oak, or other trade union." One man says "Yes," and another man may say "No." To that extent it is an inducement to the employer to employ the person who is not insured. That is a peculiar penalty upon the engagement of men who belong to any approved society. On the other hand, if you do that, is the employer constantly to inquire whether a man is still a member of a society. The system of bookkeeping would be perfectly impossible. The employer has got to pay his threepence for him if he is there, but then he would have to inquire whether a man is still in insurance. That would cast a burden on employers which would be perfectly intolerable. I should like an answer to that question. First of all, I 1892 should like to know whether the employer is still to be called upon to contribute. The second question I should like to ask is this: If the employer is not to pay, then who is to pay, because I understand that equivalent sums are to be paid. That means, of course, the State. That means, an addition according to the hon. Gentleman, because he does not anticipate that many men will remain out of the insurance even when it is voluntary—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Then I should like to know what the view is. If the hon. Gentleman thinks there are many who are kept out, what a condemnation upon it.
I think there are many who will be glad to be released, and who would be released.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
There will be a very considerable number for whom there would be no provision for sickness except the poor law. There are nearly 14,000,000 persons who are insured according to the hen. Gentleman's estimate, and I am still taking his figures, although they are not sufficiently accurate. I will, however, take his view of the matter. He says there were 6,000,000 voluntarily insured before the Act came into operation. How many does the hon. Member think will come in voluntarily? Take 3,000,000, if you like, or make it 9,000,000, or 5,000,000 at the outside—I am willing to take any figure. That means the State would have to find an extra £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 a year. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because I understand the employers are to be relieved of this charge. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who said so?"] If any one in authority tells me that the idea is that the employer should not be relieved, I will not pursue the matter a single instant. The employer is not to be relieved. The result will be that the employer will have a pecuniary interest not to have workmen who are insured. This will be the notice: "Members of trade unions, members of friendly societies, members of collecting societies need not apply." The employers will have an inducement, a pecuniary inducement of £6,000,000 a year, not to employ these people. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I can save the right hon. Gentleman the trouble of continuing that argument. There never was the 1893 smallest suggestion in the mind of anybody that the employers as a class would not pay, and that they would not pay for all their workmen whether insured or not.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Really, we owe a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member for Altrincham (Mr. Hamilton) for raising this question. It has been an invaluable Debate. In the words of the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Worthington-Evans), "The more we study the question, the more preposterous does the scheme seem." This is the scheme: An employer is to pay whether his workmen are in or not. His workmen may not be in, but he has to pay for the other people's workmen. Really, after hunting about for months to get hold of a policy of some sort, I should have thought that they would have got hold of something a little less preposterous. We have now got the proposal before the House, and an invaluable one it will be. The employers are to pay whether their workman are in or not, whether they receive any benefit or not. Whatever schemes they may have of their own, they have to pay. Now we shall know that in future. The Noble Lord opposite whose ideas for the moment have captured his party, suggests that if voluntary insurance is adopted, if the Unionists show themselves in favour of a voluntary system, that would have more effect electorally than any other decision. He is touting for votes. It is bad enough when Radicals do that, but when hon. Gentlemen opposite descend to vote-catching, it is exceedingly sad. This new policy and the Debate has been exceedingly useful in eliciting facts. Let us see exactly what it means. According to the hon. Gentleman, there would be millions altogether outside the Act. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who said that?"] I have proceeded on the assumption, first of all, that the hon. Gentleman was under the impression that only a few would be outside, but let us see what it means. It means that those who are out are back in the old position. And what is that position? I have had returns, which will be published and circulated, from different parts of the country, and these returns show that the benefits which the Insurance Act has conferred on the working classes are in the main conferred on the poorer kind of working man, the unskilled working man, who previously had nothing before him except the workhouse. I can quote many cases. I have here a quotation from a 1894 report from Liverpool, which says that there can be little doubt that the sick benefit, when well and carefully administered, has been an ineffable boon to the people. The report goes on:—I have gone carefully into the effect of the operation of the sickness benefit on the unskilled worker, and am informed on credible authority that in 50 per cent, of the cases where the benefit has been granted, the home would have been broken up, the furniture sold, and the family engulfed by the workhouse, if it were not for the 10s. granted by the Act.The new Unionist policy for these people is "back to the workhouse." There are other reports stating that amongst this class—and this is the class that would drop out under voluntary insurance, before the Act was passed—there was practically no medical attendance at all. The Report says:—There is less of what doctors call 'walking sickness' since the Insurance Act has come into force. A man who really should be in bed, instead of struggling on and walking to his daily task, is now able to give the doctor a fair chance of making a good job of his case.This man is to go back to the old days of "walking sickness." That is what it means. The hon. Gentleman talked about fraud. I have some figures here which I will give him. There were 3,500,000 persons who last year received the 10s. a week.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am speaking of what they have actually received in cash. That is one of the frauds which is suggested. A million women have received the maternity benefit—£1,500,000 in cash. That is another of the frauds. There are 30,000 who have received sanatorium benefit; 20,000 have been inside institutions. The hon. Gentleman complains that in eighteen months all the sanatoria have not been erected. One hon. Gentleman said they are actually buying sites. How can you build sanatoria without sites? £1,600,000 has been set aside for the purpose. [An HON. MEMBER: "Has it been spent?"] It has not been spent, because you cannot build all these places in eighteen months. The £1,600,000 was an offer made by the State to meet local expenditure. It was an offer, not of £1 for £1; 60 per cent, of the expenditure was offered as a Grant from the Exchequer. Wherever the local authority has come forward—I am glad to say that they have in my part of the country—and offered to build, the State has been ready to provide 60 per cent, of the total expenditure. But you cannot purchase sites and build every 1895 sanatorium in eighteen months. This is the sort of piffling criticism that is made.
Let me give another quotation of the way in which this is working. The Manchester district shows how it is helping the poorest classes of the population. In the Manchester district there were 18,498 weekly payments of outdoor relief over the period of six months, compared with 29,877 for the corresponding period of the previous year. That is attributed entirely to the fact that sickness benefit was paid to these poor people. Where is the fraud from which these people have been suffering? I am not complaining of a lack of generosity. I am only complaining of lack of observation as to how Acts of Parliament have come into operation. There are Acts of Parliament that have been in operation for forty years in this country which are not completely enforced in this country. The Public Health Act was passed by the Conservative Government in 1875. Are there not many parts of the country where it is not enforced at the present time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] Is anybody going to call that a fraud? If any hon. Member will look at the Local Government Board Report, he will see this there. The Education Acts are better administered in some districts than in others. How long did it take those great Acts of Parliament to come into operation? I remember that for years and years after the Act of 1870 and the Act of 1875 were passed, there were shoals of summonses in every police court throughout the United Kingdom against people who did not send their children to school, or who had declined to comply with the provisions of the Public Health Act. Every compulsory Act, every great Act of Parliament that imposes obligations of this character on the population they are reluctant to obey, and it takes them some time to realize their ability, but they are doing it gradually, and in the great industrial districts in the North there has been a complete change.
Yet hon. Members say that before eighteen months have passed, and before the whole of the benefits have come into operation—the permanent invalidity benefit has not come into operation yet—we ought to have erected machinery which would work perfectly. The hon. Gentleman has instanced the case of a domestic servant of his own not receiving proper treatment. I understand she is receiving sick pay. If not, I do not know why, that 1896 is if she is a member of an approved society, and is not at work at the present time. The only thing that struck me at the time was that we were told that these things were not needed for domestic servants at all. I am very glad the hon. Gentleman begins to realize that, at any rate, it does serve the purpose of those domestic servants, even of those with whom he has come into contact very recently. That is the policy of which we have heard.
The hon. Gentleman said there were societies at present which were insolvent. I should like to know a little more about that. At any rate, there is this advantage in the Act. Before the Act they could have become insolvent and there was no one to check them. Now, within the next year or two every society throughout the whole of the United Kingdom will be valued, and if there is insolvency attention will be drawn to it and a remedy will have to be applied. What is the complaint about these societies? It is that some of them are insolvent. There are two principles in the Bill. One was compulsion and the other was autonomy for the societies. There were two ways by which you could apply National Insurance. One was that you could work it through societies, and the other was that you could abolish the whole of the societies and have a State scheme. We decided, and it was accepted by the House unanimously when challenged, that the only way in which you could apply it in this country was through societies. What did that involve? It involved the financial administration of the societies. It involved that where they were slack they should suffer, and where they were efficient they should have a surplus and be able to give more benefits. But if the State came in and said, "However you administer, how much malingering you allow, however little check you have upon your members, we will always come in and guarantee benefit for you," there would be utter bankruptcy of all societies and bankruptcy of the State as well. The hon. Gentleman said something about my having guaranteed minimum benefits Never. On the contrary, the hon. Gentleman taunted me with something I had said once, which looked like that, in the course of a debate, but there is no State guarantee of minimum benefits.
You published the statement that the State was guaranteeing the societies—I forget 1897 the exact words; I have given them—and that otherwise the State would be defrauding its citizens. Those were your words.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I remember perfectly well that there were some words that the hon. Member did quote in the course of the Debate that he thought open to that interpretation, but I never stated that the State would guarantee the minimum benefit however the society was administered, and that if the society were utterly maladministered and allowed malingering to any extent, then the State would come in and guarantee benefits. Whatever the words which may be quoted from me, I am perfectly certain I never guaranteed them. The whole point, therefore, as to the administration by the societies, is that the responsibility must fall upon them, and if there is maladministration—I do not say that there is maladministration, certainly not—it is too early to come to any conclusion. Why? Here is an Act which mobilises 14,000,000 people for insurance purposes, 7,000,000 or 8,000,000 of whom had never practically been members of societies of this kind. You have to appoint new officials, new managers, and new secretaries, and there are some actually new societies from top to bottom. Well, of course, within two months things will not work with the regularity, smoothness, and efficiency which you will expect after years of administration. The societies themselves assure us that they are getting the work in hand, that they are getting hold of the machine, and that gradually they are checking what was undoubtedly malingering in different parts of the country. They are appointing more visitors and improving their quality. And may I point out that there was some difficulty with the doctors at first? The doctors came in for the moment somewhat sulkily in some parts of the country, but the testimony which I have received from every part now is that the doctors are working not merely freely, but heartily and well. There may be one or two cases where that is not so. From some societies in different parts of the country I have complaints, but in the main the doctors are working with a will and helping the societies to check this great evil. To rush to conclusions after the first year of administration, when the machinery has not been properly organised 1898 and systematised, would be folly on the part of the Government, and to come to the conclusion that we should make alterations which would be permanent on the purely temporary basis of the experience we have had, is a policy which no Government could adopt without possibly incurring expenditure of a very extravagant character, All the same, I agree that there are one or two points in regard to some societies which require consideration. There are a few trades where sickness is very much above the average. Those trades and those societies we have got to keep an eye on, in order that we may get to see exactly what it really means. But it is premature in these cases to come to a definite conclusion—quite premature.
The second and worst case is that of women's societies. There was no data upon which the actuaries could really come to a conclusion, and there we could not proceed on exactly the same basis as in the case of men. But that would be true of any system of insurance, whether voluntary or compulsory, where you included women. You could not start women's societies with anything like the same precision as in the case of male societies, and undoubtedly there has been a serious inroad on the funds in respect of women, but that is a matter which, of course, is receiving attention. We are getting all the information we can with regard to it; and we shall see exactly what the deficiencies, if there are any, are likely to be. But in that case I might point out this to the House: I have warned the House repeatedly, with regard to the introduction of married women into insurance, that it was full of perils. The pressure came not from the Government, but from the House itself, in spite of the repeated warnings which I gave upon the advice of the very able actuaries who were advising the Government. I might point out that during the whole time I "was conducting that Bill my greatest difficulty was to resist demands made in spite of the advice of the actuaries. I shall never forget two or three special occasions. There was, first of all, the occasion when double payment was demanded in respect of workmen's compensation and sick pay. I can understand the position of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. They wanted a non-contributory system. But hon. Gentlemen here did not, and in spite of the fact that they were warned by the actuaries that it would mean bankruptcy 1899 to any society, hon. Gentlemen joined hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway in demanding the double payment.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
At every by-election since then, including the Reading election, that has been one of the complaints against the Government. The second was the first three days of sickness, and the third was that a penny was to be taken off the workmen's contributions, and we were assured that there was plenty of money to pay the minimum benefit. The whole time, with the solitary exception—I am not sure that I can include the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Forster)—of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, the Opposition generally supported these proposals. The right hon. Gentleman took a perfectly consistent course, saying that if the actuaries advised that certain things could not be done it was not fair to press the Government to do them. In these circumstances it ill-becomes the hon. Gentlemen who pressed these things upon us to complain that the Estimates have been exceeded by Amendments pressed and forced upon the Government. In any case it would have been the duty of the Government to examine these special circumstances, and if deficiences are due not to malingering, not to mismanagement, but to circumstances of the kind over which no society has any control, to circumstances which demand the assistance, protection, and support of the State, it will be the business of the Government to recommend to the House of Commons some means of dealing with it. That is where I come to the point raised by my hon. Friend as to methods. We have not shirked investigation. On the contrary, we have got a Committee at the present moment inquiring into malingering and sickness benefit. I believe with my hon. Friend that the time will come, and at no very distant date, when you will have to inquire into the whole administration of the Act—what weaknesses there are, and where ii can be improved. It has been a great social experiment—I never put it any higher than that—which has conferred inestimable benefits on millions of people up to the present moment; but in a year's time I agree with my hon. Friend there 1900 ought to be an inquiry, and a careful inquiry into the method of the administration of the Act. But now, after twenty months' experience of part of the Act, fifteen months' experience of another part of the Act, and when the third, and one of the most important parts of the Act has not come into operation at all, you are the first to tear it up, fling millions of people out of insurance, and leave them where they were before, in time of sickness— [Interruption]—this is a matter dealing with sickness—I say, in time of sickness, to leave them with nothing except that report which I have read to the House of Commons, and leave them just simply to the Poor Law and the workhouse, that is a thing the Government will not assent to.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for leaving me a short time, and I do not think more will be needed, to deal with the speech to which we have just listened. I do not think it necessary at all to refer to the rhetoric with which he finished, and which composed a large part of his speech, and which, as always, was intended for consumption by the electors of the country. What I wish the House really to consider is, that the position in which this Act stands is one of the most serious in which the nation could be placed by the action of any Government. The right hon. Gentleman has dealt, in only a few sentences, with the condition which was the sole ground of my declaration at Norwich. It is the ground of the Motion now before the House. Our feeling that some action is necessary now is due to our belief that the whole financial basis of this scheme has been proved to be unsound, and that the right hon. Gentleman himself at this moment knows it is unsound. I am not going again into the evidence on which one part of this Resolution is based, namely, the independent belief that the minimum benefit cannot be paid. That there is this widespread belief everybody knows. We have had evidence of it even from the Labour Benches. I am sure of this, that it is utterly impossible that the Government actuary cannot be aware of the facts, and I think it utterly impossible that he cannot have communicated them to the Government. This question can be set at rest at once if the right hon. Gentleman will promise to answer a question which I will put down. The question is this: "Is the Government actuary supplied already with sufficient evidence to make him convinced that the minimum 1901 benefits cannot be paid in the case of a large number of approved societies under this Act?" Then he will answer that question? I will put it down. In my belief these are the facts, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it. Consider how serious that it. It means that immediate action, or action in a comparatively short time, must be taken. One of these things must happen: Either the insured persons will not get the benefits which they were led to expect, or the societies will have to increase the levies, or the State will have to step in and make good the deficiency. These are the alternatives. On the Second Reading of the Bill I pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman that in dealing with great masses of workmen who were insured in approved societies, it was utterly impossible that they could examine into the condition of the societies, and the men knew that they were approved by the State, and that the State had said that certain minimum benefits would be given, these people would expect that they would receive the benefits for which they had paid. That was so evident that I said to the right hon. Gentleman—and I am only speaking from memory, not having referred to it, but I am sure I am right—if you are so sure that those benefits can be obtained why not definitely guarantee them? I did not wish the State to pay more money, but even at that time I thought that, irresponsible as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has shown himself on every occasion, if he had really put this obligation definitely on the State he would have taken more care to see that the benefits were likely to be realised. Now he says he gave no such guarantee. That is perfectly true. He refused to give it in the House of Commons, but when he was dealing with the country and trying to win elections, he gave it then. These are the words actually used by him—[HON. MEMBERS: "When?"]—in his own book, "The People's Insurance," by the Right Hon. D, Lloyd George.In place of the insecurity of the present friendly societies, working men will have behind them security. The societies through which we shall work will be all guaranteed by us. My first principle is that every friendly society must be passed as sound before it can be guaranteed by the State. That is the situation, otherwise the State might be in the position of defrauding its citizens.It is perfectly evident that if those minimum benefits are not paid, insured persons will expect the right hon. Gentleman to fulfil that guarantee, and not to "defraud 1902 the citizens." Consider what the alternatives mean. If they do not do that, there will be an outcry all over the country, and we may be perfectly certain that the right hon. Gentleman will take care that there is a General Election before he is liable to the hubbub that will arise. If the State undertakes that burden, consider what it means! It means absolutely unlimited expenditure, the end of which no one can foresee; for remember one of the great evils—I know there have been some advantages—of the Insurance Act is that the old spirit which animated the friendly societies tends to disappear; that the old spirit which made men proud of not taking benefits has already, as a Grand Master of one of the largest friendly societies said, given place to a general feeling that they were promised ninepence for fourpence, and were determined to get it. The result of that inevitably is that the same spirit of keeping off the funds no longer exists, and if once the State goes and makes good the loss all inducement to economy, all inducement to the old pride will be gone too. Not only will there be absolutely illimitable loss to the State, but the whole character of the people will be deteriorated by the operation. It is because we believe this position is serious, and that it ought to be faced now, that we have said, if we had the power, we would at once have an inquiry not merely into the question of voluntary insurance, but into the whole working of the Act—that we would do what the Government, if they had been wise, would have done before they passed the Act. They would have had a real inquiry, and would not have rushed it through with an amount of recklessness which was equalled only by the ignorance of the Government in regard to the matter. The right hon. Gentleman is very proud of having got, as he thought, an election cry against us with the employers. That was the meaning of those cheers. The right hon. Gentleman thought he would get the employers against us. I think he is a little premature. We have not committed ourselves, and I do not intend to do so. We have not said that we recommend or will carry out a voluntary system. I know, and everyone who has examined the subject knows, that there are great difficulties in connection with that system as with any other. But I can say this, that the declaration which I made at Norwich was made after a most careful examining and thinking about it for many months. It would certainly not have been made if 1903 I had not known absolutely that a voluntary system is possible, and, more than that, if I had not myself the hope that the result of an examination would go to prove that it was the best method of getting rid of the difficulties which have arisen. The right hon. Gentleman has complained of some of my Friends having been in favour of the compulsory system at the outset. But we all know more about it now. There is no real reproach in the fact that greater knowledge has made people change their mind. But let the House remember that we have in Denmark experience of a voluntary system which has extended over twenty years. There is this striking fact, that during the time which the German system has existed the claims have increased by 60 per cent., while in the twenty years under the voluntary system the claims have actually diminished—the difference between a State system and working it on the friendly society basis.
I wish I had more time. The only other point I can make is this: The real case against a voluntary system is that those
§ who need it most will be left out. But I remember that on the Second Reading I pointed out that your very Bill had that defect—that those who were weakest and needed it most got the least, out of it. That is the position to-day.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The hon. Member must not think that he is at the Dublin inquiry. There is not the smallest doubt on the part of anyone who knows anything: about it that there are now a large number of the poorest of our people, and the very class who need help most, who are not getting the benefit, and they are compelled to pay the tax. Nothing could possibly be worse than that. I believe it is possible under a voluntary system that the numbers would be kept up. But this, at least, is certain: that those who did not get the benefit would not be compelled to pay the tax.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 199; Noes, 283.1907
|Division No. 23.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Altken, Sir William Max||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Courthope, George Loyd||Harris, Henry Percy|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B,|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Craik, Sir Henry||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Croft, H. P.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hewins, William Albert Samuel|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Denison-Pender, J. C.||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.|
|Barnston, Harry||Denniss, E. R. B.||Hickman. Colonel Thomas E.|
|Barrie, H. T.||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Dixon, C. H.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Doughty, Sir George||Hope, Harry (Bute)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Du Pre, W. Baring||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield;)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Duncannon, Viscount||Horne, E. (Surrey. Guildtord)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Horner, Andrew Long|
|Bigland, Alfred||Falle, Bertram Godfray||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Bird, A.||Fell, Arthur||Hunt, Rowland|
|Blair, Reginald||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Fitzroy, Horn. E. A.||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Jessel, Captain H. M.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Forster, Henry William||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr|
|Burgoyne, A. H.||Gardner, Ernest||Kerry, Earl of|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Gastrell, Major W. H.||Keswick, Henry|
|Butcher, John George||Gibbs, G. A.||Kyffin-Taylor, G.|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Gilmour, Captain John||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Goldman, C. S.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Goldsmith, Frank||Lee, Arthur Hamilton|
|Cassel, Felix||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Lloyd, George Ambrose, (Stafford, W.)|
|Cator, John||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Cautley, H. S.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)|
|Cave, George||Grant, J. A.||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut.-Colonel A. R.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Greene, Walter Raymond||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Gretton, John||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Mackinder, H. J.|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S.Edmunds)||Macmaster, Donald|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Malcolm, Ian||Ratcliff, R. F.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Rees, Sir J. D.||Tuillbardine. Marquess of|
|Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Remnant, James Farquharson||Valentia, Viscount|
|Moore, William||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Morrison-Bell, Capt., E. F. (Ashburton)||Rothschild, Lionel de||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Royds, Edmund||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Mount, William Arthur||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Neville, Reginald J. N.||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Newdegate, F. A.||Samuel. Sir Harry (Norwood)||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Newton, Harry Kottingham||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Sanders. Robert Arthur||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Nield, Herbert||Sanderson, Lancelot||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Sandys, G. J.||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Sassoon, Sir Philip||Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Paget, Almeric Hugh||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wilson, Maj. Sir M. (Bethnal Green,S. W.)|
|Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l., Walton)||Winterton, Earl|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Stanier, Beville||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Staveley-Hill, Henry||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.||Stewart, Gershom||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Peto, Basil Edward||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Pole-Carew, Sir R.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)||Younger, Sir George|
|Pollock, Ernest Murray||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord|
|Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Touche, George Alexander||E. Talbot and Major Stanley.|
|Quitter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Acland, Francis (Dyke||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Adamson, William||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hinds, John|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Dawes, James Arthur||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Delany, William||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Devlin, Joseph.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Armitage, R.||Dickinson. Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Hudson, Walter|
|Arnold, Sydney||Dillon, John||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Donelan, Captain A.||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Doris, William||John, Edward Thomas|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Duffy, William J.||Johnson, W.|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick Burghs)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Elverston, Sir Harold||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mte., Stepney)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Joyce, Michael|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Black, Arthur W.||Falconer, James||Kelly, Edward|
|Boland, John Plus||Farrell. James Patrick||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Kilbride, Denis|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Firench, Peter||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Brady, Patrick||Field, William||Lardner, James C. R.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Fitzgibbon, John||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Brunner. John F. L.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Bryce, J. Annan||France, G. A.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Buckmaster, Sir Stanley O.||Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Gelder, Sir William Alfred||Lundon, Thomas|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Gill, Alfred Henry||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Glanville, H. J.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Maclean, Donald|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Goldstone, Frank||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Churchill Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Griffith, Ellis Jones||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Clough, William||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Clynes, John R.||Hackett, John||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Hancock, J. G.||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lines.,Spalding)|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Rossendale)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hardie, J. Keir||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Meagher, Michael|
|Cotton, William Francis||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Middlebrook, William|
|Crooks, William||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Millar, James Duncan|
|Crumley, Patrick||Hayden, John Patrick||Molloy, Michael|
|Cullinan, John||Hazleton, Richard||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Tennant, Harold John|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Radford, George Heynes||Thomas, J. H.|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Mooney, John J.||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Morgan, George Hay||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Morrell, Phillip||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Morison, Hector||Reddy, Michael||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Walsh, Stephen (Lanes., Ince)|
|Muldoon, John||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Murphy, Martin J.||Rendall, Athelstan||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Needham, Christopher Thomas||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Wardle, George J.|
|Nolan, Joseph||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Waring, Walter|
|Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Roberts, Sir Herbert (Denbighs)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Nugant, Sir Walter Richard||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Robinson, Sidney||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Watt, Henry A.|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Webb, H.|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Roe, Sir Thomas||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Rowlands, James||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Rcwntree, Arnold||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|O'Dowd, John||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wiles, Thomas|
|O'Malley, William||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Scan Ian, Thomas||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|O'Shee, James John||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Sheehy, David||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clitheroe)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Pease. Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Philipps, Colonel Ivor (Southampton)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Sutton, John E.||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Swann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Pratt, J. W.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|