(1) Subject to the provisions of this Section every person who has been engaged at any time in each of not less than twenty separate calendar weeks since the thirty-first day of December, nineteen hundred and nineteen, in any employment which made him, or which would, if the principal Act had been in force throughout the year nineteen hundred and twenty, have made him, an employed person within the meaning of that Act and who satisfies the other conditions prescribed by this Section shall, notwithstanding that the first statutory condition may not have been fulfilled in his case and notwithstanding Sub-section (4) of Section eight of the principal Act, but subject to the other provisions of the said Act as amended by this Act, be entitled to receive in each of the special periods hereinafter in this Act mentioned unemployment benefit for periods not exceeding in the aggregate in each of those periods sixteen weeks, and for the purpose of qualifying any person to receive benefit up to the aggregate amounts aforesaid within each of the special periods, but for no other purpose, there shall be treated as having been paid in respect of him such number of contributions as are sufficient to qualify him as aforesaid.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), after the word "provisions" ["subject to the provisions of this Section"], to insert the wordsthat in cases where, owing to industrial or other causes not under their control, any class or section of genuinely employed persons are unable to prove employment for twenty weeks, the local employment committee shall have discretion, subject to regulations to be made by the Minister, to dispense with a portion of the specified qualifying period and to the provisions.1279 I propose this Amendment in order to call the attention of the Minister for Labour to the condition of things which will ensue if the Bill passes as it stands at present, and which will cause great hardship to many deserving people. In the City of Belfast there are a very considerable number of men, mostly moulders' labourers, in the shipyards and other public works. In consequence of the moulders' strike—they were not strikers themselves—they were, during a period of last year, out of employment. At the end of July, or in the middle of August, they were again driven from their employment by political and religious causes. This will prevent them from having the legal status of 20 calendar weeks' employment within the year, and as a result they will not be entitled to the benefits of the Act. I wish to cover the case of these men, and I would have proposed that the qualifying number of weeks should be reduced in order to do so, but the Minister for Labour informed me that he would not agree to that. In view of the tremendous hardship that would be wrought upon these people, who have been placed in this position through no fault of their own, I appeal to the Minister for Labour to accept the Amendment, and in so doing to meet what I am sure he will agree is a position of considerable hardship and of exceptional importance to these parties.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I want to associate myself with the Amendment. I can well understand the right hon. Gentleman not being disposed to accept any reduction in the 20 weeks, and I think a genuine effort should be made, in the terms of the Amendment, to meet the specific case which my hon. Friend has in mind of the workmen of Belfast. It is fairly safe to use the argument that if these words are inserted in the Bill they will probably not apply to any section of workers in this country, and that they will therefore really relate to the situation as it exists in Belfast. However, should the argument be used that once they are in the Bill the words will apply to anyone in this country, as well as to the workmen in Ireland, the answer is that the cases would be so few and the instances so rare that no real administrative difficulty will 1280 be occasioned. It will simply be a matter for the agents and representatives of the Labour Minister, in different parts of the country, to deal with and identify the particular cases which properly should come under the terms of the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman will admit that a very strong case does exist for generous and sympathetic treatment of those men whom my hon. Friend has in mind. They have suffered, in a double sense, very severely, indeed, and, as the words of the Amendment say, through causes over which they have no control. First of all, they suffered from the general bye-products and effects of the moulders' strike. Though many of us here may have forgotten that strike, as being merely as one of those recurring unhappy labour disputes which arise year by year, there is a considerable number of working men in this country and in Ireland who will remember it for reasons which occasioned them a good deal of suffering and loss. Amongst them are those men of Belfast, labourers who were thrown out of work without being parties to the dispute.
They never started it and they never finished it. They were its victims. They suffered throughout it. and long after it had terminated. The strength of their case is double, when you remember that later on in the year, owing to what may be termed political reasons or reasons of religious differences, these men, again through no fault of their own, suffered long periods of unemployment. I suggest that that double suffering during 1920 has created a very special case for a body of men of this kind. If administrative difficulties be urged as an argument, they cannot be said to be great enough to justify the infliction of such injustice on many who have already suffered in the double sense to which I have referred. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to accept the Amendment.
I hope, if this Amendment, which is purely, intentionally, obviously and clearly a political Amendment of the worst kind, is accepted that the right hon. Gentleman, who has been so very considerate during the whole time he has been in charge of the Bill, will allow us a further chance of inserting some other kind of amendment enabling unemployment benefit to be given to those people who, from time to time, find themselves out of work or unable to get into work because of the rules and regulations 1281 laid down by the trade unions. If you are going to make these exceptions in one case, as has been advocated in this particular instance, further exceptions in regard to equally good and equally honourable men should be made if necessary.
The right hon. Gentleman asks me to mention one. I will take one of fairly common knowledge, though he may not have heard of it. There is the case of the people who wish to get into the builders trade. I do not think that is a thing to which ever the Labour party, whose credit is not very high in the country at the present moment, need wish to draw attention. If the right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of the Bill accepts this Amendment, as he possibly may, I hope he will extend its benefits to other people who do not possess the same support as the particular section on behalf of whom this Amendment is moved, and whose intention it is to help.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
This originates, of course, from a very old disability in respect of unemployment insurance, under Section 8, Sub-section (1) of the main Act. I am not now dealing with the local aspect of the matter, as stated by my hon. Friend (Mr. Devlin), I am dealing with the main position. It is a position which my right hon. Friend has always resisted, but I think it is carrying it a little too far to try and get that position upset by means of a side issue on an occasion like this. From the date of the first Insurance Act down to last year's Act, we have had these discussions about the disability that will fall, under Section 8 (1), upon an insured contributor who has lost his employment through a stoppage of work due to a trade dispute of which, it is contended quite truly, he himself is merely a victim. Last year, both in Committee and here in the House, I had words submitted to me with the object of trying to obviate this injustice and hardship without creating an even greater one, and I think my right hon. Friend will agree that in such a matter the course of equity and justice is not altogether easy to find. I said that if the two parties concerned, namely, the representatives of employers and of organised labour, 1282 got together and submitted to me a form of words which the Ministry of Labour people would agree to be workable—and we would not place gratuitous or vexatious obstacles in the way—I would do my best to get them into the Bill. I have not had that form of words, but my offer still stands. If the representatives of employers and employed get together and give me a form of words which will remove this disability upon the man who has nothing to do with a strike, but who loses his unemployment insurance in consequence thereof, and which, on the other hand, will not permit the payment of unemployment benefit to people who are really sympathising with and taking part in the dispute, I shall be ready to accept it.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I do not want to discuss the general question now, but I would point out that the right hon. Gentleman's offer is really valueless, because the other side began by saying that they would agree to no such form of words, for the reason that it would be subsidising men taking part in a trade dispute.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I should not have raised that point if my right hon. Friend had not spoken of this local disability under which these men rest. As regards Section 8 (1) of the main Act, I do not think that, on the issue raised by my hon. Friend, and raised for the purpose for which he raised it, we are entitled at this juncture, and in an amending Bill of this sort, to raise the main issue, namely, how far it is fair to place a disqualification upon a man as a result of a strike for which he. is not in any sense responsible, and with which he is not connected. That is the issue which my right hon. Friend raised, and I was rather sorry that he did so. The hon. Member for Falls says that the fact that these men were thrown out of employment because of an industrial dispute, and have been subsequently kept out for other reasons, about which I do not know, and which I will not go into, as I do not want to inflame passions, will prevent them from qualifying by proving 20 weeks' employment. He does not say that I ought to move an Amendment at large reducing the period of 20 weeks, but he asks me to invest the local employment committee with the same discretion in regard to civilians with which we have 1283 already invested them with regard to ex-service men. That really goes too far. What I can and will do—it may not be worth much, but at any rate it shows my good will—is this. I do not know whether it is possible in any way to look at the case of these men on its merits, and see whether the existing Regulations, or the Regulations as they will be amended by this Bill, can be interpreted so as to cover their case fairly and reasonably If that should be so, and if the court of referees and umpire agree, I shall have nothing to say against it. I really cannot, however, place the question of this qualifying period of 20 weeks in the hands of the local committee, to say that, if circumstances justify such a course, it will not be enforced. That is going too far.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I do not want to raise hopes that may not materialise. I cannot say whether it will be possible, taking the existing rules under Section 8 (1) of the main Act—with which I am not altogether happy—or under the amending measure that we are now bringing in. If it is possible fairly and squarely to meet these cases, they shall be met, but I cannot give an undertaking that it is possible; and I am very sorry that it is quite impossible for me to extend the scope of this Bill along the lines suggested by my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. MOLES
Two very important admissions have been made by the right hon. Gentleman. In the first place, as I gathered, he offers, upon the general question, that if representatives of employers and employés will get together, and devise a common formula which will meet the case of men out of work through a strike which is no fault of their own, and with which they may have no sympathy, he will accept that formula.
§ Mr. MOLES
Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to make my own case. I hope we shall not see imitated the example of the leader of the Labour party, who suggested that the other side would not meet them. When each side resorts to arguments of that kind, the interests of the workers will have to suffer.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I never alleged that the employers would not meet us. The employers did met us. What I said I repeat, namely, that the employers refused to agree to any kind of formula, and declared that to make the change we desired would mean subsidising workmen engaged in disputes. We are ready to agree to a formula if they will, but they absolutely refused.
§ Mr. MOLES
Wherein does that differ from what I have just stated? In response to the offer of the Minister of Labour, the right hon. Gentleman says, "You need not make that offer; the other side are impossible—there is no dealing with them." The employers make precisely the same case against them, and that is the attitude of which I complain, namely, that each of the parties considers the other impossible. You will never get any common formula as long as that remains the attitude of any one of the parties. I am sure that the hon. Member for Falls would not make the proposition which he made in his Amendment if it were merely the case of Belfast that is concerned. I am sure he would be concerned as I am with the interest of workers outside that area and over a far wider area. If I understood the Minister of Labour aright, the position he takes up in response to that appeal is that he will be prepared to appoint a Committee of Inquiry, and if that Committee of Inquiry, upon examination of all these facts relating to the moulders' strike came to the conclusion that it is a case that ought to be treated apart upon the special and clamant grounds that surround it, there again he would come to the rescue, and deal with it upon the merits.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The hon. Member has misunderstood me. I said if under these Regulations as they will be amended 1285 when the Bill becomes law, taking expert advice, a case is made, I will do my best to meet it.
§ Mr. MOLES
The right hon. Gentleman interrupted me a moment too soon. I cannot make all the case in one sentence. That is what I was coming to. I frankly recognise that he has not the power at the moment. I was speaking of the position which would be created on the assumption that the Bill goes through. I think I have rightly interpreted his mind that if that happens, and the Committee of experts which he suggests makes the recommendation that he contemplates, he would meet it. Am I correct in that view? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I would rather have my answer from the Minister himself.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
On this question of interpretation, where disqualification really arises, those are the people I am talking about.
§ Sir ALLAN SMITH
I very much regret that there has been such an irresponsible observation made on the attitude either of employers or of trade union leaders in connection with the discussion which has taken place on this subejct. I was very much concerned in this discussion. It is a very difficult point, and one of very real importance in connection with the whole structure of the Unemployment Insurance Act. The employers and the trade unions sat down, not once, but on several occasions, with a full desire to
§ arrive at a satisfactory solution and at the same time to maintain the general principle on which the Bill is based, and to suggest that cither party adopted a dictatorial attitude in connection with this point is to speak in absolute ignorance, not only of the facts, but of the intentions of both sides to that discussion when the discussion took place.
§ Mr. MOLES
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is alluding to me or not. If he is, the only observation I can make about it is that the comment that I offered was based upon an observation that came from the leader of the Labour party. The observation was made in the hearing of the House, and it was to the effect that the attitude of the employers was perfectly impossible. The hon. Gentleman ought to direct his criticism there, and not to me.
§ Sir A. SMITH
I was not addressing my criticism to the hon. Member. I suggest that we should realise that this point is one of extraordinary difficulty which cannot be settled off-hand, and will never be settled if there is any suggestion that either side is going to sit down to a discussion with no intention of settlement at all. The point that is raised is fundamental to the 1911 and 1920 Acts, and to have that fundamental principle modified in an amending Bill which is brought in solely for the purpose of meeting a temporary difficulty by creating an addition to the benefits under that Bill would be out of the question altogether. I rose to draw attention to the fact that the spirit which inspires the two sides to industry at the moment is not such as has been indicated in the discussion.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 45; Noes, 122.1287
|Division No. 9]||AYES.||[9.53 p.m.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Redmond, Captain William Archer|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bromfield, William||Hayday, Arthur||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Cape, Thomas||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Wldnes)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Hirst, G. H.||Taylor, J.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Irving, Dan||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Davies, A (Lancaster, Ciltheroe)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||Johnstons, Joseph||Waterson, A. E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Sllvertown)||Wignall, James|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Finney, Samuel||Lawson, John J.||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Morgan, Major D. Watts||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Mr. Devlin and Mr. Swan.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Forrest, Walter||Moles, Thomas|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Gange, E. Stanley||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Gardiner, James||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Morden, Lieut.-Col. W. Grant|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gould, James C.||Nail, Major Joseph|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Neal, Arthur|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hanna, George Boyle||Oman, Sir Charles William [...].|
|Bell, Lieut. Col W c. H. (Devizes)||Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Blgland, Alfred||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Higham, Charles Frederick||Rankin, Captain James S.|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Renwick, George|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Britton, G. B.||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Jephcott, A. R.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferre[...]|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Vickers, Douglas|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Waddington, R.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Wallace, J.|
|Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)||Lorden, John William||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Lynn, R. J.||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Wise, Frederick|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Young, Lieut.-Com. F. H. (Norwich)|
|Evans, Ernest||Manville, Edward|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Mason, Robert||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Mitchell, William Lane||Ward.|
|MINOR AMENDMENTS OF PRINCIPAL ACT.|
|Enactment to be Amended.||Nature of Amendment.|
|First Schedule||…||…||In paragraph (d) of Part II.|
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I beg to move, before the words "In paragraph (d,)" to insertIn paragraph (a) of Part I, after the word 'implied,' there shall be inserted the words 'and whether the employed person works on the premises of the employer or at home or elsewhere.'This Amendment is moved with the object of including that large body of workers called out or home workers. They are covered by the National Health Insurance Act and their contributions are stopped and must be paid by the 1288 person who employs them. Many hon. Members come from constituencies where this kind of employment is still carried on to a very large extent. In some localities the person goes direct to the factory or workshop and collects the work that has to be finished or the material that has to be made up and takes it to her home and there performs whatever task is allotted to her. In other cases middlemen or middle-women enter in as contractor between the employer and the home or out-worker and when the work is completed by the out-worker 1289 it is collected and finds its way back into the factory or warehouse. This body of workers are covered in the main by various trades boards in those industries which were looked upon years ago as being of a most sweating character. The wages are now fixed, and as these workers come under the National Health Insurance Act, and as their employment fluctuates in accordance with general trade prosperity or depression, we submit that they ought not to be excluded from unemployment insurance. We ask that the employed person, whether employed at a factory or workshop, at home or elsewhere, should be included for unemployment insurance just as they are included for national health insurance. We feel that they ought not to be set aside and segregated from the general body of industrial workers, and we hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept this Amendment to the Schedule.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
Paragraph (a) of Part I. of the First Schedule of the principal Act, to which this Amendment relates, says:Employment in the United Kingdom, whether under contract of service or apprenticeship, written or oral, whether ex-prossed or implied.I doubt very much whether out-workers are under a contract of service. Even if it were timely and expedient and possible to deal with this matter now— and I must say that it is not—I do not see how I could accept this Amendment. These people do not work under such a contract as is described. If these outworkers were to be admitted to unemployment insurance I should have to arrange for domiciliary visits in order to see whether they were employed on a particular day or not. The hon. Member is trying to insure against unemployment, people who are working at home. I do not see that the hon. Member has submitted a proposition as to how that could be done.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that he could find that out through the stamping of the cards for Insurance Act purposes.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I cannot take that as evidence of employment or otherwise, and I am afraid we should be committed 1290 to a system of domiciliary visits to verify whether an outworker did any work on a particular day. Surely in a Bill which is frankly to meet an emergency, what my right hon. Friend with his great desire to do something for these people now proposes is quite impracticable. I do not think these people as a rule are under any contract or service and in any case I do not think the present is the appropriate time.
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD
I am sorry the Minister for Labour has made the decision he has without giving at least some promise to make some investigation as to whether it would be possible later on, under some Regulation or another, to bring in this class of worker. I do not think the difficulties are so great as he imagines, because it is certain that the employer who regularly engages to have his labour performed by out-workers must know perfectly well whether he distributes sufficient of that work or whether the worker performs a sufficient amount of the work to make it full-time employment or only partial employment. I make my protest against the decision of the Minister largely for this reason, that this is a form of employment mostly indulged in by aliens and others engaged in the East End of London and in some of the poorer districts of our large industrial centres. It means that this form of labour is going to be subsidised to a certain extent as against the ordinary, decent employer, who concentrates his work in proper workshops that can be inspected by the Department both for the purpose of legislation and for the purpose of insurance. You are, so to speak, giving a subsidy to this class of employer to escape the Regulations that are so necessary if our legislation is to be effected.
If the Minister's statement were accurate that the difficulties of inspection and the difficulties of paying domiciliary visits to the homes of these out-workers, make it impossible for this class of legislation to be applied to such workers, it almost suggests that the House of Commons ought to go a step further and prevent this class of labour altogether. What is the situation? Take for instance the ready-made tailoring trade and trades of that description. Employers will begin to find it infinitely better to have the whole of their work done in the homes of the 1291 workers rather than engage proper work-rooms where proper supervision can be maintained by the Factory Department, and you are giving an advantage to that form of employment because the employer will be exonerated from paying unemployment insurance for his workers. While I quite agree it is difficult at a time like this to make the necessary alterations in the structure of the Bill so as to include this class of worker, that
§ does not suggest the Minister ought to give such an unsympathetic reply to the appeal of my hon. Friend above the Gangway. At least he should hold out some hope that sooner or later this class of labour will be dealt with and brought within the purview of ordinary industrial legislation.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 49; Noes, 116.1291
|Division No. 10.]||AYES.||[10.13 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Glanville, Harold James||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Barnes, Major M. (Newcastle, E.)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hayday, Arthur||Swan, J. E.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hirst, G. H.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Bromfield, William||Irving, Dan||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jephcott, A. R.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Wignall, James|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Sllvertown)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Davies, A (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lawson, John J.|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Mills, John Edmund||Mr. Arthur Henderson and Mr. T.|
|Finney, Samuel||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Shaw.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Forrest, Walter||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Gange, E. Stanley||Morden, Lieut.-Col. W. Grant|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Glbbs, Colonel George Abraham||Murchison, C. K.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Gould, James C.||Nall, Major Joseph|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Neal, Arthur|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Hanna, George Boyle||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Hanson, Sir Charles Augustln||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. w. C. H. (Devizes)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Rankin, Captain James S.|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Higham, Charles Frederick||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Reid, D. D.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Renwick, George|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Gulldford)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Britton, G. B.||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Shortt, Rt. Hon E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Bruton, Sir James||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Sugden, W. H.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Johnstone, Joseph||Taylor, J.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Vickers, Douglas|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lloyd, George Butler||Waddington, R.|
|Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Lorden, John William||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Lynn, R. J.||Williams, Lieut. Com. C. (Tavlstock)|
|Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Wlnterton, Major Earl|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Wise, Frederick|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Manville, Edward||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Evans, Ernest||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Young, Lieut. Com. E. H (Norwich)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Mason, Robert|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Mitchell, William Lane||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Moles, Thomas||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley|
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ Mr. CLYNES
Some of us had an opportunity on the Second Reading of this Bill to speak in general terms us to its provisions. Really the Bill has little relation to the magnitude of the problem with which it purposes to deal. I will refer to only one aspect of the change produced in the Bill in Committee. The 18s. benefit has been raised to 20s. That is a round sum, and if only for that reason it will carry a certain sense of satisfaction to those who have to receive it. I should not advise a vote against the Third Heading of the Bill, because of the slight advance that has boon secured in respect of the benefit, and because we have no desire to be opposed to these payments of benefits in the case of those who are compulsorily unemployed. In the absence of work a man must have some degree of maintenance, and, for the time being this is as much as we can secure. During our Debates, I grieve to say that a few hon. Members have revealed what might fairly be termed an extraordinary aversion from trade unions. It is to me a most unaccountable hostility, and I should say it is due to a lack of association with those bodies, and to little knowledge of what they stand for and what they do. It appears to me that some hon. Members are led to mistaken conclusions because they judge trade unions generally by some few lapses or by an isolated instance of a misdeed, as they may regard it, and they conclude that the work of these organisations has been for the hurt of the industry of the country and not for the general good of the great mass of the population. If we had not had trade unions, and if the workmen during the last 50 or more years had not had the support and protection of trade unions, it would have been a case of God help the workmen of England! To that statement I do not want to add more at this stage.
I must refer briefly to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for the South Croydon Division (Sir A. Smith). I am not quite sure whether he was in the House when T referred to some, observation of the Minister of Labour. My right hon. Friend said (hat he previously had made an offer—by which I suppose he still stands—that if the two parties, 1294 the organised employers and the organised workmen, could agree upon a formula and bring it to him, and it was found to be workable, he would agree to some amendment of the law whereby a workman who is thrown idle through a dispute over which he has no control, and in respect of which he is merely a victim, would have a claim for unemployment benefit.
§ Mr. CLYNES
That offer was valueless-for the reason that when the employers met us they declined to agree to any such formula or to accept the principle of agreeing to any such formula, on the ground that if they did so it would, in their opinion, be subsidising from State funds men who were on strike. If I am wrong in my statement I am only happy, for I should have to conclude that my hon. Friend, who speaks in this House in a representative capacity in respect of organised employers, is disposed to continue his efforts, with the object of agreeing to some formula of this sort. I should like, therefore, to have some clear understanding as to where we are. Probably at some future time—it may be before very long—this Act will again have to be reviewed, and one would like an opportunity of seeking an Amendment of the Act in that very important particular. I trust, therefore, we can resume our discussion with representative employers in the hope of the two sides being able to agree upon a formula which will be acceptable to the Minister of Labour. I think we should have from the representative of the Government a confession of the mistakes made in this House some months ago, when we from this side alleged that the only bodies which could effectively and appropriately work an Act of this kind were the trade unions. The House will recall that we had a very heated controversy, and I believe that because of this attitude of hostility in this House against the trade unions many men went into the Lobby against the views which we expressed on this side and supported the idea that the bodies more appropriate and able to deal with this question were the great friendly societies of the country. Although the House at that time was against us, and although the supporters of the Government—I do not. say on that occasion led 1295 by the Government—in the main were able to produce such a majority as to defeat the trade union idea and place the friendly societies in the position of being able to administer this Act, what has experience shown? Experience has shown the mistake of those hon. Members who would not follow the advice of Labour and thought they knew more than the representatives of Labour on that particular question, and I should be interested to hear from my right hon. Friend, if he has time to speak, to what extent, if any at all, the Friendly Societies themselves have found it possible to administer any part of this Act. As I understand, very little, if any, has been done. I would like also to say that the attitude and action, as reported to many of us, of the representatives of the Ministry of Labour in connection with some Employment Exchanges in different parts of the country has given rise to rather embittered feeling as between certain trade unions and the local representatives of the right hon. Gentleman. That is a matter for regret, and I am sure.—
§ Mr. CLYNES
Yes, on this point of administration, and even on other points with regard to the payment of benefit during these periods when there has been such an excess of unemployment and, therefore, certain difficulties of administration. I think he will agree that it is essential for the purposes of satisfactory administration that the very best relations should exist between these representatives of the Employment Exchanges and the representatives of the various trade unions. The two have a common interest in this matter, and I regret to hear that here and there there has been conflict. I submit to my right hon. Friend the point that it is advisable as far as possible to simplify administration, to burn up as much red tape as you can, and to make the administration of this Act approximate to the ordinary workman's mind of how this kind of job should be done. I leave this Bill with the statement that it really does not touch the fringe of the great problem of unemployment, but at the same time with the statement that we are thankful that the House has seen its way to amend it in some small degree. That Amendment has once again proved that the House of Commons is seen at its 1296 best when it is brought in touch with some great problem such as this condition of unemployment presents to the House.
§ Mr. A. HOPKINSON
I should like, as one who, to a certain extent, was responsible for getting through the Amendment on the last Insurance Act dealing with the admission of the friendly societies, to explain to the right hon. Gentleman why it was we supported that Amendment. We supported it without knowing in the least whether the friendly societies would accept the obligation or not. As an actual fact, they have not done so. On the whole, they have done nothing. But we supported that Amendment for one reason—because we did not think it right that this House should pass an Act of Parliament in such a form as to force the labouring population of this country into trade unions in order that they might get these benefits. As the original Bill stood, a man was either forced to be a trade unionist or to go to the Labour Exchange, and, as the right hon. Gentleman, I think, will admit, there is a very great distaste amongst a large portion of the population to appearing at the Labour Exchange. Therefore, in order that we might preserve individual liberty, we introduced this alternative, of which a man might avail himself, and of which the friendly societies might avail themselves. It was entirely done with that object, and not from any dislike of trade unionism. I should be the first to decry any prejudice at all against trade unions. I think I may say that, in the course of my life, I have done a good deal more for trade unionism than some hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Amendment was brought forward entirely from the point of view of allowing free choice to the individual workman, and I think in saying that I am speaking on behalf of the vast majority of Members on this side who voted for the Amendment.
As regards the Bill itself, if this Third Reading were carried to a division, I should myself vote for it, not because I think the Bill is founded on any principles which can endure, or can do any real good in the long run, but the crisis has become so acute that it has to be met for a few weeks with doles. The Bill itself, and the doles which it provides, will undoubtedly add to the unemployment in the country, inasmuch as every pound taken out of industry and devoted to unproductive payments, such as this Bill 1297 provides, means that there is so much less capital employed in industry, and do what you will, dodge and contrive as you will, you cannot get round that difficulty. It is quite impossible. Unemployment, in one of its aspects, is due to lack of capital—a famine in capital. There is not capital enough to afford labour a proper return, and any Act, any provision or any policy which increases that famine of capital must inevitably increase unemployment. Will my hon. Friends opposite believe me in what I am now going to say? I am actuated not by enmity whatsoever to trade unionism, but I do hope they will follow what I am going to say, and if it is false or illogical, then no harm is done; but, personally, I believe it to be actually the fact that the present state of industry in this country, with the crisis of unemployment, has now become a thing in which the capitalist and the employer is outside. It has become a fight between those men who are employed and those men who are not employed. The men who are employed are fighting to maintain the standard of living to which they have become accustomed during the last few years, and, in order to maintain that standard, they must keep a very large number of their fellow-men out of employment.
It all comes back to the hopeless Marxian fallacy, that the value of commodities depends entirely upon the amount of labour in their production, which, unfortunately, has got again into the minds of many people, and, owing to the fact that the fallacies of Karl Marx were so obvious, very few economists have taken the trouble to refute them. That theory of values is the basis of the policy of consolidation and crystallisation of wages, which has been the trade union policy for many years past, and which is still the policy of the Labour party. If you consider the matter you will see that there can never be a total cessation of the danger of unemployment until wages are based entirely on the real value of the product. The real value of the product is a measure, not of labour, but of the demand of those who might be possible purchasers. The experiment that I have made in my own works is all leading up to that question of the liquidation of wages, and the time when the whole profit of the employer is eliminated, as it will be in my own case, and so simplify the problem. We shall then see the 1298 exact basis of the system, and wages will fluctuate exactly with the real value of the product, that is to say, with the demand for the product. Then we shall see this condition—where men work for full time during the week and at the end of a week go home, one with 5s. and another with 2s. in his pocket.
Under these circumstances, if there is no limit to the depths to which wages may sink there can be no unemployment. Take the opposite policy, which has produced the present crisis and the crystallisation of wages. Wages have been solidified owing to trade union action, and— I must say—the action of the Labour Ministry as well, to a size which industry can no longer boar, and we get this very serious condition that the men who are in work are struggling to maintain the standard of living, and thus solidifying wages at the present time, and are really putting themselves in competition with their unfortunate follow men out of work. If hon. Members work that out in their own minds, if I may in all modesty suggest it, I think they will see really—and I do not say this in any sense of antagonism to trade unions—that again in this case they have been deceived, and have got a problem owing to taking for gospel the words of that father of lies, Karl Marx.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I did not desire to intervene in this Debate, for I know there are many Members here much more qualified to take part in it. But I have listened carefully, and one thing more than anything else has impressed me. as the Debate has progressed, and that is that, whether the amount of benefit be 18s. or 48s., it would be infinitely better to provide work. I am the representative of one of those constituencies in which, unfortunately, unemployment cannot be regarded as a passing phase to be bridged over, more or less inadequately, by schemes of benefit. Unemployment to the great mass of the people engaged in the industry has come, I am afraid, absolutely for good. The Cornish tin mines have closed once and for all. The industry has been killed by the high price of coal necessary for the mines on the other side of the Bristol Channel. In my own constituency there are 1,500 families who will never get into work again. The younger men have gone abroad. The older men cannot move, the Cornishmen find it very 1299 difficult to move: he is not easily turned away from his home. There is evidence of distress which cannot be alleviated, unless and until real permanent work can be found. I am not urging that special provision should be made for those whom I represent, and there must be other cases. After listening to the Debate it seemed to me a duty that anybody who had any particular knowledge or connection with even one of the smaller Departments in which actual work could be found should say what he knew about it.
I listened for two hours last night, and I heard several hon. Members say, quite rightly, that work should be found. Other hon. Members asked "How?" and the answer was by reclamation, afforestation, and other things. The position in regard to forestry is this: Let me say what it can do and what it cannot do. The Forestry Commission has got to work, and it has been established for 18 months. This House provided the Forestry Commissioners with £3,500,000 to last them for 10 years. During that time they have to work out their policy, collect their staff, make surveys of land, enter into negotiations for the purchase of land, acquire the land, lay down planting plants, and start planting. There has never been any sort of difficulty from the point of view of the landowners. It is perfectly easy to get as much of the best land as we want, extraordinarily cheap. Owners have been very patriotic in taking less than full values. We have 70,000 acres by lease or purchase now at about £3 an acre freehold or 2s. 6d. leasehold. There is no difficulty, and the land monopoly does not come in at all. Eight thousand acres will be planted by the end of next month or during the planting season this winter.
I know that is a small thing compared with the total of the unemployed in the country, but I should think this has given employment to something like 1,500 men. In reply to a request we received from the Minister of Labour, we put forward a scheme to provide extra employment. The planting season is now at an end, but we did put forward a scheme of fencing, road-making and clearing land in rather scattered districts far from the main centres of unemployment. These schemes required special hutting, involving more expense than if they had been 1300 done in the course of our ordinary development, but they have given employment for another 1,000 men. These schemes are still under consideration. I am not bringing forward any partisan criticism, but at any rate we did our best.
If the House does wish afforestry to progress in this country it can only be done by a policy of gradual expansion. Do not think it possible suddenly to get a big expansion; it can only be brought about by a steadily progressive scheme; it cannot provide a great deal of employment in an emergency. We are now planting by arithmetical progress; increasing the number of acres dealt with year by year by something like 3,000. That progress can be accelerated if more money is made available for the purpose. We can add if necessary, 6,000 acres a year but not if we are to get money to dispose of suddenly, the money must be steadily added to our fund so that we may steadily expand our programme I should like the House to realise that the national work of afforestation really means that it costs £10 per acre to plant the land. It gives employment during the winter when employment is most wanted, and it is a very great help to smallholders who are hard put to it at that time to find employment. In from 50 to 70 years time you find that your £10 expenditure has produced a crop worth from £80 to £110, less, of course, than might be produced by investing the money at compound interest, but whereas, in order to make money at compound interest, every farthing of that interest has to be pulled out of the pocket of the wretched taxpayer, under this scheme the interest has not to be found by pulling at the taxpayer or anything of that kind. but the increment arising from afforestry is Nature's increment alone. The Afforestry Commission now has a staff which can deal equally well with a programme of 101,000 acres as one of 8,000 acres a year. The land is there. I thought the House would be interested to know the position we are in. I hope that the Cabinet Committee, or whatever body is looking into these matters, will allow us to make the small contribution which under present circumstances it is in our power to make, and I am sure my right hon. Friend will realise that even if it be small it is desirable, to substitute wherever it is possible actual work— 1301 which I am sure men would rather do for a payment, be it £l or £2, or whatever it may be without work.
§ Mr. THOMAS SHAW
I rise to express the thanks of the hon. Members on this side of the House to the hon. Member for the Moseley Division (Mr. Hopkinson) for the extremely illuminating lecture he has favoured us with on the Marxian theory. There is a character in Dickens who on every conceivable occasion saw the head of King Charles. I venture to suggest to the hon. Member that, unless he gets rid of the bugbear of Karl Marx, he is in very great danger of arriving at the mental state of the late lamented Mr. Dick. There is something in this problem at the moment quite different from any thing contemplated by economists, either of the Karl Marx or any other type. At the present moment two-thirds of Europe is doing nothing. International trade is so complicated and so intertwined that when a considerable part of the Continent has its industrial system dislocated—
§ Mr. SHAW
I merely want to repeat my warning as to the extreme danger of getting a thing so firmly fixed in one's mind that on every conceivable occasion one trots it out. I expect to hear, when we have an Education Bill or a Licensing Bill the heresies of Karl Marx exposed. Really, however, is not this too serious a thing to make our own individual bogies the sole subject of discussion. If unemployment is to be cured, the best way to do so is to act in a manner that will bring the industries of Europe back to work as quickly as possible, so that the articles we cannot produce in this country shall flow to us, and the things that we can produce shall go to the countries which are badly in need of them. That is the real essence of the subject. In my opinion we have the best body of workmen in any country in the world. I have seen the workmen in many countries, and I know some little of one type of worker. I spent nearly 30 years in a trade myself, and I have seen workers in that trade in many lands. I assert, without hesitation, that I have never seen a body of workmen so efficient as our own.
If the employers will work as hard and as efficiently as the workmen; if they will say to the workmen, "Give us of your best and we will give you of our best, if improvements are introduced and you will 1302 help in the development, we will agree not to cut your rates and not to take advantage," that will be a step forward in the industry of the country that has never been equalled in the world. Industry at the present time, after the War, is in a condition in which progress is rapidly being made. The War taught us many things. It did more to develop inventive capacity than would have been possible during 25 years of peace. It is for the House of Commons and the Government to help in every possible way, not only to secure peace so that commercial intercourse between nations may take place, but to assist research and scientific development, and so bring our country to the position in which it ought to be on the basis of the best working-class population in the world. Given good faith, given good, clean, straight dealing, and above and beyond all, a policy that will lead to a sound and satisfactory peace, with diplomacy that is open, so that the people know what is being done in their name—given these things, then, bad as the condition of affairs is now, the next few years will see a development that will lead to the happiness and contentment of the working population of this country.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
This Bill is an endeavour to meet the present emergency by providing two periods of sixteen weeks' benefit, firstly from now to the end of October, and then from that time to-the end of next June, and to provide them upon qualifications which are especially suited to the condition in which our people find themselves to-day. It raises the weekly benefit in the case of men from 15s. to 20s., and in the case of women from 12s. to 16s., and that is done in advance of the increase in contribution, which cannot take place until 4th July, 1921, while the benefits will be increased as soon as we can get this measure going. It also permanently raises the total benefit which may be enjoyed from 15 weeks under the existing Act to 26 weeks. It provides in one way and another for cases in which relief may be necessary without any qualifying period between now and the end of June, 1922. All this has been possible largely because of the accumulation of funds due to the full employment during the War, and to the payment of unemployment donation by the Government since the Armistice. I should like, in asking the 1303 House to give a Third Heading to the Bill, to say that I and the Parliamentary Secretary fully appreciate that we have had two days' valuable, informed, and kindly discussion of this Bill; and, as Minister of Labour, I very greatly appreciate the spirit of helpfulness which has generally pervaded our Debates during these two days.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read the Third time, and passed.1304
§ The remaining Government Orders were read, and postponed.