HC Deb 08 August 1916 vol 85 cc892-1012

Most Members of the House, I dare say, every morning scan with increasing anxiety the ever-lengthening list of our dead and wounded in this War. There are few Members who do not in their visits to hospitals and visits to their wounded friends find in their hearts not only a deep sense of gratitude for the splendid self-sacrifice which these men have made, but an earnest and yearning desire to do something of a practical and tangible nature for the honour of the dead and for the good of the wounded and diseased and those who are dependent upon them. It seems to me that this Vote offers an opportunity to the Committee to ask what this House has done, what it is doing, and what it proposes to do for the honour of 1hc dead and for the wounded and diseased and those who are dependent upon them. I do not mean merely anything in the genera!, nature of a lasting peace memorial, or anything of that kind, or restitution or restoration or the punishment of those who have perpetrated gross and foul outrages—I mean something of a practical kind, a practical memorial which individually touches and alleviates distress and, in many cases, the painful position of those who are dependent upon the men who have suffered so much from wounds and disease. That sacred duty of doing something for our wounded and diseased and their depen- dants has been laid by this House of Commons upon the Statutory Committee whose Vote we are about to discuss to-day.

May I say a few words as to my personal position in this matter. It is an invariable rule of this House that the Minister who defends a Vote should be the Minister who is responsible for the spending of that Vote and for the Department with which it is connected. I am only one of twenty-seven members of this Statutory Committee. It is true that I am an ex-officio member of all its committees and am probably more cognisant than anybody else, except perhaps its vice-chairman, of what it is doing, but I do not in any way direct its policy, although the Committee is, perhaps, influenced by any counsel I may give. I am not defending this Vote as I might be defending the Vote of the Local Government Board, in connection with which I am paid a salary to administer the policy of the Board. It is an anomalous position altogether. This Statutory Committee is not hitched on to or connected with any Government Department. The Local Government Board as a Board has nothing to do with it. The President of the Local Government Board has nothing to do with it. I answer questions for this Statutory Committee, and I am defending its Vote today at the request of the Prime Minister, I presume mainly because for the last fifteen years there has been no week of my life in which I have not given up a good deal of time endeavouring to alleviate the lot of our soldiers and sailors. In this matter I am as keenly interested as any member of this Committee or any critic of the Statutory Committee. Very likely I may agree with some of the criticisms we shall hear to-day.

4.0 P.M.

Let us look at the cause of the creation of the Statutory Committee. It arose in this way: Soon after the outbreak of War the House of Commons began to examine the scales of pensions for those who gave up their lives in the War and for those who were wounded and diseased in the War and their dependants. The House came to the conclusion that the scale in existence, which was enacted by Royal Warrants and Orders in Council, although it was a much higher scale than this country had ever sanctioned before the Transvaal War, was wholly inadequate. The House very rightly came to that conclusion. It asked a Committee, consisting of six Members of the House, to inquire into the whole subject of pensions and to make a report thereon. The Committee of six sat and reported in favour of adopting the flat rate of payment—that is, that everyone should get some pension, no matter what their pre-war income or their pre-war circumstances. I think the Committee did right in doing that, because it added that, in addition to the flat rate, it would set up some body or another to supplement that flat rate in all cases where it was inadequate. It would have been possible to put the flat rate at a higher rate. It would have been possible to take the advice given by some that there should be a general flat rate of £l a week and no supplement for the widow. But in my opinion that would have been an absolutely wrong decision, because whilst £1 a week might have been a good deal more than the agricultural labourer's wife was ever getting, even when her husband had to be kept out of the money, £l a week, as it has turned out, would have been wholly inadequate to support the widows of many of those who have enlisted since that time and whose services we have been using to the full, and often to their peril, and even to their death. Therefore, I think the Committee was absolutely right in choosing a low flat rate, provided, of course, always that it supplemented that flat rate by an adequate supplementary pension.

I want the House to notice this: The Committee laid it down that the supplement for the State pension was to be found, not from State resources, not from taxes, but from voluntary efforts. There is nothing in the Report as to a supplemental State pension from State funds. I have my own views about that, but that was the original intention of the Committee, and it was not very much contested at the time in the House of Commons. A Statutory Committee had to be set up by Act of Parliament. That Act of Parliament was debated at considerable length both in this and in the other House we had not been debating it very long before there appeared two views as to how the operations of this Statutory Committee should be financed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer held resolutely to the view that the bulk of the money for supplementing these pensions ought to come not from the State but from voluntary funds. There were others who held the opposite view, that the bulk of the money ought to come from the State, and only auxiliary resources to be found by voluntary means. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in a very different position from any of us. He is more oppressed, perhaps, than many of us by the sense of the enormoues load of debt that we are heaping up, by the fact that he has to find £5,000,000 a day or so for the War, by the forecast which he probably makes of the great dislocation of trade and industry which may take place after the War, and by the fact that if pensions for our soldiers and sailors and their dependants are put very high out of State money those whom he taxes so rigorously, and many of them are very poor indeed, will begin to compare their position with that of those widows or dependants or wounded who are enjoying very large State pensions. At all events, there were the two views as to how this supplemental pension should be financed. The Statutory Committee met on 17th January for the first time and proceeded to carry out the instructions under the Act to all the local committees all over the country, in every county, in every county borough, and in every urban borough of over 50,000 population, and it proceeded to frame scales of supplemental pensions, and, in accordance with the Act, to frame regulations for administering those pensions, and after it had framed those scales and those regulations it submitted them to Sir Alfred Watson, an actuary of great reputation, who has done much work for the Government, and who has most kindly consented to do this work for us. That is a business course to adopt, having framed your scales of pensions, to see what they were going to cost, and more especially when you recollect that the Statutory Committee at the time it framed the scale was only in possession of £1,000,000, and that for the rest of the money it was told by my right hon. Friend that it ought to make an appeal to the public.


Not the whole of it.


My right hon. Friend thinks he was more generous than that. My impression was that we were to take £1,000,000 and then make an appeal, and then my right hon. Friend would consider what money he was going to give us. My right hon. Friend gave us £1,000,000. Later on we had several conferences with him on our scales and on our regulations, and he increased the amount to £3,000,000. Later on, after considerable discussion with us, he was good enough to increase it to £6,000,000. On 2nd August we got a really handsome letter from the Treasury which practically gives us a sum equivalent to about £7,500,000. And not only that. What is the present attitude of the Treasury towards the Statutory Committee? Where do we stand? The Treasury has approved our scales and regulations—that is a very great thing—which really give adequate pensions and generous pensions beyond all comparison with anything that any country after any war has ever done. Secondly, it has increased the sum of £6,000,000 by an amount which brings the total up to about £7,500,000. The calculation of the £6,000,000 was based on a loss of life of 300,000. The new estimate is based on a possible loss of life of 250,000 instead of 300,000, and for every 50,000 we shall get a sixth of £6,000,000. The amount will be raised every time we have to estimate another 50,000 deaths. Thirdly, the Chancellor of the Exchequer agrees to ask Parliament to endow us with a capital sum sufficient to meet the first cost of administration, put at £300,000, the full estimated cost of all pensions for widows and dependants, the full estimated cost of all supplemental pensions for the totally disabled, and the full estimated cost of all supplemental pensions for officers and for men in a like position to officers, and then a provisional sum to supplement the partially disabled pension, and to provide for the training, care and health, and general position of employment of those who are partially disabled, and who, by skilful training, will undoubtedly be able to resume, not perhaps the same position, but a position in the market. That is a very generous response to our appeal. The great feature of it is that it is to be reviewed at the end of two years, and particularly the figures in connection with the partially disabled.

After all, that is the advice of the actuary himself. The actuary himself has had the greatest possible difficulty in making an estimate of what supplemental pensions will be required for the partially disabled. Look at the difficulty. From pressure in this House, or from other causes, Chelsea Hospital and the War Office are continually giving pensions where pensions were not given at the beginning of the War. We have to consider cases where the diseased condition was not due solely and directly to war service, but was aggravated by war service, and there we have a new pension system now by which anyone who can prove that his diseased condition—his partly incapacitated condition—has been aggravated by war service, gets four-fifths of the disability pension. That has caused thousands of pensions to be given which would not have been given before, and when we remember that the Statutory Committee has not only to supplement pensions where there are State pensions and where they are inadequate, but is supposed also to give pensions where there are no State pensions—where the Statutory Committee thinks they are deserving of a pension the House will see what a very large field of uncertainty there is at present in which any actuary would have to operate. I should be sorry to offer to the House the actuary's reports for supplemental pensions for widows, supplemental pensions for the totally disabled, and supplemental pensions for dependants, as being of any great worth or any great significance. It seems to me that they really rely on a whole series of trembling conjectures and quaking hypotheses. First of all, you have to estimate how many lives you think will be lost from now to the end of the War. How many of these men are married? Is it 33 per cent.? If they are married, what are the ages of their wives and of their children? How-many are likely to find husbands again and go off your supplemental pension list? What is likely to be their earning capacity? All these things have to be estimated for, and the estimate of the best actuary is not of any very great value on which to base our calculations. Therefore, all along we have asked my right hon. Friend rather to finance a proposition than to finance a given number of millions. After my right hon. Friend's letter of 2nd August, I take it that the State has undertaken to provide the whole estimated cost of supplemental pensions of all kinds, and that these will be administered, not through a bureaucracy, but through local representatives and advisory bodies on which women and the labour element would all find their places, and where the human hand and the human heart will control a good deal of this estimable work rendered infinitely more estimable if you get the human hand and the human heart in touch with it.


Will it be financed up to the end of the War?


It will be financed long after the War.


Will the Government now undertake to pay this up to the end of the War whatever the casualties?


My right hon. Friend will explain his own position. I think. I have put it quite clearly to the House. The Government has now undertaken substantially to find the money not only for pensions, but for supplemental pensions. That money will be found, first, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer handing over to us a capital sum of £6,000,000, and he has undertaken that if after two years these figures are found to be unreliable, either up or down, that sum can, and will, be altered. That position having been taken up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think everybody will agree that the Statutory Committee was right when it unanimously wrote back to the Treasury to say that it was well satisfied with the arrangement which my right hon. Friend had made to finance these operations.


Is that definitely binding upon the Government?


My right hon. Friend will have a chance of speaking in this Debate. If I have misinterpreted the position, I am sure my right hon. Friend will understand that it is without the least intention so to do. Of course, letters are always capable, even the best of them, of misinterpretation, and if by any chance I have misinterpreted the letter, my right hon. Friend will be able to explain it for himself. At any rate, the Statutory Committee consists of twenty-seven members, who were present when that letter was read, and that is the interpretation which they have placed upon the letter and which I have placed upon it.


May I take it—


There will be a. Debate, and I hope hon. Members will wait.


These are questions of finance. I have made my statement of what I think is the correct financial position with respect to the action of the Treasury towards pensions and supplemental pensions, and I cannot help thinking that it would be best if questions upon that particular aspect of the matter were addressed to my right hon. Friend. That being the position, we are prepared, or shall be in a very few days, to issue our Regulations, and I earnestly hope that the local committees will proceed at once to act upon these regulations, and to investigate cases and make recommendations, making them with care, and within the regulations. I need hardly assure them that where powerful local committees have been set up in such places as Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, and other great towns, that if they make their recommendations within the regulations, their recommendations, obviously, will be adopted by the Statutory Committee with as little criticism as possible. Indeed, the Statutory Committee would not have time to do much in the way of criticism. It will have to rely upon the local committees. Of course, they must every now and then test the local committees to see whether they are keeping within the regulations and the rules. The very reason for the setting up of these powerful local committees is to find out what are the facts about particular applications, and it is they, rather than we, that must have the local knowledge on the strength of which the recommendations are made and the grants given. If these local committees, or many of them, were to refuse to act, what is the alternative? There is one or two alternatives. The Statutory Committee is now entrusted with this money, and it is entrusted with this power by Parliament.

If the local committees refuse to act, it might mean the reviving of the old branches of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Help Society, which have done work of incalculable value proved again and again, and for which we cannot be too grateful. If we revived them, that would not be in consonance with the wishes of the House, which desired that some representative body should be set up in every locality, and that the locality through its chosen representatives should have some voice in these pensions. If, however, the local committees turn the work down, and say, "We will not do it. We do not think you have given us enough money, therefore we will not have anything to do with it," some other machinery must be found, and there is the alternative of the machinery which I have already mentioned. On the other hand, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be perfectly entitled to say, "I have got nobody to help me, therefore I shall put all this upon the War Office, upon the Admiralty, upon Chelsea, and Greenwich. In that event, everybody who wants supplemental pensions must go before the War Office, the Admiralty, or the officials at Chelsea or Greenwich. I cannot help thinking that the applicants would be better off with a little local touch, a little individual feeling, and a little of the gentle spirit that pervades inquiries that are made by local authorities, by local people, and voluntary helpers, working with their hearts and not for salaries, working because they love the work and because it is their form of pay and their tribute to those who have done so much for the country.

I understand that already there are many critics of our regulations. I shall listen to their criticism, and I hope to learn a good deal from it. All I can say is that I will take back their criticism and report it to my colleagues on the Statutory Committee. These regulations are not laws never to be broken. They are not laws to be set up for ever and ever. They constitute a working code of rules and regulations, worked out with great thought, great care, and worked out by men like Mr. Howard, Comptroller of the London County Council, who has done an infinite amount of work in connection with the various tables, rules, regulations, and instructions with which we are, bound to associate any grants that are made. Of course these rules and regulations will be criticised. I shall be pleased to hear the criticism, and to pay attention to it. I understand that the one regulation which is most disliked is Rule 37 which says: If a local committee are in possession of funds raised or contributed for the purposes of the Act or similar objects, the Statutory Committee may take such funds into account in considering applications for supplementary pensions or special (temporary) allowances from persons residing in the area for which such local committee is established, and if a local committee make a grant or allowance of a like nature to any person in receipt of a supplementary pension or special (temporary) allowance from the Statutory Committee, the latter pension or allowance may be withdrawn or modified. I think I see the point of view of the critics. Their point of view is this: "Why should not we in Liverpool or in Glasgow or Manchester have a fund of our own, and when the State pension has been given, and the supplemental pension has been awarded by the Statutory Committee, why should not we give something additional to that?" That, at first sight, is a kind of suggestion which would commend itself to anybody. It once commended itself to me, and I think I said so in the House. But when you come to draw up regulations, you have to do a little deeper thinking than you sometimes do when you are debating matters in this House. The Act of Parliament does not say you are to give supplemental pensions to everybody, but that you are to give a supplemental pension in exceptional circumstances. What do exceptional circumstances mean? They mean, obviously, where there is some hardship in the position of the applicant. How do you gauge hardship? You must have a standard of some kind or other to gauge hardship, and the line we have taken is to make up the sum to two-thirds of the pre-war income. We are not justified in making it up to more than two-thirds of the pre-war income. Therefore, in putting down your figure you have to take into account all sources of regular income. I am not talking of a stray gift here and there, an occasional £5 note, or anything of that kind—but regular income. This is the case I understand was put. Take a widow and one child. She gets 10s. for herself and 5s. for the child, making 15s. The pre-war income of her husband was, say, 30s. per week. You seek, therefore, to make the income up to 20s., and you give her 5s. as a supplemental pension, making up the sum to 20s., and putting her in something like the position she was in Before she lost her husband. Thereupon comes the local committee, and says, "Notwithstanding that you have made this up to 20s. a week, we are going to give her 10s. a week, making the total sum 30s."

What are we to do on the Statutory Committee? Our pension was granted for one year only, subject to review, which is obviously necessary, because income is continually changing, sometimes up and sometimes down. What is the Statutory Committee to do, therefore, when in the following year it finds that that widow is in possession of 10s. a week from another source—a regular additional income of, 10s. per week? We debated this at very great length, and came to the conclusion that we were almost bound by the Act to take that additional sum into consideration, and were bound to reduce our supplemental allowance, because there was no longer any hardship. That was the view of the Statutory Committee. I think in practice we shall be able possibly to meet such cases. Powerful local committees like those of Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, and other large towns, if they are wise, will have constant conferences with the Statutory Committee, especially at first, appointing perhaps two members of their committees to meet two members of the Statutory Committee to discuss these large points, and I believe that when we come to discuss them the committees with large local funds will probably say this: "If you are going to give a supplemental pension from State funds, we need not give a regular supplemental pension in addition. We need not give a super-supplemental pension, but we can give our grant in another way. We can give it for special educational purposes, for special holidays, for outfits, apprenticeships, and all those kind of things, and by giving it in that way we shall not interfere with your rules, which you are bound to have." I cannot help thinking that if some kind of working arrangement of that sort is made, by which these extra gifts may be made as allowances of a temporary kind from time to time so as not to conflict with the rules which have been laid down in estimating what supplemental pensions should be given—of course there must be rules: just as in the old age pensions you must take into account all sorts of regular income—it might be mutually satisfactory. I will listen to criticisms upon the point. I can assure hon. Members that this matter was very much debated by members of the Statutory Committee. We felt the difficulty quite as much as some hon. Members feel the difficulty. We had to frame Regulations which had to be submitted to the Treasury and had to be passed by the Treasury, and looking at the matter all round we thought that these Regulations were, on the whole, fair and just.

With regard to the scale, we came to the conclusion that we should aim at making the widow's pension two-thirds of her prewar income, but we could not go beyond 40s. a week—that is £104 a year. We did not think we could go beyond 50s. a week for a totally disabled man and beyond 40s. a week for a partially disabled man. These are pensions enormously in advance of anything that any other country has ever done. However generous hon. Members would like to be in dealing with What is State money, they must recollect that this has to be found from very high taxation, and there will be numbers of very poor people who will have to contribute to the general taxation of the country, and who, so far from getting 25s. to 40s. a week, or anything of that kind, will have to be pensioned at 5s. a week. I shall say no more about the scale unless it is attacked upon the ground of inadequacy, when I am prepared to defend it.

I was talking just now about conferences. Nobody is more alive than I am to the great necessity of constant consultation between those who administer charitable funds for similar objects. For instance, very naturally, a few weeks ago the great battle of Jutland Bank, with all its glories and yet all its horrors, excited an infinite amount of pity and compassion in every British possession, and thousands and thousands of pounds were cabled over for the benefit and the immediate benefit of the victims of that great engagement. We received a certain amount of money, and the Navy League received very much more to be devoted to the victims of the Jutland Bank battle. There are 400 widows in Portsmouth alone. It always happens, if you do not take care, that in a matter of this kind some people will get an enormous amount of money and other people will get nothing at all. If a man goes down in a star action his widow is sure to have wealth untold heaped upon her, but if a man who just slips away one dark night when crossing from one boat to another, his death attracts no attention, and his widow very likely gets nothing at all. What we want is this: Common sense dictates that all those responsible for the administration of those funds should endeavour to have some common action, and should use the same machinery for inquiry and for distribution. We approached the Navy League, and that admirably managed body at once consented to have a little committee of three to meet a committee of three of the Statutory Committee and to see that our funds were jointly administered for the good of those for whom those funds were intended. We use the same machinery, we have the same standard, we make the same inquiries through the same persons, and we strive to attain the same object. I hope that this will be done in the case of other funds. I see that a large fund has been started in connection with the Kitchener Memorial for disabled officers. I cannot help thinking that, unless we are careful, there again we shall be covering much the same ground as the Statutory Committee is authorised to cover, and for which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is giving so many millions of pounds, and I must express the hope that everybody will lend his aid and those who administer these various funds will confer with one another as much as possible and make use of the same machinery for the distribution of the fund.

I have heard it argued vociferously the other day that in no case ought there to be any reliance on charitable funds. Does that mean that we are to send back the thousands of pounds which have been contributed? After all, there are two sets of people who contribute to charitable funds. There are those who, when my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer was taxing them up to the hilt with all the measures of high taxation which he can possibly force on this House, when he was taxing them right up to the hilt, came to him and others and said, "We are so rich that we must get rid of some of our riches." I know people myself who say, "I want to do something for the War, for those who have fought so magnificently for us. I am still a rich man notwithstanding the high taxation, and I would like you to have some of my money." Will anybody say that we are not to take it? I cannot for the life of me ever see why, if a man has done his duty magnificently towards his country, he should feel it quite honourable to live on money forced by taxation from many people, whether they like to pay or not, but should feel it dishonourable to maintain himself by the voluntary offerings of those who are most anxious to do something to help him and other people in a like case. I cannot myself see that distinction of honour and dishonour.

Whatever the House of Commons may-think about charity, I am certain that charity will continue to How, and that hundreds of thousands of pounds and, in my opinion, sooner or later, millions of pounds will continue to flow out for these objects. If the Statutory Committee is not to take its share of any money that is going in this direction, then obviously other societies will take it. I cannot help thinking that the Statutory Committee is so constituted that it has greater opportunities of spending the money wisely than any other of these bodies- which undoubtedly are taking charity. I am sorry if my right hon. Friend (Mr. McKenna) is not to be eased in any way by the money of the rich voluntarily given. In that case my right hon. Friend would be in this position that he would have to find the money not only for all pensions and supplementary pensions as to which there is no question, but he would have to find the money for all compassionate grants of all sorts and kinds. That means setting up a State Department, and it means having a bureaucracy in control of all these grants. I may give one or two instances. How can the State be expected, out of State taxation, to find a pension for the widow of a man who has lost his life by his own culpable action—a man who was told not to do something, but goes and does it and gets killed. That is a case in which, I think we can give a compassionate grant. Then take the case of accidents when on leave, which happen frequently. How is the State to be held liable to pay compensation for the result of an accident to a man when off duty—an accident which has nothing whatever to do with his employment by the State? Then take the case of dependants of the second grade and the dependants of the second dependants, and then the case of expectation of dependants. All these are difficulties which I do not think could be administered by any State Department.

After all, a State Department must have rules and regulations, and they must be fairly rigid rules and regulations; but it is very different with a statutory body which has a certain amount of money at its disposal, for some of which it has not got to account to the Treasury. It has not got these rigid rules and can give many compassionate grants in cases in which the State could not be expected to give either pensions or allowances. Then take the case of grants for sickness, operations and matters of that kind. It was only the other day at Portsmouth that they asked us if we could not send down money to establish crèches for children. The women wanted to go to work and they wished to have some place in which to leave their children. That is a matter with which the Statutory Committee might easily deal, with voluntary funds, but it would be very difficult for either the War Office or the Admiralty to set up a department for such a purpose. It is not easy to draw a line of demarcation between what State funds ought to do and what voluntary funds ought to do. Permanent pensions, permanent supplementary grants to every widow and orphan, dependant, and to the totally disabled and those who after a time have proved to be so partially disabled that they have not got sufficient strength at their command, all those things may be proper and adequate subjects for State help and assistance by my right hon. Friend, but after all those are disposed of there will be a large number of victims of this war for whom the State cannot be expected to make provision, but for whom compassionate grants can well be made from voluntary funds. For my own part, if those voluntary funds will be forthcoming, I do hope that the Statutory Committee will get its share. In regard to local committees, the Committee would like to know how many of these bodies are actually working at the present time. The possible number of local committees in England, Wales and Scotland is 259. There have been 249 schemes approved of, and 191 local committees out of 259 are already at work.


How many of those are in London?


I dare say I could get that later on, but I do not happen to have it now.




London has resolved for the present to have one committee and to work through, I think, thirty or forty sub-committees.


How many of the counties have got committees?


I can get that information afterwards. As regards the disabled, the Statutory Committee consider that it is their duty to see things done, rather than to do them themselves. Where we find a splendid institution like the one run at St. Dunstan's by Sir Arthur Pearson, it is our duty to cast our eyes forward so that we may know that the provision for the blind is likely to be adequate for the future. If it is not adequate in future, then we should have to set up an institution of our own. It is the same with the paralysed: we look to the Star and Garter, which is splendidly run by the Red Cross Society. If they can do this work there is no reason why we should build or hire a separate institution to do it, but we are looking already to see what gaps there are, and we should have no hesitation whatever, if we see things not done that ought to be done, in putting down the money and doing them ourselves. The War Office and the Admiralty are each helping by sending us lists of discharged soldiers and sailors. They let us know what is known of their wounds or diseases. This is what I always wanted, and what I hope we shall get, at all events before Christmas, in every single county and borough. There ought to be an absolutely complete register and schedule of all men who are suffering in any way from either wounds or disease, and of both the totally incapacitated and the partially incapacitated. There ought to be a list of every dependant who has had some allowance as being a dependant when the soldier or sailor was alive. All that can be done ought to be done to complete such a schedule. By all means let the State do its duty to the poor, but while the State does its duty to its poor let the local bodies and the local committees come to its aid as far as possible. Do not let them shrink from helping; it is a splendid and a noble work. People may say that this is a national duty. It is not. It is a national duty and a local duty, because the nation alone cannot do it; the central body alone cannot do this work. It cannot have the local knowledge and the human touch which the local body can have. It is the human touch which you want to get. Let us one and all with one accord work to deal with this problem, and in a very short time we shall have this matter so well in hand, so well under our consideration, that though here and there you may have some complaint of some delay in paying pensions, or some neglect of individuals, yet we shall know in this House what we all want to know, that we have paid our debts to our neighbours who have so nobly done their duty to us and to the country.


I have listened with very much interest to the speech which has been made by my right hon. Friend, and I think he understands that those of us who are interested in this question of pensions know and appreciate the very great and continuing interest that he himself has taken in regard to the whole matter; and we are also glad to notice to-day that although he is a member of those Committees, and although he is a member of the Government, he has not forgotten his own radical ideas with regard to the subject of pensions. We have had from the right hon. Gentleman a statement with regard to the finance of the Statutory Committee which I want to refer to at the outset. The situation has been somewhat altered so far as the House of Commons is concerned by the revelation of the letter which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has apparently sent to the Statutory Committee, of the date 2nd August. I hope that the House may see that letter in some form or other, because it alters very considerably the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to the financing of pensions. If the summary of that letter is as my right hon. Friend has explained to the House, I take it to sum that the Government have abandoned the idea of financing the pensions by any sort of instalments, and that they are now prepared, from year to year, to put upon the Estimates in the regular way a sum of money which will cover that portion of the pensions which the House of Commons agree ought to be paid out of public money, and that we shall not continue the system of getting £1,000,000 from the Chancellor of the Exchequer one day and an extra £5,000,000 another day, and more if it is required in certain circumstances. I feel that the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself will agree that whatever limits he may put upon the expenditure, it is better to regularise the demand and the criticism which the House may offer to those demands than from time to time to announce that large sums are to be given for certain purposes.

I would like also to ask my right hon. Friend whether or not we can see the actuarial report upon which the figures are based. I was rather interested in the criticism of my right hon. Friend with regard to the actuarial report. I took down the phrases he used, and they really reminded me of some of the phrases used by another member of the Local Government Board on various occasions. He said he would not like to submit to the House "what were trembling conjectures and quaking hypotheses." That is a very slender foundation on which to build up all the Grants contained in the Report. My right hon. Friend will find it very difficult, when we come to criticise the Grants, to defend them if he still believes that they are based on the actuarial report which is trembling in its conjectures and quaking in its hypotheses. I think the House is entitled to see the actuarial report of Sir Alfred Watson, in order that we may determine how far the basis of the figures is a real basis. Take, for example, what my right hon. Friend said the other day with regard to the number of deaths. We were told that the one statement was based upon the actuarial presumption of more deaths than had been taken into account by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I should like to read the sentence in regard to that point. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board (Mr. Hayes Fisher), on the 3rd August, 1916, said—I am reading now from the OFFICIAL REPORT— I desire to draw special attention to the fact that the calculation upon which the Chancellor of the Exchequer's estimate is made is based on a smaller number of deaths than had been submitted in the Report to the Statutory Committee. Let the House observe the fact that the Statutory Committee, which is presumed to know the facts, based their Regulations upon a certain number of deaths which Sir Alfred Watson apparently had taken account of in his actuarial report. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in granting the money, takes a different number of deaths. Let the House also bear this in mind, that hon. Members do not now get the casualties in the field. There is a reason for that which I do not disagree with at the moment. But if they want to see the list of casualties, Members of Parliament can see them at the War Office. I went to the War Office, and looked up the casualties and the number of the deaths. I presume I cannot give those figures, and I do not intend to give those figures in this Debate; but I am satisfied, in looking at the list of casualties, that the Report of the Statutory Committee is nearer the truth than is the calculation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. While we need not argue the matter, I think the House ought to see the actuarial report, so that we may discover whether those figures are right or wrong. I am glad that some rearrangement has been made, at any rate, in regard to the amount of money that is to be given.

The second preliminary observation that I want to make with regard to the whole of this subject is this: that, as a general rule, in all disability cases, the Statutory Committee goes with the Chelsea Commissioners in determining the amount of a man's pension. The Chelsea Commissioners determine the amount of a man's pension in a manner which I think is open to considerable criticism. A man's disability is determined by them in terms of a vulgar fraction. The question that is asked a man applying for a disability pension is what is the probable earning capacity of that man. I consider that it is impossible for anybody really to answer that question. Take a reporter, for instance, who loses his right arm and comes back otherwise in good health. Who is going to determine what the probable earning capacity of the reporter who has lost his right arm is going to be in the immediate, or, for the matter of that, the near future II am perfectly certain that in considering the scale to-day, as we are going to do, we must bear in mind the fundamental fact that the administration by the Chelsea Commissioners frequently brings a man's pension far down, and gives to him a very small amount. My own view about that is that the Chelsea Commissioners, as an official organisation for the work are not sufficiently in touch with the new conditions of this great Army, and that the body wants overhauling. I hope that at some time the House may be able to devote more attention not only to that matter, to which I have referred in passing, but to a cognate matter equally important—the co-ordination of all those schemes of pensions, so that we shall have them under one roof and one body, which would have a knowledge of all that is being done for everybody with regard to pensions.

The third preliminary observation I want to make is that the White Paper submitted to us—Part I. of the Regulations of the Statutory Committee—expressly excludes as the ground of applying for supplementary pensions the increased cost of living. That is stated in the Report, and I should like to know why that is excluded. If I may put the point briefly to the House again, the increased cost of living to-day is very much higher than it was when the War broke out. As a matter of fact, speaking in terms of the separation allowance, which is 12s. 6d. in normal cases, we will require to-day 18s. 1½d. to purchase what that 12s. 6d. did at the outbreak of the War. If you take four of the more common commodities which are used in every poor person's household—potatoes, sugar, tea and bread—the increase on those four items alone over that period of time has been no less than 90 per cent. If that be true of the separation allowance, it is true about disability pensions, and to exclude permanently, or even temporarily, the increased cost of living as a reason why for some time an increased pension should not be granted, is in my view not fair.

5.0 P.M.

Let me come to the subject which we are to discuss to-day. The Statutory Committee has issued altogether three very important publications, one of which has not been referred to at all by my right hon. Friend. I do not blame him for it. I am not putting this by way of criticism. I know he cannot do everything. The publication to which I refer is entitled "Regulations for Supplementary Separation Allowances," and is in the circular which has been issued to the local authorities. I have got a copy of it through the kindness of my right hon. Friend. It is headed "Circular No. 9," and deals with disabled soldiers and sailors. In passing I might make this point: I think that my right hon. Friend would be doing himself and would be doing the Statutory Committee a great service if he saw that the Members of this House had these publications sent to them. I know that my right hon. Friend has obliged me. I get everything I want from him. I am making no complaint. I have never found any Minister, as a matter of fact, who was not always willing to give a Member anything, if approached in that way. But Ministers sometimes forget that the man who approaches them is not the only one interested, and that there is a number of other Members of the House of Commons who are equally interested but do not make the kind of request which I made. I am perfectly certain that all of us in this House would like to have these publications which are issued, and I think every Member ought to have in his possession Part II. of the Regulations, which deals with certain things that we have to discuss. My right hon. Friend says that we can get copies at the Vote Office, but that is due to an hon. Member sitting near me (Sir G. Toulmin), who made a special effort to get these papers brought to the Vote Office to-day in view of this discussion. The point is that a private Member has done it, and what I suggest is that—my right hon. Friend, I am quite sure, will agree with me—Members in future should have these documents. The reason I put that is that I do not think Members have quite appreciated how much there is of interest in Part II. of the Regulations that has been issued. I want in passing to remind them that in this publication there is a very great deal of information which would be extremely helpful to us all in determining many of the cases brought before us. Let me refer to one or two to indicate the width of these regulations. On page 10 you will find the supplementary rent allowance dealt with, and on page 12 the distinction is drawn between the Statutory Committee and civil liabilities, and on page 13 you will find a provision by which a wife can get an extra 2s. 6d. if she is incapable of working, a fact which, if it were known in many of the towns throughout the country, would be a great relief to a number of families. On page 13 there is the power which enables you to get a separation allowance for a parent or other dependant of a soldier who could not establish what is known as pre-war dependence but whose dependants have become dependent upon him since the War broke out. For instance: A lad joins the Army and while there his father, who is in civil life, dies. Up to the publication of this document that lad could not get the separation allowance for the mother, and this shows how it can be got. Then there is the point as to widows who otherwise are eligible for pensions, and lastly, there is the case of the temporary cassation of pensions. All those regulations are in Part II. and are to be carried out by the local or pension committee. I do suggest that in future, when they publish so interesting a book as this that they will let each of us have copies and we will promise in return that we shall have fewer letters to address to them as to the methods of dealing with our constituents who write to us.

With regard to the White Paper which forms the material part of the discussion this afternoon, as a preliminary observation I should like to say I do not quite understand why my right hon. Friend does not appreciate the difference between State payments and charitable payments. The distinction we draw is this, that we think the State ought to provide all the money necessary for the pension which this House of Commons agrees these people are to have, and that no charitable money of any sort would come in until after that. Really there is a very wide distinction between money that is collected voluntarily and money that is collected from the State. I am perfectly certain my right hon. Friend would not like his salary to be collected by voluntary subscription.


made some observations which were inaudible in the Reporters' Gallery.


I am not going to push that too far. I am sure the House thinks that a certain amount of pension must come on to the State payment before we ever consider the question of charity at all. My first comment on Part I. is this. All the conditions, all the regulations, all the scales set out in this White Paper amount to one thing, and that is a super flat rate. Will the House bear in mind what a Statutory Committee was set up to do? We established a flat rate of pensions, the basal pension being 10s. per week to the widow of a man who had been killed in the War. I am one of those people who always thought that, however generous that is, it is too little, and I will cell the Chancellor of the Exchequor why. The House of Commons gives that woman 12s. 6d. per week while the husband is alive and while he is fighting at the front, but when he is killed there they reduce the amount by 2s. 6d. That is my reason for saying that I think this is too low. The flat rate, as my right hon. Friend knows, produced a large number of inequalities, and we set up the Statutory Committee to deal with those inequalities. Now these Regulations are not so much dealing with these inequalities as an addition of a super flat rate on to the original flat rate which obviously results in the continuation of the inequalities. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will see that if you give a certain class of people by the Statutory Committee Regulations 2s. 6d., 5s., or 10s. in certain circumstances, that while you are increasing the pension, you are not destroying the inequalities which will still remain if everybody gets the addition on that basis.

My second comment is this, that this scheme, as printed, is hedged about by what I describe as barbed wire entanglements. I wonder if the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Parliamentary Secretary have really taken a pencil and piece of paper and written down what is asked. There is a column and a half dealing with the subject of pre-war income and telling the woman how she is to get to know what her pre-war income is. She is told that the pre-war income is the normal weekly wage, plus the regular net earnings of the wife, plus the regular net earnings of the children, plus contributions from any grown up sons and daughters, plus the net profits from lodgers, if any, plus 5 per cent, on any investment held by any beneficiary, plus the income from any gratuity, plus the income from any permanent source, such as Old Age Pensions, plus any additional items of income, including those that arise subsequently. Just fancy any poor woman trying to find out from this what her pre-war income is. I do not know that the Chancellor himself could find out what his pre-war income is on this Table. That is what I mean when I say that there are too many "barbed-wire entanglements" in the expressions which are used in this Paper. Let the House notice those last words that the woman has got to take into account any income that arises subsequently, and note what that means. Suppose that in Edinburgh or Glasgow, or Liverpool or Manchester, there is a local fund and that the Government makes no agreement with them, and that after the woman has got her disability pension from the Statutory Committee any of those corporations give her an extra 5s. Then, at the end of six months, when the woman's disability pension will be reviewed, there will be taken into consideration, that 5s., or whatever sum she has got from the local fund, and that will be regarded as an increase on her pre-war income and her disability pension will be reduced. Again, in this paper there is a definition of exceptional circumstances. I have tried to set out what are exceptional circumstances and how they are to be arrived at. On one side of the column the Government sets down the State pension—that is, the flat rate of pension—plus the earnings or the earning capacity, plus other incomes, and on the other side of the column they put the proportion of the pre-war income, or pre-war dependant's earnings or other income, and they say that the disproportion between those two things makes up exceptional circumstances. Does anybody understand that? There are a great many business men in this House, and, hearing that for the first time, I think they will regard it as more or less of a conundrum. What it means to a poor woman trying to determine whether she is eligible because of exceptional circumstances I leave my right hon. Friends to imagine.

My third comment upon the Rules is that many of the conditions are very harsh. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is the last man in the world to put into operation any rules that might be harsh. He said he was very willing to listen to criticisms, and I venture to point out one or two things which at first glance I think are harsh. Take, first of all, the case of the widow of either a soldier or sailor who at the date of his death was in receipt of a disability pension. Under ordinary circumstances the widow of that man would get the pension on the basis of a pre-war income, but because her husband has been wounded and is in receipt of a disability pension and then dies, forsooth, the disability pension is to be substituted for the pre-war income. I think that is shabby. I think that is harsh, and the suggestion I make is this, that they ought to add to that Clause the words "whichever is greater." In many cases they have used the phrase "whichever is less," and I suggest that, for the first time, they should use the phrase "whichever is greater," and thus give that poor woman the benefit of the doubt in determining her permanent pension. The second point I want to draw attention to is the question of the earning capacity of the widow. In determining whether a widow will get a supplemental pension or not, the Statutory Committee state that they will consider her net earnings or her earning capacity. I do not see why you should force the widow of a soldier to work, and I think there are other things she might do of greater benefit to the State. Why is it that under the flat rate of pensions when a widow becomes thirty-five the House of Commons raises her pension by 2s. 6d., and when she becomes forty-five it goes up another 2s. 6d. to 15s.? The reason we laid that down was that the woman was growing older and less fit to engage in any occupation, and therefore deserved more. The Statutory Committee reversed that, and when they reconsider the woman's pension at any moment, if she has become thirty-five and get the extra 2s 6d. under the flat rate, they propose to take that 2s. 6d. off their allowance. Thus what is given by the House of Commons with the right hand is taken away by the Statutory Committee by the left hand.

I would suggest that some of my hon. Friends who sit below me, and who perhaps know more of this aspect of the case because of their intimate knowledge of labour conditions, that this point raises very serious conditions as to the state of the labour market, and as to the break-up of the home and domestic rights. I think that the trade unions and the working classes of this country will have something to say if there is any attempt on the part of anybody to exploit any labour which is in receipt of a pension. I should like to say again that in determining partial disability the Statutory Committee has got to go on the basis of making the assumption that there is a certain earning capacity. That, again, raises the same kind of point: Who is going to determine what a man's earning capacity is? Say that he gets a pension—I do not mind what amount it is, 15s. or 10s.—and he goes into the labour market able to earn, but with 15s. in his pocket, who is going to prevent any employer exploiting that man for private profit as against a fit man in the market without any pension? You are going to have any number of questions of that sort raised, and I suggest that the Government ought to try to meet points of that kind. I have never seen why Chelsea could not determine in terms of money all pensions. They say, for instance, that a man who has lost his leg from the hip downwards shall get a pension of 16s. a week. They determine the disability of that man in terms of 16s., but I have known cases of consumption where the disability was determined at 8d. a day, or 4s. 8d. a week, and I am perfectly certain that the consumptive man could do less than the man with one leg. All that wants looking into and looking into very carefully. There is another class in this White Paper which deserves more attention than it has received. The House will remember that after a considerable amount of discussion the Government conceded a four-fifths pension in the case of a man who either died or became disabled on account of disease aggravated on service. I have never seen why they only gave four-fifths, because, whether a man dies from a wound or from disease aggravated by service, his widow is in the same need in both cases.


made a remark which was inaudible in the Reporters' Gallery.


The family is in the same need; they both need the same amount. But because a man's disease has been aggravated by service, he only gets a four-fifths pension. It is laid down in this new White Paper that so far as Statutory Committee pensions are concerned they will only give them on a four-fifths basis. I should have thought that hi these cases the Statutory Committee should have said, "The Government are giving four-fifths; we will make up the fifth to the figure at which the pension ought to be." My next comment is that there are several things in the White Paper that require explanation which I shall be glad to have before the Debate is finished. I want now to deal with the case of the totally dependent parents in regard to which the White Paper suggests that there will be a pension of 80 per cent. of the pre-war income, or 30s. a week, whichever is less. What does that really mean? In the fourth White Paper issued by the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty (Dr. Macnamara) and the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Forster) dealing with fathers and mothers, that is totally dependent parents, they fixed either an allowance equal to the receipts of the dependants prior to mobilisation, or the widow's pension proper to the soldier's rank, 10s. a week, or whichever was less. Now, in this White Paper, 10s. jumps to 30s. I am not in the least annoyed about that; it can go as high as it likes. I shall not object to its jumping; but how does this compare with the increase suggested for the widow? The House will remember that a widow is to be given 50 per cent. of her pre-war income if she has no children, and if she has children, 66 2–3 of her pre-war income. I want to know whether this sum which is being given to totally dependent parents—it is also being given to partially dependent parents, I do not know for what reason—is not a better pension than that of the widow of a fighting soldier. If it is, I think it needs some sort of explanation.

I think we ought to have a little further information, and I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman did not mention this because it is one of the absolutely new points in the White Paper, regarding what it is proposed to give to those who are in what are called "general and financial circumstances" akin to officers, and who are to be treated on the same pension rates as officers. That is a good thing in many ways, because, as we all know, there are many privates serving who prefer to serve as privates, who would have made admirable officers, and who, if they are killed, will leave wives and families in a bad plight. They do deserve special consideration. I can understand "financial circumstances, "but I want to know exactly what is meant by "general circumstances." Then I would like to have an explanation of some of these limits put to the pensions. I take only one case to-illustrate what I mean. In disability pensions with regard to officers' widows, the limit that is put upon a pension after it has been added to by the Statutory Committee is £150 a year. Take the case of a captain who is killed in the War. Supposing he has a wife with two children. That wife would get £250 gratuity paid down, and she would also get an annual pension of £100, plus £24 for each of the children, or £148 altogether. The limit put in this White Paper is £150. I do not think that is elastic enough, and I really get back to one of the points I made at the beginning of my speech that you do not want so much tightening up in limiting the figures as elasticity in this Committee to deal with cases that do arise. I would like, if the hon. Gentleman has time, that he should deal with that case. I wish to deal with paragraph 26 of the Regulations which concerns the case of officers who are disabled through disease aggravated on service. It is put in a curious way, and the question I want to ask is whether this is equal for the officer to the four-fifths that the disabled soldier gets, or whether it is higher or a lower ratio.

Then I come to paragraph 37, which has created a great deal of criticism inside and outside the House. It deals with the question of local funds, and there can be no doubt about it that, as it stands in these Regulations, what the Government proposes to do is to take such funds into account in considering applications for supplementary pensions. If there is any doubt in anybody's mind about that I have with me the pink form. Nowadays everything that is objectionable in connection with the Government seems to be printed on pink forms. We have several of them, and on that form, which is to be filled up by anyone who applies for a supplementary pension, there is this question on page 4: Will the applicant derive benefit from any local fund raised, or proposed to be raised, for the purposes, of the Act? The only answer I think the Chancellor could give to that would be that there may be something in the words "for the purposes of the Act." He may say that if a pension was not received directly at the request of the Statutory Committee it was not for the purposes of the Act. At any rate I think it is quite clear that account will be taken of anything coming from these funds. I do not want to argue this at great length, because many other Members representing other municipalities will no doubt argue it. I, therefore, put it only from the point of view of Scotland. I want to say quite deliberately, and after having seen the local authorities of the two largest towns in Scotland—Edinburgh and Glasgow—that if that is so, neither of these corporations will give a penny of that money for England. That is the fact, and I do not argue it at the moment. We have experience in Scotland of collecting money which comes to England, and we are not going to send any further sums to any central body in London administering any national scheme unless we know where we are. I believe that point will be put by other Members for other municipalities, and I want the Chancellor to accept it as a fact. I am sure he wants, and we all want, all the pensions committees to work harmoniously, quickly, and as ably as they can. That is a point in dispute which is creating an atmosphere that is not good for the working of this Act, and I am perfectly certain that if the right hon. Gentleman yields to nothing else, this is a matter on which he ought to yield, and I personally hope that he will.

My sixth comment about the Regulations is this: I want the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that there is no provision in these Regulations for any appeal against the pensions given. I think that is an omission which ought to be rectified. With regard to separation allowances, the right hon. Gentleman who is at the present moment in the chair of the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Dickinson) is chairman of a Committee which sits at the War Office to consider appeals with regard to separation allowances. If people are not satisfied they have to go before this Committee, and I may say that it has done extremely valuable and capable work since it has been set up. There ought to be some appeal against the scale of regulations in the White Paper, so that persons aggrieved may have an opportunity of having their cases reviewed. Then I come to Circular No. 9, dealing with disabled men. It is a very interesting document, and hon. Members should certainly read it. I will give one fact to show how interesting it is. Up to the 31st of May, 1916, there have been reported to the Statutory Committee 33,919 cases of men discharged from the Army suffering from some kind of disability or another. They include cases of eyesight, paralysis, tuberculosis, mental epilepsy, deafness, and so on; and in that circular certain suggestions are made. It would seem that we have to depend upon such places as St. Dunstan's, in London, for the blind, or Newington, in Scotland, for the blind, or the Star and Garter here for other cases. I want to make this comment only on this part of the subject, and I hope the Chancellor will agree with me. It is that when you have completed your arrangements with regard to the care, training, and employment of disabled men, you should give the House such an opportunity as we have to-day of discussing this. I am perfectly certain there is no question which the Government cares to bring forward in which the House is so sincerely interested as in the care of these men who have been fighting our battles; and we honestly do not like these things to be put into operation before we see them and discuss them. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will agree that some of us, and the House all round, can give some suggestions and encouragement with regard to them, and I am certain that if you take the House with you on this point you will not be doing yourself an injury. Finally, what the country wants is that a fair balance should be struck before our generous impulses towards our soldiers grow cold—before this War, with all its disastrous consequences to many of our comrades in different parts of the country, becomes a memory, a memory that is very difficult to jog. We want to strike now, while the iron of public gratitude is hot; and I can assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this House will grudge no expenditure in money which will express to these men the fact that we regard them as our creditors, and that we are determined, so long as they live, that they will be relieved from any anxiety, any care, and any want. I beg to move to reduce the vote to £100.


I do not propose to address the House at anything like the length at which it has been addressed by the hon. Member who has just sat down. I do not, however, mean to say that we are not extremely grateful to him; we all are for his admirable exposition of the case, and for a statement which, while going into detail with great clearness yet kept broad lines of criticism fairly before our eyes. I would also say this, if I may, with regard to the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, that those of us who feel called upon to criticise the Regulations could not help being pleased on certain points, if not quite satisfied, with the statement he made to us. We all know his great interest in this subject. It extends over many years. We are sure that, whatever else he has at heart, he has at heart the interests of the soldiers and sailors in this great War. Therefore I hope he will not think that any criticism we make will be that of opposition, still less of obstruction in regard to proper plans for giving assistance to our soldiers and sailors. I trust he will take it that we rather desire to help and not to hinder him, but behind my right hon. Friend there is a power which he cannot always perhaps control. My experience leads me to be perfectly confident that there is a very strong feeling in this matter throughout the country. One does not want to exaggerate that, for we all agree that to win the War is the first duty of all concerned. But the secondary duty does not come very far behind the first, and that is to see that proper provision is made for the gallant fellows who are securing what we know will ultimately be the victory.

The question is one which particularly concerns Members of this House who have been active in recruiting. We gave, and were authorised to give, definite pledges that the Government would see to it that the men who were injured, and also their dependants if they unfortunately fell, should have proper provision made far them after the War. The Regulations just issued to us are intricate. There is no question about that. They are enclosed in wire entanglements, to use a war metaphor. It is difficult to penetrate the kernel of these Regulations. We have had very little time to consider them, and what we desire to do to-day is to keep the discussion as far as possible on the broad lines of the policy involved. The Regulations themselves are issued—I am sorry to refer to this point, but it is not a merely verbal point—under Section 3 of the Act of 1915 and the words authorising the Regulations are: That the Statutory Committee be empowered to frame Regulations for supplementary grants in cases where owing to the exceptional circumstances of the ease the pension, or grant, or separation allowance payable out of public funds— I will refer to that a little later— 'seems to the Committee to be inadequate. These are the only powers making the Regulations. There is no power to revise the Regulations, such as there usually is when power is given by Parliament to make Regulations. In the case of the Education Acts, the Public Health Acts, and so on, with the working of which many lawyers in this House are familiar, when power is given to make Regulations, power is also given to revise them. There is no power of revision here. I do not want to raise any technicality. I conceive that the Law Officers or some other appropriate body might raise difficulties, because it is quite clear that the revision of these Regulations is contemplated. I would ask the representative of the Local Government Board and of the Treasury whether it is not a fact that they propose to publish revised Regulations, and if and when they do, to arrange that Parliament shall have the opportunity of considering the Regulations before they come into effect. I make that suggestion with the more eagerness because it gives point to the appeal referred to by the last speaker. It does seem to me a very serious thing, if you are going to set up Regulations of vital importance to the people with whom you are dealing, Regulations which are going, for good or evil, to make or mar their future, that if you by a process of examination that is usually to be conducted not viva voce but at a distance, that you decide once and for all, without any power to review, what the facts are on which the pensions are granted. I would like, if I may do so without seeming audacious, to quote words which were used by a certain distinguished authority in his evidence given before the Select Committee—I refer to that given by the Secretary of the Local Government Board himself. He said: You want your tribunal to be very much open to the public— I heartily endorse that— and let the people know what is going on, and that the particular applicant should have access to appeal and be able to do so. I venture to quote those words, because they are the words of a distinguished Member of this House. His views, perhaps necessarily, have undergone somewhat of a change. Still I do not believe, in regard to his views on this matter, that they have in any respect undergone a change. The issues affected are so important. For instance, take the question of earning and earning capacity, to which reference has been made. There is no machinery set up to decide what is earning capacity. I do not know who is to decide; whether or not this question is to be decided by Chelsea, and not merely on paper documents. But if a thing of that sort, and so important, is to be decided, as it apparently has, under the Regulations, then I say it is essential that there should be in some body a revising power, and the applicant must have power to go to the highest. Generally with regard to these Regulations I cannot make out exactly what object they have in view. We were told in the evidence given before the Committee that these supplementary Regulations, or, as they became for short, "supplementaries," had two objects in view. The first was that they were to increase the flat rate by a slightly extra flat rate if the flat rate itself was insufficient. Secondly, they were to give a discretion. I am not at all certain that in some respects, perhaps in most respects, these Regulations achieve either of these objects, and, of course, in so far as they to a certain extent increase the flat rate and give a super-flat rate, they limit discretion. As to the question of the Regulations giving a higher flat rate, I am quite certain, though this may not be intended, that in certain cases they lower the rate. It is a little difficult to speak with authority from these very intricate Regulations of which one has only had twenty-four hours' examination. The case of the widow has already been mentioned. At thirty-five she receives an extra half-crown, and at forty-five another half-crown. These half-crowns are taken away front her by these supplementary Regulations. Take the case also mentioned by the last speaker, and an actual instance which was mentioned to me by one of our local authorities. The case was that of a man who was badly gassed in Belgium. He struggled back to life, bearing in mind the necessity for supporting those he loved at home. Eventually he got home, and was given by Chelsea a disability allowance of 18s. 9d. Supposing this man dies, under the Regulations as put out now, and the fact that you are to take into consideration not the pre-war income, but the disability allowance, the widow of this man, instead of getting 15s. as she would have done under the flat rate apart from these Regulations, will actually only get 12s. 9d. So that so far from this being a super-flat rate, it is not going to assist you, at any rate, in certain cases. I shall be glad to be corrected if the Chancellor of the Exchequer can correct me, but it does seem to me that the super-flat rate is going to be a flattening rate which will lower what has already been received by the widow.

Take, again, the question of discretion. I was very glad to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board the suggestion in regard to the disposal of charitable funds. They may give the local committees a discretion where those funds exist, but in the Regulations as drawn there is practically no discretion. You appear to ignore that element of humane and kindly feeling and adaptability to local conditions which was an essential feature of the whole discussion before the Committee. I say that not only are the Regulations almost iron-bound, but under the provisions, and following the statements of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, and according to the "Times" of 4th August, in which money is found for things for which there is hard and fast provision in these Regulatons, no money is forthcoming for further discretionary uses. Therefore, for all practical purposes, the possibility of extra discretionary grants in the hands of the Statutory Committee are—well, extremely exiguous—to put it no higher. The strongest feeling has been expressed by this House as to what is to be done where funds have been subscribed locally. The distinguished representative of a Liverpool constituency is present, and no doubt will address the House. But in Liverpool they have collected large funds for the benefit of soldiers who go to the front. The funds have been expressly collected on the basis that whatever happened the money should not be used to reduce the Government allowance, whatever it was. In my area, where money was collected, and where we worked in recruiting—we raised a whole brigade !—we, too, have raised local funds. We do not put it quite so definitely as Liverpool, but the object of our local fund certainly was to assist hard cases with some supplementary grants under particular circumstances; under circumstances where the Government Grant was either non-existent or insufficient.

We do not want these grants to be taken into consideration when the Government determine what is the amount to be given. I was delighted to hear the suggestion of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board that, from his point of view, at any rate, the case would be met if the local funds, the charitable funds, the trade union funds, or whatever kind of fund you like to call them, whether the fund is strictly charitable, or the man has a right to it—if it is outside the Government allowance if a specified course was followed. In relation to funds of that kind it would appear that the proper way, in order to carry out the wishes of the donors, and at the same time to prevent any feeling of injustice arising, is that they should take some other shape than that of weekly payments. They might go in the form of allowances for education, of small capital sums to set people up in shops—I may say that this is the form that we have in Salford—to tide over a temporary difficulty, so that those concerned may not be dependent. I venture to think that if that alone has come out as the result of today's Debate, the Debate has not been wasted.

I should like the Government to consider this point, because I do not think that there is, or need be, a great deal of argument about it. I do not believe that it was the intention of Parliament that these funds should be taken into account, and I am not at all clear that there is any power under the Regulations to do so. I venture again to refer to the words which I quoted, and which gave power to make the Regulations: To frame regulations for supplementary grants in cases where, owing to the exceptional circumstances, the pensions or grants— Now come the important words— payable out of public funds seem inadequate. The sole question which Parliament suggested was this "Aye," or "No"—is the payment out of public funds in a particular case inadequate? There was no reference to public funds bolstered up from any other sources, but simply a question whether the widow of the disabled soldier got a pension out of public funds which was inadequate. That is not what the Regulations do. They say that exceptional circumstances only arise where the payment out of public funds, allowing for payments from other sources, is inadequate. I do not believe the words of the Act of Parliament cover that. I do not wish to confine myself to any technicalities, or questions of legality, but I am quite certain, if you look at Section 3, Sub-section (1), para- graph (b), the intention of Parliament was clear that public funds were the only circumstances you had to take into consideration when ascertaining whether the existing flat rate was adequate or not.

I am not sure that what I have most at heart is not this: While we are dealing with this question of pensions, cannot we make a desperate—I am afraid it will have to be a desperate—effort to get the whole pension work of the country put on a proper basis? I am told that the War Office authorities are quite clear that it is the proper thing that many of the pensions and allowances should be administered from the War Office. I am told that the Admiralty are no less convinced that certain allowances and pensions must be administered from the Admiralty, or rather Greenwich. The paying authorities for the moment are extraordinary diverse. We all know to what a number of authorities we have to apply on behalf of our constituents, and what a difficult thing it is to know exactly to whom to refer. As regards the Navy, for the seamen and marines' widows and children, there is Greenwich; for other dependants the Accountant-General, and for men disabled the Accountant-General. As regards the Army, widows and dependants go to the War Office, and men disabled to Chelsea. Then there are the Statutory Committees with local committees, the Prince of Wales' Fund, the Civil Liabilities Committee, and bodies like the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, the Soldiers' and Sailors' Help Society, the Kitchener Memorial Fund, and other central funds, as well as local funds. I think that this multiplication of authorities leads to great confusion and great delay, and, in the case of the old authorities, leads to a certain stereotyped point of view which is not satisfactory. We want to breathe the breath of the newer life altogether into these rather dry bones of the administration.

I have a good many instances of cases where I applied to Chelsea with regard to pensions for men. There is the case of a man who lost his right hand in Gallipoli. After he had been three months out of hospital he wrote to me that he had received no pension of any kind. I wrote at once, and within ten days he received the allowance. I wrote again, and he received an increased allowance. Then I had the case of a man discharged on 21st April, his left arm useless, and he was suffering from nervous debility. I wrote on 8th July and by the 14th he got his proper pension. Why was there that delay? I am almost tempted to ask why did my letters produce that result? I am truly grateful to the Chelsea authorities for answering my letters and achieving that result, but one feels that it is not a satisfactory machine that has to be gingered up in this way. There are probably a great many cases of people suffering delays in regard to pensions who do not refer their cases to the Member of Parliament, but who bear uncomplainingly what I am afraid I can only describe as injustice. What a great many who care about this subject would like to see is one office under one roof, an office dealing with pensions both for the Army and the Navy, and dealing with them generally on the same lines, codifying the information. As to the appeal which was made by the right hon. Gentleman for the proper card system, certainly for the local fund for which I am responsible, and I believe in the case of other funds the proper card system is adopted. We want a proper central card index system for all the men. Then in the same building you should have rooms for the auxiliary funds. I do not claim any originality for that scheme, which was fostered and put be-fore the public by a much greater brain than mine. Therefore I hope the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board has not forgotten the scheme he produced some years ago, and will still do his best to see it carried into effect.

I took the trouble recently to look up what is happening in America. It is sometimes said that American pension arrangements are not satisfactory. I visited the Pension Buildings at Washington, and, whatever may be said about the way in which the pensions are politically administered, of which I know nothing, I do say that on the business side the distribution of pensions in America works admirably. I will say this against myself, that there is still a division in America of Army and Navy pensions, but Army pensions are all administered by one authority from one central office, and they are administered, as far as I can see, with fairness and justice all over the United States of America, with a population of 100,000,000. I firmly believe that if the Government do not do something of that sort now, they will eventually be driven to it. I believe they will find the matter become so complicated and important, and the interests of so many of the population involved, that they will be driven to a consolidated and co-ordinated system of that kind, with a Minister responsible to this House.

There is just one question I should like to ask, and I was requested to put it just before coming into the House, concerning soldiers who are mentally disabled or shaken as the result of the War. What exactly is it proposed to do with them? Is it proposed that they should remain under the control of the Lunacy Control Board, or is it proposed that when discharged they should come under the control of the Statutory Committee? I hope I may have an answer to that specific point. Just one word in conclusion. We all of us feel that this is an extremely important matter. One cannot put the importance of it too high. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not think I think otherwise than that he is the custodian of the public purse. He is bound in duty, as that custodian, to put the other side of the case, and we are bound to put to him the strongest case we can for generosity, and I hope that appeal will not leave him unmoved. We appeal for the widows and children, and let us not forget that the widows and the children—the children particularly—are those who have got to build up this country in the next generation. It is the most foolish kind of economy which does not give the children of the rising generation every chance, and more than every chance, so that ten, twenty, or thirty years hence this great country may be the great Power we all hope it will be.

Then with regard to the men themselves who have been through what I once heard eloquently described as "the great Gethsemane of suffering," those men often in past years and past wars, I am afraid we must admit, have not received justice at the hands of the State. I think we are all resolved this time, at any rate, that this shall not be true. I had only quite recently this kind of case. A man who enlisted in one of the battalions I was responsible for raising, was passed as medically fit, and when he was in training for four or five months during the bad winter of 1914–15 he got rheumatism and was discharged as medically unfit. I found him hobbling about the streets of Salford. I doubt if he will ever be fit enough for work again, or, at any rate, for some time to come, though I hope he will recover. While accepted by the State as medically fit, three or four months after, when apparently crippled with rheumatism, they regard him as medically unfit and discharge him, and he therefore gets no allowance or pension from the State. I say that is not fair, and if the State Regulations do not make better provision than that, we shall be forced to come again and again and raise the question in this House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may be the custodian of the public purse, but he has to see that the purse strings are loosed if and when injustice is disclosed.


I have only to deal with one very narrow part of the subject, but, as it is the part upon which the whole of the rest stands, it is perhaps desirable that there should be no misapprehension as to what is the position of the Treasury with regard to this subject. I cannot help thinking that the Committee does not appreciate how the matter really stands at the present time. Last year a Bill was passed following upon a recommendation of a Select Committee. The recommendation of the Committee was that, in addition to the flat rate of pension which Parliament had already sanctioned, there should be paid in exceptional circumstances additional pensions in accordance with Regulations laid down by the Statutory Committee. My duty is to administer an Act of Parliament, and I conceive it to be my duty to follow out the recommendations of the Select Committee in their spirit and intention. If the House disapproved of the findings, I should at once loyally accept the view of the House, and carry out the policy which the House wished to have, but the only policy which is before me at the present time is the policy embodied in an Act of Parliament passed on the recommendation of a number of Gentlemen, three of whom are my colleagues in the present Government now. I have no other alternative if I am to do my duty except to carry out that policy and to provide the necessary funds. Some of my hon. Friends in this House, and a great many more people out of it, speak as if the Treasury had some sort of malignant desire to withhold from the gallant defenders of our country money which the State owes them. It is an absolute misrepresentation of the case. The Treasury is as generously minded towards our gallant soldiers as any person, but the Treasury's duty is to conform to the law and to carry out what the Treasury believes, and, so far as the Treasury can judge by Acts of Parliament, what the Treasury knows to be the will of Parliament. I would put it to the Committee that any Chancellor of the Exchequer who pays out public funds without the direct authority of Parliament, merely in order to satisfy the claims that are put forward, however good those claims may be, however we may approve of the sentiment upon which those claims are founded, such a Chancellor of the Exchequer would not be doing his duty to this House.

6.0 P.M.

If the House determines that the flat rate is inadequate, of course, the Treasury will instantly pay the higher rate approved by the House. If the House determines that supplementary pensions are inadequate the Treasury will pay the higher rate of pensions, but it is my duty, until the House otherwise determines, to conform to the law. I believe I have done no other than to conform to the law either in promise of payments to the Statutory Committee, which my right hon. Friend conceives to be, in the first place, niggardly, and, in the second place, generous. I submit to the Committee that I have been neither niggardly nor generous, but purely and simply I have acted in accordance with the spirit and intention of the law. The first payment which the Treasury made to the Statutory Committee was the sum of £1,000,000. We had at that time no estimates before us as to the probable cost of the supplementary pensions. We had no true estimate before us as to the probable cost of the supplementary allowances and grants made in the case of separation allowances. What did we do? We said, "There is a burden upon the State intended by Parliament to meet either in whole or in part the supplemental grants and pensions; we will give you enough money to go on with to ensure that you have means at your disposal until you are in a position to give me proper estimates." On that basis I gave £1,000,000. It has since been suggested that that was a final payment by the Treasury and that it was niggardly, but it was nothing of the sort, and it was never intended to be anything of the sort. On the contrary, it was definitely stated that it was a grant of money to finance the Statutory Committee for the time being.

Next, the representatives of the Statutory Committee came to me with certain proposals involving a certain total expenditure. I forget what the figures were, but they were nothing like the figures presented to me later, but on the estimates then shown to me I suggested to the Statutory Committee that a fair contribution by the State on the basis of those figures would be £3,000,000. Later on higher estimates were brought forward, and they were looked at in a different way, and on the newer statement of figures and the newer view presented, in view of the information I had received in the interval, I came to the conclusion that £3,000,000 would no longer satisfy the intentions of Parliament, but I must give £6,000,000. Now as to the basis upon which that £6,000,000 is founded and what it really means. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) made a very interesting and, if he will allow me to say so, an extremely well-informed speech upon the subject of the Regulations of the Statutory Committee. But on one point, I hope he will forgive me saying that he wont entirely wrong. He seemed to argue that because I had taken as my basis of calculations a less number of casualties than the Statutory Committee, that therefore I had done them an injustice. Not at all. Upon a certain estimate of deaths through the War the actuary estimated that the total liabilities for widows' pensions would be a certain sum which we will call Y. Divide Y by X and the result is the estimated charge for each widow on the average. I took that estimated charge for each widow, but instead of taking the number of deaths as X, I took a smaller number. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] It makes no difference to the Statutory Committee, because I undertake the total liability, not of my smaller number, but of the total liability and the ultimate number, whatever it may be, but I declined to take the actuary's estimate of how long he thought the War was going on. I said, I will not take the estimates of what he thinks the probable number of deaths will be by the end of the War, but I took the actual number of deaths and added a small percentage to cover the immediate future, and then I will go on paying so many hundreds of thousands or millions according to the total number of deaths, and surely that is a much more rational proceeding, particularly as I was proposing to proceed by giving a lump sum down, and that ought to have some relation to the actual number of deaths and to the time the money is paid.

I will supplement that sum as the months go by if we are still in a state of war by paying the supplementary total amount in accordance with the actual number of deaths. In that I was doing no injustice to the Statutory Committee nor ultimately to the widows. I think I am entitled to complain a little of my right hon. Friend when he put it to the House, for some peculiar reason known to him alone, that I had insisted upon taking my figure as the basis of the calculation instead of the actuary's estimate of what the total number of deaths would be during the War. I will not trouble the House with any more mental arithmetic or mental algebra. I have taken a certain estimate which is somewhat above the existing actual facts of the casualties, and I have founded myself on the basis upon which I have calculated. Then I have estimated upon that basis what would be the total liability for pensions to widows, supplementary pensions and not flat-rate pensions, supplementary pensions to dependants, and supplementary pensions to the totally disabled—that is to say, to persons with permanent pensions—and I have given a lump sum out of the £6,000,000 which will cover the whole of that cost. I go further, and I give a further sum, roughly speaking about £1,000,000, to cover the supplementary pensions to the partially disabled for a period. It is more than enough to cover the cost, but I say with regard to those supplementary pensions, my right hon. Friend was absolutely in the right when he spoke of "an estimate trembling in its conjectures and quaking in its hypotheses." He was absolutely right, and it is with regard to that particular form of pension, the supplementary pension to the partially disabled man who to-day is in full work and to-morrow is unable to get work because of his disablement. It is impossible to give any estimate in advance of what the cost to the State ought to be in these cases. I therefore give £1,000,000 with an understanding that before the end of 1918 the Treasury will review the whole of the cost, and then, with experience behind them, will determine what the total State contribution ought to be.

I do not think there is any other possible method of dealing with the matter, and that is what we have undertaken to do. In regard to the whole of the pensions on the scale approved by the Treasury under the Regulations of the Statutory Committee, the whole of the permanent pensions and temporary pensions, there has been money down sufficient to meet them for the time being, and there is to be a revision before 1918. My hon. Friend who spoke last, and the hon. Member who preceded him, are both under a misapprehension as to the nature of these supplementary pensions. They are not super-flat-rate pensions, and they have nothing to do with the flat rate. The Committee really ought to keep fully in their minds the history of this case. I am glad to see my right hon. Friend the Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes) in his place, and also my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), for I am sure they will both remember that we discussed at very great length in the Select Committee both the amount of the flat-rate pension and the principle upon which we should proceed with regard to the supplementary pension. I am not revealing any secrets when I say that both my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend would have preferred a higher rate of flat-rate pension, all paid by the State, with no supplementary pensions at all. My right hon. Friend took the view that, so far as pensions are paid, there ought to be no distinction between classes, that every person has earned his pension by his service, and the difference in the rate should be the measure of the different rate of service and not the measure of the different rate of pre-war income or social distinction. That case was very strongly argued, and the Committee came to the conclusion that the only way of meeting the two different kinds of thought was, on the one hand, to pay a flat rate of pension wholly paid by the State without regard to a person's income or social status, and, on the other hand, to supplement that flat-rate pension by additional pensions paid in exceptional circumstances, but in the case of the additional pensions there ought to he an element of voluntary contribution so as to distinguish them from the flat-rate pension. That was the recommendation of the Select Committee, and it was concurred in unanimously by six members, and on the faith of that the Bill was introduced and passed.

I would like to show how fully I share the sentiments of my right hon. Friend, of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, and of the hon. Gentleman opposite with regard to the duty of the State to those who are shedding their blood in our service. I never had but one object—at the back of everything that I have done in regard to this subject—both in the Committee and in this House, and that was to get this question settled during the War and while the public and the House of Commons are generous, and not to leave the claims of these pensioners to be dealt with year by year on the Estimates. In the struggle for the Statutory Committee and in the struggle to interest the local authorities I have done my utmost, and I have done it with the deliberate object of securing the benefit of public sentiment at the present time, for I know, both from inside and outside experience, what is the feeling, the necessary feeling, of the Departments concerned with regard to those charges upon their Votes which are of no direct service in the maintenance of the Army or Navy—the non-effective services. It is natural that every Department should desire to get all the money it can from Parliament for its effective services, and I desired, if I could, to keep these charges off the Estimates. My hon. Friend who shares my views on the subject urges me to put them upon the Estimates—


You must!




How are you going to get next year's amount then?


I want to get it by a capital sum.


Then it is only a capital sum?


My hon. Friend says that it is only a capital sum.


You just said so.


The hon. Member never thought that it was an annual one, did he?


That is what we want to know.


It is a capital sum based upon a certain figure. If that figure increases the capital sum will also increase, and I shall ask Parliament by Bill for authority for that, so that it will not be necessary year by year in the Estimates to vote every pension with consequent scrutiny into every case. There ought to be a scrutiny in a different way and sense from the scrutiny which is inevitable in the case of the estimates of public Departments.


What will happen supposing the Government in the future want to bring in a Bill to provide extra capital? My right hon. Friend at the moment is providing £6,000,000.


I do not propose in this Bill to provide £6,000,000. I propose to ask Parliament by this Bill In provide £6,000,000 on a certain basis of numbers and to authorise the payment out of the Consolidated Fund all additional sums in proportion to the additional number.




Automatically. I propose to ask Parliament to do it by Bill here and now and to get the pensions off the Estimates.


There will be no necessity for any amending Bill?


There will be a new Bill before 1918 to deal with the case of partial disability which is now deliberately left out. The amount for permanent disability will automatically increase as more men come in. I hope that I have made the position clear with regard to finance and with regard to the spirit in which we wish the Act to be worked. My hon. Friend asked us—this I think shows how we have interpreted the meaning of the supplementary pensions—why the Statutory Committee have excluded the cost of living as a ground for increasing the supplementary pension. The increase in the cost of living may be a ground for increasing the flat rate pension, because this applies to everybody, but it is not a reason for increasing the supplementary pension.


Will you increase the flat rate pension?


I am not now dealing with the flat rate pension. I am dealing with the supplementary pension. All through my hon. Friend's speech there seemed to run the idea that we were compounding the flat rate and supplementary pensions. We are not doing so. The obligation of the State to pay the flat rate pension remains, no matter what the con- dition of the pensioner may be. He may be rich or he may be poor, or he may inherit a million of money to-morrow, but he will still be entitled to receive his flat rate pension. We make no inquiry about that. It goes on automatically and is upon the Estimates. We do not want, however, to have upon the Estimates the supplementary pensions as a subject of nice balance whether they could not be cut down another year when, as my hon. Friend said, the blood is cold after this War. That is what we want to take out. Then my hon. Friend said—I took down his words—that the State should provide all the pensions which this House has decided should be paid. The State never does anything else.

Let me explain two points. It is admitted that the State pays the flat rate pension, no matter what else is paid; but the supplementary pension must be subject to two conditions—the amount of pre-war income and the degree of present necessity. The Statutory Committee examine into the pre-war income, and in the case of a widow with a family—I will not go into all the details—they are prepared to pay up to two-thirds of the pre-war income not exceeding a total payment of £104 a year. They must examine the pre-war income in order to find out what it was. They will only give that supplementary pension where there is the necessity. They are not going to give up to £104 to a widow whose husband has left her extremely well off. They do not propose to give her anything. She will get the flat rate pension, but that is not a case in which we ought to tax the humblest and poorest in the country in order not to relieve the necessities of the widow, but to add to her superfluities. We do not propose that. We propose, through the Statutory Committee, under the Regulations which they have issued and which I approve, to inquire what are the necessities of the widow at the present time, and in order to discover what they are they will have to examine into all the sources of the widow's income. It may be, after the consideration of the subject between the representatives of the Statutory Committee and the representatives of the local authorities, as my right hon. Friend has suggested, that a via media may be discovered. There may be means discovered by which all local funds and trade union funds can be utilised to their fullest extent without infringing on the Regulations of the Statutory Committee. I can say nothing on that now, but I do not think it ought to surpass the wit of man to find means of meeting both points of view.

Colonel YATE

Does the flat rate pension apply to officers and their widows?


The flat rate pension is paid quite regardless of any consideration of means. It depends upon service. There is a higher pension for an officer than for a man, because his service was in a different way. It does not depend upon the pre-war income or upon subsequent circumstances. The supplementary pension depends not upon service but upon the pre-war income and the subsequent conditions. The two things are entirely different. I think that I have said enough to show that there is no unwillingness on the part of the Treasury to meet the obligations which this Committee desired them to meet. The whole amount involved is not a very gigantic sum compared with our ordinary expenditure, but we have to remember that we ought not to go too far in adding to the supplementary pension without a consideration of the flat-rate pension, and a reconsideration of the flat-rate pension will be a matter of very different cost. We have to balance the two points of view. After all, if the widow who is only getting the flat-rate pension finds that another widow is getting a supplementary pension as well and that it makes a great difference between the circumstances of the two, she might argue that her husband had also given his life for his country—perhaps, as my right hon. Friend (Dr. Macnamara), reminds me in a higher rank—and merely because of the accident that at the time of his death they were not so well off as their neighbour, she ought not to be condemned for ever to a smaller pension than her well-to-do sister. We have to consider the argument from every point of view, and it is quite impossible in my judgment to add too much to the supplementary pension without raising the flat-rate pension. I think the recommendations of the Select Committee on the whole were fair and reasonable in putting it at 10s. and raising it first to 12s. 6d. and then to 15s. in the case of a widow without a child. I submit that the supplementary allowances proposed by the Statutory Committee also deal fairly with the case which appeals to our sympathy and which involves, I regret to say, terrible perplexity and must in many cases mean considerable hardship.


Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with Clause 37?


I have dealt with it to a certain extent, and my right hon. Friend (Mr. Hayes Fisher) will reply.


I am sure we all feel indebted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for his very able and lucid speech in explaining the position of the Statutory Committee and the financial aspect of this question. It ought to give satisfaction to everybody who was present yesterday at the meeting upstairs and at previous meetings. After the War broke out and right up to 1915 there were very few Members who took a deep interest in this question of pensions and separation allowances and the formation of these municipal committees, but from my own personal knowledge I can say that there was no man in the House of Commons who rendered greater service in bringing these committees into operation than the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. I want to say that, because I know that members of the municipalities have been criticising the right hon. Gentleman for a speech which he delivered. But, in fact, if it had not been for his action they would not have been called together, because I know at one time he was a great advocate of this very creation of these committees. Now I have risen for the purpose of calling attention to another aspect of this great question. We have had the financial aspect placed before the House—that is the Regulations—by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh in a very able way. We listened to a very able speech from the hon. Gentleman who introduced this subject, and I think that so far as the financial aspect is concerned we have now a thorough grasp of what the Treasury and of what the Statutory Committee intend to do. I should like to say this about the Statutory Committee, with regard to the financial aspect. When the Naval and Military War Pensions Act was passed, and when the Bill was going through the House of Commons, we had a very important Debate as to whether funds, were to be raised voluntarily or by the State. Now it is well known that a very large number of Members of the House strongly advocated that the State should find the whole of the money. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, felt, following the Report of the Pensions Committee, which unanimously recommended supplementary grants and supplementary pensions, that the money should be raised in a voluntary way. There were, however, Members of the House who strongly opposed that, because they strongly advocated that the State should find the whole of the money for supplementary grants and supplementary pensions. Now the Chancellor, of the Exchequer promised this from the beginning, that if he could not raise the money by voluntary effort, he would come to the House of Commons and ask for State money. He promised that during the Debate in July, 1915; he repeated it when the matter was further debated in September, 1915; and in March last, when he found he could not raise the money from any source, after he had gone to the Prince of Wales' Fund to find out whether he could get a grant from them or whether they would continue the grants they had been paying to the soldiers and sailors, he came down to the House and stated that he had failed. Therefore he asked Parliament to grant £1,000,000 of money with which to finance the Statutory Committee. We in this House had a debate upon that measure, and voted a million of money unanimously.

What I have to complain about is this—and here is where the muddle has commenced—I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman who is representing the Statutory Committee in this House why, after Parliament had voted £1,000,000 to finance that Committee, the Committee sent the circular to the local authorities throughout he country—Circular No. 3—asking them to collect and solicit money for payments or for the purposes which came within the Naval and Military War Pensions Act. In other words, why did the Statutory Committee circularise the local authorities to ask them to collect and solicit money? That was on 6th May, 1916, after Parliament had voted £1,000,000 in the March previous. That is one of the things which I really cannot comprehend. I have the circular here. It is dated 6th May. It was sent out to the local authorities, who at once—and justifiably, in my opinion; I do not blame them—took action to protest against the circular. I want to know, and I think we have a right to know, why this circular was sent to the local authorities asking them to solicit subscriptions to pay for the supplementary grants and supplementary pensions, after Parliament had voted this £1,000,000, which distinctly was to be handed over to the Statutory Committee, and which it was understood definitely would be handed over to them? Now as everybody knows, this has caused great disruption throughout the municipalities. They have demurred; and net only the municipalities, but the county councils, to soliciting money for the payment of these pensions and supplementary grants. I have not been able to understand—it is impossible for me to do so, and I think it is impossible for most Members who have followed these meatters closely, why it was they sent out these circulars after the £1,000,000 had been voted. I see my hon. Friend the Member for the Black-friars Division (Mr. Barnes) in his seat. He is a member of the Statutory Committee, and took part in the Debate in March. If he will look at his speech, he will find that he advised the Statutory Committee and the local committees to spend that £1,000,000 as fast as they could because, he said, "if you spend this £1,000,000 quickly you can go back to the House of Commons and you can get millions more." Now, what was the understanding? If he was under that impression and the members of the Statutory Committee were: under that impression, namely, that this £1,000,000 was only a Grant-in-Aid, then I ask why should they send out a circular requesting the local authorities to do what Parliament has already done for them? I hope we shall have some explanation, because at the first meeting that was held, called by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, I was present. During the whole of that meeting they discussed this very point, namely, that this circular was offensive to them, and that they would have no charity attached to the payment of the grants. I quite agreed with them; but they would not believe that Parliament had granted nearly £1,000,000, although it said so on the circular. I think it states also that they asked the local authority, the councils, and the county councils, to see to the collection of the money. Now I say that no local authorities can collect what we shall have to pay. No local authorities can raise the millions we shall have to pay. We have now got to finance under this scheme up to £7,500,000. That is the Estimate placed before the House to-day by the right hon. Gentleman, and I would ask anybody, how could the local authorities or the localities raise this vast sum of money to pay the supplementary grants and supplementary pensions for those who are suffering through the War?

Now, the other point I want to raise is one dealing with paragraph 37 in the Regulations. I should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board (Mr. Hayes Fisher) to it, because on 7th July, 1915, when this matter was before the House of Commons, this very point about the equalisation of local funds was under discussion. There is a paragraph in Section 4, I believe it is, dealing with the powers of local committees, and there is a Sub-section there dealing with the question of money raised by the localities. On that occasion, the right hon. Gentleman said—I will not read the whole of the paragraph— There are a good many parts of these islands, particularly the northern part, where they like to raise their own money and to retain it. Although we may think that our standard of relief is a high standard, there are people, like the miners, who say that they want their people to ho still better done. They collect their own money and they raise the standard. It is not in human nature to prevent it, and it is much better to indicate that we fully expect it, and to say that where the standard is raised they will collect their own money, retain it, and pay for that standard."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th July, 1915, col. 408, Vol. LXXIII.] It was clearly indicated by my right hon. Friend that if they raised the money locally, as was the intention of the original Act, that that money should be retained locally by the people who raised it. Therefore, I contend that this paragraph 37 ought to come out, because nobody in the localities will subscribe to this money or will continue to subscribe if they are going to relieve the State of their liabilities to pay the full grants that are now paid under these Regulations under the supplementary grants and supplementary pensions.

I rose really for the purpose of calling attention to another matter, namely, the treatment by the Statutory Committee of non-county boroughs and of London, and of their action in dealing with counties. My hon. Friend who introduced this matter to-day spoke in very high terms of these local committees. I quite agree with him; I am a great believer in the Statutory Committee and in local committees; I want to create more of them. I think that there should be a local committee in every local borough and district in the country, because you cannot deal with this subject unless you have your local committees getting in touch with all the persons affected under this Act. We have a very large number of non-county boroughs, up to 30,000, 35,000, 40,000, and some of them up to 45,000 people, to whom the Statutory Committee has not allowed or has not granted their own local committees. When the first Naval and Military Pensions Bill was introduced, every borough above 20,000 people had its own committee. When the Bill returned to the House it was raised to 50,000; but the intention of Parliament and of the Committee who reported to the House was that we should put down in every district, in every town, and in every county in the country, a local committee to deal with this very important subject, so that they could get in touch with the work under the Act.

There has been a great deal of dissatisfaction, and it has reached the Statutory Committee. Important boroughs like Harrogate, and other large boroughs with a very large population who are anxious to take a pride in their own wounded and their own people, have strongly objected to being put under the leading strings of the county councils in this matter, and they ask that consideration should be given to their claims. This is not a matter of main roads, or education, or police, or old age pensions, or insurance. It is a matter of getting into direct touch with every individual person who is entitled to obtain benefits under this Act. You cannot get the county councils to work in all the districts such as I have indicated unless you work through these committees. If these important boroughs are going to work the scheme, they ought to have a self-contained committee for the purpose. Let me take the case of London. I really cannot understand the action of the London Members in regard to that case. The Act of Parliament is quite clear. It says that the City of London and each Metropolitan borough shall be a separate district, and that the councils thereof shall have the right of appointing at least a majority of the members of the committee. The Statutory Committee, so far as I can learn, have absolutely disregarded the whole of the claims of the London boroughs in this respect.


That is the county respect.


Did not the Statutory Committee advise them to appoint local committees or sub-committees? I ask my right hon. Friend (Mr. Barnes) to read one of the circulars sent out by the Statutory Committee, and he will find that they strongly advised that not only London but other counties should appoint sub-committees and not district committees. It is disregarding the intentions of the House of Parliament when they appoint in London sub-committees instead of placing the whole responsibility upon the borough councils to appoint their own committees. I should like to go further and ask who are the people who are distributing the money in London? Can we have a Return showing who are the people distributing the money in the London constituencies—I have a list here of the former distributors—because the sub-committees are now in the constituencies and not in the boroughs of London. The right hon. Gentleman ought to present a Return to the House of Commons to let us know who are the voluntary people—because this is handed over to a voluntary organisation—who are handing out the money in the shape of Parliamentary supplementary grants and supplementary pensions to the recipients. I contend strongly that the whole of this money ought to be given out by the representatives of public bodies, quite apart from any voluntary organisation, and that we ought to know who are the people, not only in London, but in other parts of the country, where they have brought voluntary organisations into the field. Why is it that the Statutory Committee have adopted this plan instead of carrying out the Act of Parliament and creating each borough in London its own separate committee to work the Act? I believe that you ought to try in London to create corporate life. I believe that members of borough councils in London will take the same interest in this work as you find in the provinces. If this is going to be only a temporary matter I would appeal to my right hon. Friend to see that the Act of Parliament is carried out and that London should have its borough council committees in the same way as you have them in the provinces. There is only one other point I should like to mention in regard to the counties. I am surprised at my hon. Friend the Member for the Middleton Division of Lancashire (Sir R. Adkins), who is a very strong advocate of the claims of county councils in this House. We have a large number of county councils who have not yet created their district committees. I asked for a Return the other day, and there are only ten out of fifty county councils who have created district committees. I say, advisedly, that no county council can work this scheme unless it appoints its district committees. We have our district committee for education, old age pensions and insurance. Why is it that a Statutory Committee are advising the county councils—I have the circular here—not to create the district committees under their scheme?


They are not.


If my hon. Friend will look at the circular headed: Notes on Model Schemes for Counties other than Loudon—— he will find in the paragraph at the bottom of page 2 the following: By virtue of Section 2(4)of this Act the scheme may provide for a division of the county into districts and the appointment of a sub-committee for each district. For the reasons stated in the circular which accompanied the model scheme, the Statutory Committee have thought it desirable to recommend county councils generally to defer for the present any division of a county into districts, and consequently provisions on this subject have not been included in the model scheme.


What is the date of that?


19th February. If you look at some of the subsequent circulars you will find that the Statutory Committee are advising the county councils to appoint an existing voluntary organisation and to do it under Section 2 (7). That is absolutely wrong. The Statutory Committee ought to give definite instructions to every county council throughout the country to create their district committees in order to link up the work in every district under the county councils. They cannot work this scheme by any sub-committees or by any voluntary organisation unless you obtain the consent, approval, and assistance of all our people engaged upon local authorities in the counties. I believe, with the right hon. Gentleman, that this scheme is going to revolutionise the country I am a believer in it and it is because I believe in the scheme that I want these committees created in every district throughout the county. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Black-friars Division (Mr. Barnes), in some letters he has written to the Press, has stated that these committers want to be gingered or stoked-up. The Statutory Committee should withdraw all their circulars and send out new circulars to county councils and borough councils where the committees have not been appointed and say to them, "Proceed with your district committees." If they do so, I believe you will link up in this scheme a great work for the future.

Mr. H. LAW

I shall not attempt any detailed criticism either of the administration of the Statutory Committee, so far as it has gone, or of the Regulations which were placed in our hands yesterday. We are very largely in the hands of the two right hon. Gentlemen now on the Treasury Bench, one of whom spoke for the Statutory Committee and the other for the Treasury. I am confident that they have brought to the consideration of the subject a very sympathetic spirit indeed. My only criticism of the Regulations is that they are already at least four times too long and forty times too complicated. I know you cannot get on without some Regulations and that they are more or less a necessary evil, but we ought to recognise that in dealing with a matter of this sort, more particularly where very poor and in many cases very ignorant people are concerned, two things are of vital importance—speed in dealing with the matter and simplicity. I hope that the Statutory Committee in the work that lies before it—it is only just beginning its work—will keep those two points in mind. Take the point of speed, or quickness in dealing with the claims. One of the greatest evils in the present system, so far as I have been able to inform myself of it, is that there is so much delay in dealing with the claims. I bring no reflection against the Chelsea Commissioners. They have to do an enormous mass of work, and they deal with the cases as they come before them as quickly and as sympathetically as they can. But it is a fact, which must be known to everybody who has had to deal with these cases at all, that very great delay does occur. It is not an infrequent thing that a man is discharged from hospital. As soon as be is discharged from hospital the separation allowance paid to his wife stops. It is very rarely indeed that any pension comes to be paid for at least a month—in fact, in the great majority of cases, for three or four months. I have a number of cases here, but I do not propose to inflict the details on the Committee.


May I remind my hon. Friend that that has nothing whatever to do with the Statutory Committee; they are the Commissioners of Chelsea Hospital.

7.0 P.M.


I am quite aware of that. I am venturing to point out to the Committee that that has been the case in the past. The Statutory Committee has been set up to correct to a large extent the anomalies and hardships of the pension system, to supplement pensions where they are insufficient, and to grant pensions and allowances where, for one reason or another, they cannot at present be granted. All I ask is that the right hon. Gentleman should avoid, in the working of this Committee, that habit of tying oneself up with red tape, so that it becomes quite impossible, with the best will in the world, to deal with cases quickly and satisfactorily. The other thing I would venture to say to him is that the need of speed is undoubtedly great. Experience shows that. The need of bringing pensions up to a decent level is admitted. I hope that that need of equalising pensions so as to put people somewhat on the level of their pre-War income, to which a great deal of attention has been directed this afternoon, will not distract attention altogether from another part of the Committee's functions, which is to provide pensions and allowances in suitable cases where, at the present time, owing to one Regulation or another, no pension whatever is being paid. That is clearly one of the cases which the Statutory Committee is intended to meet.

May I give an instance of the sort of case I have in my mind? It cannot be objected that this is a matter for Chelsea Hospital, because Chelsea Hospital cannot deal with it. I take the case of a soldier, an officer's servant, who was asked to assist in putting up a blind in his house. An accident happened. Something dropped on his head, and he had a very considerable concussion, followed by total loss of sight. Under the existing rule he had no pension at all. That is the sort of case which I trust the Statutory Committee will look very carefully into. There are others. I know a case of a boy who enlisted in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in March, 1914. In September his battalion, one of the old Regular battalions, was sent to the front, and in November he was killed. At the time he was sent to the front there was no separation allowance or other payment to any dependant other than a wife. Before his enlistment he had been in the habit of supporting his mother, and he was killed before he could make any allotment from his pay. Under the existing rules no pension or payment or allowance of any sort can be granted to that woman. That is the sort of case, again, where the Committee ought to act. I know the right hon. Gentleman has the power of doing it. When I see a paper of this length produced, with all the complicated verbiage it contains, I beg of him that he will not allow the Committee to tie itself up in the way the Chelsea Commissioners have tied themselves up so that it actually defeats the intention of the Act of Parliament which created it. I beg that he will make a fight for these two principles of speed and elasticity. I am sure the real desire of the country is quite simple, that the nearest relative, the wife or dependent of every man who is disabled in its service should, as far as humanly possible, not be allowed to suffer financially in addition to all their other sufferings. That is what the House thought it had provided when it set up the Statutory Committee. I beg that the Statutory Committee will not allow that perfectly simple object to be defeated by framing or allowing to be framed for it regulations which prevent this man from getting a pension for this reason, or that woman from getting any allowance for another. We are now breaking fresh ground. Let us be careful that we do not get the same old brambles tying us up in the same old way.


I agree with the hon. Member that it is undoubtedly not only the will of the country, and the will of this House, but the country believes it was promised by every Minister and by everyone who went on recruiting platforms, that every person who is really a dependant of a soldier who is either killed or disabled should be provided for, so far as the main part of the income is concerned, from the State, and from the State alone. From what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said we can now be pretty well satisfied that so far as the amount of money which the Treasury is prepared to put at the disposal of the Statutory Committee is concerned, it will be sufficient to meet first of all the first pensions guaranteed by Parliament—that, of course, comes from the War Office or the Admiralty—and the supplementary pensions to widows; the supplementary allowances to dependants and the supplementary disablement grants will be met by this Statutory Committee, as I understand the position, from moneys granted by Parliament, and any compassionate allowances which are proposed after and beyond that will be given from private funds.


made an observation which was not heard in the Reporters' Gallery.


What I want to get quite clear is that the obligations which the State has entered into with regard to these individuals will in no case where it is an obligation be met from charitable funds, but by funds provided by the Treasury.


The Chancellor did not say so.


I gathered from the Parliamentary Secretary that the obligations which are set out in these Regulations would be provided by the State, and that there would be no necessity to raid local funds which have been provided over and above what the Statutory Committee receive from the Exchequer, and no necessity for local committees to start begging in order that these individuals may receive their pensions and allowances. I hope the Committee will insist that these obligations, definitely set out in the Regulations, will be met upstairs. I am not against charity in its proper sphere. I am not against the overflowing, kindly heart which will help; but even the supplementary pensions ought to be definitely guaranteed by the State, and the amount ought to be set out and provided by the State, and there should be no raid on any other fund collected for any other purpose. If it is put to me that in some places there may be larger funds, or that some parts are poorer than others, I want to see a definite guarantee that a sufficient allowance will have been provided at the cost of the State first, and then, if that is done evenly all over the country, it does not matter very much about adding to the allowance from local funds if there is a fairly accurate interpretation of what I have already said is carried out in the beginning. I know there is both a good and a bad side to what may be called local feeling and local patriotism. I quite agree that there may be cases whore large funds in very wealthy towns are brought to the relief and the assistance of the people in those areas. But providing that the State has undertaken its full liability in the first instance, I do not think this House ought to interfere, and it has no need to interfere, with those objects of charity or the way in which they are carried out.

I want to carry that a bit further, because if the principle is applied in regard to local funds it can be applied in regard to other funds. Most of the trade unions of the country have done two things with regard to this side of the question. They have not only excused their members who have gone into the Army from paying contributions, but they have also guaranteed them their benefits, and, therefore, if the benefits which the rest of the trade unions who are continuing to carry on the business of trade unions are guaranteed to these men, it is unfair that they should be taken into account in assessing the pension which shall be given to the disabled man or to the widow and the dependant. Then, again, not only with regard to trade unions, there are many large funds which have been contributed. There is the North-Eastern War Relief Fund, which was started at the beginning of the War, and has accumulated large funds, which are devoted to the relief of distress in the case of North Eastern men who have been disabled while serving with the Colours, and of families and dependants of men who have lost their lives. That is a most admirable fund, and it is only one of many. I suppose there is hardly a single railway company which has not such a fund. Why should money collected out of the wages which the railwaymen themselves allow to be deducted from their wages be used to relieve in any sense whatever any liability of the State? In so far as that happens, I am quite sure there will be on the part of the working men of the country a complete opposition to any demand to use money so subscribed for the relief of State obligations, and, if it is not yet quite clear that such attempt is not to be made, I hope before the end of this Debate we shall have a most emphatic declaration from the Government that no such income will be taken into account when settling the question of what the supplementary pension shall be. With regard to the Regulations, I do not want to follow the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) in his very lucid and very critical examination of them. I do not think he went one inch too far, or said anything that was not true with regard to some of these Regulations. The hon. Member (Mr. Hugh Law) referred to their exceeding complication. The number of them is very large and they are exceedingly complicated. It would take more than an ordinary lawyer to give an exegesis which anybody could really understand, so as to be able to tell any person exactly how they stood with regard to this particular matter. I believe these Regulations are not like the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be altered, and I would like to know whether they can be altered before they are finally issued.


They are draft Regulations.


They are a draft approved by the Treasury. Surely, as they are only a draft and as they have not been finally issued, after the criticisms which have been passed upon them to-day it would be a great public advantage if they could be revised in the light of that criticism. I suggest that they might be revised and the Treasury consulted again before they are finally issued. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be afraid of giving a pledge, but I would like to ask him if he could give an undertaking that these Regulations, about which there is really much legitimate complaint, will be revised before they are finally issued and acted upon?


Of course, it is quite possible for the Statutory Committee to consider the recommendations and suggestions that have been made, and it is quite possible for them to revise the Regulations, but, of course, they have got to send the Regulations when revised to the Treasury. How many months it will be before the Regulations come back from the Treasury I cannot inform the hon. Member. Meanwhile, no recommendations could be made and no supplementary pensions could be granted. I should think it would be very much better to put these Regulations into working operation, and if after a, few months we find by practice where the weak spots are or where the shoe pinches most, then we could set to work to revise the Regulations in the light of that practice.


If the right hon. Gentleman says it means a delay of months, that is another matter.


I think it might mean a delay of months.


I do not want a delay of months. If it was only a matter of a few weeks I should not object, but I would rather we started well while we are about it than badly. I am sure that many of these Regulations are so framed that they will be found very difficult to work. One of the great evils that underlie these Regulations, and it is an evil that underlies nearly all-the pensions which have so far been granted by the Chelsea Commissioners, is that nobody knows how long they are going to have any particular pension. The trivial things which are brought in for the purpose of revising and altering the pension when once it has been granted, make it almost impossible for anybody who has been granted a pension by Chelsea, and now, under these Regulations, by the Statutory Committee to know what they can rely upon as their pension, so that they may base their life accordingly. This undoubtedly is a constant anxiety, and the many reasons given for altering a pension—I will not go into them, but they are in the Regulations—are very unsatisfactory. For instance, many men now are being trained, and their earning capacity cannot be set out and understood by the Chelsea Commissioners or by the Statutory Committee, but if once they fix a pension, and the man, by some superior skill or application, manages to earn a little more per week than was expected, his pension is reduced, and you take away incentive from that man to improve himself and to get on in life. I think that is a very great evil. If the pension was a fixed pension, and not to be altered without some real, valid, sensible ground, it would improve matters immensely.

There is another aspect of this question, and that is the pre-war income, which is reduced to the disability pension, which I think is one of the meanest things that could possibly be put in any public document. I hope I am rightly informed that it has escaped the vigilant eye of the Statutory Committee, and that they did not thoroughly understand what that Regulation meant when they passed it. It is Rule 7, which provides that in the case of a widow of a sailor or soldier who, at the date of his death, was in receipt of a disability pension, that disability pension is to count instead of the pre-war income as the basis upon which the supplementary pension shall be granted. I think that is a peculiarly mean thing, and I hope it will be wiped out entirely. I do not think it is defensible by anybody, but as I believe it will receive the consideration of the Statutory Committee, I will not say anything more about it. It is pettifogging things of this kind that make people suspicious, and make them feel as if they cannot trust the State to do the thing either handsomely or properly while they are about it. I do hope that Regulations of that kind will no longer find their place in any document issued under the authority of this House. I would like to add my plea for co-ordination. I think it ought to be the object of the House to see that all these questions of pensions should be brought under one management and under one rule.

I would like to make a point which I do not think any other speaker has made, and that is in regard to the position of people who have got pensions. I want to say on behalf of my Friends that we are putting our energies into this work with the idea that men and women will be granted reasonable and sufficient pensions. We ask in addition to that that when they have got that pension, they shall not be exploited and employed at rates which are not remunerative, that the bounty of the State is not to be used by the public, or by employers, or by the Government—the Government have been as big sinners as anybody in this respect in the past—to get cheap labour. If there is any intention of that I am quite sure that the organised workers of this country will set their faces resolutely against it. I agree that it is a very difficult problem. I am not one of those who want to see men or women who are capable of being employed spending their lives simply as pensioners in idleness and perhaps something worse. I agree that this is a very acute social problem, and likely to be very much more an acute social problem after the War. We have never had a war like this before, and please God we may never have another like it! The number of sufferers in every country is enormous, and we shall have in this country, after the War, one of the biggest problems which we have ever had to face, socially and industrially. The position of these pensioners must not be used to reduce the standard of life to the worker. Their pensions and allowances must not be used as excuses for getting cheap labour. Something must be done in regard to this problem which will solve it on much better lines. I believe that if trade unionists are taken into the confidence of employers and the Government in regard to this problem, and if their aid is sought with a view to a solution, I believe it may be solved without any friction and injury. Certainly it cannot be solved, and it will not be solved, if employers and others take advantage, as I hear is already being done, of the situation for the employment of women, who are receiving a State pension, at 5s. a week. Under those circumstances you are creating as big an evil with one hand as you are trying to remedy with the other. This problem wants thinking out and settling as part of the pension problem. It is a very serious problem, and I want to ask the Government to see that steps are taken to consider the whole of the problem in a sensible and reasonable fashion, taking into their confidence the organised workers of the country. I am quite sure that out of the collected wisdom of all these elements gathered together we shall get a solution which will prevent the evils of which I have spoken.


It is a most serious matter we have to consider. I am by no means satisfied that this matter will ever come up for revision. We have no power, so far as I am aware, to require the Statutory Committee to revise their Regulations, and certainly none to compel the Treasury to sanction them. I have listened to this Debate with great interest—these pensions are a matter in which I am greatly interested—and I have not heard from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board or from the Chancellor of the Exchequer one figure which gives us ground upon which we can arrive at a conclusion as to the basis on which these supplementary pensions are fixed. I do not know what the calculations are based upon. I have made certain broad calculations, and I understood that the supplementary pensions were to be given, not merely in regard to the pecuniary wealth or the pre-war comfort of a particular family—although I understand that that played an important part—but that a person, however poor, if she or he could make out a case that it was exceedingly important they should get something more than the flate rate, that they would equally be entitled to a supplementary grant. I take as an illustration of my point the case of a widow. A widow will take, if she has no child, 10s. under the flat rate, but under paragraph (6) of these Regulations she cannot get a farthing. No matter if they think her case a hard one, she cannot get anything.

Take the case of a man who earned £1 a week before the War. His widow on the flat rate gets 10s. Under paragraph 6 (a) she can get nothing because she already gets 50 per cent, of the pre-war income of £1. Therefore the Statutory Committee approaching that case says, "We think it one of hardship." She may be a woman of permanent ill-health, mental or physical, but they can give her nothing under these Regulations. I submit that that is a grievous injustice, and that we ought to be informed how these figures have been arrived at. This is hedged round, in regard to people much better off than the widow whose husband was earning £1 a week, with provisos that in my opinion it is very difficult to understand. As far as I can judge the calculation I believe that nobody who was earning less than 30s. a week will ever take one penny under that widow's provision, and will not take it because, first of all, of that proviso, and then there is a second proviso to that same Clause that the income of the widow with no children may get 12s. of her pre-war income—that is what the husband chooses to give her—if her pre-war income did not exceed 15s. Therefore the second proviso puts a further limitation upon what the widow can receive under this supplementary pension. But there is a further limitation. When you find under Clause 7 how you are to determine what is a widow's pre-war income, you are told that you are to arrive at it by ascertaining the proportion which the husband had paid to her for housekeeping expenses, as one of the determining factors.

I fail to understand how these figures have been arrived at or how the Chancellor of the Exchequer has arrived at £7,000,000, or at any other sum whatsoever. I have taken a great interest in this matter and watched its progress throughout, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been most reluctant to take action, and it was only when the Bill was in jeopardy that he came down to this House to say that he would find the money if public benevolence did not find it. By steady progress we have extracted that from him. The Lord Mayors and Lord Provosts have at last extracted this further sum of £7,000,000, and when the Chancellor of the Exchequer says to-night that he is animated with the desire to settle this question while the public are interested in it and our soldiers are concerned, I cannot help thinking that he is a very dangerous man who does that, because from his first speech his great struggle has been to throw this as a matter of charity on to the public. We are voting on this matter and discussing these Regulations in the dark. We have no method of knowing how the figure of £7,000,000 is arrived at, or why it should not be £70,000,000. All we know is that there is to be a capital sum of £7,000,000, and after all these provisions are gone into all the soldiers will get per year, perhaps, will be £100,000, or something like that, and the £7,000,000 may be calculated having regard to the interest which it will produce. Nobody can know how much or how little this is going to produce.

Take a case, to my mind, of a grievous injustice in the definition of "child" on page 1. Child there is limited to the case of a child born within nine months after the cessation of hostilities or the retirement or discharge of the father, if prior thereto. Take the case of a soldier who is blind. He is entirely incapable of work for his lifetime, yet he is a young man and is married. He comes back blind. For any children born nine months after he comes back from the War there will be no support of any kind. They are practically paupers, and the small pension which he is to get will have to go to maintain these additional children. That is a case which should have been dealt with. There was no ground for imposing this limitation. You might have a man totally disabled, and yet young and vigorous who might have a considerable family. This is not the way to carry out what was the desire of the country—namely, that there should be proper pro vision, reasonable, of course—we can never put a man's arm or eyes back—so that if he is permanently disabled he and his children may maintain themselves as honest people, free from all taint of the workhouse. That is not done. I could multiply instances. I am satisfied that there has been no just consideration. We have not had time. These Regulations were only issued yesterday. What time have we had to consider them? A document more difficult of construction than this has never come before us. I am really not satisfied that I understand it now. How these poor people are to understand it I am at a loss to say.

In addition to what my hon. Friend (Mr. Hogge) has told the Committee about definition of pre-war income, when you come to deal with the widow you have got to get at the proportion of the pre-war income, and throughout there is a complexity and difficulty about this that passes all description. My honest idea is that this ambiguous, difficult, involved, and complex language has been used to cover up that which might have been made simple and clear, so that anybody who read might understand, with a view to cutting down the supplemental pensions which it was the intention of Parliament to grant. Is it believable that the man who was only earning £1 a week can never receive a halfpenny under this supplemental pension scheme, even though his case is one of the greatest hardship, and that nothing else is to be done for him? I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Stockport, and his was a most important point. A good many of the Members do realise it. I am satisfied that it will rouse the country. The lord mayors and provosts and the mayors throughout this country have a strong point in regard to the funds which they have collected. I follow quite clearly what they mean. In Newcastle, Liverpool, Edinburgh, and other great cities, they have said—indeed, we were told at a meeting by Provost Bailey—that these men were told that these funds were collected for and would be kept for them; that they wanted to do good for the town, and they said, "We will look after you if you go." We have had a scale of pensions at a flat rate, and then these supplemental pensions. It seems to me very immaterial whether we actually take that fund and spend it as Government money or whether we do what the scheme does.

Suppose, for the sake of argument, a fitter, or a merchant's clerk, or anyone else gets a supplemental pension of 10s. a week. His trade union, or the body of persons who have collected money in Edinburgh for the benefit of all the wounded, and are distributing it to them, think that he wants more and give him 5s. The moment he gets that 5s. more down goes the supplementary pension to5s., so that the Government get the benefit. They do not take it actually, but they at once reduce the supplemental pension by 5s., and so get the benefit, of this money which these people have subscribed. As I understand, that is the very thing against which everybody in this country is protesting, and which the lord mayors and provosts of Scotland have come down to London to object to. The hon. Member for Stockton and the hon. Member for East Edinburgh seem to think that the doubt is as to whether or not the Government can get the money under Clause 37 of this scheme. I do not think they can. Clause 37, in my opinion, deals with cases in which the Statutory Committee have collected money, which they are empowered to do under the Act, but where they get hold of, that is to say, bring a pension granted by, say, a trade union to a wounded member into account, is under Clause 29.


My contention is that the money was collected by local people before this Act came into operation. It was not collected for the purposes of this Act.


I do not agree or disagree. I think that the hon. Member is probably right. I think that Clause 37 clearly deals with money which they collected as the Statutory Committee and nothing else, but the Clause that really gets the trade union funds or other like charitable things is, in my view, Clause 29, because it says: In assessing the amount of any supplementary pension or special (temporary) allowance each item of present income other than the State pension in the case of the former shall be considered in relation to the corresponding item (if any) of pre-war income or pre-war dependence, earnings, and so on. If you turn to the definition of pre-war income on page 2, you will see, as regards present income, it means any additional items of income or the income value of any benefit accruing to a widow, child or dependant on the death of the officer, sailor or soldier or to himself on his disablement or arising subsequently. It is quite clearly governed by that. In other words, if a man receives from his trade union or any charitable or benevolent source, say, 5s., the Government at once say, "Your pension drops by 5s." There is another defect which I wish to point out. No provision of any sort is made for the man who is either temporarily or permanently insane. Under the law as it stands, the guardians, if he goes to an asylum, takes the pension, or practically the whole of it, leaving the wife and children paupers on the rates. There is no provision of any kind for dealing with this case. I have raised it by question in the House, and apparently, except for the answers that were given and, I must say, the very sympathetic consideration on the part of the Admiralty in the cases I have introduced to their notice, there is no provision in this scheme for dealing with this matter. I submit that this is one of the most grievous omissions which you could find in a scheme of this kind. The scheme is one which, I think, will be for all time, and certainly if the hon. Member for East Edinburgh goes to a Division I shall vote against the scheme. I think it is unsatisfactory, and certainly we have not had proper time for its consideration, nor have we had any figures of any kind on which it is founded. Further, I do hope that the Statutory Committee will act with some courtesy and promptness in dealing with cases which are sent to them. So long ago as the 2nd May I wrote about the case of a widow, for whom I tried to get a separation allowance, and I have not yet received an answer. But that is not an isolated case. I put a question to my right hon. Friend as to the case of Mrs. Mills, who was left without any means of support, and it was stated that she had 7s. a week which was allowed her by her daughter. If that is the way in which the business of the Statutory Committee is to be carried out, it is a grievous thing. When this answer was given that the woman was receiving 7s. from her daughter, it was not stated that the whole earnings of that daughter amounted to 11s. a week, and that she had left for herself only 4s. on which to live. If you do not want to encourage women to go wrong in their conduct, the business should not be conducted on those lines. This has been going on for months, and if the Statutory Committee conduct their business in this way, so far from being any benefit to the country, I think it will be a grievous detriment.


I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that there was no intention on the part of the Statutory Committee of discourtesy, and without attempting to suggest that the Statutory Committee have difficulties which are unique, I do say that the work of that Committee since its creation last February has been enormous, and that they have had to create what is almost the size of a Government Department. In regard to the criticism as to their promptness and ability to deal with every individual case, that is a kind of criticism which would have much greater weight when the Statutory Committee have really got matters more complete than they are at the present moment and when they have been engaged in their work for some months to come.


It is four months ago—the 2nd of May—when I wrote.


I would point out to the hon. and learned Member that the Statutory Committee have been overworked and understaffed, and it may well happen that particular cases may not have had prompt treatment. But my hon. and learned Friend should not, I think, generalise from one or two instances, and I would repeat that there has been no intentional discourtesy, and that it should be remembered that the Statutory Committee, as I have said, have had to create their own Department, and, until they have been at work for some months judgment upon their services cannot now be so well founded as it perhaps might be after they have been at this particular work regularly for a longer period. My hon. and learned Friend might, instead, have gone to the War Office.


The Financial Secretary to the War Office in a speech in this House, made in May, said I should take the case to the Statutory Committee.


I am quite sure, after what I have said, that my hon. Friend will have a further conversation with my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office. I rose to put three points before the Committee, two of them different from the first. I desire on behalf of the English and Welsh County Councils to say that we are in substantial agreement with the representatives of the municipalities in the view that the State ought to be responsible for the supplementary pensions, and in the movement which has been going on in the country to get that principle made perfectly clear, the English counties have taken an active part. They have, as is known to my right hon. Friend, approached both the Statutory Committee and the Exchequer, and worked harmoniously with the movement to which reference has been made by many speakers this afternoon. The counties are not going to strike if they do not get all they want; they will try to carry out the Act of Parliament to the best of their ability, but they are exceedingly anxious that no man should be any the worse because the locality in which he lives has taken the trouble to raise a special fund. In no way ought that to injure him, and certainly it ought not to interfere with the responsibility placed on the State. There is one point to which responsible county government attach particular importance, and that is in regard to the necessary expenditure connected with disabled officers and men—it is quite agreed that institutions like St. Dunstan, like the Star and Garter, and others my right hon. Friend referred to, which are of the highest value in connection with disabled officers and men. We also realise that pensions for disabled officers and men help the problem as well, but you will have, in many parts of England and Wales a necessary expenditure of money in the training, education and employment of disabled officers and men which is not covered either by these special institutions or by the existing machinery at the disposal of county councils or education committees. The county councils take the view that any such direct or necessary expenditure, if it is made in accordance with the Regulations of the Statutory Committee, should be defrayed from the Exchequer, and that the responsibility should fall there and should be acknowledged to the full. I trust that point will not be lost sight of, for it is one of real consequence in the carrying out of the Act of Parliament. In the counties there are nothing like the number of institutions that there are in great cities, where there is, as there is bound to be, an intensive cultivation of local government. In the counties the conditions are different and the difficulties greater, and I hops my right hon. Friend will bear that in mind, and that the unanimous wish of the county councils of England and Wales on this point will not be lost sight of.

There is another matter, also, from the point of view of the county government. As has already been stated, we join in the general view which the boroughs presented to the Treasury and to this House to-day. For my own part, I think that if there is to be any principle of general application to be laid down, it ought to be that where there is occasion to give a supplementary pension or any supplementary grant which is intended to be permanent, and not to be purely temporary, no local fund ought to be considered at all in measuring the amount of the official pension or grant. Who can tell how the local funds, raised in various ways by local effort, are going to be used. Wherever these supplementary pensions are required, or any supplementary grants of a permanent character, I hope that the unanimous wish of the local authorities will be carried out and put in practice on every occasion. So far I have spoken on behalf of the local authorities in the counties. May I say two or three words, being myself a member of the Statutory Committee, with regard to one part of the criticism directed to that body his afternoon. I think members of the Statutory Committee may congratulate themselves on the courtesy, moderation, and thought with which their work has been criticised in the House this afternoon, and I am sure we appreciate the consideration that has been shown by our fellow Members towards us in trying to do work of a very difficult character, and which necessarily takes a great deal of time and attention. The hon. Member for Stockton delivered an attack upon us with perfect good humour and an occasional want of information in dealing with an entirely different aspect of the matter. He attacked our circulars and our policies in regard to the local committees and district committees. Nothing is so dull as questions of machinery, except for those who are concerned either in oiling the machinery or trying to break it. I hope the Committee will forgive me if I reply to that speech. What happened is this: Eight back in February the Statutory Committee sent out a circular, and my hon. Friend selected one portion of it which he quoted, and in which circular it was suggested that all the counties or county boroughs—it was chiefly a matter for the county—should form local committees first before they went on to form district committees. The reason is this: Under the Act of Parliament any county or district committee must form itself with the whole of its area in accordance with the careful and detailed provisions of the Act of Parliament. The Statutory Committee thought—and I am not aware of any member of that Committee who does not think so now—that it was highly desirable that a local committee for each county should be appointed, and that that opinion should be ascertained as to whether it was desirable to have this machinery and district committees. All that was asked was that they should first of all form their scheme for counties and should not, unless for special reasons, form a scheme for district committees at the same time. Under an Act of Parliament district committees have to be formed under the scheme, and when you have formed a scheme under the Act of Parliament you require the sanction of the central bodies, and it takes many weeks and much trouble to alter a scheme.


I called attention to one point of Circular 3, of the 6th May, sent out to the county councils. The passage I quoted was: The Statutory Committee hope that it will be possible for the local committees to make the fullest use of the existing organisations who are now doing this work. This can be done by the appointment of sub-committees under Section 2 of the Act. If that was the intention of the Statutory Committee why is it ignored in what the hon. Gentleman states now? It was their intention to ask them to appoint district committees.

8.0 P.M.


My hon. Friend is rather more confused than he was before. I am now referring not to the 6th May; I am dealing with February. I was explaining to the Committee why in February they asked the counties to form a county system before they decided to form district committees as well. Months afterwards the question came up as to what should be done immediately the Act came into force. The reason why in many counties we had only got county committees all formed very recently was, as everybody knows, because the county councils only meet once a quarter, or five times a year, and it was most important that we should have adequate labour representation, and in many counties the machinery is far less advanced for labour representation than in the large cities. The result was that of necessity weeks were consumed in getting the schemes for the counties completed particularly with regard to labour representation. It follows from that that when the period for the Act coming into force arrived there were many parts of England and Wales where either a county committee had not been formed or much more often a county committee had only recently been formed. We therefore did suggest, and I hope those interested will consider we did right, and we thought that for immediate purposes it was desirable to call attention to the fact for one part of the Act, only one part of the Act, that dealing with supplementary allowances, it was desirable to have new local committees ready at once, and we called the attention of the counties to the work of that kind which had been done in various areas by various philanthropic societies. The policy of the Statutory Committee was this: to establish, as we have established now, in all parts of the country representative committees who would have to carry out all the powers given to local committees by Acts of Parliament. There was also the question whether they would then form sub-committees, which have the advantage of flexibility, or district committees, which have the advantage of democratic institutions as regards boroughs and other districts. In every case where a committee has asked for district committees it had them, but in several of those cases they have asked for modification, which shows how difficult it is to create those bodies without having the trouble of modification.

We are anxious during the present transitional period that they should use all existing machinery, and we look forward to the time in three or four months when every county and borough will be working the Act through a county committee and through either sub-or district committees, all of which may be representative, and which we trust will include the best of the workers who have hitherto been carrying out these objects together with proper and full representation of all sections of the community which did not take a share in them before. That is the policy with regard to local bodies, and if all our circulars are read by anyone in the light of what I have said I think it will be found that they carry out what I have stated. Another criticism has been made by the hon. Member for Stockton, and I think another hon. Member about our not appointing separate and complete committees as often as we might. It is an old controversy as to what size of local authority is entitled to a special committee. Parliament, rightly or wrongly, decided that no borough under 50,000 inhabitants was to have an entirely special committees unless the Statutory Committee decided so, finding that there were special circumstances in each case. The fact that a borough of 30,000 or 40,000 inhabitants has sent a large number to the front is fortunately not a special circumstance. They all have. The fact that a borough of that size has been doing excellent work with regard to separation allowances is not a special circumstance. They all have. By the Act the county is the authority over all places within its area, and if under 50,000 inhabitants a borough is not entitled to a separate committee except under special circumstances. That is neither our wish nor dislike. It is the Act. And in the absence of special circumstances we are bound to refuse a complete special committee. We have tried to find special circumstances in many cases, and in a certain number we have done so. I think we have given fifty-seven out of 129. Special circumstances are such as that the situation of the place is so remote that administratively it is better dealt with by itself, or as in some parts of Lancashire where a town is not the centre of an area outside, but adjoins other towns.

All those matters have been considered by the Statutory Committee with no bias whatever in one direction or the other. We know perfectly well, other things being equal, that it is better to please people because they will work all the better, and we also know that it is best to have the most economical administration because we are spending hard got public money in a time which is not one of national expansion. We have had to balance all those considerations. I say without hesitation on the part of the Advisory Committee and the Special Sub-committee which went into these matters, and here I should like to publicly acknowledge the great advantage we have had of the experience and knowledge and ability of Sir Samuel Provis, whose knowledge of local work is excelled by few people, that our decisions have been arrived at only with the desire to get the Act of Parliament carried out as smoothly as possible, and to do nothing intentionally to excite hostile feelings, or to interfere with smooth administration. I can assure the Committee that the criticisms made during the whole of this Debate are welcomed by the members of the Statutory Committee as giving them real assistance, and they will pay the greatest attention to the statements of Members of Parliament on matters in which they are interested.


In face of the strong feeling among my Constituents in Liverpool, and my own general sympathy with their views on this subject, I desire to say a few words. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not quite accurately describe my attitude on the Pensions Committee, of which he and I were members. I was in favour of discrimination in the bestowal of these pensions according to the different conditions, but I was not in favour of a different flat rate. Liverpool is a city which has always been remarkable for strong local patriotism. Like many other great cities in the Kingdom, it has sent a very large number of men to the front, including, I am glad to say, many thousands of my own countrymen. They have always raised local regiments in Liverpool, and there is in their case, therefore, an appeal to local patriotism, which always meets with a very generous response. In Liverpool they are accustomed to deal with local funds of this kind. There has scarcely ever been a big national disaster, especially if it touched the people of that city at all, to which it has not subscribed largely. The result of that is, that I do not think there is any city in the Kingdom where the best methods of dealing with distress have been found in practice so largely as in that city. I take as an instance the loss of the "Titanic." That, of course, was a disaster which touched very nearly the people of Liverpool, and, indeed, my own Constituency, perhaps more than any other part of the city. The fund in connection with that disaster has been administered now for some time, and that administration has not been confined merely to the distribution of money. There has been as well a body of men and women belonging to Liverpool who have kept in constant touch with all the bereaved families, have paid them visits, I should say, weekly, and have acquainted themselves with all the circumstances of the people, and have given them, therefore, not merely money, but vigilant and affectionate care. By that method they have pursued the members of the families with an amount of elasticity which would be impossible under the rigid rules of a public Department, and they have traced dependants, not merely those immediately associated, such as wife and children, but others outside those. That has been especially the case amongst my own people, because, as everybody acquainted with Irish family life will know, the family spirit is very strong, and very often a young member of a family is taking care not merely of his wife and young children, but also of his father and mother, and sometimes even his grandfather. I have known a case in Liverpool where a grandfather was dependent in that way, and obtained some relief from the "Titanic" fund. I understand that the Statutory Committee have very large powers in tracing dependants, but I doubt if their powers go to the limit of the case I have just cited.

The result of all this is that in Liverpool they have evolved a spirit of vigilant, kind, persistent care of all those who are dependent on public funds. That city naturally feels some pride at its record in this respect, and some resentment at any interference with the work which it has carried out for generations so admirably. As I read Clause 37, the Government would have the right of taking funds raised in Liverpool into calculation in the allowance made to the widow and orphans and other dependants.


Not in the flat rate.


For the supplementary scale. I will take two cases, one from the middle-class and the other from the working-class. Take the middle-class family, say that of a young doctor with a practice of £800 per year, who patriotically and bravely gives up his practice, goes to the War, and is killed. The most his widow can get, as I understand the matter, is £104 per year. I ask is it tolerable that the children of that doctor, who, probably being young in practice, leaves no money behind him, should be deprived of that education which they might have expected, and which alone would cost the £104 per year, and that the reward which a grateful nation gives to a brave man for sacrificing not only his living and his prospects but his life, is that his children are to be placed in conditions which mean a degradation of the social and educational life of the, family. Our Committee come along and say, "We have raised a considerable amount of money—some £70,000. We do not mean to spend that money in adding luxuries to the lives of those who are already provided for by the State. That is not our idea at all. We mean to use that money to keep families from a lowering of the social and educational plane owing to the death of the father while fighting for his country." Now take a case of the other description. There may be cases where even a grandfather was dependent upon the soldier who has fought and died for his country. The Statutory Committee might or might not be able to deal with a case like that. There, again, our Committee and our fund come on the scene. Everybody knows that with the necessary rigidity of a public Department, whatever provision you make there must be hard exceptional cases which stand outside the rules of the Department. Our committee and our fund come in there. For all these reasons I stand strongly by the representation of the people of Liverpool.

Mr. PERCY HARRIS (Paddington, S.)

As chairman of the London War Pensions Committee, I feel bound to say a few words in reply to the attack made upon that committee and the Statutory Committee by an hon. Member who is not now in his place. I am glad the hon. Member raised the point, because I think it is a question which can usefully be ventilated. I am sorry, however, that he did not take the trouble to inform himself as to what had taken place in London, because he made certain insinuations which really have no basis in fact. It is perfectly true that the Metropolitan borough councils have felt a certain amount of resentment because the district committees were not set up at once. They had undoubtedly good reason to think that district committees were an integral part of the machinery of the Act. No indication was given, either in the Act or in the discussions on the Bill, that there need be any delay in setting up the district committees. I quite agree as to that. That is precisely where I think a mistake was made. If the conditions in London had been considered more closely it would have been seen that there would be considerable difficulty in setting up district committees at once, and that a transitional period might be necessary. This is what happened. Directly the Statutory Committee came to the question of transferring first to local committees and then to district committees, the work which was being carried on by voluntary societies in London, they saw that there was great risk of a break in the continuity of the work if the transfer was made too abruptly. The reasons are quite simple. All the machinery for dealing with what is really technical work in the shapes of organised voluntary workers was in the hands of voluntary societies. To have scrapped that machinery until something was ready to take its place would have been to court disaster.

I know that some of the borough councils have thought that the workers of the voluntary societies, several thousands in number, would as a matter of course be available for the district committees. But it must be borne in mind that there was a good deal of feeling in the minds of many of those voluntary workers that their patriotic and self-sacrificing work had not been appreciated, and that they were really being discarded as of no further use. Evidence was brought to my notice which went to show that the district committees might not have the necessary number of workers to carry on the work effectively. Further, the work was actually being carried out in London in some sixty districts. There are twenty-nine borough councils. It meant a very considerable dislocation of the existing arrangements suddenly to cut down sixty districts to twenty-nine. It must be borne in mind that it was not merely a question of grouping districts, because several of the existing districts overlap into more than one Metropolitan borough. That was the reason, I imagine, why the Statutory Committee recommended the London Local Committee to set up in the first instance sub-committees of its own, rather than district committees. Their advice was very emphatic on the subject, because they said: It is necessary that there should he no break in the continuity of this work when it is taken over by the local committees, and the Statutory Committee would therefore urge, unless there is very strong reason to the contrary, that the best method would be to appoint the existing committees as sub-committees of the local committee, adding, if necessary, members from the local committee or otherwise. I think it must be agreed that the London Committee would have taken a grave responsibility upon itself if it had rejected that advice. What we have done, I think it will be agreed, was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. We have set up sub-committees of our own, which are a combination of three elements—first, experienced organisers who have been doing the work; secondly, representatives of the borough councils; and, thirdly, representatives of Labour. We have there, I think, admirable committees for a transitional period. In point of fact, these committees have been set up and are working extremely well. In many cases the Metropolitan mayor is the chairman of the local sub-committee, and the committees are doing admirable work. They have only been appointed six months. It may be that the Statutory Committee were mistaken in the advice they gave, and that district committees might have been set up at once without any risk. But, at any rate, the Statutory Committee gave that advice with the best intention, and with the single desire to promote the interests of the persons to be served. I am glad to have this opportunity of appealing to the Metropolitan borough councils to come and help us with all good will. I am glad to say that twenty-one of the borough councils have come in and appointed representatives, but seven, I am sorry to say are still emulating Achilles; they are still in their tents. I put it to them, and to my right hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks), because Woolwich happens to be one of the boroughs standing out: Is it in the public interest or in the interest of the Metropolitan borough councils, any of them, to stand out from this work even for a few months? After all, they will fail to gain through their representatives an experience of this work, and they will be failing to take part in a beneficent public work which they might be assisting. I do hope, therefore, now that an explanation has been given as to how this has come about, and now that it has been made perfectly clear that no disrespect was intended to the borough councils because of these temporary arrangements, that they will come in and, with good will, help us.

I just want to say a few words on the general question. I think that the statement we have had to-day from the Chancellor of the Exchequer is certainly satisfactory as a declaration of intention. But the question still remains whether the Regulations will secure the pensions and allowances which individuals ought to obtain. I cannot venture to express any definite opinion upon the Regulations at present, because we have not had sufficient opportunity to discuss them. Clearly there are points which will require revision. I cannot help thinking that No. 37 really is an obsolete survival from a period when it was contemplated that voluntary funds should play an important part in providing money for the supplementary pensions. Personally, I am mostly concerned with London. I do not know if there is any fund in London which could be "taken into account," as the phrase goes—which could be annexed, as it seems to me, by the Government for their own purposes. I really am most concerned that nothing could be done to make it difficult for us to raise voluntary funds for matters which are properly outside the province of the Government. It is extremely important that there should be a very clear line of demarcation between what is the province of the Government and what may be fairly described as the province of voluntary funds—of what is local and what is general. I hope that that will be made perfectly clear.

As to my own personal experience in a borough which has a local committee during the last few weeks. The discussion to-day has been mostly in regard to Part I. of the Regulations. There is, of course, also Part II. of the Regulations which ought not to be entirely overlooked. They have been approved—very judiciously, I think—by the Statutory Committee for a period of four months only. I think they will undoubtedly require revision in certain particulars. I hope there will be no delay in carrying out that revision, and that the revised Regulations will be in the hands of local committees in good time for them to mark. I would also express the hope that when those Regulations are being revised the advice of persons actually administering the funds in the different localities and doing the work at first hand will be taken into account. I cannot help expressing the hope that something will be done to quicken up some of the Government Departments. I do not know whether this is a matter for the Statutory Committee. Perhaps it is one for the right hon. Gentleman. It is really not satisfactory when one gets a number of men who ought to be receiving the temporary allowance which the Government give to men who have been discharged from the Army, and who are awaiting their pensions, coming and saying they cannot get their money from Baker Street. That is not satisfactory, and there must be something done in the revision of these arrangements. I should like to ask my right hon. Friend to make some statement in regard to how we stand in relation to administrative expenses—as to whether the local committees are going to be provided for by the Government, or who is going to provide the administrative expenses. The London County Council has voted a sum of money for the purpose, but says it will not vote any more. The time will come before long when that particular sum of money will be exhausted, and I think we ought to know exactly where we are. I am sure the local committees are most anxious to assist the Statutory Committee in the discharge of their tremendous task. We do not want to put any difficulties in their way, but we do hope that the local committees, which, after all, are composed of volunteers, will have every possible assistance in the carrying out of their work.


The first part of the speech to which we have just listened raises a matter which I want to emphaisise a little in the very few moments in which I am going to address the House. That is the relationship between the Statutory Committee and the local authorities. From what the hon. Gentleman said it is perfectly evident that the twenty-one district councils in London as a whole, and not merely the seven still standing out, are dissatisfied with the arrangements; and that is the case with the smaller authorities all over the Kingdom. The reason why I am raising this question is because in my own Constituency there is grave dissatisfaction felt and expressed, a dissatisfaction which, in my humble opinion, is absolutely unnecessary and could be avoided; and I would ask my right hon. Friend if he cannot help to do away with this sense of injustice felt by the smaller local authorities. Section 2 of the Act that we passed last year provides—

"That for the purpose of assisting the Statutory Committee in the execution of their duties a local committee shall be established in every county or county borough of fifty thousand population or upwards, and for any other borough or urban district for which the Statutory Committee, on the application of the council, considers it desirable, having regard for the special circumstances of the case, that a local committee should be established."

A discretionary power is therefore invested in the Statutory Committee to form local committees in smaller boroughs of under 50,000 inhabitants. I agree that the onus is upon these smaller bodies to show, that there are special circumstances which entitle them to have a local committee. The first grievance which these smaller boroughs have is that the Statutory Committee has never defined what are the special circumstances which are to entitle these smaller boroughs to a local committee. What has really happened is this: An application is made by the smaller borough to the Statutory Committee for a local committee. They go into their reasons at length. In the case of my own Constituency the chief members of the corporation waited upon the vice-chairman. They went at great length and at great detail into what they conceived to be the special circumstances which entitled them to this special treatment. There can be no answer. Their memorandum or their application is sent to whom? To the county council! The county council, in other words, are apprised of the facts of the case, or a statement of the facts of the case as presented by the local authority. The county council almost invariably opposes the application—I will go into that in a moment—and I believe, in the case of my own Constituency, it did oppose the application of the smaller body to have a local committee. Upon that the Statutory Committee refuses to grant the application. It never submits the reasons which the county council has given for its opposition to the application. The small borough is never given a chance of reply to the county council, but, because the county council is opposed, the Statutory Committee has considered that as sufficient to defeat the application of the small borough. I submit that is manifestly unfair.

Take the case of Llanelly, a town in my Constituency which has been thus refused. Llanelly is by far the largest town in the county of Carmarthen. It is not a large town in comparison with some of the towns in England, but, in comparison with towns in Carmarthenshire, it is a large town, being three times as big as any other town in the county. It is the centre of the tin-plate industry, a highly technical industry. It has done better, I believe, in the way of sending troops for His Majesty's Forces than any town of the size in England. Up to the end of last year, I believe, 5,100 recruits were raised in this town for the Army and the Navy, and most of these were drawn, naturally, from the staple industry of the town, namely, the tin-plate industry. Therefore, you would have imagined that a local committee would be required here more than almost any other place, because when these maimed heroes of the War return they will return to their own homes, and it may be that some of them, at all events, will be able to do something like their old work. Therefore, a committee consisting of men who know the circumstances of the tin-plate industry is absolutely essential in order that the pensions shall be fairly distributed, and that the men shall be fairly treated. Not only that, but we know already that a larger number, probably, of men have been killed and injured in proportion to population from this town of Llanelly than almost any other town, because of the part taken in August last in the action at Suvla Bay and the operations that followed, and I know of one battalion, which was raised very largely from this town of Llanelly, which was decimated on the 11th and 12th August last year, and therefore the claims on the pension fund will be very heavy in proportion from this town.

I should have thought that, from every point of view, there were special circumstances in this case. It is far and away the largest town in the county, the main portion of which is agricultural. The great majority of members on the county council are representatives of the agricultural industry. This town has raised as many recruits probably as the rest of the county put together, and the number of men on the pension fund will be larger from this town than probably the rest of the county. Those, I should have thought, were special circumstances which would have entitled this town to exceptional treatment, and yet, without any reasons at all, the Statutory Committee have brushed aside their application, and said that they cannot have their own committee, simply because the county council have refused permission. Compare that with the treatment which is accorded elsewhere to small towns. Take the case of Lancashire. There is not a single small borough in Lancashire that has not got its own local committee. I do not know why that should be. Why should every small borough, even of 20,000, 30,000, 40,000, and boroughs of about the same size as Llanelly, be treated differently in Lancashire from this borough in Carmarthenshire? I suppose it is simply because the county council in Lancashire has agreed that these local committees should be set up. I say there is nothing in the Act which says that the county councils shall have the veto of the appointment of these local committees, and I say that the Statutory Committee in listening to the county council is acting contrary to the sense of the House of Commons when it passed that Act, and contrary, indeed, to the provisions of the Act itself, because the Act says that the Statutory Committee must consider the special circumstances, and not the county council. The opposition of the county council ought not to count one way or the other.

Lately the Statutory Committee has made a communiqué to the Press endeavouring to describe what the special circumstances are, and I confess, when I read what were considered by the Statutory Committee to be special circumstances, I could not understand why this borough of Llanelly, and a great number of other boroughs I know, were refused their applications. The first special circumstance, according to the Statutory Committee, is this: Historical circumstances (even when glorious) have nothing to do with it, though geographical position may give rise to something of the kind. In certain counties there are towns wholly industrial in the midst of a rural area. …. These may be quite distinct from the rest of the county. In this case I have most prominently in my mind, namely, the case of Llanelly, that special circumstance is present. Llanelly is at the very corner of Carmarthenshire, and it is the centre of an industrial population, whereas the main portion of the county is wholly agricultural. Then the Committee says: (2) There are cases where a borough is on the edge of a county, thus making communication with the centre difficult; here 'special circumstances' may exist. (3) Exceptional circumstances might arise also where a particular borough or urban district had sent to the forces a very large number of men. That is exactly what I have been saying. Here is a borough whose population in 1911 was only 33,000 which, up to the end of last year, had sent 5,100 men to the Colours, and it was known as the best recruiting area in South Wales before the War began. It has done exceptionally well. The recommendation goes on: by some huge accident, such as the sinking of a particular ship manned largely from one area, or from a disaster to a local regiment. Every one of the special circumstances are present in this case, and yet the Statutory Committee, for the reasons assigned, has refused the application. May I make an appeal to my right hon. Friend to look into this matter, because it is giving rise to somewhat bitter feelings? I asked a question on this matter last Thursday, and my right hon. Friend said that his Department could give no instructions to the Statutory Committee. There are, however, ways by which my right hon. Friend can redress what is undoubtedly a hardship. In the borough I refer to they raised a very large sum of money voluntarily, not only for pensions after the War, but for subsidies during the War. I do not think a single borough in the Kingdom has done better for the dependants of soldiers fighting in the field or for the widows of the men who have unfortunately been killed in the War. I make an urgent appeal, not merely on the ground of this one case, which seems to me to be an irresistible one, but on the ground that all over the Kingdom the same grievance has been felt. At Folkestone and Scarborough they feel very strongly on this matter; therefore, something ought to be done, and I am sure my right hon. Friend, when he comes to consider the whole matter, and more especially the case I am well acquainted with, will agree that we are only asking for what is reasonable and fair.


Yesterday afternoon there was issued a White Paper, which makes the scheme fairly complete in regard to what the Government have proposed should be done for those that are broken in the War and for the widows, families, and dependants of those who have unfortunately died. I am not going to criticise that scheme in detail. I think it is very evident from the whole tenour of the discussion to-day that with such short notice as twenty-four hours to deal with so complicated a subject it would really be impossible either to properly grasp the details of the scheme, much less to endeavour to criticise it or to make practical suggestions upon it. I want to say to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Vote today that I think the House of Commons has got a right to go into the merits of the scheme, as we now see it, before it becomes a permanent fixture, and before it is too late to alter, not merely some of the important details, but even some of the matters of principle, as we now understand them from the White Paper. I submit that the House has not only got the right to deal with the matter, but it is our duty to look into these details to see whether they are really reasonable and correct.

May I point out to the Committee that, whilst at the present moment it is undoubtedly of supreme importance that we should concentrate upon winning this War, the moment peace is signed it seems to me that for the next ten, fifteen, and perhaps twenty years or longer after the signing of peace, one of the most burning questions of the day will be this subject of pensions and allowances. That will be the one subject upon which every hon. Member will be receiving letters day after day and having interviews. It will be a most important question from almost every point of view, and, therefore, I suggest that when we are in the making of this scheme, and studying, as we are to-day for the first time, the proposals of the Government in anything like a complete shape, it is not only our duty to try and understand the scheme, but I think it is the duty of the Government to give us a chance of discussing it after we have had a reasonable opportunity of finding out what is in it. I do not know whether there is to be any such opportunity, but we have been promised a Bill on the sub- ject of the £6,000,000, and I suppose that when that Bill is brought in we shall then have an opportunity of discussing the purposes which will be covered by the Bill.


Hear, hear!


There are several matters fairly clear in this White Paper which, on the face of them, appear objectionable. One proposal is that, under special circumstances, a widow's income may be made as high as one-half of her pre-war income, and the widow with children may get her income made up to two-thirds of her pre-war income. At the end of Clause 7 we find it is provided that, in the case of a widow of a sailor or a soldier who at the date of his death was in receipt of a disability pension, the income at such date shall be substituted for the pre-war income. This point has already been referred to, but I make no apology for repeating it. Let us see what it would mean. Take the case of a man and his wife earning £2 a week before; the War. The man joins the Army, and is wounded, and he gets an allowance of £1 a week for disability. He then dies, leaving a widow, and she can get up to one-half of the prewar income. If that income was £2, it would mean £1 a week, but under the Clause I have just read out the pre-war income is to be substituted for the amount of the disability allowance, and therefore the poor woman's income is cut down to a much lower amount simply because her husband, instead of being killed right out, had only been badly wounded, and had died a few weeks later. I cannot imagine why that Clause was put into the White Paper, and I cannot understand it. The disability allowance is substituted for the pre-war income, and the poor woman's pension is cut down by about one-half of what it would have been under other conditions simply because her husband was not killed right out on the field of battle but lived a few weeks after being wounded and was able to receive disability allowance.

I mention that matter as first of all showing a simple case arising out of the White Paper, and then as showing the impossibility with only twenty-four hours chance of reading this White Paper of attempting to grapple with the thousands of problems which a proper construction of that Paper would raise. There are many worse cases arising out of the provisions on the White Paper to the one I have mentioned. Here is another case. Every widow is supposed in this White Paper to have some earning capacity. Even in the case of the widow with young children who earns anything whatever, half of her earnings would be deducted from her pension. If there is no child under ten her earning capacity, whether she earns money or not, is to be taken into account in fixing her pension. The whole of these provisions for reductions on such grounds are entirely indefensible. They are not only open to the very great objection which the Chairman of the Labour party pointed out from a trade union point of view, but they are open to objection from a common-sense point of view. If a poor woman who has no children tries to earn only 2s. per week by doing some little odd job perhaps for some friend of her husband or his employer, with the object of buying a little pair of boots, the kind of thing which sometimes coming in a week breaks the exchequer of some of these families, she immediately finds her pension cut down by Is. under the Regulations in this White Paper.

I could give a couple of dozen illustrations from each page of this White Paper concerning matters which the House of Commons has not only the right to criticise, but which it is its duty to criticise. Under the flat rate a widow gets a pension of 10s. per week, and it is raised by 2s. 6d. per week when she gets to thirty-five and by another 2s. 6d. per week when she gets to forty-five. The flat rate naturally assumes that when she gets older she will not be able to do so well for herself and will want a little extra money. This widow of one of our soldiers killed at the War at the age of forty-five under the flat rate is, therefore, to get 15s. per week, but if hon. Members will take the trouble to read this White Paper they will find, if owing to exceptional circumstances of ill-health or anything she gets an extra pension, that each time 2s. 6d. per week extra is given her under the flat rate it is to be taken off the extra pension under Clause 9 of the White Paper. When you come to read Regulations like this and find that a benefit that has been openly boasted of in this House as showing the generosity of the Government and its great ingenuity in making provision for real contingencies is to be taken away by another arrangement—well, I really think it is contemptible, and I have hardly any expression which would be Parliamentary by which I could describe it. It would be possible to give any number of illustrations which would strike the House as being unfair and pettifogging. There are forty-one Regulations in this White Paper, and the 41st Regulation contains the power to send out additional codes and instructions at any time. What the end is going to be in the way of Regulations and red tape, and exceptions and deductions without end, catalogued, to be inferred, and wrapped up in all kinds of Clauses and conditions, Heaven only knows. Some Acts of Parliament with which we have been acquainted in past years, and have had to learn for the purposes of our business, are complicated enough, but I defy any person entitled to one of these pensions to take Parts I. and II. of these Regulations into their study and to come out at the end of the week with anything like accurate and adequate information of what they really amount to. It is disgraceful in a matter touching the lives, pockets, and the interests of thousands of poor people that we should be called upon to sanction a series of Regulations which most of us, including myself, entirely fail to understand after we have read them over five or six times, and which I am perfectly certain will be a series of conundrums and difficulties for those to whom they are intended to apply.

9.0 P.M.

Clause 37 gives power to the Statutory Committee to take into account funds contributed locally. If a local committee makes any grant to a widow the Statutory Committee can take it into account, and reduce the widow's grant by a corresponding amount. It is clear, quite apart from that Clause, that in fixing the pensions and allowances to widows and children, income and other means are always to be taken into account and deducted, and this would clearly include allowances made out of any local funds, or by the man's trade union or his employer, or any insurance society, industrial or otherwise. Even a grant of a few pounds at death is to be taken into account. There is an elaborate Clause saying that one-twentieth of it is to be taken off the pension every year. I suppose that is another and more difficult, and therefore for the purposes of these Regulations a more suitable way of saying that the capital fund is to be charged at 5 per cent. The scheme contemplates £6,000,000 as capital. That is clearly not enough to do this thing properly, and that is where I am at issue with the speeches that have been made both by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Vote and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is not enough to do the thing properly even on an estimate of 250,000 deaths. The Chancellor of the Exchequer explained to us, in a sentence which I took down and which I could no more understand than some of these Regulations, that because he had taken 50,000 less deaths as his basis he had arrived at the conclusion that it would take a larger sum. It certainly seemed to me that there was no real reason why taking a smaller number of deaths he should arrive at a larger sum, but I think he got a little bit mixed in that portion of his speech. I think that even with the complicated system of deductions and exceptions of which the White Paper is full—I may say there are over eighty of them: over eighty different ways in which a poor person's income and pension may be reduced—the official mind will have full scope during the next twenty or thirty years to find out why widows should have no pensions. Thousands of them will never get a pension under these Regulations at all, and thousands of them will have their pensions so reduced that they will be of little use to them. This White Paper contemplates a flat rate, and a restricted and inadequate supplement. It contemplates making use of all the vast numbers of different funds, funds locally subscribed, industrial and other insurance, trade union benefits, special class funds, such as are got together for the steel smelters, and professional classes funds. There is a fund for relieving distress among the professional classes, and I noticed even this morning in the Press that they had had 7,000 cases of distress before them already for relieving trouble in the professional classes. The scheme includes all other charitable and benevolent funds. All these five classes of funds to which I have referred are to be made use of in reduction of the State responsibility. I want to tell the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Vote quite straight that that is a matter of principle to which we will not agree. I am authorised to speak on behalf of the National Committee of Lord Mayors, Lord Provosts, Mayors and Provosts, and Chairmen of County Councils—


They have not considered it.


I am authorised to speak on behalf of that committee, and all I say is that we will not submit if we can help it, to the State making use of any of these private funds in order to reduce the State contribution. We say that the State must do its duty first. No charity whatever should come into the State allowance and the State pensions. We say that all locally subscribed funds—and I wish to make this quite clear—all trade union funds, all class funds, all special benevolent funds, should not be interfered with, and that there should be no reduction made in respect of these from the pensions and allowances supplied by the State. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech, to which we listened with such interest, and parts of which were so eloquent and beautiful, if I may be allowed to say so, and for whose sympathy we are so grateful, put this conundrum to us: He said, "If the State and the Statutory Committee are not to be allowed to make use of these local funds, what are you going to do with those other funds?" But he proceeded, a few words later in his own speech, to answer his own question. He pointed out that there were numbers of cases where pensions would be refused. There is the case where a man dies shortly after being discharged from the Army, and where there is a bit of a dispute as to whether his illness was aggravated in the Army or whether he had it before he joined. I am one of those who think that no such question should be raised at all, but that if a man is passed fit for the Army he ought to be taken as fit, and the State ought to take the consequences. That, however, is another point with which we are not dealing at the moment. There are thousands of useful purposes in connection with the broken in this War, and with their wives and children, to which all these other local funds can usefully and properly be applied. There is ample scope for them. There are the widows to get a little more, the children to be brought up, the disabled to be taught how to use their artificial limbs, and there; are extra and very expensive artificial appliances to be bought. There are all kinds of things to be done, and so we say—and we wish it to be laid down as a matter of principle as the basis of the whole of this scheme—that the State must do its duty first with its flat rate, and its supplement to make good the deficiencies of the flat rate; and that private funds, local funds, and union funds and all charities must be used by the people subscribing to them to supplement the deficiencies of a necessarily red-tape system, such as the State is bound to be in any case.

You ask why the National Committee of which I speak here to-night has been formed, and of whom it consists? It consists of men who have, in almost every case, in every city had great experience in connection with the Transvaal Fund. We in Liverpool had a Transvaal Fund. It cost us, and has cost us nothing now for all these years, to administer it—nothing whatever. There have been no expenses of administration, and it has met every deserving case. This new committee is an experienced committee. It represents—in laying down this principle and in endeavouring to put this matter before the Committee of the House of Commons I want to make it clear—the voice of the largest cities and towns in the Kingdom: Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and many others. Speaking for that committee, let me say to this Committee of the House of Commons that some of us remember the effects, at all events, of the Crimean War. We remember the effects of the Indian Mutiny, and, of course, we all remember the effects of the Transvaal War. We know the inadequacy, the red tape, the impotent centralisation, and the general stupidity of what was done, or attempted to be done, from official sources in connection with those wars; and we are determined that, if possible, this shall not occur again.

Let me give a very simple illustration. Fourteen years ago I was Lord Mayor of Liverpool myself. In Liverpool in that year we had sixty veterans from the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny, and three-quarters of those veterans who came to the little annual dinner that we gave them year by year had to be got out of the workhouse to attend, wearing their medals. It was a sight to impress anyone who had any respect or regard for their own country to see these men, and to think that it was in the workhouses where they were driven to spend their days in order to get the necessaries to eat and drink, and clothe. We believe, in making this matter a question of principle, that in the midst of the splendid sacrifices of this War—a sacrifice of lives, property, sons, limbs, business and prospects—no man broken in this War, nor his wife, his mother, nor his child, ought to suffer want or hardship, or to be obliged to beg their bread. It is not charity to which these people and these classes are entitled or for which they are asking; it is simple justice. Those who lose their lives for us in this War, we know that God Almighty will look after them; but those whom they leave behind are left as a legacy to the House of Commons, which has charge of the funds of the country and ought to see that common justice is done, and to see that the bargain which was made with these men is honourably carried out. There are many hon. Members I see here who have made recruiting speeches and who have been upon these tribunals, and both at recruiting meetings and in dealing with the men who have applied to the tribunals they have said, "You join the Army and go to the War and your wife and your children will be looked after." In this Debate we are having today that is a matter of principle upon which we ought to insist. There is, of course, the other great question of coordination. I am not going to dwell upon that, but it is obvious that the multiplicity of places where little bits of money are to be got by any given person and the multi-pelicity of the committee to be dealt with should be abolished. Co-ordination must be introduced. That will require an Act of Parliament and is a matter for legislation.

There is one point which I am obliged to make quite clear to the Government, even if there is only half a dozen of us to go into the Lobby. We have been disappointed to-day by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and we have been disappointed by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Vote. Both of them have wobbled. They wobbled in their answers to questions yesterday and in their speeches today. Various Members tried to pin them down, and asked as a matter of principle, "Are you going to agree that the State must find the whole of the money for these claims without touching the local funds?" The last words the Chancellor of the Exchequer said as he sat down were these: I hope it will not pass the wit of man to find a via media. The viâ media is going to take the whole of the local funds and to take credit for them.


He did not say that.


What right has the hon. Member to give me a straight, flat contradiction? I say he did say it. He said: I hope it will not pass the wit of man to try to find a via media in that matter. Those were his exact words. We will not have a via media, for that means taking the whole or part of our money and deducting these further benefactions from these poor people, and also preventing the subscribers to the funds from having the right to say how their funds shall be used. We will not have it. Unless we get some assurance from the Government that they will provide the whole of the funds under this scheme, it is our intention, if there is only half a dozen of us representing these great towns, to go into the Lobby against the Government on this Vote.


The object of the Vote now before the Committee is to provide the means to fulfil that which is very near the heart of an appreciative nation. I am sure that all of us would unite in endeavouring to carry out to the best of our ability that great object. Parliament has decided to entrust the management of this fund to a Statutory Committee. We are here to-night, if we may, to strengthen the hands of that Committee in carrying out the national will, and to point out the means by which it may understand the plan that it would be desirable for them to adopt. I rise, as representing the non-county boroughs, to make an appeal to the Statutory Committee to profit by the experience of the past. They have been told in plain terms how great is the disappointment in many of the smaller municipalities because of their refusal to grant them the powers of a local authority. It has been said tonight by the hon. Member for the Carmarthen Boroughs (Mr. L. Williams) that the small boroughs in Lancashire have had that privilege conferred upon them. I want to say, as a member of the Lancashire County Council, that, because of its customary broad and wide view of affairs and its being most desirous to secure good administration throughout the county, it has recommended the Statutory Committee to confer the powers of local authorities upon all the boroughs within that geographical county, and that has been done. In other places—take Yorkshire, for instance, to the boroughs of Keighley and Batley powers have been given and their councils are appointed the local authorities, but there are other boroughs which, in my opinion, are equally well placed for carrying out these powers as some of those to which the powers have been granted.

I would urge upon the representative of the Government that although refusals have been made by the Statutory Committee, it should not be forbidden to renew the applications after to-night's Debate, because, I think, there will probably be a willingness on the part of that Committee to consult the general wish of this House in giving a wide and generous construction to the various suggestions that are made to improve the scheme and to enlist the sympathetic support of the public authorities throughout the country. The successful administration of this Act must naturally be based upon accurate information. Where can you find accurate information better than in the local councils that are conversant with the life history of the population and have within their areas those who are devoted to the public service of the State? I venture to argue that in these places the individual needs of those claiming help under this pensions scheme will be better understood and can be dealt with best. With regard to the local authorities—the smaller urban authorities for which I, as president of the non-county boroughs association, venture again to plead—I will take tie case of Folkestone. It has been refused a local committee. The same is true of Llanelly and of other places. I hold in my hand a copy of the "Municipal Journal," which speaks in no unmeasured terms. Perhaps it is worthy of consideration that a journal which devotes itself to the great municipal interests of the country speaks in such terms, and the Committee may consider that at any rate there is a very strong feeling that an improved method of administration might be secured if local powers were given to many of these boroughs. This is the extract: If Folkestone and Llanelly have not made out a special ease then what in the name of common sense constitutes a special case? Both places have reputations for sound and efficient local government administration, both have sent thousands of men to the Forces, both have contributed largely to war funds, and both are well contained communities with their own distinguishing characteristics. Then comes a demand that the Committee will state what the special conditions are, so that the public might know on what grounds they could appeal for the exercise of that authority which was given by Parliament in the Act to them and placed in their discretion.

I now come to the other point, which is contained in Clause 37, and which has been made the subject of discussion tonight. I place a different construction altogether upon the intentions of the Parliamentary Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer from the hon. Member (Mr. Rutherford). I think there is general agreement throughout this House, and I suppose the Government must carry out the policy, that the necessary and permanent supplemental pensions shall be met out of Government funds. With regard to the remark that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was going to put his hand upon the funds of local communities, there is no power given whatever to compel the local authorities to contribute towards this, and I am sure the Statutory Committee will understand that it is not likely that the interests of those who demand assistance can be met by falling back upon a desire to secure voluntary funds which are contributed for other purposes. Let us be clear upon that point, and let it be understood that no deduction whatever shall be made from the supplemental pensions in respect of amounts contributed by private donors to the local authorities. This is a thing that I think the country is determined to see carried out. The Secretary to the Local Government Board told us that it has been determined that the administration of these funds should pass into the hands of the representatives of the local authorities. We remember with gratitude the great services which have been rendered in the years which have passed by the Committee of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, but it is practically a self-nominated and an unrepresentative body, and it will be a matter of great satisfaction to know that the whole of this great work will be carried on by committees which will be appointed by the local authorities, and will thus be representative of the public opinion of the day.


I attended a great many recruiting meetings and made certain statements to the men whom I addressed, and I think it is well that I should tell the Committee some of the things I said. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Archer-Shee) and I were, I think, two of the first sent out by the War Office on this errand. We got careful instructions as to what we were to say before we left, and at the meetings I told the men that if they were willing to come out and do their duty and fight for their country there were certain allowances which would be made to their wives. I told them that if they were wounded they would get proper pensions, and if they were killed their widows and children would be looked after by the country. The country, I believe, intended that these things should be said to the men, and I am confident it is determined that all promises shall be carried out. The Regulations have been drawn with the skill that the Vice-Chairman of the Statutory Committee is well noted for. I believe they are intended honestly to carry out the will of the country, but there are one or two points in them which want to be looked into very carefully by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hayes Fisher). One of these points is the question of the pre-war income. Twenty shillings before the War is not worth more than about 14s. at present, and if you base what you are going to give these men upon the value of a pound was before the War, these allowances are not going to be worth what they would have been before the War. Another point is this. We have asked young men to come out and fight. Men of twenty and twenty-one well started in their trades and getting rising wages as they gained skill. They perhaps got married, and have left their wives and gone out to fight for us. Is it fair that in deciding what the widow of a man like that should have, that what he was getting at the period before the war should be taken as a basis? The girl very likely, when she married the man, considered that he was getting only small pay at the moment, but it would go on increasing, and as the family grew, there would be more wages coming in and they would be able to live very comfortably. But what is the position to-day? That man is killed. What is his wife going to get? As far as I can see, 17s. 6d., if she has got a child. If she has not got a child 12s. is the most that she can get with the supplementary allowance. What is she going to do on 12s. a week? She cannot live on it. I do not think that is properly looking after the widow of a man who has fought for us. I am perfectly certain the country realises that the cost of these pensions is part of the cost of the War and should be met by the nation. We ought not to rely upon any charity at all to see that the wives and children of the men who fight for us are properly looked after by the country.


It seems to me as a Member of the House, as well as a member of the statutory body, that the Regulations, after the hammering they have had to-day, cannot very well be defended. There is a little word at the top of the Regulations, as printed, which must have missed most hon. Members who have spoken, and that is that the Regulations are only in draft, and in any case they only last until 1st October.


Let us be quite clear about that. Are the draft Regulations not approved by the Treasury, and is it not Part I. of the draft Regulations which lasts till 1st October, and not Part II.?


At all events, they are only in draft, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the statutory body, as sensible people, must have regard to what has been said here to-day. At the same time, to my mind, the Regulations are not nearly so bad as they have been painted. For instance, the hon. Member (Mr. Benn) put the case of the widow whose pension had been so and so, and who, at thirty-five years of age, had an additional 2s. 6d. granted to her by virtue of the flat rate rising by that amount in consequence of her age. According to how he put it to the House, it would appear that this woman had only 10s. per week until she was thirty-five years of age. That does not necessarily follow. As a simple matter of fact, the woman probably would be getting double 10s. per week. The hon. Member (Mr. Shirley Benn) also fell into the same error. He assumed that the woman would only be getting 12s. a week. He was talking about separation allowance then. There, again, the Regulations make provision for this woman, if her rent exceeds 4s. a week, or 7s. 6d. in London, getting considerably more than 12s. 6d. a week. The Regulations make provision that if the woman is sick she gets an additional 2s. 6d. per week. If she was living in the country, instead of her money being 12s. 6d. per week, it would be just exactly double, provided, of course, that the rent was so much, and the woman was unable to work. Therefore, I would appeal to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen to moderate their zeal and not to speak of the Regulations in regard to their bad points only, but in regard to their good points.

I want to say something in reply to the hon. Member for Stockton (Mr. J. Samuel), who made an onslaught upon the Statutory Committee. One point he made was about the issue of Circular 3 on 6th May. He quoted me as having said something in the Debate that took place here a few months ago. It is perfectly true that when that circular was issued we had £1,000,000 in hand. It is also true that I stated that when that £1,000,000 was done the Statutory Committee would come for more. My hon. Friend has forgotten the Act of Parliament. The Act of Parliament lays it down that the local bodies shall solicit subscriptions or contributions. All that we did was to point this out to the local committees and to show exactly the powers that they had under the Act.


My point; was that the voluntary contributions that were to be got according to the Naval and Military War Pensions Act fell through because it was acknowledged that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not get the money that he expected. He acknowledged frankly that he could not get the money. He stated that he had been to the Prince of Wales' Fund and that they had refused to sanction it, and that he had come to the House of Commons to fulfil his plan to obtain State money. Therefore, there was no necessity to ask the local authorities to raise money to pay for supplemental grants.


I am not going to be knocked off my line of argument. The hon. Member ought to be grateful to us for having issued that circular. Whatever further effect it had, it has had the effect of causing these local authorities to make certain representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has now practically agreed to foot the bill. Part of that, at any rate, has arisen from the issue of the very circular to which my hon. Friend objects. His second point was about the county council, and how we have dealt with them. He particularly refered to London, where he said we had dealt with it contrary to the Act of Parliament. We have not only dealt with it in accordance with the Act of Parliament, but we have dealt with it in accordance with the wishes of some of those who know London best. In the Debate that took place last year—I was not here, but I read it afterwards—I remember that the right hon. Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson) fell foul of the hon. Member for Stockton in regard to this very point. The hon. Member was suggesting on that occasion that London should be dealt with in a certain way, and the right hon. Member for St. Pancras—who has spent his life in London, who has been vice-chairman and chairman of the London County Council, and, therefore, may be said to be in a position to know London quite as well as the hon. Member for Stockton—recommended that the very course that has been adopted should be adopted in regard to London. The Act authorises the Statutory Committee to do certain things; to set up local committees, and there are alternative methods of dealing with these local committees, so far as counties are concerned. If the hon. Member will look at Sub-section (7) of Clause 2 of the Act he will find the following provision: The local committee or district committee may also appoint sub-committees either for any special purpose or for any special parts of their area. I suggest that that is exactly what has been done. The county council under the provision of the Act set out here is the controlling authority as far as London is concerned, and they are elected—


Will the right hon. Gentleman explain—

The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. J. W. Wilson)

The hon. Member has already spoken. We cannot have a running argument during a speech. Personal explanation or personal misunderstanding is another matter.


On a point of Order. The right hon. Gentleman is asking me if I know Sub-section (7). I do, and my point is that I want the right hon. Gentleman to explain whether he regards—


That is not a point of Order.


I am pointing out that there are alternative methods of dealing with this matter, as described by the Act. One of the methods has been adopted, and the hon. Member says it is the wrong one. The hon. Member also wants to know through whose hands the money is actually being paid out. I am afraid the hon. Member sees red with regard to this matter. At one time I was with him on that. When the question of pensions first came; before the House, and I was one of the first to bring the matter prominently forward, I said some very uncomplimentary things in regard to this very institution which has been in the mind of my hon. Friend. I have repented. I have said, and I repeat it here—I do not think I have ever said it in this Hpuse—that the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Aid has been a body to which the soldiers and sailors, and the families and dependants of soldiers and sailors in this country, owe more than to any other body. It is a body which has kept thousands of homes together which would otherwise have been broken up, and it has given many a man a new start in life. In many other ways it has done things which lays the soldiers and sailors, and all those who have the interests of soldiers and sailors at heart, under a debt of gratitude. I suppose the money is being paid through the Soldiers' and Sailors' Aid in London. That seems to me to be incidental to the particular method of dealing with London. The other method was that of giving each one of the municipal authorities in London the same rights as the municipal authorities in the country, that is, the right to put a majority on the local committee and to dominate the local committee.

If that had been done the risk was, at all events, that all this magnificient network of agencies throughout London would have been destroyed or to a very large extent weakened, and though I am not going to say that the best thing has been done, yet I think it is a good thing that the services of those people who have done such disinterested and wholehearted work should be kept, for the time being, until such time as the local representative authorities are able to take on the work. And, after all, what has been done is only temporary. It is only a provision for six months, and therefore my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton might just ease his mind in regard to this matter. The Statutory Body has had many difficulties and preliminary things to carry out, and most of them have been in consequence of the wording of the Act. Those who have read the Act will know that most of the things are put in general vague terms. For instance, take the question of labour representation. The Act says that there shall be labour representation on the Committee, but it does not say in what proportion. The Statutory Body, when it got to work, might have said, "We will leave that to the local committee." What would have happened? In a district with very little labour organisation we should have had effect given to it in its literal sense, and a matter of representation to the extent of 5 per cent, given to labour. In another town where the labour organisation was strong and dominated the local authority you would have found, perhaps, 50, 60 or 80 per cent, of labour representation put on the local committee. That would not be a good thing. Therefore the Statutory Committee said, "We must have something like uniformity in labour representation," and we decided that it should be one-fifth. That is, five out of a possible twenty-five.

That did not get us over our difficulty. One would have thought it the easiest thing in the world to say to a trades council in a town, "elect your five." But in some towns there are no trades councils. In other towns there are labour organisations not affiliated to any trades council or to any of the national bodies. But these say that they have just as much right to claim to represent labour as the other labour organisations. We had to straighten out all these things. Another thing in regard to the county, the geographical area, which I have heard mentioned by someone just now. The Act says that there shall be a local committee for every town of 50,000 inhabitants and for every county borough, and that the remaining area of a county shall be regarded as the rightful area of the county council, for their committee, except in exceptional circumstances. I heard my hon. Friend just now complain that we had not carried that provision out fairly and squarely, and he gave an illustration. It may interest the House to know that out of 207 applications from places with a population of under 50,000 about fifty applications have actually been granted. That fact alone should be sufficient to show that we have dealt fairly, and even generously, with those places under 50,000 that wanted a local committee of their own. I have in my mind the case of Yorkshire. We have dealt justly, I think, with Yorkshire, and have allowed a number of local committees to be set up in small towns. Harrogate has been mentioned. We did not think it desirable to set up a committee for Harrogate, because it is close to the local county council government centre, and, therefore, there is no need for it. The same happened in the case of a number of cases here in the south, but I can assure the Committee that where any exceptional circumstances have been established there has been no difficulty in the matter.

We have been for a long time trying to lay the foundations deep and strong of a network of beneficent agencies throughout the country which will be in direct and human touch with the people who are going to benefit by this Act. There has been a great deal of illogical and rhetorical talk in this matter. For instance, we have been told about speeches being made up and down the country in which people were asked to go into the Army, and they were told that if they went into the Army their families would be well looked after. Were those speeches only made in Liverpool, or in Newcastle, or in those places where 50,000 munition workers are making big wages, and where they could get up large funds for the support of the families of the men who joined from the district? The men who went from a country district are just as much entitled to consideration from this House and the country as the men who went from Liverpool or any of these places. My hon. friends who talk of a charity taint have nothing to say against charity on the part of these people living in Newcastle and other centres where there are many people of opulence and thousands and thousands of workers who are earning from £5 to;£6 a week. The principle which I should like to see in operation is a national fund disbursed through a national agency where every man could be treated in the same way, whether he came from Newcastle or Liverpool, or some small centre where there were no large firms to supplement the supplement. That, I think, is the right principle, and when I hear about trades unionism being dragged into it my mind reverts to a great deal of what has taken place in this House with regard to old age pensions. My hon. Friends and others have been saying, "Why should you take into account the 5s. a week which an old man of seventy years of age gets in reckoning his income and deduct a certain amount, or even the small sum of 5s., that he can get on reaching seventy years of age?" We have never got so much support from the people who have been talking about trade union moneys, and I can only say and I hope that I am not ungracious when I remind hon. Members that there is not much trade un on money, so far as they are concerned—


The steel smelters.


At all events, the seventy years old age pensioner is in a much worse plight than the family of the man who has gone away to the War, or the man who comes back from the War and gets 25s. or may be 50s. a week if he is disabled. I hope that the people who talk about trades union money will give us a little more support in future than they have done in the past, when we pleaded that the old age pensioner of seventy who gets 5s. a week, for which he has paid, shall not be mulcted in that 5s. a week of his old age pension. I want now to come to the money, and I would like to take the Committee back to the origin of this controversy. The Select Committee which was set up two years ago had, of course, to deal with the whole question of pensions and allowances, and they were very soon faced with this fact, that it would be impossible to devise a scale which would be even approximately appropriate to the large number of men coming into the Army at that time, having regard to the great range of circumstances of those men. For instance, there is the agricultural labourer with his 15s. a week at one end of the scale and the man with £1,000 a year at the other end of the scale. We had to face the question whether we were going to fix the scale at the £1,000 limit and bring the agricultural labourer up to it, or the agricultural labourer's scale and bring the man of wealth down to that. Either might have been justified on the ground that each man had rendered equal service to the country, but we knew that it could not be done on the grounds of ordinary practical common sense. Therefore we had to fix a scale which would be appropriate to the great mass, and then make provision for the few who remained outside to be dealt with otherwise.

10.0 P.M.

We did fix the scale for the great mass of those coming under review, and I venture to say that the scale is a fairly good one. I am not saying it is high enough, but still there has not been so much complaint about the scale, so far as I have heard, as about people not having been enabled to get their money to which they were entitled under the scale, and that remains the great trouble to-day, and will remain the great trouble so long as you pay these moneys through the hands of bureaucratic officials instead of paying the money through the hands of local committees in touch with the people. But having fixed up the scale, we had to also fix up, as I have said, the provision for the Statutory Committee which was being formed, in order to provide for those who would not be covered by the scale. Like many more, I took up the position that the money, so far as it could be standardised at all events, ought all to come from the State. Though I wanted the money to come from the State, I wanted also that we should have a body such as that which has now been set up, a central body, more or less popular and representative, with local committees acting as the eyes of that central body all over the country. It very soon became evident, however, that we could not have both. If the money was to come from the State covering all these payments then they would have to be made through the ordinary State Departments—through the hands of bureaucratic officials, using the ordinary State machinery, with the delay and all the red-tape entanglements, and everything that they involve. Therefore we had to set up this Committee. We very soon came up against the need of expenditure that could not be covered by State provision. For instance, there was the case of the apprentice who, when he went away, had no dependants at all; there were the cases of accidents, many of which were not accidents at all; and there was the case of the man who has been given a pension and died a few months afterwards, and I take it upon myself to say that if you had had to look to the State Department in that case, it would have never looked after the children at all. And there may be many other things to be looked after by such a body as has been set up. How do we stand with regard to finance? I have nothing to say in regard to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have no brief for him, but I will say this, that he has loyally carried out the promises that he made to the Select Committee nearly two years ago. I remember quite well that it was put to him that we ought to have State money instead of depending on voluntary money. He did promise, whatever his own personal feelings or opinions might be, that the Bill would be framed in such a way as to leave it quite open to the House of Commons to make provision so that when the Act was passed all the money might come from the State if necessary. I have got to say this for the Chancellor of the Exchquer, that he has duly fulfilled that promise, and the Act provides that it shall be done. How do we stand? A few weeks ago we had an estimate with regard to the cost of women and children of non-commissioned officers and men, and of dependants of non-commissioned officers ad men, and of disabled non-commissioned officers and men. The total amount of the estimate altogether for disabled and partially disabled and 300,000 deaths came to £10,900,000. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's estimate of the number of deaths—of course we do not know how many deaths there will be—was lower, being 250,000; and he gave the £6,000,000 Grant on that 250,000 basis. At the same time, if unhappily it were found that his estimate of deaths was too low, and that ours was the correct one, he said he would give a sum of money equivalent to the difference between the 250,000 and the 300,000, and, of course, he would make provision for that before the War was over. So that the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day is committed to this, that he is to give, provided our figures turn out to be correct, a Grant of £7,200,000. That leaves £3,700,000 difference between the £10,900,000 and the £7,200,000. But that is not all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says: If this goes on, and I am obliged to give you £7,200,000 before the War is over, I further pledge, myself, that in two years' time from now, providing you cannot get the money—that is to say providing there is need for it—an undertaking to put your financial position on a permanent footing. I quote his own words from his own letter. Then there is the provision for the widows and children of officers and men, and men in like financial and general circumstances as officers, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer agrees to foot the bill, so far as they are concerned, entirely for the whole supplementary allowance, and therefore there is £3,700,000 between him and those who want him to find all the money now. I believe there is a good deal of justification for his position, because, after all, nobody can say what the cost will be. As a matter of fact the actuary, Sir Alfred Watson himself, says the figures are not much good, because nobody at this moment can say what the number of partially disabled men—it is only the partially disabled men that are in question—will be, and even if anybody could say what the number of partially disabled men is going to be, nobody can say what the effect of training is going to be, and I look upon the question of training as the most important item. Nobody wants to give a pension of £1 per week or 25s., and then leave a man to paddle his own canoe for the rest of his life. Everybody wants that something should be done in the way of providing such men with training to enable them to earn their own living, and everybody is agreed that everything that can be done for these partially-disabled heroes shall be done in order that they may live their lives with the conscientiousness that they are still, partly at all events, earning their own living and adding to the wealth of the community, which will be much more important after the War than it has been hitherto. Therefore, I must say, in spite of all I heard to-day of demands that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should find money for a matter which, after all, is problematical, I agree with him that we might easily wait for a year or two, until we see how many men can earn their own living, and to see to what extent the £3,700,000 might be lessened by the number of such men, and the amount of money payments of that total sum of £5,000,000, which is the amount that Sir Alfred Watson calculates would be the amount to pay full pensions if every man required a full pension and did nothing for himself. I am content to wait until two years are up and see what takes place then. I am not going to say anything more in pressing the Chancellor on this matter. Therefore, I express the sincere and ardent hope that the committees for whom the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rutherford) speaks will have regard to these facts and will take up the work full-heartedly in the interests of the disabled men and their dependents in the sure and certain hope that the money will be forthcoming when it is wanted, and in the knowledge that there is no shortage of money now, but, on the contrary, plenty of money to be going on with to meet all the commitments of the committee towards these men.

There is another matter which has not been spoken about to-day, and which is very important. I refer to the training and provision generally for the health of these disabled men. We have set up a Disablement Committee. We have got the assistance of many well-known employers of labour, including one of the Members for Belfast, and Mr. Spencer, of the Midlands, Sir John Cowan, of Edinburgh, Sir Archibald McInnes Shaw, of Glasgow, and others; and we have got two representatives of the Industrial Co-operative movement, with members of the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress. Numerous meetings of that committee have been held. It is divided into four sections dealing separately with pensions, health, training, and employment. The Pensions Committee have had many meetings, and have done what has been suggested today by several speakers—that is to say, taken up the question of appealing on behalf of the men who have been turned down by Chelsea and the Admiralty. That, I think, will be one of the most important aspects of the work of that committee. Already we have got reconsideration for many cases and pensions granted after they had been previously refused. In other cases we have supplemented the pensions when we found they were insufficient. The health section have got into touch with the National Insurance Commissioners, and other public bodies. Mention has been made of the insane. It may interest you to know that the health section of the Disablement Committee have just circularised all the asylum authorities throughout the country with the view of getting these insane cases dealt with apart from any pauperism or stigma of pauperism. The law is very unsatisfactory in regard to this. A man comes home, is put in an asylum, and if he is entitled to, say, 25s. a week, £1 of that is taken to keep him, and the wife only gets the 5s., while in the case of a woman who has been living with a man but has no legal tie, if the man is put into an asylum she is not entitled to anything at all. In that circular we have asked that provision should be made for treating these men not as paupers but as private patients, and providing them with additional or better food than the ordinary patient and with creature comforts, such as tobacco and things of that sort. The whole charge of this will be charged upon the Statutory Committee fund and the wife or woman, as the case may be, will be left in possession of the income.

Those are some of the things that have been done by the various sections of the Disablement Committee. The blind are being treated at St. Dunstan's. In view of the fact that it is a long distance from, say, Aberdeen or Plymouth, we are making arrangements whereby the relatives of the blind men can come to see them at either a nominal cost or at no cost at all. With regard to training, we got in touch with existing agencies, such as Mr. Mitchell, of the Regent Street Polytechnic, and the Lord Roberts' Shops are being used for the training of the men, and there are workshops at Roehampton and several other places. Generally speaking, we are trying to co-ordinate all these existing agencies, and to get them all to report to us and to see that what can be done for these men is being done for them. There is the question of unemployment, which is very important from the point of view of those who want to maintain the standard of living in the country, and not to have it lowered by undue competition, which is, I think, the view point of everybody here. Something is being done in that direction. The unemployment section have held many meetings and have placed many men. We have had the advantage of a very valuable Paper by Mr. Nicholson, of the Board of Trade, showing the number of men discharged from the Army by a certain date, and the numbers are more now. By the end of May last there had been 33,919 disabled men discharged from the Army. The House will be interested to know the sort of hurts of those men. The largest number is wounds and injuries to legs, not necessitating amputation, and those total 5,545; to arms, not necessitating amputation, 4,688; wounds to head, 2,446; other wounds to body, 2,122; and 1,366 men have lost legs and 858 have lost arms or hands; and 1,381 cases of injury to eyesight, many of them blind. The question of wages in connection with the employment of many of these men has already come up. I am glad to say that, so far as we can gather, employers of labour are not taking advantage of the men. There have been some cases, but very, very few. I believe I am right in saying that the employers as well as all other classes of the community are seized of the need of seeing that in the future these men's ailments are not taken advantage of in order to lessen the wages of other men. Therefore we have been in communication with the Board of Trade. Special representations have been made and conferences held with trade unions, and a resolution has been adopted, the terms of which I will read in order to get them on record: That, in the opinion of the Committee, the rates of pay to disabled soldiers and sailors shall bear the same proportion to the rates of pay of competent able-bodied men as the output of the former bears to that of the latter. Where output cannot be the deciding factor the wages must be decided upon capability, but on the basis that discharged soldiers and sailors capable of performing the work as efficiently as able-bodied men shall be paid the full rates of pay. Should any dispute arise between discharged soldiers and sailors and their employers the question shall, on the application of the men or the employers, be referred to a committee consisting of an equal number of representatives of employers' and workmen's organisations as agreed upon mutually or as set up by the Board of Trade, who shall recommend to the Board of Trade the wages they are of opinion should be paid in each particular case. It is recognised that some probationary period may be necessary for men entering new trades. That resolution has been submitted to the Board of Trade. Sir H. Llewellyn Smith, on behalf of the Board of Trade, has agreed to put the necessary machinery in motion, so that the resolution will be carried out. I venture to say that if it is carried out whole-heartedly, and with the concurrence of trade unionists as well as of employers, it will solve a very great problem—a problem which has given a great deal of trouble in times gone by—and will solve it in such a way that the interests of the workmen shall not be lowered and those of the community shall be given due consideration.

A word as to what is being done elsewhere. We have collected some information as to the provision made on the Continent with regard to disabled men, and there is ground for believing that we in this country are doing at least as well as, and, I think, better than, any other country. I saw in a newspaper the other day a letter from one of those people who are always fond of belauding other countries and belittling their own. The writer stated that in Germany elaborate provision was made for the disabled men, that as soon as the men came back from the War they were taken in hand and dealt with in a systematic and scientific way, and so on. It was even said that a man who had lost his right arm was trained in a month or six weeks to write shorthand with his left hand, and therefore to earn his own living. I am in a position to say that that is all arrant nonsense. I question very much if we in this country are not doing even better for the disabled men than they are doing in Germany. As a matter of fact, there is no proper imperial system of relief in Germany at all. Although the Reichstag has asked that that should be done, it has not as yet been done. In Germany at this moment there are many thousands of disabled men who are left to the tender mercies of local charity and to whatever provision may be made by the trade unions, friendly societies, or employers, as the ease may be. As a matter of fact, we are doing far better than they are.


Where do you get your information?


It has been collected by a gentleman whose name I forget for the minute, but it is quite reliable. Official records are included in the information, and the actual date of the resolution passed by the Reichstag is given. I think it was six or eight months ago, and it asks the Imperial Government to bring in and put on a proper basis an imperial system, but that has not yet been done In France they are doing something, but I question whether even in France they are doing as much as we are here for the disabled men. I would conclude by expressing the hope that the Committee, and the House, will support the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I am not now speaking on the regulations—for I think a great deal in them might be reconsidered. But on the question of providing for the men I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has met us in a very reasonable way. Therefore, I hope that the local committees will now get "in being" and set about the work which has been entrusted to them, in the interests of those men to whom we owe so much, so that we may never again, as we have had in times gone by, have the spectacle of our soldiers begging their bread or their dependants, the widows and children, being in want.


I do not want at this late hour to take up much time of the Committee, especially after the very interesting speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackfriars, which I am sure we all heard with profound satisfaction. There are just one or two points in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Motion to which I should like to refer so as to give him the opportunity of dealing with them when he comes to reply to the Debate. I must confess that, although I have listened to the whole of this Debate, I am by no means clear on the question of finance. An estimate has been made of six, seven, and ten millions. The right hon. Gentleman explained that it was the intention of the Treasury to grant a capital sum to the Statutory Committee. Is the Statutory Committee going to spend the income of this sum, or is the sum to be granted by the Treasury to be spent both as to capital and income? A good deal may turn upon this point. I fail to understand why we want £6,000,000 at all. I do not understand why we should not have an annual Vote for this sum on the Estimates, so as to enable Parliament to keep some control over the administration of this fund, and increase that Vote, as it might be found to be necessary, from time to time. This would do away with all those fantastic actuarial calculations which obviously must be quite useless at present, and there would be necessity to revise this matter in two years, for it could be revised next year, or any other time it was considered necessary. I, therefore, fail to appreciate the method of finance, or the reasons for which it has been adopted.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackfriars seemed to me entirely to misunderstand the objection that has been raised to Clause 37 of the Regulations. His objection to trade union funds being used is a matter he must really settle with his hon. Friend the leader of the Labour party, who introduced it into the Debate, and who objected and protested most vehemently in the name of organised labour against trade union funds being employed to do what State money ought to do. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackfriars said, with some truth, that private funds collected in areas where wages were high and employment good might be fairly apportioned to districts all over the country. That is not the effect of Regulation 37. The effect of that Regulation is that the more you collect in the districts the less you get from the Treasury. Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not agree with that? It is not a question of distributing the money found in Newcastle or Liverpool to country districts, but the more money you find in Newcastle or Liverpool the less money you get out of the Exchequer. Although we have had a number of speeches, it seems to me the matter could be settled extremely simply. If the right hon. Gentleman will announce that, with the concurrence of the Treasury, No. 37 is withdrawn from the Regulations, discussion comes to an end. That does not require any viâ media or anything else.

There is just one more point I would like the right hon. Gentleman to clear up. The right hon. Member for Blackfriars made a great point of the fact that these were draft Regulations, and therefore subject to alteration after discussion, but his colleague informed us that these draft Regulations have been approved by the Treasury, and if we wanted to alter them it would take three months or more, and therefore it was perfectly useless for this Committee to say they ought to be altered, and that it was much better to have them, good, bad, or indifferent as they might be. That seems to me to be a great divergence on the part of Members of the same Committee, and I think we are entitled to an explanation as to whether these are draft Regulations or not draft Regulations. I think we are entitled to know, as a Committee of this House dealing with one of the most vital questions affecting the happiness of thousands of families who have suffered by this War, why it should take three or four months to revise these Regulations and get them through. It seems to me one of the most monstrous propositions I have ever heard in this House, that if the Committee of the House of Commons makes reasonable criticisms and reasonable objections to anew scheme like this, they ought to be brushed aside and cannot be given any consideration because, forsooth, the Treasury officials are so busy that under four months they cannot make some amendment of these Regulations. That clearly is not an argument that will appeal to the country outside. You speak eloquently, and you will do everything possible' for the families of these poor dead and wounded men, and the next moment you tell us the Government officials cannot find time to revise these Regulations which have already been drawn up. They do want a very serious revision, and certainly a revision is required of the whole question which has been raised, and which I want to emphasise, namely, the vicious tendency that people who are in receipt of any income of this kind from the State, if they obtain anything from trade unions, employers, or benevolent people, immediately it is taken advantage of to diminish what they get from the State. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the precedent of old age pensions. I think that is one of the very worst precedents he could possibly have quoted. It is exactly the same with Poor Law guardians. Employers grant allowances to people who have grown old in their service and boards of guardians immediately seize the opportunity to give them nothing at all. It perpetuates one of the worst features we have got now. After all, there will be plenty of calls upon local funds, trade unions, and employers, as well as private individuals, to do a great deal, and I do think it is a great pity that this scheme is now to come out with fundamental mistakes or blots of that character which ought to be removed, and which will be very much more difficult to remove afterwards than at the present time.


We have had a very interesting Debate, and I hope that we may have many more such Debates on this subject, if only to show the country that we are thoroughly in earnest and that we one and all wish to bring about the very best system of pensions, grants, and allowances which can be put into force by the House of Commons with the good will of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The most noticeable feature of this Debate has been the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. I was very glad he was here to paint the portrait of himself with his own hands, because, obviously, he did not think the portrait I painted of him was sufficiently flattering. I assure him I was exceedingly pleased with my subject, and I intended to make a flattering portrait showing him in all his generosity for giving us what I think we were entitled to demand. The right hon. Gentleman has said most distinctly that he was prepared to give us a lump sum to cover the supplementary pensions, the orphans' pensions, and the totally disabled, and I know he is going to give us something for supplementary pensions in the case of officers as well. I hope that promise will persuade a good many of my hon. Friends that there really is money now at the disposal of the Statutory Committee, and the sooner the local committees get to work to make their recommendations and to disburse that money to the very worthy recipients the better. This is not the time to stand aside because some may think it is not enough or that they would like to see the Regulations altered.

The Debate was opened by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge), who is learned on these matters, and I would like to answer a few of his questions. He rather suggested that the reports of the actuary should be published. I do not think that would be quite fair, because the actuary was doing this work for us gratuitously and rather in a hurry, and he did it under circumstances which would undoubtedly entitle him to say whether he would like those reports published to the world as the reports of a first-class actuary. I am rather agitated as to whether I should accept those reports as being of any great value, because they were constructed on what has been called an estimate "trembling in it conjectures and quaking in its hypotheses." I think it would hardly be fair to publish those reports at the present time. As regards putting the Papers in the Vote Office, there has been a difficulty because the Statutory Committee is not connected with any State Department, and as a rule it is the State Department that sees the proper Papers are put into the Vote Office. I am going to take to heart the suggestion, and as I was able to supply Part II. of the Army Regulations at the Vote Office, I think in future I may be able to supply hon. Members of the House of Commons with copies of these Papers in the Vote Office, and I will make inquiries to see whether that can be done.

There is certainly one rather very agreeable picture in the criticisms of to-night, and it is that there has scarcely been any suggestion that the scales were too low. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh alluded to the limit of £150 for the pensions of the officers. Let me tell him that that subject was hotly debated on the Statutory Committee, and a good many thought it might be put at £200, or, at any rate, at a higher figure than £150. Other arguments prevailed, and the Committee had to be consulted. We were at that time very anxious as to whether we should get our Regulations through. Let me say in regard to all such matters as these, if we have Debates of this sort in the House and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is present there are many little alterations that undoubtedly could be made with his consent. What I want to say about all these Regulations is that they have to be submitted to the Treasury. The £6,000,000 is given on these Regulations, and in order to alter them the matter must go back to the Treasury. No matter what I may say to-night as to how far I will submit to the Statutory Committee the various suggestions that have been made, every single thing must be subject after all to the Regulations of the Treasury and the consent of the Treasury. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir A. Mond) just now, in a laughing manner, said that probably that might keep us waiting two or three months. It possibly might just at this time of the year; I cannot say. I advise the House to go forward with these Regulations and act upon them, at all events for the present. If the House wants them altered, let them get them altered a little later on. Do not let us delay when we have got the money; do not let us keep the widows and the other applicants waiting for these supplementary pensions while we go back to the Treasury and possibly have to wait some little time before we can get the consent of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The right hon. Gentleman opposite asked me again about the £6,000,000, "Will you have this £6,000,000 to spend, capital and interest?" Certainly, we can spend both the capital and the interest. That is the most beneficial form in which we can have it. We very much prefer that to the annual Vote of this House. We like to be secure of our money. At the present time we shall get the interest on it, and of course we can gradually sell out the capital and use it as we want it. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) said he observed that we were going to give some supplementary pensions on the same scale as officers to a class of private soldiers whom we said were in the same financial and general circumstances as officers, and he wanted a little explanation about it. That happened in this way: We now have compulsory service, and many men are now enlisting who would have got commissions in the early days of the War if they could possibly have left their businesses or could have been spared. They are really, if I may say so, in exactly the same social class; they are engaged in the same professions or occupations; they are living, or their wives are living, in the same kind of house and in the same way; and they are earning the same income. It, therefore, occurred to the Statutory Committee whether these men in the same circumstances as officers ought not to get a supplementary pension on the same scale as that given to officers. The Chancellor of the Exchequer very kindly considered that we were in the right in making that recommendation, and he is supplying us with the money to apply that scale of pension to those who in general and financial circumstances are similarly placed as officers. I was asked as to the position of lunatic soldiers. We have been very carefully considering the case of these unfortunate men. Where they are certified as lunatics, it is better for them and their relatives that they should go into the regular asylums, but we are trying to see that they shall have special comforts and privileges, and shall not in any way be graded with pauper lunatics, or, indeed, even with ordinary lunatics. We shall try to get them special treatment if we can. Where they are not certified, but where they may be said to be affected for the time being in their minds, we hope to save them in many cases by special forms of treatment, and to see, if possible, that they are rescued from the unfortunate fate of being certified as lunatics.


In that case, would they come under the board at all, or would they come under medical treatment in their area?


We contemplate that they will come under medical treatment in their area, but that is a matter for negotiation.


Will the money be given to their wives?


We have not considered that question.


It is very important.


There have been a great many questions about the committees, and the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. J. Samuel) wanted us to give orders to the county councils obliging them to set up district committees. We really cannot do that under the Act. You cannot give orders to the county council under the Act. You would require to amend it, and I think the whole question of the district committees has been well argued and replied to by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South-East Lancashire (Sir E. Adkins), who is one of the most active members of the Statutory Committee; while I think the criticism levelled against the action taken by the London Committee was very well replied to by my hon. Friend the Member for Scuth Paddington (Mr. Harris).

Mr. J. SAMUEL rose—


Sit down!


Why should I sit down?

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)

Time is short.


I was only going to ask—


There will be time to spare afterwards.


Then I have been asked whether I can give a definition of "special circumstances." No, I cannot do so. Neither can I give a definition of "exceptional circumstances," or "serious hardship." They are all matters that have to be judged by the committees to the best of their ability. But this I will say about those district committees, and also about the local committees, where they have hitherto been refused powers; that this is all experimental. Because the Statutory Committee is pursuing this policy at the present time, of as few committees as possible in a county, or rather of encouraging as few committees as possible in a county, it does not in the least follow that it will conduct that as a permanent policy. We are, indeed, all feeling our way in this matter. The hon. Member for West Donegal (Mr. Hugh Law) hoped that there would not be the delay in paying pensions which he associates with other Government Departments. Let me say to him that as a Member for Donegal he might materially assist in avoiding delay if he would use his influence with the county council of Donegal, who have hitherto refused to set up any committee at all. There must obviously be delay if there is no committee to make inquiries and recommendations, and if the Statutory Committee has to make those inquiries and recommendations itself.

I come to the Regulations, which have been very severely criticised. Let me say that they have been drawn up by able men who spent many hours on them. I should be glad if the new Committee which has been formed would spend a part of its holidays in drawing up a model set of regulations. I shall be very curious to see them, because, having taken part in drawing up these Regulations, I know some of the difficulties that are present in drawing up Regulations which are satisfactory to the Treasury—and the Treasury has to be satisfied, because you are spending State money. You can only spend money under regulations through the Treasury. We recognise, however, that some of the criticisms are just, and we would carefully take them to heart. We will survey the Regulations with care. I cannot say that at the present time they will be revised, because they are wanted in operation as speedily as possible, but we will see whether they can be made more simple and less complicated. But make them as simple as you can, and any poor woman or soldier applicant for a pension will, undoubtedly, have to have the help of the local committee. That is one of its duties, and that is one of the best pieces of work that has been done by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association. One of its duties is to seek out applicants, and to help them to fill up the forms, and they ought to do that.

One of the Regulations, No. 7, was severely criticised. It is this case—where a soldier had had a disability pension before he died, then his income at the time when he got his disability pension is to be taken, rather than his pre-war income. We have detected the weakness in Regulation 7. What we have aimed at is that it is no good to look at what we may call a pre-historic income, an income that existed some years ago. We thought that we ought to take the income which was more up-to-date. We had in our minds that the income would consist not only of a State pension but, in all probability, that it would consist also of a supplementary pension. I am quite glad to welcome that criticism and freely admit that Regulation 7 is not a satisfactory one. I shall be only too pleased to clear that up. We think we can clear it up by a new instruction which we are drawing up at the present time and which we hope to issue shortly. I think that the general instructions can be made to elucidate some of these Regulations of whose complexity complaints have been made tonight.

I now come to the most severe criticism of all—that directed against Regulation 37. I admit there has been a very strong feeling expressed in opposition to that Regulation, and that a fear has been expressed that the State would shirk its own obligations and shuffle them off on to funds collected privately or by municipalities, railways, trade unions, or others. When that observation was made, I heard my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer say that certainly he had no intention of doing anything in the nature of shirking his obligations or of shuffling them off on to any private funds. I have already stated to this Committee the difficulty in which the Statutory Committee is placed. The difficulty is this: The Statutory Committee is only authorised by the Act to give a supplementary pension where there are special circumstances. In order to ascertain what are special circumstances, we laid down a rule—I do not think anyone will complain of it—that you must find out what the pre-war income was and compare it with the income at the time the application for a supplementary pension is made. As a rule, there is no hardship and there is no necessity for a supplementary pension if you find in the case of a widow that she is in possession of an income equal to two-thirds of her pre-war income. If, in looking into her case, we were to find that in reckoning the permanent sources of her income she had put down £1 or 10s. a week from some fund collected in the locality, or by a trade union, it would put us in a serious difficulty in connection with the Treasury Regulation. I can make it clear in this way: If the local fund, or the railway fund, or the trade union fund was used in such a way as to give a permanent income to any particular widow, then it would put us in a great difficulty in avoiding the Treasury Regulations. That is how I want to put it. We want to meet this House if we possibly can. I propose that the Statutory Committee should hold a conference as soon as possible with those who work these funds or the committee which has been spoken of to-night. We could hold a conference with the leaders of the trade unions, who also have funds at their disposal, and we could see whether we could not get some working arrangement by which we might, at all events, keep ourselves clear of the Treasury Regulations and, at the same time, enable those who have these funds to give, as undoubtedly they desire to give and we all desire them to give, something extra out of those funds for reasons which may seem good to them. I think we might get a preliminary conference within the next week or two—it is merely a matter of consulting a few people—certainly before the House breaks up. If the holders of these funds, the directors, and the Statutory Committee were to consult together as to how best we can use our respective funds, I cannot believe it is possible we should not be able to arrive at some working arrangement; because really I believe we all mean the same thing. I hope I have satisfied the House. We do not regard ourselves as people who are to lay down the law and never have it criticised. We believe it will improve the methods and procedure of the Statutory Committee, and I am sure we could improve the methods and procedure of other bodies which administer other funds. I am grateful for the reception which has been given generally to the work of the Statutory Committee, and I hope on other occasions we shall benefit by the advice which has been given.


If the Government is prepared to meet within the next week or ten days the Lord Mayors' and Lord Provosts' Committee, which is dealing with the local funds with a view to arranging with them and the trade unions a complete conference dealing with the subject of the administration of their funds, so long as these extra payments are not made in the form of a weekly increment of income in the localities, I should be prepared to withdraw my Amendment, with the knowledge, of course, that we have my right hon. Friend's Expenses Bill dealing with the £5,000,000 on which we can raise the subject again and press it to a Division if we do not get satisfaction. I think we can get satisfaction, because I believe, after to-day's Debate, the Government is bound to get a way out of this difficulty. I believe they want it and so do the other people. If on that understanding we can come to an agreement to-night, with the consent of the House, I will withdraw my Amendment and agree to the Vote being taken.


I understand my hon. Friend suggests that a meeting should be arranged between the representatives of the lord mayors of boroughs particularly interested in this question with the Statutory Committee. I understand my right hon. Friend is quite willing, on behalf of the Committee, that that meeting should take place next week if it is agreeable to all the parties. If in the arrangements which are come to between the Statutory Committee and authorities the funds held by local authorities are used for some other purpose than those which would bring them under the Regulations of the Statutory Committee, we shall, of course, raise no objection whatever. I entirely endorse the statement of my right hon. Friend that this is a case in which the representatives of the different parties should meet together and devise the best means of using their respective powers. We do not in the least want to dictate to the local authorities or to the trade unions how these funds should be used. We wish them to be used in the best interests of the wounded soldiers and their families.


And in addition or supplemental to the State Grant.


I do not want to reopen the whole argument, but the view which we had originally in contemplation, and which the House has accepted, is that, provided a certain level is maintained by the State, it is quite proper that the local authorities and the trade union and other funds should be used for giving additional benefits to these people. My right hon. Friend has explained the absolute impossibility of disregarding benefits which are not really additional benefits but which constitute the post-war circumstances of the widow. This cannot be under any rules disregarded but there is an infinite variety of other ways of spending this money to the benefit of the widows and dependants of wounded soldiers, and I am sure all the parties would be able to devise the best means of doing so.


On that understanding, I gladly withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I wish to say, on behalf of the National Committee, that we accept in perfect good faith the assurance that has been given by the right hon. Gentleman and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We think that it is extremely desirable that this meeting should take place, and that some means should be devised to make the very best use both of the State funds and also the funds raised by private subscribers. I will add only this one sentence: I sincerely trust that it may be possible when this meeting takes place to endeavour to do something in the way of the co-ordination of the Committee's work, so as to prevent these poor people who are going to have these pensions and allowances from having to go to five or six different places for bits of their pensions. I trust that the work may be systematised and co-ordinated and carried on in a reasonable and businesslike spirit.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a question on behalf of county councils? With regard to the training, education, and employment of disabled men, may we understand that the cases not covered by pensions and not covered by existing institutions or available institutions will be considered on their merits where application is made from county councils to the Statutory Committee?


That form of dependence will be within the Act.


I regret that the hour is so late that I cannot make the remarks I wished to make with regard to this Committee. I should like, however, even at this late hour, to support the various Members who have spoken on behalf not only of justice, but of generosity, on the part of the Government in connection with this matter. I should like to say that I hope the Government appreciate—and I think they appreciate fully now—that no Government, even with the assistance of the Irish party, could exist for one hour unless they are prepared to give justice and even to act generously towards these men. I should like to say, before I sit down—and although it has been said many times in this House, it cannot be too much accentuated—that it is only owing to the acts of these men that the Government's boasts will eventually come true. With regard to the meeting which is to take place, I do trust that, if Members of this House are not satisfied, they will raise the question again, and that every Member of this House will appreciate what these men have done and what we owe to them. In the event of the Government putting off or procrastinating in any way, we shall find representative Members to take up this question again, and see not only that the obligations which the Government have are carried out, but that with regard to the promises which various public bodies have made in view of the assurances of the Government that in the event of the men coming forward, as they did come forward, that neither their women, children, nor themselves should suffer, that those who made these promises are placed in a position to keep them.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.