§ As amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.
§ NEW CLAUSE.—(Disqualification for unemployment benefit.)
§ Sub-section (1) of Section eight of the principal Act is hereby repealed, and the following shall be substituted therefor:—
§ (1) An insured contributor who has lost employment by reason of a stoppage of work which was due to a trade dispute at the factory, workshop, or other premises at which he was employed shall be disqualified for receiving unemployment benefit so long as the stoppage of work continues, except in a case where he has, during the stoppage of work become bonả fide employed elsewhere in the occupation which he usually follows or has become regularly engaged in some other occupation, and except in a case where, although employed in the same factory, workshop, or other premises he does not himself participate in such trade dispute, and the terms and conditions of his contract of service are not the subject of such trade dispute.
§ Where separate branches of work which are commonly carried on as separate businesses in separate promises are in any case carried on in separate departments on the same premises, each of those departments shall, for the purposes of this provision, be deemed to be a separate factory, or workshop, or separate premises, as the case may be.—[Mr. Clynes.]
§ Brought up and read the First time.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This Clause covers a subject which has been discussed in this House more than once, and many of the points involved are familiar to hon. Members. The operative words areexcept in a case where, although employed in the same factory, workshop or other premises, he does not himself participate in such trade dispute and the terms and conditions of his contract of service are not the subject of such trade dispute.These words mean that the workman who is stopped from following his employment through a dispute at his place of employment, in no way affecting him, shall be entitled to unemployment benefit during the period of such a stoppage. The Clause contemplates a case where the man 2154 is in no sense a party to the dispute and where the issues in the dispute in no way affect the conditions of employment or the interests of the workman himself. In short it proposes to deal with the cases of men who are absolutely unconnected with the dispute or with the issues which may exist between employer and employed in the dispute. I think there is not in any quarter of the House any real objection to the intentions and motives of this new Clause on grounds of right. On grounds of right and equity there has been, from the beginning of the controversy, an admission that men who were so unfortunately placed as to be deprived of their work through the fault of somebody else, had a claim for benefit during the whole of that stoppage. I will go as far as to say, as indeed is proven by instances in this House and in Committee upstairs, that a large number of employers quite accept the intentions and conditions of the new Clause. I have heard employers in this House, on a former occasion, support in the strongest terms of advocacy the Clause which is now before us. I do not say that remark applies to all employers, but I urge that there is a considerable body of opinion among employers in favour of the Clause, and, therefore, it is not a matter of ordinary conflict between employer and employed. I think it is true to say that all along the question of unemployment insurance has been one in connection with which the House has tried to do the just thing. As our knowledge of it broadened, and as time went on, men who had been excluded have been brought in, conditions have been improved, opportunities for benefit have been afforded, and every feature of the insurance law has been made better. We ought not to stop at this instance of distress, and to say that the man who is the victim of other people's quarrels is to have nothing whatever done for him. Such a man ought to be treated in some degree in the spirit of the amendments and improvements which have been made in our insurance law. I submit that argument with all the greater confidence because we are only asking for these particular victims that benefit for which they have paid. It is not as though State funds were being provided, as in the case of certain other forms of support.
There may well be instances of workmen or groups of workmen who never suffer a condition of unemployment 2155 except during the period of an industrial dispute between employer and employed. There are men fortunate enough to be in occupations not subject to such conditions of industrial pressure as now prevail, and these men could go on for 10 or 20 years paying to the unemployment fund under legal compulsion and yet be subject to no stoppage except a stoppage during one or two periods as the result of a strike or lockout of other employés. Surely it is unfair that such men should be deprived of the opportunity of receiving the benefit for which they have paid, in respect of such cases—perhaps the only periods during which they have been thrown out of employment in a long spell of work. Our plea is for simple justice and fairness to men who are the totally innocent victims of a quarrel between two other parties. We are not asking the Government to take sides in trade disputes. We know well what the answer would be if we did so, and it has never entered into our minds to do so. There is no intention of seeking to use the fund under the Unemployment Insurance Act for the purpose of sustaining or supporting men involved in a dispute or in any way helping parties to the dispute. Let the two sides provide whatever support they can during the continuance of their trouble, no matter who begins it; but the claim we make is for the innocent third party who could in no way avert the dispute and whose conditions will not be affected as a result of the dispute. It is not, then, a matter of asking the Government to take sides as between two belligerents in an industrial quarrel, but we say that it is the proper function of the Government to provide the legitimate support, for which the insured person has duly paid, for that person when he is stopped from working through circumstances over which he has absolutely no control. The fact is that, if such men are not secured in these rights, they must be supported in some other manner, and it may well be, and, indeed, has been the case, that men thrown out of employment through no fault of their own, with only the most slender means, with no savings or resources equal to their needs, have been driven upon relief agencies and upon boards of guardians, and they have had to be kept out of the rates at a time when the right was withheld to give them ordinary State benefit for which they had 2156 paid their contributions. The choice, then, is really between throwing men upon the condition of pauper relief and giving them, under more dignified conditions, that amount of financial State right to which they are entitled under the law which we are now considering.
I approach the last point that I want to put in relation to this new Clause. On more than one occasion the spokesmen of the Government on this subject have intimated their desire to reach a settlement of the question, to find some formula that would enable them to do justice to the aggrieved parties, and at the same time a formula that would be acceptable to the interests of employers and employed who may be involved in any quarrel. I have only the OFFICIAL REPORT of discussions upstairs during the period when this Bill was recently in Committee to guide me as to that experiment so far tried by the Government, and that Report shows that during the summer of last year the Committee which had been created with a view to producing a formula had sat and considered the matter, that the representatives of the workmen's point of view on that Committee submitted some written document outlining their formula, and that that is as far as the Committee appears to have gone. I have no adequate information to justify me in criticising the work of that Committee, but I think the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour will be better acquainted with the work of that Committee and its position than any other Member of this House can be. It is for him to say whether this is the opportune moment for discussing any work which that Committee has so far done, but I submit this, at any rate, as a fact, that if that Committee has failed so far to find a formula, that failure is not due to any lack of effort on the part of the workmen's representatives on that Committee. They have submitted in proper form what they believe are the terms which might well be agreed to in order to find a solution for this trouble, and as Labour has not been wanting in this endeavour, I ask that, in the event of there being a failure on the part of this Committee— failure due either to lack of effort on one side or the other or failure through inability to agree on the part of both sides— if, for whatever reason, there be finally a break of efforts that might be made by this Committee, then I say it is the busi- 2157 ness of the Government to accept its responsibility and provide a solution which others have been unable to provide.
The one thing from which a Government ought never to try to escape is its responsibility for solving a problem, and clearly it has been fully admitted more than once that the right of the dispossessed workman to his benefit is a right which ought not to be alienated by any practice that so far has been followed, and that therefore this right has been strengthened by the time which has passed and by the suffering which has been endured. I think, therefore, that if my right hon. Friend cannot accept the words as they are submitted on the Paper, though I hope he may be able to see his way to do that, we shall have some definite assurance that the Government responsibility is not to be evaded. I repeat that this is a right for which men have paid, they are the victims of the quarrels of other people, they are totally innocent of any wrong, and their right of support is uniformly admitted. The practical difficulties, of course, have been considerable, but if those practical difficulties cannot be overcome by any Committee consisting of two rival interests, two interests obviously in conflict with each other, then it becomes at once the obvious duty of the Government to step in and provide a condition, by a change in the law, which will give the workman a right to which he is entitled.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I beg to second the Motion.
I wish to reinforce, as far as possible, the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes). I think it is well within the knowledge of Members of the House that, right away from the introduction of the 1911 Act, this particular Section of that and succeeding Acts has been the cause of much debate in the House and in Grand Committee. Indeed, I believe the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) was, in 1911, in charge of the Unemployment Bill then going before Committee, and he himself stated that that Section, in its then form, would doubtless cause endless trouble because of the difficulties in obtaining a satisfactory interpretation. So, as we have come down through the series of Acts that the Government of the day have found it necessary to introduce—six, all told, I believe, within the past three years 2158 —we have constantly been called upon to discuss this point. Originally, I believe, the question of finding a formula was referred to a large representative body of employers and workpeople acting through their respective federations. Failure there to agree to any formula of words that could be accepted by the Ministry led last year to the then Labour Minister, the right hon. Member for North-West Camberwell (Dr. Macnamara), stating that he was prepared to set up an ad hoc Committee, and that if they could agree to a set of words that would be suitable for insertion in the Bill, he would not unduly raise objection, if it could be conveniently accepted by the two parties then concerned, namely, the employing interests and the industrial interests as represented by the workmen contributors.
We were then told that whilst such a formula, if forthcoming, could not be inserted in any temporary Measure, it might possibly be found convenient to agree to a Clause that could be inserted ready for the more permanent phase of the Unemployment Act, which, as determined at that time, would commence as from the end of June this year. The present Bill extends this special period until October, but I think I am justified in saying on the Floor of the House, without going unduly into the detailed business associated with that Committee, sufficient to let the House know that at least responsibility for failure to agree does not rest with the industrial section of that special Committee. We met in June of last year on two occasions. We met again in July, and submitted a memorandum as from the four representatives of the workmen's side. After the whole detail of that memorandum had been discussed, it was agreed—in fact, it was offered from the employers' side—that the employers would submit a memorandum arising out of the one we had submitted, in order that the two memorandums, exchanging group views representing the different interests, might bring us very close together, and enable us, at subsequent meetings, to present an agreed formula of words that could be accepted by the Minister of Labour. That, as I say, was in July of last year, but up to the moment the employers' side have not submitted a memorandum in reply to that submitted by those of us who were on the workers' side. It was promised by the Chairman 2159 (Sir Thomas Munro) that we would have a meeting not later than some time in October of last year.
I mention that to the House, as I feel I am justified in doing, in order that at all events, whatever criticism may be made in regard to that Committee, the workers' side of it should be free from that criticism. The reason why, at our last meeting, we were unable to go further into the point of agreed words was the change in the Ministry that has taken place since our appointment and the present day. The fact of the Minister of Labour having issued a circular to employers' and workmen's associations asking for their views as to insurance by industries and other things, led the employers to state that that presented to them a difficulty against the continuance of this one specific point, and they asked that we should suspend our sittings until such time as the other questions, which they suggest have become involved, have been discussed and agreed upon by them. The employers have representatives in this House, and no doubt that will be explained during the course of the Debate, but the fact remains that we have had only four meetings and that there has been no agreed formula. It scarcely appears likely that there will be one in the very immediate future, because of the other question that has now become involved in this matter, namely, the question of insurance by industries, and one or two other points. That seems to me now to throw the responsibility back upon this House, and upon the Ministry itself. There is general agreement as to the hardship inflicted by the present Section of the Act. Wherever and whenever this matter is discussed and reasoned out, there is concession from the employers' point of view that these victims are unduly punished because of circumstances over which they have had no control.
At times, however, they give expression to a doubt as to whether such a form of words can be found as would safeguard completely the possibility of collusion taking place between separate sections of industrialists in any particular trade or calling. It is only necessary to review the Umpires' decisions of the last two or three years to have it fully brought home to you that there must have been 2160 many, many thousands of people who were thrown idle because of disputes and in consequence of being employed in the factory or workshop where the dispute originated, and who were disqualified from receiving unemployment benefit. I would venture to give again one or two examples. During the dislocation of the railway dispute there were in connection with a huge steel works certain members operating the locomotives bringing in the raw material from the sidings and main lines, who were members of the railway-men's association, and were involved in the general stoppage of the railwaymen. Those few men, by being in a state of dispute, at once involved the whole of the furnaces. No raw material could come in, and the result was that the furnaces closed down altogether with the forges and foundries, and these men were thrown out. Because of a dispute over which they had no control, but which cut off their machinery for raw material, they were all refused unemployment benefit on the ground that the Clause in the Act decrees that a state of dispute had occurred at their place of employment and that they were unemployed in consequence of that dispute.
You could take the case of a huge furnace company running its own foundry. There is a small section of men called metal-carriers that take the molten metal from the furnace side into the foundry. If that connecting link between furnace and foundry was in a state of dispute it could throw out of gear the work of the foundry, because of cutting off the supply of molten metal, and although those in the foundry would have no knowledge of the circumstances that led to the trouble, and would be in no way affected by its successful or unsuccessful termination, although they would have no power of intervention even if they cared to represent their disagreement with the act of the metal-carriers, yet, in consequence of the foundry being idle owing to a state of dispute among the small number of key men, they would all be thrown out of their right to claim unemployment benefit so long as the law-remains as it is at present. At blast furnaces, six or ten bricklayers, if in a state of dispute, could cause a furnace, through lack of attention and repair, to close down, and hundreds of workers— wheelrights, pattern-makers, carpenters, and the whole of the department—could 2161 be thrown out of gear whilst the Act remains as it is, and the Minister would have no power to admit them to benefit, while the Referee would decide against them, if an appeal were made, because they were thrown idle in consequence of a dispute at their place of employment.
It is only necessary further to recall the recent engineering trouble. A dispute arises between the Engineering Employers' Federation and the members of the Engineering Union. There we find 47 other trade associations, who had no say in the dispute between the employer and the one section, who were not in any way jointly concerned in representation, involved because a state of lock-out is brought about as between the Engineering Union and the employers. Naturally, in the course of time works gradually closed down because of the absence of the engineering section. Others were thrown out, and if the employer, out of the fullness of his heart and with a desire not to do anything to deprive the victims of that quarrel between the employers and the engineering section of their benefit, said in answer to the Employment Exchange inquiry that the men were unemployed because he was unable to provide them with employment that at once admitted them to unemployment benefit, whereas where the employer replied that there was a dispute at his works between himself and the engineering union, and that consequently he could not employ these men so long as that state of dispute continued, automatically all those men were disqualified. Although you get exactly the same set of circumstances bringing about the idle period yet if, on the one hand, the report is made leaving out the word "dispute' the men can receive benefit, while, on the other hand, if it is reported to the Exchange that the period is in consequence of a dispute the men are cut adrift. This does appeal to those of us who have witnessed the long drawn out struggles in the past, who have seen that very often as a result of any dispute taking place the men's conditions are worse on their return to work, that they have been denied any right of saying anything about those conditions, have been denied the right of benefit from the Unemployment Fund, have been denied dispute benefit from their trade society because the society rightly says it is not a dispute between the society and the firm. 2162 The Employment Exchange says that according to the Act the men are involved in a dispute with their firm, and between the whole lot this body of innocent sufferers is denied any claim or right to benefit at all.
I certainly do feel that it is not impossible for the Minister to accept these words. Clearly, they define this, and I think it is the fairest basis of admittance to the right to benefit should or should not be established to say that if a person is involved in a dispute and his conditions of service are the subject of that dispute then it is clear that no right to unemployment benefit can prevail, but that, if that person is thrown out in the course of somebody else's dispute, and his conditions of service and rates of wages or hours of labour are in no way involved, his contract of service remains the same, whether the dispute is successful to the contesting parties or not. If he remains the same, without having negotiating power at all, then clearly he has the right of entitlement to benefit from the unemployment fund. I cannot believe for a moment that it was ever the intention to exclude those who are thrown idle through circumstances over which they have had no control at all. I know there is an argument used on the other side, but I do not think it is justified. It is said that there may be six sections that would agree to put one in the forefront, would let it make the fight while the other five sections drew unemployment benefit and sustained the one section in a prolonged struggle. How can that be so? If six sections are involved, then the six have their conditions involved in the trouble, and in these days of joint representations and negotiations it is very easy to get that dividing line. It was said in the building trade that if the bricklayers were in trouble and the rest of the sections got unemployment benefit, the bricklayers being successful the others would automatically go up as well. But we have passed that stage. The present negotiations in the building trade are the result of a Federation negotiation, of joint representations and negotiations of all the sections in the building trade. The whole of their conditions are involved, every solitary section engaged in the building trade, so in the event of dispute there there could be no question as to right of claim. You might, however, easily have in the engineering, the shipbuilding, the blast furnace, the ironstone 2163 mining, or many, many other industrial sections, a small section of key men that could involve the whole of the undertaking and every branch of industry in it. It is possible for six men to involve one thousand while they are deciding their struggle with the employer.
Knowing these things, I do urge that we should get one stage further. Between 12 and 13 years is a long time to be looking about to try to find a formula During the whole of those 12 years there must have been unnecessary hardship and suffering inflicted, because it is bad enough to be a victim while other people are scrapping without an opportunity to enter into the ordeal. It is bad enough to have to stand aside and be told that your conditions are not involved, that you will not be listened to, that, although you disagree with the action that has been taken, you have no say in the matter. There are times when the men who are thrown on to this kind of lack of support very often feel that the section who originally started the dispute ought not to have started it, but they have no say and no power. They have to stand by and suffer a long period of idleness, no matter how willing to work they may be. They must not and cannot work because the employers say the key men are out, and they cannot carry on. The men cannot go to the Employment Exchange; they cannot go to the organisation because it is not in dispute, and is not included in the negotiations; the guardians tell the men they are involved in a dispute, they look upon the men as active disputants in the controversy, and they get very scant consideration.
In the light of all these things, I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will carry us further along the road. I can just imagine that even after the question of insurance by industry has been considered by the Employers' Federation and workmen's associations, some other request will come along and perhaps when you are asking again to bring forward some permanent measure of unemployment benefit to cover these, someone will raise a query and will say that there is something else that must be considered first, that this cuts across the settlement of the question, and the Committee would be suspended again. I say that, in view of the importance of the business which the Committee had to perform, it ought at least 2164 to have met more than four times. It ought to have had its formula long before the Minister's Circular was sent out, but the employers tell us there is a real difficulty in arriving at a conclusion upon this point, in consequence of this other matter, which they now have under consideration. I earnestly urge the acceptance of this Clause, and I hope it will not be long before we get a step further on the road towards eliminating all possibility of complaint.
§ Sir ALLAN SMITH
I am rather sorry this question has been brought before the House at this stage, because now we are compelled to apply our minds to the merits of the case, notwithstanding the fact that the Committee which has been sitting, and is now adjourned, has the duty to ascertain whether a remedy can be found. So far as we on the Committee are concerned, our function is taken from us by this House pronouncing whether an Amendment such as this suggested by the trade union representatives be accepted or not. If this Clause be argued on merits, it will be necessary to express an opinion on the merits of the case, which I should have much preferred in Committee, in order that there might be a friendly discussion with a view to finding a remedy such as everybody desires to see. I regret that it has been raised now, and I shall be bound to vote against this Clause. The difficulty which the Committee has had, so far as I am concerned, is that the real purpose of the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1911 was to provide for the unemployment that is caused by the ordinary fluctuations in trade, and it was not, under any circumstances, to be utilised for the purpose of financing trade disputes. The hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday) has just pointed out that, in his view, men who are rendered idle on account of a trade dispute, in which they are not directly concerned, are losing benefits for which they have paid; but I suggest to him that that is not the case. I suggest that if he were to read the discussions which took place when the Act was originally introduced and passed, he would then realise that the second paragraph of the new Clause now before the House is the original safeguard which was put into the Bill, and for this reason. It was felt that, while several trades are grouped together, in the case of trades that are normally carried on as separate processes, there 2165 might be a hardship which could be dealt with in the way contained in the second paragraph. What the Act said by that Sub-section was that, notwithstanding that the scheme of the Act was to provide for unemployment in the ordinary way, there was a hardship which should be provided for, namely, the conglomeration of branches of industry or processes in the one factory, in order that men who are together in one factory should not be worse off than men employed in separate factories for separate processes. That was one of the difficulties we had in making up our mind as to what reply should be made to the trade union memorandum.
I quite accept what my hon. Friend has stated with regard to the action of the trade union members of the Committee. There were many things settled last autumn, one—not the least, perhaps— being that a change of Government took place, and, of course, we had to wait until we saw whether that Committee was to be continued in being, and for the purpose for which it was appointed. Again, I say, we were informed by the Ministry that our Report would not be required until July, when a general scheme of Unemployment Insurance would be brought forward. This Bill, which is purely a temporary Bill in the main, has been rushed through in order that certain difficulties might be got over, and it was fully realised, at the last meeting of the Committee, that it would be absolutely impossible for the Committee to come to a conclusion in time to have their conclusions embodied in this Bill. I think my hon. Friend will agree with that, as he was present when that arrangement was made. There is one thing I would suggest to him with reference to trade disputes, in which he was not directly concerned, and that is, that it might have been well if he had got the precise facts before he adduced the arguments he has. I think I may claim to have as much knowledge of the dispute last year, to which he referred, as anyone else, and I may say to him quite frankly that his facts were altogether wrong with regard to the 47 unions, who, he said, appeared as victims and not as parties in the dispute.
With regard to this Clause itself, it is not very clear what it means. It is true that the insured contributor who is under 2166 the disqualification shall not get unemployment benefit. It says in a case wherehe does not himself participate in such trade dispute, and the terms and conditions of his contract of service are not the subject of such trade dispute.I do not know whether my hon. Friend was deliberate, but I rather think he has given the House an entirely wrong impression. One would think it was a simple matter, and easy of solution, but, may I remind the hon. Gentleman of my experience, which is probably his own, that you never can tell what is in a trade dispute until after it begins? I would remind him also that he and his friends are very able in bringing forward something which may appear to be a most inoffensive reason for a dispute, and, after we get into it, we find that many other things are underlying it, and one can never tell whose interests are affected, and whose are not. I submit that if this Clause were carried, there is no case of a trade dispute where a definition could be given of the exceptions contained in the Clause, and there is no case of a trade dispute where the extent of the latter portion of the first paragraph could be known, namely, as to the terms and conditions of his contract of service not being the subject of such trade dispute.
I do not want to go further than I have gone, because I do not want, in doing what I am at the moment, namely, objecting to this Clause, to prejudice any further discussion which may take place on the Joint Committee, which, I assume, will still continue to sit. There was an understanding, even although that Committee was not able to come to a conclusion in time for this Bill, that in the discussions which have taken place, and in the discussions which will take place, this question has not been, and will not be, lost sight of. May I remind the hon. Member of the terms of reference, which were to consider whether all industries ought to carry their own load of unemployment, and to deal with other matters generally which were germane to the question of Unemployment Insurance? Obviously, the question which is dealt with in the proposed Clause is not only a suitable subject, but a vital subject for consideration, if we are going to deal with the question whether industry is to carry its own load.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
It is not the terms of reference to the Committee of which we 2167 are talking. It is the reference made by the employers to that question which caused them to suggest it could not go on. When the hon. Member mentions each industry carrying its own load of unemployment, to what body does he refer?
§ Sir A. SMITH
I mean the two main bodies on either side, the Federation of Employers and the Council of the Trade Union Congress. I was saying that if we are dealing with the question of industry carrying its own load, this is not only a suitable question, but an absolutely vital question, because, obviously, if each industry is going to carry its own load, it must contemplate the position of everyone employed in that industry, whether directly or indirectly affected by any trade dispute which may arise in that industry. Accordingly, I would much prefer not to go further than that, so far as this discussion is concerned. With regard to the general position, I think the House will agree as to what the insurance scheme under the 1911 Act and subsequent Acts is, namely, that it is an insurance scheme for unemployment due to the ordinary fluctuations of trade. It is not an insurance scheme for the purpose of dealing with men who are directly or indirectly affected by a trade dispute. For that reason, and the other reasons I have stated, I hope the House will reject this new Clause, and will allow the employers' and workpeople's representatives to continue their explorations, in order that they may come to a settlement which may be an agreed settlement, and, once for all, finish this controversy which has gone on for so many years.
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Sir Montague Barlow)
I do not desire to detain the House at any very great length, but I think the speeches to which we have already listened do emphasise what is present in the minds of those who are familiar with its topic, namely, the extreme difficulty that this problem presents, and it goes far to explain why it is that, although this difficulty has been discussed over and over again on the Floor of this House since 1911, no solution has yet been arrived at. I do not want to go into the actual words of this Clause. I could raise a good many difficulties with regard to the words—what does "participate" mean? And so on. They are not 2168 difficulties of form, as my hon. Friend rather suggests. They are difficulties of substance, because, after all, it is not really any good, in a difficult matter of this kind, our contemplating putting words on the Statute Book, if we are satisfied that the words themselves would not carry with them a definite solution— in other words, they would not work Therefore, if I ventured to criticise the words, it would not be in any carping spirit, but to indicate that there would be great difficulty in working this Clause, even if it were carried.
What has been the situation since 1911? The situation broadly is this. This vital matter of the effect of trade disputes on payment of benefit is a matter in which two sides, the employers and the workers, are both fundamentally interested. The Clause as it at present stands on the Statute Book is a compromise arrived at between the two sides. I do not know that either side is particularly satisfied with that compromise, but still, there it is. I am drawing the attention of the Committee to the words of the compromise itself. They are, perhaps, not expressed in the most felicitous language or with absolute clarity, but the effect of the compromise is plain—Section 8 (1). An insured contributor who has lost his employment by reason of a stoppage of work, which was due to a trade dispute at the factory, workshop, or other premises at which he was employed "—in other words, the effect of a dispute is confined to the particular factory or workshop —shall he disqualified for receiving unemployment benefit.Then it goes on to say—and here comes the paragraph of exception which was agreed to by both sides—Where separate branches of work which are commonly carried on as separate businesses in separate premises are in any case carried on in separate departments on the same premises, each of those departments shall, … be deemed to be a separate business, etc.In other words, the workman so engaged, under conditions of separation, so to speak, of the premises, but which in fact, are identical, shall be treated for the purposes of the dispute as if engaged in a separate business, and shall be entitled to benefit. That was confined as I have stated, and the difficulty in regard to the working of it was expressed on the Floor of this House. As a result of that difficulty, the right hon. Gentleman the 2169 Member for N.W. Camberwell (Dr. Macnamara) when he occupied the position that I now occupy, undertook on the last occasion, or the last but one, when the Insurance Bill was being considered to bring the question before a Committee representing both sides with Sir Thomas Munro as Chairman of the Committee, in order that the whole problem might be discussed de novo. We heard a good deal of the history of that Committee. I welcome the statement made by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir A. Smith) that this matter shall be reconsidered, or considered further in that Committee. I think that is the proper course.
When this matter was being discussed upstairs, I had a feeling, without in any way desiring to absorb the functions of the Committee, that it did appear to me that there were two possible ways of procedure. Here is a large debatable, difficult area, and a variety of cases could be given where the difficulty has arisen. An attempt has been made by a Committee, so far, to devise a general formula to cover the whole of the ground. In similar cases of difficulty those concerned sometimes find it easier not to proceed by means of a general formula. They say: "This is a debatable area; we will try to limit the area of the debatable ground by a series of exceptions." I suggest that would be a possible means of procedure in this case. I suggest it would be possible for the Committee, if it cannot devise a general formula, to take the exception in the last paragraph, and see if it can be extended. At any rate, in the Committee I undertook to ask Sir Thomas Munro's Committee to meet again, and to reconsider the matter; without in any way desiring to interfere with the course of discussion, to consider the matter from that point of view. That undertaking I gave, and I naturally repeat it here.
It is true that this question of trade dispute disqualification, like a good many other questions, will probably have to come up for final adjustment and settlement when we get to more normal times, and when as we are agreed it will probably be necessary to put this insurance on a proper permanent basis. Progress is being made along the lines of the settlement of this dispute, but better progress must be made in view of the need ulti- 2170 mately of a settlement on a permanent basis. I issued for that purpose a Memorandum dealing with unemployment insurance by industry when I was with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camberwell when he was Minister of Labour. It has been suggested that that action has in some way delayed the solution of the matter, that I cut across—I think is the phrase used—the work of the Committee. It was with no intention of that kind that that Memorandum was issued. I have some difficulty in really appreciating precisely why that effect was produced by that Memorandum. However, I do not want to go into a discussion on that, but I do say I will refer to the Committee the suggestion I have made, and I venture to hope that along that line or something like that line, it may be, we shall make some progress while waiting for the ultimate production of unemployment insurance legislation. With that assurance—because I must put it to the House—I make an appeal to the House that we should make as much progress as possible, and as rapidly, and to the hon. Gentleman whether he could not see his way to withdraw this Amendment, and let us proceed to the next business.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
I hope the House will allow me a few minutes because of what my hon. Friend the Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday) said. I had some personal responsibility and took a very great interest in the original framing of the Section which has just been referred to, but I must not allow him to stand uncorrected when he says that I was responsible for the original Unemployment Insurance Act. That is not so.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The Cabinet Minister responsible for the Act of 1911 was the President of the Board of Trade, Mr. Sydney Buxton, now Lord Buxton. He was my foreman; I was merely the labourer. We worked together. I should not for a moment like it to go forward that I should have the credit of that legislation, though I am not unprepared to take some part of any blame. I have listened carefully to the Minister of Labour, and I really am not quite clear whether as a result of what he said he considers that the present 2171 provisions in Section 8 are satisfactory or not. If they are satisfactory provisions there is no reason either to alter or discuss them now. If they are not satisfactory provisions I cannot think the House of Commons is called upon to pass to the next business merely taking note of the fact that the provisions are not satisfactory, and that the Committee which sat for a long time has failed to propose a satisfactory settlement. The truth is that when one considers it—I do claim for myself—and most Members of the House will claim it—that we are trying to consider the matter impartially—both sides of the House—when you come to consider this matter impartially it is undoubtedly a very unsatisfactory provision that now exists; for this reason: that as the Minister of Labour has just pointed out, a man is not disqualified from unemployment benefit because he loses his employment by reason of a stoppage of work which is due to a trade dispute. He loses his unemployment benefit if he loses his job by reason of a stoppage of work due to a trade dispute at the factory at which he works.
I remember very well in 1911 it was the best that could be done. It is admittedly a compromise, and compromises do not always work out very satisfactorily. Let the House consider a case which actually happened and which undoubtedly produced much unmerited hardship. Take the case of the moulders' dispute, not so long ago, in the North of England. That was a dispute with skilled labour. The moulders, who were out of work because there was a trade dispute in connection with their employment, did not draw any unemployment benefit, and that was quite right. The whole scheme of insurance could not be made to work if a man was at liberty to bring the risk of unemployment upon himself, and then claim to be compensated. You never could have unemployment assurance which told a man that, first of all, he had to have a dispute with his employer, and then, when he was out of work, he could draw his unemployment benefit. That is quite right. To carry the thing a step further, the result of the skilled workmen, the moulders, being out of work owing to a trade dispute, was that a large number of unskilled workers, labourers, who worked in connection with, their work, Were thrown out 2172 of work. They belonged to a different trade union. They cannot be accused of being part and parcel of the original complaint, and in so far as these unskilled labourers, who depended for employment upon the continued working of the skilled moulders, worked in the same works as the moulders, they got no benefit, because they were insured contributors who had lost their employment by reason of the stoppage of work due to a trade dispute at the factory at which they were employed.
In the same town, belonging to the very same enterprise, were other unskilled labourers belonging to the same trade union as the other labourers, who did draw unemployed benefit; these being also thrown out of work as a result of the moulders' strike. They did get unemployed benefit because they were not working at the same works, but another works in the same town. That is a very artificial distinction. I well remember that the Committee thought when the original Act of 1911 was framed it was the best distinction that could very well be laid down then. It is not, however, a very satisfactory distinction. A great many feel that it is not satisfactory besides those who are themselves trade union representatives. I notice that the hon. Member for South Croydon just now spoke of this proposed new Clause as if it were put forward by trade union representatives alone. If he will look at the Order Paper he will see it is put forward by other Members of the House as well. As a matter of fact, employers of labour—I do not wish to divide the Committee into parties in this respect— many employers have voiced their feelings that the present situation is not right quite apart from trade union representatives. There was a Member in the last House of Commons, Mr. Penry Williams, himself a considerable employer, who more than once called attention to the fact that this really was not a fair arrangement, because it gave unemployment benefit to one man owing to the circumstance that he had not been working at a particular works or factory where the trade dispute was going on, though he was thrown out of employment by it, and it refused unemployment benefit to another man who was exactly like himself and belonged to some trade union affected by exactly the same trade conditions, whilst another got benefit 2173 because he did not happen to come within the prohibitory words of the Clause.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I am referring, amongst other things, to the Amendment bearing the name of my hon. Friend the Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Trevelyan Thomson), which is third on the Paper.
§ Sir J. SIMON
If you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in your discretion rule that it can be discussed with this Amendment, I am content. I only want to point out that this really is not a question which is being raised by those who may feel that they have a special representative character, but is one which a large number of employers, as well as many of the general public interested in the subject, feel is the very subject for discussion and debate. That being so, it does not seem to mo that it is quite a fair or reasonable way of getting rid of the whole thing for the Minister, in a charming and alluring way to say, "There, now, I have made a most reasonable speech. I have explained to the Committee what the difficulty is, and I think everybody will agree we should get on to the next business." I should like to know, before the Debate, closes, either from the Minister of Labour or from the Under-Secretary, whom we are all very glad to see at the right hon. Gentleman's side and sharing his responsibility, whether the Government considers that the present arrangement is a satisfactory one. If they do not consider it a satisfactory arrangement, are they going to postpone their own proposals until some uncertain date in the future, when this informal Committee which the late Minister of Labour asked to act, is able to produce an agreed scheme? I cannot think that the duty of the Minister, or even of the House of Commons, is discharged by saying, "This was thrown at the head of a Committee nominated by the late Minister of Labour, and, therefore, what have we to do with it?" We have this fact, that the thing does not work. If it does not work, we have to see whether or not some proposal, on the lines of one or other of these Amendments, is not really a better provision than that which exists at present.
2174 I notice in the proceedings on the Standing Committee—I have read them, though I was not a member of that Committee—it was more than once asserted, by those who know, that it is not really primarily a question of finance. If it could be said that the Amendment now proposed were going to strike at the root of the financial solvency of the Fund, that would be a very serious practical objection; but it has been more than once asserted that that is not the real difficulty. If the difficulty merely be that it is not very easy to draw a line accurately and clearly, other than the line now in the Bill, then I would invite the Government to devote their energies to seeing whether, on reflection, they cannot produce a more equitable arrangement. Nobody wants— at any rate, no honest person ought to want—the Unemployment Fund to be made available simply for the purpose of financing strikes and lock-outs. That is not the intention of the Fund, and it would be a gross misuse of the Fund. I have not the slightest sympathy with anybody who tries, by a side wind, to get a trade dispute financed out of the Fund. Since 1911—hon. Members opposite will be able to correct me, if necessary, from the employers' side-—the development of labour organisations, on the one hand, and of the employers' organisations, on the other, has tended to make this Clause 8 work more and more hardly as against what I may call the innocent victim. That is to say, you very often have involved in a trade dispute, theoretically, if not in actual fact, immense masses of people who, at any rate, in an indirect sense, may be said to have something to do with a dispute. It is the result of forming great federations, on the one side or the other.
I am all for sticking to the rule that a man ought not to be able to help himself out of this Fund, to which the employers contribute, as well as the workmen and the State, if he can be, in any practical sense, regarded as financing his own trade dispute. He relies on other means of support—support from his trade union, from public opinion, and in other ways. He ought not to look to, and I do not think he wishes to look to, an Unemployment Insurance Fund; but the thing has so worked out, since unemployment insurance was first set up, that you get wider and wider areas excluded from benefit by a literal application of this provision 2175 Within my own experience it has happened that the Referee has had to decide that a case did not come within the range of unemployment insurance payments, though many of those cases would appear to an impartial onlooker to be a very long way from the heart and kernel of the dispute. I ask the Government if they have not got rather more satisfaction to give to the Committee, because I am convinced that it is not the desire of any portion of the Committee that we should misuse this Fund. It is exceedingly important that we should not pass from this subject, admitting that the situation now existing is a pure anomaly, one man being taken and another man being left, and that there is no real rhyme or reason in the distinction, but that we should try to get the matter placed on more practical and logical lines.
§ Mr. SHORT
I can assure my right hon. and learned Friend who has just spoken that, so far as we on this side are concerned, we do not desire to take advantage of the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act for the purposes of financing strikes or trade disputes. We have never indicated, either by way of amendment or by speech, that we regard the financing of such disputes as one of the objects provided for by the provisions of the various Insurance Acts. We have had a very cold and unsympathetic speech from the Minister of Labour on this matter. The right hon. Gentleman displayed political sagacity in defending himself, because he is hopeful that some Committee will find suitable words to be incorporated in some Bill in the future. Such a policy will meet with little approval on this side of the House. The Minister is hopeful that this Committee may be successful. We are told, however, by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir A. Smith), that a decision of the House has already been given in Committee; and that, if this Amendment be now pressed to a division—as it will be—there will be greater uncertainty as to what will be the outcome of the work of this particular Committee. I gather from his statement that he seemed to think there was no real volume of opinion in the House of Commons in favour of some drastic alteration in the direction indicated fin the Amendment.
§ Sir A. SMITH
I do not wish to be misunderstood. Everyone admits the difficulty, and everyone equally admits the difficulty in providing a remedy.
§ Mr. SHORT
I quite agree that there is some difficulty, but I believe it has been a manufactured one. Had there been an honest desire on the part of the Minister to find suitable words, after consultation, it might well be, with the Law Officers of the Crown, we should have found a reasonable solution. I would remind my hon. Friend that when this matter was before the Committee, during the prosecution of the previous Bill, the volume of opinion was so great that we should have secured the adoption of words which would have met this difficulty, but for the fact that the support which we gathered in Committee from the Government Benches was bought off—if I may use the word without offence—by the right hon. Member for North-West Camberwell (Dr. Macnamara) offering to set up a Committee. I and my hon. Friends were very diffident indeed in accepting the proposition at all, because of the opinion which was so manifested in the Committee. Finally, however, we did so, and here we are again. The difficulty still remains. We have the uncertainty expressed by my right hon. and learned Friend on one hand, and the hope of the Minister on the other. We have the whole issue confused by the circular of the Minister, of which the employers are now taking advantage, as was admitted by the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday) and the hon. Member for South Croydon.
§ Sir A. SMITH
I really must protest against the imputation that we have deliberately sheltered ourselves from responsibility by taking advantage of the circular which was issued. Nothing that I have said or published justifies that statement.
§ Mr. SHORT
If I have in any way misinterpreted the hon. Gentleman's words, and put upon them a construction which I am not entitled to do, I withdraw, but I certainly was of that opinion. I am happy to find that in the course of the Debate the hon. Member is now ready and prepared to continue his activities in the direction of finding some suitable words. He made some reference to disputes, and notably to one which involved 47 Unions, 2177 and which arose from the question of managerial functions, but I do not propose to go into that. The hon. Gentleman assured the House that the facts were not as my hon. Friend the Member for West Nottingham stated, and that the case was not a good one to put forward. I will give him a case that is a good one. In my constituency, in the nut and bolt trade, employers in the town of Darlaston sought a reduction of 13s. a week from the girls employed in the industry. It was some considerable time ago, before the passing of the Act, to which I have already referred. The girls objected to a reduction, and came out on strike. I am not certain whether they were not locked out, because a notice was, I believe, put up on the gates to the effect that on a certain date this reduction would be put into operation, and no real and due notice was given. I do not remember whether it was a lock-out or a strike, but a dispute occurred, and the girls came out. In the course of the dispute, the firms closed the entire factories, and everybody employed in the factories were displaced, and thrown out on the streets. Here, we had the spectacle of single girls fighting against a reduction of 13s. a week, and of married men, with families, displaced because of a dispute in which they had no interest, by which they had nothing to gain—no increase of wages, no change in their conditions—and their right to benefit refused because it was said that they were involved in a trade dispute.
In my judgment, this is purely a matter of justice. We do not contend that these workers come within the provisions of these Acts, or are entitled to payment if they are directly involved in a trade dispute, but they pay their contributions, and, if they are unemployed through no fault of their own, if their unemployment arises legitimately out of the exigencies of the trade in which they are engaged, then I say they are entitled to benefit, and some immediate change in the law ought to be made. I have never been satisfied with the appointment of this Committee. I have seen the opposition manifested in various quarters of the House, quarters which are indicative of the active mentality of the employers' organisations; but I recall, in the long struggle that has been waged on this question, at least one bright incident, and that was 2178 the action of the right hon. Gentleman who was then known as Sir Edward Carson, and who fought strenuously, and, indeed, bitterly, for some amendment such as we are now seeking. His action arose largely out of the moulders' dispute or of some great disputes in the shipyards of Belfast. He saw at once the justice of the claim; he saw that these men, with their families, were the innocent victims of something over which they had no control and with which they had nothing to do, and, with his great ability and learning, he strove, with many of us, to secure some suitable amendment.
I am of the opinion that the responsibility is upon the House of Commons. We are not entitled, as public men representing our constituents, representing the people of our country, to shoulder this responsibility upon the employers on the one hand and the workers on the other. It has been demonstrated time after time that a grave injustice exists, and has existed since the interpretation was placed upon the law by the Umpire. A volume of opinion has manifested itself in Committee and in this House in favour of some adjustment, and I am of the opinion that the law officers of the Crown ought to have been consulted, as we pleaded that they should be in days gone by, and that some form of words ought to have been formulated and included in the provisions of this Bill which would redress the wrong, remove the injustice, and prevent innocent victims from suffering in the future as they have in the past.
§ Mr. GEORGE BALFOUR
I assume that in this House, in our capacity as lawmakers, we should have regard chiefly to the effect of the laws which we make upon the general well-being of the people as a whole. I confess that it leaves me cold when I hear constant arguments in this House, on subjects of this kind, as to agreements made between committees of workers and committees of employers, or between federations of workers and federations of employers, because, while it is true that those agreements may be sound and good, it does not necessarily follow that they are consistent with, or coincide with, the best interests of the people of this country as a whole It may mean, and, in fact, in my own experience it often does mean, that agreements so arrived at, while eminently 2179 suiting the interests both of the employers and of the employés, often strike right across the interests and well-being of the people as a whole. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) defended this proposed new Clause on the plea that there are many hardships under the law as it stands at present. He quoted one case that is very well known to us all, the case of the moulders who, in the course of their strike, brought a great amount of hardship on engineers in the shops where those moulders were also employed, while engineers, who were employed in shops where no moulding was done, had available to them the unemployment benefit I agree that that is the case, but I submit that, in an endeavour to remove a particular hardship, we must see that we do not inflict upon the people of the country as a whole a still greater hardship and difficulty, and it is from that point of view that I am making these few remarks.
I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley cannot have listened to the speech of the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday). Had he done so, I think he would have found good reason for opposing, and not for supporting, this proposed new Clause. The hon. Member for West Nottingham gave several cases. One was in connection with a brickworks where, if six men were out on strike a large number of others would follow in their wake, and would not be eligible for benefit. Towards the end of his speech he came back to the same point, and instanced again that if, in a large number of industries throughout the country, six men were out on strike, and hundreds upon hundreds followed at their heels, they would not be eligible for benefit because their unemployment was due to the strike. Has the hon. Member thought how easy it would be to bring out a very large number of people by selecting the necessary sixes all over the country? [HON. MEMBERS: "No! Nonsense!"] I quite understand that hon. Members repudiate that suggestion, and I should myself repudiate it were I in their place, but I am dealing with the facts as they stand. Could there be a greater disaster than that we should put into an Act of Parliament words that would allow that 2180 to be done? I am sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite would not take advantage of it, but it could be taken advantage of, and then where would unemployment insurance be as a national scheme? I submit that to put words like this into the Measure would be to do a grave injustice, and not only a grave injustice to the small number of men interested in the industries connected with a dispute, but also to all people who come within the scope of unemployment insurance. I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will stand firm, and not give way on this proposal.
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
The argument of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down was very weak indeed, and I think, from his experience of trade union leaders and trade unions in this country, he will agree with me that the last thing to which we think of resorting is a strike. From his remarks, however, one would imagine that we were always looking out for trouble in order to bring men out on strike. At any rate, that is what I gathered from the hon. Member's remarks.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
May I point out that I was very careful to say that if hon. Gentlemen who are now opposite had to deal with the situation it probably would be all right, but we are putting something on the Statute Book for all time. The hon. Gentleman can speak for himself, but not for his successors.
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
Anyhow, the argument is based on an assumption, and I do not know what the hon. Member means. I want to plead with the Minister of Labour. He has asked us on this side of the House not to press this to a Division, but I can assure him that this injustice has been going on for so long that the only way in which we can show our protest against the action of the Government, and also, if I may say so, against the action of the Committee, of which the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir A. Smith) was a Member, is by going into the Division Lobby, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we shall press this Clause to a Division. The matter has been going on since 1911. I have heard several speeches from the other side of the House appealing in a nice, kind way, as the Minister has been doing to-day, but 2181 nothing whatever has been done in the long run. Appeals have simply been made to those on this side to allow matters to go on, and leave the question to settle itself. I am sorry that the hon. Member for South Croydon has gone out of the House, because I am sure he understands the trade union movement quite as well as any trade union leader in this House. He said that it was very difficult to define a trade dispute, but I do not believe it is at all difficult, because the rules of the trade unions are quite clear and distinct so far as trade disputes are concerned. In my own society, for instance, we have three rules. First of all, we have the strike benefit; then we have a benefit for lock-out; and then we have unemployment benefit, when men are thrown out of work through no fault of their own. The strike benefit, as far as I am concerned—and I was a trade union leader in South Wales for over 20 years—the strike clause has never been put into operation, because we had a Conciliation Board, which has now developed into a Whitley Council, which prevented any strike from taking place. We had, however, several stoppages there, through men kicking over the traces, through sections of other societies putting forward claims for advances in wages which were not granted by the employers, and our members were thrown out of employment.
This is where the Act places a hardship upon these men. We go to the employers when we enter into our annual agreement, and we practically fix up the rates of wages and conditions for the whole of the men—some 20,000—employed in the trade. A section of men may not accept the arrangement entered into at the Conciliation Board. To give an illustration, you may have three engine-drivers driving an engine in a steel works—where some 800 or 1,000 men are employed. If those three engine-drivers refuse to accept the arrangement entered into by their own representatives and the employers in the Conciliation Board, they can stop the
§ whole of that works, and, while 800 men are thrown out of employment, not one of them is entitled to unemployment benefit, because there is a dispute in that particular works. That has happened over and over again. Even though the employers in the Conciliation Board or Whitley Council are in agreement with the trade union leaders, and a certificate is given that those 800 men are not implicated in the dispute, still the Act would prevent them from getting unemployment benefit. The thing has gone on too long. You have appealed to us not to force the matter to a Division. We want to appeal to you to have the matter remedied as quickly as possible. We have put our case before you. The hon. Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has put it theoretically, and we have put it from the practical standpoint, and we have given illustrations out of number to show how hard this works upon these men who have to suffer through a trade dispute. You have no argument on that side of the House to show us why we should leave the matter to stand. We have simply the appeal of the Minister of Labour. Therefore, we ask you to accept this Clause and have the matter redressed as quickly as possible.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
What, I am sure, animates us all is a desire that the applicants should get their benefit promptly on April 12th, the day the Bill comes into operation. We have a long way to go. There are four pages of Amendments and unless the Bill can leave us to-night and go to another place forthwith—I am serious in this—there may really be some difficulty, as Easter intervenes, in getting the Bill into operation by the fixed date. Therefore, if a Division has to be taken, which I should regret, but which I can understand, I appeal to hon. Members to let us have it now and go on to the next Clause.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 142; Noes, 232.2185
|Division No. 47.]||AYES.||[6.18 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Batey, Joseph||Brotherton, J.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Buchanan, G.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Buckle, J.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bonwick, A.||Butler, J. R. M. (Cambridge Univ.)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Bowdler, W. A.||Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)|
|Attlee, C. R.||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Cairns, John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Briant, Frank||Chapple, W. A.|
|Barnes, A.||Broad, F. A.||Charleton, H. C.|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon, John R.||Kenworthy, Lieut. Commander J. M.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Kenyon, Barnet||Sexton, James|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Kirkwood, D.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lansbury, George||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Lawson, John James||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Duncan, C.||Leach, W.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lee, F.||Snowden, Philip|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Falconer, J.||Linfield, F. C.||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Foot, Isaac||Lowth, T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Lunn, William||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Gosling, Harry||M'Entee, V. L.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||McLaren, Andrew||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Thornton, M.|
|Greenall, T,||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Greenwood, A, (Nelson and Colne)||March, S.||Turner, Ben|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Groves, T.||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Warne, G. H.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Maxton, James||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Middleton, G.||Webb, Sidney|
|Harbord, Arthur||Millar, J. D.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Hardle, George D.||Morel, E. D.||Weir, L. M.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Westwood, J.|
|Hastings, Patrick||Muir, John W.||Wheatley, J.|
|Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Nichol, Robert||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Hayday, Arthur||O'Grady, Captain James||Whiteley, W.|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Oliver, George Harold||Wignall, James|
|Herriotts, J.||Paling, W.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Hillary, A. E.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wlgan)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Hinds, John||Phillips, Vivian||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Potts, John S.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Irving, Dan||Pringle, W. M. R.||Wright, W.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Richards, R.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merloneth)||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Frederick Hall|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Saklatvala, S.|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Foreman, Sir Henry|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Butcher, Sir John George||Forestler-Walker, L.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Cadogan, Major Edward||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Camplon, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Frece, Sir Walter de|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cautley, Henry Strother||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Furness, G. J.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Chapman, Sir S.||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Gardiner, James|
|Astor, Viscountess||Clarry, Reginald George||Gates, Percy|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Clayton, G. C.||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Coates, Lt.-Col. Norman||Goff, Sir R. Park|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Collie, Sir John||Greaves-Lord, Walter|
|Banks, Mitchell||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l,W.D'by)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Halstead, Major D.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)|
|Berry, Sir George||Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Harrison, F. C.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Harvey, Major S. E.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S)||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hewett, Sir J. P.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Ellis, R. G.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Briggs, Harold||England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hiley, Sir Ernest|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Erskine, James Malcolm Montelth||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Bruton, Sir James||Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)||Hood, Sir Joseph|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Falcon, Captain Michael||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mosilty)|
|Bull, Ht. Hon. Sir William James||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Flanagan, W. H.||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Hudson, Capt. A.||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Hughes, Collingwood||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Sinclair, Sir A.|
|Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy)||Paget, T. G.||Singleton, J. E.|
|Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Pease, William Edwin||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Penny, Frederick George||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)|
|Jarrett, G. W. S.||Perring, William George||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Peto, Basil E.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Philipson, H. H.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Pielou, D. P.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Price, E. G.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Privett, F. J.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Lloyd Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Lorden, John William||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Lorimer, H. D.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Remnant, Sir James||Wells, S. R.|
|Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Rentoul, G. S.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Lumley, L. R.||Reynolds, W. G. W.||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Manville, Edward||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Winterton Earl|
|Margesson, H. D. R.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Wise, Frederick|
|Mason, Lieut.-Col C. K.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Mercer Colonel H.||Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Russell, William (Bolton)||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Moore Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel Gibbs.|
|Nesbitt, Robert C.||Sandon, Lord|
|Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
NEW CLAUSE—(Qualifying period for payment of benefit.)
Sub-section (3) of Section three of the Unemployment Insurance (No. 2) Act, 1921, is hereby repealed, and paragraph (1) of the Second Schedule to the principal Act (which provides that unemployment benefit shall be payable in respect of each week of any continuous period of unemployment after the first three days of unemployment) shall have effect as if re-enacted in this Act."—[Mr. Sexton.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
Under the six days' qualifying period in the existing law a casual labourer may be permanently disqualified from receiving benefit although he has to pay contributions. We protested against the extension of the three days to six, and in Committee we endeavoured to get some redress on that point. The right hon. Gentleman has made a concession which has gone a considerable way, but even under that the casual labourer will be disqualified if ho is employed only for two and a half days in a week. I should like to make a bargain with the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope he will give it serious consideration. If, later on, he agrees to accept the six half-days as the equivalent of three days I will not pro- 2186 ceed with this Clause. If, again, he will agree to give us the concession contained in another Amendment, that anything over two days will count as three days— because there are hundreds of cases every week where a man does not get more than two and a half days, so that he will be disqualified under the present three days' qualifying period—I will not press this Clause. I ask him to accept one or the other, so that a man will not have a Departmental sword of Damocles hanging over his head all the time.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I beg to second the Motion.
I desire to impress upon the Minister of Labour what is meant by the term "casual worker." The whole of this Clause deals entirely with the case of men who are becoming more numerous every day; a case which is difficult to understand except by those who come into contact with the casual labourer. My own experience in dealing with men from the casual point of view has always borne in upon me this fact, that the present system is heartless, because it treats the casual man as though he were something apart from ordinary workmen in the process of finding work. Why should there be a harsh distinction made 2187 between the man who is always fortunate enough to be in work, as compared with the casual labourer? There is no reason that I know of, and I speak from experience of trades in which I have been in charge of certain work where casual labour was part and parcel of the system. Why should there be distinction made against the man who has to depend on his gyrations from one place to another in the hope of getting some casual work? Surely, it is much harder for the casual man who is always on his feet going from gate to gate and meeting with refusals and disappointment, and then when he is fortunate enough to get a day's work or half a day's work to find that not only he but his would-be employer are harassed under what I call a form of villainous registration.
The hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) did not speak of the dockers, but there is an illustration of the hardship experienced. Because of the conditions of shipping a man may be walking from gate to gate and not finding work, and then at some given moment a ship arrives to be unloaded. The rules which characterise the disorganised system of shipping in this country mean that while the men are standing waiting they are not to be counted as men in the machinery, but when the ship arrives they are expected to work right on, shift after shift, until the work of unloading the ship is completed. Members of this House cannot claim that they are desirous of dealing humanely with their brothers if they seek to impose this hardship upon the casual man, who, already, has enough difficulty imposed upon him by the fact that he cannot get constant employment. Why should it be necessary under a humane system, as this system is claimed to be, to have any days at all put against these men having the right to get the unemployment benefit for which he is paying all the time? We ought to think of the unfortunate position of the casual man going day after day to his home, where his wife and children are expectantly waiting, and having to tell them: "No luck to-day; perhaps luck to-morrow." That is not a system of society that is going to instil confidence and satisfaction into our class. Justice can only come from a system of society in which service shall be secured in regard to that which means life for all concerned.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
The hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) has endeavoured to beguile me with a series of propositions. There is the highest authority for saying that in vain is the snare set in the sight of a bird. I feel a little difficulty about responding as I would like to respond to the offer made to me by my hon. Friend, because I know his interest in the subject, and I know his knowledge. I do not think that I could make this a matter of bargain, and I am sorry to say so. The concessions which I am asked to give by way of alternative are not in pari materia. They are not on the same footing as the proposal before us. The suggestion is that the waiting period shall be not a week but three days. The hon. Member suggested that in making this proposal he was reverting to the original rule. That is not quite the case. The original rule under the Act of 1911 was a week. Later on, in the 1920 Act, it became three days. In 1921 we reverted to the week. Therefore the period during which the three days' principle has been in practice has been a short period in the history of our insurance legislation. Moreover, in building up our unemployment insurance system we have founded ourselves, quite rightly, to a very large extent on trade union practice. It is not unfamiliar in trade union practice that the waiting period should be a week. The practice varies, I know, but a waiting period of a week is not unfamiliar. While I do not want to make the question of cost the crucial issue, still as guardian of the fund it is an issue that must be present to my mind. It is difficult to estimate what the extension would cost, but undoubtedly it would cost a very large sum of money, probably between £1,500,000 and £3,000,000. Under these circumstances I very much regret that I cannot see my way to accept this new Clause.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I am sorry that we have had such an unsympathetic reply. The Minister of Labour is not merely in charge of the Bill but he has to approach the whole unemployment problem. What he has to try to bring about is that men should get back to work. Insurance is only a makeshift. It is not a satisfactory solution of unemployment. What we have to do is to try to get the men back to be producers as rapidly as possible. We want them to become economic units and to give them every encouragement to seek 2189 employment, so that they may become wage earners, and not a charge on the insurance funds. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that this proposal will cost a large sum of money. It may cost a large sum immediately, but I am not sure he is right if he takes a long view, because in the long run it will relieve the Insurance Fund by getting men into regular employment and making them wage earners. London is peculiar for many reasons. One of the tragedies of London is the large number of casual labourers, among whom are many men who before the War were earning a good living. They were useful members of society, and were able to bring enough into their home to keep their homes together and not to become a charge on the Poor Law or a burden on the community in any other way.
The normal way in which irregular employment operated was that men would sometimes get a whole week's work, sometimes a couple of days, sometimes a day's work, and on the whole they might make quite a decent income throughout the whole year; but now we are in abnormal times of trade depression. All branches of industry are suffering and the casual labourers are suffering perhaps more than any other class. I am constantly hearing, and the Minister of Labour must have heard, that there is a feeling amongst the men who take odd jobs that if they go to a temporary job they may be losing advantages under this insurance scheme. That is why I urge the right hon. Gentleman that this new Clause should not be received in such an unfriendly way. There are a great number of small employers in London who have received a very bad shock because of the present trade depression. They are not men with large capital or large resources; they have to work from day to day, and are not in a position to guarantee employment for a man for a long period. In the East End these employers are quite willing to take a man on for a day, but the casual labourer says: "If I come and work on those terms, with no guaranteed period, all I shall be doing will be to disqualify myself for unemployment benefit because of the Regulations under the Insurance Act." That is the very thing that we want to avoid. We want industry to get going as quickly as possible. We want to encourage the small employers to get their factories going again, and to take on labour which is 2190 anxious and willing to volunteer for service. The Regulations as they exist, far from helping to keep the charge on the insurance funds small, are, by their very conditions, making the calls on the fund large.
It is unfortunate that there should be this piecemeal legislation; this tinkering with the Unemployment Insurance question. We ought to make the period three days where necessary, as it was previously. We are going backward instead of forward in this Bill in this respect. The casual labourers need our sympathy more than anybody else, because they are not well organised. They have to stand on their own feet, and it is a constant struggle with them to find work. For these reasons I shall support the proposed new Clause, because it is an attempt to deal with this very difficult problem and to give a fair chance to these men who are struggling to get back again on the labour market.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The Minister has stated that he is acting on trade union custom in this matter. But that is not so. No union that took on casual labour had any employment pay at all. Everyone knew that no trade union could get the funds to be able to pay out-of-work benefit to men unemployed in these conditions. This is another instance of the Government shoving on to local authorities a burden which they ought not to bear. We, in Poplar, exist on casual labour; we have from 25 per cent. to 30 per cent. of our wage-earners employed casually. The matter has been discussed over and over again. We have had Royal Commissions on the question and everybody admits the gravity of the situation, and it is monstrous that in this way you should seek to add to the terrible burden of the unhappy ratepayer. It is too bad that the Government does not recognise that neither any district nor any individual is responsible for these conditions. These conditions have grown up. Everybody admits that they are bad, but no Government will rectify them. In those circumstances the Minister has been very hard to-night in calmly disposing of the matter in a two- or three-minutes' speech.
This will mean very many pennies on the rates of Poplar which it should not be called on to find. We cannot help the position in which we find ourselves. A 2191 small employer comes up and gives a man half a day's work, the man says, "I cannot go on the unemployed fund if I take this job, and is thus induced to refuse." In a week's time he may get another half-day's work. We think he ought to take it, for we do not think it is a good thing that people should get into the habit of dodging work merely to get a week's pay. We welcome him going to work, but if he takes it he must go on to Poor Law relief, not grudgingly, so far as we are concerned, but grudgingly when we remember it is the finance of this House we are relieving, we feel this is a grave injustice, not only to the man, hut to the local ratepayers, and I hope my hon. Friends will go to a Division on every Amendment embodying this principle until the Government are prepared to accept a scheme for securing the de casualisation of labour at docks and other places. Until they do that we ought to do our best to make them pay for it.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
The House ought not to be satisfied with the perfunctory way in which the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with the Amendment. Though the matter has often been discussed before, and the Government are merely adhering to their former attitude, yet during the intervening period there has been the
§ experience of the unfortunate working of the existing provision. My hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) have special experience of the effect of this system in areas where there is a large volume of casual labour, and experience has shown not only there, but also in the other places, that this provision has prevented men from taking work. Owing to the qualifying period, short jobs have been refused, and, quite naturally, if you have in the Act a provision which is keeping men out of employment. That is a provision which should be modified so as to avert that evil consequence. If the man does take work, he is out of benefit and a charge upon the rates. So the alternative is, that it is bad for him if he takes work, and he is a charge upon the rates, and if he is not, you are increasing the amount of unemployment and encouraging the man to be idle. The conditions which arise out of the present provision are indefensible, and I hope, therefore, that hon. Members above the Gangway will press the matter to a Division.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 161; Noes, 220.2195
|Division No. 48.]||AYES.||[6.52 p.m.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Falconer, J.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)|
|Attlee, C. R.||Foot, Isaac||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Barnes, A.||Gilbert, James Daniel||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Gosling, Harry||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Batey, Joseph||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Greenall, T.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)|
|Bonwick, A.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Kirkwood, D.|
|Briant, Frank||Groves, T.||Lansbury, George|
|Broad, F. A.||Grundy, T. W.||Lawson, John James|
|Brotherton, J.||Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Leach, W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Lee, F.|
|Buckle, J.||Harbord, Arthur||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keiyhley)|
|Butler, J. R. M. (Cambridge Univ.)||Hardie, George D.||Lewis, Thomas A.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Linfield, F. C.|
|Cairns, John||Harris, Percy A.||Lowth, T.|
|Chapple, W. A.||Hastings, Patrick||McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||MacDonald, J, R. (Aberavon)|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Hayday, Arthur||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||M'Entee, V. L.|
|Collie, Sir John||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||McLaren, Andrew|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Mactean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Herriotts, J.||March, S.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hillary, A. E.||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Davies, J. C. (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Hinds, John||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughlon)||Hirst, G. H.||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Maxton, James|
|Duncan, C.||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Middleton, G.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy)||Millar, J. D.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Irving, Dan||Morel, E. D.|
|Morris, Harold||Scrymgeour, E.||Webb, Sidney|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Sexton, James||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Muir, John W.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Weir, L. M.|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Westwood, J.|
|Nichol, Robert||Sinclair, Sir A.||Wheatley, J.|
|O'Grady, Captain James||Smith, T. (Pontetract)||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Oliver, George Harold||Snowden, Philip||Whiteley, W.|
|Paling, W.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)||Wignall, James|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Stephenson, Lieut. Colonel H. K.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Phillipps, Vivian||Stephen, Campbell||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Potts, John S.||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Price, E. G.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)||Wood, Major M, M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Pringle, W. M. R.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Wright, W,|
|Richards, R.||Thornton, M.||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Trevelyan, C. P.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Riley, Ben||Turner, Ben|
|Royce, William Stapleton||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Saklatvala, S.||Warne, G. H.||Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. Lunn.|
|Salter, Dr. A.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Jarrett, G. W. S.|
|Apsley, Lord||Davison, Sir w. H. (Kensington, S.)||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Dawson, Sir Philip||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Doyle, N. Grattan||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel|
|Astor, J.J. (Kent, Dover)||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Astor, Viscountess||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Elliot, Capt. Waiter E. (Lanark)||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon, Stanley||Ellis, R. G.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)|
|Baltour, George (Hampstead)||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Banks, Mitchell||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Lorden, John William|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Falcon, Captain Michael||Lorimer, H. D.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Flanagan, W. H.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)|
|Becker, Harry||Foreman, Sir Henry||Lumley, L. R.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Forestier-Walker, L.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W,||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Berry, Sir George||Frece, Sir Walter de||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Manville, Edward|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Furness, G. J.||Margesson, H. D. H.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Ganzonl, Sir John||Mercer, Colonel H.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Gates, Percy||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Molloy, Major L. G. S.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Briggs, Harold||Cretton, Colonel John||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Nesbitt, Robert C.|
|Brown, Brig-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (LIv'p'l,W.D'by)||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Halstead, Major D.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Harrison, F. C.||Paget, T. G.|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Harvey, Major S. E.||Pease, William Edwin|
|Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Hawke, John Anthony||Penny, Frederick George|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Perring, William George|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Peto, Basil E.|
|Camplon, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pielou, D. P.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Privett, F. J.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hiley, Sir Ernest||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hood, Sir Joseph||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Coates, Lt.-Col. Norman||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Sir S. (Ecclesall)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hudson, Capt. A.||Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hughes, Collingwood||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim. South)||Hurd, Percy A.||Roundell, Colonel R, F.|
|Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Crooke, .J. S. (Deritend)||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Daiziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Sandon, Lord||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Winterton, Earl|
|Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Wise, Frederick|
|Shepperson, E. W.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Shipwright, Captain D.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Singleton, J. E.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Skelton, A. N.||Turton, Edmund Russborough||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)||Vaughan-M organ, Col. K. P.||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wallace, Captain E.||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Spears, Brig.-Gen. E, L.||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Stanley, Lord||Wells, S. R.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel Gibbs.|
|Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
§ NEW CLAUSE.—(Amendment of s. 7 (2) of Geo. V, c. 30, s. 7.)
§ Paragraph (a) of Sub-section (2), Section seven, of the Unemployment Insurance Act. 1920, shall have effect as though the words "five shillings" were substituted for the words "three shillings and four pence."——[Mr. Frank Gray.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. FRANK GRAY
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
The object of this Clause is to cure, not altogether, but, at any rate, partly, an existing defect, because it must be taken as a compromise. The defect could only be entirely eliminated by ruling out paragraph (a) of Sub-section (2) of Section 7. If it were the case that a man who is paying into this insurane scheme fell out of employment and sought some other part-time employment under which he secured cither 3s. 4d. or 5s. a day, there might be a great deal to be said against such a proposal. But that is not the case provided for by the existing Section. The existing Section and the proposed new Clause deal with the case of a man who at the time of becoming a contributor, in addition to his ordinary full-time employment, had a part-time or subsidiary employment in respect of which he drew remuneration, but in respect of which he made no contribution to the Insurance Fund. Under the existing arrangement a man in these circumstances, falling out of employment, may find that it is more beneficial to him to throw up his subsidiary employment and fall back upon the benefit which he would get under the Insurance Act, because in certain circumstances, having regard to the size of his family, he would get a larger sum per week under the insurance scheme without working than he would get by the subsidiary employment for which he received remuneration.
2196 If I may give one instance to show how it works out—there are, as a matter of fact, three cases in my own constituency which are on all fours with one another— it is the case of a man who is a bricklayer and who certainly for the past two years, and I believe for a longer period, has been in full employment, and as a result, during the whole of that period, has been a contributor to the Insurance Fund. In addition to that employment his wife runs a beer-house. In my constituency, where we are very abstemious, there arc a great number of beer-houses, and, indeed, fully licensed houses in respect to which it is impossible for any licensed victualler or the holder of a licence to make an adequate income for himself and family. That is admitted. Under the agreement with the brewer the man is compelled to keep open the whole of the licensing hours, so that it follows that, as he is a whole-time bricklayer, somebody else has to do the work. It is the wife. The insurance authorities, because the licence is in the name of the man—which it must be, or almost invariably is, under the licensing regulations because it is the practice not to license married women— the insurance authorities assume wrongly that it is his business. Taking the holding of the licence as conclusive evidence, they assume, in the absence of proof to the contrary, that there is at least 3s. 4d. a day profit made, and, although that is made by the efforts of the wife while the man is at full-time employment, he is excluded from participating in any way in the fund to which he has been a contributor for at least three years. On the other hand, if, instead of the wife running these premises, she had been in receipt of a private income of £200 a year, then he would have been entitled to have benefited under the Insurance Act. It is obvious that the proposed Clause does not meet the whole case, but it would certainly meet that case of which I have given an instance and it would provide 2197 for the circumstances of a man getting more by throwing over his subsidiary employment and doing nothing than he would get if he continued to work.
The matter arises from this fact. Under the original Act of 1911, there was no provision of this kind, because that was purely an Insurance Act, and, if a man contributes to an insurance fund, justice demands that he should be entitled to participate in it whatever other income he may have coming in, if he complies with the condition of the insurance, having lost the permanent employment in respect to which he has made his contribution. But the evil does not end there. In the case I have given—and there are a large number of such cases— if the man, after contributing three years, be ruled out of benefit on the ground of subsidiary employment, one would imagine as a basis of insurance that at least he would be able to get back his contributions or secure the return of the premiums, the Insurance Fund never having stood at any risk in respect of that man. Curiously enough, contrary to the principles of insurance under the principal Act, the man who does contribute and in respect of whom the Insurance Fund runs the risk and who attains the age of 60 is not only entitled to get his premiums or contributions back, but to get compound interest as well. Yet under the existing Section which I am seeking to amend, after the man has contributed over three years, or it may be a longer or shorter period, he is ruled out for benefit, because the fund is alleged never to have been at any risk, and yet he is not permitted to obtain any return of the premium.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
I beg to second the Motion.
I would like to ask the Minister if he has had time to consider a suggestion which was made to him in Committee from his side of the House as to whether it would be possible to devise some words which, by the introduction of a sliding scale, would relieve some of these cases The Minister said in Committee that he could not legislate for hard cases. That is true; but, on the other hand, the anomalies which exist under the law as it stands call for some amendment. My hon. Friend who has just spoken (Mr. F. Gray) has given one illustration. May I 2198 give another just to bring home to the House how hardly this Section acts in what are even more deserving cases. We have the cases of trade union secretaries. I know of several who, to my own personal knowledge, are suffering very hardly from the slackness of the shipyards. One of these men, who went to draw his unemployment pay after having been out many months, was told that he was not entitled to it because he was drawing over 20s. a week as a trade union secretary in respect of the Insurance Acts, and because of that he could not be paid anything at all. This man is also a member of a local unemployment committee—one of those committees which, as the Minister has said over and over again, have rendered most valuable services.
He put in an application to the Employment Exchange to draw subsistence allowance as a member of that Committee, but the Employment Exchange said to him, "For this purpose you are out of work, because you are not working at the shipyard which is your main employment, and therefore we cannot give you subsistence allowance." I do hope the Minister, when he comes to reply, may hold out some hope that he may be able to modify these hardships by some possible sliding scale. At the present time, if a. man has got 20s. 6d. a week as a trade union secretary, or for any other reason, he is deprived of the right of drawing unemployment benefit. If he were getting 20s. a week, he would draw the 16s. for himself, 5s. for his wife, and Is. each for his children, making, say,. 44s. in all; but, when he happens to be getting 20s. 6d., he drops from 44s. to 20s. 6d. I submit that it ought not to be beyond the wit of man, especially beyond the wit of the Minister of Labour, to devise some formula which will provide that a man may have a lower scale of benefit, if you like, under such circumstances. I submit this is one of those minor hardships which have an irritating effect upon those who are suffering, upon men who are most valuable in administering this Act, and who have done untold service in smoothing away difficulties for others in the past year and a half.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
In consequence of the varied character of the new Clause and the cases that experience has shown may be penalised by this Section, the Minis- 2199 ter undertook in Committee to give consideration to this question. I hope in his reply, if he has been able to give that fair consideration, that he has kept well before him such cases as those which were mentioned. They were such cases as the man who does a little work in the evening at a theatre or music hall, or the man who may even be a temporary porter carrying somebody's bag but who is disqualified for benefit if seen doing it. There is also the instance given in Committee of a person who was on unemployment benefit herself, but because she had helped a neighbour to do her spring-cleaning and received 4s. for it, was disqualified from benefit. It is because of that large class of case now coming into this difficult period that I hope the Minister has been able to review the whole question. If it is a favourable answer, with a suggested scale to meet the proportion of income earned, I think it would be of benefit to the fund and would give encouragement to unemployed persons to accept temporary or subsidiary work.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I am sorry that I should have created the impression that I was treating one or two of these Amendments in somewhat cavalier fashion. I did not intend to convey-that impression at all. I think most of those who are present in the House, or a large proportion of them, were members of the Standing Committee. We thrashed the thing out very fully upstairs. It was with the view of accelerating our proceedings as much as possible that I did not take up time to-day with long explanations. However, with regard to this question of subsidiary occupations, perhaps it is desirable that I should say more than I said on previous Amendments. And for two reasons. In the first place, we have to keep very clearly before us exactly what it is with which we are dealing. There is a tendency to confuse two problems. One is the problem of the odd-job man, and the other the problem of subsidiary employment. They are quite different, though they tend to impinge on one another. The hon. Member was quite right in saying that I gave an undertaking. I shall have an opportunity on Third Reading of stating very shortly the effect of the various undertakings I gave. I gave 2200 nine undertakings. I am glad to say that of those nine, I can carry out, or am carrying out, far the larger proportion, but with regard to two I am sorry to say that I have been unable to reach the solution for which some hon. Members hoped.
What is the problem? In Committee I took the case of a carpenter whose regular and main employment was that of working in wood. But in the evenings he has a subsidiary employment as a scene shifter. It is not an uncommon case. What is the position? He pays contributions as a carpenter. We will assume that he is out of work as a carpenter. He therefore receives benefit because he is out of work in his main occupation. He receives 15s. for himself, 5s. for his wife, and 1s. for each child; that is, 22s. in all if he has two children. Then he goes to work in the evening. It has to be a regular occupation, ordinarily followed by him in addition to his usual employment. It is not the case of the occasional odd-job man. The subsidiary employment has to be a regular occupation. The Act says that if you have this subsidiary employment in which you are engaged, you shall be entitled to receive £1 in respect of that subsidiary employment, but not more. If you receive more you are getting on to the level of a person who is more than in a position of subsidiary employment. Let us see how it works in fact. Take the case of the carpenter who is married and has two children. He is getting 22s. a week unemployment benefit, also getting up to 20s. a week for his subsidiary occupation, or 42s. in all. Hon. Members may say, "Not enough," and I will not quarrel with them. But in the present state of wages in many semi-skilled or unskilled occupations you are getting very near the line when, with this amount coming into the household, the inducement is not very great for a man to seek work in his main occupation, which is that of a carpenter.
The new Clause proposes to extend the 20s. to 30s. If that were carried out the limit would be as follows in the case I have stated: The man would be getting, not 42s., but 52s. as the limit, although he is not engaged in his main occupation. I suggest that you are getting near a limit where the motive not to seek for work in the main occupation would be emphasised. I was a good deal impressed with the sug- 2201 gestion of a sliding scale. Suppose you took 40s. as a fixed point. Then suppose a man got 20s. from benefits—a man and wife with no children—and 22s. from a subsidiary employment. In order to give him an effective inducement to work you should have a half-and-half make up, so to speak. In other words you should say to him, "If you have 20s. coming in as unemployment benefit, and 22s. from your subsidiary work, let us halve that 2s. extra and deduct only 1s. of it from unemployment benefit," and let him then get to his scale, not of 42s., but of 41s. There is a good deal in that proposal at first sight, and it has the advantage of very pretty arithmetical calculation. As a matter of fact the difficulties about it are very great. I have gone into the matter very carefully.
In the first place, it would be extremely difficult to get evidence on facts. I do not know what would happen if I were to come to the House and appeal for a large army of inspectors who could see whether arrangements of this sort were being carried out properly. On fact alone the administrative difficulties would be very great. Further than that, we have discussed at some length the question of the use of unemployment benefit as a subsidy in aid of wages. I have strong views about them. Here, again, primậ facie, it seems a very reasonable proposition, but, frankly, I am against it. In a memorandum which has been circulated the views which I support are expressed with sufficient clarity. If it is right that the benefit should not be used in aid of wages, it is a broad principle to which we ought to adhere. This makeup suggestion does really partake of the same vice—I use the word not in any moral sense—and the same logical error, that it is in effect working on the lines of a subsidy in aid of wages. What would be possible is this: If we can get a real development, as I hope we can, of the principle of insurance by industry, more could be done along the lines of make-up than is possible in a State
§ scheme pure and simple. Where you have insurance by industry you have a committee on both sides, employers and workmen, who are handling the cases and know the men. I am sorry that I cannot accept the new Clause, though I have a great deal of sympathy with it. I hope the House will realise that we have devoted a good deal of thought to it, and that it is only after that consideration that I am against the proposal.
§ Mr. R. YOUNG
I am sure that many hon. Members will be very disappointed at the Minister's reply. When the last Bill was before the House I made a suggestion to the then Minister. I am afraid that the present Minister has not taken it into consideration, possibly because his notice has not been drawn to it. Many men are being penalised now. A man may have a wife and seven or eight children under the age of 16. If he has eight children he will be entitled to 28s. a week. If he gets 20s. 6d. also, he will lose 7s. 6d. as a result. The suggestion which I made to the late Minister was that the difference could be made up to the man. In other words, the man would get no more money than ho would be entitled to under the Act; he would receive from the Employment Exchange the difference between the amount he was earning and the amount he would be entitled to in proportion to the size of his family. That would have been a fair and proper thing to do. Otherwise there is every inducement for a man who has seven or eight children to throw up his 21s. per week work and to get his 27s. or 28s. for doing nothing. I again appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to consider the matter before the Bill reaches another place. I am particularly anxious that men should not throw up these subsidiary employments, because they will thus get a bigger payment from the unemployment fund.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 153; Noes, 219.2205
|Division No. 49.]||AYES.||[7.30 p.m.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Buchanan, G.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bonwick, A.||Buckle, J.|
|Attlee, C. R.||Bowdler, W, A.||Cairns, John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Briant, Frank||Chapple, W. A.|
|Barnes, A.||Broad, F. A.||Charleton, H. C.|
|Batey, Joseph||Brotherton, J.||Clarke, Sir E. C.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Riley, Ben|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Ritson, J.|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Davies, J. C. (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Saklatvala, S.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Sexton, James|
|Duncan, C.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Ede, James Chuter||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Kenyon, Barnet||Sinclair, Sir A.|
|Falconer, J.||Kirkwood, D.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Foot, Isaac||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Snell, Harry|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Lansbury, George||Snowden, Philip|
|Gosling, Harry||Lawson, John James||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Leach, W.||Spencer, H. H. (Braoford, S.)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Lee, F.||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Greenall, T.||Linfield, F. C.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Lowth, T.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lunn, William||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Groves, T.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Thornton, M.|
|Grundy, T. W.||M Entee, V. L.||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||McLaren, Andrew||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Turner, Ben|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||March, S.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Harbord, Arthur||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Warne, G. H.|
|Hardie, George D.||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Harney, E. A.||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Webb, Sidney|
|Harris, Percy A.||Maxton, James||Wedgwood, Colonel Joslah C.|
|Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)||Middleton, G.||Weir, L. M.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Millar, J. D.||Westwood, J.|
|Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Morel, E. D.||Wheatley, J.|
|Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Muir, John W.||Whiteley, W.|
|Herriotts, J.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wignall, James|
|Hillary, A. E.||Nichol, Robert||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Hinds, John||O'Grady, Captain James||Williams, T (York, Don Valley)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Oliver, George Harold||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Paling, W.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wright, W.|
|Hogge, James Myles||Ponsonby, Arthur||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hutchison, sir R. (Kirkcaldy)||Potts, John S.|
|Irving. Dan||Pringle, W. M. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Mr. Phillips and Major Mackenzie Wood.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton, East)||Cassels, J. D.||Flanagan, W. H.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cautley, Henry Strother||Foreman, Sir Henry|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Forestier-Walker, L.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Frece, Sir Walter de|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Furness, G. J.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Chapman, Sir S.||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Banks, Mitchell||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Clarry, Reginald George||Gates, Percy|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Clayton, G. C.||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Coates, Lt.-Col. Norman||Goff, Sir R. Park|
|Becker, Harry||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Bellairs, Commander Cariyon W.||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Berry, Sir George||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Guest, Hon. C. H. (Bristol, N.)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Halstead, Major D.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A,||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Brass, Captain W.||Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Harrison, F. C.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Harvey, Major S. E.|
|Briggs, Harold||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford. Watford)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Ellis, R. G.||Hewett, Sir J. P.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Hiley, Sir Ernest|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Falcon, Captain Michael||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Morris, Harold||Singleton, J. E.|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)|
|Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hudson, Capt. A.||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Hughes, Collingwood||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Stanley, Lord|
|Hume, G. H.||Paget, T. G.||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Pease, William Edwin||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.|
|Hurst Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley||Penny, Frederick George||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Perring, William George||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Peto, Basil E.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Jackson, Lieut. Colonel Hon. F. S.||Pielou, D. P.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Privett, F. J.||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Lamb, J.Q.||Remnant, Sir James||Watson, Capt. J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Rentoul, G. S.||Wells, S. R.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Reynolds, W. G. W.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Richardson, sir Alex. (Gravesend)||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir p. (Chertsey)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Lorden, John William||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Lorlmer, H. D.||Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)||Winterton, Earl|
|Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.||Wise, Frederick|
|Lumley, L, R.||Rounded, Colonel R. F.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Manville, Edward||Russell, Alexander west (Tynemouth)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Margesson, H. D. R.||Russell, William (Bolton)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Mercer, Colonel H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Sandon, Lord||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel Gibbs.|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
§ Mr. SPEAKER
With regard to the proposed new Clause next on the Paper —(Period for qualifying for benefit)—in the name of the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton), it seems to raise very much the same question as that which we discussed on the new Clause previously proposed by the hon. Member.
§ NEW CLAUSE.—(Exemptions.)
§ All persons engaged in seasonal trades in which the duration of seasonal employment is too short to enable them to qualify for benefit shall be exempted from the operation of this or the principal Act.—[Mr. F. Martin.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. F. MARTIN
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
The Clause is purposely left somewhat vague but we have a very definite case in mind. It is the case of a large number of women who are employed in the herring fishing industry for a short time in each year— so short a period that it is impossible for them ever to qualify to obtain benefit under the Act. We desire that these, women be exempted from paying contributions under the Act. A good many hundreds of women are affected by this proposal, and they are largely of two 2206 classes. A large number are the wives and daughters of fishermen on the East Coast of Scotland and there are also women belonging to the crofter class from the Hebrides and the West Highlands. They are employed for a few weeks in each year in the herring curing industry, and no doubt some right hon. and hon. Members may have seen them at their work on the East Coast during the season. They are very expert and nimble workers but unfortunately the period of their employment at this work is very short.
I wish to put this point to the Minister: that this work is really a subsidiary occupation. The main occupation of these women during the greater part of the year is, in the case of the East Coast women, domestic service to which they return at the end of the fishing season, and in the case of the women from the crofts in the Hebrides and the Highlands, their main occupation is agriculture. Both agriculture and domestic service arc already exempted, and we ask that this exemption should be extended to the case I have mentioned. The Act is really of no benefit at all to the fishing industry on the East Coast of Scotland, because the men engaged in it arc nearly all partners or share fishermen, and they neither pay 2207 contributions nor receive benefit, and it seems extraordinarily hard that the womenfolk should be compelled to pay contributions when they have absolutely no chance of reaping any benefit.
§ Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
I beg to second the Motion.
In doing so, I ask the House to extend to me the courtesy which is always shown to a Member addressing it for the first time. The Clause before the House is very short, but it expresses clearly our intention. It seems perfectly obvious that the Clause embodies a very common-sense proposal. It is ridiculous to ask people to pay premiums to an insurance fund from which they can obtain no benefit whatever, but not only are people asked to pay premiums in this case, but they are compelled to pay premiums under a penalty of, I believe, £10 for noncompliance. We have the spectacle of these women—and I, like the Mover, am referring particularly to the women engaged in the fishing industry—being compelled to pay contributions to a fund from which they can never obtain any benefit. I have had representations made to me from the County Council of Shetland that I should push this matter as far as I could, if I had the opportunity. After two years' experience of the working of the Act it is felt locally that the Act works with great hardship towards these people. I know the Minister will meet this proposal by saying that these people can obtain exemption if they like. It is true that they can do so, and I have here the form which they are required to fill up in order to obtain exemption. What I complain about is, that these people should be included in the Act and then left to get out of it by claiming exemption. That is not the right way to proceed. They should be excluded from the operations of the Act in the first instance, and it should not be left to them, poor and ignorant as they are, to claim exemption. I should like to refer, at this point, to the instructions given by the Ministry of Labour on the printed circular which accompanies these exemption forms. It is to this effect:It should be particularly noted that the certificate of exemption from unemployment insurance is operative only from the date upon which it is granted, and for the period specified. Unemployment insurance contributions are required to be paid at the full 2208 rate up to the date of the granting of the certificate of exemption.So that what may in fact occur is that these fish workers will come down from the Hebrides or elsewhere to the herring fishing during the season in Shetland. A worker goes away to one of the outlying islands, is taken on and commences work, and then she is left to get one of these forms, if she can, to fill it up, if she can, and to send it in to the proper quarter, if she can. Even then she will not recover what she has already paid, but if that form gets to the right quarter in the end she will be relieved from paying anymore. It is against that, that this Clause is directed. We think the Government have proceeded here in the wrong direction, by sweeping into their net all these poor and ignorant people, and leaving it to them to try to get out of it again. We, therefore, propose the very simple and common-sense Clause that these people should be excluded. That meets with the object and desire of the Ministry themselves, because they say they have no desire to tax these people for a benefit which they cannot obtain. Therefore, I say, Why not exclude them at once? Not only would it do away with an irritating and what I might almost call an unjust Clause, but it has this further great advantage, that it could be done without any cost to the Exchequer. Some of the propositions that have been put forward to-night would, I am afraid, have cost something, if carried. If I can put something before the Minister which will cost nothing, and perhaps even effect a small saving in administration, I am sure it will give an added zest to the attention that the right hon. Gentleman will give to it, and at a time like this, when we are threatened with the spectacle of the Chancellor of the Exchequer begging for sixpences outside the British Museum, I am sure that anything that can be done without cost to the Exchequer, and that is a just thing, should be done. In conclusion, I would respectfully say that the Minister of Labour has given us on this side the impression that he is most anxious to be fair and just all round, and I would ask him to take this Clause into consideration and to be fair and just to these fish workers, and thereby acquire merit.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I am sure we can all congratulate the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir E. Hamilton) 2209 on the admirable maiden speech he has delivered. There is real point in the proposed Clause, in which he puts the case of the fish workers, but that is not the only case. There are similar cases of seasonal occupations which present some difficulty. The hon. Member says, and quite rightly, that I shall doubtless refer him to the provisions of the Act with regard to exemption, but I would call attention to the fact that the word used is "exemption" and not "exclusion." The difference would seem to be very small, but it is material from the point of view of the Act. If it be a case of exemption, the worker does not contribute, but the contributions from the employer and the State go on, and they continue, very much to the advantage of the worker. If it be a case of exclusion, which is rather what my hon. Friend has suggested, the contributions from the employer and the State do not go on.
What is the position in regard to exemptions? It is this, that in cases where a person is ordinarily and mainly dependent for his livelihood on the earnings derived by him from an occupation, employment in which does not make him an employed person within the meaning of the Act, he is to be entitled to a certificate of exemption. If this be a case for exemption, if this work be so subsidiary in character that the individual concerned is not really and mainly dependent upon it, but is mainly dependent on some other occupation, then a certificate of exemption is available. If that exemption be granted—and, as far as the facts are put before me by the Mover and Seconder of the Clause, I fail to see why there should not be a certificate of exemption granted—see what happens. The contributions of the employer and the State go on, and then, if the worker in question ever comes into benefit properly speaking, by conning into an insurable occupation in the ordinary way, that worker will be untitled to benefit on a basis of half-contribution.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
What we wanted to make clear was that these women are employed for only about eight weeks in the year, and then go back to their homes, to their crofts, so that that question does not arise.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
It does not arise normally, but it may arise, and that is 2210 the point of exemption as distinct from exclusion. If the two hon. Members had their way and secured exclusion, there would not be this advantage which does, in my submission, now accrue to the workers. You may say that in a large number of eases it would be a hypothetical advantage, but it is a possible advantage, and if they got into an insurable occupation they would have a claim for benefit, and that would be the difference between exemption and exclusion. Either this is a case for exemption, or it is not. If it be a case for exemption, then I think these workers will have a not unsatisfactory situation in front of them. If it be not a case for exemption, then there will be possibilities of benefit being paid supposing at any time this fish work was not available, but I am afraid I am not prepared—I accept the courteous words used by the hon. Member with regard to myself —to carry the matter further than the exemption proposals as indicated in the Act of 1920. I am sorry that the form involved is so lengthy. That is the way of official forms, but I suggest that it is really more advantageous, from the workers' point of view, to have exemption along the lines I have suggested, with a possible advantage in future, than to have the exclusion for which he is asking.
§ Major McKENZIE WOOD
We are very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the sympathy he has given us in regard to this question, which has evoked a great deal of controversy in the North of Scotland. I understand the right hon. Gentleman admits what is put forward by my two hon. Friends, that these women are compelled to pay contributions and have practically no hope of getting any benefits in return. That is the basis of this Clause, and the right hon. Gentleman says, as I gather, that they can be exempted if they fill up certain forms. I do not think he has given that aspect of the question the attention which he gave to the other, because my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) pointed out that in this particular case there is no hope to be got along these lines, as in nearly every case these women are employed for only about eight or even fewer weeks at a time. They, therefore, cannot put in an application for exemption until they are employed, because, of course, they cannot tell who their employer is or whether they will be employed. By the 2211 time they have put in their application for exemption, it is too late, because it takes a good number of weeks, as every one here knows, before their case can c come up and be decided by the Ministry, and before it is decided their employment has ceased, they have gone back to their I homes, and, according to the regulations made, any decision cannot be retrospective. Therefore, my point is this, that there is no help and no prospect for the women along these lines.
What I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman and to the House is that the class of people referred to in this Clause are all women, and not only that, but they are women of the very poorest class. I could quite understand the Minister saying that he cannot make exceptions of a small class of this kind if they were earning high wages, but they are not. They are very poor people, who come from their domestic duties to carry out this work, and the small sum of money which he exacts under this Act weekly is of the greatest importance to them. I hope he will do something to meet the case of these women, who cannot be expected to fill up forms, even if they knew how to do so, and if they did fill up the forms they would get no real advantage. If the right hon. Gentleman would do something to facilitate the means by which they could get the exemptions, which, I am sure, he is anxious to give them, I do not think he would do any harm to his scheme, and he would do a great deal of good to a very deserving and necessitous class of the community in the North of Scotland.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I will rise at once, with the permission of the House, to say that if there be any means by which, by Regulation or by rule—apart from the Act of Parliament, which I cannot alter—I can deal with any difficulties that arise in connection with the exemption, I will gladly look into it at once and see what can be done.
Mr. T. HENDERSON
This is one of the Clauses in regard to which I think I would be inclined to support the Minister of Labour, for this reason, that if this is going to cover all the women who take part in the fish-curing industry, I want to be assured that it will not have anything to do with the women who leave the East Coast of Scotland and follow the different 2212 fishings down towards the North-East Coast of England. There are numerous Women employed in the fish-curing industry who leave parts of Scotland and come down to England to perform their work, and if this exemption is going to cover those women, then I would be prepared to follow the Labour Minister
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I think the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. T. Henderson) really misunderstands the case made for this Clause. It has not in view the particular class to which he refers, who follow the fish season round the coast, because obviously their term of occupation extends long enough for them to get benefits. This Clause applies only to those whose season is so short that they cannot draw benefit.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Yes, but we are dealing with the method by which it can be obtained. I was coming to that point, but the first thing I had in view was to point out to the hon. Member that, in opposing this Clause, he has in view a different class from those for whom the Mover and Seconder wish to obtain exemption. It is true that the only question at issue is the method of obtaining exemption. As the Minister of Labour pointed out, it is possible to obtain exemption by application, but this is a cumbrous system. It has to be done in each individual case, and it can be done only by filling up a very extended form, which is somewhat difficult of understanding for the ordinary person employed in such an industry; and, furthermore, this application would have to be made each season, in respect of a period that does not extend over eight weeks, and then the exemption applies only for the small part of the period which would remain after the exemption had been granted. In practice, therefore, if we consider how the usual Government Departments act, you may take it that practically the whole period of employment would have come to an end. before the exemption had been granted. Therefore, even if they applied, they would be in this unfortunate position of having paid the contributions all the time, and therefore been taxed for a benefit which they would never receive. The real point is that here is not an insurance proposition at all; it is simply taxation, and nothing else. These people 2213 are being taxed for the benefit of other people. We have no right, simply because these people form a very small class and exist in only a few constituencies, represented by two or three hon. Members in this House, to inflict this injustice upon them.
I quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to do something. He suggests that a Regulation may be made. I suggest that before this Debate took place he had an opportunity of ascertaining whether such a Regulation could, in fact, be made under the Act. I doubt very much whether such a Regulation is competent, and that is why my two hon. Friends have put down this new Clause. They believe that a new Clause is required to protect these people. It may be that the new Clause is not adequate or well conceived for this particular purpose, or that it may cover more than the Mover or Seconder intends. I agree all these things are possible, but granting, as I think we are entitled to take for granted, that a Regulation cannot do this, and that the present system of individual application for exemption does not relieve these people, I say there is a case for the new Clause for this purpose, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, if he resists this Clause but accepts the case made to agree to insert in another place a Clause properly conceived for this purpose. I do not myself think that the drafting of this Clause is very happily conceived for the purpose. I think other words could have been employed in a better way to secure the object in view, but the mere objection to the drafting, I think, is not sufficient ground for this House rejecting the proposal. The proposal, on the admission of the Minister, is sound and just, and there is only one hon. Member who has shown any tendency to disagree, and that disagreement is founded, as I have pointed out, on a misunderstanding. As there is no case against the proposal, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman at least to accept the suggestion I have made, namely, that he will set this matter right by a new Clause moved in another place.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
The Clause itself provides:All claims for exemption shall be made to and certificates of exemption granted by 2214 the Minister in the prescribed manner and subject to the prescribed conditions.The word "prescribed" there refers to the Minister's power to make regulations. The normal period for which exemptions are granted—there seems to have been some misunderstanding, I do not say it has always been so, but there have been some questions raised in the discussion—is not a period limited to a particular occasion. The normal period is a period of three years. If there has been any difficulty about the exemption being granted for a longer period than eight weeks under consideration in any one case, and I think some hon. Gentlemen have suggested that was the normal time -—if there has been any difficulty about the exemption being granted for the usual three years I will look into it at once, and I do not think there ought to be any difficulty about meeting that difficulty and corning to some arrangement which will be satisfactory under the powers contained in that Section.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that there is power under the Section to grant exemption to classes as distinct from individuals?
§ Sir M. BARLOW
That is a point I should like to consider. I am not quite sure whether it is so, but I can quite conceive it would be possible to make Regulations where classification is clear for dealing with that point.
§ Mr. MARDY JONES
Is it possible, instead of each individual claiming exemption on an individual form, to have a consolidated form which they could sign generally for the same exemption?
§ Mr. F. MARTIN
In asking leave to withdraw the Motion, I should like to thank the Minister of Labour for what he has said, and to express the hope that he will give this matter every consideration and do his best to help this class.
§ Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
With regard to the next Amendment on the Paper, I notice that it was discussed at great length in the Committee upstairs, to the extent of 21 2215 columns [in the OFFICIAL REPORT], and if I do not pass it over now I hope the discussion will be a brief one.
§ CLAUSE 1.—(Prolongation of fourth special period.)
§ The fourth special period defined in Section three of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1922 (in this Act referred to as "the Act of 1922"), shall be extended so as to terminate on the seventeenth day of October, nineteen hundred and twenty-three, instead of on the first day of July, nineteen hundred and twenty-three, and the provisions of the said Act relating to benefit within the fourth special period shall have effect subject to the following modifications:
- (1) The periods for which a person may be authorised to receive benefit shall he periods not exceeding in the aggregate forty-four weeks:
- (2) When a person has received benefit in the fourth special period for periods amounting in the aggregate to twenty-two weeks, he shall cease to be qualified for the receipt of benefit in the fourth special period until the expiration of two weeks from the date (whether falling before or after the commencement of this Act) on which the last period in respect of which benefit was payable ended.
- (3) Notwithstanding anything in any Act, no person shall, except by virtue of an authorisation given by the Minister under Section four of the Act of 1922 as amended by this Act, receive benefit in the fourth special period for periods amounting in the aggregate to more than twenty-six weeks, and no person shall, whether by virtue of such an authorisation as aforesaid or otherwise, receive benefit in the fourth special period for periods amounting in the aggregate to more than forty-four weeks.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I beg to move, after the word "modifications" ["subject to the following modifications"], to insert the words(1) Any person who is normally employed in such employment as would make him an employed person within the moaning of the principal Act, and who is genuinely seeking but is unable to obtain employment, shall he qualified for the receipt of benefit during the fourth special period notwithstanding that by reason that he does not satisfy the first statutory condition, or that he is disqualified under Sub-section (4) of Section eight of the principal Act for receiving benefit, or by reason of the provisions of paragraph (3) of the Second Schedule to the principal Act, he may not be entitled to benefit, and the provisions of the principal Act relating to the payment of benefit as modified by this Section shall apply during the fourth special period, and Section four of the Act of nineteen hundred and twenty-two is hereby repealed.2216 So far as I am concerned, my remarks will be brief, although this is a matter of very grave importance. We feel that the Amendment will do exactly what was intended to be done during the special periods owing to the excessive distress. There has been a growing tendency to increase the number of disqualifications by Regulations and Rules issued through the Ministry, and if this Amendment were carried—it is too much to hope that it will be accepted—it would certainly permit the person normally employed in a trade now impressed by the Insurance Act, but who has been unable through unemployment to qualify by stamped records in that trade, so long as he or she are genuinely seeking but unable to obtain employment, to be admitted to benefit. The reason why what is termed the uncovenanted special periods were introduced was the fact that, prior to November, 1920, the sudden placing of the 1920 Act on the Statute Book occurred at a time when the 8,000,000 persons so impressed had no opportunity of having a previous qualification for stamped benefit In fact, many thousands of them were unemployed at the time the Act came into operation. We have heard during the previous discussions on this point that gradually the uncovenanted rights are becoming swallowed up in the covenanted or stamped establishment rights for benefit. Now, the persons asking for the free period of benefit must, before they can enjoy that, have previously established a stamped right, and unless that stamped right is established, all professions of extending the special period so as to enable 44 weeks of benefit to be paid out of a possible 50 is so much eyewash and misrepresentation of the true position of things to the persons who are hopeful of being able to secure some benefit and advantage from this extended period.
It would certainly also include the single persons who to-day are entirely excluded from the uncovenanted benefit. It would prevent the inquisitorial investigations now taking place into the home income, using those incomes for the purpose of disqualifying single persons from any entitlement to benefit. There are many other branches and classes of cases that one could mention: for instance, aliens. I have no desire, however, to go into that matter. I think I am quite wise in taking the hint of Mr. Speaker that, 2217 as 21 columns were taken up in discussing the details in Committee upstairs, and as there is a desire to get this Bill through to-night in order that it may operate by 12th April, I should not extend my remarks. In these circumstances, I should have been hopeful that the Minister would have realised the genuine help we are desirous of giving him by not prolonging the discussions unduly. I hope that will appeal to him in the spirit of the real comradeship, the common bond of sympathy and the desire to help that exists between us in this matter, so that when he makes his few remarks in reply to the arguments used in favour of the Amendment we shall be able to take a more hopeful outlook as opposed to the gloomy faces we have been compelled to draw as a result of the blank refusals with which we have met in regard to some proposals which we consider very important.
§ Mr. GOSLING
I beg to second the Amendment. Unlike my hon. Friend who has just spoken, I am not able to pass over the question of the alien. There are a great many who complain bitterly that they are unable to obtain the same benefits that other citizens who pay into this Fund obtain, and yet at the same time they are denied the right of naturalisation. Perhaps I should be out of order if I went very deeply into that question, except to say that the one turns on the other so definitely that to attempt to avoid speaking of the disadvantage that the inability to get naturalisation confers on these people, and not to emphasise that it makes all the difficulty that these people experience on this question of unemployed insurance would be impossible. In the old days we used to speak of the alien in a far different way to that in which it is understood to-day, and the word since the War has meant practically anything. Yet those for whom I am speaking are citizens of very long standing. There has been a man to see me in the precincts of this House to-day who is a tradesman, a shopkeeper, a ratepayer, who has a family that have been educated here, whose children have won scholarships in our schools, and yet who is still an alien, although for many years he has made application for naturalisation. What we want is that the aliens, until they can be relieved— and they can only secure this now by 2218 the consent of the Home Office, who have considerably increased their fees; namely, from £3 to £10, thus making what was already a very difficult task of obtaining the £3 much more difficult by the need to find £10, which many of them are unable to do—should have any assistance, the Minister can give in regard to their case. There are two other points which are very, very serious. The first concerns men engaged in sailing barges in and out of ports, particularly in the great trade between London and the towns on the Medway; and men working on the canals. The difficulty that these men are in is that, in a sense, they carry their houses with them.
§ It being a quarter past Eight of the Clock, and leave having been given to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 10, further Proceeding was postponed, without Question put.