§ Postponed Proceeding resumed on Consideration of Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee)
§ 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 be periods not exceeding in the aggregate forty-four weeks;2266
§ (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.2267
§ Amendment proposed: After the word "modifications" ["subject to the following modifications"], to insert
§ "(1) Any person who is normally employed in such employment as would make him an employed person within the meaning of the principal Act, and who is genuinely seeking but is unable to obtain employment, shall be 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."—[Mr. Hayday.]
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ Mr. GOSLING
I do not know whether the House realises how awkwardly the men employed on barges in and out of the Thames and Medway are placed by the decision of the Minister of Labour, who came to the conclusion that, because they were continuously on board, that amounted to continuous employment. Their difficulty is that they may be unemployed and yet on their craft because the barges they work on are also their homes. It has been argued that because they render some service to the craft that amounts to a continuity of employment although there is no payment. Let me illustrate. The man is paid for the work in connection with the barge, taking in the cargo, carrying it to its destination, and putting it out. Then he may have to wait, as he does in these very difficult times, sometimes a week and sometimes longer without any pay, and he is to all intents and purposes unemployed, but because the craft on which he has been working and is going to work on again is his home, he has to remain on board. He is very much in the same position as a man working on an estate or a miner living in an owner's cottage who continues to live in the cottage although un-employed. There can be no doubt in a ease of that kind, and yet there is in the case of these men because the Minister of Labour has decided that they are continuously in employment because they are continuously caring for their craft. I submit that these men are looking after 2268 their homes. It is quite true that they have to put up the lights at night, take them down in the morning, see the craft is moored, and so forth, but they are only doing it in the same way as we shut our windows when there is a gale, or fasten the door. They are only doing it because they are caring for the home in which they have to live, and it is unjust to say that that can be construed into employment
The other point to which I want to call the attention of the Minister is that of men working on canals. It is not quite, although very much the same point. They live on board their craft. Let me take the case of a craft working from Birmingham to some other place too far down the canal to be in communication with their base. They leave their cards with their employer in Birmingham, and when they get to another place, or even to London, and their voyage is finished, they remain on their boats and no pay comes along until there is another cargo. They would be able, if they were in that position in Birmingham, to get their benefit, but because they have left their cards behind they cannot go to the Employment Exchange and register. We say that is a very great hardship that should be relieved, and we hope that will be done under this Amendment. With regard to dock labourers, they in many cases have to register twice in a day. They feel that that is unfair to them, and that they should not be called upon to register more than is done under other industries, and that is once a day. The other question that was raised upstairs, and to which, I understand, we are going to have some answer—or I hope so—from the Minister, is with regard to very casual men, and the difficulty about standing fast. It is quite true that great efforts have been made towards what is called decasualising labour, but the more you decasualise labour, to all of which we agree—and I have done a good deal to help—the more you casualise. That is to say, for every man you put in a regular job, the man left out is rendered more casual than he was. These poor men cannot get employment for the first day of the week they work without a stamp on their cards, and the only effort made by the Minister in this matter up to the present is to try to find some way of prosecuting men who 2269 take stamps off other people's cards to put on their own, when they cannot otherwise get employment. I know that is wrong, and I would like to see it stopped, but the real remedy is to make it against the Regulations for any employer to ask to see a man's card first before employing him, because a man does not mind paying if he sees a chance of earning money. If you do not do that, it leads to the transferring of stamps from other people's cards. There is no comradeship unless a man does that, and although it is not proper, it is the thing that men might do when they are hoping to help each other. That can be remedied. The Minister of Labour sent to the employers and the trade union I represent asking us to help him to stop it, and we are helping, but we do not want to do it at the expense of poor fellows looking for jobs, by encouraging employers to ask to see the stamp on a man's card before giving him a job. When men now present themselves for a job, their cards are examined, and it nearly always happens that a man whose card is not stamped does not get the job. That causes this illegal practice. If something can be done before the Bill becomes an Act to put some of these things right, and if the Minister of Labour will undertake to give consideration to them, and to hear those who represent the men, I shall feel that my maiden effort in this House has not been in vain.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
First of all, to deal with the questions raised by the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, I will have them looked into The question of the bargemen is a novel one to me—certainly the Medway and canal bargemen. But it does occur to me that in a case involving the difficulties referred to by the hon. Gentleman, obviously the way would be for me to take the case to a Court of Referees, and get it decided.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
To deal broadly with the proposed Amendment, I may say at once that I am afraid I cannot accept it The effect of it would be to repeal Section 4 of the Act of 1922, with the result that the discretion of the Minister of Labour, with certain conditions and: safeguards will disappear. Any person getting bene- 2270 fit who could prove that he was normally employed in an insurable occupation, and was genuinely seeking whole-time employment and could not obtain it would be entitled to benefit. I do not really believe that that is the desire of the House or of the country.
About the broad issue, the proposed Clause, as I pointed out to the Committee, not only disposes of certain conditions which exist under that particular legislation, but by its wholesale repeal of Section 4 it also repeals two most important conditions as to employment, the first that the men must be employed 20 weeks, or he must have had a reasonable amount of employment since 31st December, 1919, and secondly, it also repeals certain safeguards in the case of ex-service men. In the latter case they need only show that they were so employed before the War. All these things go if Section 4 is repealed. Has the Minister to have a discretion or not? If he has then it is exercised in this way: really by two pieces of machinery. First of all he issues rules or directions as to general policy; secondly, those rules are administered, subject to the Minister's general control and discretion, through the Employment Committees. Before I go further I should like here and now to put on record, before the House, my very highest appreciation of the work done by these Committees throughout the country.
Be it remembered—and I am sure my hon. Friend will be in accordance with this—that at least half the excellent work done by these Committees is done by the trade union representatives, who, with the employers representatives, bear their very admirable share of the work. In addition, the Minister lays down rules or directions—I will not call them regulations—by means of memoranda, and these are complained of now in respect to the way in which boys, girls and married women are dealt with. On this I gave two undertakings before the Committee. I repeat them here.
I promised, first of all, that I would go through those various instructions—assuming this Amendment fails of approval of the House and my discretion is maintained—and see if, in any respect, on the experience of the last eighteen months or so, and on the evidence, I am satisfied that the shoe pinches anywhere. 2271 Take the case of aliens. I do not want to prejudge the issue of the case, but I will gladly consider the Rules from that point of view, and I shall welcome any help and advice that can be given to me by any hon. Member on that subject. Some of the evidence put before me with regard to aliens does give me ground for thinking that perhaps the time has come when a reasonable modification can be made, but I do not want to be pressed too far. I say that as a primâ facie view, but I will go into the matter very carefully. There are other Regulations, too. That is the first undertaking I gave. The second undertaking was that I would attempt to codify the various directions, so as to get them into one or at the most two documents. I think those two undertakings should go far to meet the difficulties which have been raised by the hon. Gentleman opposite.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I do not know whether they will be published as a Parliamentary Paper, but I can easily make them available for hon. Members in what is the most convenient shape. My desire is that they should be available both for hon. Members and for the pubic, and so I gave the undertaking as to codification.
There is one more point, that of discretion. The effect of the Amendment, if carried, would be to take away the Minister's discretion. Believe me, the Minister's discretion is very frequently
§ exercised, not to make matters harder for the applicants, but to make them easier. There is a subsequent Amendment on the Paper—I do not know whether or not it will be pressed—to put all these Rules which the Minister makes into the form of Regulations of a statutory character. If that be done, the easy and elastic exercise of the Minister's discretion, which, as I say, is employed frequently in order to mitigate difficult cases and to ease hard cases, would inevitably disappear. What would happen would be that when the Regulation was made it would have to be strictly observed. I should have no power to alter it, except by coming to this House. I do not think that kind of modification of the Minister's discretion would be of great benefit to the applicant
§ Sir M. BARLOW
With regard to stamps and the casual man, that arises really on another Amendment. There again I have given already an undertaking that I will look into that matter, and see whether anything can be done, by way of Regulation or otherwise. There is a Clause on the paper to make the removal of the stamps a penalty. Of course, that does not meet my hon. Friend's point. He wants something that will discourage the employer from asking to see the stamp, but I am not prepared to make a Clause of it in the Bill.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 127; Noes, 209.2275
|Division No. 51.]||AYES.||[11.30 p.m.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Guthrie, Thomas Maule|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Darbishire, C. W.||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Harbord, Arthur|
|Barnes, A.||Duncan, C.||Hardle, George D.|
|Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Ede, James Chuter||Harris, Percy A.|
|Batey, Joseph||Edge, Captain Sir William||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hayday, Arthur|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||England. Lieut.-Colonel A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)|
|Bonwick, A.||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Herriotts, J.|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Falconer, J.||Hinds, John|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Fildes, Henry||Hirst, G. H.|
|Briant, Frank||Foot, Isaac||Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy)|
|Broad, F. A.||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Brotherton, J.||Gosling, Harry||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)|
|Buchanan, G.||Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Buckle, J.||Greenall, T.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Burgess, S.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)|
|Cairns, John||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Chapple, W. A.||Groves, T,||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)|
|Charleton. H C.||Grundy, T. W.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)|
|Kenworthy, Lieut-Commander J. M||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Phillipps, Vivian||Turner, Ben|
|Lansbury, George||Potts, John S.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Lawson, John James||Richards, R.||Warne, G. H.|
|Leach, W.||Richardson, R, (Houghton-le-Spring)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Lee, F.||Riley, Ben||Webb, Sidney|
|Linfield, F. C.||Ritson, J.||Weir, L. M.|
|Lowth, T.||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Westwood, J.|
|M'Entee, V. L.||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)||Wheatley, J|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Saklatvala, S.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Salter, Dr. A.||Whiteley, W.|
|Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Klnc'dine, E.)||Scrymgeour, E.||Wignall, James|
|Maxton, James||Sexton, James||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Middleton, G.||Shinwell, Emanuel||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Millar, J. D.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Sinclair, Sir A.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Muir, John W.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Murnin, H.||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Nichol, Robert||Stephen, Campbell|
|O'Grady, Captain James||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Oliver, George Harold||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Mr. Griffiths and Mr. Lunn.|
|Agg Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)||Lorimer, H. D.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Evans, Ernest (Cardigan)||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Falcon, Captain Michael||Lumley, L. R.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon, Leopold C. M. S.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Apsley, Lord||Fawkes, Major F. H.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Flanagan, W. H.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Forestier-Walker, L.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Manville, Edward|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Frece, Sir Walter de||Margesson, H. D. R.|
|Banks, Mitchell||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Furness, G. J.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Ganzoni, Sir John||Molloy, Major L. G. S.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C H. (Devizes)||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Moore-Brabazon, Lileut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Gould, James C.||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Berry, Sir George||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Nail, Major Joseph|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Nesbitt, Robert C.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Newman, Colonel, J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Gretton, Colonel John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Guinness, Lieut. Col. Hon. W. E.||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Llv'p'l,W. D'by)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Halstead, Major D.||Paget, T. G.|
|Briggs, Harold||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Parker, Owen (Kettering)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Pease, William Edwin|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Harrison, F. C.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Harvey, Major S. E.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Bruford, R.||Hawke, John Anthony||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Perring, William George|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Price, E. G.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hlley, Sir Ernest||Privett, F. J.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hogg, Rt. Hon.Sir D.(St. Marylebone)||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Holder, Gerald Fitzroy||Remer, J. R.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hood, Sir Joseph||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Coates, Lt.-Col. Norman||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Houlton, John Plowright||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)|
|Cope. Major William||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hudson, Capt. A.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Hughes, Collingwood||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.|
|Crooke, J. S. (Derltend)||Hume, G. H.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Jarrett, G. W. S.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||King, Capt. Henry Douglas||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Dixon, Capt. H. (Belfast, E.)||Kinloch-Cooko, Sir Clement||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lamb, J. Q.||Sanden, Lord|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Ednam, Viscount||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Singleton, J. E.|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Lorden, John William||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Winterton, Earl|
|Stanley, Lord||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Wise, Frederick|
|Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Wallace, Captain E.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Sturrock, J. Leng||Waring, Major Walter||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.||Wells, S. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel Gibbs.|
|Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Whitla, Sir William|
Mr. T. THOMSON
I beg to move, in paragraph (1), to leave out the words "forty-four" ["in the aggregate forty-four weeks"], and to insert instead thereof the word "fifty"
The clause as it now stands gives a total of forty-four weeks benefit. There is no doubt the Minister has acted generously, but the purpose of the Amendment is similar to that of others on the Paper seeking to place this burden, which many of us feel is distinctly a national burden, on the Exchequer rather than on the local rates.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Do I understand this imposes a charge on the Exchequer? If so, it cannot be done on the Report stage.
It is a charge on the Unemployment Fund, but I submit that does not necessarily make it a charge on the Exchequer. It is a matter that we discussed in Committee.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I was taking the hon. Member's own words. I suppose the effect of it will be to place a charge on the Exchequer.
That may be. It depends how unemployment varies in a subsequent period, but it does not call for any extra charge on the Exchequer.
My point is that the benefit should be given in an earlier period rather than in a later because at present unemployment is more severe than it will be later on, and therefore if for this period the fund can be drawn upon at this time, it will relieve the local rates which otherwise will have to bear an immediate cost. In so far as this unemployment is due to national causes it should be made a national cost and not be thrown upon the local rates. The purpose of the Amendment is to avoid immediately putting an extra charge on the rates, which are already overburdened. The Minister of Health in reply to a question to-day told 2276 me that in the last two years of abnormal unemployment £20,000,000 had been loaned to the Boards of Guardians which they had paid away in relief due to unemployment. In the same answer he stated that the poor rates in these cases vary from Is. 5d. to 10s. 4½d. in the pound, at a time when unemployment is still abnormal. Therefore it is not unreasonable to suggest that, instead of seeking to add to the responsibilities of local authorities, the Insurance Fund should bear these earlier charges and not place them on the local authorities.
I hope the Minister will be able to make some concession, realising that the local authorities have a burden which is past bearing. To-morrow, in conjunction with the Minister of Health, the Minister of Labour is to receive a deputation from 44 necessitous areas, representing about 10 million people, occupied mainly in the heavy iron and steel industries, which have been particularly hit. If he can make a concession this evening it would make his duty to-morrow easier in so far as he is able to meet the legitimate requests of the local authorities. In some districts in the country the rates will be less this year, but in my own district and all over the north-eastern coast the precepts will be higher than in the last 12 months. When rates are already at 20s. and 30s. in the pound, the House will realise that we have reached a period when it is impossible to add to the burdens of the local authorities.
Mr. T. HENDERSON
I beg to second the Amendment.
I appeal to the Minister to do something for the working classes, who are suffering intensely through the imposition of gaps in the payment of unemployment benefit. This afternoon the right hon. Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) spoke about theorising in connection with the position created by men on strike. Not from the point of view of theorising, but from my knowledge and experience of the sufferings of the working classes from whom I have lately come to this House, I make my appeal 2277 to the right hon. Gentleman. All we ask for is six weeks' further benefit for the worker. I ask hon. Members to consider the experience of the average worker in the great industrial centres who has been unemployed for two years, 18 months, or 12 months; men and women who have led thrifty lives, who have seen their little savings eaten up during their unemployment, and are now face to face with such a condition of things that even a week or two is going to make a tremendous difference. The average housewife faced with the conditions which I have described looks forward with agony to what those six weeks would be to her. She tries to carry out her household duties on the pittance given her by the unemployment benefit so long as there is no gap, and she does her best and does wonderful things, but when faced with this position her sufferings are intensified. Is the right hon. Gentleman in earnest in expecting that in the course of the next nine months unemployment is going to be reduced to any considerable extern. Speaking with an intimate knowledge of the shipbuilding industry I have no hesitation in saying that 50 per cent, will never go back to employment as it was in normal times, and there is no possible chance of even 25 per cent, being employed in the industry in the next nine months. It is because of the sufferings that would be involved by his refusal that I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give consideration to this Amendment.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I am sorry that I cannot accept the Amendment in its present shape. Together with the subsequent Amendment it would result in no less than 100 weeks unemployment benefit. The insurance policy has been stretched to such a limit that any further extension would turn it into poor law relief and nothing else. The policy of the Act of 1911 was 15 weeks. That was extended by the 1921 Act to 26. Under this Bill as a result of the extension of the fourth special period we get 44 weeks out of 50. That is not an ungenerous provision, and in view of the fact that there will be 26 weeks' benefit to come in the next benefit year which can be taken in the coming winter which will give us something like 74 weeks, this is a total benefit provided which I do not think I should be pressed to extend.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
The right hon. Gentleman told us earlier in the debate that he intended to grant certain Amendments. I told him in Committee and I repeat it now that no concessions had been granted in the Committee stage and it is obvious that no concessions are likely to be granted on the Report stage.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
The hon. Member has no right to make that statement, for though he was not present at the Committee at the time I told him that a valuable concession had been made. The Bill as drafted came into force on 19th April. As amended in Committee it now comes into force on 12th April.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
I see no reason whatever for withdrawing the statement I have made. As a matter of fact, the right hon. Gentleman has granted what he believes to be a concession, but it is not a concession at all. He has simply brought forward the period during which benefit will be granted. That is not a concession, because obviously, when you come to the end of the period, the concession is withdrawn inasmuch as the benefit is brought forward one week and it does not continue as long as it would if the concession were not granted at all. That was pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman in Committee, but he is such an amiable person that one does not care to quarrel with him in the way one would do if his nature were less generous. I submit it is not good enough for the right hon. Gentleman to argue that, because progress has been made in the direction of extending the period, therefore we are not entitled to come forward and ask for this concession. What I should like him to do, and what the House is entitled to ask, is that he should justify the existence of the gap. He has not made the slightest endeavour, in Committee or on the Report stage, to justify the gap, for the obvious reason that he cannot. He has had ample opportunity to do so, and since he has failed, I am entitled to claim that there is very little substance in what he has said. I pointed out in Committee, and I beg the indulgence of the House if I repeat it here, that the only possible justification for the gap was that it would act as a stimulant to the unemployed person so that he should seek employment. That is all very well in normal times, when there is a fair 2279 amount of work on hand, but in an abnormal period like the present such a stimulant is of no advantage at all.
In the, shipbuilding and engineering industries there is so little work, and the possibility of obtaining work is so low that men never go down to the shipbuilding yards at all because they would be wasting their time. Hon. Members on the other side know that what I say is true. Since this gap period is only intended as a stimulant, I claim there is no justification for it at all. On moral grounds you are not entitled to impose a gap period at all. The right hon. Gentleman speaks of extending the period of converting what is a benefit based on insurance into a relief scheme. I have heard the right hon. Gentleman argue, and he has been supported by hon. Members on his own side, to the effect that the uncovenanted benefit was in the nature of relief. We have taken the contrary view, and to some extent we have impressed our view on the right hon. Gentleman. We claim that no part of the benefit paid is relief at all. It is merely a payment on account. It is the payment of sums of money which have to be refunded by those in insurable occupations. Apparently the right hon. Gentleman docs not seem to appreciate the full force of that. I say further that the right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to come to this House and claim that he has granted concessions on the Committee stage. Not a single concession of any value whatever has been granted, and I make bold to say that the right hon. Gentleman is not empowered to come forward and grant any concessions.
The policy of the Government is against granting concessions of any kind so far as unemployment relief is concerned. I know sufficient of Government policy to enable me to say that if the right hon. Gentleman granted a concession of any value he would be brought to heel very quickly by his colleagues in the Government. I personally do not expect him to grant any concession. I heard appeals made to him in Committee, but I make no appeal to him. I am satisfied if I made an appeal it would fall on deaf ears, not because the right hon. Gentleman himself is not inclined to accede to these appeals, but because the policy of the Government is such as to make these 2280 appeals of no value at all. You deny to the unemployed person to-day a form of benefit to which that person is entitled, and at the same time you are throwing heavy burdens on to the shoulders of the local authorities. You are piling up burdens upon posterity, you are making it more difficult for local authorities in the future to stand up to the burdens which they will have to undertake in due course. If you are not prepared to grant the concession now asked for, you may depend upon it that the unemployed person will not remain content with what is being given to him to-day, but further than that, he will say, as he is entitled to say, and as hon. Members on these benches will say, that the amendment of the unemployment relief scheme embodied in the proposals now before the House, is of no value to the unemployed person, and should not be regarded as any solution, partial or otherwise, of the problem.
§ 12 M.
§ Mr. FRANK GRAY
I think that a certain amount of confusion of thought has arisen as to what is, and what is not, insurance. The present proposal is not insurance at all. Under the Act of 1911 an insurance scheme, in fact, existed, on to which has been grafted, by the Act of 1920, a matter which is not properly a subject of insurance at all. We may talk about concessions, but if this was under the Act of 1911, and under an insurance scheme which had been calculated to stand so many weeks of benefit, there would be good grounds for sending such a man to the Guardians—first, because on an insurance basis, the fund would not stand further weeks of benefit, and second, because in normal times if a man was out of employment for a very long period, there would be some evidence that he was not seeking or did not desire employment. But under the present arrangement, which is designed to meet an abnormal situation, it is quite clear that the matter does not depend on any principle of insurance at all, because whether it is 44 weeks, or 50 weeks, on the present basis from an insurance standpoint, the fund is clearly insolvent. It is as unlike insurance as if a house had been burned down, and not only was the premium paid after the event, but was paid by somebody other than the owner. To re-establish your 2281 insurance fund, you are relying upon employed men in normal times to make up the deficit created by a totally different set of people who have suffered through abnormal times. If these men have got to be provided for, as in fact they have, if it is not to be on any basis of insurance at all, and if, as we know is the fact, the work does not exist for these men to do, there can be no evidence that they are shirking employment, and there is no object in sending them from one department to another and finally to the boards of guardians. That means that precisely the same sum of money has to be paid, but in a different way, and in the way which, in fact, increases the cost. Furthermore, it works out on occasion very unfairly. As a matter of fact, in my own constituency the whole of the city of Oxford is not within one union, but part of the city is within a rural union. Where a man who is turned off for a few weeks from receiving benefit has to go to one or other of these unions, the treatment he will receive depends on whether he lives on one side of the road or the other, because the treatment meted out to these men is not the same in the two unions.
§ Mr. JOWITT
I wish to add my appeal to those already made to the Minister of Labour, to reconsider this matter, even at the last moment. I should like the Minister to bear in mind the conditions prevailing in some of the large shipbuilding constituencies. In my own constituency it is perfectly idle for unemployed men in the shipbuilding, or iron and steel industries, to go round and try to get work. A man may go round the shipbuilding yards, and the other works, but he will only find the gates closed, and a cardboard notice attached to them bearing the words "No work here." Therefore, there is absolutely no point in the man going round seeking work. The test of the "gap," and the only real point about the "gap," is to make certain that a man is genuinely trying to get work, and that goes by the board when you have conditions like these prevailing. The matter stands in this way. These men have got to live. You are not going to take these men into institutions, and the point simply resolves itself into this, who is to pay for these six weeks—the difference between the 44 weeks 2282 and the 50 weeks? Are the guardians to pay, or are they not? At present you are making them pay, and consider what happens. You impose a charge on the rates which is borne by the manufacturers in the district, who are already very hard pressed. The iron and steel manufacturers and the shipbuilders are trying their utmost to get work. The manufacturers in making their tenders have to take the local rates into consideration, and the higher you get your rates the more difficult it is for them to get orders. Consequently, you have a vicious circle, and I ask the Minister of Labour—or if I may appeal from him to those who sit behind him, I ask them—to consider whether it is not fair in cases like this that we should take the burden off the rates, put it on the unemployment fund, and thus relieve necessitous areas.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I understand and appreciate the fact that the Minister of Labour has got a very difficult task to perform. He has got to try and prove that, so far as the Government are concerned, their heart is full of sympathy and their eyes are full of tears for the unemployed, but I want to suggest that some of us know what unemployment means in so far as the Government are concerned. If the right hon. Gentleman will consult his friend and colleague the Minister of Health, he will probably discover another aspect of the problem. Would it not be better for the Government to accept the national responsibility of abolishing the gap which is proposed, instead of having to face the inevitable bankruptcy of the most important industrial centres in Great Britain? Our own district has always been a Cinderella, but now it is becoming quite respectable. It has had to borrow £1,500,000 owing to this slump in trade, with the result that a large proportion of the ratepayers are now compelled to appeal to the overseers to excuse them from payment of their rates. They cannot carry on. It is now beginning to affect employment in the factories on the riverside. The employers are beginning to see that, if our local expenditure grows much more, it will be impossible for them to carry on. I, therefore, ask that this Amendment should be accepted as a kind of compromise between the responsibility of the State as a whole and the responsibility of the localities. It must be remembered that, in addition to our ordinary un- 2283 employment problem, we have had, in consequence of the War, a concentration of unemployment. Thousands upon thousands of people have been brought in to different localities because of war conditions. Where munition factories were established, where great chemical works existed, men and women were brought from all parts of Great Britain, and they suddenly found themselves practically "on their uppers," with the result that we have got to-day, in nearly every industrial centre in Great Britain, thousands of people who were never previously in those districts.
We are paying out in West Ham to-day £26,000 a week more than we were paying out in a normal year such as 1913. All that money, practically speaking, is paid out in relief of unemployment. We hear a great deal about what the Government are doing, but very little about what the local authorities are doing. It is not insurance against unemployment that you are giving, but insurance against revolution. The only thing is how we can give "a little bit of sugar for the bird," how easily we can let them down. There are men to-day, not belonging to our party, not members of the Labour movement, sitting upon local authorities, who are getting "fed up" with the whole situation, and they are moving resolutions that they will refuse to administer. Men who do not belong to any section of the working-class movement are getting thoroughly upset with the situation. Do you expect that a man with a family, in the East end of London, can live on 15s. a week for himself, 5s. for his wife, and Is. for each child? I only wish some of the
§ people who talk about it would try to do it. What happens? He comes to the guardians, and we give him the "Mond" scale of relief, and that is not too generous, recognising, of course, the capacity of the individual who is responsible for the scale, and we have to subsidise that. Even if you give us all that we ask for, we shall still have to subsidise them, because they cannot live upon it with prices as they are now.
§ You are now asking us to accept a bigger responsibility, because for these six weeks we shall have to find that total maintenance, and we shall have to be the gap finders, and we have already borrowed £1,500,000. I am speaking for my district, but some other districts are in an even worse case than ours, and therefore I think the Government should be prepared to accept the responsibility nationally. Eighty of the biggest industrial centres in Great Britain are to-day practically bankrupt, and if the Government are not prepared to accept the financial situation now before us, what hope is there for the next six or 12 months that we are going to be in any better position than we are in now? I suppose we are going to "keep on keeping on," until we find ourselves dead up against the bad end, and the Government will have to reverse their policy, just as they have done on housing. They will have to reconsider the situation, and for the sake of stopping the rot in by-elections they will have to accept the Amendment we are now proposing.
§ Question put, "That the words 'forty-four' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 198; Noes, 106.2285
|Division No. 52.]||AYES.||[12.13 a.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Blundell, F. N.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Cope, Major William|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)|
|Apsley, Lord||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Briggs, Harold||Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Brittain, Sir Harry||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bruford, R.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Banks, Mitchell||Bruton, Sir James||Doyle, N. Grattan|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Edge, Captain Sir William|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Butt, Sir Alfred||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Cadogan, Major Edward||Ednam, Viscount|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Cautley, Henry Strother||Ellis, R. G.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||England, Lieut.-Colonel A.|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Chapman, Sir S.||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Berry, Sir George||Clarry, Reginald George||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Clayton, G. C.||Evans, Ernest (Cardigan)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Coates, Lt.-Col. Norman||Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Falcon, Captain Michael|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Hutchison, w. (Kelvingrove)||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|Fawkes, Major F. H.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Fildes, Henry||Jarrett, G. W. S.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Flanagan, W. H,||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Kinioch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Lamb, J. Q.||Ruggles-Brise, Major .E.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Lane-Fox, Lieut-Colonel G. R.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Fremantle, Lieut-Colonel Francis E.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Furness, G. J.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putneyj|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Lorden, John William||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Lorimer, H. D.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Gould, James C.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Gray. Harold (Cambridge)||Lumley, L. R.||Singleton, J. E.|
|Greawes-Lord, Walter||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Gretton, Colonel John||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Gulnness, Lieut.Col. Hon. W. E.||Manville, Edward||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)|
|Guthrle, Thomas Maule||Margesson, H. D. R.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Stanley, Lord|
|Hall, Lieut.Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Llv'p'I.W.D'by)||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Halstead, Major D.||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Harrison, F. C.||Nall, Major Joseph||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Harvey, Major S. E.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J.(Westminster)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col K. P.|
|Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Waring, Major Walter|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Paget, T. G.||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Wells, S. R.|
|Hewett, Sir J. P.||Pease, William Edwin||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Hlley. Sir Ernest||Penny, Frederick George||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Winterton, Earl|
|Holher, Gerald Fitzroy||Perring, William George||Wise, Frederick|
|Hood. Sir Joseph||Phillpson, H. H.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Plelou, D.P.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Rlpon)|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Houfton, John Plowright||Privett, F. J.||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hudson, Capt. A||Remer, J. R.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Hughes, Collingwood||Rentoul, G. S.||Gibbs.|
|Hume, G. H.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hardle, George D.||Richards, R.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Harris, Percy A.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Sprlng)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayday, Arthur||Rlley, Ben|
|Barnes, A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Ritson, J.|
|Batey, Joseph||Herriotts, J.||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hinds, John||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Berkeley, Captain Reglnald||Hirst, G. H.||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Bonwlck, A.||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Salter, Dr. A|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Briant, Frank||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Buckle, J.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Burgess, S.||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cairns, John||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Chapple, W. A.||Kirkwood, D.||Turner, Ben|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lansbury, George||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Lawson, John James||Warne, G. H.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Leach, W.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lee, F.||Webb, Sidney|
|Duncan, C.||Linfield, F. C.||Weir, L. M.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lunn, William||Westwood, J.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||M'Entee, V. L.||Wheatley, J.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Foot, Isaac||Maxton, James||Whiteley, W.|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Millar, J. D.||Wignall, James|
|Gosling, Harry||Muir, John W.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Murnin, H.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Greenall, T.||Nichol, Robert||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||O'Grady, Captain James||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Groves, T.||Paling, W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grundy, T. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Mr. Vivian Phillipps and Sir Arthur|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Potts, John S.||Marshall.|
|Harbord, Arthur||Price, E. G.|
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to insert a new Subsection—(4) Where a disabled person, as defined by Sub-section (1) of Section nine of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1921, is in the opinion of the Minister, by reason of his disability unable to take whole-time employment, the Minister may, notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (b) of Sub-section (3) of Section four of the Act of 1922, authorise that person to receive benefit.This is an attempt to carry out quite sincerely an undertaking I gave to the Committee. It was pointed out in the Committee, that while the Committee were good enough—and the House now endorses that view—to decide that the discretion may be left in the hands of the Minister of Labour with regard to un-convenanted benefit there was one rather serious case in which the exercise of that discretion was limited by the Act of Parliament. That was in regard to disablement. In practice when the disabled man is incapable of whole-time employment, he is not pressed to undertake it, nor is it a ground of disability against him. But there was the provision of the Act. There was substance in the objection, and, therefore, I have put down on the Paper this Amendment the effect of which will be that the Minister, in the exercise of his discretion, will not be hampered in any way in looking upon these men as subjects for whole-time employment if they are incapable of it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. WEBB
I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to insert a new Subsection—(5) The Minister shall appoint a committee of representatives of employers and representatives of employed persons in equal numbers to advise him as to the general conditions under which such authorisation for the receipt of benefit may be given.I will not say the right hon. Gentleman agreed to this Amendment in Committee, but he was good enough to say he would consider by the Report stage whether or not he could agree to allow himself to be assisted by a purely advisory Committee nominated in regard to this physical question of qualification for uncovenanted benefit. I will not put any strain on the manner in which the Minister is exercising his discretion. It is a very large subject. There are a great many cases of which the Minister does not necessarily hear, and it is suggested that if he 2288 allowed a Committee to make suggestions to him in regard to difficult cases, it might be a good thing.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
In formally seconding the Amendment, may I say that it is put forward in consequence of the discussion that took place upstairs in the Standing Committee?
It was thought that there were cases upon which such a committee could assist the Ministry. By seeing that perhaps a greater degree of justice, with a big dash of real human sympathy were thrown in, they might be able to help him in getting over some of the difficult snags that seem to occur, no matter how much pains have been taken in drawing up the rules or directions in the main. I hope the Minister of Labour will be able to accept the Amendment.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I will say at once that the appeal made for something along the lines of an advisory council has, in my mind, a good deal of sympathy. Not only is that so, but, in fact, I have been considering it for some little while, quite apart from the discussion that has been raised. I do not know what such a council might not grow into in the future, it might have a much more elaborate development and extension. What seems to me to be fundamental at the presentstage, however, when things are in a fluid state, and until times become more normal, is that any Council, to be of use, must function somewhat on these lines. It must, first of all, be of an advisory character, and it must be invited to meet purely on the Minister's invitation. Secondly, it should only deal with broad questions of policy on the Minister's invitation. Thirdly, such a Council would fail of its object unless it were likely to be accepted by those large bodies of persons concerned, the employers, the workers and the State, who are interested in its programme of unemployment insurance. On those three conditions I can conceive of a Council being of some very considerable use, and I am willing to probe that matter in every way, especially with regard to the last point, as to whether it would be likely to be acceptable in practice. As suggested on the Paper, however, I do not think the council, or committee, or whatever it is called, is really of the kind that would be of use. In the first place, it is suggested that it should deal with matters 2289 which really are very largely matters of detail. I do not think it would be advisable to ask an advisory committee or council to deal with matters of detailed administration. These must remain for the Minister. I think it would only lead to confusion if such a committee were asked to deal with details. Therefore, I am afraid I am not in a position to accept the Amendment, at the same time saying that my general view coincides with what underlies it.
§ Mr. HARRIS
The Minister's reply is rather unsympathetic. After all, it is a very harmless Amendment. On the other hand, it does establish the principle that on a Bill of this kind it is not sound to give so much autocratic power to the Minister. If it were merely a matter of national money subscribed by the taxpayer, he would have a strong case, but he overlooks the fact that a great part of the money is found by the employers and the insured persons. It is not a fund for him to do what he likes with as a member of the Government. It is a great insurance scheme, and the way in which the money is spent and the costs of distribution are very vital matters for the people who are insured. If it is not an insurance scheme, do not call it one. If it is an insurance scheme, let us make the people who subscribe the money—employers and insured persons—feel that it is really a fund found for themselves and under their control through their representatives. That is an important principle to establish. I do not say that the words of the Amendment are particularly attractive. I should like it to be established, if there is to be a committee, that the members should be the representatives of insured persons and employers who pay their share to the insurance fund. It is Very unfortunate that we have this patch-work legislation—one Bill on top of another. Apparently, modern Government do not seem able to look a week, or at any rate a year ahead, and I maintain that if we are to have insurance as a permanent part of our legislation, and if insurance is to have the confidence of the great mass of the 12,000,000 persons who regard themselves as insured, some committee of this sort must be set up. We must not concentrate autocratic powers as at present in the hands of the Minister.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I am surprised that the Minister has turned down this proposal, especially in view of the fact that if he had inquired of the Minister of Health he would have found that there was such a Consultative Council as is here suggested.
§ Mr. DAVIES
I know a little of the work of that Council, and I feel sure the Minister would have given a more favourable reply had he made inquiries. The Minister has told us that he is not unwilling to consider a proposal of this kind. Would he tell the House when he is likely to give favourable consideration to some such scheme?
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I have considered this matter for some time and I have received information from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Pensions, and the Post Office in connection with all of which Departments there is an official Council on these lines. I have carefully considered this and my mind is moving very much along the lines of the suggestion underlying this.
§ Mr. S. WALSH
Will the right hon. Gentleman promise that something of this kind will be embodied in the Bill in another place, or tell us when his mind will move? Ho has repeatedly stated that he has sympathy with point after point that has been submitted from this side, and surely if ever there was an in-occuous Amendment it is this one. All that it deals with is simply an advisory committee. The committee possesses no compulsory powers, but it is to be representative of employers and workmen. The Minister himself will be supreme. Surely it is desirable in a complicated scheme such as this that the two bodies, the employers and the workers who pay the money, should at least have powers by which they can tender advice. Why should the Ministry of Labour desire to negative such a proposal as this? Is there something entirely distinct between the Ministry of Labour and other Departments? Will the right hon. Gentleman give us any idea as to when an advisory council is likely to be set up I He says he will not have the proposal inserted in another place. Will he say that his mind will move in a reasonable time 2291 in the direction of setting up such a committee? It is not right for the Minister to treat the matter in such an off-hand way as if the whole thing depended on him. After all, the working people are finding millions of money, and surely the employers and employed have a right to some little say in the matter of
§ an advisory committee. He says that he will not agree to anything being done in another place. That is denying the professions of sympathy which he has been giving to the House all the evening.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 99; Noes, 168.2293
|Division No. 53.]||AYES.||[12.38 a.m.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Richards, R.|
|Batey, Joseph||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Rlley, Ben|
|Bonwick, A.||Herriotts, J.||Ritson, J.|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Hirst, G. H.||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Briant, Frank||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Buchanan, G.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Burgess, S.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Cairns, John||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Davles, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Duncan, C.||Kirkwood, D.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lansbury, George||Thorne, W. (West Ham, plaistow)|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Lawson, John James||Turner, Ben|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Leach, W.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Linfield, F. C.||Warne, G. H.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Lunn, William||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)||M'Entee, V. L.||Webb, Sidney|
|Evans, Ernest (Cardigan)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Weir, L. M.|
|Fildes, Henry||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Westwood, J.|
|Foot, Isaac||Maxton, James||Wheatley, J.|
|Gosling, Harry||Millar, J. D.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Muir, John W.||Whiteley, W.|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Murnin, H.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Grentell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Nichol, Robert||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||O'Grady, Captain James||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Oliver, George Harold||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Harbord, Arthur||Philipson, H. H.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hardie, George D.||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Harris, Percy A.||Potts, John S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hayday, Arthur||Price, E. G.||Mr. Ammon and Mr. Frederick Hall.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Cautley, Henry Strother||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Chapman, Sir S.||Goff, Sir R. Park|
|Apsley, Lord||Clarry, Reginald George||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Clayton, G. C.||Greaves-Lord, Walter|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Coates, Lt.-Col. Norman||Guinness, Lieut.-Col Hon. W. E.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cockerill, Brigadler-General G. K.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Banks, Mitchell||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Llv'p'l,W.D'by)|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Cope, Major William||Halstead, Major D.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Crooke, J. S. (Derltend)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Harrison, F. C.|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Harvey, Major S. E.|
|Berry, Sir George||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Doyle, N. G rattan||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Ednam, Viscount||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Maryiebone)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Ellis, R. G.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Hood, Sir Joseph|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Briggs, Harold||Falcon, Captain Michael||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Houfton, John Plowright|
|Bruford, R.||Fawkes, Major F. H.||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Flanagan, W. H.||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Hughes, Collingwood|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Hume, G. H.|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Furness, G. J.||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J.(Westminster)||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Jarrett, G. W. S.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Singleton, J. E.|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Paget, T. G.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Pease, William Edwin||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Penny, Frederick George||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Pielou, D. P.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Privett, F. J.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Lorlmer, H. D.||Rankin, Captain James Stuart||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Remer, J. R.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Lumley, L. R.||Rentoul, G. S.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Reynolds, W. G. W.||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Wells, S. R.|
|Manville, Edward||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Margesson, H. D. R.||Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)'|
|Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Milne, J. S. Ward law||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.||Winterton, Earl|
|Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wise, Frederick|
|Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Russell, William (Bolton)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. .J. T, C.||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Nail, Major Joseph||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Newson, Sir Percy Wilson|
§ CLAUSE 4.—(Rates of benefit and rates of contribution.)
§ (2) Notwithstanding any enactment to the contrary, the rates of contribution in force at the commencement of this Act shall remain in force after the end of the deficiency period until such date as the Minister may by order prescribe, but not being a date later than, the first day of the insurance year commencing next after the end of the deficiency period, and after the date so prescribed the contributions payable by employed persons and their employers shall be at such reduced rates to be prescribed by the Minister with the consent of the Treasury, but not in any case exceeding the rates set out in the First Schedule of this Act, as appear to him from time to time to be necessary for the purpose of providing for the payment of benefit at the rates in force at the date aforesaid, and the contribution to be made out of moneys provided by Parliament shall be at a rate equal to one-fourth of the aggregate amount of the contributions paid in respect of the employed person by himself and his employer, or in the case of an exempt person paid by his employer, and Sub-sections (3) and (7) of Section five of the principal Act shall have effect accordingly.
§ Mr. DUNCAN
I beg to move, in Subsection (2) after the word "prescribed" [" reduced rates to be prescribed"], to insert the words "by Regulations made."
The Amendment I have to move is a very modest one, and I trust that the Minister will be able to give this concession to justify the evidence we put in. I move this Amendment shortly in order to give the Minister the opportunity of indicating what he is prepared to do.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I beg to second the Amendment. The insertion of these three words is really intended to provide that the Minister, instead of being left to prescribe by himself with the consent of the Treasury, should prescribe by Regulation. We are hoping to have the opportunity of these Regulations being laid on the Table from time to time, so that they will come before Members of the House. Otherwise, if this provision be not made, the Minister, in consultation with the Treasury, may prescribe. This is a matter which the Minister might well accept in order that we may save time. All that it really means is that he shall prescribe by Regulation, and we should then have the opportunity of knowing what it was that he was able to prescribe through Regulation made by him.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I think there is some misunderstanding about this matter. The word "prescribe" is a technical word. Under Section 35, I think it is, of the original Act, it is provided that the Minister may make regulations for prescribing anything which under that Act is to be prescribed. If he prescribes, he prescribes by regulations. That is already provided for. Therefore, I do not think the Amendment is necessary. The present Bill when passed into law will be read with the Act of 1920, therefore the provision as to prescribing in the Act of 1920 would apply to this Bill. I do not think that the Amendment in its present shape is necessary.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
Is it not in the principal Act that the word "Regulation" does appear and that the intention is that whatever the Minister prescribes he does so under the principal Act by regulation? A doubt is created here, because the term "Regulation" does not appear in connection with the sentence. It simply remains to be prescribed by the Minister with the consent of the Treasury, but it does not say how it shall be prescribed. That is the doubt we wish to clear up. We say if he has to prescribe it should be by regulation and that opportunity may be given of its coming before the Members of the House.
§ Sir M BARLOW
If there is any doubt about the matter I have no objection to accepting the Amendment, though I think it is unnecessary, because I cannot prescribe in any other way. If the House would desire me to accept the words I will.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
On a point of Order. I would point out that my Amendment to Sub-section (2), to leave out the wordsand the contribution to be made out of moneys provided by Parliament shall be at a rate equal to one-fourth of the aggregate amount of the contributions paid in respect of the employed person by himself and his employer, or in the case of an exempt person paid by his employer, and Sub-sections (3) and (7) of Section five of the principal Act shall have effect accordingly,"has been ruled out of order. I do not know why it was ruled out. Perhaps I ought not to debate that point but this Amendment really deals with the permanent side of unemployment. The reason for the present Bill we are informed is that it is in consequence of the extension of the fourth period, but in the Bill that deals with the extension of the fourth special period something else is being introduced to deal not only with the fourth special period but after the deficiency period also which may be three or four years hence. I hope it is in order to say that it will be time to deal with this rearrangement as to contributions when the occasion for determining that arises. We say that the occasion has not arisen under the present Measure which is introduced to deal solely with the extension of the special period.
§ Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
I observe, Mr. Speaker, you said that the next Amendment standing in the name of two hon. Members of the Labour party has not been selected. May I draw your attention to the fact that the situation is now altered by the fact that the Government have accepted the last Amendment moved by the two hon. Gentlemen; and the second Amendment in their names appears to me in consequence to be extremely relevant to the one accepted. In these circumstances I suggest that a statement should be heard in accordance with Standing Order 27a.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is quite true that the Amendment is consequential to the Amendment just accepted, consequently I must allow discussion upon it.
§ Mr. DUNCAN
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to insert a new Subsection:(4) Regulations made by the Minister under the provisions of this Section shall be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as may be after they are made; and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty days on which that House has sat next after the Regulations are laid before it, praying that the Regulations may be annulled, they shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder, or to the making of new Regulations. If the Session of Parliament ends before such twenty days as aforesaid have expired, the Regulations shall be laid before each House of Parliament at the commencement of the next Session as if they had not previously been laid.The Amendment simply lays down that the Regulations made by the Minister under the provisions of this Clause shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as possible. The idea is to give Members of the Houses of Parliament an opportunity of seeing whether the Regulations are reasonable or unreasonable, and to give them an opportunity if unreasonable to raise the matter in the House with a view of getting some amendment made to them. There is no suggestion of wasting the time of the House. We want to make the legislation as good as we can. The reasonableness of the Amendment is already shown by the acceptance by the Minister of the first Amendment dealing with this. It gives us an indication that 2297 as far as he is concerned he is not opposed to what we suggest. We think the Members of the House of Commons should have an opportunity of going through these matters when they are laid before the House. We are dealing with the case of millions of workpeople in this country, and it is the business of those of us who are connected with trade unions and who have to deal with unemployed to have some idea as to how we are going to fare in the future. If there be no real objection I hope the Minister will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I beg to second the Amendment. It will obviate the previous misunderstanding that have taken place in connection with Regulations, Rules or directions. Earlier on, during the discussion upon this Amendment, the Minister informed the House that he was about to codify all the, Regulations, Rules or directions and that he hoped to make them available not only for Members of the House, but also for the public. That being so, I really cannot see the objection to these Regulations being laid on the Table of the House as the other Regulations are, because we have constantly said there would be more disqualifications for benefit as a result of the Regulations. Applicants and people generally are led to believe that all unemployed persons qualified by stamps or otherwise have benefit available to them, provided they fulfil certain conditions laid down in the Act. We have not heard that the Regulations and instructions to members of the local employment committees, Employment Exchange managers and Referees vary from time to time and with each subsequent Rule or Regulation that has been issued there has been a tightening up of: the conditions upon which unemployed persons have a right to benefit. As the Minister accepted the previous Amendment, I hope he will say he has nothing to hide and no purpose to serve and will send these Regulations broadcast amongst the people, instead of privately to members of committees or Employment Exchange managers. If the Regulations are laid on the Table of the House, they will give us an opportunity of letting applicants know what the Minister is about to do.
§ 1.0 A M
§ Sir M. BARLOW
There is a little confusion, which I think we must clear up. Two points have been covered by the 2298 two speeches made. First, there is the question whether the Minister's directions— call them Rules, directions or instructions, as you will, for they are perfectly general words— issued by the Ministry shall be turned into formal Statutory Regulations or not. I have carefully refused to use the word "Regulation," because that is a technical word used when the Ministry prescribes a thing by Statute. The first question is whether the Rules and instructions directing a committee or manager as to how the Minister's discretion is to be exercised are to be turned into Statutory Regulations. I have indicated that that should not be done, at any rate at the present stage. The second point is whether, where Statutory Regulations are required, as they are under this Clause (to which I have already accepted an Amendment), this Amendment we are discussing is necessary, as the matter is provided for under Section 35 of the Act of 1920.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I have not laid instructions, because these are not in the form of Statutory Regulations. We really must get it clear—this word "Regulation"
§ Sir M. BARLOW
So far as we have proceeded by Statutory Regulations made under the Act, they have, of course, been laid— they are bound to be in any case where we use the form of Statutory Regulations. Section 35, Sub-section (3) of the Act of 1920 has to be complied with. The issuing of personal directions by the Ministry is another thing. It is no good confusing the two. My point is that I do not propose, and I say it quite frankly, to turn these instructions of the Minister with regard to uncovenanted benefit, the question of aliens and other things, into Statutory Regulations. If we were proceeding by Statutory Regulations, as we shall proceed under this Clause, then we are already obliged to lay the Regulations under Section 35, Subsection (3) of the Act of 1930, which is as follows:All Regulations made under this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as may be after they are made, 2299 and, if an address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty days on which the House has sat next after any such Regulation is laid before it, praying that the Regulation may be annulled, it shall henceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done there under or to the making of any new Regulation.That, in a rather more compendious form, is the Amendment on the Paper. I suggest it is an unnecessary Amendment and should not be pressed.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That raises the question in my mind as to whether the Amendment is superfluous. This would only mean under this Sections, whereas what is quoted by the Minister seems to apply to the whole of the Amending Act .and the Act.
Mr. T. THOMSON
The whole tenor of the Clause have been altered and these regulations should be laid under the new Amendment.
§ Captain W. BENN
Further, on that point of Order, the wording in this Amendment is not the same exactly as the wording of Section 35 (3) of the original Act. There is a sentence at the end of this Amendment imposing further duties on the Minister.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 85; Noes, 176.2301
|Division No. 54.]||AYES.||[1.7 a.m.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Harriotts, J.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, G. H.||Riley, Ben|
|Bonn. Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Ritson, J.|
|Bonwick, A.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Bawdier, W. A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Briant, Frank||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Burgess, S.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Short, Alfred (Wedneshury)|
|Cairns, John||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kirkwood, D.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Lansbury, George||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawson, John James||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Duncan, C.||Leach, W.||Turner, Ben|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lunn, William||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedweilty)||M'Entee, V. L.||Warne, G. H.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Foot, Isaac||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Weir, L. M.|
|Gosling, Harry||Maxton, James||Westwood, J.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Millar, J. D.||Wheatley, J.|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Muir, John W.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Murnin, H.||Whiteley, W.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Nichol, Robert||Wignall, James|
|Grundy, T. W.||O'Grady, Captain James||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Harbord, Arthur||Oliver, George Harold||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hardle, George D.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Harris, Percy A.||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Hayday, Arthur||Potts, John S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Richards, R.||Mr. Ammon and Mr. Frederick Hall.|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Alnsworth, Captain Charles||Blades, Sir George Rowland||Clayton, G. C.|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Blundell, F. N.||Coates, Lt.-Col. Norman|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Apsley, Lord||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Briggs, Harold||Cope, Major William|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bruford, R.||Crooke, J. S. (Derltend)|
|Banks, Mitchell||Bruton, Sir James||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Butt, Sir Alfred||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Button, H. S.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Cadogan, Major Edward||Doyle, N. Grattan|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Edge, Captain Sir William|
|Berry, Sir George||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Chapman, Sir S.||Ednam, Viscount|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Ellis, R. G.||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Reynolds, W. G. W.|
|England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hughes, Collingwood||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Hume, G. H.||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Evans, Ernest (Cardigan)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)|
|Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)||Jarrett, G. W. S.||Rounded, Colonel R. F.|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Ruggles-Brise, Major E,|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Russelt, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Fawkes;, Major F. H.||Lamb, J. Q.||Russell, William (Bolton)|
|Fildes, Henry||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Flanagan, W. H.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.|
|Furness, G. J.||Lorlmer, H. D.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Shipwright, Captain D.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Lumley, L. R.||Singleton, J. E.|
|Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Gould, James C.||Manville, Edward||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)|
|Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Margesson, H. D. R.||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Greaves-Lord, Walter||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Sykes, Major-Gen. sir Frederick H.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, s.)|
|Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Llv'p'l,W.D'by)||Morelng, Captain Algernon H.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Halstead, Major D.||Nail, Major Joseph||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Watts, Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Harrison, F. C.||Newsan, Sir Percy Wilson||Wells, S. R.|
|Harvey, Major S. E.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J.(Westminster)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Paget, T. G.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Henderson, Sir T. (Roxburgh)||Parker. Owen (Kettering)||Winterton, Earl|
|Hennessy, Major J. R- G.||Pease, William Edwin||Wise, Frederick|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Penny, Frederick George||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripen)|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Pielou, D. P.|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Privett, F. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Rankin, Captain James Stuart||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel Gibbs.|
|Houfton, John Plowright||Remer, J. R.|
Bill read the Third time, and passed.
§ CLAUSE 6.—(Arrangements with local education authorities for administration of benefit. 11 and 12 Geo. 5, c. 51.)
§ (2) Whore a scheme under this Section is in force—
§ (a) there shall out of the unemployment fund be repaid to the education authority sums equal to the aggregate amount from time to time paid in benefit by the authority; and
§ (b)there shall from time to time be paid to the education authority in respect of administrative expenses such sums as may be determined in accordance with a scale fixed by the Minister with the consent of the Treasury, and those sums shall be treated as part of the expenses incurred by the Minister in carrying the principal Act into effect:
§ Provided that the scale for the purposes of this Section shall be fixed after consultation with such associations as may appear to the Minister to represent the interests of local education authorities and shall be such as will, so far as can to estimated, on an average produce sums sufficient to reimburse to the authorities undertaking additional duties under this Section the amount by which their administrative expenses are 2302 increased by reasonable expenditure upon those duties and to compensate them in respect of interest.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the words "the scale" ["Provided that the scale"].
This is an Amendment to meet some of the objections raised in Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] I must explain shortly what is the effect of the words, because it is germane to another Amendment which stands on the Paper. The point at issue deals with the expenses of education authorities which undertake the work of the insurance of young persons between 16 and 18 years of age when they at the same time deal with the placing of these young persons in employment. It is suggested that the expenses may be considerable and that they may vary. I therefore put in the words "scale or scales" so that it may be possible to have varying scales in varying areas.
§ Sir CYRIL COBB
I understand that Clause 6 only deals with the question of expenditure in connection with the administration of unemployment benefit. I think the proposed Amendment is an im 2303 provement on the Clause in the Bill, but it must be remembered that the expenditure on the administration of unemployment benefit is a very small proportion of the expenditure which necessarily falls on local education authorities which adopt the choice of employment scheme as a whole
§ Mr. SPEAKER
How does this arise on the Amendment, which merely substitutes for one scale differing scales in different cases?
§ Sir C. COBB
What I was endeavouring to do was to ask the right hon. Gentleman for some assurance with regard to other classes of expenditure necessarily involved by the Chelmsford Report. It is only because the Chelmsford Report is to be legalised in this Bill that the local education authorities will be obliged to make a choice as to whether they will or will not adopt the Choice of Employment Act, or leave in the hands of the Ministry of Labour the whole question of expenditure connected with the choice of employment for children. Immediately a local education authority exercises its power under this Bill, there will ensue incidental expenditure in connection with the choice of employment of young persons, and, in addition, other expenditure included under Clause 6 of this Bill. My point is that, if that happens, the local education authority will be obliged to undertake the whole of the expenditure.
§ Mr. HOHLER
Is it not in order to raise the question of whether the whole expenditure will be covered?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
No. As I read the Amendment it is to leave out the words "the scale" and insert "different scales," as different scales may be fixed for different classes of local authorities.
§ Mr. HOHLER
Are we not entitled to know whether these scales will cover the whole of the charges on the local authorities? It means an additional burden on the county rates and we are entitled to know what it is to be.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If it would come in the form of asking what the Minister had in mind when he uses the words "different scale."
§ Sir C. COBB
Does the scale really include a scale which is to be raised between the Minister of Labour and the Board of Education 1 What amount of money has to be paid to a local education authority if it adops the full scheme? Under the full unemployment scheme London was paid £35,000. Will London receive that £35,000 in order to carry on the same work that is now being done by the Ministry of Labour, or will it, on the other hand, have to go to the Board of Education? Under the regulations of the Board of Education, they would get 50 per cent, only of the expense, the other 50 per cent, falling on the rates. In that case you will have this extraordinary result. In some parts where the local education authority adopts the full unemployment scheme, half the money would fall upon the rates and half the money would come from the Treasury through the Board of Education, whereas in another district where the local education authority absolutely refused to take over this business at all and leaves it in the hands of the Ministry of Labour, then the whole expense will fall upon the unemployment scheme, so that you will have two different systems working through the country, according to the choice which the local education authority makes.
§ Mr. CHARLES ROBERTS
The Minister takes powers, I understand it, to vary a scale; also, as I understand, to retain a certain discretion as to the amount of the expenses which he will allow. Is that so? Car he give us an assurance that any additional expenses of a legitimate kind to which the education authorities will be put by taking on these full duties it is intended to reimburse them under his scale?
§ Mr. R. DAVIES
I would like to put a simple question to the Minister of Labour. I understand his Department has been in negotiation with the Education Committees' Association of this country regarding this very point, and that the negotiations have been proceeding for several months. The question I desire to put to him is this: Has his Department satisfied the representatives of the education authorities with regard to this Clause as it now stands?
§ Mr. HARRIS
An impression was made in my mind that this looks like a little sharp practice on the part of the Minister 2305 of Labour to shift from the National Exchequer on to the local rates what will be a very considerable charge. I have no doubt he has done it in good faith. The education authorities want to do their duty to these young people and to give them a fair chance and keep control over and follow them up in their employment after they leave school. If they do they will be shouldered with the burden of paying for the Employment Exchanges now borne by the Ministry of Labour. That will mean that a certain sum will have to be found by the rates, the whole of which is now found out of the Exchequer by the Treasury. We have to watch that very closely, because it is an unfortunate thing at the present time that, under pressure from the Board of Education, education authorities were cutting down expenditure on education right and left. In every direction economies were being made in a desire to cut the rates down on education matters to the very bone. Education authorities will be influenced by their desire to avoid this expenditure going on the rates, although this magnificent work for the young people should be done by the Education autharities; it is in the interest, too, of the smooth working of the Act that it should be done by them. It would be nothing short of a disaster for this work to be taken out of the hands of the Education authorities. I do say, even at this early hour of the morning, the Minister should make some concession. It is unfortunate that this Clause is introduced into a Bill which has very little to do with Education. We are striking at the interests of the children. No one at the present time, with the rates so high and so many extra burdens put upon the ratepayers, thinks it wise to put on them an extra burden. I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Montague Barlow) is anxious to get up. I hope it is in order to give me a satisfactory reply. I hope that in this scheme of getting education authorities to co-operate in this matter and doing this good work so much better than the Ministry of Labour that they will not be penalised by having the cost and expense of it put upon the education rate.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I understand that the Treasury allow one-tenth of the total contribution for administrative purposes under the Unemployment Acts. This sug- 2306 gestion of the Minister is a compromise. What I feel about it is this. This is a fund subscribed to jointly by employer, workmen and the State. If the fund is to be established for a proper allowance for administrative purposes in the wider field of unemployment and it is to carry a burden that it is not justified in being asked to carry by the presentation by any education authority's bill who says: "here is our bill of expenses, meet it," then you are making a charge that will add a greater percentage of the expenses they would get. It is for the education authorities to make up any difference rather than to take from this fund already deficient to the extent of 20 millions to make good for any possible scheme made or created by an education authority.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
It is my business to protect the fund and prevent it being raided by education authorities I .am sorry that the expression "sharp practice" was used, but the hon. Member said that I acted in good faith. Though it seems a contradiction, I will leave it at that. There really is quite unnecessary confusion about the whole of this matter. There are two systems of dealing with young persons from 14 to 18. One, broadly speaking, under the Board of Education-, in connection with the local education authority, in which case the local education authority pays half the expenses, and the other system is under the Ministry of Labour in connection with the Employment Exchanges. A local area can choose which they like. That is the effect of the Chelmsford Report. If they choose to come under the Ministry of Labour the whole of the expense is borne for them. If they choose to come under the Board of Education they have to bear half the cost. It is for them to choose. It is not possible for them to complain and say an extra burden is being put upon them if they take the option of the Board of Education rather than come under the Ministry of Labour. As a matter of fact, under the two systems there were at the present time about 200 areas working under the Ministry of Labour and about 150 under the Board of Education. Therefore the majority, if there be a majority, have adopted the system under which they stave off the burden of expenses. I am anxious that a perfectly free choice should be given to each area, so. that if it pleases it can 2307 operate under the Ministry of Labour and equally if it pleases it can operate under the Board of Education. That being so, I have gone a very long way to meet the local authorities by the Amendment I have put on the Paper. If those areas choose to operate under the Board of Education, if, in other words, it chooses to do this work of placing these children of 14 to 18, it has, under the Chelmsford Report, also to undertake the work of insurance from 16 to 18. The same question arising is as to the additional expenditure which will be incurred by local education authorities in respect of children from 14 to 16 and insured workers from 16 to 18. Some education authorities say that the fund ought to bear every item of expenditure which they say is due to their doing this insurance work. I do not think it is a fair proposition. Some education authorities have put the cost as high as three or four shillings, but we know from our experience that it is nothing like that. If this Amendment were rejected or if the next Amendment were carried I think the effect would probably be, and I think that is the intention of the Mover, that expenditure to local authorities undertaking this work would be put upon my Department. I was moved by the argument, in Committee that expenditure varies in the various areas, as they probably do in London, and I said I would put words in if it could be proved that there were variations in actual expenditure incurred. I would draw the attention of the House to the words at present in the Bill:Provided that the scale for the purposes of this Section shall be fixed after consultation with such associations as may appear to the Minister to represent the interests of local education authorities and shall he such as will, so far as can be estimated, on an average produce sums sufficient to reimburse to the authorities undertaking additional duties under this Section the amount by which their administrative expenses are increased by reasonable expenditure upon those duties and to compensate them in respect of interest.Surely that is a fair way of putting it, and with the extra latitude I have taken under this Amendment by allowing scale or scales to vary or the possibility of variation, I venture to suggest I have gone a long way to meet the difficulties of the local authorities, and this Amendment 2308 should be passed without further discussion.
This is a long drawn out dispute. All that is in it is to which of the Departments is best able to carry on this work. The Minister has said that if it comes under the Ministry of Labour they are willing to pay part of the expenditure, and I submit the people best able to do so is the Board of Education who have the children in their care right up to the moment they go to work. If it is possible for the Minister to pay all expenditure, surely the work ought to be given to the Board of Education, for they are better able to do it. This Amendment is not by any means satisfactory, and in the next Amendment further trouble will arise if the Minister does not give way on these two or three words. I suggest that the Minister, in consultation with the other associations, should confer, and that the matter should be left to the Board of Education.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made:
§ In Sub-section (2), after the word "Section" ["for the purposes of this Section"], insert the words "different scales may be fixed for different classes of education authorities and every such scale.— [Sir M. Barlow.]
§ CLAUSE 9.— (Recovery of sums improperly received by way of benefit.)
§ (1) Where any person is liable to repay-to the unemployment fund any sum received by him by way of benefit, that sum may. unless that person shows that the sum was received by him in good faith and without knowledge that he was not entitled thereto, be recovered, without prejudice or any other remedy, by means of deductions from any benefit to which that person thereafter becomes entitled.
§ Mr. DUNCAN
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the wordsand if the sum received by him was paid by an association having an arrangement under Section seventeen of the principal Act, such deductions shall be refunded to the association.The method in operation, at present, is as follows. If a man goes to an Employment Exchange and receives more benefit than he is entitled to, the Employ- 2309 ment Exchange can deduct from any future benefit such sums as are overdrawn. If the man receives his benefit from an organisation under the Act such organisation is not in the position of the Employment Exchange at the present moment. The man may have received a considerable sum from his trade union operating under the Act, but if he leaves the association and on the next occasion makes a direct claim in the Employment Exchange, the association is not able to recover this money. We think the Minister might, at any rate, do what he can to help the association to recover this money which has been wrongly paid. There is nothing extravagant about the proposal. We do not ask him to exercise his generosity, but not to help the dishonest man at the expense of the association.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I beg to second the Amendment. I feel that after the very sympathetic way the. Minister received the substance of the discussion upstairs in relation to this point, he will be able to give us a satisfactory answer. It often happens that a man might be paid through his association in consequence of error. Where these mistakes are due to the Labour Exchange, and the payment is made by the association, we do feel that the Minister of Labour should remedy that error.
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I am glad to give an assurance, which I hope will satisfy the hon. Member who moved this Amendment, which I cannot accept in its present shape. The case dealt with is a case under what we call Section 17. It is a case where a trade union has acted as agent for the Ministry of Labour and has made a State payment and a payment in addition from their own funds. Very good work has been done under this system, and I wish to register my cordial appreciation of that work. With regard to the case with which the hon. Gentlemen are dealing, it is a 2310 case where a mistake has been made and money has been paid improperly beyond the amount due. That mistake may be due to one of two causes. It may be due to the mistake of the association, or the mistake of the Ministry. If the mistake is due to the association, I do not think it is quite reasonable to expect that the charge should be loaded on the Ministry. That is why I cannot accept the Amendment. That the Ministry of Labour should have to refund money they have not paid out through their own fault is not, I think, very reasonable. But if the mistake is due to the Ministry itself, then I am prepared to give an assurance, without making any formal motion, which, I think, my hon. Friends ought to be able to accept. The assurance I am prepared to give is— I will read the words:If an association makes an overpayment of State benefit owing to a mistake of the Ministry and is unable to recover from the member the sum over-paid, the Ministry will reimburse that sum to the association in full and will charge the member's account with the Unemployment Fund.Where a mistake arises, we will debit the man's account.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ It being after Half-past Eleven of the Clock upon Monday evening, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at a Quarter before Two o'Clock a.m.