HC Deb 31 July 1914 vol 65 cc1772-5

(1) The Board of Trade shall not make or continue an arrangement with an association under Section one hundred and five of the principal Act, unless they are of opinion that the payments authorised by the rules of the association to be made to its members when unemployed (inclusive of any payments in respect of which a refund may be made to the association under the said Section) represent a provision for unemployment, as respects such of its members as are workmen in an insured trade, which is at least one-third greater than the provision represented by unemployment benefit under the principal Act.

This limitation shall, as regards any payments made by an association to its members in respect of unemployment occurring on or after the twenty-eighth day of September, nineteen hundred and fourteen, or such later date as may be fixed by the Board of Trade in any particular case after consultation with the association concerned, be substituted for the limitation imposed by that Sub-section on the amount to be repaid periodically to an association by reference to three-fourths of the amount of the payments made.

(2) Regulations may be made under Subsection (4) of Section one hundred and five of the principal Act for referring questions which may arise under that Section to insurance officers and Courts of Referees as well as to the Umpire.


I beg to move, after Sub-section (1), to insert,

"(2) The amount of any sum which, but for Section one hundred and five of the principal Act, would have been paid to a workman by way of unemployment benefit shall, for all purposes of Part II. of that Act, be deemed to have been paid, and accordingly Sub-section (3) of that Section shall have effect as if the words 'determining whether a workman has exhausted his right to unemployment benefit under' were omitted therefrom and the words 'a workman' were substituted for the word 'him.'"


I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert,

"(2) Where the Board of Trade have made an arrangement with an association under Section one hundred and five of the principal Act, the provisions of that Section shall apply to every member of the association who is a workman in an insured trade."

Under Section 105, Sub-section (1), of the principal Act, the words are, "The Board of Trade may make an arrangement with such association." For the purpose of the administration of the Act, the Board of Trade can make an arrangement with the trade union for its administration. I am not a lawyer, but I think that the lawyers in the House will agree with me that these words mean an arrangement with the whole of the members of the association, for how otherwise could it be an arrangement with the association? You might have a disgruntled member of a union who probably has been refused benefit because he has not complied with the regulations made for that purpose, and he goes away to the Board of Trade to press for the money. I think that is wrong in practice and bad in principle. We say that when an arrangement is made with an association it ought to cover every member. In addition to that, I submit that the trade union is in a better position to prevent malingering than the Board of Trade. In the great industries of the country, where there are night shifts and day shifts, the man working on night shift can quite well get his ticket marked at a Labour Exchange and yet be working all the time. That cannot be done so easily or so readily with a trade union, because the secretary of the trade union, as well as the committee, would at once notice if a man was doing anything like that. Their supervision must of necessity be closer and better than that of the Board of Trade, as they come into personal contact with the individuals day after day. Our Amendment, if the Board of Trade are to administer the Act in the way they ought, would be unnecessary, but we want to compel the Department to comply with the original intention of the Act, because the words of the Act demonstrate that it was to be an arrangement with the association, not covering a section of the members, but covering the whole of the members. For these reasons I hope that the Amendment will secure the support of hon. Members.


I beg to second the Amendment.

This Amendment is essential for the proper administration of the Act, in connection with which much confusion has arisen. We were given to understand that the Regulations would be framed in such a way that they would apply to all members of a trade union—that is, that the trade union, for the purposes of the Act, should administer the benefits of all members, and not some of them. I have given illustrations of some members who transferred' to a Labour Exchange and got the benefit. It is all very well to talk about the rights of citizens, but they are not extended to the workmen under the Act. The insured person is bound to come within the Act, whether he likes it or not, and we ask that the same principles should be applied to the trade unions.


My hon. Friends will remember that this point was discussed in Committee and defeated by a considerable majority. I need not assure them again as I think they really are satisfied that we are in real sympathy with them in this matter in that we really wish the Clause to operate in the way they wish it to operate. We do not for a moment intend, and, in fact, it would be to our disadvantage, that all members of unions with whom we have made an arrangement, should come to us and demand their benefit direct. We have not the slightest wish to help any disgruntled members, as they are called, in promoting friction. It was put to the Committee, and I think the House will realise that we simply cannot take up the position that we shall refuse a man who is a member of a trade union the right to come to us. That is a position which rather savours of the unconstitutional, and I am sure the hon. Members will realise that in refusing to accept their Amendment we are proceeding upon that very important consideration that we cannot take away the liberty of the members to that extent. I think it was also pointed out upstairs that it would in many cases be extremely difficult for us to know whether a man was a member of a trades union or not. He could easily keep the fact from our knowledge, and it we had this provision in we should have acted in contravention of our own Act. It is really by reason of these very serious difficulties that we refused this Amendment upstairs and the same considerations prevail now.


I do not desire to take up time in forcing a Division, though I am not satisfied with the reply we have had.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.