§ Considered in Committee. [Progress, 10th June.]
§ [Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair]
Motion made, and Question again proposed,
That it is expedient to make such provision out of moneys provided by Parliament as is required for paying such pensions to blind persons who have attained the age of fifty as, under the Old Age Pension Acts, 1908 to 1919, they would be entitled to receive if they had attained the age of seventy, and any expenses incurred by any Government Department and the expenses incurred by the local pensions committees up to an amount approved by the Treasury in connection therewith in pursuance of any Act of the present Session to promote the welfare of blind persons."—[Colonel Gibbs.]
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am unable to entertain the two Amendments which appear on the Order Paper [To leave out the words "who have attained the age of fifty"—Mr. Stephen Walsh and Mr. Frederick Roberts; to insert the words "and any expenses incurred by the councils of counties and county boroughs"—Sir H. Harris]—both of them going beyond the authority which the Rules of Procedure lay down.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Dr. Addison)
It will be observed that this Resolution is limited to paying the pension to blind persons of the age of 50 or over, and the conditions are set out in the Bill itself. The fact is that 50 per cent. practically of those persons are over the age of 50. The age of 50 has been chosen because we propose to deal otherwise with the difficulties and disabilities of blind persons under 50. Persons below that age are more or less trainable. We hope to assist in the provision of facilities for training in a large number of cases, involving contributions to the support of existing institutions, and we propose to pay an Exchequer grant of 50 per cent. of the outgoings of the local authorities on their schemes. Some of those who are anxious, as all of us are, to promote the welfare of blind persons may wish to see the age limit reduced, but we think that it is necessary to try to develop a system of training, education and assistance which will encourage the blind people to help themselves, and as regards blind persons under the age of 50 the provisions 2591 of the Bill will be just as generous as in the case of the others. All our sympathies would be in the direction of taking a lower age limit, but I think that that would not be the right policy to undertake, and we have taken the age of 50 because it seems to be about the limit of trainable age, and the age above which at least half the blind persons are included. In some respects blind persons are dealt with more generously under the training scheme than they would be under this Measure without the training. I make these observations to explain why it is we put the limit at 50, and to point out that those below that age will be dealt with under the scheme which we are otherwise providing.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I understand that I should not be in order in moving either of the Amendments on the Paper, and that the discussion must be confined to the Resolution which has been submitted. We cannot regard this as a satisfactory provision for the necessities of the blind. The Resolution makes reference to the duties of the local authorities and the provision that is to be made for them. I understand that the practice has been up to the present that grants have been made to voluntary agencies, and it is now intended by the Ministry of Health to extend these grants to the local authorities and to give them an allowance up to 50 per cent. of their net expenditure, and over and above that to make contributions of 50 per cent. on the capital outlay of the local authorities. On that last point I think that there is considerable confusion. Many of the institutions are in doubt as to whether they also will be entitled to the 50 per cent. of capital expenditure which has been laid down by the Minister of Health for the local authorities. They want to know what their financial position is to be compared with local authorities in general. They want to find out how they are going to meet it under the new structure that will be called into being by this Bill.
It is important that the Committee should have information on these points, but I confess that to many of us on this side by far the more important part of the Resolution refers to the provision which is to be made for blind persons. The Resolution provides in a single sentence that we are going to make old 2592 age pensions available, and, I take it from the memorandum which has been circulated, on substantially the conditions which apply to old age pensioners at large, to blind persons at fifty years of age. No doubt other provision will be made and training, etc., will be forthcoming, but it cannot be contended by anyone who has been associated with the care of the blind, either from the point of view of the employés or the institutions which may be regarded as the employers that this provision is satisfactory. There is agreement on the part of the National League of the Blind and also on the part of managers of institutions that, no matter how far you train blind persons, in only a handful of cases are these persons able to earn what is called an economic wage, and that some form of State allowance or assistance is absolutely necessary if these persons are to maintain decent conditions of life. That is a perfectly unanswerable proposition.
Many of us who have been associated with training schemes for the blind say that only in a limited number of cases of men of exceptional ability, courage and power have they been able to earn any kind of economic return. It is true that under this Resolution they bring in old age pensions within their reach at fifty years of age, but the contention not merely of the National League of the Blind, but also of the managers of these institutions is that that sum should be available throughout the whole range of the age of blindness for these people. If they can earn an economic wage, well and good; but we must provide for them much more generously than we have done under this Resolution. There is another point of criticism which is even more important from some points of view. The right hon. Gentleman has indicated that the majority of blind persons are over fifty years of age. I find it very difficult to reconcile the statement in the memorandum with the actual facts of blindness in this country. The memorandum says that the numbers to be covered are approximately 8,400 people, and my right hon. Friend says that about half the blind people will be covered.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The point is that this deals with blind persons between the ages of fifty and seventy. Of course there is a large number of blind persons over the 2593 age of seventy who are already under the Old Age Pensions Act.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I am obliged for that explanation, but am bound to point out that, while to some extent it meets the case we have in mind, there are at this time approximately 35,000 blind persons in this country, and we cannot contend for a moment that their needs are adequately met by the provision we are making for this Bill. I regret that we have been precluded, by the rules of the House, from moving a definite amendment. We must keep clearly in view the fact that we are passing a Resolution which will largely govern the measure we are afterwards to discuss in Committee, and it is from that point of view mainly that I press not merely for an explanation but for some better provision for these defenceless, almost hopeless, and certainly distressed section of the community.
§ Mr. SUGDEN
I agree with the last speaker, that while this represents some acknowledgment by the State of its responsibility to these people, the question remains as to what is the method by which we shall apply the principle of dealing with them. That has an important bearing on the whole problem. We have to determine whether private endeavour is still to deal with this terrible affliction, with the assistance and co-operation of the State, or whether the State is to accept the whole responsibility of dealing with the blind. Those are the alternatives we have to consider. I say that the Government will never be able to deal with the problem effectively unless we eliminate entirely the age limit in this Resolution. The hon. Member who spoke last said that the societies wanted to know where they will stand in respect of this contribution. If he will permit me to say so, I have here documentary proof that that is not altogether what the societies require. I speak with some authority on this matter. Mr. McGregor represented the Ministry of Health at a recent conference, and I should like to pay my tribute to that representative, for he has done splendid work in advising the Minister on this matter. At that conference there were also present representatives of the great institutions for the blind in such cities and towns as Darlington, Northampton, Bradford, Liverpool, 2594 Accrington, Tottenham, Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham, Salford, Swansea, and many other places. They were discussing how to increase the public contributions after the Bill should become law. The blind institutions of this country have done splendid work. The Minister of Health states that this scheme is to cost £220,000 in a full year. He will require not less than £400,000 were he to deal with the whole problem of the blind. I accept the statement that it is right that as youthful an age as possible should be chosen in order to give the afflicted an opportunity industrially to earn their living. Not one of them desires charity. It is on that ground that they object to the system in utilising the agency of so many institutions to-day. It will be necessary, as the conference held, for all these charitable institutions to be continued as also for soliciting contributions for same. The Bill will not eliminate any of them. Many hon. Members will, no doubt, be delighted to contribute voluntarily to these institutions in future, and we all accept the view that the governors and managers of these institutions are helpful. But I suggest that, for reasons which are obvious, they cannot give such efficient control and leadership as could be obtained if this became a State machine, properly handled and controlled under the auspices of the Minister of Health.
I suggest that even now the age limit for pensions should be eliminated and the problem dealt with in its widest sense. Whereas, if this proposal goes through, I repeat (and apologise for thus emphasising the fact) we shall be compelled in future to contribute to the support of these institutions. I hold that there is no section of the public which would not be willing to pay in ordinary taxes for the support of the institutions and for dealing with the problem in the fullest and widest sense, providing education, elementary, secondary and university. On the commercial side there should be a protected market for the work of the blind. These things cannot be done in the best way if the matter is left, on the one hand to private institutions, and on the other to the Minister of Health, both working on one problem, the results cannot be perfect or the most useful. We feel we could trust the Minister. The blind themselves would 2595 accept their full responsibility under his helpful guidance and influence as representative of the State, and would prefer that arrangement to such a scheme as is now proposed.
§ Mr. BARTLEY DENNISS
It would be wasting time unnecessarily if I went over the ground covered by the last speaker. His suggestions and principles coincide exactly with my own. On the Second Reading of this Bill I said that neither the Bill nor the money Resolution could be satisfactory to the blind persons in whose interest the measure has, apparently, been introduced. May I say without offence that it is trifling with the subject to treat this question of the blind by saying that you will give an old age pension at fifty years of age.
That is one of the proposals, and I repeat that I think it is trifling with the question, which should be dealt with as a State question. I do not like to oppose the Bill in order to compel the Government to bring in a Bill on the lines suggested because it might be said that I was opposing the interests of the blind which I have very warmly at heart. For the same reason, while I should like by opposition to this money Resolution to compel the Government to bring in a Bill which would be more satisfactory, yet we must support the Resolution for what it is worth. Clause 2 of the Bill says:It shall be lawful for the Council of any County or County Borough to provide and maintain, or to contribute, towards the provision and maintenance of workshops, hostels, homes, or other places for the reception of blind persons.I suppose that this Resolution to some extent covers that proposal, but it is a proposal which will not work, and which will be absolutely in operative. The rates in the borough with which I am connected are 16s. or 17s. in the £, and is it likely that the ratepayers will pay for hostels for the blind, or is it fair that a burden of that kind should be put on the local authorities when they cannot bear it. The Bill, in my opinion, is inadequate. It approaches the subject from the wrong direction. I do not like to use strong language, but I do say it does not meet the case of the blind at all. We cannot 2596 make a proposal to increase the charge in a money Resolution, and in that we are at the mercy of the right hon. Gentleman. I ask him whether he cannot enlarge his scheme in some form, and, if necessary, expand it in such a way that it will really meet the needs of these people who have been waiting for many years, and with whom I am sure he sympathises. His speech on the Second Reading was admirable in tone but the Bill, I am sorry to say, was disappointing.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I hope that the two hon. Members who preceded me will look at this money Resolution in a different way. This Resolution is not an integral part of the Bill, and if you reject it, then, and only then, will be the Government be compelled to introduce a money Resolution more in accordance with what we wish, and more in accordance with the mind of the country. If the Bill is passed, and this Resolution, good-bye for many years, possibly ten years, to any hopes of a real Bill to help the blind.
It is possible to recommit the Bill for another financial Resolution if the Bill be altered in Committee.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The only chance of getting the sort of Bill we want is to reject this money Resolution. Any Amendment contrary to the financial Resolution would be ruled out of order in Committee. This is our real opportunity of pointing out to the Government that the vast majority of people in this House and in the country believe that in dealing with the question of the blind we should deal with it on a thorough basis instead of a charity basis. I have always advocated economy, but in this case that question does not come in, because the blind people have to be kept at present. They are kept by dutiful sons or daughters or by the subscriptions of charitable Members of this House, and the people at large, and particularly the poor. What we wish is to put on the shoulders of the community a burden which is already being borne by some people in the community. It is true it is not shown in the taxes, but it is a tax, and we want to deal with the question so that the good citizen alike will contribute to this burden, which is essentially a first-charge, or, if we consider the wounded from the War, a second charge on the taxes of this country. I 2597 do ask my colleagues to think twice before voting for this Resolution. Our only hope to do our duty by the blind lies in doing what is apparently the wrong thing, namely, to vote against this financial Resolution. It is just the same as when you move to reduce a Minister's salary by £100 when you really want to get an increased grant for a particular service. Therefore I ask my colleagues to vote against this Resolution in order to show that the Labour party will have nothing to do with blessing a Bill which does not touch the fringe of the problem, and which does not make the blind a charge on the whole of the community. There is another feature of this proposal with which I will have nothing to do, and that is that in these pensions it perpetuates the horrible sliding scale system. A man who can prove that he has got nothing receives a pension of 10s. per week, and the man who, unfortunately for himself, has saved something gets 5s. per week. That system is so obviously wrong in principle and so horrible in practice that it leads to lying throughout the whole country, and I cannot understand why, after ten years' experience of it in old age pensions, it should be again proposed in this Bill. It leads to corruption and lying of every sort and kind, and it is fundamentally wrong to penalise thrift in this way. Because we want to get a real Bill, and because if this Resolution goes through we shall not, I shall vote against this Resolution.
§ Mr. MYERS
I think we are all agreed that while the voluntary institutions in the country have done great work in making provision for the blind, the problem with which we are now confronted has outgrown the facilities of those voluntary institutions. The general desire is that the State should take over the whole of this problem. I think the first four words in Clause 2, "it shall be lawful," should be changed to "it shall be compulsory" on local authorities to do what is set out. Having regard to the fact that there is a promise of 50 per cent. of the expenditure, some provision of that kind is called for. The great objection I have to this proposal is that the pensions for those between the ages of 50 and 70 are to be at the same rate and on the same conditions as attach to old age pensions. One of the most painful duties I have had to perform in a somewhat lengthy experience of public administration has been in 2598 adjudicating upon reports of pensions officers in respect of the means of people who apply for old age pensions. A man may be getting 1s. a week here, or half-a-crown a week there, or a meal a day from an old lady, and all these things are tabulated, and the old age pensioner is penalised in the operation. The overwhelming experience of old age pension administration has led us to the conviction that the only qualification for an old age pension should be the test of a birth certificate, and even if there are a few instances where imposition has been tried, it will be more than counter-balanced from the point of view of saving the tremendous official expenditure involved under the present system of irritating inquiries. If the same conditions apply to the blind people, we are going to have officials going round to the homes of these people and asking who assists them, how much they have got in the bank, whether they have got a half-a-crown here, or whether in the days when they could work they did not have a trifle of money in the "Co-op.," and we are going to perpetuate these irritating conditions of inquiry and investigation.
If we are going to give pensions to people who are blind at 50, let us give it to them at 50 without any other qualification. One's experience in public life has led one to the point of view that if we cannot always get what we like, it is as well to try and like what we can get, and therefore, so far as I am concerned, I am going to take what I can get in a Bill of this character and, like the dissatisfied individual we have heard of, go on asking for more. I agree with a previous speaker that the day has come when the community in its collective capacity should take absolute responsibility for dealing with blind people, and that we should not rely at all upon voluntary institutions. The penalty under which the blind suffer, they have not as a rule contributed to themselves. It is an infliction imposed upon them by nature, and the best the State could do, the State ought to do in this direction. So let us have no more half measures or pettifogging regulations and restrictions, but let us take the whole and complete responsibility on to our shoulders.
§ Mr. R. McLAREN
Like other hon. Members who have spoken, I regret very much that 50 years has been inserted in the Resolution. For many years I have 2599 taken an interest in the blind people, and I am bound to say, that I think the whole community deserve great credit for the way in which they have supported the voluntary institutions in the past. At the same time, I think the time has come when the Government ought to take over these institutions and look well after the blind. I will give an instance of a case that came to my notice to show that, after all, it is the poor people who keep the blind. A friend of my own who, by an explosion in a mine, had lost an arm and his eyesight, being an independent Scotsman, thought he could carry on and keep his family going by selling tea. When the War broke out he was not permitted to sell his tea, although many of us tried hard to get the Government to relax the operations, so that this man could go on, but at last he was compelled to give up, and a few friends, including myself, for two years, had to collect as much money every week as would keep that man from starvation. There are many cases of the same kind, and I thought at the time that it was absolutely wrong that a decent man, who had paid his way until he had met with his accident, and who was willing to work for his family, should have to depend on his friends for getting the necessities of life.
I think that in every case the blind people, who are handicapped in every walk of life, ought to have some assistance from the State in such a way that they shall have a decent living; the young people especially, who become blind through no fault of their own, ought to be looked after by the State and trained so as to be useful members of society. I think it is a great mistake that there should be grades as we have in this Memorandum. I cannot see why any decent working man who has saved some money and put it by for his old age should be penalised when he reaches 70 years and seeks an old age pension. I think he more deserves the pension than the wastrel who has spent all his means and been a burden on the community. In this particular case of the blind I think the whole grading system should go, and that every man, apart from the money he has laid past him, should be entitled to a pension. I am not prepared to go so far as some of my hon. Friends opposite and vote against this Resolution. I think half a loaf is better than no bread, and 2600 I am willing to take this, but I hope that before long the Government will bring in a new Bill on a better basis and take the whole responsibility for looking after the interests of blind people.
If I thought a heroic course such as throwing out the Resolution would bring about the result we desire I would follow it, but I am doubtful. To believe that if we rejected this Resolution the Minister would go back and get a larger sum would be to believe, first of all, that he had not already done all he could in this direction, and I am sure that that is not correct. I am certain that if this Bill is not what we want to see it, it is not the right hon. Gentleman's fault. He does not lack either heart or will to give what everybody wants; what he lacks really is the power. There is not the slightest chance of his getting the assent of the Government to the extension of this liability. After all, there is only one purse into which to dip. and when the right hon. Gentleman comes forward to put his hand in the bag he finds there are a good many hands in besides his own. The real trouble is the will and the sympathy on the part of the Government as a whole. They do not view this matter as the House views it. If the right hon. Gentleman could only get the Government to see this in the light of it being an investment, he might be able to get the money. After all, what better investment could there be for the moderate amount of money that would be required, than the purpose which this Bill is intended to promote? I do not know whether the Secretary for War has more persuasive powers than the right hon. Gentleman iin charge of this Bill. I think the Government as a whole value scarlet uniforms more than they value the interests of the blind. What we are up against is money difficulties. We are not up against practical difficulties. There is all the disposition in this House and country to do everything possible that can be done for the blind, and the only trouble is the money, which cannot be got, because the income of the country is being applied in directions which limit the resources of this country for purposes such as these. The right hon. Gentleman said it was desirable that blind people should be occupied, that they would be happier if they were occupied, and that it was desirable, so far as possible, that 2601 they should maintain themselves. We all agree that they should, so far as possible, maintain themselves, and in so doing their lives would be happier than otherwise. But when the right hon. Gentleman takes that for not meeting what he is asked, he omits the fact that people under the age of fifty who are thrown upon their resources are not helped in the way they might be helped by the Bill, because the provisions for training are permissive.
I am simply meeting the argument that the right hon. Gentleman himself adduced, when he was resisting the appeal made to him. I understand that argument to be that we must not go below fifty, because below fifty blind people can, to some extent, support themselves. Admitting that to be so, the Bill itself does not help them in that direction, and if the Minister were going to rely on that argument the Bill should contain an obligatory and not a permissive regulation.
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ Captain LOSEBY
I am bitterly opposed to this Resolution as it now stands. The Minister knows that the opinion of the House on this matter was expressed fully when the Bill was discussed, and I appeal to my hon. and gallant Friend opposite to adopt the only way of showing our protest. I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite that if we carry the Bill in its present form we shall not get this Amendment for a very considerable time. I do not agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman with regard to the sliding scale, objectionable as I believe it to be. I dislike it immensely, but for my own part I believe it must be made, and it is because the Government have introduced this sliding scale into their Bill that I think their position is so very weak. If the man is over the age of fifty he will only get his eight shillings provided he is practically destitute. That provision is there already, but are we to say we are not prepared to grant even that amount to a man under the age of fifty with the conditions as they stand here that he is blind and destitute? I know the difficulties of the Government and of the Minister of Health. I know 2602 full well his sympathies. I know he has gone to the Treasury and made demands which have been rejected, but we believe that by throwing out the Resolution to-day we shall strengthen his hand against the Treasury. On broader policy, I would once again like to reaffirm my conviction. The economic system under which we live stands threatened, and so long as we allow certain glaring evils to remain in our present system, and do not carry our broken men freely and willingly, those of us who would offer defence stand in a weak position. For my part, I regard the money provisions as completely inadequate, and I regard the age limit as completely unexplainable, and I shall go with the hon. and gallant Gentleman into the Lobby.
§ Captain BOWYER
I should like to support what has fallen from the last speaker, and also the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). I detest this grading system, and I am sorry the provisions of the Financial Resolution so greatly limit the Amendments which can be moved, or the improvements which can be worked into this Bill in Committee. I agree it is not from any lack of sympathy arising from the right hon. Gentleman's own heart, or from a lack of his endeavours that we are in this impasse to-day. What I want to know is: what answer he got from the Treasury as to the likelihood in the near or distant future of remedying this unsatisfactory state of affairs? Is the policy, so far as he knows, to continue the treatment, in promoting the welfare of blind persons, the form of this Bill for the next ten, fifteen, or twenty years, or is this only a temporary provision to last for the next three, four or five years? I regret very much that the right hon. Gentleman has not heard the speeches of the various hon. Members who have put forward these points, and also this particular point. Looking upon this matter as I do, I shall certainly support the hon. and gallant Gentleman in the Lobby; and because I am going to do that I want to give my reasons, so that it should not be said afterwards that out of any lack of sympathy for blind persons I voted against the Resolution.
§ Major MORGAN
In a few words I desire to support the observations that have been made by the hon. and 2603 gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyne in regard to the inadequate provisions contained in the Financial Resolution dealing with the welfare of the blind. Coming from the district I do, I should be failing in my duty were I not to register the disappointment that will be felt there when they find that it is only proposed to deal with, I think I am safe in saying, less than 5 per cent. of the blind in that district. I come from an industry where the men who are afflicted with blindness, if not unfortunately been born blind, are men afflicted between the ages of 35 and 45. There is no provision at present in the Workmen's Compensation Act for this blindness which comes gradually upon the men and as a matter of course, and they are not able to claim any relief as if the affliction had been brought about by accident. They are beyond the age where they can be trained for any useful occupation. Just imagine the miner who has gone underground at 14 and remained there until 40, especially in a district where there are no other industries except coal mines. He gets nystagmus at the age of 40. I should like the Minister to point out how it is possible in any shape or form to enable these men to be trained for any useful industry to enable them to obtain a living wage. That is our main objection. That is why I am going to vote against this Resolution.
The Resolution cuts out altogether from its provisions 95 per cent. of the men who go blind in districts like ours, and who are engaged in the coal industry. I obtain that from figures that I have been well acquainted with, having been general secretary for close upon 50,000 men for over twenty years before I went to the War. The other objection is in regard to the rates and conditions that are going to be applied, as if this was going to be an old age pension. I should like to urge upon the Minister that this memorandum points out that this will entail an expenditure of £220,000. Double that if you like and make it £440,000, or put it at the highest possible, even if you make it £500,000. I say it will be in the interests of this country that we should deal generously, certainly justly, with these people who have got beyond the stage of being able to help themselves. If you want to reduce discontent and show the people that you are really out for their 2604 welfare, the way to do it is to spend money less extragantly than some Ministers are doing, and spend, if need be, the £500,000, or more, in getting this question put right, and giving these poor folk some hope of happiness in the future.
§ Brigadier-General SURTEES
Believing as I do in the absolutely inadequate provision put forward, I desire entirely to associate myself with the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyne, and I trust that my reason for doing so will not be misunderstood in the constituency which I represent.
§ Mr. LAWSON
When the Government took over this Bill of the Labour party I was hopeful that we were going to do a great deal for the people concerned in this financial Resolution. When the Government decided to grant these people of 50 years 10s. per week that somwehat modified our desire, yet we were hopeful of better things. I may say that I am amazed at the fact that in this financial resolution the Government are perpetuating the bad old system that operates under the Old Age Pension Acts. I have been in the unfortunate position of sitting in the Chair of an Old Age Pensions Committee for some years. That in itself is sufficiently humiliating when you have got the old people to deal with, and it will be a very, very painful duty indeed laid upon the Chairman of a committee when the committees have to deal with blind persons under the same conditions as those under which he had to deal with the old people before. I wonder if the Government really understands what the situation is under the administration of the Old Age Pension Acts? You will have an old woman coming before the committee who has no income, or perhaps very little. Instead of awarding her 10s. she is awarded perhaps 2s. or 3s., and it is difficult to make out why this should be—at least so the old folk think—in view of the fact that she has apparently very little to work upon. The Old Age Pensions Officer makes inquiry. He finds, perhaps, that the old lady is living with some relations, and is not paying anything for her support. The officer at once says that seeing she is being kept by relatives—out of the kindness of their hearts, mark—the award must be cut down accordingly, the calculated cost of the keep of the old lady being put down as income. 2605 If the blind people happen to be living with relatives under the rules laid down by the Local Government Board, the officer will be compelled to assess the amount of their income at 8s. or 10s. per week, as the case may be, and this because of the kindness of their friends. I remember one of the most painful and yet one of the most humorous incidents during my chairmanship of that Board. An old woman came before us and said that she was puzzled why the Pensions officer should say that she had 8s. per week. She said that she had "nowt." This says that these pensions shall be granted at the same rates and under the same conditions as old age pensions. I say, frankly, that unless the Government are going to give these people this 10s. per week without enquiry this thing is not worth the paper upon which it is written. The Committee to which I have referred is blamed for being too sympathetic, because it is made up mostly of working people. I do not know what is done on some of the other committees. They may be as good or even better, but I have a suspicion that there are committees which are worse. It is unfair that people who are blind should have to present themselves before the Committee and lay bare all their private circumstances. The same ought to apply to them as applies to all other pensions. When a Civil servant gets his pension no one inquires what is his income or what are his private circumstances. I may be wrong, but I understand that if a minister retires and claims his pension—apart from the fact that he may say that he is destitute and everybody believes it—there is no prying into his private affairs. I say emphatically that this House will be fully justified in voting against this financial provision because of the indignity which it inflicts upon blind people. We did hope that this pension, little as it is, would have been granted without conditions, and that these people would have been able to live in decency and thus be relieved of the necessity of going into the streets to beg to the shame of us all. I trust that the Government will see their way to withdraw this financial provision with a view of giving these people the 10s. per week, little as it is, without any enquiry into their private affairs.
§ Major MOLSON
I am very sorry that the House has taken up the attitude that 2606 that it has in this matter, and I would earnestly ask hon. Members to reconsider their position. I consider that they are going in for very bad tactics. I do not think that we ought to throw out a Bill which brings benefit to many blind people in the country. I understand from hon. Members who have spoken that they are going to vote against this Bill.
§ Major MOLSON
Perhaps, Sir, you will kindly make clear to these hon. Members that if they throw out the Money Resolution, it means the defeat of the Bill.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Would it not be possible for the Government to introduce another Money Resolution for the same Bill?
§ Mr. LAWSON
My point has been made quite clear. I laid stress upon the question that I put to the Government, urging them to withdraw this Resolution, and bring in another.
§ Major MOLSON
I think that my point has been made clear by your answer, Sir. If these extremists throw out this Bill, they will do a great deal of harm to many blind people in the country. They will be taking on their own shoulders the responsibility of refusing the benefits which this Bill will give. I am not for one moment saying that these people should not get greater benefits, but half a loaf is better than no bread. It would be very unwise and unkind for this House to throw out this Bill which, however inadequate it may be, is meant for the benefit of the blind of the country. We do not know what the reasons of the Ministry may be. They may not have been able to obtain better terms. It would be far better to accept this Bill and then agitate for improved conditions. I would therefore urge fair-minded Members not to be carried away and to refuse these benefits for these poor people by the oratory of certain extremists.
§ Mr. SEDDON
I do not think that I have ever listened to more humiliating proposals than those embodied in this Memorandum. It is admitted by everyone that blindness is the greatest affliction that can overtake any human being. The blind for years and years have been merely the object of private charity, and, while I say nothing against those who have contributed to such charitable institutions, it has been totally inadequate, and in addition to the darkness which their affliction brings, the blind have had to endure the misery of penury and want. This has been a disgrace to our civilisation let alone our Christianity and the chivalry of our race. There can be no party division on a question like this. It is not a party question at all. It is a question where men and women, recognising a grievous wrong, can with goodwill come together and by their association force a recalcitrant Treasury to do justice to a long-suffering class. The last speaker seemed to infer that if these Resolutions are defeated the responsibility will be upon those who are against the miserable proposals contained in the Memorandum. It might be a serious thing for some, but speaking for myself, I would rather incur that danger than do this thing in this way, and inflict a greater wrong upon a large number of blind people in this country. After all, the discussions in this House, and the expressions of sympathy and sentiment with these people on the Second Reading have raised the hopes of 35,000 of these people from one end of the country to the other. It has been a glimmer of hope in their darkness, that at last the country was going to recognise the most hopeless section of the community. I have spoken with those unfortunate people who are compelled to eke out a miserable existence standing on the pavement asking for charity or selling some small wares, and I was struck and pleased to find that the mere hope that Parliament was going to relieve them from their present condition, had given them more joy in life than they had ever had before.
What is the figure we are dealing with? If we gave £1 a week to every one of these people, it would form but a mere moiety of the expenditure of this country, and it would be money well spent. Here we have a proposal limited to £220,000 upon a graduated scale. I agree with the hon. Member who spoke last but one, 2608 that in the administration of a Pensions Act, there is nothing more humiliating or heartbreaking to these people, than to have to go through a form of inquisition. I have been associated indirectly with our poor law system from my youth upwards, and it was always a charge against that system that even men with good hearts had to administer a cast-iron system. We have here a chance of redeeming the past, and of doing justice to this long-suffering body of people. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill. We were asked yesterday to vote £1,500,000 for a new Government Department. Surely, if we can vote this money so readily for huge salaries, the least we can do is to say to these unfortunate people, "Whatever burden it throws upon our shoulders, we will see that justice is done to you, and you shall have some of the joys of life, so far as creature comforts will secure them." I deplore the Government's parsimony in this matter, and I feel that it will create a feeling amongst the blind of despair, and any man who, by his vote, adds to their misery, is not only neglecting his duty, but he is aggravating a wrong that exists at the present time.
§ Major MACKENZIE WOOD
I do not intend to deal with the merits or demerits of this scheme, because I think the Members of the Committee are fairly well agreed that the proposals in the Government scheme are not satisfactory. I wish to state to the Committee how I feel on this question, and how I am going to be guided in recording my vote this afternoon. I have here a number of resolutions which have been sent to me by the Scottish National Federation of Institutions and Societies for the Blind. I agree with them in every way. I am not going to read them or explain them, except to say that I do attach a great deal of importance to one particular resolution which they have put forward, which is to the effect that under the Government scheme the interests of blind persons in scattered areas cannot possibly be properly looked after. It is easy enough to deal under the Government scheme with blind persons in a city, where you have a few hundred cases which may be looked after by the council or the local authority.
In such cases you may get a real attempt by the council or the local authority 2609 to deal with them, but you will never get a council or a local authority to set themselves to deal in any proper manner with two or three blind persons in a scattered area. Therefore, it seems to me that to deal with these people you must have something like a centralised board, dealing with all the blind people in the country in a standard way, and dealing with them in a way in which they can never be dealt with under this scheme. I have to consider what I can do to give effect to the recommendations of this society, and I find that I am prevented by this Financial Resolution. This is the last opportunity hon. Members will have to express their opinion of this scheme, short of rejecting the Bill altogether. Therefore, it seems to me the Committee ought to use this last opportunity to vote against this Resolution. Like others who have spoken, I wish to guard myself against my action being interpreted as being a vote against this Bill, in the sense that I think it would leave the position very much better than the present one. I think this proposal is an improvement upon the present position, but it is much less than is necessary, and if we let this proposal through, we shall get no scheme of any kind for many years to come. Therefore I intend to vote against this Resolution.
In view of the general expression of opinion from all quarters of the House, I hope the Government will withdraw this Resolution, and bring in another which will deal with this question not in a niggardly, but in a true British fashion. The money provided in this Resolution is not sufficient to meet the necessities of the case. It is a question whether we can keep the blind people in comfort who are on the very edge of starvation? I believe it is the determination of the country to deal generously with those who are unfortunate enough to have lost their sight either before or after the War. They are the most pathetic section of our population. I do not see why they should be compared with old-age pensioners at all. A great majority of old-age pensioners can take care of themselves, and a blind person needs far more expense in managing his life than the average old-age pensioner. A blind person has to have somebody to attend upon him both in his home and out of it, and he is a very much more expensive person than the average old-age pensioner. Therefore, in 2610 order to provide them with a fair proportion of the good things of this life, they require much more money than is necessary to keep the average old-age pensioner in reasonable comfort. That is a point of view which the Government, or the Treasury, or the Ministry of Health appear to have neglected. They do not realise that the blind person needs more money than the average old-age pensioner. Many hon. Members, no doubt, are prepared with Amendments to the Bill which would involve extra expense, but it will be impossible to get them accepted under this Resolution. We must, therefore, have the Resolution altered at this stage, and I hope the Government will realise the position and withdraw the present motion. There is one other point I should like to emphasise. Some of us might be inclined to suggest Amendments which would give the Minister some elastic powers in regard to the grant. In certain of the poorer localities it might be necessary to allow a grant of more than 50 per cent. of cost, but it will be impossible to bring in any Amendment of that sort under this Resolution. I am afraid there will be many localities in which no provision whatever will be made, because it will be felt they cannot afford the expense, and in these cases the Government ought, in the interests of the blind, to take power to grant a bigger proportion of the cost, provided certain conditions are complied with by the local authorities. On these grounds, first that the blind person is not to be compared with the old-age pensioner—
§ Mr. SEDDON
I made no comparison between the blind and the old-age pensioner, except so far as it affected the machinery which is going to be set up by this Resolution. I admit there is no comparison between the two.
I understand the Government to put them on exactly the same platform in regard to the cost of upkeep, and my contention is that the blind person requires more money than the average old-age pensioner. I, therefore, hope this Resolution will be withdrawn and brought in again in an amended form.
§ Mr. J. TAYLOR
I wish to associate myself with those who have protested against the proposal embodied in this Resolution, and particularly with the hon. 2611 Members who have spoken with experience of administration of old age pensions. Those who have been intimately connected with administration of the old age pensions scheme must come to the conclusion that income limitations should be swept away, and that all pensioners when they reach the age of 70—or, as in this Bill, the age of 50—should get the full pension granted, irrespective of their incomes. In my experience I have found that the inquiries in connection with the fixing of incomes have been made often by young office boys, or by women, who, in a most injudicious manner, have questioned applicants as to their incomes, with the result that often the true income is not returned, because gifts from friends and relations are brought in and put down as income, thereby reducing the amount granted as old age pension. There is one particular point I would like to mention. I always thought it a very unjust thing that if an applicant for an old age pension had £100 in the Post Office Savings Bank, which pays only 2½ per cent. interest, he is credited with 5 per cent. as part of his income, on the ground that, if he chose, he could get 5 per cent. on the money. I am sorry to find that in this Bill it is proposed to adopt the same machinery as under the old age pension schemes, because everyone who has had to do with the administration of those schemes condemns that machinery. It is all very well for Members on the Treasury Bench to propose Acts of Parliament which they may never have to administer. Many of us, who have had actual experience, know the difficulties, and I think the Minister in charge of this Bill should take advantage of our experience in this matter, and should alter his proposal. I suggest he should do away altogether with the qualifications, and give a pension to the blind at the age of 50, irrespective of their income. All the speeches this afternoon against this financial Resolution have come from friends of the blind. [An HON. MEMBER: "We are all friends of the blind."] Quite so, but those who have spoken to-day against the Resolution are those who met the deputation from the blind upstairs, and many of us have come under an obligation to do our best for them. I do not think we shall be doing our best if we allow this resolution to pass in its present form without protest.
§ Mr. KILEY
I desire to associate myself with the views expressed, with, perhaps, one exception, by hon. Members representing every section of this Committee, appealing to the Government to reconsider these financial proposals which have been laid before us. What would be involved if the Government reconsidered this? We are told that the total blind population of this country number some 34,000 odd. Let us suppose that we did sweep away this grading which bas been so bitterly complained of, and granted the full amount of 10s. per week to every blind person who is likely to need it. We must realise that a large proportion of those 34,000 people will not claim or need assistance from the State, and that a certain number of them are already in Poor Law or other institutions, where they must remain. I think I should be safe in assuming that not more than, say, 20,000 of the 34,000 would be likely to avail themselves of this pension, even if it were granted. If that assumption is correct, it would mean that £500,000 per annum would be the total liability which the Treasury would be called upon to face. They are already prepared to go up to £220,000. In view of the practically unanimous desire expressed by speakers this afternoon, I appeal to the Minister in charge of the Bill to ask permission to withdraw his proposal, to consult the Government, and to bring fresh proposals before us at an early date. There is no difference of opinion. We are anxious for some action, and we are prepared, as has been already said, to take what I can only describe as this miserable proposal rather than nothing at all. We venture, however, to appeal to the Minister in charge of the Bill not to press the matter, but to take it back and consult the Treasury, and, when it comes forward again, he can be assured of sympathetic attention from the Members of this Committee.
§ Mr. GEORGE BARNES
I do not agree with the hon. Member who has just sat down, in his description of the proposal in this Bill as "miserable." We are not now dealing with the most important part of the Bill. That, as it seems to me, is the part dealing with the training of blind persons, and the provision for their maintaining themselves.
§ Mr. BARNES
Quite so. We are dealing only with the resolution which has to do with the provision of money for the payment of a pension. I have sat here during the last hour with feelings of great satisfaction. My mind went back to some twelve years ago, when I was putting forward the same ideas which have been expressed by at least a dozen speakers this afternoon, on the introduction of the Old Age Pensions Bill. I met that with the plea that we should really do the thing handsomely, that we should have no pettifogging inquiry as to a man's means, but should deal with pensioners on the same lines on which we now deal with elementary education. We regard elementary education as a public matter, and take the money for it out of public funds, making no inquiry as to the means of the parents. I have always pleaded that the same principle ought to be applied in regard to old age pensions. Looking at it to-day from a practical point of view, we find that this grading introduces a very obvious injustice. Take the case of a trade unionist who, during a life of labour, has contributed to his trade union week by week, and, at the age of sixty or sixty-five, becomes entitled to a pension of 10s. a week, or whatever it may be—sometimes it is a little more, sometimes a little less. Having paid for that, during his forty years' membership of his trade union, he becomes possessed of an income of some 10s. a week, and is thereby deprived of the right to his old age pension, although during his life of labour, he has contributed his quota to the funds from which the old age pensions are taken for other persons. That is obviously unjust, and therefore I am against grading, both on general principles and on the ground of the injustice it does to the man who has really been thrifty and has saved something. I rejoice to find that, whereas ten or twelve years ago, I was a voice crying in the wilderness, with a very few other hon. Friends, now we have the almost unanimous wish of the House, expressed, not merely from the Labour benches, but from every quarter. I rose for the purpose of adding my humble voice to those which have been already raised in an earnest appeal to the Government to reconsider this matter. I realise that those who may vote against this Resolution are taking a heavy responsibility. It is set out in the Bill that it becomes opera- 2614 tive on the fourth day of June, and everyone must realise the fact that, if this Resolution be defeated to-day, in all probability, having regard to the exigencies of parliamentary time, we shall not get another day—certainly not this year, and in all probability not next year. Having regard to the almost unanimous expression of opinion from all quarters of the House, I would appeal most earnestly to my friends on the Front Bench to reconsider this matter, and not to put us in the position of voting against this Resolution.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Baldwin)
I much regret that the Minister in charge of this Bill is not here this afternoon. The conduct of this Bill is no part of my duty, but, in the very peculiar circumstances, and as the Debate is running on the Financial Resolution—for which, of course, I am jointly responsible—I think that at this juncture I ought, perhaps, to say a few words. The Committee will recollect what the genesis of this Bill was. It was a private Bill which was taken over by the Government, and they are prepared to do their best to bring it into law. The amount allocated for the services under this Bill, although there has been a general disposition to criticise it as niggardly and mean, was arrived at after a good deal of discussion between the Minister of Health and my own Department, and having regard to the obligations on the Exchequer at present, and to those that may arise, we felt that it war the most that we were at the time prepared to agree to. Hon. Members of this Committee know that it is in accordance with the desire of the House that the Financial Resolutions in connection with Bills in which finance plays a part, should, to-day, be drawn with such strictness that they cannot be upset, as they might be—I am not alluding to this case in particular—by some chance vote either here or in Committee. The drawing of Financial Resolutions, as has been done lately by the Treasury, has been done solely with the view of trying to get as much control as we can over expenditure. With that object I am quite aware that all sides of the Committee are in full sympathy. The position that we are in therefore to-day, is really a very simple one. I can hold out no hope, that if a Motion were carried to report progress, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would see his way—I do not see how he can in the present state of the 2615 finances of which he has charge—to sanction any increase in this amount, and it would be trifling with the Committee if I were to hold out the slightest hope that this would be done. Though I have every sympathy with the object of the Bill and with the motive that moved hon. Members who desire to make this increase, I would ask them to reflect on the grave difficulty in which we on this Bench are so often put by most natural conduct of this kind, because it is a very difficult thing to resist the pressure of the House. We do not like doing it, but we feel that it has to be done, and it is rather discouraging sometimes when we have been doing our best to curb expenditure, if the Committee rises and with one voice says, "this or that is something quite exceptional and is such a good cause that it must appeal to everyone and money must be found, and it does not matter whether it is easy for you to find it or not." I think, therefore, the only course for the Committee is to come to a decision this afternoon, and the decision is a very simple one. It is whether they will take this Resolution as it is, and will frame a Bill upon it, or whether they think that the offer in the Bill is one which really is not worth having.
§ Mr. SUGDEN
Has the hon. Gentleman exact knowledge of what the proposals which we are proffering to him would cost the State?
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Captain W. BENN
I was going to raise that very point. I think we are in some difficulty, because I am very 10th indeed to vote against the Resolution. It is a very serious matter. This is the first Government that has ever brought forward any proposal to assist the blind, and I acknowledge the sympathetic way in which the Minister has always dealt with these subjects, but the trouble is that there is something very degrading about the inquisition into the means. There are great difficulties about the limitations which have been imposed. I have some points given me by a very old friend, Sir Arthur Pearson, with whom I worked at one time in assisting the blind, and his points about the Resolution were these. One is that unless you assist local authorities the permission will never be taken advantage of. That will mean, of course, an increase in the amount of the grant. The second point is that lots of people 2616 who are under fifty cannot earn a living and cannot be trained, and the third point is that the amount given, in view of the exceptional expenses that blind people are being put to in being cared for, is inadequate. I am very loath to do anything which might have the result of postponing the Bill. I make two proposals. The first is this. Is it not possible for the Government to let us know, by circulating a Paper on Monday or Tuesday, exactly what will be the cost of doing away with the income test and exactly what would be the cost of other requests which have been made. That would be a White Paper. Then we should know exactly where we were and what we were really proposing. As regards the question of time, so far as I am concerned, and I think I might give a pledge for hon. Members who are associated with me, we should be quite willing to let the Money Resolution go through after 11 o'clock if it was satisfactory. That would not in the least delay the Finance Bill. I make these proposals bonâ fide because I am very anxious not to be forced into the Lobby against the Resolution. I suggest that the Government should report progress or withdraw the Resolution, let us know the cost of the proposals and then, if it is necessary to put them through at some time after opposed business cannot be taken, they will certainly have the hearty co-operation of myself and those whom I can persuade to act with me.
Colonel LAMBERT WARD
I congratulate the Treasury representatives on the courage they have had in laying before the Committee the effect which this Amendment will have upon the finances of the country. I have not had a long experience of the House, but this is the first occasion I can remember on which representatives of the Treasury have had the courage to oppose any suggestion to the aid of which sentiment could be brought. I remember a short time ago, after the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a most moving appeal to the House not in any circumstances to make demands for further expenditure, and promising that he would do his best also to oppose them, a demand for further expenditure came up. Not only was it not opposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but neither he nor any representative of the Treasury laid before us the effect it would have on the financial position of the 2617 country. It has been said that the total cost of giving adequate pensions to all the blind in this country will only be some £500,000. It is not so long ago since Members of the Government assured the country that the cost of old age pensions would, at the most, be £6,000,000 per annum. It is at this moment something between £24,000,000 and £30,000,000. I do not object to it, but with the present finances of the country it is a very serious strain. I know that not only the blind, but the old age pensioners deserve everything they get and more, but it is impossible to, give everyone in this country everything he deserves. Out of the 45,000,000 people in this country at least 40,000,000 deserve more pay, more leisure, more pleasure and more comfort, but the country cannot give it to them. It is an economic impossibility. Therefore I congratulate the representatives of the Treasury on the courage they have had, not so much in opposing this Amendment as in telling us what the position is and the reasons they have for being unable to accede to it.
§ Major ENTWISTLE
I am rather surprised at the speech we have just heard. If I had heard my hon. Friend's voice raised against expenditure in Mesopotamia—
Colonel L. WARD
I rose several times during that Debate, but was not called, otherwise my colleague would have heard my voice raised in protest against that expenditure.
§ Major ENTWISTLE
I am very glad to have elicited that, and I apologise very much, but I thought as my hon. Friend was supporting the Government he would probably have voted with them on that, although I know very well that he voted against scarlet uniforms. That remark applies to the Government, and the speech we have had from the Financial Secretary. He says the Government cannot afford this money. There are a good many other things we cannot afford, but money has been spent. I need not, for instance, go into the expenditure on Russia, where money could have been saved. I object to this Resolution for two reasons, because I believe a pension of 10s. is inadequate and because the age at which the pension starts is too high. The Resolution cannot be left as it is without a proviso that if a blind person under the age of 50 is incapable 2618 of earning a living that person shall receive a pension. If such a proviso were inserted my attitude would be very different. Many people go blind between the age of 40 and 45, when, obviously, training is impossible, and they will be unable to earn their living and will be dependent entirely upon charity. We cannot leave the Resolution as it is.
It has been said that we had better take half a loaf, because it is better than no bread, and that we ought to vote for this Resolution, because there is a danger of losing everything. If the hon. Member for Gainsborough were in business and he was going to advise someone who was about to engage in a business transaction, would he advise them to accept every offer they received, without question? If so, he would not make a very profitable business man. If we pass this Resolution as it stands no better provision will be made for the blind for a number of years, possibly for a generation. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Hon. Members are entitled to their own opinion. We have had ample experience of that sort of thing. We know that the Government will be short of money for a great many years to come. There will be heavy taxation, and it will always be difficult to make the revenue balance the expenditure. I am quite certain that if this Resolution is passed no further provision will be made probably for a generation. If we fail to pass this Resolution, or if we induce the Government to withdraw it, which is the attitude they ought to take, what is going to happen? Can anybody suggest that after the expressions of opinion in this House the Government can refuse to do anything for the blind? That is incredible. It is said that there might not be time to do it this Session. The hon. Member (Captain Benn) has said that every facility will be given for passing the financial Resolution after 11 o'clock, without opposition. If the House is of opinion that ample and better provision should be made, and if the Government have the courage of their convictions, I am certain the result will be not that the blind will suffer but that they will gain.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I by no means share the pessimistic view taken by the hon. Member (Major Entwistle) as to the prospects if this Resolution be passed. I would urge, as I have done before, that every- 2619 thing possible should be done, and that we have not yet done anything like our duty towards the blind. I have the very greatest sympathy with the general trend of the discussion to-day. I urge this point, which has hardly been urged enough, that with regard to the blind you have a natural definition fixed by nature, which itself marks the confines of your expenditure. But I do think that, as a general question with regard to those who are thus afflicted, we ought to perform our duty up to the very point of those confines marked by nature. Therefore my sympathies are entirely with those who wish that this Resolution had been rather wider. But we are bound to take the matter into businesslike consideration. If we overthrow this Resolution, and as the hon. Member says, we do not think that half a loaf is better than no bread, we know perfectly well what will be the result. I think it is better to take the Bill as it stands and then make it a stepping stone to get something further in a future Session. Look at what this Bill really does. In the main, the points of the Bill are the training, help and assistance that are given to the blind.
§ Mr. SUGDEN
I suggest that all those things depend upon the amount of money which is going to be given, and I would refer to the fact that this Financial Resolution also deals with the principle whether you are going to have voluntary aid to the institutions as well.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
The Financial Resolution covers solely and simply the question of pensions. The main expense of this Bill is thrown upon the local authorities. My right hon. Friend on the Treasury Bench knows as well as I do that an increase in the expenditure of the local authority almost necessarily gives them a claim for considerably larger grants from the Treasury. That is a logical sequence. But the Financial Resolution relates solely to one thing—that is the conditions on which pensions are to be granted. My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackfriars (Mr. Barnes) said that his alone had been a voice crying in the wilderness when the Pensions Bill was under consideration in objecting to the severe conditions. I think that if he will look back at the Debates he will find that I was one of those who insisted that pensions would be 2620 much better universally given and not subject to conditions. I have always held that opinion, and I hold it ten times as strongly with regard to the blind. In the case of the blind these conditions, investigations and unpleasant inquiries are almost repulsive. We are doing under this Bill a great deal, and as one incidental part, we are making a considerable change in regard to pensions. We are reducing the age for the blind from 70 to 50. That is going a considerable step forward. Would it not be a very serious thing if in a Bill of this sort—I ask hon. Members to consider this from the point of view of principle—which is to deal with the blind, we touch on a fundamental point of principle with regard to old age pensions all round and abolish the whole question of inquiries and investigations? It would be a very serious thing for us to alter fundamentally the whole principle upon which Parliament has decided that pensions should be based. I would have been glad had the Government been bold enough to make a step forward and remove these investigations in the case of the blind, but I do strongly sympathise with their attitude in saying that in the Bill they do a great deal with regard to pensions, in taking 20 years off the age, and that they are not prepared at one fell swoop to give pensions to all the blind over the age of 50, whatever their needs or however unnecessary those pensions may be. I suggest that we are getting a good deal now. We should be far wiser to take it for what it is rather than delay it. After we have passed the Bill we shall be in a better and stronger position to agitate and to do more for our afflicted brothers and sisters.
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD
I think it was 28 years ago that the Trades Union Congress first dealt with this question. That Congress was held at Newcastle in 1892, and a resolution was passed declaring that the business of protecting the interests of the blind was the duty of the State. For 28 years, I believe, that resolution has been passed regularly at the annual Congress. The demand has not ceased, and the necessity is still with us. Having supported that resolution at every Congress I attended, I should think twice before I did anything in the Division Lobby to prevent the first step being taken in the direction demanded for so 2621 many years. I am sure there is not a Member of this House who does not regret the attitude of the Government on this question. When we remember the millions that are squandered on other less desirable and less necessary objects, and then the parsimony with which the Government deal with a subject of such great national importance as this, we must admit that it is an outrage to the House. If one could take a ballot even of the Press—of the Press which is attacking the Government to-day for the way in which they are spending money, an expenditure which is necessitated mostly by the policy those newspapers advocated a few years ago—I do not think that one voice would be raised against doubling or trebling the amount in this Resolution. I am certain that if a ballot of the whole country were taken there would not be a dozen votes given against trebling the amount. Is it not surprising that in regard to a subject on which, probably, the whole nation would be unanimous in voting the money, that subject has been chosen by the Government for making a stand for economy? It is the failure of the Government in appreciating what to spend money on and where not to spend it that causes a great deal of the unrest and agitation in the country to-day. I regret as much as anyone the attitude adopted by the Front Bench on this proposition. I differ from the suggestion of hon. Members, and of my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackfriars (Mr. Barnes), whose advice I would take on almost any labour problem, because I fear we would be doing injury to the people who for years I know he has done his best to protect. I can quite quite see, if this Resolution were defeated to-day, it would be an excuse for the Government to do nothing for the rest of this Session, or perhaps, I may say, it might be used as an excuse. Again, there may be some great political or personal question coming up during the next Session, by which State assistance to some 35,000 of our unfortunate fellow-citizens will be obliterated, blurred and lost in the discussion that may ensue. Indeed, as was suggested by one hon. Member, that may go on for several years before we get this subject tackled again. There is not a man here but is disgusted at the attitude of the Front Bench on this question, but at the same time I cannot take upon myself to resist in the Division Lobby the possi- 2622 bility of the first step along a road which the State ought to have taken many years ago.
§ Mr. MOLES
My hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel L. Ward) congratulated the Treasury upon the courage which they had displayed in coming down to largely emasculate this Bill. I join in no such congratulations. I admit the courage and I reprobate it, and I think courage was never shown in a worse cause. I wish we could have seen equal courage upon occasions where courage of the same kind was much more demanded. I wish we had seen a little more of humanity now and less of such courage. We are told if we accept the proposals now before the House that that will close the question practically for all time. I cannot agree with that view. The same argument was advanced on the Old Age Pensions Bill when it was first before the House, but a very short period elapsed before it became perfectly clear that the Bill would require drastic improvement and it received that. I am perfectly sure if the same course were taken in respect of this particular Bill the same thing would happen. Are we to refuse to accept the benefit of these proposals for some of the blind, because we cannot get all that we desire for all the blind. I speak with intimate knowledge as to these particular organisations, and I am sure if you put this proposal to the blind people and say that because we cannot get all we are asking for we will not allow those who are to benefit to receive that benefit that such an attitude would be unanimously condemned. It is a grave responsibility for this Committee to contemplate taking a step which will deprive those helpless and suffering beings of a proposal which at one stroke proposes to lower the pension age in their case from 70 years to 50 years. Upon what ground will you deny them that measure of relief? You cannot justify it upon the ground that it does not go all the way you want, but there is good ground, on the other hand, for taking this and telling the Treasury, as we do tell them, that this by no means closes the controversy, that it is rather the opening of a fresh and more intense chapter of it, and that we are resolved, if not now, then at the earliest possible opportunity, to see this thing through. I agree that we are bound to do all we can for the blind, and the most we can do for the most suffering class in this community is not too much. 2623 I deeply and bitterly resent the kind of court of inquisition that is to be held into the circumstances of all these blind people. I do not think it is a proper line of conduct to take at all, but much as I regret it, I feel that the indignity of it is tempered by the measure of alleviation which it will bring. I hope the Committee will not permit this Resolution to be talked out and that they will take it to a Division.
§ Mr. SWAN
I, like my colleagues on these Benches and other hon. Members, want to express my regret that this question is being dealt with in such a parsimonious manner. We have no right to economise at the expense of the blind. It was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman that this was the beginning of a great and human reform, and he referred to the Old Age Pensions Act, but the age limit which was fixed in that Act met the resentment of the whole community 12 years ago, and the Government have not yet seen their way clear to carry out the human requirement as far as the age is concerned. Here the same policy is to be continued in regard to the blind, who are to be subjected to humiliation and indignities in the way of enquiries. We believe there is abundance of wealth that can be obtained for the country willingly, without raising any protest on the ground of economy, in order to give an adequate allowance to the blind. The Government's proposal is most niggardly, for the blind will still have to be assisted, and a huge liability will still be left on the local authorities. I have a letter from a local authority, requesting that we make some effort to release them from the liabilities imposed upon them. Here we get the Government, with its pledges, bringing in a measure that will still leave a large section of the blind destitute, and subject to dependence upon their friends.
I know from experience of my blind friends how they feel. A person at 30 is equally as dependent as a person at 50, and I hope the Government is not going to be so callous as to let this go through without reconsideration. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury suggests that all these things add to the national cost when we are appealed to by the country to effect economies. We could have effected economies in the Estimates, if need be. We have a huge list of half-pay officers getting three times the 2624 amount that is going to be given to the blind. I hope the hon. Gentleman opposite will take a bold step, so that all the blind persons will be assured, without the assistance of their friends, of being able to end their days in peace and comfort. I have a friend, a blind person, 40 years of age, who is destitute. Her parents made sacrifices to get her educated, and, realising her responsibilities, she pored over the books that she might get through her examinations, with the result that she went blind. Now she finds that she has got to be dependant, which is the most humiliating thing to her, on her brothers and sisters for maintenance. She has asked me, seeing that her brothers and sisters have family financial responsibilities, whether she should go to the workhouse. The woman has sensibility, but she is going to be left out of this Bill. I hope we shall not continue to be subject to the jeers, ridicule and contempt which we receive for our parsimonious treatment of the blind, while we can spend huge sums in Mesopotamia, in Russia, and in Ireland.
§ Mr. SWAN
I cannot understand that interjection, because we are squandering millions of money which will bring no advantage to our own people, while we have a starving blind population for whom we can only find £220,000. To my mind my hon. Friend could respond to a more noble sentiment than that evidenced by his "Hear, hear."
§ Viscountess ASTOR
We have had many eloquent speeches made on this Resolution, but I do not join some of my hon. Friends about Russia, Mesopotamia, and so on, for I do not quite agree with them on these subjects. It may be for the welfare of the country, and, indeed, for civilisation, that we should spend money both in Mesopotamia and Russia. I do, however, beg the Government to withdraw from a most disappointing position. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Glasgow, dealt with one of the most important points of this subject; this only deals with pensions. What we who are interested in the blind have hoped to see was a Bill brought in dealing with their training and education. Pensions are very important, but training and education seem to me to be only 2625 giving the blind people Justice. An hon. Gentleman said that you could not give everybody in the world all they deserve. I agree. None of us ever get what we think we deserve. We must go through life disappointed in some things. But we can at least give the blind people justice. It is for 6s. that we are appealing to-day.
Another point is that the care of these blind people generally comes on the very poorest of the community—some hon. Members would say the weakest part of the community—that is the women. But, after all, it is the women in the home who always have to look after the blind. It is for them I am pleading. If we pass this Resolution it affects only 8,400 blind people out of over 35,000. It in no way deals with training and education, and fitting of these folk, not for charity—a word I hate, especially in this connection—but to earn their own livelihood. That is where I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow, Mr. G. Barnes, that it is very important that the Government should bring in a Bill which does not leave this matter permissible to the local authorities. After all, the Government know pretty well by housing that if you leave things entirely to the local authorities very often you get let down. We really do not want the blind left to the local authorities when it comes to the matter of training and education. We who are very keen about the matter will be glad to see the Resolution made different. I think it will be awfully unfair on the part of the Government to pass this Measure, because it puts us in an awkward position. We do not want to turn down this Resolution. It is true it is half a loaf. It may be said that better half a loaf than no bread. I am not at all certain, though, that if we do vote against the Government we shall not possibly get something better. There is no doubt there is throughout the country a great feeling for the blind, and on this matter I think most Members of the House are agreed. We have laden—in fact, we have depressed—them with our sympathy. What we want now to do is to put the thing in such a position that the Government will withdraw this, and bring in on Monday, say, another Resolution, and give us a chance. The present position is hardly fair to the House, and I am not at all sure it is fair to the country.
2626 I am sure the Government wants to do what is right. I know they want to do what is popular in the country. There is nothing that would be more popular in the country than for people to see that we are really voting for a Measure of this kind. I do not agree with them about Government officials. Government officials are very necessary, and we can well afford to vote for large administrative things. I do once more beg the Government to withdraw this Resolution, and to give us a chance. We want to do what is right to the blind. We have spoken with eloquence, and we could go on for hours; but we do not want to be slushy about it; we just want justice. We are not speaking in the interests of our constituents, because many of us have very few blind in our constituencies; we speak with full hearts and with absolute conviction that on the whole it would pay not only the Government but also the country to look after the blind and to give every one of them a chance of education and of training. Some of them are really brilliant, though they sit in darkness and have no chance except through the reading of these Braille books, which, after all, are the result of voluntary effort in the beginning. We want to give them a chance of education, and, if need be, of going through college. I do not want to talk out the Bill.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is a matter for discussion on the Bill; we are now only dealing with the finance, and not with the provisions of the Bill.
§ Viscountess ASTOR
My objection to this Financial Resolution is that it deals only with pensions and does not go to the root-evil of the whole situation or really give justice. It is trying to deal out charity.
Mr. C. PALMER
I wish to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, and to join in the very strong feeling of the Committee against the inadequacy of this Financial Resolution. It is a striking commentary, after the week's frontal attack on the Government for their gross and wasteful expenditure, that the only time they should come forward and preach economy from the Treasury Bench is in respect of the blind. I am not going to say one unkind word about the Government in this matter, because I am not one 2627 of those who think that the Government are heartless and inhuman. This Government has brought in more humane legislation than any other Government in my lifetime. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, however, to take a kindly view and to realise the feeling of the House this afternoon. After all, we are spending £40,000,000 to relieve the oppressed people of the Middle East, and we ask that we shall have £500,000 to soften the tyranny of an awful degree of nature. I am perfectly certain that the right hon. Gentleman is as keen on this matter as we are and that he will listen to our plea. No time will be lost if this Motion be taken back and on Monday he comes forward with a little more money. It is not a big sum for which we ask on behalf of a class who do deserve and certainly receive the sympathy and goodwill of the teeming population of this country. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be doing the right thing, and he will be reflecting the sympathy of the Committee this afternoon if he takes back this Resolution and brings it forward in a somewhat more liberal form.
§ Mr. G. H. ROBERTS
When the Second Reading of the Bill to which this Resolution relates was before the House, I expressed the belief that it had the concurrence of every party in the State. I believe that we may view this matter without regard to party or other attachments. Therefore, I venture to associate myself with the appeals which have been made to my right hon. Friend that he will reconsider this matter. The provisions here set forth are absolutely inadequate, and I appeal to the Government, moreover, because of the objections which I have always entertained to the provisions of the old age pensions. After all, these Acts have had the effect of penalising the most thrifty classes and subjecting them to inquisitorial methods, which are repulsive to them, and, in operation, they have really been inimical to the best interests of the State. I think that we are approaching this problem from the wrong point of view. I am not merely concerned with what happens to blind people at 50, but I am concerned with them throughout the whole of their life, and if they are properly dealt with I believe they could be made self-supporting. We ought to fit them to be able to take their place in the life of the 2628 community, but we ought to provide for them when they are no longer able to struggle for their own livelihood. While I am thankful for what has been done, I urge upon the Government the inadequacy of the provision they have made. Whilst I know how insistent are the demands for economy, and recognise all the difficulties, I feel that the Government could not possibly be charged with extravagance in dealing generously with the blind of the community. I am sure that if they acceded to the appeals which have been made, the Government would for once be lifted above and beyond the arena of extravagance by a more generous treatment of the blind.
While I am not going to do anything to deprive the blind even of this small instalment, I am prepared to associate myself with every section of the Committee who persist in these demands on behalf of the blind, and if we are compelled to accept this as an instalment, we must give the Government to understand that this is not final and that we will pursue these demands time after time until something like justice has been done to this section of the community. I think the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Motion would be well advised, on behalf of the Government, to interpret the sense of this House by withdrawing the motion at this juncture giving it further consideration and submitting something more generous and more nearly approximating to the justice and equity of the demand. I am not speaking in any party sense, because I have honestly endeavoured throughout the whole of my political life to lift the question of the blind above party, and I have always claimed that it is the duty of the State to maintain those who are unable to maintain themselves, the State, of course, taking every expedient to see that such qualities as they possess are drawn out for the purpose of maintenance, but When we have reached that point it is a social duty for us to see that those persons have a humane and tolerable life. While I am often criticised for being perhaps a too ready follower of the Government, that is not my concern. I am not here to embarrass the Government, but I believe that I can interpret the sense of the House and the country, and I say that if the Government withdraw these proposals and submit something on a more generous 2629 scale, they will meet with the approval of the people of this country and the Members of this House.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Would it be possible for the Government to give us a free vote on this matter? If so, from what I have heard of the Debate there is no doubt how the voting will go. Hon. Members all wish well to the blind, and the more they study the problem, the more they come into touch with blind men and organisations for the blind, the more they learn of the genuine feelings of the blind themselves, the more they will realise the desirability of the Government dealing with this question on really generous lines. I do not think hon. Members are quite aware of the ages at which people are most liable to become blind in this country. There seems to be a general impression that they become blind mostly in old age. I have the statistics compiled by a strong Departmental Committee in 1919 which throw some light on that question. The figures are given for decades, and I find that under one year of age the percentage of the blind is 21.4, between one and ten years, 10.8; between 10 and 20, 9.4; between 20 and 30, 9.7; between 30 and 40, 9.7; between 40 and 50, 11.0; between 50 and 60, 9.5; between 60 and 70, 9.6; and 70 and over 6.4. The Bill seems to have been framed under the belief that it is only the aged blind who need this help, but the figures I have read prove that the greater percentage of the blind become blind in their early life; therefore the age limit is quite uncalled for and unnecessary. There is only a small sum, comparatively speaking, required to meet what we are asking for. I would like to know if the Government will allow hon. Members a free vote in this matter. I am sorry that neither the Chancellor of the Exchequer nor the Minister of Health is present, but perhaps the Financial Secretary to the Treasury can tell us if we are to have a free vote. The question is whether this mighty Empire, this wealthy country—probably the most solvent of all the belligerents in Europe, cannot find roughly half-a-million sterling which is required to put this matter right. I am sure there would not be one word of hostile criticism from any part of the House, even from the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). The right hon. Baronet is a most rigid economist where social welfare is concerned, 2630 and, although he is very generous where armaments are concerned—for quite honest reasons, I have no doubt—he looks upon matters like this with a very jealous eye. Would he grudge another quarter of a million to provide for the indigent blind under the age of fifty? I think this is one of the few items of expenditure of that sort that he would not grudge. I believe I carry the Committee with me in asking for a free vote on this. The Government refuse to withdraw the Resolution, but I still hope that they will allow us a free vote. If not, I am sure it will put many of their supporters in a very awkward position. For myself, I shall vote against it with the clearest of consciences. I am sure they will not make it a matter of confidence, and possibly we shall then have a proper measure. At any rate, I will take the risk. I want to say a word about the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke-on-Trent (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward), to whom I always listen with the greatest interest. He made an irreproachable speech on exactly the same lines as my own. He was more eloquent, but, at any rate, he said that we ought to afford this money. The hon. and gallant Member has had as much to do as anyone in this House with turning opinion in favour of a tremendous expenditure on war for another few weeks or months.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) seems to have a little difficulty in observing our Rules as to relevance, but I would ask him to try and keep a little nearer to the Resolution.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Where an hon. and gallant Member who was instrumental in getting the House to vote additional millions—[HON. MEMBERS. "Divide, Divide!"]—Yes, we are all very hard stricken about the blind in this country, but some of that money went to make more blind people abroad. The hon. Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor) asked that we should not have a discussion—
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
I think I have a right to make this protest. It is all very well for hon. Members 2631 to sympathise with the blind. I only wish they were—
§ Major Sir KEITH FRASER
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Question put accordingly, "That it is expedient to make such provision, out of moneys provided by Parliament, as is required for paying such pensions to blind persons who have attained the age of fifty as, under the Old Age Pension Acts, 1908 to 1919, they would be entitled to2632
§ out to the Government that the Treasury is being depleted for purposes for which it ought not to be depleted.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 117; Noes, 18.2631
|Division No. 160.]||AYES.||[5.0 p.m.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Hinds, John||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Reid, D. D.|
|Blair, Reginald||Irving, Dan||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Johnstone, Joseph||Seddon, J. A.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Larmor, Sir Joseph||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, North)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Stanley, Major H. G. (Preston)|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Lorden, John William||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord E. (Chich'st'r)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Taylor, J.|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Mitchell, William Lane||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Moles, Thomas||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Edge, Captain William||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Mosley, Oswald||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Fildes, Henry||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wason, John Cathcart|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Forrest, Walter||Neal, Arthur||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Nicholl, Commander Sir Edward||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Gould, James C.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l,W.D'by)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Hanna, George Boyle||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Haslam, Lewis||Pratt, John William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Mr. Palmer and Mr. Lynn.|
|Barnes Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Hogge, James Myles||Myers, Thomas|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Holmes, J. Stanley||Swan, J. E.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Kenworth, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Kiley, James D.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Lawson, John J.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Morgan, Major D. Watts||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Colonel Wedgwood and Mr. Raffan.|
§ receive if they had attained the age of seventy, and any expenses incurred by any Government department and the expenses incurred by the local pension committees up to an amount approved by the Treasury in connection therewith in pursuance of any Act of the present 2633 Session to promote the welfare of blind persons."
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next.
§ The remaining Orders were read and postponed.2634
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 110; Noes. 18.2633
|Division No. 161.]||AYES.||[5.7 p.m.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Haslam, Lewis||Pratt, John William|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Barnes Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Hinds, John||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Barrand, A. R.||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Blair, Reginald||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Reid, D. D.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Irving, Dan||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Johnstone, Joseph||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, North)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Stanley, Major H. G. (Preston)|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Lorden, John William||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lynn, R. J.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Colvin, Lieut.-Colonel Richard Beale||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Mitchell, William Lane||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Moles, Thomas||Wason, John Cathcart|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Molson, Major John Elsdale||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Edge, Captain William||Mosley, Oswald||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Worstfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Forrest, Walter||Neal, Arthur||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Nicholl, Commander Sir Edward||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Gould, James C.||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l,W.D'by)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Hanna, George Boyle||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Swan, J. E.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Lawson, John J.||Taylor, J.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Seddon, J. A.||Mr. Hogge and Colonel Wedgwood.|
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.
§ Adjourned at Seventeen minutes after Five o'clock, till Monday next, 28th June, 1920.