§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ 10. "That a sum, not exceeding £414, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1916, for the salary of the Vice-Chairman of the Statutory Committee of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation."
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
I was hoping that we might have some explanation from the Secretary to the Local Govern- 1151 ment Board with regard to this matter. I was under the impression that the salary to the Chairman of this Committee that was agreed to some time ago was' £1,500. It is now down here as £1,750, which is, I understand, the salary to Mr. Cyril Jackson, who has been appointed to the post. I am inclined to think that £1,750 is a little high for the duties that will be attached to the position. Mr. Jackson, no doubt, has been a very useful public servant. I understand that he occupied a post as inspector under the Education Department. Since then I believe that he has been chairman of the London County Council. Of course, the Secretary to the Local Government Board has been in a position to observe his qualifications for the post to which he has been appointed. Personally, I want to register my opinion that £1,000 a year, at a time when Ministers are spending their spare time in preaching economy, is quite enough for this post. I understand that it is a much larger salary than Mr. Jackson ever enjoyed while he was a Government servant before. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will give some explanations as to how this £l,750 has been arrived at.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Hayes Fisher)
There was never any agreement made in this House on the subject. It was left to the Treasury to decide what the salary should be. The Treasury has decided that the appropriate salary for this office is £1,500 a year and £250 per year in lieu of superannuation allowance and pension rights. There are reasons why Mr. Jackson could not very well hope ever to enjoy a pension. First of all, the tenure is not secure. He has been only appointed for three years, and though that appointment may be renewed from time to time, there is not, of course, the same security of tenure as the Civil servant enjoys, and seeing that he has spent a very long life in the public service, he is of an age at which it would not be easy to offer him pension rights on any terms of contribution. As regards the amount of salary, I cannot help thinking that if, as we hope, the work of this body develops, the work will be of such an arduous nature, so continuous and so anxious, and requiring an administrator of great excellence, that a salary of £1,500 a year with £250 in lieu of pension rights will not be at all too much. I have some precedents to which I may refer—the vice- 1152 chairman of the Development Commission has £1,500 a year; the chairman of the Roads Board, £3,000; the manager, £l ,500; the Secretary of the Public Works Loan Board, £1,500; the chairman of the National Health Insurance Commission, £2,000; the deputy-chairman, £1,500; the chairman of the Prison Commission, £1,800; the chairman of the Board of Control, £1,800; the Charity Commissioners, £1,500; the Civil Service Commissioners, £1,500; the National Debt Controller-General, £l,500. So we have got a list of precedents for making the salary what it was. But, at all events, it was decided by the Treasury after a great deal of consideration. So far as Mr. Jackson's abilities are concerned, and his qualifications for the post, I think that the greatest of all his qualifications is the work that he has done on the London County Council. For nine years he has been on that body, and has occupied the chief post, chairman of the council itself. He was before that chairman of the Education Committee, and for a great number of years gave his time voluntarily to all kinds of work. He is perfectly suitable for this post. I can assure my hon. Friend that the twenty-seven members of the Committee, if they were to ballot to-day, would undoubtedly approve the choice of Mr. Jackson after they had seen his work for six weeks as their chairman. I am confident that they will have enough work to do in the future for him to earn the salary of £1,500 a year.
Sir H. DALZIEL
I hope that my right hon. Friend will understand that I have absolutely no personal feeling in this matter. In fact I never saw Mr. Jackson. I know nothing about him at all, except that he was in the Government service, and he was chairman of the London County Council. I have no doubt whatever that he made an excellent chairman of the London County Council and did good public service, but that is not a point which we have any right to take into account in considering his salary. I would like to know whether Mr. Jackson is getting a pension from any other quarter in regard to his past services?
Sir H. DALZIEL
Then we have to regard the proposal as being made exactly on its present basis. In reference to the comparison with the Road Board which has been made, I always thought that the Road Board was paid far too much, and the result has been that the Road Board 1153 salaries have been abolished altogether, because we are going in for economy; and I do not think it is quite right at a time? like this that in creating new offices we should be governed by the lavishness of expenditure which has been displayed in the past. You are preaching economy to-day, and you are telling everybody that they ought to give up luxuries and all that sort of thing, yet you are appointing a man to a post which I say is not worth more than £1,000, I do not care what the qualifications of Mr. Jackson may be. The Under-Secretaries of various Departments, who, we admit, discharge very important work, get, some of them, £1,500 a year. Why should an official of this kind, governed by a large Committee, and who has really to carry out what is superior clerical work, be paid £l,750 a year? If he had not been chairman of the county council for so many years he would not have got the post, and certainly would never have got this salary. The other point is as to what the understanding was. I think my right hon. Friend's memory is somewhat at fault. I think £1,500 a year was definitely mentioned.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I did not say it was not mentioned. I said that there was no agreement. So far as I recollect there never was any agreement made on the floor of the House, but the matter was left to the Treasury. The sum of £1,500 a year was undoubtedly mentioned.
Sir H. DALZIEL
We could not go further than mention the salary, because that was not before us, but the statement was made from the Government Bench that it was £1,500, and are we wrong in assuming that that was the salary which was going to be attached to the post? Some of my hon. Friends who had to leave the House, if they had been here, would distinctly have reminded the right hon. Gentleman of the exact circumstances in which the sum of £1,500 was mentioned. That sum has now grown to £1,750, and I register my protest against that course being taken by the Government, who talk about economy, but are not practising it at the present time.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I would like some indication as to when the scheme is to come into operation. The Act was carried through under great pressure, and we were told that it was necessary that it should be passed, because it was a matter of emergency. As I understand, instructions have been issued by the county 1154 council that the scheme was not intended to be carried through until the end of June—that it was not intended to bring the scheme into operation until the beginning of July. If that be so, there can be no doubt that cases of extreme hardship are likely to arise in the country. One of the great objects of this scheme is that provision may be made for widows and for disabled soldiers who are not entitled directly to pensions. We are having complaints daily that cases of extreme hardship are arising at the present time. The man is not strictly entitled to pension, and widow is not strictly entitled to pension. But we are told that when the scheme is in operation these cases of hardship will be dealt with. But in the meantime these cases of great hardship now exist. I have one or two cases from my own Constituency, and no doubt similar cases are occurring all over the country. There is the case of a man in France who went out on active service and who was accidentally drowned while he was not on active service. The widow was informed that she was not entitled to pension. I am not here to dispute that, under the terms of the Royal Warrant, but surely the people of this country do not desire that the widow of a man who went out on active service to France, and was drowned there, should not receive any assistance to carry her over this difficult time? As I understand, the scheme is to come into operation in July. What is she to do in the meantime to tide over the six months? Is she to be compelled to go to the Board of Guardians to ask assistance, or to break up her home and go to the workhouse?
I have another case, where a man was discharged as medically unfit, after serving in the Dardanelles. He suffered there from dysentery, and he was sent home on his discharge as medically unfit. The doctor stated that this man suffered from heart trouble, arising out of a former attack of scarlet fever. This attack occurred when the man was two years old. and, as a matter of fact, he never had a day's illness from that time until he had an attack of dysentery at the Dardanelles. He is now a broken and hopeless invalid unable to earn a single penny. He is thrown upon his parents. There is no pension for him; no assistance for him. When July comes, and this scheme comes into operation, then his case will receive attention, but in the meantime what is to happen to him? I can state another very hard 1155 case which I sent to the Financial Secretary to the War Office, who, I am bound to say, wrote to me very sympathetically, and I have no doubt he would have been very glad himself if he could have given some assistance. The man was sent home suffering from mental weakness. His parents were informed that he would be sent to an asylum if they were unable to keep him at home, but he was harmless if they could make a home for him. They have taken him home, and every effort has been since made in every quarter where there are Army funds, to secure assistance. We applied to the Royal Artillery Charity, and received a very kind and sympathetic letter enclosing a postal order for £2. That is the whole amount we have been able to get in any quarter of any sort or kind, and I do not know where else the parents can go. There, again, you do not wish surely that this poor man shall be driven into the workhouse asylum. In July his case will be heard. What is to happen between now and July? That is a point upon which I think the House and Committee will require information. It is a point upon which I am quite sure the country will insist upon having information. The Government will have to meet, by some means, these cases of hardship, and it will be very satisfactory indeed if the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench can tell us now that in some way, during this interval, provision will be made to meet hard cases of the kind I have described.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
If the hon. Member is under the impression that no work will be done by the Statutory Committee in the way of relieving hard cases, he is under an altogether erroneous impression. Where I think he has confused the point is this—that the Statutory Committee have made an agreement with the National Relief Committee that the latter shall finance the Statutory Committee in acting through their various local relief committees in regard to allowances. That part of the work of the Statutory Committee will continue to be done as it is done now with the present machinery. But the agreement to which I have referred does not in the least debar the Statutory Committee from entering upon the consideration of such hard cases as have been brought to the notice of the Committee today. Up to the present the Statutory Committee has very wisely commenced by explaining the conditions of eligi- 1156 bility for supplementary grants, pensions and allowances at different times. It is not in a position to give any money, because it has not got any money, but I hope very shortly when the Bill is actually in print that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will introduce, or allow me to introduce, a Bill which, with the consent of the House, will give the Statutory Body a sum of £1,000,000 with which it will be able to enter upon the work of the kind which has been alluded to by the hon. Member. It will be able to consider whether or not it ought to supplement certain State pensions or, where there are no such pensions, whether it ought to give pensions or grants in lieu of those pensions which for one reason or another were not given by the State. That is the position of affairs. In the meantime the Statutory Body has formed an Organisation Committee, a Finance Committee, and a Pensions and Grants Committee. The Pensions and Grants Committee are considering and will in a few weeks' time be in a position to afford some relief in some of these cases. With regard to the local committees, all the local committees and the local authorities are now in receipt of the model scheme which under the Act we were bound to draw. We have sent them out to all the county councils and all the county boroughs, and all those local authorities which are entitled to have-schemes of the kind. With those schemes we have sent various notes and very full instructions as to how best to draw up the schemes by the local committees which have to be approved by the Statutory Body. We hope that long before the end of June or the beginning of July that the local committees will have framed their scheme, and that those schemes will have-received the approval of the Statutory Body, and that the Statutory Body, along with those committees, will be able to sift many of those cases and, at all events, to give relief to a substantial number.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his statement. This is a matter of extreme importance. I am glad to hear that money will very soon be placed at the disposal of the Statutory Committee.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I am glad to hear that. The local committees cannot be set up for 1157 many months, as it is impossible for them to have their schemes drawn up and possibly suggested alterations considered. May I ask whether it would not be possible in any way for assistance to be given before those local committees are fully set up? If that is so, what is the method by which the cases can be brought before the Statutory Committee? Should particulars be addressed to the right hon. Gentleman, or is there any machinery which could be utilised in the meantime? If that suggestion is not a practical one, would it not be possible to enlarge the arrangement which he has made with the Prince of Wales' Fund whereby that fund might be authorised to deal with hard cases of this kind in the meantime, as well as supplementing separation allowances? It is not, of course, an ideal arrangement to suggest, but it would tide over the difficulty. I am quite sure that nobody realises more than the right hon. Gentleman that the distress caused by delay is very great, while I can assure him the irritation produced among the working men of the country is enormous.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I think the hon. Member is going a long way beyond the scope of this Vote instead of confining himself strictly to the point.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I am much obliged to you, Sir. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman can he give any further indication as to whether anything can be done, or perhaps he will be able to tell me if I put down a question for next week?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
The hon. Member will have a much better opportunity soon of discussing the question. I can assure him that there is no reason why the Statutory Committee should wait for the setting up of the local committees before considering these cases. Communications as to the cases can be sent to the Secretary of the Statutory Committee, 17. Waterloo Place, and they will be prepared for consideration.
§ Mr. GILBERT
May I mention to the right hon. Gentleman the question of London? I know from past knowledge that no man has done more on this question of pensions than the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board. The position of London is rather different from that of other places where local committees are to be set up. As I understand the scheme of the new Pension Fund, a Statu- 1158 tory Committee is to be set up by the London County Council—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
It is quite obvious, if we proceeded on these lines, we should be launching into a discussion of the whole scheme, and that would be out of order.
§ Question put, and agreed to.