§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—[Mr. McKenna.]
§ Mr. HOGGE
The scope of this Bill practically means that we are having a reconstructed Royal Patriotic Fund in operation, and, though there might be other alternative methods by which those funds could be administered, still as the Government have agreed that a more democratic and widely extended patriotic fund will meet the case we need not occupy the time of the House to-day in suggesting any alternative body to whom those powers might be committed. Some of us have views on that, but as this Bill is in type and the Government are agreed upon it we do not think it worth opening up the matter now. Therefore my remarks will be confined to the Bill as it is printed. The first Clause provided that twenty-six persons, who are to make up this new corporation, shall include a minimum of women representatives. I think that the Government might consider whether that minimum is too small, and whether it might not be increased. The bulk of those pensions will be paid to widow's or female dependants of soldiers or sailors who are killed during the War, and therefore presumably, if the women can be obtained, they are in a better position than the majority of men to determine how far those pensions should be paid and to what amount, especially as regards the supplementary portion. Of the twenty-six members the minimum number of women allowed is only four. If my right hon. Friend will consider this point it may lead to a concession of considerable value.
The House will be glad to observe that the salaries of the chairman, and possibly 1833 the vice-chairman, if that is considered necessary, will be upon the Consolidated Fund. That is an excellent suggestion while the House is engaged as we are at the moment in discussing purely war proposals. But, when we return, as we hope we shall speedily return, to more normal times, the Consolidated Fund Bill is used in the House of Commons by the Whips on either side for the discussion of business which cannot always come up, and the discussion of the Consolidated Fund Bill in ordinary times rather takes the form of a field day in the House. I desire to suggest that it might be possible to create an opportunity whereby the annual discussion of the distribution of those pensions might come more regularly before the House of Commons. I do not know whether it could not be done on the Army or Navy Votes instead of on the Consolidated Fund Bill, which, in normal times, is confined to one Bill. This year we are having several Consolidated Fund Bills, but in normal times there is only one. I think perhaps that it is limiting the occasion too much. Then, coming to Sub-section (6), page 2, I am not sure that the number of the quorum which is necessary for the statutory Committee is large enough. Members will observe that five Members of this statutory Committee of the twenty-six who are to form the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation are to form a quorum. Five is less than one-fifth of the whole of those members. There are on the statutory Committee more than five officials of various Government Departments—one from the Treasury, one from the Admiralty, one from the Army Council, one from the Local Government Board, one from the Local Government Board for Scotland, and one from the Local Government Board for Ireland. That is to say that the quorum might possibly be made up of none but officials of Government Departments. I think that that ought to be remedied. Twenty-six is the full number of the Committee. I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that they ought to increase the five to nine. I do not take any specific number, but if you keep to five it would be possible for the affairs of this Committee to be controlled entirely by the officials of Government Departments. I think, in the interests of people who are to derive those pensions, that it is advisable to increase the quorum, so that they may be sure on every occasion that a certain number of officials other than members shall be present.
1834 Then with regard to Sub-section (7), the term of office of a member of the statutory Committee is to be three years, and the retiring members shall be eligible for re-election. I would point out that this provision, precisely as it stands, would break the continuity of policy of that Committee. If you make it compulsory that every member of the new Committee shall retire at the end of three years, it is conceivable, though not probable, that the membership of that Committee might be entirely changed. I suggest to my right hon. Friend that in Sub-section (7) he might very reasonably make an arrangement by which one-third of the Committee might retire every year after serving three years, so that there would always be one-third of the Committee who had a knowledge of its continuous policy, and anything which was required in the way of stimulus from outside might be secured in the new third being re-elected. I hope that Sub-section (8) of the same Clause does not mean that we are in for a very large crop of new officials. It is suggested that you may employ a secretary, an assistant secretary, clerks, and servants, and also that there may be a scheme of pensions for those persons. I do hope that this Committee will not create more officials than are absolutely necessary, and that a minimum number of persons will be engaged to conduct this business. I would suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is saving so much money at the present moment, that, at any rate, at the commencement, the work of this Committee will be large. After it has been settled for some time, the work will become routine in character in a large number of cases, and I trust that in the establishment of a pensions scheme for the people engaged in that work—for, as in the establishment of the insurance scheme for the country, a large number of people will be required at the beginning but will not be continued—the Chancellor of the Exchequer will take care that only the minimum number required to carry this scheme through, looking at the fact that in future the work will be routine, should be put on the pension list.
I now come to Clause 2 of the Bill, in regard to the establishment of local committees. I have a point to raise, and it is one upon which other Members also feel strongly. By Sub-section (2) it is proposed to set up new local committees for the purpose of aiding in the localities 1835 what the statutory Committee is doing at the centre. There, again, there is an arrangement for members of the Committee, to consist of members of city and borough councils, and the minimum number of women included is to be not less than two. I hope that a larger number of women will be put on the Committee, because they are the very kind of persons who can assist the Committee determining whether supplementary pensions ought to be given. But why have a new Committee at all? You have in our localities at present the Pensions Committees dealing with old age pensions. I myself have served on one of those committees in my municipality, where there were at least two city councillors from each ward sitting on the old age pensions committee There were also co-opted members from the city who were interested in the administration of schemes similar to this. Why create new Committees, which, as the House will observe, require new officials, when there are already in existence the Pensions Committees engaged with just such another work, and which could do well and ably the work which is now required. On those committees are the very type of persons you are going to ask to come on to these local committees for the purpose of administering these pensions and allowances. I do suggest that this is a point in which the Bill might be improved.
Then as regards Clause 3, I have one or two words to say. I think Clause 3 is important from the point of view of the administration of these pensions. The House will remember that we have accepted in spirit, and I gather from the form of this Bill—I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will correct me if I am wrong—that we have also accepted the decision of the Committee, and that we cannot increase or decrease the sums allowed for separation allowances to dependants, and of pensions for the widows of our soldiers and sailors. If you look at paragraph (b) of the Clause I think you will find I am right. May I ask whether I am right in assuming that we are not entitled under the form of this Bill to deal with the sums that are given, and that these are permanently fixed under the Report of the Committee which we have accepted.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I think my hon. Friend is mistaken. So far as the actual amounts of pensions and allowances are concerned, those are the sums to be actually paid.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I wanted to obtain that clearly, and to be quite sure about it. Clause 3 says, "The functions of the Statutory Committee are to frame a scheme of supplementary Grants." I hope that in the course of the Debate the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes Fisher) will deal with this point, and will give the House some indication of what is precisely meant by these supplementary Grants. We have a large variety of pensioners to consider. We have, for instance, the widows and children of men who have served in the ranks, or of able-bodied seamen of the Navy, who gave up a very great deal to go to the War, and whose people are left in a very unfortunate position. We have also this fact to bear in mind, that, according to the figures given us by the Pensions Committee, whatever is paid to the widow of a soldier, or sailor, or rather whatever is given to the widow of a soldier or sailor, is different according to whether she resides in London, in the provinces, or in the country. I have called attention to the point before in the House of Commons, that in dealing with the pensions, it is perfectly obvious that the widow of an agricultural labourer who had served, or of anybody in a country district who had served, is so many shillings better off per week than the widow of a soldier in a provincial town. In London there is a special provision of an extra 3s. 6d. per week for rent, and therefore the case of the widow in London is perhaps not so difficult as that of the widow in a provincial town—big towns like Manchester, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, where the widow is going to be 2s. 6d. or 3s. a week worse off than the widow of an agricultural labourer. I do hope that on any discussion which is to follow the reply from the Front Bench will give us some indication that these things will be taken into consideration by the Committee, and will receive sympathetic consideration. On Sub-section (d) of the Clause, which deals with Grants in cases where no separation allowances or pensions are payable out of the public 1837 funds, I should like my right hon. Friend to take special note of this fact, and that he will give me if he can a specific answer. Just look at the phraseology of that Section. They are, "To make Grants in cases where no separation allowances or pensions are payable out of public funds." Does that mean that as soon as this Bill passes all its stages in the House that the new Patriotic Fund is to be the authority who will determine, so long as the War lasts, cases for separation allowance that cannot be dealt with by Army Order? Is that right?
§ Mr. HOGGE
Many of us in this House are interested in this question. I have raised a particularly hard case, and without going into the whole facts of it again, I would merely point out that a young man joined the Army, but did not take the separation allowance because his father was alive. While serving, his father died, and his mother then required the separation allowance. Under the Army Order Regulations now, though the lad is serving his country, his mother cannot get the separation allowance. I think everybody will agree that this is hard lines. If the Government are not going to deal with that themselves by Army Order, then the sooner this body gets to work in dealing with cases of that kind the more satisfaction will be given to Members of this House. I wish to call my right hon. Friend's attention to paragraph (i), which 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." Another specific question on which I should like to be clear is this: Am I to understand that paragraph (i) means that the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation, as reconstituted under this Bill, is going to take it over and put into operation the Report of the Committee appointed by the President of the Local Government Board upon the provision of employment for sailors and soldiers disabled in the War? Can my right hon. Friend say if that is so?
§ Mr. HOGGE
I think that is very important, because my right hon. Friend will remember that the summary of the Committee's recommendations was that in regard to soldiers and sailors disabled during the War provision for them was a duty to be assumed by the State. Secondly, 1838 that the duty should include the restoration of a man to health, the provision of training facilities if he desires a new employment, and the finding of employment for him if he stands in need of such assistance; thirdly, for the discharge of those duties, that a Central Committee should be appointed to act through the agency of the public Department, or independently as may be decided; and, fourthly, that the Central Committee should have the assistance of sub-committees in Ireland and Scotland, and so on. Does this Subsection (i) mean that this is going to be the Central Committee referred to in this Report?
§ Mr. HOGGE
I am only endeavouring to elicit the information in order to see exactly what is included in the Sub-section. There is only one other remark I desire to make about that Sub-section. Are you quite sure you have taken all the powers you want? You have paragraphs from (a) to (i) and why not say at the end of the Clause "and any other relevant matters," and not tie yourselves down when there are other incidental things relating to the work of this Committee which will arise? I know that paragraph (g) includes amongst the functions of the CommitteeTo determine any other question in relation to pensions or grants or separation allowances which may be referred to the Committee by the Admiralty or Army Council.Do you think those powers are wide enough? I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the wider the powers of this Committee are the better, and therefore I suggest to him to take a note of the point and see that he gets all the power he wants. Sub-section (4) of Clause 3 provides that a statutory Committee shall each year make a Report of their proceedings which shall be included in the Annual Report made by the corporation to His Majesty. Will that Report be a Parliamentary Paper distributed to Members in the same way as other Parliamentary Papers, because obviously if the salary of the chairman and that of the 1839 vice-chairman are placed on the Consolidated Fund, thus enabling questions to be raised in Parliament, then these Reports should also be available. I do not propose to make any comment on Clause 4, although there are some things that strike me in it, but I do not want to take all the time of the House. Section 5 provides that any lord mayor or mayor or lord provost or provost who is a member of the corporation is to be appointed. Is that necessary? After all, is not the man who is lord mayor or lord provost of a city one of the busiest men in the city council? Is he not a figurehead for many purposes, and why put him on a committee on which he does not want to be? I have served under quite a number of lord mayors, and I have always found that while they are lord mayors they cannot take any interest in any committee, since they have got all the city work to do. Why then rope them in, and why not make the person to be appointed the chairman of the pensions committee or someone of that kind? Subsection (2) of Clause 5 provides for the co-option of as many members as thirteen by the corporation. Is that the local corporation or the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Hayes Fisher)
That refers to the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Clause 1, Sub-section (1), refers to the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation, "hereinafter referred to as the Corporation."
§ Mr. HOGGE
In what I have said I thought it better to put these points than to discuss anything further generally on the Bill. I believe that the sooner we get some body set up and at work the better. There are a great many people in the country whose relatives have been killed in the War to whom a separation allowance is being continued as a pension. These people are very anxious to be put on a satisfactory footing and to get a pension. Then there are a great many people who have been receiving separation allowances as dependants, and they are not sure whether they are entitled to pensions or not. They are still getting a separation allowance. It may be the case of a sister or an aunt or a stepmother to whom the man has made an allotment. 1840 I am perfectly certain that the country wants to be satisfied as soon as possible that the Government is looking after the interests of the relatives of our men who have been killed at the front, and therefore I have confined my criticism to what I hope may be found to be helpful to the Committee.
§ Mr. McKENNA
My hon. Friend who has just spoken has, I am sure, in the course of his speech displayed a very wide knowledge of the circumstances of the case which this Bill proposes to meet. If I do not follow him through the various matters which he has mentioned I hope he will understand it is not because I am not anxious to reply immediately to him, but because I do not on the present occasion propose to make a speech at all. On a former occasion, introducing the Report of the Select Committee, I outlined the scheme of the present Bill, and I gathered then that the general opinion of the House was in favour of some scheme of the kind. In speaking on that occasion I told the House that the Select Committee had founded their scheme largely upon the evidence brought before them by my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes Fisher), the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, who sits next to me. It is quite true that the scheme which he proposed to the Committee was a much-larger one, but the Committee, while seeing a great deal in his larger scheme to recommend it, were unanimously of opinion that at the present time and under present circumstances it would be impossible to get such a large scheme as he proposed set going. The present scheme, therefore, while modelled upon his proposal, does not embody all his ideas, and, indeed, in one or two respects runs rather counter to his proposal. When I spoke on the Report of the Select Committee my right hon. Friend then accepted the modified scheme proposed by the Committee. He was on that occasion sitting opposite, and he then expressed his willingness to assist us in every way in his power, although the scheme was not fully his scheme, in making the then proposals of the Committee a success. I am fortunate enough now to have my right hon. Friend sitting next me on this bench, and in consequence I think it would be most desirable that he should take the more active part in any reply as to the details of this measure. By that arrangement, while allowing the opportunity for some other labours and saving time, the House would 1841 have the advantage of being replied to by a Minister with a more detailed knowledge of the work of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation than anybody else. He is vice-president and chairman of the Executive Committee, and as this is a Bill to set up a statutory Committee of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation, I am sure the House will agree that it is best to leave the discussion of the details in the right hon. Gentleman's hands, and that course I venture to adopt.
§ Colonel YATE
The statutory Committee is to look after the pensions both of officers and men, and two representatives of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association have been appointed on the Committee. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to take the question of officers into consideration, and to appoint to this Committee two representatives of the Officers' Families Fund so that they can keep the Committee informed of the present wants and needs of the families of officers? The Officers' Families Fund has had great experience during the South African war and the present War of the special needs and requirements of the families of officers. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will give some special representation on the Committe to that body. There is the further point, and that is, I suggest that some provision should be made in this Bill that the pensions allotted to officers and men, in the event of any further service being required by the State from those officers and men, should not be liable to confiscation, or to consideration of any appointments that are given to those men.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
While I think that the subject could not be left in better hands than those of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes Fisher), I regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should withdraw from this discussion and not follow criticisms which undoubtedly will be of value I think to him and to the Government with regard to this Bill. I rejoice that this Bill has been brought forward at the present time, and I think it ought to have been brought forward long ago. There are arrears waiting at the War Office which require immediate treatment and which cannot be attended to until this new body is constituted, and even then I can foresee that some time will elapse before that body gets into operation. I notice that the Committee stage is put 1842 down to follow immediately on Second Reading. I must press the Government not to take the Committee stage to-day. If they do we shall have no opportunity of putting down Amendments.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I am glad that we shall have the opportunity of putting down Amendments which we require. I do not object to bringing in the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation, and I agree with my right hon. Friend that it is, perhaps, the best body to deal with the subject, but I do hope that some means will be found whereby the very important questions that will be decided by this corporation will come under the purview of Parliament. We never had a problem of such magnitude before to deal with, and I think it is regrettable that the whole of the administration of pensions under this Bill is going to be withdrawn from this House and handed over entirely to the statutory Committee of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation. I rather wish to refer to one particular branch of this question. It is one with which I have been intimately connected, because for the last few weeks I have acted as chairman of a Committee set up by the War Office for the purpose of adjudicating on questions of separation allowances to be made to dependants. The question of separation allowances and pensions to dependants is a much more difficult question than that of allowances to wives or pensions to widows. Wives have a definite amount allowed to them, and widows are to have a fixed amount, subject to a certain latitude given to the Royal Patriotic Fund to increase the amount in suitable cases. Allowances and pensions to dependants hang upon totally different considerations. Every case has to be considered on its merits, and no one except those who have been engaged in this particular work can realise the difficulties of fixing the amount which represents the proper compensation for dependants.
I do not know whether Members realise the actual problem which presents itself in regard to dependants. We have not only to give separation allowances to dependants, but we have to decide what amount will put the family in approximately the same degree of comfort that they were in before. I will give a simple 1843 illustration to show how difficult a question this is. Suppose you have a family of four people where the soldier has been paying into the common stock 15s. per week. Suppose that that family, by reason of the earning capacity of the other members, has had a total income of 60s. a week. That brings out an average of 15s. a head. Therefore, as the soldier had been bringing in 15s., the dependants' allowance would probably be nothing, or near to nothing. The mother would get nothing because the man would be supposed to have been consuming to the extent of 15s. and bringing in the same amount. Now take the case of a poorer family, in which the soldier's contribution has been 15s. and there is another contribution of 10s., making a total of 25s. In order to place that family in the same degree of comfort, you have to realise that the man was actually contributing something to the maintenance of the rest of the family. As a rule, we should find that particular case would be assessed at 8s. or 9s. a week. There you have two instances, showing the immense difficulty of settling not only what the dependants should have as separation allowances, but what should be given when it comes to a question of pensions, because in the one case the mother would get no pension, and in the other she would get a pension based on the particular sum of 8s. or 9s. That is only typical of thousands of cases occurring all over the country every day, which have to be adjudicated upon by the various pension officers or committees.
That does not exhaust the question of how dependants' separation allowances are to be turned into dependants' pensions, because a widow may very properly be given 10s. a week for life by reason of her husband's death, but when a son dies it does not at all follow that you are entitled to give the mother a pension equivalent in amount to the separation allowance. A mother expects her son to marry, and to go out into life. There would be no justice in giving a pension equivalent to the amount allotted as separation allowance. The House will realise that it is a question not only of mothers, but of fathers, brothers and sisters. All these people are now receiving separation allowances upon a system laid down by Parliament, namely, that they shall be put into a position of approximately the same degree of comfort as that in which they were before the man 1844 went to the War. All these people ought to stand in a totally different position when it comes to a question of pension. What I find in the Bill is that the Government have absolutely shirked this question. It has been shirked all along, until at the present moment it has disappeared altogether. In their first Report, paragraph 13, the Select Committee state:—Pensions to dependants cannot be settled by fixed rules, but must, to a large extent, be dealt with on the merits of each individual case. We propose that some body, either an existing organisation, reorganised and strengthened, or a new body to be specially created for the purpose, should have discretion to frame schemes for pensions or grants to dependants on the expiration of the twenty-six weeks allowance from the notification of death. The general aim of such a scheme should be to secure to the dependants, so far as may be possible, approximately the benefit they receive from the deceased sailor or soldier during his lifetime, subject to the proviso that the amount awarded shall not, in the case of any dependant, exceed the amount of a widow's pension.That was the line of suggestion, which, as I have already said, I think, was mistaken. When the matter came to be considered on a second occasion, all that was reported is in paragraph four of the second Report, where it is stated the functions of the statutory Committee should be mainly as follows:—First, to decide questions of fact, in regard to pensions payable out of public funds to dependants other than wives and children. The scale of payment to such dependants will be determined by the finding of the Committee, and the payment itself will be made, as in the case of separation allowances and all other pensions payable out of funds provided by the State, direct by the naval and military authorities.That points out, first of all, that the decision of questions of fact in regard to pensions would be one of the functions of the statutory Committee, and that the scale of payment to such dependants would be determined by the finding of the Committee. As far as I am able to understand, the Bill only refers to this question of dependants in Clause 3, Sub-section (1) (a), where it is stated that
"the functions of the statutory Committee shall be 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."
The statutory Committee of the Royal Patriotic Fund will decide questions of fact upon which the determination of the amount of pensions rests—that is to say, questions of fact as to what relation existed between the man and his family, the amount of money that he contributed, and so forth. But the real question which lies at the root of it all, namely, upon what 1845 basis, or upon what scale these pensions are going to be settled for all time, as far as I can see, is not referred to in the Bill. We are no further forward at all, so far as I understand the Bill. I may be wrong. The Secretary to the Admiralty (Dr. Macnamara) indicates that I am right. If I am right, this very difficult question of the system upon which these pensions are to be based, is left to nobody, or else to the Government, or to the Departments to settle without any reference to Parliament If that is so, the whole question of the granting of pensions upon a totally new system, a system not known in this country, or, I believe, in any part of the world, a system under which pensions are to be paid to relations who are not widows or children, is going to be left entirely to the War Office and the Admiralty to decide. I submit that that is not at all the right course to adopt in relation to a financial matter of any magnitude, least of all to one of the magnitude which this will undoubtedly be, because we shall be dealing with claims involving hundreds of thousands of pounds
Clause 2 deals with the constitution of local committees. My experience of this work is, that you are bound to have local committees of some kind; but they must be very closely supervised by a central authority The system will be satisfactory or not according as it is administered on some uniform principle all over the country. You will not have the same figures, but you must have the same uniform system; and you cannot get that uniform system unless the arrangements made are subject to the supervision, and the very close supervision, of some central authority. I do not know why—I think some good reason ought to be given—the old age pensions committees are being absolutely ignored. I have seen a good deal of the results of their work. Many of the committees certainly have devoted an immense amount of time and responsible attention to their duties; others, I can only say, have not. From many parts of the country, I quite agree, we have had most ridiculous proposals. But these committees certainly have experience, and they know what they are about. Under this Bill—if I may speak specially of London—there are to be new committees appointed by the borough councils. I think it is a mistake. In London the pensions committee is a committee of the whole county. It is undoubtedly a great deal of experience. My right 1846 hon. Friend (Mr. Hayes Fisher) knows its work much better than I do, because he has been in touch with it on the county council recently, since I left that body. As far as I have been able to see its work in connection with the particular branch in which I have been interested lately, it has given a great deal of attention to the subject, and has dealt with this difficult question with great ability. Perhaps the most difficult work of any in the Kingdom is the work that they are doing in London, where the circumstances of individuals are so difficult to ascertain.
I certainly think, if you are going to have a committee in London, it should be one committee for the whole county. I do not think you gain anything by having committees of the borough councils. I quite agree that you get more local knowledge, but it is not so much local knowledge that you want. You want a knowledge of London life, and you want the work to be systematised. I do not think you will systematise it if you hand it over to various committees formed by the borough councils. I have no doubt my right hon. Friend will have some arguments to put forward in favour of that particular proposal. I merely suggest that in my opinion it is a mistake, and I hope that it may be reconsidered before the Committee stage. Those are the only points of importance which occur to me. We have only had the Bill in our hands this morning, and it is difficult to form an opinion as to how it will operate in detail. As I have already said, I warmly welcome it, now that it has at last appeared, and I hope it will be passed into law. I only ask that when we get to the Committee stage the Government will consider any proposals for improvements in detail which may be put forward by Members in different parts of the House.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I confess to a great disappointment in this Bill. So far as I can see, the only people who are going to get money out of the Bill are the chairman and vice-chairman to be appointed. I am not going to discuss public bodies or the form of them. They may or may not be improved upon. Speaking generally, I have great confidence in their desire and endeavour to do justice; therefore I do not propose to say a word about them. But I turn to Clause 3, which is really the only important Section, in my view, of this Bill. This Clause gives the powers and states the functions of the 1847 statutory Committee, which, I note, is to be constituted a statutory Committee of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation. I put to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury a question on this point only a few days ago. I asked him, in relation to a man who had lost both a leg and an arm, and who was then receiving 1s. per day, when he had his proper pension. The Financial Secretary answered me that nothing could be done until effect was given to the recommendations of the Committee.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Dr. Macnamara)
He is being paid under the old scale, and he will get payment under the new scale as from March 1st.
§ Mr. HOHLER
The Financial Secretary is speaking a little too soon. He said that nothing could be done as to the man's pension until effect had been given to this Bill and the statutory Committee appointed.
§ Mr. HOHLER
Clause 3, Sub-section (1), paragraph (a), of the Bill contains the only functions, so far as I can see, of importance that will be given to the statutory Committee—that is(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 a child, may depend.That is the only function that I can find in this Bill given to the statutory Committee, which is to be set up by the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation. Observe, it does not deal with the case of wounded men. It does not deal with the case of the widow or child. They are specially excepted. It only gives it a function in regard to the amount which is payable to the dependant. Before we get to that point the condition on which the amount is payable is to be determined cither by the Admiralty or the Army Council. That is to say, supposing there is a dependant; before he can come before this Committee at all, the Admiralty have to decide the precedent conditions, and whether or not he is entitled to a pension of any sort or kind All then that the statutory Committee have to do is to determine the amount.
1848 If, in fact, the Admiralty or the Army Council refuses to grant it, then the man can never come before the statutory Committee to allow them to review the decision. All he can come for to the statutory Committee under this Bill is simply the question of amount, while the whole importance of the matter to the dependant is to ascertain the right to the pension, and not for the moment so much the question of the amount. Look at the rest of this Clause. The statutory Committee do not get a halfpenny from the Crown. Look at what paragraph (b) sets out. It provides that they may frame regulations for supplementary grants, but not out of public funds. If the statutory Committee frame regulations, and say, we think that such and such increased grants should be given, they will find—on reading later Sub-sections—as I will point out in a moment—that they have to provide that increase either out of funds given by the charitable, or I should prefer to say, the benevolent, public; otherwise the Bill is waste paper. Paragraph (b) says:—(b) To frame a scale of 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.So you see public funds are necessary before supplementary grants can be given. The statutory Committee may say that they think that pensioners ought to have more. They will then have to turn round and say, "We have nothing to pay." It is illusory. Again, there is the important question of the aftermath of this War, when people begin to forget about it and the feeling of doing our duty to our soldiers and sailors is not so apparent as it ought to be. How then are these supplementary grants to be got? The Sub-section simply introduces words with a view to co-ordinating or giving one rule throughout the country for the amount of supplementary allowances, Paragraph (c) says:—(c) Out of funds at their disposal (this particular branch of the Patriotic Corporation) shall 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 scale as aforesaid.1849 Various powers, I say, are given under paragraphs (a), (b), (c), and (d), but if the benevolent public come in and subscribe money for the benefit of certain pensioners, the trustees of that money do not want Parliamentary powers to distribute it! They can do it without the assent of this House, and the Courts of Chancery will keep them in order if they break their trust. What need they come to Parliament for? All this Bill provides is the endowment of the chairman and the vice-chairman under a certain Clause, and this Bill, in my view, in regard to the future and the unfortunate necessity with which we have to deal, is purely waste paper, and the most distasteful Bill I have ever seen presented to Parliament. Let us go to the next Clause:—(d) Out of funds at their disposal, to make grants in cases where no separation allowance or pensions are payable out of public funds.The assent of the Government is not necessary to do that! Where is the money to come from? All the Government are providing for is pay for the chairman and the vice-chairman, and very likely, for all I know, they will be political appointments. Next we find(e) To decide, in any particular case, whether any pension or grant or separation allowance has, under the regulations subject to which it was granted, become forfeited.The Bill begins with this provision, to "make better provision for pensions, grants, and allowances made in respect of the present War to officers and men in the Naval and Military Service, and their dependants," and so on. All this statutory Committee can do in this case is to decide whether or not a pension becomes forfeited! I think that is a great injustice. When a man has earned his pension the pension should not be taken from him. He has earned it, and he is entitled to it. The result of this sort of provision is that you see a man who has fought for his country standing in the criminal dock and treated more severely than would be a man in civil life under similar conditions. Offences against the law may involve the loss of the pension on conviction. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that we have approved of a generous scale of pension. Of course we did, but I would remind the House that my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes Fisher)—whom I congratulate on his appointment as Parliamentary Secretary to 1850 the Local Government Board—was strong on several of these points, and I hope he may explain why they do not appear in this Bill. I protest that a man who has earned his pension is entitled to it. It ought not to be forfeited. I submit that it is a grossly improper thing, and we are precluded from discussing it. The issue in some of these matters will be confused with some question about illegitimate children, or some silly point of that kind. [Laughter.] Well, say, some unimportant point. We are told in(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 the Army Council.To whom will the Admiralty refer, I should like to know? They will consult the Treasury, and the Treasury will say, "That is our decision; there is nothing to refer to." The next paragraph says:—(h) To administer any funds which may be placed at the disposal of the Committee by the Corporation or by local committees.…You may have some funds given to the Committee for benevolent purposes in connection with the Army and Navy, or the Patriotic Corporation may delegate to the Committee the distribution of certain funds which they have already in hand. But I suppose the Patriotic Corporation can do that just as well without coming to Parliament. Note again(i) To make provision for the case of disabled officers and men after they have left the Service, including provision for their health, training, and employment.I wonder how that is done without money? They have not got a brass farthing. The whole Bill is a sham and a humbug There is nothing in it from first to last as to how the statutory Committee can make that provision. There is a recommendation in the Report in respect to the desirability of the employment of disabled soldiers and sailors in public offices, so far as they are suitable for that employment. That is most desirable I am satisfied that no Bill will be satisfactory that does not take over the whole control and right to make these appointments; that ought not to be made by the patronage, or right, or privilege of particular persons. We have got to deal with a crisis such as the country has never known, and with wounded men, the like of which we have never seen, or 1851 probably any country has ever seen. These matters ought to be taken over and ought to be given to this or some body to deal with them—to deal with all appointments in the Police Courts, County Courts, High Courts, Government offices, the Post Office, and other similar appointments for which wounded and disabled men would be suitable, and which they ought to have. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board and the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty what are they proposing to do in this matter? Where the public come forward and contribute money for these purposes you do not want to come to Parliament for any assistance, or pay a chairman or vice-chairman for the purpose. The public can form and run a trust without the intervention of Parliament. The statutory Committee may refer a matter to the local committee. That is in the Bill. And you are going to pay a chairman and vice-chairman out of public funds at a time when everybody is crying out "economy," and this for a Committee which, in my judgment, has got no powers whatsoever worthy of the name. You are going to flood the country with a series of local committees to do, what?—to give out funds at their disposal. Where are those funds to come from?
Another point, I remember well, was raised by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, and that was in relation to death after seven years. Why that limitation? Quite recently we had a case, which I communicated to the Admiralty, where the poor fellow was seriously injured, I think, by a boiler explosion. He lingered for seven years and a week or two. His widow could not get a halfpenny, though he might have died at any time during that seven years. If a man dies of injuries or wounds, at any time, that have been caused by the War we ought to give his dependants the pension whenever he dies. Another question that arises in regard to the pension is that there are a great number of men who suffer and who will suffer in this War from having volunteered to serve under the terrible conditions that prevail and have prevailed. Old illnesses and old weaknesses will break out again. These men may be suffering from bad chests which may end in consumption. Under your pension scheme, in a matter which it is important to discuss, but which we get no opportunity of discussing, they cannot get 1852 a halfpenny unless it is certified by a doctor that the disease is contracted while on active service. You are excluding by these words a great number of men who have volunteered and gone up for training. I know, myself, the case of a young fellow who has never been on active service at the front, but whose leg was broken in obeying an order of the sergeant instructing him. He has been incapacitated for three months and may suffer for life, and he will not get a halfpenny under your scheme.
This Bill, I submit, is a most unsatisfactory Bill to deal with a great subject. All this machinery is quite unnecessary. The only power conferred is a power to deal with the amount of the pension or grant payable out of public funds for a dependant, other than a widow or child. I therefore submit that this should be entirely refrained and measures taken to introduce a just basis for the grant of pensions for these men for all time; that it ought to be controlled by Parliament and not by the Departments, either the Admiralty or the Army Council, but that now, when we are in the mood, when we appreciate the services that have been rendered to us, we should do justice to these men by securing to them that to which they are justly entitled. I would further remind those representing the Army and those representing the Admiralty that, in so far as it is suggested that they are waiting for this Bill to pay pensions, it is quite incorrect. There is nothing under this Bill which enables them to pay any pension of any sort or kind. Therefore you are hanging up these pensions, which are payable to those who have been barely existing for months, and I say it is a hollow sham and a farce.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
Members in all parts of the House will agree, at any rate, that there is need for machinery, and that machinery ought to be set up at the earliest possible moment. There will be no doubt as to that, and I believe Members in all parts of the House want to avoid overlapping in this question and to secure co-ordination. There has been far too much overlapping, and I believe that is largely responsible for the dissatisfaction that exists, and rightly exists, among large numbers of dependants of our soldiers and sailors. Therefore we start there at least on common ground. But for my part I should very much have preferred this statutory Committee to have been a Committee in some way appointed 1853 by the House of Commons, and directly responsible to the House of Commons, having public money behind it. In our treatment of soldiers and sailors in the past and to-day there has been, and is, far too much the element of charity. It is made to appear that they have not in some way earned what we are going to give them, and that "if you act in some way we will give it to you, but if you do not we will not give it to you." We have to say what these men have earned, that they have the right and shall receive payment, and that the element of charity shall be eliminated altogether. That is not going to be done under this Bill.
I want to ask, when this new statutory Committee is set up, what measure of Parliamentary control are we going to have over the administration? That is a point I am quite sure the right hon. Gentleman will tackle when he comes to reply, because it is highly important that the whole administration of matters dealing with soldiers and sailors, their widows and dependants, should not pass out of the control of this House, and that those who are wrongly done by should have a right to appeal to some Member of this House, who perhaps represents their constituency, or in some way so that the matter can be brought forward and put right. I want to ask what measure of Parliamentary control we are going to retain under this Bill? When I come to look at the people who are going to constitute this Committee—I am not speaking of individuals, who are not named—but when I see how they are going to be appointed, one by the Treasury, one by the Admiralty, one by the Army Council, one by the Local Government Board, one by the Local Government Board for Scotland, one by the Local Government Board for Ireland, and so on, I begin to ask myself, Are we going by these means to get rid of the official and red-tape methods which in the past have done so much harm and caused so much delay? Where is the money to come from?
I see that two members of this statutory Committee are to be appointed by the governing body of the National Relief Fund. Now why is it that two members from the National Relief Fund are going to be elected to this Committee? Is it because it is expected that a large part of the money that is going to be used for this purpose is to be taken from the National Relief Fund? Is that the idea? If it is, I want to ask: Here is a great 1854 national fund amounting to between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000, organised by public subscription for the purpose of relieving distress during and consequent on the War, and how much of that money is going to be taken to do work which the nation ought to do, and of the responsibility of which the nation ought not to rid itself? How much of this money is going to be used for the purpose of getting rid of national responsibility? In this respect I would say that a large number of the people who have subscribed, and very generously subscribed, to the National Relief Fund, have done so under the conviction that the money was going to be used for distress arising out of the War, but was not going to be used to get rid of our proper obligations as a nation. I would point out that if, happily, there has been far less economic distress than was anticipated—and we are all glad of that—we know there is less economic distress at this moment because of the organisation of the New Army, and because of the activity inside the zone of Army contracts; but, after the War, there may be a very acute outbreak of civil distress. We have a right to ask in the meantime, Is the nation going to appropriate the whole of this National Relief Fund, or a large part of it, for military purposes, and when there comes the civil distress that may follow the War, are we then going to find that the money is gone? That, at any rate, is a very important point, and it is a point I want the right hon. Gentleman to meet. I want him also to tell me what is going to be the relation between this new statutory Committee and the National Relief Fund.
I agree with the hon. Member for East Edinburgh that there ought to be more women upon any committee that is appointed. Here is a Committee of twenty-six members and you propose that women shall have four places. In view of the fact that you are dealing practically entirely with women and children throughout the country, women ought to have far more than four places guaranteed to them on a committee of that sort, and it ought to be definitely established that the working people of the country are to have adequate representation. After all, you are dealing very largely with a matter of working-class homes, and there is absolutely no guarantee that you are going to have a single working-class representative placed on the Committee.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
It is not guaranteed in this Bill that there will be a single working-class representative, and I say the great trade union organisations ought to have a right to see that the interests of their people are properly protected on a Committee of this sort. You give a statutory right to the War Office, Local Government Board, and so on, and I do urge that the working-class organisation ought to have the same power. This Committee is to have very wide powers and very wide functions. There is at present a very large amount of dissatisfaction, as is well known to Members who have taken an interest in this matter, amongst the dependants because their claims are being delayed. I am quite sure other Members have the same experience as I have of receiving scores of letters, and, although I always get consideration and courtesy, and when the matter comes before the representatives of the War Office, both the present Financial Secretary and his predecessor, I have nothing of which to complain, but there is something wrong with the machinery behind them. The latest thing that has happened is that newspapers are beginning to give the names of individual Members of Parliament. I am receiving shoals of letters from people, especially mothers, who have been kept out of money for two or three months or more. There is, therefore, need for very prompt dealing and for very fair dealing with this matter. That is all we are appealing for. We want a Committee that is going to do that. We do not very much care about the exact method of the Committee, so long as it is going to do this work in the right spirit. It is only because I am doubtful on these points that I would like to see the Committee made in some way more democratic by getting rid of some of the red tape, and enabled to carry out its work in the best interests of those who are now fighting the nation's battle and of those dependent on them at home.
§ Sir CHARLES NICHOLSON
I find myself entirely in agreement with what has fallen from the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and also the hon. Member on the other side. It seems to me this Bill is entirely inadequate to meet the purpose for which it should be intended. The only power that this Committee is to have is to decide a question of fact as to what is the allowance to be given to 1856 a dependant. We have settled already what are the pensions to be given to widows and orphans, and we have this one question left to be decided—as to what is to be the allowance to be given to a dependant. I should have thought that surely it would be unwise at this time to overburden the War Office and the Admiralty with such an enormous question as this will be, to settle the amount to be given to dependants in these cases. What is going to happen? So far as this House is concerned, I should think the House will be flooded every day by questions put down by individual Members as to hardships arising in their constituencies—why Mrs. A gets 3s. 6d., while Mrs. B gets 4s., and matters of that sort. The Financial Secretary will be asked how he discriminates between these two cases. Surely it would be wise, simple, and much more easy to set up your statutory Committee and to give them power of deciding what is to be the amount to be given in each case of dependants.
I entirely agree with what has fallen from the hon. Member for East Edinburgh on the subject of women. I think we want a great many more women on these Committees, both on the central body and also on the local bodies. As the hon. Member speaking from the Labour Benches said, we are going to deal with questions of working-class homes and women and children, and it is essential that a much bigger representation should be given to women on all these Committees. I must also say the sooner we get to work the better. The delay in giving these pensions to people, and the uncertainty as to the continuance of separation allowance and pensions, is very hard lines upon them indeed. I also wish to express my agreement with the hon. Member who spoke last on the question of the National Relief Fund, for it seems to me entirely wrong to take the money away from the purpose for which it was originally contributed, and devote it to purposes which ought to be a charge upon national funds. With regard to what has been said about separation allowances, I thought we had settled all those questions, or, at any rate I know that there is machinery in existence by which they are being dealt with, and those entitled to separation allowances are not going without their money because they are being provided for by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association. I should have thought it would have been wise to confine this Bill entirely to the 1857 question of pensions without complicating it with separation allowance, the machinery for which has already been set up. May I also point out that these separation allowances are going to come to an end directly the War is over, and therefore there is no necessity to set up an elaborate organisation to deal with them, whereas the pensions will have to be continued in the future.
May I suggest what I really think ought to be done in this matter? I believe this Bill is entirely inadequate to meet the necessities of the case. We have settled the pensions in the case of widows and orphans and disablement allowances, and we are now settling what are to be the pensions to be granted to dependants. That is all very well so far as charge upon public funds are concerned, but it does not nearly meet the sort of demand which the nation is going to make in the long run, and there should be a sort of clearing house which can give full information as to what is going on in any particular case. An hon. Member has already pointed out the danger of overlapping, and it is a great danger because there is any amount of fraud going on. I know of a case recently where a woman was drawing three separation allowances at one time, and those who read the newspapers will have seen the account of a gentleman who posed as the holder of a Victoria Cross, and who has been living at other people's expense in North Wales and other places, but who is now, I am happy to say, spending his time in prison. There should be some method by which the general public may be able to obtain knowledge of what is done in a particular case, and if something of the kind is not done, confusion will be very much worse I should like this Statutory Committee made the nucleus through which everything is going to be paid. They should deal with all pensions to widows and orphans and allowances from Chelsea and Greenwich, and also the pensions that will be settled by the Statutory Committee. We should then know exactly what has been done in each case out of public funds, and the soldier and sailor would then know that there is one office to go to where all his legal claims can be settled. The necessity for this will be apparent when I point out that the Committee for the county of Staffordshire deals with cases from Hampshire. Does it not seem ridiculous that a man whose home is in Hampshire and who has anything wrong with his 1858 claim should be compelled to go the whole way to Lichfield. Why should this not be done through a county committee set up by this Bill and a central organisation like the Statutory Committee.
I think that is a very necessary thing from the soldiers and sailors' point of view. We all know that the public is going to contribute large sums of money after the War is over, and every charity organisation will want to know what is being done in all these cases. Take, for example, the regimental funds of every regiment. People will be perfectly ready to contribute to those funds, but those in charge of them will want to know what amount each case is drawing, and if you have a central organisation you will get your information at once. I had an application from my Constituency from the War Relief Committee of the Miners' Organisation, and they brought before my notice the case of a man who had had his hand seriously damaged in the War, so much so that he will never be able again to earn any money in the mine. His allowance was 14s. a week, whereas before he had been able to earn £3 or £4 a week. He has a wife and three children and therefore 14s. is absolutely poverty to these people. To whom should that man apply? If we had this Statutory Committee set up with a central organisation at work it would have been very simple to deal with this case, but there is no central organisation at present to whom application can be made in those cases.
I will give another example. I happened to be acting as a member of the Board of Control for Regimental Institutes at the present time, and we are accumulating much money which the military members of my board have decided to bank for the benefit of soldiers after the War. When the War is over this board is not competent to decide as to which are proper cases for assistance; but if there is a central organisation dealing with all these cases as they come round they can come to us and say, "We have a certain case which we recommend to you and our board will be perfectly willing to assist, but we must have advice because our business is managing canteens and not distributing money." The organisation of which I am speaking is now making arrangements in France in regard to canteens, but you cannot expect the Army Council to inquire which are deserving cases, and you must put at their disposal the information to be obtained from the 1859 central body upon whom they can rely. It seems to me that the most important thing is to set up a central organisation, and I see no reason why this statutory Committee which is proposed by this Bill should not form the nucleus of such a Committee. If that is done we shall be able to stop a great deal of confusion and overlapping, which is bound to occur unless some such step as I suggest is taken. While I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Hohler) in saying that this Bill as it stands is entirely illusory and very little good at all, I think it may be made the basis upon which a much better organisation may be founded. I hope the Government will reconsider the Bill as it stands and decide to introduce alterations which will bring about the change I have suggested.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I have listened with great interest to the remarks of the hon. Member for Doncaster (Sir C. Nicholson), and I think that what he suggested in his closing references ought to receive very careful consideration. In order that there should be no misunderstanding I wish to turn to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham, who, I think unintentionally, gave a wrong impression as to what is being done now for these poor people. I think the hon. and learned Member quite misconceived the purpose of this Bill. Undoubtedly he seemed to me to give the impression that we were doing nothing like the amount we ought to do for the soldier, the widow and orphan, and the children. However true that may have been in the past, it is no longer true to-day.
§ Mr. HOHLER
What I say is that this Bill does nothing in that direction, and it gives us no opportunity of ameliorating the conditions of which I have complained.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I think my hon. and learned Friend misconceives the purport of this Bill. It is not true—and I do not think I should be standing here if it were true—that we are acting in a niggardly way in regard to those who are serving their country and those whom they may have left behind. The provision made by the State to-day is, broadly speaking, out of all proportion to the provision made in the past. I was born amongst these people and brought up with them, and I know from experience that there is nothing like the provision we are 1860 making in any naval or military provision on the Continent of Europe. I think that ought to be made perfectly clear, so that there should be no misunderstanding. This is not the desire of any particular party, but it is the common effort of all parties since the War began. Take separation allowances. Before this War only the soldier's wife who was separated from her husband and married on the strength was entitled to separation allowance. On 3rd August there were 16,000 soldiers married on the strength and 1,100 separated from their husbands, and the number of separation allowances was slightly over 1,000. I do not think it would be wise for me to give any indication of the number of separation allowances paid to soldiers' wives to-day, but my hon. And learned Friend knows that in the case of every soldier's wife separated from her husband there is no question of married on the strength, and, instead of there being 1,100 cases which was the number on 3rd August, the hon. and learned Member can multiply that a good many times before he reaches the total to-day.
May I also point out that the sailor had no separation allowance prior to the 1st October last, and the provision which has since been made for dependants, and the father, mother, and sister, is entirely new and has never before formed any part of our Army or Navy provision prior to this War. Take the case of the widow. Before the War the provision was 5s. to the widow and 1s. 6d. for each child, and only those widows who when they were married were married on the strength, and that is a very important fact, were entitled to this 5s. What was the result? I see that in the financial year 1903–4 the number of widows on the Boer War Pension Fund was about 3,000. There was a patriotic fund, ably presided over by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Hayes Fisher), which rendered assistance over and above the State provision, but, so far as the State provision is concerned, it was 5s. for the widow and 1s. 6d. for each child, and only widows who were married on the strength when the husband was alive received the pension. The cost, including that of orphans, was about £64,000. That was the provision on the Estimates. In the financial year 1914–15 the figures for both the Army and Navy were, I think, £43,000, to provide for 2,000 widows at 5s. each and for the children at 1s. 6d. each. The hon. and learned Member knows that the present scale is out of all proportion to 1861 that, and I think we are entitled to correct the idea, if it obtains, though I do not think it is intentional, that we are not making adequate allowance.
§ Dr MACNAMARA
I listened carefully to the hon. and learned Member, and that was the impression his speech made upon me. "This Bill was a humbug." [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes, it was as bad a Bill as he had ever seen in his life. I am afraid it might be assumed from those comments that we are not doing all we ought to do for these poor people. This is a matter which is very close and dear to me, as it is to all Members of the House. The hon. Member knows that the widow of the lowest rank gets 10s. a week, increased to 12s. 6d. a week at thirty-five and to 15s. at forty-five, and that so far from it being 1s. 6d. for each child the first gets 5s., the second 3s. 6d., and each succeeding child 2s. The provision for children by the State since this War commenced has been on a scale altogether out of proportion to the provision made in the past. I will take the case of a disabled soldier. I listened very closely to the hon. and learned Member. He gave the case of a soldier with a broken leg. I will take the case of a soldier or a sailor totally disabled, and total disablement is held to include a man who has lost two legs or is totally blind. He gets 25s. per week and 2s. 6d. for each child under this new scale.
§ Mr. HOHLER
What is the meaning of the words "on active service"? That is the real point. This fellow was injured whilst training to become a soldier. Is that active service?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I cannot say what is the administration of the War Office. I can speak for the Admiralty, and had my hon. and learned Friend given the case of a sailor I would have done my best to have told him exactly all the facts. The partially disabled soldier or sailor gets such a sum which, together with the amount he is capable of earning, will make 25s., and a sum up to 2s. 6d., though not necessarily 2s. 6d., for each child. The provision made for disabled soldiers or sailors, either totally or partially, is an advance on the past. That is quite true. I will take the point which I think was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for 1862 North St. Pencras (Mr. Dickinson) that the thing has been rather held up, and that we have not gone on with these pensions. The idea might get into some people's minds that we thought that they could be left with nothing, and that we were not doing all that we should do. There is some misapprehension there. So far as the Navy is concerned, and I have not the slightest doubt that the same is true of the War Office, everyone knows that separation allowances have been duly paid.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
Well, there may have been difficulties, but every endeavour has been made to make these payments as promptly as possible. It is not the case that men who come home broken are getting nothing at all. They are getting provision under the old scale, and they will get their allowance under the new scale as from 1st March with arrears when we receive the Treasury sanction. I believe that we have now received the sanction of the Treasury and that payments under the new scale can be made forthwith with arrears from 1st March.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
My hon. Friend who follows this matter says that the War Office Order has been issued. The new scheme for disablement allowances has received the Treasury sanction, and they will be paid with arrears from 1st March. Do not let it be imagined that these men have been kept out of payments at all. They have received payments under the old scale. An hon. Gentleman opposite referred to officers. We have submitted schemes for officers' widows' pensions to the Select Committee. The same thing is true there, and also of officers' disablement pensions. We have submitted schemes to them, but until we receive Treasury sanction we cannot pay on the higher scale. They are, of course, getting payments on the old scale. The hon. Member for North St. Pancras is very anxious to know what has become of other dependant relatives. The separation allowance, as every hon. Member knows, continues, in case of death, for twenty-six weeks. We have gone on continuing beyond the twenty-six weeks in certain cases. I have not the slightest doubt that the sum of money which they will receive as the result of that policy may be more 1863 in some cases than the pensions which will be awarded. Do not let anybody imagine that we have left anybody without provision. We could not do it under any circumstances. The provision for other dependant relatives, father and mother, who have received separation allowances has been continued in the case of death for twenty-six weeks, and we are waiting, I admit, for this Clause 3, paragraph (a), which places upon the statutory Committee the dutyto 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.We shall wait for them to determine the question of fact, and then we shall pay to dependants other than widows and children whatever is due to them, or whatever is recommended upon a scale which we, the War Office and the Admiralty, shall prepare. The point made by the hon. Member for North St. Pancras is a fair one. He says, "You are going to prepare a scale for these dependants, and nobody is going to know anything about it." I think that it ought to be laid on the Table of the House, and so far as I am concerned, if I have the authority to give that undertaking, I do give it. Under Clause 3, paragraph (a), the Statutory Committee will help us to determine questions of fact with regard to pre-war dependants, and we shall prepare a scale for that particular class. The other scales are in being, except that we are waiting for the new ones in certain cases. These are not in being. They have to be adopted by the Select Committee. It is a fair thing to ask that they should be laid before Parliament. I have said that the officers' widows' pensions, and officers' disablement pensions are before the Select Committee, but we shall go on paying under the old scale until the new ones are adopted. I think that my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Hohler) misconceived the purpose of the. Bill. It is to set up machinery for the purpose of supplementing from funds other than those wholly provided by Parliament the Grant which the State has made to these people, widows, orphans, disabled soldiers, officers, officers' widows, and so on. That is the whole function and purpose of this Bill.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I am taking the point raised by my hon. and learned Friend. Broadly, that is its purpose. When you discuss this Bill you cannot leave out of purview what is already done by the State. This is supplementary, and my hon. and learned Friend did not seem to sufficiently realise that for the moment. I want to make a comment on the very interesting speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster (Sir C. Nicholson). He suggested that a public body outside the Admiralty and the War Office, a local body, a civil body, should take over the work in connection with these Army and Navy grants, pensions, and allowances. It is a very common view that the War Office and the Admiralty has so much to do that they are not quite competent to tackle this great and important question upon which so many human issues hang, and that therefore it would be a good thing to take it out of their hands and to have some local authority to make all these payments, both from public funds as well as from supplementary funds. That superficially, I admit, is a very attractive proposal. I may run counter to the popular opinion, but I do think that it is a wrong view. Of course, both Departments go, and ought to go, for advice and assistance outside, and they ought to act upon advice from the locality. The hon. and learned Member (Mr. Hohler) knows, though I am not for the moment dealing with any argument which he used, that whenever a large sum of money has had to be paid to some poor person, as in one particular case, I have been only too ready to put to him the question, "What is the best way of administering this in the true interests of this person?" We have always sought advice along those lines. Both Departments certainly should be open at all times to get advice from those who know how best these sums may be administered in the best interests of these poor persons. We have sought that advice, but beyond that I suggest that so far as public money is concerned the responsibility must rest with the Departments who are responsible to this House for the money voted.
Apart from the Parliamentary or constitutional aspect of the matter, I do not think it should ever be forgotten that after all the Departments have all the detailed records. They have the medical record. They have the story of his promotion from one grade to another; in reality they have all the facts which go 1865 to make up the record of his service to the country, and if you were to hand over the administration to some other body, you would not be relieving them in the slightest degree, you would not be giving effect to your desire to do so, because they have too much to do already, but you would simply be duplicating the work. I am quite certain that outside bodies, from whom we are only too glad to get all the advice we can, will not do more justice to particular cases than is done by those who are in the closest detailed touch with the claims of the persons under consideration. If this suggestion is advanced on the grounds that the claimants do not get sufficient consideration, I can only say I have had over seven years at the Admiralty; I am fairly familiar with its administration on this side, and for both the naval and military authorities I claim that they do carry out this administration in a generous and sympathetic manner. They treat their old servants as generously as they possibly can. I am speaking for all connected with my Department, as well as with the War Office—for I feel that I can speak on their behalf as well. I should, personally, feel that the heart would be taken out of my work if I were no longer directly responsible to these poor men and those whom they have left behind.
§ Mr. WING
I should like to associate myself with the words of commendation which have been uttered in connection with the production of this Bill, the object of which is to give the civil authority discrimination and supplementary powers. We have heard from various Members as to the advisability of fixed sums, but if you take that view and test how it works, you will find you get just as many anomalies from the system of the fixed sum as you do from almost any other system. For instance, the allowances are now fixed, and anomalies of this kind arise. If a man enlists in the Army, the allotment and the allowance comes to 12s. 6d. a week. If the eon joins, there is another 3s. 6d., but no Government allowance, and the income is therefore 16s. If the father stays at home and two of his sons enlist, it is possible for the return to that house to be 25s., but if a father and his three sons enlist, the total under the present system would be only £1 2s., as against 25s. granted in the case of two sons alone who enlisted. The Clause of this Bill, to which reference has been made, gives a discriminating power to 1866 supplement and deal with facts like that, and I believe cases of this description would receive sympathetic consideration at the hands of such a Committee.
I do not like the idea of the creation of a new Committee in our various districts. The words "old age" could be easily eliminated from the title of the old age pensions committee. You could call it the pensions committee. The work of these committees has been spoken of exceptionally well. No doubt in the rush that occurred at the commencement, there were delays, but they have been gradually overcome. The Committee which dealt with the question of pensions and allowances had before it witnesses who gave evidence in favour of the old age pensions committee. Mr. (Smillie, the President of the Miners' Association of Great Britain, said:—My experience in my own county, is that the pensions committees do their work very satisfactorily.Another witness, Mr. Gosling, a member of the London County Council, declared:The pensions committee in London is very satisfactory.Further evidence on that point was given by Miss Phillips, who said:—I think the old age pension committees are the best authorities, and their officers are suitable people to see to the payment of these allowances,These committees are in existence. They can, if necessary, be improved upon; and with regard to the possession of facts by the Department, the argument advanced by the Secretary for the Admiralty applies equally to the local committees. They have in their possession all the local facts; they know the history of the various people affected. They are in close touch with them, and I hope when the Under-Secretary gets up to reply we shall have an assurance that we are not to have a new organisation with a number of new officials, but that we shall carry out the idea recommended on every side of the House and use the organisations that already exist rather than create new ones.
There have been certain difficulties arising in relation to delay in the money being paid. What I feel is this: This Bill seems to me a fulfilment of the Government promise to raise a statutory authority, and I hope we shall do our best, as a House, to give it a very hearty welcome. I hope, too, that the right hon. Gentleman will accept such Amendments as are proposed with a view to making it a real live Committee and a real sound Court of Appeal. I hope, further, it may 1867 be kept within the purview of Parliament, that it will not be outside and beyond approach by any Member of this House. What occurs at the present time? An hon. Member writes a letter to a constituent saying, "I will lay your case before the Army Council." And later on he conveys to the man the decision of that body. But the man replies, "Who the deuce is the Army Council?" He sometimes uses more definite, emphatic, and perhaps more vulgar language, but the fact remains that One is unable to tell him who comprise the council. I hope this Committee will not occupy such a position as that. I hope it will be easily approached and that it will become a real help to the country in the work which it will have to do.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
I am very pleased indeed that this Bill has been brought forward. The delay in producing it has been a great trial to a very large number of people in the constituencies. This Committee was appointed on 19th November. It presented its first Report on 1st February, and its second Report on 14th April. We are all delighted to welcome the Bill, and I think, by a little improvement, we may be able to so fashion it that it will serve the community much better than it has been served in the past. I do not agree with suggestions which were made by the hon. Member for Doncaster (Sir C. Nicholson), and I agree entirely with the Parliamentary Secretary for the Admiralty that once a Committee is decided upon all the pensions, separation allowances and dependant's allowances should be paid direct from the Department through the Post Office to the people entitled to them. I hold that view very strongly, and I should deprecate any proposal that public money should be paid through local bodies.
So far as my experience has gone—and I have had a very considerable amount of experience in these matters—and so far as the people themselves are concerned, I can say they are delighted with the two changes—the proposal to pay the money direct through the post office and the arrangement to pay it weekly. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty will no doubt remember that at the beginning of the War I suggested to him that this money should be paid weekly, and I am very glad that that is now to be done. I am certain that the recipients are equally delighted. I trust that nothing whatever will be allowed to disturb that arrangement. 1868 There is certainly a misconception about the Bill in the minds of some hon. Members. The Bill is set up for a particular purpose. It does not propose to deal at all with separation allowances. Those allowances were fixed by the first Report of the Committee; the Bill does not propose either to touch the pensions to widows and their children, but it does propose to touch the pensions of others.
I should like to say with regard to the Central Committee, that, on the whole, in my opinion, its constitution is very satisfactory. It is quite evident from the remarks of the hon. Member for the Attercliffe Division of Sheffield (Mr. Anderson) that exception is taken to the Department having six representatives I hold it to be essential there should be departmental representation on the Committee, because it would have to deal with public money, and those representatives ought at least to be parties to any recommendations which might be put forward. There are only six departmental representatives on the Committee of twenty-six; they will therefore be in a minority.
I should like to support two recommendations made by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, both of which, I think, were practical. The first was, that the quorum should be raised. A quorum of five, such as is proposed here, is very small indeed for so large a Committee. Usually it is fixed at one-third of the total body. The other recommendation of the hon. Member in that the whole of the members of this Committee should not go out of office at the same time. I believe in the municipal principle, apart from what is arranged on the London County Council and on the county councils of England. In our municipal bodies one-third go out every year. That is an excellent arrangement, because it ensures a continuity of policy. A matter upon which I wish to ask for information—and it is an important point—has reference to the re-election of the outgoing members. I want to know who is going to re-elect them. Is it to be the council or the corporation? Or is it to be the Crown? Or are they to be elected by the various constituent bodies who appointed them in the first instance? I believe there are ten members to be elected by the Crown. I would like to point out to the hon. Member for Attercliffe that in the Report of the Committee itself it is provided that out of the ten appointed by the Crown two shall be representative of labour. I hope that 1869 recommendation will be carried out, although there is nothing about it in the Bill itself. Certain and proper representation should, in my opinion, be given on the Committee to the several component parts of the county—that is to say, that the whole of the central Committee shall not represent London alone, but shall be drawn in part from the provinces. The provinces have subscribed an enormous amount of money to the Prince of Wales' Fund, and as the Committee will have to deal with the distribution of some of that money, it is essential that the provinces should have a certain proportion of representation upon it.
Four members of the Committee must be ladies. I quite agree that that number ought to be increased, because the work of this Committee will have an important bearing so far as women are concerned. I desire to call attention to another important matter in regard to the powers conferred upon the local committees. I quite agree with the recommendation of my hon. Friend the Member for Hough-ton-le-Spring Division (Mr. Wing) and the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) that the old age pensions committee is the best committee for this purpose. I am not going to destroy this Bill for that reason, but I am going to make a suggestion, which I hope the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill will take into consideration. The new local committee is going to advise the central Committee upon the statement of facts with regard to the positions of those whose pensions are to be fixed under this Bill. At the present time the old age pensions committee is dealing with the recommendations to the War Office and the Admiralty as to the allowance in addition to allotment of the sons. They must keep a record of the position of each family. When it comes to fixing the pensions for these dependants it is essential that the same body should deal with both, and that you should not have duplicate bodies in a county. In the county of Durham we have twenty-nine old age pension committees sitting at the present time. To establish another set of committees to deal with these matters would be duplicating the work. The Municipal Corporations Association has made a recommendation on this point. As the administrators of local bodies they strongly recommend that the Government ought to fix for this matter the old age pensions committee, or, at least, that they must give to 1870 this Committee the power the old age pensions committee already has in regard to fixing allowances to dependants, otherwise you will have two committees doing practically the same work.
There is another matter on which I have cause for complaint, namely, the functions of the local committee. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh went through them seriatim, so there is no need for me to discuss them in detail. I am glad to see one member of the Pensions Committee present, because the evidence before that Committee, and I have gone through the whole of it, upon the difficulties of administration in our localities by the War Office has been very faulty. They have not taken that evidence from the localities which they were intended to do in regard to the shortcomings of the administration. There is nothing in this Bill dealing with the difficulties to which I am going to call attention. So far back as November I discussed this matter with Sir Charles Harris at the War Office and laid before him a scheme by which I thought we might overcome some of these difficulties. He, on behalf of the War Office, accepted the suggestion, which was to be embodied in the scheme. The Pensions Committee was then set up, and the War Office informed me that in view of the fact that the administration of the separation allowances was to be referred to that Committee they postponed making an announcement in Parliament with regard to the suggestion that I made. Looking through the evidence, I am sorry to say not a single question was put as to the causes of delay in the payment of separation allowances and dependants' allowances. That is really the crux of the business. Those who are at present in receipt of separation allowances are satisfied if they get their money regularly. It comes through the Post Office, and once it is fixed there is very little trouble. If the dependants' allowances come regularly through the Post Office there is no trouble in connection with them, but, unfortunately, we have a very large number of difficulties with which to contend in our constituencies. I live in my own Constituency, and sometimes on a Saturday I have almost a stream of visitors to see me with regard to difficulties as to the payment of their money. Sir Charles Harris admitted to me that they had in the War Office thousands of letters with which they could not deal—letters asking for separation 1871 allowances and letters about the delay in payment of dependants' allowances. They could not deal with them.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Forster)
Will the hon. Gentleman say why we could not deal with them?
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
Because many of the letters were lacking in information. I want to pay this compliment to the War Office: I have visited it at least once a week, and sometimes twice a week, in connection with these cases, and I am bound to say that in every case I have taken to them they have dealt with it promptly. Within the last two months the people have received sums of money by this intervention and by taking the correct information. The trouble has been that these poor people have not been accustomed to this kind of thing, and through some error they have not been able to get the separation allowance or dependants' allowance, and they have gone to somebody and asked him to write to the War Office. A letter has been written to the War Office, and, owing to the fact that correct information has not been sent, there has been a long delay, as the result of which the applicant has gone to other people. As I have said, they have come to me in very large numbers, and, as was my duty to do, I have taken their cases to the War Office, who have dealt with them promptly. I do not think there has been a single case which I have taken to the War Office in which the people have not had their money within a very few weeks. I am bound to pay that compliment to the War Office. They admitted to me, long before the present Financial Secretary came into office, that their difficulty was to obtain proper information in order to put the thing into operation. I submitted a scheme to the Pensions Committee, but they did not think fit to adopt it. Under my scheme the people would have the right to go to some local person and to place their case before him. I want to extend that power to this Committee. Within the last two or three months I have been able to obtain for these people arrears, in one case amounting to £5 19s. 6d., and in others to £6 13s. 6d., £2, £4 5s., and £5 17s. 9d. I contend that these cases should not occur. At present they are occurring in every constituency. I do not suppose that the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. 1872 Banbury) has many of these persons living in his constituency, because I believe it is practically vacant during the night and there are very few residents there. If he represented a working-class constituency—
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
Or if he represented Peckham, as he used to do, he would have the same experience as I have had.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
I found at the War Office that they had a system, so far as London is concerned, which is the same as I had advocated for the provinces. I found that they had a staff of men, that scores of women were attending every day asking for separation allowances and so on, and that these particular clerks attended to these special cases at once. The women came from all parts of London. People in London can do that, but the people in the provinces cannot come to the War Office in London; therefore, they must move through their representatives. I would ask the hon. Member in charge of the Bill if he is prepared to adopt what I now suggest, namely, that the local committee should have its powers extended so that, in addition to advising the Central Committee on certain matters within the confines of the Bill, in all cases where a person desires to make a claim and there is delay, the person should have the right to go to the local committee. In the case of separation allowance and allotments, where there is difficulty or delay in connection with the payment, the person should have the right to go to the local committee to state the fact that the separation allowance and allotment is not forthcoming, and that the clerk in the office of the Committee should write to the War Office and place the facts before them. My second suggestion is that it is the same with dependants. I think that is done now in the case of Birmingham, where there is the Citizens' Committee, which is really one of the best committees in the country, and where I believe there is very little trouble, because it is taken up by public spirited men and women and where the persons who make these claims have the right of appearing before the committee. I would apply the same principle to dependants, that where there is delay 1873 they should make their case known to the Committee. In the third place, I would give the right to every man who comes back from the War, that is the soldier or the officer, as this Committee will have to deal with officers, and where he is disabled, totally or partially, I would give him the right to go before this local committee and make his claim and let them communicate with the War Office. I have myself had cases of that kind. Men who have been wounded in the War have come back. They are dissatisfied with the amount of money they have been receiving, and I have been to the War Office on their behalf and I am told by the War Office that they cannot pay them the maximum amount until this Committee is set up for the purpose of recommending it; but I want these men to have the right to go before this Committee and make their claim. Then, where there are motherless children who are entitled to payment, the person who represents them should go to the Committee and let the Committee make the claim on behalf of these children. In every case where there is a claim for a pension, instead of the women writing to the War Office or seeking someone to write for them, they should go to the local committee in the same way that they apply to the local committee for the old age pension.
These are some of the suggestions that I make with regard to this Bill. We are all indebted to the Committee that sat upon this question. They took a large amount of evidence, though I thought the evidence was lacking from the administrative point of view, but we are much indebted to them. They have brought in a unanimous recommendation for us to adopt; but still I believe this Bill could be extended with very great effect and with very great benefit to our provincial towns, and for these reasons I hope the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill will not close his mind against any suggestions or recommendations or Amendments in Committee, but that we shall try to shape and fashion it in such a way that in future many of these people who have suffered in the past from the lack of proper administration will derive great benefit from it I believe the Bill is doing the right thing with regard to the distribution of money apart from State money. That is to say, in future, all moneys, whether from the Prince of Wales' Fund or from any other fund, shall be distributed by the local committee. 1874 In the town that I represent and in other towns in the North where the working men at present are subscribing large sums of money weekly to the Prince of Wales' Fund, they have no representation upon any of these local committees and they are dissatisfied that they should continue to pay this money without obtaining proper representation. They are quite satisfied if the money will be distributed through this Committee, because they will have representation upon it.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
Although the Prince of Wales' Fund is not mentioned in the Bill, there is a Sub-section which deals with the fact that all money from any source, in the way of payment to soldiers' and sailors' families, will be paid through this Committee. I am afraid the hon. Baronet has not read the Bill with that care with which he usually does. I believe the Bill will be a great improvement, and will give general satisfaction in the country.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
We have had a very interesting Debate. Much ground has been covered, and though there has been a certain amount of criticism directed against the Bill, on the other hand a great deal has been said in its favour, and there is no doubt that after it has been though Committee we shall see a Bill which will satisfy all sections of the House. I do not know whether the House will agree, but I think it is unfortunate that we have not before us the Report of the Committee on the officers. That would have enabled us to deal with the Bill in a more complete manner. Another matter which I think is to be regretted is that we have not before us the Report of Sir George Murray's Committee. If we had them we should have had all the evidence which was required to discuss the Bill as it should be discussed. As we have not those Reports we can only deal with things as they are. Clause 1 says that the body shall consist of twenty-six members, and it says exactly where they shall be drawn from. Several hon. Members have called attention to the fact that apparently not more than two women are to be appointed upon this body. To my way of thinking that 1875 is a very great error. The Bill largely concerns women and children of all classes, and therefore there ought to be women of all classes on this body, certainly not less than six. Two of these women might represent the officers and two the men, and two might represent practically all classes.
Then I think there is an important omission. One member of the Committee should certainly be appointed from the Education Board. The education of the children of the men who have fallen in the War is a very serious problem which will have to be taken in hand by this very Committee. It has the power, I admit, to make certain grants out of a fund which at the present moment we do not see, but it is supposed that that fund will some day be in being. When it is in being the Committee will have to make certain grants for the education of the children, and these will have to be given in two directions. There will have to be grants with regard to free places in the schools and there will have to be grants towards the technical education of the children. I will give an example. Only the other day I was asked by the grandfather of a boy whose father had fallen in the War whether or not I could get the boy apprenticed in the dockyard, so that he might become an electrical fitter. I found that it-was necessary for the boy to pass a certain examination which it would take him possibly a year or two to work up for, and that would require a certain amount of money. The father had left no money behind and there was nothing for the boy to do but to go into the dockyard as a yard boy, where he will only have the opportunity of becoming an ordinary labourer at 24s. a week. That is not what we expect to be done for the children of the men who have fallen in the War. For the reasons I have given I submit that it would be very much better if the Government would add someone appointed by the Education Board.
Then I see that the chairman and vice-chairman are to be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament, therefore it is very certain that whatever salaries are voted these they will get. But sometimes in public bodies where you have a chairman and a vice-chairman, especially where they are paid, the chairman does very little work and the vice-chairman does a very great deal, but as a rule the chairman receives 1876 the larger emolument and the vice-chairman receives the smaller. I hope in this case it will be seen that both the chairman and the vice-chairman share the duties equally. One does not see who is to appoint the chairman and vice-chairman. I take it that the chairman will be appointed by the Government, but whether the vice-chairman is to be appointed by the Government or by the body does not appear to be clear. On the question of the quorum, the number of five is far too small. That will admit practically of five official members meeting together and settling the whole affairs of the body, which is the last thing the country wants and certainly the last thing the House would desire.
My hon. Friend (Mr. Hohler) made some very interesting remarks in regard to Clause 3, and I do not know that I can find fault with very much of what he said. The only point perhaps on which one might differ from him was where I think he went a little astray in endeavouring to lead the House to believe that the Government had not dealt sufficiently generously with the widows and orphans and the dependants. The right hon. Gentleman (Dr. Macnamara) put that matter very clearly. Whatever fault we may find with the Bill we have no fault whatever to find with the allowances and pensions which are given, provided, of course, we take into consideration the other part of the Bill, which allows the body to give certain grants and to extend the pensions in cases where they think it necessary. If you take that matter into consideration it must be allowed that the Government have behaved very generously in the matter. My hon. Friend (Mr. Hohler) and the right hon. Gentleman seemed to fall foul of one another in another way. What my hon. Friend wanted to point out was that this Bill did not do away with a difficulty which he and I and certain other Members who sit for military ports know too well, and that is that there is, or has been in the past, very great difficulty in getting pensions for certain classes of men and certain widows. Take the case of a man who has contracted some disease as the result of the War. We will say that the man has contracted rheumatism. What sort of pension is he to have, or if he dies what sort of pension is his widow to have? In the past we have always had to fight against the Admiralty and the War Office and the Treasury who put forward the plea that the man died of a disease 1877 not attributable to the Service. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to make it very clear to the House that this point has not been overlooked by them, and that in connection with a war of this kind we shall not have men years afterwards, or widows whose husbands die from diseases contracted in the War, having to depend upon the Admiralty or the War Office alone to say whether that disease was attributable to the War itself. That is what the hon. Member for Chatham wanted to bring out. He wanted to say: "Let this body deal with all these matters." If this body is to deal with all these questions then, I think, the matter would certainly be more complete. There is another point which we have had to contend with, especially in regard to sailors. A man may have had his arm cut off, or the finger of one hand cut off, or he may have a leg paralysed. What has happened up to the present moment? He goes before the Board, and the Board say: "Oh, yes, you are injured, certainly, but you are able to contribute to your own support." The man may have a wife and children, and he may have to contribute to their support, but what employer would employ a man of this kind—a man he cannot insure. No one would employ him, and therefore the poor man is unable to get any work at all, and he is placed in a very difficult position. I ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to see that we do not have these poor men, after the present War, going about the towns as they now do unable to get any employment. It must be the duty of this body to obtain employment for these men, and it must not be said that they are able to contribute to their own support, and that, therefore, one shilling a day is quite sufficient pension for them. That will not do.
There is another point to which I would like to refer. It is in regard to Clause 3, Sub-section (1), which is to make provision for the care of disabled officers and men. There it stops. It says nothing about their dependants. The disabled men's dependants ought certainly to be looked after, and ought to be looked after even more than the dependants of the man who has not been disabled. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear that in mind. We must have some provision made for the dependants of these disabled officers and men. We were told during the Debate, 1878 or at any rate it was suggested, that the public offices have a certain number of places set apart for disabled soldiers and sailors. If that is the case I hope that the proportion will be very much enlarged after the present War. I will give the House one instance of what happens in regard to the Navy. In the Royal dockyards there is a regulation, which was brought in not long ago, that a certain number of men who were injured in the Service should be employed in light work in the dockyard. But when you come to inquire into the matter you find the cases number perhaps twenty or thirty. If you take all the dockyards in the Kingdom, that will not give employment to a very great number of men. I do hope that the Government will take care that any means which are suggested by this Committee for the employment of men in the Government service will be arranged on a wider basis.
There is one matter which I do not see touched upon in the Bill in regard to which I may have to suggest a Clause in the Committee stage, and that is that there is no provision whatever made for assistance being given in the case of men, women, or children who want to emigrate. I have had a good deal to do with emigration, and I have had a great, number of soldiers and sailors passing through my hands. I would like to know whether the grant, which is allowed to be paid in certain circumstances, is available to cover the expenses of emigration. When these soldiers come back from the War a great number of them will desire, after living an outdoor life perhaps for a year or two, to build up a home for themselves overseas. Is there to be any provision made which will enable them to do so? As the right hon. Gentleman knows, they can take their pensions with them, and the widows can take their pensions with them. They can take their allowances with them too. Therefore they will be in a very good position either in Canada or in Australia. I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should set up Pension Boards in Canada and Australia, which would act in conjunction with the Central Board in London, and that these boards should pay out to the men who emigrate, or to the widows and to the children, the sums that may be due to them, and that these boards should, while acting in conjunction with the head board in London, practically have the control of matters locally. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, 1879 and as I have no doubt the House knows, when a widow remarries she is allowed two years' pension as a sort of bonus. That bonus will be a very useful thing to the woman if she emigrates. Knowing that she has two years' bonus she will not go to her husband without any money, and the children will be a very great profit to the family, and, in fact, the family will be able in a comparatively short time to build up in Canada or Australia a home such as many people in this country might envy. I would like to see some provision made in the Bill which would enable that to be done. At the present time the money has to come out of voluntary funds, but what the voluntary funds are we do not know. We are told, and there is some reason to believe it, that the bulk of the money is to come out of the National Relief Fund. I would, however, call attention to the fact that this National Relief Fund was mainly contributed for civil purposes—at any rate, it was contributed for purposes arising during the War. What it is proposed to do, apparently, is to take this entire sum, and it is mounting up day by day, and to hand it over to form a benefit fund for soldiers and sailors, and their wives and children, for services that have been rendered in the War. That is not what this fund was got together for. Do the Government propose calmly to take this money without in any way having any consultation with the individuals who provided it? If so it is a matter which requires some explanation.
§ Mr. G. THORNE
I only intervene before the right hon. Gentleman who has charge of the Bill replies for two purposes. My own experience in regard to this matter has been so much in accord with that expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. J. Samuel), and he has so fully stated my own views in regard to this matter, that I do not propose to repeat them. I only wish to refer to two points, namely, the constitution of the local committees and the powers of the local committees. As to the constitution of the local committees, he referred to a report issued by the Association of Municipal Corporations. I have got a copy of that report and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, if he has not already done so, to give very full consideration to those suggestions before the Committee stage. If these suggestions could in some way be carried 1880 out, it seems to me that they would lessen the complication very largely and help forward the due performance of the work in hand. The other point is in regard to the functions of the Committees. In regard to that, my difficulty is the difficulty felt by the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees. In Clause 3 we have the functions of the statutory Committee specifically declared, and I have found by experience that when there is any attempt to specifically declare functions, then if anything be left out there is difficulty as to whether those functions are held by the Committee or not. The functions of the Committee are detailed in various paragraphs, but I do not find in any one of these paragraphs the point so lucidly referred to by my hon. Friend, and that is, that persons in localities having difficulties which they desire to be investigated should not be required to send particulars of them to the head office or the head Committee, but should have the opportunity of approaching the local committee direct on these particular matters and that the local committee should have the right, and it should be their duty to consider these matters and then make a report to the Central Committee. I am afraid that the Bill as it stands does not make provision in that behalf. What I would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman is that he would be good enough in the interval between now and the Committee stage to give great consideration to that point, so that the difficulty which my hon. Friend entertains and which I entertain, may be met, and that persons having difficulties in localities may go direct to the local committee.
§ Sir RYLAND ADKINS
I have only one point to put before the right hon. Gentleman replies on the Debate. I agree most strongly with what my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. G. Thorne) and the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees have said. It is most desirable that these local committees should have some power of initiative, at any rate, the power of hearing local complaints beyond those referred to them by the statutory Committee. These local committees in my judgment are well formed and will be of great use, but it is not in the public interest that the pensions committee should be doing half the work and these local committees doing the other half. While I prefer these local committees to pension committees very much, that is a matter which we can discuss in Committee. My point is 1881 this: That the great difficulty now experienced in the working of these pensions committees with regard to allowances is the question of appeal. At present the appeal is really not an appeal; it leads to most unfortunate soreness of feeling. What we want is a short and satisfactory appeal from the decision of the local committee as to allowances. If the right hon. Gentleman would provide that the Central Committee which is to decide questions of fact in regard to pensions should also be the court of appeal with regard to allowances, then I am confident it will have the very greatest effect in giving satisfaction both in town and in country, and it could be done by extending the functions of the local committees under Clause 4. The local committee could decide in the first instance, and the appeal to the Committee in London would satisfy all the persons concerned. We are glad to have the right hon. Gentleman conducting this Bill, which is associated so enormously with the valuable work that he has done in the country.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
We have had a very varied Debate, and a great number of points have been introduced. I think, after all, that the consensus of opinion—I have not heard an opposite opinion expressed—is that having adopted a flat scale of pensions, we must have some supplementaries to that flat scale, and some new administrative machinery set up to administer those supplementary pensions; and, when we come to look to the future, when, not thousands, but tens of thousands of soldiers will return badly wounded or badly diseased, owing to their brave action in defending their country, and when we shall have them all over the country, we must have some machinery outside Government Departments altogether which would, of course, have more heart than Government Departments are ever allowed to have and which would have, or ought to have, a more sympathetic touch, and more knowledge, experience and leisure with which to deal with all those questions. There is a general consensus of opinion about that. The Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge), in discussing the proposal, gave a very broad hint that that is not an ideal scheme. It is not an ideal scheme to me. I have already on the floor of the House, and in evidence, stated that some day I hoped to see a bigger reform, a bigger measure. For my own part, notwithstanding the views of my right hon. Friend the Secretary 1882 to the Board of Admiralty, I still think that a great deal of pension money might be taken away from the War Office and from the Admiralty with great advantage. I still hold the view that some day or another we may see one pension board administering pensions in one pension building, and that there may be one address and one secretary to whom all those who care for soldiers and sailors, or care for their wives, widows, orphans and dependants can address themselves.
You cannot divorce responsibility for the spending of State money from a State Department. You cannot, at all events,, divorce responsibility of spending State money from the Government of the day. I quite agree with that. Still, I believe that much more might be done than I think is being done in this particular Bill to simplify the whole system of pensions, grants, and allowances that are paid in respect of our soldiers and sailors. I quite admit that the Government have many other matters which engage their attention—Bills for munitions, State Register, War Loan, and matters of that kind. They were bound, if they wanted to set up some machinery and to set up a scheme—and I admit that there has been very great delay—to proceed perhaps-along the line of least resistance, and to adopt a scheme which would be generally acceptable to the House, and which would not meet with the opposition which any such scheme as I once adumbrated to the Committee would undoubtedly meet with. Let us agree that the scheme is not ideal, but it is for all candid men a good, practicable, workable scheme, and I am glad that, generally speaking, it has been well received by the House. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Holder) does not seem to think that we require any new organisation at all; he thinks that charitable committees can be got up and that we can go to them with all our wants. But I believe that the House will give this Bill a Second Reading, and will proceed to put down practical Amendments, which I can assure them will be perfectly fairly considered by those in charge of this Bill, with the real desire of making it even a better measure than it appears on paper.
Let us look at some of the features of this Bill. We are all agreed that as regards supplementary pensions, and all other questions connected with pensions, there should be a democratic body to deal with them, and the decisions should be 1883 made by people who are known, and that they will be decisions that can be both criticised and controlled. First of all take the statutory body. How is it controlled? Out of twenty-six members only six are necessarily officials, and I would point out to Members that on this Committee, of course, regard must be had to the component parts of the United Kingdom, and regard must be had to democratic representation, in addition to the beaureaucratic representation, which is afforded by the six officials, and regard must be had more perhaps than anything else, I think, to putting a sufficient number of women on this body. After all, all that is put in the Bill as regards women is that two out of ten appointed by His Majesty's Government must be women. It does not follow that half can not be women—and the council of the corporation must select two women. But so far as I know the corporation, I think they will probably select more. There is nothing to prevent the two representatives appointed by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, and the two representatives appointed by the National Relief Committee, all being women if those bodies so choose. I see every ground for thinking that a considerable number of women will be selected upon this statutory body.
Turn to the corporation for a moment. Very little has been said about the corporation. I attach enormous importance to it. It is from the corporation, at all events, that the statutory Committee will to a large extent draw its life blood. The corporation is popular and democratic. It consists first of all of lord lieutenants—I do not say that they are democratic, but I hope that they are popular—also of all the chairman of county councils, who are fairly popular and certainly democratic, or of their nominees, and it consists also of all the lord mayors, mayors, or provosts, and again of their nominees. I quite agree with the criticism which has been made, that the mayors, lord mayors, and provosts are too busy to spend very much time on this work, but every such man can appoint somebody else to act for him. There is generally in a great town, such as Manchester, Liverpool, or Birmingham, somebody who is well qualified, far better qualified than a lord mayor or mayor, to take, part in these proceedings. The Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation meets at least once a year. I hope that this corporation will meet something like four 1884 times a year, because it is through the corporation and by means of the corporation that the local committees represented all over the country will be able to debate the proceedings of the statutory Committee and to review their general decisions. I do not mean their decisions in any particular case as to whether Mrs. So-and-So got quite enough, but to review the conditions that are laid down, and the general policy of the administration pursued by the statutory body.
In addition to lord lieutenants, chairmen of county councils, lord mayors, and mayors, the corporation will consist of twenty other members. Those twenty will be chosen from those who have had experience in some kind of work similar to that which the statutory Committee is set up to perform. There, again, I think that among those twenty members there is bound to be a very large share of working-class representatives and those who can give sufficient time to this work. So I feel that I have justified my claim that, this Corporation and the statutory Committee are really popular and really democratic. Several Members have joined in the request that the proceedings of the statutory Committee, its decisions and its policy, shall be subject to debate in this House. I entirely share that view, and I think that you could not prevent the House from discussing it. It would discuss it, but it would probably discuss it at a very inconvenient hour, and it would probably discuss it on some Estimate of my right hon. Friend, on some Naval Estimate, or some Estimate of the War Office. But I hope that the presentation of the Annual Report will be made the occasion. Certainly for the first few years after the War there should be a first-class Debate upon it. It should be put down as the first Order of the day, and time given—if necessary, not one day, but possibly two or three days—to discuss the whole of this question, which will then be of such profound interest.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I am inclined to think that if it is not secured in the Bill some means will be taken of making secure that which possibly is not clear at the present moment. I am not going to discuss scales of pensions and allowances. Those scales have been accepted as a result of the Report of the Select Committee, and I believe from the Debate 1885 that has taken place in this House that the House generally thinks that those scales are not only a very great advance on any scales that have ever been laid down before, but that on the whole those scales are liberal and generous. Of course, if you adopt the flat rate, you want some supplementaries, but, speaking generally, these scales are liberal and generous. The hon. Member for Atter-cliffe (Mr. Anderson) said that there was too much of charity and not enough of right about this. I really think that he has not given quite the same attention to this Bill on this particular point that he generally does. This Bill does not interfere in any way, the statutory body does not interfere in any way, with the payment of the State pensions. Those will continue to be paid just as they are paid now through the Post Office, payable weekly, and authorised by the Department of my right hon. Friend. Nothing in this Bill disturbs any of those rights. Those pensions are pensions given as a right to which these persons have a legal claim. This Bill deals practically only with those pensions that are given by way of supplement, but not necessarily by way of charity, or not at all, at all events, in any degree to which exception can be taken. I shall discuss the funds allotted to the statutory body a little later on. It is plain to everybody that this body, except in one particular, is really only set up to deal with supplementary points. What is the one exception to that? Clause 3, Subsection (1), paragraph (a), where this body has to decideany 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.I think that that is a very large function, because on the decision of this Committee on questions of fact will depend entirely whether certain mothers, fathers, or sisters perhaps get any pensions at all or any separation allowance.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I am perfectly aware of that. But once they have de- 1886 cided the questions of fact the pensions are paid automatically, just as the State pensions are paid through the Post Office, on a scale to be decided by the Department. As to the pension, I think that should be a departmental decision. I have had a great deal to do with these matters, and I think, on the whole, that the power of fixing the scale of the pension should remain with the departmental or statutory Committee, assisted by the local committee on questions of fact. Then there is the question of deciding a particular case, as to whether the pension, under the regulations, ought to be forfeited. According to the decision of the Select Committee, pensions and allowances ought to be forfeited in some cases where there have been convictions of a criminal offence.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I think there are circumstances in which it might be well that there should be the penalty of forfeiture of the pension. I admit that it is a power that should be exercised with the very greatest care, when a pension of that kind is to be forfeited, and if it is not forfeited, it might, at all events, be vested in the family in some cases. I should like to point out that local bodies are linked, through the lord mayors, mayors, chairmen of county councils, or their nominees, with the headquarters of the statutory Committee, and could bring up those very questions which were mentioned by my hon. Friend, the Member for the Middleton Division of Lancashire. It is in that way, I think, that you will almost force an appeal to the statutory body. The fact that lord mayors, mayors, chairmen of county councils, or their nominees, are members of the Royal Patriotic Corporation will, I think, link local bodies up to the statutory Committee to enforce their claims for an appeal, not in a particular case, but on any general principle which the statutory Committee have adopted, and which principle may have shut out the very pensions or allowances of a certain class of people with whom the local committee are concerned.
§ Colonel YATE
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether two representatives of the Officers' Families Association will be on that body to represent the interest of the officers?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
That is really a matter for the scheme, and I do not think the officers can have any special representatives. There is no special representation given to any rank of the Army, and I do not think we could have one for officers, who have many friends in this House who have already stated that the pensions of officers are too low. My right hon. Friend (Dr. Macnamara) has practically told us to-day that those pensions are to be raised in proportion. My right hon. Friend's speech will be read tomorrow, and the hon. Member will see whether I have correctly interpreted what the right hon. Gentleman said. Then I turn to the functions of the statutory Committee. By Clause 3, excepting Paragraph (a), they are toframe a scale of 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.My hon. Friend the Member for the Don-caster Division objects to the new body having any decision on the separation allowance. He thinks that separation allowances might well remain where they are. I am not at all sure that the House may not agree with him when we come to the Committee stage. After all, however, we have settled that we must have a fixed scale in connection with separation allowances, and most of the delay in paying the separation allowances has disappeared; the machine is now fairly well oiled and working fairly well, and the House may feel it inadvisable to throw this question of separation allowances on the new body, with all the work which it has before it. But that is for the House to consider in Committee. Hon. Members should consider what enormous functions are performed outside the statutory Committee, and I want them especially to pay attention to paragraph (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.There will be, as I said, not thousands, but tens of thousands of cases to be dealt with, and we must have set up in readiness some machinery by which we may deal with the unhappy victims of the War. The Report has been quoted to-day of Sir George Murray's Select Committee. This Committee laid down that it was the primary duty of the State to discharge its 1888 liability for the care of soldiers and sailors disabled in the War, and they then went on to say what it was necessary to do. They said that we must have some central organisation, and must have affiliated to them local committees throughout the country. Here are some of the duties which are to be carried out: To arrange for the care and treatment of disabled soldiers and sailors immediately on discharge, with a view to restoring them to health, and, where possible, to enable them to earn their own living; to appoint local committees or local representatives to assist the committees in the performance of their duties, especially in finding employment and negotiating with employers, and to organise training of men who desire new employment; to arrange for maintenance and for emigration, and many duties of that kind. These duties are all of the greatest importance.
Apparently several hon. Members think that the old age pensions committees, should be entrusted with this work, and I am going to ask them whether those committees are the kind of committee and are so constituted as to be able properly to discharge duties of the kind which this Bill imposes? [An HON. MEMBER: "They could be augmented."] I proceed to argue for the scheme of this Bill—that is to say, for the setting up of new committees, which I believe to be necessary, particularly looking to the number of cases that will have to be dealt with. It will be necessary to set up everywhere, and not merely in great populous centres, committees so constituted and so composed that they will pay the greatest possible attention, and give the greatest possible care and thought and interest to the cases of soldiers and sailors, their wives, widows, families, dependants, and so forth. Nobody has a higher opinion of old age pensions committees than I have. I was chairman of the first old age pensions committee in London, and the business of that committee was never conducted on party lines, and when I ceased to be chairman of that body I asked that my hon. Friend the Member for Walworth, though he is a political opponent, should be my successor. On that committee we sunk all party differences, and I believe it did most excellent work. I do not believe, however, that the old age pensions committees could deal with the soldiers and sailors, their widows and families.
I believe that you want specially constituted committees, composed of people 1889 who have spent perhaps years of their lives in doing this kind of work; who have their hearts in this work; who are in touch with the different organisations engaged in it, and who are giving infinite care to unfortunate people who are out of work; who try to get the children of these people into educational institutions; who are trying to get women employment or into service, and who are endeavouring, in countless ways, to assist those who are in need of help. But there is no reason whatever, in the Bill as framed, why the local committees should not utilise to an enormous extent the services of the old age pensions committees. I believe where those old age pensions committees are really doing good work the mayor or the chairman would very likely turn them on to the local committees to do the kind of work which is contemplated by the Bill. There is nothing to prevent it.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I should think that could be done better in regard to district committees, and the county committee might well be able to delegate its powers to sub-committees. I am quite sure that the old age pensions committees, where they are found to be useful, will be utilised. I think it will be best, on the whole, that those who are responsible for the formation of the local committees should have a great variety of choice.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I think it would create great confusion if they were not able to do so. I have already indicated the functions of these committees, and it might be necessary to put in that. That can be done when we come to discuss the particular terms of the Bill. I have been asked a great many questions. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh suggested that one-third of the members of the Committee should retire each year, but that is a matter which can be discussed in Committee. I was asked about hard cases. In Clause 3, paragraph (d), enables the statutory Committeeout of funds at their disposal to make grants in cases where no separation allowances or pensions are payable out of public funds.I think that is a very important function of the Committee. In working these 1890 funds I discovered that no matter how generously you framed the conditions you always left out somebody who was not eligible, but whose case was a very hard and pitiable one and calculated to attract universal sympathy. I hope that this body will have sufficient funds at its disposal to travel outside the rigid limits which must be set by Government Departments. There was the case mentioned, for instance, of the man dying more than seven years after the war as a result of wounds received in the war. We have had those cases time out of mind in the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation. We have had cases of men who died as the result of wounds received in the Transvaal war, now almost fourteen years ago. Those would be cases which the Admiralty or the War Office could not deal with, and we would, of course, have to have very conclusive evidence connecting the death with the injury inflicted in the war. In such cases we are able to do what Government Departments cannot I do. Therefore I hope that this body will, amongst its many useful functions, be able to do for many hard cases what no Government Department possibly can do. I think most of the questions that have been asked are really questions that can well be deferred till the Committee stage.
I come to a few remarks, general remarks on the Bill, and in doing so I express my own hopes and fears. My hopes are that those county committees and borough committees will vie with one another, and will take pride in seeing what each can do for the widow and the disabled soldier and sailor and those partially disabled who cannot get work necessary to employ their time. I believe if we set to work in the right spirit, and I that spirit does prevail at present, that I these committees will vie with one another and that they will take pride in saying, "That is the way we are treating our men; we are treating them better than you are." That is one of my great hopes in connection with the committees. I know it will depend very much on the personnel, and on the chairman perhaps, and the vice-chairman, and on having a very good secretary, and on having men and women on it of leisure, because an enormous amount of work will be entailed, and it is useless for anybody to go on these committees who is not prepared to take his or her full share. Those are my hopes, and now for my fears. I am aware that enormous functions and varied and great 1891 powers are given to those who have got to administer this Bill, and I am aware that nothing is said, or very little, to indicate the source' from which funds are to be derived. I have crossed the floor, but I am not one of those who, for that reason, can swallow all I have expressed when I was in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility. I have already said that I considered, and I have made some calculations on the matter, that at least £5,000,000, not £5,000,000 yearly, but a capital sum of £5,000,000 will be needed by this body if it is to carry out its functions throughout the country. I believe my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer entertains great hopes that he will be able to get the necessary money for this body without having any recourse to public funds or State contributions. He is Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he is responsible for very heavy payments and very heavy taxation. He naturally does not wish to add to those, and he will naturally desire to draw this money from the pockets of the benevolent, and he is very hopeful he is going to do it. I was asked a question as to whether the National Relief Fund, that is, the Prince of Wales' Fund, would be likely to make a large contribution to this. I am only one member of that body. I think that body would be wise if they would wait and see what sort of statutory body was set up. At all events, merely because I am a member of that body, I have no authority to speak for it, and I am not even going to tell hon. Members how I should vote on the question.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is very hopeful indeed of getting the money required for this body. When that body is constituted let it make the best calculation it can, and I hope it will, as to what money will be required to carry out some of the various matters assigned to it. Let them then see what they can do with the amount of money which I understand will be forthcoming for them immediately. I am told so by my right hon. Friend. He, perhaps, will be able to attend the Debate later, and will be able to state his own views on this matter, but I am one of those who believe that if the money is not forthcoming from private benevolence or from any society that at present exists, and which has control of large funds, then that either this House or some other House will insist that adequate funds are placed at the disposal of this body, and 1892 that the figure which we create to-day is adequately clothed so that it may go into decent society and hold up its head and be properly respected, as I hope it will in the course of years.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Are we to understand that the right hon. Gentleman is really being asked to take charge of this Bill and has had thrust on him the responsibility for providing employment for soldiers and sailors by a Bill on a Report of a Committee set up by the Government and that the Government is not going to give money to do it?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I have not said so. That is for my right hon. Friend. I have expressed my right hon. Friend's hopes that he will be able to get this money from other sources than that of taxation. He has a perfect right to hold that opinion, and a perfect right to get the money from other sources than by taxation. I am expressing my views because I expressed them before. I cannot disguise them. I still hold the same view that a capital sum of £5,000,000 will be required in order to properly carry out the functions assigned to this Committee. I hold the view that if that is not forthcoming from private sources that this House in all probability will take it into its own care and charge and will respectfully request the Chancellor of the Exchequer to find the money; that is to say, provided they are satisfied, after they have seen the statutory body, and think that in its working it is calculated to carry out the various functions assigned to it. The local committees, in their desire to be popular, might forget the burdens on the National Exchequer and they might possibly be anxious and desirous of making these supplementary loans too large and liberal, forgetting, after all, while they considered the payee that they ought to consider the payer, in the shape of the taxpayer, the ordinary working man who will never get a pension, except the old age pension of 5s. per week. After all we must consider the general body of taxpayers when we consider the scale, although we desire that a liberal and generous scale should be given supplemental to the scale already laid down. One sees throughout the country a splendid spirit, everybody is anxious to do something. I do hope that those who enter on this work, which they may find toilsome and tiresome, and those who begin it with great zest and energy, 1893 may not get weary of well-doing. I can detect no such spirit at present. This Bill, if it is to be successful, must rely largely on voluntary effort. I believe the same spirit will prevail throughout the country years after the War is over, and that years after victory is won we shall not forget the victims of the War who, if they had not been victims, could not have assured for us the perpetuation of those liberties which we have enjoyed and which we intend to continue to enjoy.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for to-morrow (Thursday).