§ In order to unify the administration of such pensions, grants, and allowances as are hereinafter mentioned, there shall be a Minister of Pensions, who shall be entitled to receive advice and assistance from the Parliamentary Secretary of the Admiralty, the Financial Secretary of the War Office, and the Parliamentary Secretary of the Local Government Board in respect of any matter on which such advice and assistance is requested by the Minister.687
§ The PAYMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. A. Henderson)
I have an Amendment on the Paper—to leave out the words "who shall"["who shall be entitled"], and to insert instead thereof the words "appointed by His Majesty, and the Minister shall, during the continuance of the present War and for a period of six months thereafter."
I want to offer a few words of explanation in regard to this and other Amendments on the Paper. They are put down to give effect to what has been stated in the House, and to meet the objects in view. The first Amendment limits the period of the advice to be given by the three Under-Secretaries of Departments to the period of the War and six months afterwards. The other Amendments are purely verbal, and I therefore move the first Amendment on the Paper.
§ Major H. TERRELL
On a point of Order, Sir. I have an Amendment, of which I have given notice, and which comes before that of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Major TERRELL
On a point of Order. May I ask if, the moment a statement is made in the House, and so many Members get up to go out of the House, while other Members were not aware of the business that was being proceeded with, it is competent for the business to go on so as to shut out a Member who has given due notice of an Amendment, and who was in his place to move his Amendment, but could not hear, because of the noise that was going on at the time, what business it was that was being done?
§ Mr. PETO
On the point of Order. All the hon. Members in the neighbourhood in which I sit were under the impression that the House was going to a Division on the Motion for the Adjournment, and it was quite impossible for anybody to know whether business was being proceeded with or whether it was not.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I took up the hon. Member's Amendment, and I looked to see if he was in his place and did not see him, but, as the hon. Gentleman says he was sitting behind, it may be that the right hon. Gentleman the Paymaster-General will give way.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
I was prepared to second the Amendment of my hon. and 688 gallant Friend, but I never heard a word of the Question which was proposed, and I am quite sure hon. Members did not understand what was being done.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
If that be the case, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will give way to the hon. Member to move his Amendment.
§ Mr. MOONEY
On the point of Order, Sir. Are we to understand by your ruling that when a Minister moves his Amendment, you can go back upon that in order that another hon. Gentleman may move his Amendment? I may point out that on the Question that the House adjourn we on these benches would have preferred to go to a Division, and we challenged a Division, but in spite of that you proceeded with the business. We obeyed your ruling, and now you call upon the hon. Member to move his Amendment, after the Minister has already moved his Amendment, which is on the Paper.
§ Mr. MOONEY
If an hon. Member is not in his place when called, can you go back to allow him to move an Amendment, after another Amendment has already been moved?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The Question is before the House at the present moment and it is a perfectly simple matter to deal with it.
§ Mr. MOONEY
The hon. Member wants to move his Amendment, though the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment is now before the House.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman having given way, I call upon the hon. Member to move his Amendment.
§ Major TERRELL
I beg to move after the word "a" ["a Minister of Pensions"], to leave out the words "Minister of Pensions, who shall be entitled to receive advice and assistance from the Parliamentary Secretary of the Admiralty, the Financial Secretary of the War Office, and the Parliamentary Secretary of the Local Government Board in respect of any matter on which such advice and assistance is requested by the 689 Minister, "and to insert instead thereof the words" Board of Pensions which shall consist of a Minister who shall be President of the Board, and five other members to be appointed as follows: One by the Army Council, one by the Admiralty, one by the Statutory Committee, one representative of Labour by His Majesty, and one woman by His Majesty. No member of the Board, other than the President, shall be a Member of either House of Parliament."
There are two objects in this Amendment. The first and paramount object is to eliminate, as far as we possibly can, all political influence in the control of pensions. In the course of these Debates, I think, almost every hon. Member who has spoken has insisted that he desired above all things that the pensions authority should be so organised that it should inure to the advantage of the pensioners. Will anybody in this House or out of this House suggest that it is not essential, in the interests of the pensioners, that all political influence should be eliminated from the pensions authorities? I should like to ask the House to consider for a moment how these pensions will be granted. When a pension authority has been established the applicants for pensions will, in the first place, apply immediately for a disablement pension. I am taking the case, in the first instance, of a disabled man. He will apply for the pension. It is desirable, and in that everybody agrees, that he should receive something at once, that there should be none of the scandals which have existed of men who have been disabled being driven to charity because they were unable to obtain pensions immediately. Many hon. Members on both sides of the House have, in the course of these Debates, insisted upon the absolute necessity of men being able to receive their pension at the earliest possible date. If a man, whatever pensions authority is established, is disabled, he applies for his pension, and he ought at once to get that pension, though not necessarily the final pension. I do not know what you may call the pension which he gets; you may call it a scale pension, a minimum pension, or a flat-rate pension—I do not care what it is—but he has to get a pension of some kind, which is to be fixed by reference to the nature of his disability, and he should get it at once. That will cover in all probability the majority of cases, for in the majority of cases the pensioner will ask for no more, 690 that is, assuming that the scale of pensions is framed on the general basis which this House has insisted upon.
But there will be a large number of cases where the flat pension is not sufficient, having regard to the particular circumstances of the pensioner. You will have that pensioner applying for an additional pension, or an additional grant of some kind or other, to meet the particular circumstances of a particular case, but before you can determine — whatever the pensions authority is—what that additional grant is to be, you must of necessity have a local inquiry. You will have local committees—you have three hundred already—and you will have many more. These local committees will have to make inquiry into the circumstances of the man who applies—into his pre-war income, and into his earning capacity, and that of all his dependants. The local committee will have to go into a variety of matters before they can determine what to report to the pensions authority, and then they will be determined what additional pension that man is to have. In the first place, if we are to have justice in the administration of pensions, these local committees must be absolutely divorced from politics. Supposing the committee is not divorced from politics, I would ask the House to consider what must inevitably happen. What has happened in various matters in the past, and what must happen in the future? If the local committee is not entirely divorced from political influences, then when an applicant asks for an additional pension, the main consideration will be whether he has got the support, and whether he himself is a supporter, of the political party which is in the majority on the local committee. You may, of course, say, and I have no doubt hon. Members will say, that the local committees must be trusted not to have anything to do with politics. We know perfectly well that the moment you have a local committee, unless it is controlled by a superior authority, which is itself divorced from politics, it will degenerate into a political committee. I do not care what party is in power at the time; I am not dealing with any particular party, but the moment you get these local committees, if they are controlled by political influences, they will degenerate into political bodies, and the man who applies for his pension, if he has not gained some political support from the majority of the committee, will have a very poor chance of justice.
691 I want to avoid that entirely; I want to dissociate, first of all, the local committees from politics and from all political influences whatever. If and so long as you have at the head a Minister who is essentially a politician and nothing else, so long will politics influence the local committees. The next point is this. The local committees have, under the Bill as it stands, to be controlled by the Minister of Pensions, who, exconcessis, is a politician and nothing else. He is Minister of Pensions because he is a politician, and for no other reason whatever; he is to be in supreme control. You are putting in supreme control of the whole organisation a man whose whole interest is party politics and nothing else, and though you may say men will rise superior to party considerations, I do not believe it. It has not been so in the past, and I know it will not be so in the future, and if you are going to consider solely or mainly the interests of the men who are applying for pensions—if that is your real desire—then you will struggle to eliminate altogether political influences from the Ministry of Pensions. Then there is another very important consideration, and it is this. Under the Bill as it stands we are to have a Minister of Pensions who is admittedly not to be a whole-time Minister. He is to divide his attention between the pensions authority and other offices which he may hold. Then, as I pointed out before, the control of the grant of pensions is a very difficult and very laborious work. One man, if he devotes his whole time to it, cannot really supervise and control it. I do not care how well he organises the machinery. You will have one of two things arise—either the real control of the pensions will vest in the local committees and the authority in London will be merely a registering authority, or you will have the work of determining the pensions devolve upon officials in the Pensions Department. One or the other. The Pensions Minister himself, even if he devoted the whole of his time to it, could not by any possibility investigate all the hundred and one questions which will arise in the granting of these pensions. You want a variety of persons. You want a person who will have to do with the Army. You will have another person who will have to take into consideration questions affecting the Navy. You will have the persons who are now dealt with by the Statutory Committee, namely, the supplemental pensions.
692 You will want to have at least one person to represent labour, and you will also want one person on the authority who shall be a woman. You will have a great deal of women's work to deal with—work which I do not think myself can be properly done by a man. You will have hundreds and thousands of cases coming up for consideration where a soldier or a sailor has been killed but has left a widow and children. A pension is granted to the widow— a supplementary pension is also granted for the support of herself and children— and you may find that the woman is not properly maintaining those children. That is a question which will have to be inquired into, and a question which is particularly suitable for the energies of a woman. I have very strongly put to the House the reasons why I do submit, and I submit it with all the sincerity I can, you should not entrust the whole control of this important Department to one man, and, above all, to one politician. I ask the House not to allow itself to be influenced merely by the idea that for the moment it desires one Minister of Pensions to organise the Department. I ask it to look further ahead and to remember we are setting up an authority which will operate for at least fifty years to come in the controlling and granting of these pensions— an important authority, and a large authority, with great powers of dealing with vast sums of money. I ask the House seriously to take into consideration the great advantage which will inure for all time to the pensioners if we divorce politics from pensions, and the great advantage which will be obtained by the pensioners if we have a body to deal with this question where you can have one member of the Board supreme and responsible for every Department to the pensions authority. If you have that you will have a far better pensions authority, and you will also have a Minister in this House answerable to this House for the work of the pensions authority, and a Minister who will be the head of that authority and able to make his views felt on that authority, and, so far as is legitimate, to control that authority. On the other hand, I am sure that in years to come, if we insist upon a single politician as the head of this authority, we shall be inflicting serious injustice upon those men whom it is the sincere desire of this House to help in every possible way.
§ Sir GEORGE YOUNGER
My hon. and learned Friend has asked me to second 693 the Amendment, and I do so because I think it is a pity the Bill should go right through the Report stage without this House again having an opportunity of considering this question. I do not say that the Amendment is the best way out of the difficulty, but I do feel strongly, and I have always felt throughout the Debates, that it would be little short of a disaster if we did not so regulate the administration and allocation of these pensions as to avoid the dangers to which my hon. Friend has alluded. We ought to try in every possible way we can to avoid such risks in regard to pensions. What precedent have we got in the realm of administration for what is now proposed? We have the Board of Inland Revenue. Nobody would suggest for a single moment that any political influence is ever brought to bear upon the Board of Inland Revenue. It has far heavier and far more difficult tasks to perform than will fall upon the Ministry of Pensions. It has to determine abstruse and difficult questions and to administer complex and difficult Acts of Parliament. Yet it is independent in elucidating those questions, and altogether the whole administration goes with perfect smoothness and without this horrible difficulty of political influence cropping up. Why should not the same principle be applied to pensions? I do not know why we should run this risk with regard to pensions, and because this Amendment goes to some extent in the direction of obviating that risk I desire to second it and to express the hope that the House will again consider this question before finally setting up this single authority.
Sir H. DALZIEL
The question raised by the hon. Gentleman opposite is undoubtedly a very important one, and it is one that ought to be considered, I think, by a larger House than we have the privilege of seeing here to-day, because, as my hon. Friend the Baronet who seconded the Amendment rightly said, I think that the whole House ought to consider it in its fullest aspects and details. I rise particularly to make an appeal to my right hon. Friend the Pensions Minister. It is obvious that this Bill is not in the same position as it would have been if we had not had the announcement to-day from the Prime Minister. I know we are all anxious the Bill should pass into law with the least possible delay, but I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that he ought to consider 694 whether the Debate might not be adjourned at the present moment—not only this Bill, but all the other Bills which are down for consideration this afternoon. The position is this: We do not know who is going to be Pensions Minister. We were not very sure about that before the present crisis arose. The Pensions Minister was quite frank with the House. The situation is now much more complicated than it was before, because it may possibly be that my right hon. Friend may have more important duties to perform than those connected with pensions and somebody else may be called in to take the post of Pensions Minister. My point is this, that if there is to be a new man in charge of the carrying out of the Bill which we are now passing it is not quite fair to him that we should finally close the door by passing this Bill practically into law before ho has had an opportunity of being consulted in regard to it. Let me point out to the House that the cause of the pensioners can in no way suffer. No pensioner will lose a single sixpence if we adjourn this Bill for a week, and I say it is altogether unfair for us to proceed at the present moment with an important Bill of this kind when we have practically no Government in charge. I think the opinion of the House will be that in view of all the circumstances we ought not to proceed further with the Bill. The question of salary comes on immediately after, and we do not know what reconstruction may bring forth. We ought not at this moment to tie the hands of the Government without knowing exactly what the Bill is going to provide for, and, therefore, I feel justified in asking the Government not to proceed further to-day with a measure of this importance. I, therefore, ask leave to move "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ Mr. D. MASON
I have great pleasure in seconding that Motion. I think if we are going on to the Order lower down on the Paper, the War Obligations Bill, the case is even much stronger for the Motion of my right hon. Friend. The Prime Minister himself when he stated that we ought to conclude the business on the Agenda for to-day, said that it was non-controversial. He must have forgotten for the moment that the business included this other Order, to which there are a considerable number of Amendments on the Paper. It is not by any means non-controversial. If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to the report of the Second 695 Reading Debate, he will find that there was scarcely a speech that was not in opposition to that particular measure. The right hon. Member for Dublin University—
We cannot discuss another Bill on this Motion. We are dealing with the Ministry of Pensions Bill.
§ Mr. MASON
I appreciate the point, Sir. I was only trying to add to the argument of my right hon. Friend that there was a conclusive ease for adjourning the Debate. I agree with my right hon. Friend in the succinct manner in which he described the position. We do not know who is to be the Pensions Minister. The position has been entirely altered by this new Bill being brought before the House, and by the resignation of the right hon. Gentleman, and, in fact, of every other Minister, being in the hands of the Prime Minister at the present moment. As there is considerable controversy in regard to the Bill, until we know what is to be the policy of the new Government with regard to pensions, we cannot be asked to continue to debate this Bill on the Report stage. It is not a question of politics on one side or the other. It is a question of the business of the House, and to continue this Debate in the existing circumstances does not seem to me to be in accordance either with business or common sense.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I am rather reluctant to take any part in this Debate on the Motion to adjourn, but I have throughout taken such an interest in this matter that I venture to express the hope that the right hon. Gentleman will, at any rate, hesitate before he accepts this Motion. We have discussed the Bill on a good many occasions. We had a long First Reading, a substantial Second Reading, and a long discussion in Committee, and this Bill represents, more perhaps than any other Bill has done for a long time, the considered sense of the House of Commons, and not the view of the Government. I think the right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have been in charge of this Bill have met the House in such a way as might very well be an example to the Government, and, in fact, a warning to all Governments. This Bill I do really think represents the considered views of the House of Commons as a whole, and I do not care for the moment what reconstruction of the Government takes place. 696 We do not propose to reconstruct the House of Commons—for the moment, at any rate. I am astonished that my right hon. Friend (Sir H. Dalziel) wants delay. I thought delay was the great vice of the present Government.
I am not talking of the right hon. Gentleman's salary, or anything else at the moment. I am on this Bill only. I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will say that as there has been so much substantial discussion of this Bill, now is the occasion to go on with it. No doubt that was the view of the Prime Minister, because he intended this Debate to go on to-day. The question whether it be the right hon. Gentleman now in charge of the Bill, or anybody else who is to be in charge of it, does not weigh with me at all. I do not think that matters. What we are considering now is not the men that may be in charge, but the Bill before the House. I do not intend to discuss the particular Amendment now before the House. I do not suppose it would be in order to go into the merits of it, but it has been before the House more than once already. It is almost more a Second Reading point than a Report stage point. The right hon. Gentleman has told us on more than one occasion that there is a vast amount of work to be done on this question of pensions, and if we take leave of the Bill now we really do not know when we may see it again On Thursday we will be discussing matters of high policy, and then there is also the question of Christmas coming in. We might not have the Bill through until after Christmas. Therefore I do appeal to the House of Commons with all sincerity and conviction, and I say that they would be doing well to finish this Bill and send it elsewhere, so as to dispose once for all of this very important question.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken appears to me to have put so cogently before the House the arguments in favour of our resisting this proposal that there is very little left forme to say. When we decided to take this business to-day, we had very clearly in our minds the possibility to which he has properly referred. We had every reason to expect that we could dispose of this Bill in a very short time. He has reminded the House of the efforts we made 697 to meet the wishes of the House, and, if I might be permitted to say so, two of the speeches we have listened to this afternoon would have been very appropriate if we had listened to them this day week, when everyone was appealing to the Minister in charge of the Bill to take it back and make it possible to take out of the Bill all reference to a board, and insert in it nothing but a Minister. We acted on the suggestion made to us, and brought back a Bill which we conceived contained everything we have been asked to put into it. Now here we are. We come down to-day in spite of the exceptional circumstances which exist, and we had every reason to expect that this Bill would have been disposed of in a short time, whatever attitude was adopted towards the other Orders on the Paper.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
I have nothing to do with the other items on the Paper. If we are compelled to accept an adjournment of this Debate, it will be because the House has expressed a desire for that adjournment. We do not want it. We want this Bill through. After all, what does it matter who the individual is in charge? It would be an immense advantage to him, if some new appointment is made, to find his Bill there, and if he could get straight to work in organising the machinery. As I have pointed out more than once, there is a great amount of work to be done. Last week we heard something about delay. We are now invited practically to be responsible for delay, and, if we have to accept that invitation, the responsibility will not rest with the Government.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
My hon. and learned Friend has just come into the House and he should not interrupt. We are en deavouring to get out of a difficulty, and I thought he was sufficiently interested in this pensions question to give us some assistance. I feel I am mistaken. I appeal to those who are interested in it, and I ask that we should be allowed to put this Bill through its remaining stages, so that even if this House may not be sitting, the House of Lords may get on with it, and I hope myself or some other Minister may be in a position to bring forward the scales which I alluded to before.
I do hope the Minister in charge of the Bill will see his way to accept the Motion for the adjournment of the Debate. I say so for this reason, that the question now under discussion is an extremely important one, and it is very unfortunate that it is not being discussed in a fuller House. With regard to what took place last Monday, we should guard ourselves a little against the views taken about that discussion. It has been assumed that there were negotiations across the floor between the Member for East Edinburgh and the Pensions Minister, and that a sort of high treaty was concluded. A great many of us who voted for unification voted for it on terms, the terms being that while we wanted unification, we wanted the administration to be in the hands of certain definite people. I had an Amendment down myself in that respect, but it was ruled out of order, and for that reason the principle was not discussed then. Now comes an opportunity for dealing with it, and it is proposed to deal with it in a very small House. I do not think it is fair to deal with this important principle in a small House, and I press on the Government to accept the Motion for adjournment.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I strongly resist this Motion for adjournment, and for the most practical of all reasons. I know myself the effect of this state of suspense in the Statutory Committee, and I would strongly urge the Minister in charge of the Bill not to allow this state of things to continue. We are meeting day after day, and we have to leave many questions undecided which are calling for urgent settlement. The sooner you can get this Bill through the better; and I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy will withdraw his Motion, and that the Bill which has now waited long will be carried and the work allowed to go on. The suspense and delay are seriously injuring that work.
§ Sir NORVAL HELME
I hope the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill will give us an opportunity of fulfilling the work for which so many of us came here to-day. It has been suggested that the House is not very full, but Members are here at Westminster, and are prepared to take their part in carrying this Bill through, especially as the Government have so thoroughly met the expressed wishes of the House. I think we should urge the right hon. Gentleman to resist the proposal for Adjournment and give us 699 an opportunity of putting the Bill finally through this House, even through the Third Reading.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I feel that the appeal put before us by the Member for Kirkcaldy is almost an irresistible one. The House is not in a fit state to go on with business. The Amendment raises very large issues. The hon. Member who moved it and the hon. Baronet who seconded it wish it to receive fair and careful consideration. I do not want to take up a position hostile to this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of it has behaved so well that I would be glad if this Bill were exempted from the effect of the Motion now before the House, but I do think that the House should really consider whether it is possible for us to go on with other business this afternoon. The short time we have spent in discussion shows the large questions that may be raised at any moment. This House cannot go on without the guidance of the Government, and we are told there is no Government. It is all very well for the Minister in charge of the Bill to say the matter has been well considered. But even then we meet with a difficulty from a new point. Quite a fresh point has been raised. I do think then that unless we get an assurance that this Bill will be the only business that will be taken the Motion ought to be accepted. When an announcement has been made by the Prime Minister that the Government is no longer in existence and the House of Commons is adjourned, in such circumstances it is usual that an Adjournment should immediately take place. We should not, in such circumstances, plunge into business of a more serious character. For these reasons I support the Motion. The only thing I can suggest by way of a compromise is that the Government should say that they will only take this Order. That might then be agreed to.
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
So far as the last point made by my right hon. Friend is concerned, I must protest against it. The second or the third Order, I am not sure which it is, is an Irish Bill of great importance, and about which there is very-little, if any, controversy. I would, therefore, protest against the idea of adjourning the Irish Bill whether this Pensions Bill is adjourned or not.
§ Mr. S. ROBERTS
I hardly think there is sufficient reason for adjourning the De- 700 bate. I must say that my sympathies are rather with the Mover of the Amendment. But I recognise this fact, that the House in Committee has practically settled the principle of the Bill. My hon. and learned Friend goes back again to the contest which I had hoped we had settled in Committee. Now the reason is given by the right hon. Gentleman that changes may happen, that the Government is going to be reconstructed. But there is going to be no change in the principle of this Bill. We all came down here with the intention of passing this Bill as an agreed Bill. The Amendments put down by the right hon. Gentleman on the Paper were probably verbal Amendments which were agreed to in Committee to be put down. I sincerely hope this House, will not put off this Bill which practically would be to an indefinite time. We all want to see this pensions question settled, and this is the opportunity to do it. I do hope the House will not consent to the Adjournment of this Debate.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
On the general principle I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy that this Debate should be adjourned. I think when you have not a Government in existence that it is almost impossible to carry through business in the House of Commons. But this Bill, and, I think, the Bill to which the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. Redmond) refers, stand in a peculiar position. The present Bill is really the Bill of the House of Commons. It is not the Bill of the Government. We changed this Bill in the Committee stage, and whatever Government is in power we believe it is incumbent upon that Government to accept the finding of the House of Commons reached in the Committee stage—a very deliberate finding, and one to which the Government had to bow. I think in these circumstances this Bill stands in a somewhat peculiar position. We here have made our wishes clear, and practically fixed the terms of the Bill. Consequently, whatever Government is in power, we desire this Bill to pass. I think if the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henderson)—to whom I wish to apologise for my irrelevant interruption for which he so justly blamed me—if the right hon. Gentleman assures us that in the Report stage in this House there will be no substantial change in the Bill—I think we have a right' to ask for that, because, after all, this is a thin House in which to make a change after full consideration in Committee—I 701 would suggest to the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy that he withdraw his Motion. I understand that beyond this Bill and the Irish Bill no other Order will be taken today.
Sir H. DALZIEL
I shall be glad to withdraw if the right hon. Gentleman will make an announcement to that effect.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Duke)
Besides the two Bills which have been referred to there is a Supplementary Estimate on the Order.
§ Mr. DUKE
I was going to say on behalf of the Irish office that I must mention there is a Supplementary Estimate upon the Order Book which is necessary to be dealt with in order to give effect to the provisions respecting the payment of school teachers' wages in Ireland, and great inconvenience would be caused if it is not taken. Whatever decision may be arrived at on the other question, I must put in a caveat for this Supplementary Estimate. In regard to the Irish Bill, I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Waterford that it is very important that it should be taken, because otherwise its passage through Parliament may be made impossible during the present Session.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
Perhaps it might ease the situation if I inform the House what we are prepared to do. We are prepared to take the first three items of the Order Paper—the Pensions Bill, Supply (Committee), and the Dublin Reconstruction Emergency Provisions Bill—and to leave everything else. Under these circumstances I hope the Motion will now be withdrawn.
Sir H. DALZIEL
May I ask whether my right hon. Friend means to take all the items in the Supplementary Estimate?
§ Motion, "That the Debate be now adjourned," by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed
§ Mr. HENDERSON
I should like to say a word or two in regard to the Amendment before the House. I think the House will not feel surprised when I tell them I cannot possibly accept that Amendment. I have more than once stated how anxious 702 we were to give effect to what we conceive to be the position on the first day on which we entered this Committee on the Bill. I am quite sure, if I gave the slightest countenance to the Amendment now before the House, I would be departing very seriously from what is believed to be an undertaking between the Committee and the Government. I think we have only to look at the Bill as it now stands before the House to see that it is no longer a Bill to set up a Board. It is a Bill to set up a Ministry, and to have a Minister solely responsible for the whole of the work. What were the argumente? The arguments that were adduced were that under the existing Board—there has been a Board working in connection with pensions—there has been delay. You wanted to avoid delay. We endeavoured to meet you by saying you would be able to fix the responsibility for any delay that may arise by having one individual who can be blamed, who can be hung, drawn, and quartered if need be, if the things that have happened in the past happen in the future. The Mover of the Amendment seems to predict quite a number of evils that are to arise if we do not appoint a Board and if who have a Minister who is himself to be solely responsible. I think to some extent, if I may be permitted to say so, the position has been safeguarded from his own point of view, not from my point of view, by the retention of the Statutory Committee. The Statutory Committee is going to do a great amount of work. It has a very large number of powers set out in Clause 3 of the Act of 1915. We are not taking away those powers. It is quite true that they have to be supervised by whoever will be the Minister of Pensions, but they will do the work, and it appears to me that if any other argument were required, the argument that we would be going right back upon everything we did last week, stultifying all the work of the Committee stage, would in itself be sufficient for me to do what I am compelled to do, and that is to decline to accept the Amendment proposed by my hon. and learned Friend.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Of course, with a great many of the arguments which were adduced by my hon. and learned Friend who moved, and by the hon. Baronet who seconded the Amendment, I am in entire sympathy. If it were possible to eliminate altogether political elements from the administration of these pensions, it would be a thing that we would all desire. It is a 703 thing which is in every way good for the pensioner, and the more it can he done the more I would persist in doing it. But that is a very different thing from adopting this Amendment as it now stands. It seems to me, with all respect to the Mover and Seconder, to be quite unworkable unless you change the Bill. The hon. and learned Member who moved the Amendment feared the operation of political consideration in directions which I do not think are in the least likely. He said that because a political Minister presided and had power over this administration therefore it would acquire a political character, and that all the local committees would acquire the same character. Could anything really be more absurd? Does the fact that the President of the Local Government Board or the President of the Board of Education holds at a particular time certain political opinions affect the political character of all the education authorities and all the county councils and all the parish councils through England? Are these local bodies prepared to take their political power from the Minister and to take the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board who happens to have general supervision over them? The thing is quite absurd. The local committees, I can assure every hon. Member, are not likely to take their colour from any Minister. I know that very well from having had dealings with them as one of the Statutory Committee, and I know that they are not likely to take their political complexion from anybody who is set to supervise them. They will assert their own opinions and will assert them independent either of the Central Board or the Central Minister. But when I come to deal actually with this Board itself, I see that there are to be five members, one to represent the Army, one to represent the Navy, one to represent the Statutory Committee, one Labour, I think, and one women. That is very much the complexion of the Statutory Committee itself. We have representatives nominated by the Admiralty, other representatives nominated by the War Office, we have several women, and we have representatives of the Labour party.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Yes, but fortunately, they neutralise one another because they are not all of one kind. There is a very 704 large element which is not political in any way at all on the Statutory Committee. But suppose we wanted this Board. This Board of the hon. and learned Member is apparently to have members who are to have coordinating powers. The hon. Member establishes a Board with a President at the head, but we all know a Board of that sort is in the hands of the President, that the President can overrule the decisions which the others come to. It would be utterly impossible that it should be anything else. The Minister who is President of the Board has to answer for the Department as Minister. If he had actually been out-voted by his colleagues and if he had told them the course "you would like to follow is not the right course," they would reply to him: "We shall out-vote you in your own Board; we, the five other members, shall vote against you, and you will have to go forward and defend our policy before the House of Commons." The thing is impossible. We now quite well, as a matter of fact, that the President of such a Board is always to be the master, that he can, even if his colleagues and the Board are against him, override and overrule them. His authority would remain as undisputed under the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman as it is at present. What I cannot make out is how the hon. and learned Member would have this Board work alongside the Statutory Committee. If he had proposed the abolition of the Statutory Committee I could have understood. The presence of certain people like myself on the Statutory Committee does not destroy its general non-political character. How could it receive instructions from another Board constituted almost in the same way as itself. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman or whoever accepts the very important position of President, who acts as a supervisor, as a stimulus, as a director, and will represent all the authorities dealing with this important question not only in the House of Commons, but in the Cabinet. I am sure that the Statutory Committee is prepared to take that position if the right hon. Gentleman, or whoever is the Minister, leaves a considerable amount of administrative work to the judgment of the Statutory Committee, subject, of course, to his own control and supervision. I do not understand that the right hon. Gentleman means to say that the Statutory Committee is to hold its hand and do nothing and not to have the slightest possible 705 initiative in administration, but to wait until it is told whether to move this hand or that hand or one foot or the other. I am certain that the right hon. Gentleman does not understand that that is the position which the President is going to take towards the Statutory Committee. He will, I hope, leave to the Statutory Committee as much discretion as he can and as much administrative initiative as he can. I am certain I can assure him on the part of the Statutory Committee that in return for that we will make an earnest, zealous endeavour to help him in every way. If I thought that the only way of putting out any political interest where to establish a Board such as the hon. and learned Gentleman proposes by his Amendment I should vote for that Amendment because I have every sympathy with the idea, but I think it would be a complete subversion of this Bill and of the functions that will be transmitted to the Statutory Committee, and I am, therefore, unable to give it my support.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I should like to be quite clear as to the statement about political influence being mixed up with pensions. What does it mean? It can only mean that political organisations on one or other side of the House will use their electoral powers either to increase the amount of the pension or to give people pensions who do not deserve them. That is all it can mean, and if it were possible it would be a very bad thing, as an hon. Member remarks. That hon. Friend knows the kind of influences that exist in political caucuses. Surely pensions are going to be awarded on scales which will be varied from time to time by Royal Warrant, as this House wishes. Beyond that no man can get a pension, so that there can be no political influence there. The only other thing that remains is, can a man who does not deserve it get a higher pension? He may for a very short time, but the whole scheme of pensions is based on an award of the pension for a short period, after which it is to be subject to revision. The allowance will probably be for a year or six months, so that the chance of a man being discovered inside that time is of course very obvious. Therefore I do not understand why so many hon. Gentlemen lay so much stress on the use of what is known as political influence in pensions. I do not believe it really exists. I believe it is a figment of the imagination.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
In that case why should there be a political Minister if it is purely administrative?
§ Mr. HOGGE
Is is the most imperative part of the Bill that there should be a political Minister. The way in which soldiers and sailors at the present moment have got into the position in which they are as to pensions is due to the fact that we have been able to discuss the matter here. If soldiers and sailors had to depend upon the restricted platforms we now have and the restricted Press, and had not had the platform of this House, they would not be in the position they are in now. That is why we ought to have a political Minister.
§ Colonel YATE
No one is more desirous than I am of getting this Bill passed, but I must protest against the statement of the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, that this Bill as presented on the 30th November represents the considered opinion of this House. There are various points that are wanted and about which we have had no proper explanation. We have had the question raised as to whether we are to have a whole-time Minister for Pensions, but nothing has been said about that. Secondly, the Minister in charge agreed verbally that the three Under-Secretaries as advisers were to be limited to the present holders of those offices, but that has not been done.
§ Colonel YATE
The third question was as to the number of the Secretaries to be appointed and no limit has been put to them. The fourth question is as to the keeping of the grant of pensions free from all political influences whatsoever. That is a most important matter. We have an empty House to-day. The Government is being reconstituted. There is no Government, most of the members have lost interest and have gone away while we are passing a Bill that may have great effects for a generation to come. I think this is a matter which is deserving of the greatest consideration. I raised this question more than once about doing anything which might bring in the American system of pensions to our country. It seems to me that this Bill, if we leave it as it stands, will do so. The right hon Gentleman the Paymaster-General laughs but it is the fact that the 707 door is left open for the introduction of political influence in granting pensions. The right hon. Gentleman has given us no indication that he is prepared to deal with this question or that he sympathises with our views in this respect. In fact, he laughs at the matter. The other day when I was speaking he said that I took great interest in the Chelsea Commissioners. I did so, for the reason that those Commissioners up to date under the Royal Warrant have been assessing pensions free from all political influence.
§ Colonel YATE
And doing it extremely well, as the right hon. Gentleman the Paymaster-General testified the other day. Those Commissioners have worked from ten o'clock in the morning to seven o'clock at night, and the delay in pensions has not been with them but in the Pensions Pay Office. They always deal with cases within forty-eight hours. I have referred to the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman, and we have also had the testimony of the Under-Secretary of State for War, and I think they are more to be relied on than the hon. Member.
§ Colonel YATE
I hope we shall have an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that there will be some scheme instituted for the assessment and grant of pensions entirely free from political influence. We do not want to have Members of this House approached by their constituents as to getting increased pensions for this or that person. I hear that in naval constituencies Dockyard Members are constantly told that, for instance, the Liberals are not giving enough employment, and that they are going to vote, therefore, for the Conservatives, and that that sort of thing is introduced. We want to have pensions administered free of political control. It is necessary that some step should be taken in this matter. It is not provided for in the Bill, and I now wait to see what indication the right hon. Gentleman will give us as to what steps he proposes to take.
§ Mr. PETO
I have not intervened on this Bill until the present moment, but I want to bear my testimony as to what I think is the deplorable change that has been made in the original Bill—made, I admit, on the impression that the House 708 of Commons was responsible, or made certainly in view of the impression that the Government gained that the House of Commons wanted this present form of Bill setting up an individual Minister as practically solely responsible for the whole of this matter. I listened with a good deal of interest to the speech of the Hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen University (Sir H. Craik), He said he would do anything he could to eliminate political influence, and he then proceeded to criticise the details of the Amendment. His main argument was that the Statutory Committee was really going to do this work, and therefore we need not be afraid of political influence. I think he really ignored Clause 3, which says that the powers and duties of the Statutory Committee under the Naval and War Pensions Act, 1915, shall be exercisable by the Statutory Committee under the control of and with the instructions of the Minister of Pensions. Thus, if there is the slightest doubt as to the way the pensions are to be administered under this Bill, the matter is entirely in the discretion of the Minister of Pensions. In this case the Minister represents only one branch of political opinion. He is very directly in touch with that branch of political opinion. I refer to the Labour party, and their views, and I think a more deplorable decision than the one that has been arrived at, making it not only a political appointment, but an appointment of a very special political character, could not possibly have been arrived at. I am glad that the House has had the opportunity, at least as an afterthought, of considering this question. Some hon. Members who have been closely connected with this pensions question right through seem to have arrived at a sort of death-bed repentance and regret the work which they had some hand in bringing about. Personally, if the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Major H. Terrell) carries this matter to a Division, I shall certainly support him, because I believe we are very far from the end of this matter. I think it is a very unfortunate position. At the present moment we do not know whether the Minister designated in this Bill will be the Minister. We do not know whether, when we meet on Thursday, the Paymaster-General will still occupy that office. I am sure he will believe me when I say that in anything I have said I have not the slightest intention of making any reflection upon him personally. My only desire is to protest against 709 the unfortunate decision, as I think, that has been arrived at of giving one Minister of the Government entire control in this matter. That is really what it comes to. You make the appointment, and consequently the administration of pensions, entirely the shuttlecock of party politics, of the 'ins "and the 'outs," and the whole of the people receiving pensions, to look to one party or the other. It will inevitably become a question of that sort. It may be said that nothing can be altered except under the Royal Warrant. We know, however, perfectly well that anybody having the authority of the Minister of Pensions under this Bill can influence every decision, and throw the colour of his influence on it; can control the pressure which will be brought on every telegraph and telephone line constantly into his office by the class who are mainly the recipients of the pensions. Therefore, let us be quite frank. We have made a political job of this question of pensions. We have appointed a Minister who represents one party only, and that party the one mainly concerned with the recipients of these pensions. A worse decision the House could not have arrived at. Hon. Members did a very bad day's work when they altered the Government's scheme, which at least was fairly harmless and innocuous, in favour of the one which is now in the Bill.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I have been trying to follow the exact grounds for the objections that have been raised, and for this discussion—which is quite a new discussion—in regard to political influence. I hold the view that there has always been a little too much political influence brought to bear on many of these questions of pensions; that very often locally we had far too much inquisition from ladies belonging to certain parties in regard to the administration of pensions. But I want to have this question quite squarely faced by the House, and I want to ask what exactly is the objection? Is it that for the first time a member of the Labour party is going to have something to do with questions affecting these people? Is it only on that occasion that objection is going to be raised, that the question of political influence is going to be brought forward? Why have not we had this question of political influence raised long ago, when members of other parties have been directly and indirectly dealing with pensions affecting soldiers? So far as I 710 am concerned, I do not care what member of a political party is concerned with this matter if he is a sympathetic man from the standpoint of the soldiers and their dependants. I will, however, tell the House what I do want. I want this question dealt with by a Minister in this House, responsible to this House—one before whom we can bring the grievance's of these people. That is the sole purpose of this Bill. What at this eleventh hour, is now being attempted is to destroy the real meaning of this Bill and to get us right back to the old state of things, with all its chaos and confusion.
The Chelsea Commissioners were held up as a model for us. I am not going to attack the Chelsea Commissioners. No doubt they act in a very conscientious way. But I do know this: time and again decisions are given which, in my judgment and the judgment of many people, are wrong decisions, and it is a most difficult thing to make anybody responsible. It is a most difficult thing in the case of the Chelsea Commissioners to fix the responsibility for any decision on any particular person. It is all hidden away. I do not know who are the Commissioners. Very few people know who they are. Therefore we want someone here in connection with this Pensions Board to whom we can bring these cases. The objections put forward, I think, are twofold. First of all, it would seem that apparently too much credit is going to come to one particular political party, and secondly, that that particular political party is going to use this pensions question in order to help their own supporters at the expense of other people. I never heard of such a thing. I cannot imagine an objection of that kind entering anybody's head. For my own part, I have personally dealt with thousands of cases affecting soldiers and I never dreamt of inquiring as to what political party the soldier belonged. It never remotely entered my mind if I got a letter from a soldier to say to myself, "Is this man with me or against me politically?" If a wrong thing were being, as I thought, done to a man I would raise the case if he were the strongest possible political opponent. I am quite sure that there is not a Member of this House who would not substantially do the same thing, to whatever political party he belongs. This is a bigger question than that of a political party. It is a question affecting men and women and their interests, and they have a perfect right to be against us if they like 711 so far as politics are concerned; but we ought to see that the just rights of those who fought and the just rights of their women are safeguarded, whatever may be their political opinions. Therefore I support the idea, apart from party altogether, of having a Minister of this House before whom we can bring these grievances and troubles. Hon. Members say, "Oh, we are frightened that if this is done there will be so much pressure, and these people will get too large pensions, and too much will be done for them because they can bring this particular pressure to bear." I am not afraid of this. You can make your regulations. You can regularise the conditions and make them what you will. There is no reason why there should be as many abnormal cases as now, where you have at present to bring pressure to bear. Change your system and regularise it. I believe it may be done. I hope the House will reject the Amendment.
§ Sir PHILIP MAGNUS
I should like to express the hope that we may now come to a Division. Most of the speeches which have been made have been altogether wide of the Amendment. I do not see anything in the Amendment opposed to the appointment of a Minister of Pensions. The Minister of Pensions must be a member of one Government or another. I do not see that the Amendment proposed by my hon. and learned Friend would in any way prevent, so far as I can make out, a political bias affecting the administration of our pensions. The Minister of Pensions would be appointed, and he would be a member of the Government. The proposal of my hon. Friend is that five other members should be appointed—that is to say, they will be appointed by the existing Government. I think we are all agreed that we should look to the administration of the pensions being conducted altogether apart from political considerations. It does not seem to me that the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend would in any way bring about the object that he himself has in view, and for these reasons I hope the discussion may now be ended, and that we may proceed to a Division.
In raising two or three points I shall only detain the House for two or three moments. These points arise from what has already been said. First of all, I do think that it is an unfortunate thing that we have had this, 712 what has been called a Second Reading Debate, over again—that opportunity has been given for it. It is clearly a matter of uncertainty what the policy of the future Pensions Minister is going to be, because we do not know who is going to be the Pensions Minister. I should have thought it would have been very much better to leave the matter over till the appointment was certain. It is a little bit tying the hands of the future Pensions Minister if he does not happen to be the same as the Pensions Minister now sitting opposite to us. I want to make it clear that a good many of Us who voted for unification voted on certain terms. We voted for unification of a Board, or head authority, because we were going to move Amendments subsequently that while the authority should be in the hands of one Minister responsible to this House, the administration, as distinct from policy, we wanted to be in the hands of others. It was on this basis that we voted for unification. Some of us got up several times, though we were unfortunate enough not to catch the Speaker's eye. I myself had an Amendment down on this very point which was, Sir, ruled out of order by yourself, and it is not fair to state, as against us, that the arrangement made as between the Pensions Minister and the Member for East Edinburgh was a treaty between the Ministry and the House of Commons. It was nothing of the kind. There was much feeling as I know from another body which deals with pensions and with which I am connected.
This Amendment goes further than I wish to go. It has been said quite recently by the Member for East Edinburgh, "Oh, but there cannot be any question of difficulty arising, because there is certain to be one scale of pensions, and one only." There is, however, very often the preliminary question to be decided whether or not a man should have a pension. That in itself is a matter in which a considerable amount of pressure can be exercised on the Pensions Minister. I should have thought that in his own interest any Pensions Minister would desire that while he should be responsible for policy and be able to give instructions of a general character, that when it came to the actual question as to whether A B, a doubtful case, should or should not have a pension, that he would be only too glad to be relieved of the decision. I can perceive in this connection energetic Members of Parliament writing to the Pensions Minister and saying, "I know A B is a doubtful case, but, after 713 all, he is a very good constituent of mine; let him have his pension." That is, I am afraid, what will go on if all the administration is left in the hands of the Minister. I should have thought that it would be in the interest of the Pensions Minister, and in the interest of justice and fair treatment all round, that the actual administration should be in the hands of other persons.
It is, I know, said, "Oh, well, but cases of this kind will not arise." But we remember questions in this House where something very like what I fear has arisen. I should be very sorry to see, and I think we all should deprecate, the pensions getting into that state. It is usual to say that there is no danger of this sort. Have we not the example of the United States before our eyes? With that precedent to guide us, we must all be anxious to secure that a similar state of things does not happen here. I do not want to put the political issue too high. It has been mentioned a good deal in this Debate. The thing I really care about is efficient administration. I believe that for the purposes of pure efficiency of administration that the right policy is to have an administrator, not being the person who is actually doing the administration him-
§ self. The Pensions Minister cannot possibly settle a grant himself. He has not the time. The present Pensions Minister is a hard-working man. But there are only twenty-four hours even in his day. He cannot get through the work, and it has got to be done by somebody. I do not want that the question of "aye" or "no" in the matter of a pension, or whether a man shall have a grant or a supplementary grant or how he shall be treated, to be dealt with by third or fourth rate clerks who will attend to it in a bureaucratic way, and not as a question of human sympathy and human understanding. It is in order to secure humane administration, certainty, celerity, and dispatch that I want to see other persons responsible for administration, while the Minister is in absolute control of policy, and one who can give his general instructions to the administrators, but will not himself deal with any one particular case. I beg to support the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words 'Minister of Pensions' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 188; Noes, 20.715
|Division No. 66.]||AYES.||[5.45 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Cowan, W. H.||Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Craig, Colonel James (Down, E.)||Hewins, William Albert Samuel|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Hinds, John|
|Anderson, W. C.||Craik, Sir Henry||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Crumley, Patrick||Hogge, James Myles|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Currie, George W.||Hohler, G. F.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Barnet, Captain R. W.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs, Louth)||Hope, Harry (Bute)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Denniss, E. R. B.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughhy H.||Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Dillon, John||Horne, Edgar|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Donelan, Captain A.||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Doris, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Hudson, Walter|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Jones, William S. Glyn. (Stepney)|
|Bliss, Joseph||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Boland, John Plus||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Keating, Matthew|
|Bowden, Major G. R. Harland||Fell, Arthur||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||King, Joseph|
|Brace, William||Field, William||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Fitzpatrick, John Lalor||Lambert, Richard (Wilts., Cricklade)|
|Buxton, Noel||Fletcher, John Samuel||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Forster, Henry William||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Byrne, Alfred||Galbraith, Samuel||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee|
|Campion, W. R.||Glanville, Harold James||Lundon, Thomas|
|Carew. Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Falk. B. ghs)|
|Cautley, H. S.||Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones||Macmaster, Donald|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston manor)||Hackett, John||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Haddock, George Bahr||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Haslam, Lewis||Mallalieu, Frederick William|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Hazleton, Richard||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Helms, Sir Nerval Watson||Meux, Hon. Sir Hedwerth|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Reddy, Michael||Wardle, George J.|
|Morgan, George Hay||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Worrell, Philip||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Murray, Major Hon. Arthur C.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighe)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Whiteley, Herbert James|
|Nugent, J. D. (College Green)||Robinson, Sidney||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Nuttall, Harry||Rocir, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Wiles, Thomas|
|O'Malley, William||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (Norwood)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Scanlan, Thomas||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Sherwell, Arthur James||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Pearce, Sir Robert (Staff's, Leek)||Shortt, Edward||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs, N.)|
|Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)||Simon, Rt. Hen. Sir John Allsebrook||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Pratt, J. W.||Stewart, Gershom||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES —|
|Radford, Sir George Heynes||Tickler, T. G.||Mr. Gulland and Lord Edmund|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Toulmin, Sir George||Talbot.|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Bonn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Haslam, Lewis||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Bonn, Com. Ian Hamilton||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Boyton, James||Larmor, Sir J.||Thyrne, Lord Alexander|
|Butcher, John George||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Cator, John||Malcolm, Ian|
|Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred||Neville, Reginald J. N.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Guest, Major Hon. C, H. C. (Pembroke)||Newman, John R. P.||Major Terrell and Sir George Younger|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
I beg to move to leave out the words "who shall"["Minister of Pensions, who shall be entitled to receive"], and to insert instead thereof the words "appointed by His Majesty, and the Minister shall, during the continuance of the present War and for a period of six months thereafter."
I explained earlier that the Amendments to be moved on the part of the Government are either to give effect to promises held out during the Committee stage, or to make a little clearer the purpose of the Bill. The Amendment I now move is to limit practically the advice and assistance to the three secretaries who are with me on the bench, or, at any rate, to the occupants of those offices until six months after the War. That is carrying out the promise I made.
§ Mr. WATT
I do not understand that this Amendment carries out altogether the promise, at any rate, I understood the right hon. Gentleman to make, with reference to Scotland. I thought it was clearly understood that, as regards the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, it should be limited to the present holder of that secretaryship. The War Office, of course, has jurisdiction in Scotland, and so has the Admiralty, but the Local Government Board has absolutely no jurisdiction in 716 Scotland, and therefore it is difficult to understand why the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board should be appointed to deal with a matter that is interesting to the whole Empire, certainly to the United Kingdom. It is explained that the present holder of the office is an expert on pensions, and on that account he is put into the Bill, but then it should be limited to the present holder of the office, because he is an expert on pensions. That is not the Amendment the right hon. Gentleman has proposed. He has proposed that the holders of those three offices are to be his advisers, not only during the War, but for six months afterwards. There may be six Parliamentary Secretaries to the Local Government Board during that time. If the right hon. Gentleman would consider, between now and the entrance of the measure to another place, limiting it, so far as the Local Government Board is concerned, to the present holder, then justice could be given to Scotland.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
I wanted to make it quite clear that I had endeavoured to carry out the promise I made in Committee, but with regard to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Watt), I ought to point out that the Scottish Local Government Board is 717 represented on the Statutory Committee. They have the right to make an appointment to the Statutory Committee, and the Statutory Committee is going to carry out this work under the Pensions Minister. I would also like to point out that my right hon. Friend the present Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board is to assist me not so much as representing the Local Government Board as representing the Statutory Committee. He has been the spokesman in this House for the Statutory Committee, his knowledge of pensions work has been useful to that Committee, and it is very important that he, as representing the Statutory Committee, should give me all the assistance and advice that I require in connection with the work. I think we have met the Committee very fairly by restricting it to the period of the War and six months afterwards. We take six months afterwards because obviously there will be a large number of cases thrown at the Minister, and that will probably be one of the periods when he will have the greatest number of cases to deal with. It would be a mistake to lose the assistance of any of these Gentlemen during that difficult period. I hope, therefore, that there will be no further opposition offered.
§ Colonel YATE
I must confess, although thoroughly in favour of the words which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to put into this Clause, I do not see that they carry out the undertaking which he gave the other day. The whole gist of the discussion then was that that he should have the personal services of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board and the other two Under-Secretaries. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, in fact, gave a long address of half-an-hour's duration, showing how long he had been working at this pensions question, how much he knew about it, and, indeed, how the whole Ministry of Pensions would fall to pieces if he did not belong to it. On that the right hon. Gentleman said that he would put it down that the present holders should be honorary assistants to him, as I understood it, for life. Now we are limiting it to six months after the War. The Government is under reconstruction. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board may be out of office to-morrow —indeed, so may all three, and the three 718 new men appointed may not be of the slightest use to the Pensions Minister. Therefore, I think, it is most important that we should put in the words that this advice and assistance should be given to the right hon. Gentleman personally by the three persons he has named whether in office or out of it.
§ Amendment agreed to.