§ (1) The functions of the Statutory Committee shall be—
- (a) to decide any question of fact on the determination of which the amount of a pension or grant payable out of public funds to a dependant, other than a widow or child, may depend;
- (b) to frame regulations for supplementary grants in cases where owing to the exceptional circumstances of the case, the pension or grant or separation allowance payable out of public funds seems to the committee to be inadequate;
- (c) out of funds at their disposal, to supplement pensions and grants and separation allowances payable out of public funds, so, however, that no such supplementary grant shall be made except in accordance with such regulations as aforesaid;
- (d) out of funds at their disposal, to make grants or allowances in cases where no separation allowances or pensions are payable out of public funds;
- (e) to decide, in any particular case, whether, as respects a wife, widow, child, or other dependant, any pension or grant or separation allowance and, as respects an officer or man, any supplementary grant has, under the regulations subject to which it was granted, become forfeited;
- (f) to decide, as between two or more claimants to any pension or grant or separation allowance, which, if any, of the claimants is entitled thereto;
- (g) to determine any other questions in relation to pensions or grants or separation allowances which may be referred to the committee by the Admiralty or Army Council;
- (h) to administer any funds which may be placed at the disposal of the committee by the corporation or by local commitees or by any society or other organisation having funds applicable to the making of grants of the nature of those which the committee are authorised to make, or otherwise;
- (i) to make provision for the care of disabled officers and men after they have left the service, including provision for their health, training, and employment.
§ (2) The statutory Committee may refer to any local committee for their consideration and advice any question pending before the statutory Committee, and may request any local committee to collect and furnish them with any information they may require with respect to any matter, and may delegate to any local committee the distribution within their area of any grants made by the statutory Committee, and may pay or contribute towards the payment of the expenses incurred by the local committee in respect of any of the matters aforesaid.
§ (3) Paragraphs (8), (9), (10), and (11) of the First Schedule to the Patriotic Fund Reorganisation Act, 1903 (relating to funds, accounts and audit), shall apply in respect of the statutory Committee in like manner as they apply in respect of the Corporation.
§ (4) The statutory Committee shall in each year make a report of their proceedings which shall be included in the annual report made by the Corporation to His Majesty.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I beg to move to leave out the Clause.
I merely do this for the purpose of eliciting from my right hon. Friend (Mr. Hayes Fisher) what decision the Government have come to with regard to including in the Clause power of appeal in regard to separation allowance and kindred matters. My right hon. Friend may remember that 885 this question was raised in Committee on the Bill, and he admitted candidly, with his full knowledge of the facts, the importance of the question and its relevance to this Bill, because the good which this Bill will do will not be complete, and its action will be impaired in many directions, if the question of appeal from pension officers and similar persons is not included in the purview of this measure. The matter has been discussed with the right hon. Gentleman privately by several Members of this House, and owing to the long bers to put down Amendments than it was scarcely any more possible for hon. Members to put down Amendments than it was for my right hon. Friend, and therefore I move to leave out the Clause for the purpose of hearing from him what the attitude of the Government is, and he can be quite sure that I am not doing so obstructively. Many Members of this House feel the extreme importance of this question and are very desirous of its being dealt with by this Bill before it ultimately becomes law.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I beg to second the Amendment.
I think that this question of appeal is of extreme importance, and cannot be allowed to remain where it is. The present position is that after an application has been investigated by a pension officer, the applicant has right of appeal to the local pension committee. If the local pension committee disagrees with the pension officer, and thinks that a higher rate of separation allowance, or dependency allowance, than he indicates may be given, then the pension officer may appeal to the Central Committee, and the result of that appeal may be that the addition given by the local pension committee is confirmed or taken away. On the other hand, the applicant is dissatisfied with the decision of the pension officer or the local committee, no matter what the hardship may be, there is no machinery of appeal of any kind; under no circumstances can the applicant get beyond the local pension committee. Those local committees, I know, discharge their duties with very great industry and very great economy in management, but one does hear that in some districts they do not discharge their duties in that way. I suggest that it cannot be right that power of appeal should exist which would reduce the amount of allowance which the woman might otherwise receive, and that there is no right of 886 appeal where she thinks the amount ought to be increased. I put to the Financial Secretary to the War Office, quite recently, some extremely hard cases, and he admitted that those cases were hard, and he stated that they really might be considered by some national body; but when I asked him in what way a hard case was to get a hearing, the only reply he gave was that hard cases usually found some means by which they could be heard. With great respect, I submit that is not the manner in which a question of this importance should be met. If cases of hardship are left without any means of being brought before a proper tribunal, so long as recruiting continues it will be discouraged in those districts where these cases of hardship occur. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able either to put some words into the Bill or to suggest some way by which this right of appeal may be exercised.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
I was one of the Members who waited on the right hon. Gentleman yesterday, with other gentlemen representing county councils, district councils, and boroughs, and I wish to state that I do not agree with this Amendment, and I stated so yesterday. It appears to me there can be no right of appeal from any county boroughs, because they will have the right to appoint their own committees. I submit that if you give the right of appeal from the local committee to the county committee, you might have a very large number of appeals, and it would mean that the county committee would review the work of the local committee, and this would involve a very large amount of expenditure, as the claimants would have to go before the county committee sitting in the county town to lay their case before them. The county committee would not be in a position to know all the facts of the case which the local committee must know, and I am quite certain that in these matters you can trust the local committees to do their duty.
These new local committees will be very much better than anything we have had hitherto. They will be very representative and they will make their report as to these pensions to the statutory Committee within a very short time, and I hope—and I think that is the view of everybody who has studied this question—that we shall soon have an average sum fixed all over the country, so that there will not be any injustice done. I much prefer myself, that a woman or a man, as the case 887 may be, should have the right to make representations to the statutory Committee, rather than that there should be a very large number of appeals from the local committee to the county committee, which would cause an enormous amount of expense and delay.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I am afraid I shall disappoint hon. Members who take a great interest in this question of the right of appeal where the pensions received are smaller than the recipients think they are entitled to—[An HON. MEMBER: "Or none."] Or none. But the cases to which my hon. Friend alludes are all cases of separation allowances granted to dependants only after inquiry by a pension officer. I am sorry to say that for some time these allowances have not been granted with that generosity which certainly ought to accompany grants of the kind; on the other hand, I am painfully aware that in many cases a great deal of fraud has been practised by those who, in claiming pensions, have made statements to the effect that they were dependent to a very much larger extent upon a soldier or a sailor-son than they actually were, in order that they might obtain a larger separation allowance. There are hard cases on both sides. As to right of appeal, I feel that there should be some, but my brain, although fertile in these matters, has not been able to invent a court of appeal. There is an appeal already from the pension officer to the pension committee, and, if they both agree, the applicant who has got a separation allowance much less than he or she thinks he or she is entitled to, then undoubtedly they have to put up with such separation allowance as they get. What court of appeal could be set up? It is asked that the now local committees should consider appeals from the old age pensions committees, and, after all, the old age pensions committee has as much information at its disposal as the new local committee. It would be one local committee hearing an appeal from another local committee. In many cases those new committees will consist very largely of those who are already on the old age pensions committee. You cannot have an appeal from an old age pensions committee to another local committee formed very much on the same lines.
Can you have an appeal from the local committee to the county committee? The local committee consists of members resid- 888 ing in the neighbourhood, who must know much more about the condition, and income, and general dependence of any father or mother upon a soldier or sailor than a county committee ever could. I do not think that the county committee would have any information by which to check the action of the local committee. Would it be possible to carry the appeal right away from the old age pensions committee or local committee up to the statutory Committee sitting in London? That body has already an immense number of duties to perform, and I really very much doubt whether the statutory Committee could really act as a court of appeal in regard to the various decisions of the old age pensions committee acting on the report of the pension officers. Even if the statutory Committee could give the time they cannot, sitting in London, have that information which would enable them to check the decisions of the local committee and do justice to the various applicants for these separation allowances. I feel that while, as some think, there should be the right of appeal on the part of applicants, there should also be an appeal, in the interests of the Exchequer, in cases where false statements are made and fraud perpetrated. But while feeling that, I am unable to formulate any such court of appeal as could try those cases where the separation allowance is considered unsatisfactory. But, after all, separation allowances will pass away when the War is over, or soon after, but there will remain the pensions for the widow's, children, and dependants of those who die, and also pensions, grants, and allowances for disabled soldiers and sailors.
Will there be any appeal in their case? What would happen in that case? A widow dissatisfied with a fiat rate of 10s., in putting forward her case, might say that her late husband never brought into the house less than £3 or £4 a week, and that she ought not to be satisfied with 10s. a week. The local committee, considering her application for a supplementary pension, would take into account all the circumstances of her case, with which they would have to make themselves familiar, and they might say that the 10s. flat rate was not enough for her, and they might recommend a supplemental pension of 10s. or even £1.
Supposing the local committee refused to give any supplementary pension, would she have a court of appeal? I say, 889 in that case, it is perfectly possible that the statutory Committee would be able to frame regulations—and I hope they will frame regulations—with the object of giving an appeal of that kind. Personally I hope they will frame regulations by which they can hear appeals of that kind on matters of pensions rights which will last for life, and which are far more important than separation allowances which will disappear. Having had a very large experience of giving those pensions or refusing them, and having had to sit in the chair while thousands of cases have passed before me, I know the extreme importance of sifting all the information. In a moment you may turn down a case for a pension, and you may place an unfortunate woman and her family in a miserable position which may oblige them to go to the workhouse. Therefore the greatest care will have to be taken by local committees in the first place and, in my humble opinion, the statutory Committee ought to frame regulations by which they can form some court of appeal from the decisions of local committees in cases in which they have been led astray. I cannot say anything more to satisfy hon. Members, but I trust that what I have said may at least show that T appreciate the position they put forward, and that I intend, so far as I can, so far as the pensions are concerned, to do my best in the matter.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
In view of the fact that the large part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was sympathetic, and as there is yet a chance in another place, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Mr. HOGGE
The right hon. Gentleman has not quite met this point, which I think wants meeting, and that is that at the present moment when a local pensions committee increases the separation allowance against the pensions officer, that is appealed to the committee over which my right hon. Friend the Member for St. Pan-eras (Mr. Dickinson) presides. In this case, why is it that the beneficiary in the locality is not entitled to the same kind of appeal?
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1) (a), to leave out the words "any question of fact on the determination of which," and to insert instead thereof the words "in accordance with scales and regulations approved by Parliament."
890 I proposed this Amendment in Committee, and it has a certain relation to the question that has been discussed just now. I want to alter the Clause so that these committees shall not only have the duty of deciding questions of fact upon which dependants' allowances will be assessed, but shall also have the duty of assessing the amount of those dependants' allowances. I do so because I am firmly convinced that the Bill as it stands sets up a system that cannot be satisfactory. The quesion of dependants' allowances is a very different one from that of separation allowance to a wife. The wife has a definite amount of 12s. 6d., and there is no question of the sum. But in respect of allowances to mothers, and sometimes to fathers, and to sisters and brothers in respect of a soldier, the settlement of the amount varies according to the circumstances of the family and one hundred and one other considerations. So that you cannot settle those dependants' allowances upon any fixed rule whatever. I tried to find out what is the mind of the framers of this Bill with regard to the settlement of those allowances. If I read the Bill correctly it is this, that the local committees which are now going to be set up will be called upon to investigate the case in order to ascertain the facts, but who is going to settle the amount of the dependants' allowances. At the present moment it is settled in practice by the pension officer, and the old age pensions committee, and if the figures are agreed upon by those two authorities they go to the War Office, and as a matter of fact, are accepted. If they do not agree, the matter goes to the appeal committee, and the figures which the appeal committee agree to are as a matter of fact accepted.
The consideration of the question, therefore, is left to the local pensions committee, and the local pension officer subject only in cases of disagreement to be further considered by the appeal committee. If I understand the process in this Bill as regards separation allowances, the old system will have to continue, and in every case the pension officer will have to give his advice on the amount the dependant should receive. The old age pensions committee will have to be consulted, and to investigate the matter, and see the mother or the other dependant in order to settle what sum they are to recommend. Then the War Office or the Admiralty will take those sums, I presume, if they come to an agreement, and if not 891 you will have to have a court of appeal. Therefore, if I understand the Bill aright, you are going to have in each district a duplicate system. You are going to put the same case before the pension officer and the old age pensions committee, and this new Committee mentioned in this Bill. It may be my denseness, but I cannot conclude that the Government really considered the question from this point of view, and I do not see how it is going to work. My suggestion is that, instead of the local pension committee and the pension officer having the duty of assessing the amount, the assessment, in the first instance, should be made by the new district committee, and then the new district committee would bring its reports to the statutory Committee, which would set up a sub-committee, consisting probably of two or three of its most important members, to hear appeals, and then the whole thing would be settled uniformly, and the machinery would work very well.
In order to achieve that result I put down the words I have now moved. The right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary in Committee refused to consider them, because he said he did not wish to give to the statutory Committee the right of allocating public funds. But that is the very position at the present moment, since, actually in practice, the right of saying whether a woman is to have 5s. or 10s. per week, is settled by the old age pensions committee of the district, and if the pension committee agree with the pension officer the thing goes through, and if they do not it goes to the appeal committee. There is no more public representation on those bodies than there would be on these district committees, because under the scheme the right hon. Gentleman has, and I think it is perfectly right, insisted that on the district committee there shall be a majority of persons who represent the public. Therefore, you get an authority more or less representing the public purse, and although the Statutory Committee may not be said to represent the public its constitution is very fairly representative of the public. You have ten nominees of the Crown, and you have nominees from various bodies, so that it could very well exercise responsibility towards the State so as not to give excessive amounts. The system I have indicated seems to me to afford a simple solution. It was not accepted in 892 Committee, and I do not suppose it is going to be accepted now. I regret that, because I cannot help thinking that the system which we want to get to work at once and smoothly will get to work under complications which you will find to be almost insurmountable. Then on the question of appeal, in future there will have to be decided the amounts of dependants' pensions. I can assure the House that, difficult though it may be to decide what are to be the pensions to be given to the widows, it is a thousand times more difficult to decide what are the pensions to be given to the mothers, brothers or sisters, or fathers it may be, or other dependants. It is not until you come to tackle the actual cases that you see the immense difficulty of converting separation allowances to those kind of persons into pensions for life.
I venture to think it will be essential that those local bodies should look most carefully into the circumstances of each person who asks a pension, and that then, in order to get some fair and uniform system, you should have a central body revising every case of a pension to dependants, and unless you can do that I do not believe you can get a proper system at all. At the present moment, as far as I can see, the actual settlement of pensions to dependants is left out of the Bill altogether. I conclude that it is going to be done by the War Office or the Admiralty. I know quite well that the Admiralty stands in a very different position with respect to this matter from that occupied by the War Office, because the Admiralty have a system which has worked very well, whereas the War Office will have to deal with millions of cases they never had to deal with before, and especially with regard to new classes of dependants. That is the very reason why I think, if you want to put this system on a proper basis, you should adopt this statutory Committee, and give that Committee every opportunity, not only of investigating the particular circumstances of each person who asks for a pension, but also give to Parliament the right of revising the regulations. If these words should be inserted I propose to move later on that the system to be adopted should be subject to regulations to be laid down by Parliament, so that whatever regulations are agreed to for regulating dependants' allowances and pensions should come before this House and pass in the ordinary way by lying on the Table. By that means I believe you 893 will get the opportunity in this House of revising the system, and the rules laid down, and you will then have a body quite sufficiently responsible to the State to ensure that the matter would be treated fairly.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I beg to second the Amendment. I do so not for the purpose of repeating the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman has put with great clearness and force, but for two particular reasons. He has aimed at the unifying of all this kind of work, and he has suggested machinery which can be used for that end. May I respectfully point out that the present system of dealing with separation allowances is not a matter of Statute, but has been done by the War Office and the Admiralty. If my right hon. Friend in conduct of the Bill, whose sympathies I am sure are with the statutory Committee, which is one of his most distinguished offsprings, could induce the War Office and the Admiralty to give up the system of old age pensions committees and pension officers, and put the matter under the statutory Committee and the local committees, you would have unified the matter and acted in what I think is the only way now possible. With regard to the question of appeal, may I point out that the very committee over which my right hon. Friend presides is a proof that appeal is possible to a central authority when there is a dispute between a local officer and a local committee. If a court of appeal is there possible, why is it not possible in wider matters? I noticed, when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board was answering the last Amendment, there was an ominous shake of the head by the Secretary to the Admiralty when the right hon. Gentleman said that the statutory Committee might frame regulations which would really make it an appellate tribunal.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
No doubt the Secretary to the Admiralty will be speaking presently, and perhaps we shall then have the articulate translation of that movement. I hope we shall find that there is harmony between these two important Members of the Government on a matter in regard to which we are seeking harmony in administration. That is why 894 I support my right hon. Friend. I am confident that only in that or some similar way we can get the unity we require. In all parts of the country there is a real desire that there should be only one kind of committee, and not two. I take this opportunity of impressing that firmly on the Government, and I ask them either to accept this Amendment or to indicate that they will achieve the desired unification in some other way.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
I think there is some misunderstanding about this Amendment. I do not think it would really carry out the purpose which its Mover has in view. I have always advocated that we should have uniformity in the work of this Committee? The old age pension committee at the present time do not decide anything about separation allowances; they simply decide upon dependants' allowances. It is not the same thing. Separation allowances are really fixed by the recommendations of the Select Committee, and so far as those allowances are concerned they work automatically. The pension committees and the pension officers simply decide upon the amount of money to which dependants are entitled—mother, sister, or father, as the case may be. What we have suggested all along is that this new committee should have the power to decide these dependants' allowances. But we are in this unfortunate position: We were told yesterday that the pension committee were working under a circular issued by the War Office and the Admiralty. That circular instructs the pension officers and the old age pension committees to fix the dependants' allowances. Until that circular is withdrawn, or the War Office and the Admiralty decide that this new committee should fix the dependants' allowances, we cannot obtain these powers.
Even if my right hon. Friend's Amendment were carried, if this circular were not abolished, it would not transfer these powers to the new committee. We may get over the difficulty in this way: We were told yesterday, and I should like the statement to be made now, that where a local committee is set up in any part of the country the local authority will have the power either to establish a new committee or to utilise the old age pension committee, subject to certain alterations in its composition and powers. If the local authorities establish the old age pension committees subject to reconstitution, those committees will continue to 895 do this work; they will fix the dependants' allowances, and also make recommendations so far as dependants under this Bill are concerned. I believe that that is the best solution of the difficulty. I hope that many local authorities will utilise the existing old age pension committees with a broadening of their representation.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I hope that we shall have some sympathetic reply on this Amendment. If the matter be left where it is, I believe there will be the greatest dissatisfaction on the part of those who are engaged in local administration in this country. You have to set up duplicate national machinery in every district and county for the purpose of doing practically the same work. You have one committee for the purpose of assessing the amount of dependants' allowance, and another committee for the purpose of deciding whether that dependant's allowance shall be augmented. Obviously the people who have made inquiries in the country are the people best able to decide whether or not the dependant's allowance is sufficient. Similarly, when a pension has to be increased, you again bring into play your new committee. Everywhere you have this duplication under the present system.
I do not bind myself to the right hon. Gentleman's words, but I suggest that in some form or other it ought to be made clear that the counties, boroughs, and urban district councils are not to be compelled to do what they unanimously protest against, namely, the setting up of two committees where one would do. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board himself said on the Committee stage that if one committee had to fix the amount of the dependant's allowance and another had to decide whether it required to be augmented, it would be a most unfortunate state of things. I do not put it any stronger than that. Surely there is no reason to perpetuate that unfortunate state of things. Now is the opportunity to take some step by which it may be avoided. If the suggestion of the hon. Member for Stockton (Mr. J. Samuel) could be adopted, or we could have some promise that after the new committee has been set up the work of fixing the dependants' allowances will be lifted from the pension committees and handed over to the new Committee, I think there would be general satisfaction. What we want is that the matter 896 should be dealt with by one committee. We do not press that it should be the old age pension committee. On the contrary, there would be satisfaction in some directions if some other committee did the work. But we do press that there should be unification and that this system of duplication should not be forced on the local authorities.
§ Sir NORVAL HELME
Representatives of the local authorities are endeavouring to secure from Parliament such a workable scheme as will really meet the necessities of the case, and in this endeavour I am glad to recognise that we have no greater friend than the Secretary to the Local Government Board. If he could induce the War Office and the Admiralty to withdraw their circular, it would be possible for us to arrive at some arrangement for unifying the administration of this measure.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The representatives of the Admiralty and of the War Office must listen with sympathy to any representations made with a view to enabling this work to be carried out smoothly in all its aspects. That, I take it, is the reason for the Amendment. In regard to Clause 3 (1) (a) and its purpose I think there is some confusion of mind. It deals, first of all, not with wives and children, but with other dependants.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
All except wives and children. Secondly, it does not deal with the amount of the separation allowances. I rather think my right hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. What it deals with is the question of what shall be done in the case of other dependant relatives at the close of the separation allowance period, the twenty-six weeks during which the separation allowance is paid subsequent to the death of the person in respect of whose contributions the allowance was made.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
Do I understand that the words "pension or grant" do not include a dependant's allowance during the War? I understood the words, "to decide any question or fact on the determination of which the amount of a pension or grant, payable out of public funds to a dependant other than a widow or child, may depend," to mean questions of fact upon which a, dependant's allowance may depend.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
That is the confusion of mind which I am trying to clear up. The paragraph deals with relatives other than wives or children, and it deals, not with the separation allowance to other dependant relatives, but with the amount which they are to receive—which is to be determined by questions of fact—at the close of the twenty-six weeks' period.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
I think that this point should be cleared up. Is it not the fact that automatically a widow and children would get the pension set out in the Report?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I have been trying to explain exactly what it does. Of course, widows and orphans get amounts according to the scale which has been fixed. This provision says to the statutory Committee, "You shall assist the War Office and the Admiralty by deciding any question of fact on the determination of which the amount of a pension or grant payable out of public funds to a dependant other than a widow or child may depend." Elsewhere there is a provision for a settlement of that. What we propose, therefore, in regard to this is: We propose to make regulations which will cover a category, or rather a series, of cases rather than to make scales, because, as I think the hon. Member will agree, the issues are so various in the case of the dependant relatives that it is quite impossible to make scales. You can make a series of regulations but not a scale. We shall lay those on the Table of the House, as I have said, so that the House may see fully how the matter works in our endeavour to carry out this Sub-section (1), paragraph (a). When we come to have the actual cases before us, when we discover into what category a case shall fall, we shall consider with the greatest care the representations as to the facts which we have received from the statutory Committee. My right hon. Friend proposes "in accordance with scales and regulations approved by Parliament" to decide the amount of a pension or grant payable out of public funds to a dependant other than a widow or child. The question of separation allowances does not arise, but the amount of the pension or grant which these poor people are to receive from public funds.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
All I can say is that what my right hon. Friend proposes is entirely outside the scope of this Bill. This Bill has a very admirable provision for the augmentation of whatever these poor people may receive in a proper case in the way of pension. If you introduce into this Bill, as my right hon. Friend seeks to do, a proposal to say that the statutory Committee shall say how much pension from the public funds those concerned shall receive at the end of twenty-six weeks which follow the death of him upon whom they are dependent, that, I say, is entirely outside the scope of this Bill. Although it is not for me to say so, I should say it is dangerously near a new charge. It is quite outside what has been recommended by the special Committee. What the hon. Member for Leigh said I could not quite follow, but I would say this in reply to him, that if in going along at the Admiralty and the War Office experience teaches us that something better can be devised than that which I have endeavoured imperfectly to describe, and which will deal more equitably, justly and promptly with these cases, then by all means we shall adopt it. But the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dickinson) is entirely outside the scope of the Bill. It was not contemplated by the scheme of the Bill at all.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
May I just point out clearly what I do mean? What I hope is that if the War Office and the Admiralty are satisfied with the manner in which the committees set up under this scheme do their work, they will transfer to them the work done by the old age pensions committees in the assessment of the amount.
May I be permitted to put a straight question to the right hon. Gentleman? What we want is this: Is he prepared, on behalf of the Admiralty, if these local committees do their work satisfactorily, to withdraw the circular now giving instructions to the old age pensons committees, and give the local committees the powers which the old age pensions committee possess now in regard to recommendations of these dependant allowances?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I cannot for the moment answer on behalf of the War Office, but we shall certainly take the matter into consideration so far as the Admiralty is concerned. I think my hon. 899 Friends may rest assured that all of us desire to do the best we can in this matter.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
Who then will actually settle the amount of the pension which the dependant is to have?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
This is a considerable amount of cross-examination, but the Board of Admiralty and the War Office under the regulations they will make will attend to that matter, and after the question of fact has been determined for them will see into which of the various categories or regulations a case will fall for the pension or grant.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. KING
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), paragraph (b), to leave out the word "separation" ["the pension, or grant, or separation allowance"].
I know that this was moved in the Committee, and raised a question of policy. I put it forward now as a question of drafting. I am rather afraid, after the experience I have had, to bring up another drafting question, because these questions of drafting are so largely questions of taste. As there may be difference of opinion among connisseurs as to the best wines and cigars, so the question of drafting is a matter of taste. But I put this question to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill: Why in Clause (1), Sub-section (l), which is the cardinal or starting point, and gives the powers under the Bill, is the expression used "pensions and grants and allowances," and then in Clause 3, which deals with questions of allowances, "'separation' allowance"?
§ Mr. KING
Either the expression in the two places refers to the same thing, in which case the same expression ought to be used, or it refers to something different. If it refers to something different, what is the difference, and if there is a difference, why is it not explained in the Bill? I have the right hon. Gentleman on the horns of a dilemma. He really cannot get off. Let me point out there is no definite Clause in this Bill. If there were a definition Clause he might get out of his difficulty somehow. 900 The Government should really, if they want to avoid misconception, lack of clearness, and consequently litigation, doubt, and differences of application, have the same expression in Clause I as in Clause 3. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to accept my suggestion which is given in good faith. There is no desire to make anything out of the suggestion but a more smooth and even working of the Bill, and I sincerely hope that my Amendment will be accepted.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I have never been impaled on the horns of a dilemma from which it was an easier task to escape. It is perfectly obvious, if the hon. draftsman will look he will note in Clause I that it says:—For the purposes hereinafter mentioned;that is, purposes relating to pensions, grants, and allowances, in respect of the present War to officers and men in the naval and military service. The "allowances" include all kinds of sums of money which may hereafter be given. The "allowances" employed in the first Clause includes specific allowances; separation allowances are part of the family allowance—a very small part of the family allowance, though a very important part. In Clause 3 we are dealing, not with allowances, but with separation allowance. The term "allowances" is quoted in Army Orders. The terms are properly used in the first Clause and also properly in the third.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), paragraph (c), after the word "disposal" ["other funds at their disposal"], to insert the words "make an advance towards and."
I move this Amendment because I think that if some action is not taken in this matter we will not only have duplication of committees but three committees dealing with different stages of this work. At the present time there is a committee which administers the Prince of Wales' Fund; at the same time there is a committee set up by the county councils; at the same time, also, there is the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, which augments separation allowances where these are found to be insufficient. At the present time the latter body make advances 901 to wives and other dependants when the separation allowance has not yet come to hand. As I read the Bill, if advances are to be made to those in receipt of separation allowance, that work will remain, not in the hands of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, but in the hands of the working committee which is administering the Prince of Wales' Fund; whereas, if you are to augment separation allowance, then this work seems to come to the new committee. I cannot conceive that it can be the scheme of the Government to keep alive the committee of the Prince of Wales' Fund and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association for the one task of making these advances, while all the other work is going to be transferred to the new committee. Obviously that ought not to be so, for the committee now administering the National Relief Fund ought to be relieved of its functions or to remain with them. I think this proposition will receive universal assent—for the purpose of getting the matter cleared up, and for the purpose of preventing what will not only be a duplication but a triplication of administration.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
If I understand the hon. Gentleman aright, what he is anticipating will happen is this: That when the local committees have been set up the committee of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association and the local relief committee will be moved off the field; those who have been in the habit of making advances on account of separation allowance to those to whom that allowance was due, but to whom it has not yet been paid—in the early stages in the War, not perhaps for many weeks. I think there is something in this Amendment. It has only just been handed to me, and I am not quite clear that there are words in this Clause defining the functions of the statutory Committee which would allow that statutory Committee to make advances in respect of separation allowances where those advances were very much heeded, but had not been paid—it might be for three or four weeks. I cannot accept these words in this particular place. I do not think that they are perhaps the best; but if the hon. Member will accept my assurance that in another place I will see that something is done to provide for the contingency he anticipates, I shall be very happy to meet him in that way.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
Might I say the effect of that, if my right hon. Friend is able to carry it out, would be in the case of relief to limit their work to civil distress?
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
That is really the work of the civil distress committees now. They do not make allowances or grants.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
In view of the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move to leave out paragraph (i).
I desire to move the deletion of these words on the ground that this House appointed a Committee to inquire into the means and methods which should be adopted for dealing with disabled soldiers. Those who have read the Report will see that the Committee took evidence and made a great many suggestions. For instance, they were asked to report upon the methods to be adopted for providing employment for soldiers and sailors disabled in the War. The Report is divided into various sections. There are seventeen paragraphs suggesting what should be done in the case of officers and men whose health has suffered as a result of the War. Then you come to another section later on as to what should be done in the matter of employment of disabled sailors and soldiers, and there you have twelve paragraphs containing suggestions. And so on, right through this Report, you have a large number of suggestions made. The only question the Committee did not go into was that of the schemes for the settlement of disabled men on the land. The Committee examined a good many witnesses, but felt it was too technical a point, and suggested that the subject should be further considered by the Central Committee. But you will find right through the Report a great many suggestions on matters which, I presume, the Government wanted information about in order to legislate for these disabled men. Later, on the Committee recommends the appointment of sub-committees for Ireland and Scotland to deal with this matter. It seems to me it was no use asking the Committee to take evidence as to what should be done for these disabled sailors and soldiers unless the House intended to do something as a result of the Committee's suggestions. It was because it was felt that the nation had an obligation to deal with these men 903 that the Committee was appointed to consider what methods should be taken to carry out that obligation. But all that this Bill says is comprised in three lines. Is that all the House is going to do for these men when they come back? If this Bill goes to the country as the last word that this House has to say to the disabled soldier when he comes back, it will create a perfect scandal.
A great deal of anxiety was felt on the Committee as to what should be done for these disabled sailors and soldiers. The result was that we had no end of evidence, and some wanted to get further evidence; but we felt it was necessary to make the Report as quickly as possible, because we were informed by many visitors to hospitals and infirmaries, where disabled soldiers were placed, that there was grave anxiety as to what would be their position when they came out of these hospitals. I saw, the other day, a soldier who was discharged because he had lost his eye. He only gets 7s. 6d. a week pension. He was discharged because the Army looked upon him as totally incompetent to remain as a soldier. I say it is not fair to these men if you have nothing further to say to them. We also say in this Report that there should be established all over the country technical schools to train these soldiers. Where they are unable to take advantage of the existing technical schools such schools should be set up. The Bill is largely taken up in dealing with pensions. Paragraphs (a) to (h) of this Clause deal with pensions and allowances, but there is only one paragraph of three lines dealing with the disabled soldier. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty will bear me out when I say I raised the question at the time he spoke of introducing the Bill, as to what they were going to do to meet the recommendations of that Committee. At that time he did not know, and I was obliged to wait until the introduction of this Bill. Now I find that all this Bill does is to embody in three lines the recommendations of the Committee.
I would like to know what these local committees are to do to train disabled sailors and soldiers. There will be a conflict of interests, because the appeals will be to increase grants, and therefore there will not be sufficient funds at their disposal. Another point recommended by this Committee was that the men in addition to their pension, should have an 904 allowance made to them so that they could attend these technical colleges. Are they likely to get that when appeals are made to increase these allowances? I know the answer will be made that the Committee reported that one committee should deal with the two subjects. Quite so; but it is not enough to say this Committee is going to have the care of the soldiers. What is meant by the word "care"? It is interpreted in different ways. There are only four words in the paragraph which are taken out of the Report—"care," "health," "training," and "employment." Those four words are all you have in this Bill dealing with this important subject. I say it is a farce, having appointed a Committee to advise what should be done for the disabled sailor and soldier, to sift evidence week after week and to make certain recommendations to this House and, when it comes to frame a Bill, all that is done is to frame these four words. I move the deletion of this paragraph because I think it is wholly inadequate to meet the case in point. Secondly, I would recommend that a fresh Bill be brought in dealing-specifically with the disabled soldier and that, along with the functions or duties of that Committee, you should say that they should have charge also of soldiers who are coming from the front who are not disabled so as to find them employment. Unless you do that I have no hesitation in saying it will cause great consternation. As one man said, "You send down large numbers of Members of Parliament and appeal from the platform for men to join the ranks, but what do you say when they come home wounded—three lines." The allowance you are going to give the disabled soldier is not adequate for the loss of his arm. I say that for this House to appoint a Committee to make these inquiries and report to you what should be done, and then to put into three lines those recommendations without suggesting how to carry out the regulations, is wholly inadequate, and I shall divide the House upon my Amendment if I only get a seconder.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
I beg to Second the Amendment. I think my hon. Friend does well to call attention to the very important Report of Sir George Murray's Committee. When I turn to paragraph 25, to which I call the particular attention of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, I find a very specific recommendation which the Government has entirely ignored in 905 drafting this Bill. The paragraph is important, and has a very close bearing on the paragraph in the Bill with which we are now dealing. This is what the Report says:It has been suggested to us that an organisation so created might ultimately be utilised for the purpose of dealing with the employment of ex-sailors and ex-soldiers of all kinds, whether able-bodied or disabled. The numerous agencies at present engaged on this work in different parts of the country, and the complexity of their operations, make it highly desirable that some step should be taken to co-ordinate their activities and to prevent overlapping. But such a scheme does not come within the terms of our reference, and we are aware that the question has already received a good deal of attention elsewhere. It is only mentioned in this place because it seems to us almost impossible to contemplate the establishment of two unconnected organisations"—[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] I am glad to hear those cheers, because the words are very germane—one dealing with disabled and the other with able-bodied sailors and soldiers.The Government have entirely ignored that. That Committee was constituted to deal only with the disabled sailor and soldier and to take no cognisance of the able-bodied sailor or soldier. The contention which the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. C. E. Price) makes, in my view, is a sound one, that the functions should be co-ordinated and that the same body that deals with the disabled soldier should deal with the able-bodied soldier who is coming back to civil employment. It docs not seem, to have been realised by those responsible for this Bill how big the problem of demobilisation will be. With all the good will in the world, thousands of the men now serving with His Majesty's forces will have great difficulty in getting into civil employment again; they will be in competition with the trained disabled soldiers, and the interest of this Committee will be to push the disabled soldier everywhere. I do not blame them for it, but I can foresee difficulties arising in the labour world when the disabled soldier, partially trained, perhaps recovered from his wounds, is being aided by this central Committee and by the local committee, and is in active competition with the able-bodied soldier, and is probably pressed for an appointment by the central or local committee at the expense of the able-bodied man, who probably requires and asks for a better wage because he is receiving no support from the statutory body. As a matter of fact, this statutory body to be set up is not so constituted as to deal fully with the duties which are thrown upon it under this Sub-clause. The Special Committee of Sir George Murray, 906 on which my hon. Friend sat, recommended very specifically, in view of the unemployment which might arise, that the statutory Committee should have represented on it certain persons and certain departments who are mainly concerned with the question of employment. When you turn to the constitution of the statutory Committee, the specific recommendations of Sir George Murray's Committee are ignored. Where is the representative of the Board of Trade on the statutory Committee in a matter which is vitally concerned with the Board of Trade like this question of the training and employment of disabled soldiers? Where is the representative of the Board of Education in a matter which is concerned with the training of the disabled soldier in technical institutions and the like? In paragraph 21 of the Report there is a specific recommendation which has been overlooked. The Committee did not deal with the question of placing the men on the land, but the Board of Agriculture is not represented on the statutory Committee and the employers are not on it. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has made provision for representatives of labour, but he ought equally to make provision for the representation of employers who have a vital interest in this particular matter.
What really is required is another body which can take over the function of employment both for disabled and for able-bodied soldiers, apart altogether from the statutory body which has to dispense relief to those who have not sufficient at the present time from the Government. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that that would unduly delay matters, but I do not think that that is dealing fairly with the House. This is a time when we have known Bills to go through in less than two days, and it ought not to be outside the powers of the various Government Departments concerned to make proposals to the House, even before the Adjournment is reached. [An HON. MEMBER: "They were emergency measures."] I know the Bills I refer to were emergency proposals, but this problem has been so adequately dealt with, and reported upon by advisory Committees, that the Departments of the Government concerned have the necessary knowledge for drafting a Bill and taking this question outside the scope of the Pensions Committee altogether. A committee composed of employers of labour and representatives of working class 907 organisations could deal with the problem of training and securing employment for disabled soldiers and sailors, and also make provision for the huge army which will come back to civil employment when the forces are demobilised at the end of the War. The Government have failed to realise the extent of the problem; and what is outlined in these three lines is entirely unsatisfactory.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
This Bill is described as applying to "naval and military war pensions, etc." I am going to suggest that the health, training, and employment of disabled soldiers is too big a matter to be described as "et cetera." This Bill does not propose to take any public money, but is concerned with money from private quarters as supplementary to the ordinary public pensions. Is this question of the training and the employment of disabled soldiers a matter which ought to be thrown on private money drawn from private quarters? I suggest that the training and employment of disabled soldiers is a matter for the nation, and ought to fall upon the nation from pubilc money and not from private sources to make up supplementary pensions. I am quite certain that this matter has been dragged in as an afterthought and that it is no real part of this Bill. This is a measure to provide supplementary pensions in special cases, and we do not object to that in the least. We also see the difficulty of securing these supplementary pensions entirely from public money; but this matter affecting disabled soldiers is one for public money, and it is a question for a public committee. From that point of view I think this Section ought to be deleted. I am not in the least satisfied that the statutory Committee that is going to be set up to deal with pensions is the proper Committee to deal with a matter of this kind. I want to see a Committee representative of the employers of labour and of the workpeople of the country. I think it is right that both sides should be represented practically in equal proportion. A Committee that is going to undertake the large question of employment arising after the War, and dealing with disabled soldiers, ought to have upon it representatives of the Health Commissioners, the Labour Exchanges, and the Board of Agriculture, if you are going to deal with the question of getting men back to the land in many cases. I would draw the attention of the right hon. Gen- 908 tleman to the Report of Sir George Murray's Committee, paragraph 25, in which it is stated:—It would seem almost impossible to contemplate the establishment of two unconnected organisations, one dealing with disabled and the other with able-bodied soldiers and sailors.And yet that is exactly what we are going to have. I do not suppose that the statutory Committee is going to deal with able-bodied soldiers in regard to employment, and I am not suggesting that they should do so. The whole of this problem is different from the question of supplementary pensions, and that is why I am arguing that both the question of able-bodied soldiers and the training and employment of disabled soldiers are outside the Committee dealing with supplementary pensions. There is need for a different organisation with a different composition, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will meet us in this matter, because I believe it is a question of very vital and real consequence. With regard to the wider question, I want to see the disabled soldier who is going to return to employment placed in the same position as the able-bodied soldier. They both fall into the same category, and a different organisation must be created. In this matter I would appeal to the Government that there is need for foresight at this moment in regard to these tremendous questions dealing with employment that must emerge from the War. There will be a very bad time again unless the Government begins to prepare for the able-bodied soldier, and particularly for the disabled soldier who is going to return from the War. I am sure in this Bill we are going forward on the wrong lines, and I believe the outcome will not be good.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken in regard to this Amendment. I support the deletion of this Sub-clause on broader grounds. In my view the title of this Bill is intended by the Government to carry out the recommendations not only of the Pensions Committee, but also of the Committee which issued the Report which has been referred to, in order to meet the case of how soldiers wounded and otherwise are to be employed. This Bill does not do anything at all in regard to this matter, and there is no provision of funds wherewith to train wounded soldiers or officers or for making provision for their future. All we are permitted to do is to deal with the possible 909 or probable charitable contributions of the public. I know that we have a vague undertaking from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that in case of any great difficulty arising as regards public money the State will find the funds, but if this Sub-clause goes through we shall probably never be able to get any more out of the Government. I think it is important that at the earliest possible moment the House should declare that it is not content with this Bill, which does not carry out the recommendations of the Pensions Committee, which has a paragraph directed specially to the employment of soldiers and sailors, and recommends that where possible public employment in the Government Departments should be given to soldiers and sailors. I produced a Clause for this purpose which was ruled out of order on the ground that it was outside the scope, of the Bill. It is quite clear that what is intended by the introduction of this Clause is to hand over the obligation of the State to a committee with a paid chairman and a vice-chairman, and there is no provision whatever for the clerks and the servants, the provision in this respect being left to the charitable public. I think we ought to stop this Bill and insist that a proper Bill shall be brought in dealing with this subject. Just consider how many permanently disabled soldiers and sailors and marines have already returned to this country. Are we to wait until the public contribute the money? The public are being asked for various sums at the present time, and are responding very well, but this is an obligation of the State, and if we are to' wait until such time as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is satisfied that the money is not forthcoming from private sources, we might as well adjourn the consideration of this matter for five or six years. We should make every attempt we can now upon this Bill, and insist that a proper Bill should be introduced dealing in a proper spirit with the problem now before Parliament.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HOGGE
This is not a new discussion, because it is one that has been raised directly at every stage of the Bill. I hope my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment to a Division, because I think he is labouring under a misapprehension as to the powers which are given to this Committee. I moved myself the insertion of extra words to include schemes of housing to deal with disabled soldiers and sailors, and I withdrew my Amendment on the understanding and the undertaking from 910 the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that the word "care" in that Clause had a very wide interpretation, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself stated that the Government have accepted generally the recommendations of Sir George Murray's Committee, and instead of setting up, as would be very inadvisable, another committee to deal separately with disabled soldiers and sailors, the statutory Committee, which has large powers itself, can create a special committee to deal with this side of the work. The statutory Committee has power to do that, and it can carry out every one of the recommendations made by my hon. Friend and his colleagues in their Report.
Another point has been made with regard to the employment of able-bodied soldiers and sailors on their return from the War. I should like to ask my hon. Friends who are supporting this Amendment why they draw distinction between able-bodied soldiers and sailors, who may be quietly reabsorbed into employment at the close of the War, and able-bodied munition workers and other special war workers who may be thrown out of employment at the end of the War from the same cause? We shall have all classes of men desiring to be reabsorbed into employment at the end of the War, and we already have machinery for dealing with that type of men. Under these circumstances, what is the use of creating fresh body after fresh body, when we have organisations in our hands at the present time for dealing with the question? The Labour Members of this House struggled in order to get such machinery as the Labour Exchanges, and we have got them now, and if at this critical moment, when some special machinery is required to deal with the problem of employment, you are going to transfer it to some new body, you might as well close down your old machinery. I think you ought to do all these things through the channels which you have already created. If you do not think they have sufficient powers, I suggest that their work should be speeded up with regard to the employment of able-bodied soldiers who have not found employment after the War. That is one thing, but it is surely an unnecessary duplication to suggest the creation of extra bodies.
All we want to know from the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill has already been told us by the Chancellor of of the Exchequer, who is here in this 911 House, and can deny it if it is not true. He has already said that if he cannot get the voluntary funds which he hopes to secure for the purposes of this Bill, and for all the purposes of this Bill, the treatment of disabled soldiers and sailors as well as the other purposes, he will come to Parliament and provide the money that is necessary to make the scheme effective. Of course, no Cabinet could come to this House without such a definite statement. It is absurd to imagine they have so much to do with motor cars and so on at the Home Office that they would present this House with a machine without any petrol to drive it, and, if the right hon. Gentleman cannot sneak his petrol, then in some other way he will have to provide it from public sources. He has said so publicly in this House. Why, therefore, burden the discussion of this Bill any longer? We are all waiting to get this authority set up. Every day we go to our constituencies people ask us when they will have to apply, and where they will have to apply. This authority wants setting up at once, and I hope my right hon. Friend will not accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I sympathise with the motive which has inspired this Amendment. It is really to bring before Parliament and the country the necessity of the Government setting up some machinery, and ultimately placing funds at the disposal of some committee or another, for dealing with the many disabled soldiers and sailors who will return from this War. I sympathise with that motive, but I think the hon. Gentlemen who seek to delete this particular provision from the Bill are doing an ill-service to those already disabled and already discharged, for whom nothing has been done except to give them a weekly allowance. I am afraid that any stranger listening to this Debate might think that this House of Commons has been signally neglectful of its duty towards those who are totally or partially, disabled by this War. Let me say that no House of Commons, and, I believe, no House of Parliament either in this or any other country, has ever awarded such just and generous treatment as is being awarded to those who have been disabled and who will be disabled in this War. The scale of allowances set up by the Select Committee and adopted, by this House with very little comment and very little criticism is a 912 generous scale. It is far in advance of anything we have ever done in this country, and I believe it is in advance of anything ever done in any other country.
I recollect the time when I served as a Commissioner of Chelsea Hospital. On arriving at Chelsea Hospital and having to take the chair, I found the maximum pension I could award to a soldier or a sailor, often a married man with a family, called up from the Reserve, who was hopelessly or totally disabled, either from wounds or disease, and never able again to earn any money, was 1s. a day, or 7s. per week. That was the old scale. It was not very long before I found it was impossible to do the work if I was only allowed to give 1s. a day to men earning probably 30s. per week, or even more. I approached the Government of the day and suggested that it should be raised, and very considerably raised, and I requested if it were not raised that I might be relieved of my duties. It was raised. The total disablement allowance was raised to 2s. 6d. per day, or 17s. 6d. per week, and the allowance for partial disablement to something like 10s. 6d. per week. We have advanced beyond that; 17s. 6d. per week is not considered enough for those who are totally disabled in this War, and 17s. 6d. has been replaced by 25s. I am not talking of the corresponding allowances to those above the lowest rank. I am talking of the private soldier and the ordinary seaman. The rates were raised from 17s. 6d. to 25s. per week, with 2s. 6d. per week for each child. I hope we shall not content ourselves merely with paying those allowances. I hope that other things will be done for these men. I hope that the paralysed soldier especially will be our care. He may have a wife and family, and may himself want to be taken care of in a home. I am glad that a home for paralysed soldiers has already been established, and I believe that there is at least one labour representative on the committee. Hon. Gentlemen may come down and say, "There is a great deal more which ought to be done for disabled soldiers and sailors. We appointed Sir George Murray's Committee. Look what it recommends! Look at the numerous suggestions made by that Committee for restoring the health and strength of these men, and for restoring them once more to positions in the labour market!" And the hon. Member for the Central Division of Edinburgh 913 (Mr. C. E. Price), who himself did good service on that Committee, a very strong Committee, which made a most admirable Report, comes down and says, "But in your Bill you have ignored all the suggestions we have made." Believe me it is nothing of the kind. It is perfectly true that there are only three lines in the Bill:To make provision for the care of disabled officers and men after they have left the Service, including provision for their health, training, and employment.I have looked through all the admirable suggestions made by the Committee, and I say that every one of those suggestions is covered in those three very pregnant lines.
It is all left to the discretion of the Committee. It is specifically pointed out that the men whilst they are training shall get adequate allowance, but it all depends upon whether they do it or not. This statutory body is dependent upon private funds, whereas we say that the money ought to come from the State.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
The general duty cast upon them is to make provision for the care of disabled officers and men after they have left the Service, including provision for their health, training, and employment. I do not think that it would strengthen the functions of the Committee one bit if you were to include in a Schedule the whole of the Report. The hon. Gentleman, and the hon. Member for the Attercliffe Division (Mr. Anderson), said that this Committee would only have funds collected from voluntary sources. Those funds may be all the funds at the disposal of the Committee at the first, and those funds at first may suffice, but my right hon. Friend (Mr. McKenna) has already in his place at this box stated to the House that if adequate and necessary funds for carrying out this all-important work are not forthcoming he will come down to Parliament and he will himself propose Grants which shall enable this body to carry out its work. I admit that sums of a very extensive character will be wanted if we are to do all that I think, and all that the House thinks, we ought to do for these disabled solders and sailors. Let us look at the difference between the hon. Members and myself. They want to delete from this Bill all power of this statutory body to make provision for the care of disabled officers and men after they have left the Service, including provision for 914 their health, training, and employment. What would be the result if they did that? Does the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Goldstone), when he says that I have not treated the House fairly, think that it would be possible now to frame and produce a Bill, to get it carried through both Houses of Parliament, and to get large sums of money placed at the disposal of another statutory body within the next fortnight?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
The hon. Gentleman is one of the most sanguine of men I have ever met. Let him look at the history of this Bill. How long has it taken to introduce the Bill? First of all, a Select Committee was set up, and then after long deliberation—
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
We have got all the preliminary material now in hand, and I know what this House is capable of doing when it sets its mind on getting legislation through quickly.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I have no doubt that we might in a moment produce a very bad Bill and a thoroughly bad system for dealing with this question; but, after all, where is my hon. Friend going to find the men for another body? How is it to be composed? Will it be composed of stronger elements than this body? Then he has to set up all over the country other local committees. How are they going to be manned? It is going to be difficult to man one committee to deal with the case of disabled soldiers and sailors, and if you divide all these affairs you cannot expect to do it satisfactorily. One very useful criticism was made. It was that when the statutory body comes to make provision for the training, and above all the employment, of discharged soldiers and sailors it must get into communication with bodies of employers. That is so, but there is nothing in this Bill to prevent the statutory body from setting up a special sub-committee to deal with this special section of the Bill, and if I were a member of the statutory body one of the first things I should advise it to do would be to break itself up into committees and to form a special committee for this special purpose. I think a special committee ought to be formed on which employers and representatives of labour would be asked to serve, and on which perhaps Members of Government Departments would be asked to serve with a view of 915 throwing open certain forms of Government employment for discharged disabled soldiers and sailors.
I believe that the statutory body can do all that any single body can do to carry out the recommendations of the Select Committee. I do not think that it is necessary to have a new Bill, a new scheme, a new statutory body, and to rely possibly on new sources from somewhere or other. I do not think that it is necessary to do any of these things. I believe that the statutory body is perfectly capable of making a very good beginning. I do not say that it will be more. We can then watch it. Parliament will be meeting again in a few months time, and, if we see that this statutory body is proving incapable of carrying out its high duty, we can then bring in some new legislation. I do ask hon. Members who have a sincere and most earnest desire to come to the assistance of our discharged disabled soldiers and sailors not to take this Clause out of the Bill, but to allow the statutory body to endeavour to deal with this question, to make a beginning with this question, to set up these local committees wherever they are to be set up under the Bill, and to place some confidence in them that they will attend to one of the duties placed upon them, the duty of making I revision for the care of disabled officers and men after they have left the Service, including the provision for their health, training, and employment.
§ Mr. CHARLES DUNCAN
I am sure everybody who has listened to the eloquent appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman will feel that, if the decision rested on that alone, the House could not fail to agree with him. But, so far as I am concerned, the question of allowances seems to have nothing to do with the case. A few days ago we were discussing a Bill in this House dealing with registration. I agreed with that Bill, and I believe in it, because it asked us to take stock for a very big job, to see what we had in the place, and to do the best we can with it. But this Clause brings us back to the old condition of muddle, mess, and make-believe, and it is because I believe that the Clause lacks entirely all sense of proportion as to what is going to be the work of this particular Committee that I am supporting the Amendment. We have on our hands the biggest War the world has ever seen. Already thousands of men are coming into this country maimed in all sorts of ways, 916 and before the War is ended it must be obvious to anybody who has studied the question there is going to be an enormous body of men who will require all sorts of assistance in the shape of education or in finding employment.
What I want the House to bear in mind is this, that past experience in this direction is going to be but a mere fleabite in comparison with what is going to happen as a result of this War, and yet here we are with a small, insignificant, tinpot Committee charged with the duty of looking after allowances, children, dependants, and so on. All sense of proportion in this matter seems to be utterly lacking. There does not seem to be any realisation, even for a moment, of the magnitude of the task the Committee are undertaking. The question of finding employment for the hundreds of thousands of men who will come back when this War is over is simply going to bring us back to the position we were in when the War started. We have been eleven months trying to get guns, rifles, and munitions, and even now we have not got up to the point necessary to enable us to make our Army really effective. Germany, so far, has set the pace; she has done it for eleven months, and is still doing it, and I sometimes wonder whether we shall ever get out of the muddle-headed system which now obtains, and whether we shall ever succeed in organising ourselves in a businesslike way. I am confident it will not be done under this Clause. I do not say that because I do not sympathise with those who are handling the Clause, or because I do not believe that they want to do the thing properly. But I do suggest it is impossible for them to realise the immensity of the problem they are undertaking, and because I believe they will make a mess of it, I say the sooner it i3 put right the better it will be in the interests of those who are laying down their lives on the field of battle.
§ Mr. BIGLAND
After listening to the speeches made by the supporters of the Amendment I was inclined to think that on the face of it they had made out a very good case indeed. But still I hold we shall make a great mistake if we leave out these three lines. I appeal to the Proposer and the Seconder to accept the statements made from the Front Bench of the aspirations of those who framed the Bill. I have studied this measure. I have done considerable work in my own Constituency of 917 the nature of that which this Bill is going to give greater authority to do. Let one picture to oneself the position we shall be in when we run these local committees, which, in this respect, are to have the same rights as the statutory Committee. In the instructions given to the local committees we use exactly the same words as those which apply to the statutory Committee. They are to look after the disabled soldiers and sailors; they are to make provision for the care of disabled officers and men after they have left the Service, including provision for their health, training, and employment.
Let us imagine what we may do if we are on these committees locally. A case comes before us in which a certain allowance is made, in addition to the pension, while the man is training for some better employment. When he has got the employment through the agency of the local committee, those who have given the extra money will withdraw that temporary allowance. But if you set up another committee to find the man employment, the committee which is giving him an allowance in the hope that he will better himself in the technical schools, will not know when he has secured the employment, and we are going to get into a worse state of confusion than ever.
I appeal to the House to realise that the Government has made the very best effort possible to grasp this situation. It was absolutely impossible to put into this Bill the long Report of the Committee to which reference has been frequently made. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham has clearly explained to the House that one of the first acts of these local committees will be to appoint separate committees to undertake separate work. I can imagine no town council in the country appointing on this committee men who are not employers of labour or interested in the trade unions in the town. If they are not men of light and leading in the town they will not be appointed by the town council. We look to our local authorities to put the right men on this work, and I do not suppose, if all the town councils in the country were to, appoint two committees, those committees would do any better than one committee. The men who are going to undertake this work are the very men who will be wanted with regard to finding employment. Take the case of any constituency. The town council are certain to put on the committee not only members of the council, 918 but the best men in the town for this great service. I take it that this is going to be one of the most onerous works that ever a man has undertaken. I hope to be on the local committee in my own town, and I hope that all Members of Parliament will take the deepest interest in this work. I believe if we pass this Bill to-night we shall get the very best men in the country that can be got to carry out this great work. I trust that these words will not be deleted.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham has told us that it is absolutely impossible before the Adjournment of the House to get another Bill passed through Parliament. Personally, I am looking to begin work in my own Constituency at once, with a view to forming the new committee. The very moment the Bill has passed we shall ask the town council to set up the committee, and immediately we have authority to do so we shall get to work. If this Clause is deleted the work many of us are arranging for will be absolutely upset, and I hope therefore the Bill will be allowed to go forward.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. McKenna)
May I appeal to hon. Gentlemen to allow us to get this Clause? I really think there is a simple misunderstanding. My hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Price) was a member of a Committee which issued a very valuable Report on this subject. Before that Report was issued the Select Committee on Pensions also issued a Report in which it outlined the formation of a statutory Committee to deal with pensions and allowances. The Committee of my hon. Friend, having the Report of the Select Committee before it, inserted in their Report two paragraphs with which I will trouble the House:—We observe, moreover, that the Select Committee on Naval and Military Services (Pensions and Grants) has recommended the appointment of a statutory Committee to deal with the pensions, separation allowances, and supplementary grants payable to sailors and soldiers and their dependants.We therefore venture to suggest that some advantage might result from the constitution of one body, charged with all the functions to which we have alluded. In this way a more elaborate local organisation than we have recommended for the purposes of this Report might be justified.
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to say that when I spoke I read those paragraphs? My point was that, if you take that part out of the Report—
§ Mr. McKENNA
I know my hon. Friend's case; he did not allow me to 919 finish what I was about to say. When this Report was issued the chairman of the Committee called my attention to these particular paragraphs. We consulted together, and I agreed to bring in a Bill which would embody the purposes of his Committee as well as the purposes of the Select Committee. We accordingly made an abstract of all the purposes recommended by the Committee on which my hon. Friend sat, and those purposes are summarised in the three lines which my hon. Friend read to the House. The Bill was brought in as an omnibus Bill, and it covered the purposes of the recommendations of both Committees. Now we come to the question of finance. The Select Committee of which my hon. Friend was a member recommended that the cost of the care of the wounded and disabled soldiers should be thrown upon public funds. We introduced a Bill in which primarily we looked for support from voluntary funds, but, in so far as they are insufficient, we are prepared to supplement them out of public funds.
§ Mr. McKENNA
How could a statement of intention be put into the Bill? It is never done. We do not, in the first instance, propose any amount from public funds towards the expenditure under this Bill, for the simple reason that the scale of expenditure must depend on the amount of voluntary subscriptions. You may rightly spend far more money on what may be termed the work of charity if the funds which are expended are partly obtained from voluntary subscriptions than if they are obtained only from taxation. We are far more generous, and rightly so, in what may be termed the expenditure of private contributions than in the expenditure of public moneys. It is a generally recognised principle that the State will assist private contributions where the State is not prepared to undertake an expenditure upon the high scale which is justified when private contributions are used to assist State moneys. If we start with a State contribution, the scale of expenditure will inevitably be based upon the amount of the State contribution, and no private subscriptions will be obtained. We look upon that as an axiom in regard to the expenditure in the management of a Committee of this kind. The moment you start with public funds you naturally dry up all sources of private subscriptions, 920 because persons will say, the Government has undertaken the duty and there is no call for us to subscribe. If, on the other hand, we do our duty and come forward and subscribe generously, that will all mature to the benefit of the wounded soldiers and sailors. We do not disregard our statutory duties, but we think our statutory duties ought to be supplemented by private subscriptions, therefore we have introduced the Bill in this form.
My hon. Friend (Mr. C. Duncan) speaking from below the Gangway, stated that in everything Germany is setting the pace. I would ask, is Germany setting the pace in allowances, in pensions or in grants to a single wounded soldier? Really, I think I am entitled to complain, and the House is entitled to complain of this eulogy of Germany at the expense of this country. We are setting the pace. We have done for our soldiers and sailors what no other nation in the world has done. It is a farce to talk of the proceedings in this Bill and of the efforts the State is making assmall tin-pot effortsand to hold up Germany to us as an example. No! we have acted fairly and upon sound and reasonable grounds in introducing the Bill in this form. The State does not intend to depart by one iota from its responsibilities. Those who are really anxious for the benefit of the wounded soldiers and sailors had far best come with us into the principle of obtaining as much by voluntary subscription as we can for the benefit of the wounded soldiers and sailors, and we upon our side can assure them that the State will find all the necessary moneys to carry out the full purposes of the Bill.
§ Mr. HODGE
With my hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. C. Price) I was a member of this Committee, and I must confess that I have been very much disappointed with the Bill which has been introduced. We usually find that the Government's intentions, so far as the Treasury are concerned, never come up to expectation. One of the things which the members of the Committee were up against from the beginning was an evident desire oh the part of some members of the Committee to raid the Prince of Wales' Fund. The Prince of Wales' Fund was never intended for such a purpose. That the care of the wounded should be left to philanthropic institutions was very largely in the minds of certain members of that Committee, whereas some others were 921 determined that, for the first time in the history of this country, there should be a determined effort made to put this duty solely upon the State and not upon charity. In the very forefront of the Report of that Committee it was stated that the primary duty of looking after those who have been broken as a result of their allegiance to their King and country should be with the country, and that the country should discharge its obligations towards them. I do not believe that the country, as a whole, will respond with charitable contributions for a purpose and a duty that is the duty of the State alone.
It is not only a question of the pensions. There is a duty devolving upon the State with regard to the men who come back from the front with their nerves shattered as a result of the ordeals through which they have gone. These men ought not to be left to charity and the charitable. It is the duty of the State to do everything that is humanly possible to bring them back to their former condition, and should there be a recurrence of their attacks, again and again the State should do its duty by them and not leave them helpless, thrown upon their friends, or to be the care of any charitable institution. We have been shocked to see veterans of the Crimean war with their medals on their breasts begging either at the works gates, at the gates of a football match, or elsewhere. Do not let us have these things as a result of the present War. It will be so if this matter is to be left to the donations of the charitable, or to the raiding of the Prince of Wales' Fund, instead of being taken up by the nation as a national duty. I hope that the Government will even yet show more than intention. If my memory serves me right, in a certain Bill relating to Scotland, they inserted words saying that they were going to give a certain donation. Let the Government start right off by declaring how much money they are going to give to us, so that this institution get a fair start. Instead of my hon. Friend (Mr. Price) or the Committee who dealt with this matter being criticised for having suggested that one committee should deal with the question of pensions as well as the matters dealt with by them, surely they should be lauded for it. It is less expensive and less cumbrous to have one committee than a duplication of committees. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is the Bill!"] Yes; but my main point is, that you should discharge your duty to the men who have 922 done everything for their country, instead of leaving it to the donations of the charitable.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I would point out to hon. Members that the Debate has gone far beyond the point at issue. The point at issue is whether the statutory Committee is to make provision for the care of disabled officers and men, including provision for their training and employment. That is the only point. There is no question before the House as to how the funds are to be supplied for those purposes.
§ Mr. G. THORNE
I was just going to emphasise the very point which you, Sir, have been good enough to put to the House. I notice a very important distinction. While I have listened to my hon. Friend (Mr. C. Price), and practically entirely agree with all he has said, what he has said, to my mind so far as I understand the Bill, emphasises the necessity of voting for the retention of this paragraph. Clause 3 sets up the functions of the statutory Committee. The functions impose a duty. It is not something they may do, but something they must do. I notice a very serious distinction, which carries very strong significance, between that and the words in paragraphs (c) and (d). Under those paragraphs their duties areout of funds at their disposal,and so on. The uttermost limits of what they can do are absolutely described in those paragraphs. In the paragraph immediately before us no such words of limitation appear. The paragraph provides that they areto make provision for the care of disabled officers and men after they have left the Service, including provision for their health, training, and employment.That casts upon them a statutory duty. They have to fulfil their duty. If they cannot fulfil their duty it is their absolute statutory duty to come back to this House to ask for the requisite funds to carry it out. The responsibility being thrown upon them, it seems a vital thing at this stage and under these conditions not to lose the chance of making it a statutory obligation upon them to make provision for these men.
§ Mr. ANEURIN WILLIAMS
It would be very regrettable if the impression created by the speech of the hon. Member for the Gorton Division (Mr. Hodge) with 923 regard to disabled men were to go forward without somebody pointing out that there is no question of these men having to beg at street corners. Every one of these men, if he is totally disabled, will receive 25s. a week, and there is also to be an allowance for the children. What is proposed by this paragraph is that in addition to that the statutory Committee should have the duty of making some provision for the health, training, and employment of these disabled men over and above the 25s. per week and the half-crowns for their children.
§ Question, "That paragraph (i) stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Pratt) [in Sub-section (1), paragraph (i), after the word "provision," to insert the words "out of moneys to be provided by Parliament"], is out of order.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert a new paragraph,(j) to make grants in special cases for the purpose of enabling widows, children, and other dependants of deceased officers and men to obtain employment.My right hon. Friend the Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson) in Committee put down an Amendment providing that the statutory body should have power to make provision for the training and employment of widows, children, and dependants of deceased officers and men. I was obliged to resist that Amendment. I thought it was too great a duty, which entailed too great an expense, to cast upon the statutory body. If those words were inserted, the statutory body would be compelled to make provision for the employment of all the children of all the deceased officers and men, and there is no limit as to time. They would have to make provision for tens of thousands of children of deceased officers and men, and that would be extending the financial obligations of this statutory Committee for fifty or sixty years, or even longer. That is far too great a duty and far too expensive an obligation to cast upon the statutory body. While I objected to that I have been thinking about the matter, and I think I may safely propose the words I now suggest. I am willing to meet my right hon. friend so far. The 924 words would mean that special grants might be made for special forms of education and special forms of training—for instance, to enable the widow to be trained to become a midwife or a child to be trained to go on the stage if she has a very good voice and could make use of that voice in some professional vocation. Provision could also be made for apprenticeship and outfits, and grants could be made for migration and emigration. I can speak from personal experience in connection with the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation, which spends a large part of its money very profitably in giving some special form of education or training, or providing outfit or for apprenticeship, which fits either a widow or a child or a dependant for some occupation in which the person can earn very often a very good living. That is a power which might well be granted to this Committee.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I beg to move, after the word "obtain," to insert the words "training and."
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for meeting me to this extent, but I must say I think he has not gone far enough. I put down this Amendment in order to meet the demand of a committee outside which has been watching over this matter very carefully, especially from the point of view of women, who desire very much indeed that there should be powers in the hands of this statutory Committee for training young widows. My right hon. Friend has just practically accepted that position, because he says he is willing that they should take such steps as are necessary for training, so as to obtain employment, but he has cut out the word "training," and I cannot help thinking it would be far better to include the word "training," and I should like to move to insert the words "training and employment." If really is an important part of it in order to qualify these young widows, and some children perhaps, to obtain any particular kind of employment. If he omits the word "training" it will not carry out what both he and I desire.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I will accept those words. I intended in my observations and in the Amendment to cover them.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment agreed to.
§ Proposed words, as amended, inserted in the Bill.925
§ Mr. KING
I beg to move, to leave out the words "relating to funds, accounts and audit."
A good deal is to be said for this from the point of view of drafting and clearness, especially when one looks at it in connection with the Act of 1903. It is not clear from the wording of this phrase which I propose to omit whether it refers to the paragraph or to the Schedule, and if you look at the Act itself these words are only to be found in certain paragraphs in the Schedule. I believe nothing will be lost and a good deal of clearness will be gained by omitting the words.
§ Amendment not seconded.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
I beg to move, in Sub-section (4), to leave out the words "included in the annual report made by the Corporation to His Majesty," and to insert instead thereof the words "presented to Parliament."
There is an important distinction between my proposition and that contained in the Bill. If the proposal of the Bill be carried, this very important statutory Committee will publish a Report of its proceedings subsidiary to the report of a much smaller body, and this will be presented to His Majesty. But the work of this statutory Committee will overshadow entirely the work of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation, and now that this statutory Committee is to concern itself with training and employment its functions are so important that its Report will be of a most important and far-reaching character. I suggest that it had better come as an independent document for the consideration of this House, apart altogether from any association with the minor matter, comparatively speaking, and that we should be allowed to have this by itself, apart from the Corporation, and be allowed to discuss it on its presentation to Parliament.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
I beg to second the Amendment, and I think there is substance in it. It is much better that the Report of the statutory Committee should be presented to Parliament in place of being embodied in the Report of the Corporation to His Majesty. Parliament should have some control over this Committee and should consider its Report. If the Report will come to Parliament it is all right, but I think it should come to Parliament quite apart from the Report of the Corporation.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I imagine that the real object of this Amendment, after all, is to secure an opportunity to this House to discuss the Report fully. That is what we are all aiming at. The House will not get any nearer that object by having two reports, one from the old Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation and the other from the new statutory body. The Report of the old Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation is already presented to His Majesty, and as a Command Paper is presented to this House and circulated to every Member. I do not see any advantage in accepting the Amendment. What hon. Members who are really interested in what the Report is going to contain have to do is to see that the Prime Minister of the day gives a full opportunity to the House to discuss the contents of the Report. That can either be done on the salary of the vice-chairman, or by asking for a day to discuss the Report, or possibly in some other way. This Amendment does not bring us one moment nearer that time when we shall have an opportunity of discussing the Report. I should accept it if it did. At any rate, I see no good reason for making the change asked for in this Amendment, but at the same time I am in hearty sympathy and will use any influence I have to secure a proper and adequate time for a full discussion on the Report of the statutory body.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
My recollection was that on the occasion of this question being raised on the Committee stage, my right hon. Friend gave an undertaking that the Report would be issued at a time when it could be discussed in Parliament on the Vote for the chairman's salary. The hon. Member's object will thus be secured.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I beg to move, at end of Clause, to add,(5) Pending the appointment of a local committee or sub-committee for any area, the statutory Committee may make arrangements with any organisation for the performance within that area by the organisation of the functions of the local committee mentioned in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c), of Section 4 of this Act.We are half-way through July, and the probability is that this statutory body will come into being some time in August, that it will be found exceedingly difficult to appoint local committees in that month, and that to get them properly appointed 927 we shall have to wait until September. Meanwhile, it is most important that there should be no dropping of the work at present being carried on, and well carried on as a rule, by the 900 branches of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, and the various local relief committees, and that it should be carried on until the new local bodies get set on foot. Therefore I propose these words to empower the statutory body to employ all existing organisations to carry on the work pending the appointment of the various local committees, which I trust will be done without delay, and which I cannot help thinking would be better done probably in September than in August if we are to get the right people.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
I just wish to make a suggestion. Some of us think this temporary arrangement should be for a limited period. There is an absolute obligation on the part of the statutory Committee to see that a local committee shall be established for every county and every county borough. Some of us think that if this new Amendment is put into the Bill some of the local authorities in all probability will be lax in bringing their scheme into operation. If the right hon. Gentleman will agree, after the word "arrangement," to add the words, "for a period of six months," that will meet us.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
County councils meet mainly in October and in January. One can imagine that after conference arising from the October meetings it might need to be discussed at their January meetings. At the same time I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will see that the fixing of a date which is not an unreasonably early one would indicate to the public that it is a purely temporary matter. Could he not say six or even nine months?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I hope the hon. Members will not insert either six or nine months. I expect all these local committees to be appointed long before six months, and if you put six months into the Bill it will be an excuse for some of them to delay their procedure. The words "pending the appointment of a local committee" are quite safe.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
I should like to suggest to either of the Government Departments that they should, as in the case of the Education Act, 1902, send a circular to all the local authorities, pointing out 928 their duties in this respect. I think that is a very important factor, because under the Act of 1902 there was a similar scheme to be drafted by each authority, and the Local Government Board and the Board of Education sent out a circular to each county council and each borough council explaining their powers under the Act. In this case I think it would facilitate very much the appointment of these committees if a similar circular was issued.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. King) is out of Order, because it might increase the Grants.
§ Sir C. NICHOLSON
I beg to move a new Sub-section,
"(5) For the purpose of enabling the statutory Committee to discharge their functions the Admiralty and the War Office shall, on request, supply the statutory Committee with such particulars as they may require with regard to any payment made by them to any officer, sailor, marine, soldier, widow, child, or dependant, and the statutory Committee shall duly communicate all such similar information to any charitable body intimately interested in the case of any officer, sailor, marine, soldier, widow, child, or dependant."
I do not need to add much to what I said earlier in the proceedings on this subject. It is important that this statutory Committee should be the central clearing house for any information in dealing with these cases. I understand that the Admiralty and the War Office have expressed their willingness to give this information to the statutory Committee, and it is necessary that the statutory Committee should have a similar obligation put upon their shoulders of communicating information as to what they are doing to any charitable body who may apply for it for the purpose of dealing with any particular case.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
Can the Government include in this or in any other way, dealing with a point raised in Committee, provision enabling the statutory Committee to become aware of what the private trusts are doing in regard to these beneficiaries, because, when they are settling the amount of any grant or deciding to spend supplementary money, it is of the highest importance that they should know what these people are receiving from charitable trusts which are applicable to their cases, otherwise you may have in any town or neighbourhood in the country some persons getting far more in respect of their position as dependants of soldiers and sailors than others, and getting it because they are receiving from private trusts funds which are unknown to the members of the statutory Committee or the local committee?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I could not accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Sir R. Adkins) when he moved it on the Committee stage because it made it mandatory, not only on the part of the Government offices but on the part of those who were trustees for public and private funds, to give this information. Now he is trying again to get that into the Amendment. That is quite impossible. It would be impossible to make it mandatory on the trustees of private funds to give that information. We hope that they would give the information, because there is a class of person going about who tries to get everything from everybody without disclosing anything to anybody. That is what we want to stop if we can. It seems to me to be quite reasonable for my hon. Friend (Sir C. Nicholson) who moved this Amendment to ask that the War Office and the Admiralty should both give all the information which is available to them in connection with applications for supplementary pensions. I think they would have done that even if the words had not been put in the Bill. I have no objection to accept these words limiting it in the way in which they have been limited in the Amendment in its present form as now moved on the Report stage. I would communicate with my right hon. Friend at the War Office and with my light hon. Friend who represents the Admiralty, and who is now present (Dr. Macnamara), and see if they have any objection to the form of words used in the Amendment. I do not think they will have any objection. I need hardly say that the second part of the Amendment 930 also is acceptable, namely, that the statutory body should on all occasions give to any bonâ-fideperson who is seeking information for a bonâfide purpose all useful knowledge as to anything the statutory body have done or is ready to do in the case of a particular application, so that they may be able to discover fraud and prevent overlapping.
§ Proposed words inserted in the Bill.