§ Postponed Proceeding resumed on Consideration of Bill, as amended.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
When the proceedings on this Bill were interrupted by Private Business, I was on the point of concluding the observations on my Amendment., in page 1, line 15, at the end, to insert(2) In this Act the expression "earnings" means money or money's worth which a person receives or acquires as a result of work presently performed by him.The definition which I propose is a very generous one and has been framed so that, if there is any chance of giving an advantage, the advantage shall be on the side of the applicant for a pension. I find, on reference to the Oxford Dictionary, that "earnings" is defined asThe amount of money which a person acquires or becomes entitled to by his labour.That definition would not do for the Amendment, because it might include as earnings the pension which was the reward of labour or interest upon savings which also would be the reward of labour. The Amendment is so drafted that only the current earnings of an applicant for old age pension will be regarded as earnings within the meaning of the Bill. It may be said by some hon. Members that the use of the word "presently" is rather exceptional, but I am certain that that objection will not be taken by the Scottish Members sitting behind me. That term is in very common use north of the Tweed, and it is still occasionally used in this country. There can he no doubt that the use of the word will carry out the purpose that we have in view. It will include only earnings which are being currently earned or received.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have a manuscript Amendment handed in by the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Edmund Harvey). It is out of Order, as it goes beyond the Money Resolution.
Mr. EDMUND HARVEY
Had I been in Order, I should have wished to omit from the Chancellor's Amendment the words "or money's worth." It is, therefore, only possible for those of us who take the view that I do to plead with the right hon. Gentleman not to press his definition; that he should, in- 1470 deed, withdraw it. If he does not, this Amendment will have a harsh effect in certain cases. For the first time the earnings of these men will be defined in such a way as to include all the casual gains that may come in their way—of gifts in kind in return for their labour generally.
If the Chancellor cannot understand the general position, I will give him details. What about the old woman who goes to her next door neighbour to look after the child, and at the end of a few hours' work is rewarded by a meal? Is that case covered by this Amendment? Would that be a reason for the deduction from the pension of the old lady? I ask the Chancellor to answer.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Casual earnings would most certainly have to be deducted if they amounted to 10s. per week. If they amounted to that, the recipient would certainly not be entitled to a full pension.
I think my case is proved from the reply of the right hon. Gentleman. I could give him other cases. For instance, there is that of the old man who works for an hour or two in a neighbour's allotment, and does not get money for it, but potatoes it may be, or other of the produce of the allotment. It is partly a friendly gift, and it is a most unfortunate thing that by this definition of earnings, such little gains should be liable for deduction from the pension of the old age pensioner. I would appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to go to the Oxford Dictionary for a definition, but to consult his own heart, and I am quite convinced he will find a better definition there. If he cannot revise the definition, and there is reason for it in the cases I have mentioned—I appeal to him in the interests of the old age pensioners to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Mr. FOOT
As I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer's definition of earnings, it would include not only what the old age pensioner receives from an employer, but any advantage he may gain because of work done by himself. Take the illustration which I submitted when 1471 considering the money Resolution of the Bill. I had in mind a case very similar to those of which other hon. Members have had experience. It was an inquiry made in the case of an old man or woman in the country who keeps a couple of pigs. That is taken into consideration in the present circumstances. It is a very general circumstance for such people to have a couple of pigs, but the value received from the keeping of those pigs is taken into consideration for the calculation of the pension. Tinder the new arrangement whatever the old age pensioner got in that way would be "money's worth." Then there is the work a man does upon his own garden or allotment. It would be the business of the old age pensions officer to inquire as to what advantage is secured by the pensioner in this way, and his duty will not be properly discharged unless that is taken into account in the calculation. I do not know whether that is the intention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but it would be very unfortunate if that construction were placed upon this Amendment. I do not see how the pensions officer could avoid this in making his calculation. I appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman said with regard to the old age pensioner who goes into his neighbour's house to look after a child not being likely to earn 10s a week, but this pensioner may be receiving some other income from investments and this is added to the rest of the income and may bring it above the limit. It will be a very great pity if we cannot find such a definition as will exempt the little things picked up as the result of a man's own labour upon his own holding or the few shillings he may earn by keeping a cow or a pig.
I know a case in which a man over 70 years of age was able to keep a couple of cows. It was very little work for him but what he got in that respect has been taken into the calculation. He is a crippled old age pensioner and because of earning that small amount in that way his pension has been cut down. Where a man can earn a few shilling—seven if it is 10s.—I want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be in a position to say to the old age pensioner, "We are not giving you much and the old age pension is not enough to keep body and soul together; if you have health and strength to do a little work and add 1472 some happiness to your old age, well go on, and good luck to you." If, even now, before the Bill passes, that concession can be made, the Chancellor would add to the gratitude which will be felt to him for the work he has done, and I think it is a great pity that this substantial extension of the Old Age Pensions Acts should have been marred in this way.
I think that other Members will have had the came experience that I have had during the last week, when old age pensioners have been writing to ask how they would come in. One hon. Member showed me this morning a letter similar to those that I have had, to which he has to reply, as I have, saying that although this Bill as been brought in which they have been looking for for a long time, and upon which they have built their expectations, they must go on, and that the Bill holds out no advantage to them. If the Chancellor can, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. E. Harvey) has said, consult his own heart in this matter, he will not only consult his own heart but will receive approval from all quarters of the House.
§ Mr. W. GREENWOOD
May I suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that a form of words which would meet the sense of the House would be to add at the end of the proposed Amendment the wordswork performed under weekly contract.That would, at any rate, do away with many of the difficulties.
§ Major BURNIE
I do not propose to follow my two hon. Friends in their eloquent appeal, because they have made the case far better than I can make it, but the words about which I am not clear—and this is a Bill on which we shall be questioned when we return to our constituencies—are the wordspresently performed by him.I am not a lawyer, but. I have read the three principal Acts concerned, and it is there laid down clearly that, in calculating the means of the old age pensioner, if there is no standard, the past year shall be taken. We are now going to construe "earnings." and it seems to me that a man who is going to take advantage of this increase in pension will probably work until he is 70 and then cease working: and, as I understood the right hon. Gentleman—I may be wrong, and if so I shall be glad to be enlightened—he 1473 said that it was only current earnings that would be affected; but it appears to me that, according to the Acts as I read them, the earnings have to be strictly construed as the earnings of the previous year. I am sure the House will be glad to be enlightened on that point.
§ Major MOULTON
When the Chancellor of the Exchequer got up to announce this Amendment, he stated that he had tried to make a narrow definition of "earnings" which would not oppress the poor very much. I very much doubt, however, if he could have got a much wider definition. I am acquainted with some of the definitions of "earnings" in Acts of Parliament, and I know of none so wide as this. The examples given by my hon. Friends have shown that to be absolutely the case, and there are many others that could be given. There is, for instance, the old man who works in his garden, or the old woman who knits stockings for herself, and acquires money's worth as the result of work done. There is talk of removing inquisitions, but may I just mention one case—that of an old mother who is kept by a son or daughter, who receives house room and all her meals, certainly to the value of 10s. a week? The pension officer has to decide how much of that is due to filial affection, and how much to the fact that she probably helps with the children. Is that the sort of thing we want to see throughout the country?
I cannot imagine a much wider definition, or a more troublesome one, than that given here, and I think the Chancellor was, possibly unconsciously, imposing upon the House when he said that it was a narrow definition and one that would be kind to the pensioner. Of course I quite agree that all these people are doing useful work. They are all doing what the Labour party now seems to regard as one of the great sins—working in their spare time. I am glad to see, for the sake of the country, that they do not seem to impose the same rule entirely on their own Cabinet. They seem to have a Lord President of the Council who, according to modern views, must be imbued with all the best canons of Labour. But they are going to impose it on the old age pensioner as powerfully as they can. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Bill would not be 1474 better and kinder to the old age pensioners without this distinction.
§ Mr. WILLISON
I am quite confident that the Chancellor desires to assist the old age pensioner in adding this Amendment to the Bill, but I feel that it makes confusion worse confounded. The difficulty here seems to me to be that the House, instead of bringing forward what I may call a clear Act of Parliament, seeks by adding one Act after another to endeavour to explain the position. We have to remember that the people who will want to understand this Act are not only the administrators, but the people of 70 years of age. To enable them to do it now, first of all it seems to me they will have to purchase the Acts of 1908, 1911 and 1919 and now the present Act and then I understand the Chancellor proposes to issue a White Paper to further assist him or to make the position, as I think it will, more difficult still, and then I think if these words are added, the position becomes more obscure rather than clearer because, there is no question whatever, in the later Acts one is referred back to the original Act to ascertain in what way the calculation is made. The Act of 1908 says:Income in the absence of other means for ascertaining the income being taken to be the income actually received during the preceding year.How the words proposed by the Chancellor dealing with the word "earnings" are to help that I absolutely fail to understand, because, supposing the old age pensioner has earned certain money during the preceding year, which is the way in which the calculation is to he made, and is not earning any money during the current year, although that word "presently" may deal with the current year, still if we are to go back to the Act of 1908, it is to be calculated on what he earned during the preceding year if there is no possibility of his earning anything during the year that is going on. I therefore submit that the words proposed by the Chancellor really make the Bill more difficult to understand than even it was before.
§ Major HORE-BELISHA
There can be no doubt that this retrograde and capitalistic Amendment has been deliberately devised from the point of view of excluding everyone possible from the Old Age Pensions Acts. The Chancellor himself said he thought it wrong that people over 70 should do any work.
§ Major HORE-BELISHA
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say he considered that people over 70 should be discouraged from working. I have read it many times since. I have not got it with me. If he did not say that or anything approximate to it. [An HON. MEMBER: "He did say it!"] I am in the recollection of the House, and I do not in the slightest desire to do an injustice to the right hon. Gentleman. I thought I was doing him complete justice by giving him the credit of holding a point of view of which I thought he was proud. If he does not hold that point of view, I withdraw in the most unqualified manner. Perhaps he will explain it later. Whether or not that was his point of view, this Amendment has been devised from the point of view of discouraging in the most emphatic way earnings of any kind. It bears evidence of its Caledonian origin in the word "presently." I suggest that the intention in introducing the word "presently" was that the money should be received first and the work should be done later on. I cannot conceive any other explanation of the introduction of a word of that kind into the Bill. Why is the word "acquires" introduced? Is not the word "receives" quite sufficient? If the Chancellor of the Exchequer wanted to cover himself in every possible particular, why did not he add a large number of other words such as "obtains" or "gets," and make a whole rigmarole of it so as to tie as many ropes as possible round the neck of the old age pensioner? Before the Amendment was introduced, the crucial question under the Old Age Pensions Act was what were earnings. Now the crucial question is, "What is work? "We have got out of one difficulty in order to discover another.
I have been amusing myself in the Library going through Acts of Parliament which endeavour to define "work." I challenge hon. Members of the Socialist party to define what work is. I find that the most contrary and inconsistent definitions of the occupation known as work 1476 exist in Acts of Parliament. In the Employers' Liability Act, that which "tests the muscles and sinews" is defined as work. Therefore, if an old age pensioner was so gifted as to write poems containing paeans of praise of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and earned money thereby, he would not be doing work within the meaning of this Act. Every Act that includes the word "work" has defined it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has endeavoured to define "earnings," but has not endeavoured to define "work." That will cause great complications. If the old age pensioners were, rich enough to go to law, this lack of definition would create a perfect harvest of litigation. Under the Factory and Workshops Act, 1901, a boy was considered to have committed an offence because he amused himself during the dinner hour. In a case under the Act he was summoned for oiling some spindles during the dinner hour, and it was submitted by counsel that this offence of working was wantonly committed by the boy himself. The learned judge held that it was none the less work because it was done for self-amusement. That is the kind of difficulty that you will create by an Amendment of the kind. Under the Employers and Workmen's Act of 1875, a person who works is a labourer, or servant in husbandry, a handicraftsman, a miner, and various other clearly defined types of workman. The right hon. Gentleman makes no effort to define whether or not a man who owns an allotment and grows potatoes is going to be penalised because the potatoes are worth 15s. It is of foe greatest importance to those who desire to benefit, to make it clear and to specify exactly what is meant by this Act of Parliament which is going to mean so much or so little to so many people. There is another word which is most dangerous, and that is the word "person." Why cannot the Chancellor of the Exchequer use the word " pensioner." Suppose a pensioner of 70 years of age—
§ Major HORE-BELISHA
Supposing a pensioner of 70 years marries a woman of 50 years, and that woman is working and earning 30s. a week. Under this Bill, 15s. of that. 30s. will be counted against the man in respect of pension. If that 1477 woman is a bloated capitalist, deriving 30s. a week for investments in a shipbuilding company or some other iniquitous enterprise, she will be entitled to be exempt, and will have the full benefit of the 30s. coming into the household, plus 5s. old age pension, but if she is industrious and is actually working—[HON. MEMBERS: "Have you any objection?"] No. I want to extend it. I thought that I had made that perfectly plain. If she has an income which she has got by plundering the people, or by inheritance from her capitalist father, she win get 5s. a week more than the woman who is industrious.
I am in favour of giving anybody who reaches the age of 70 the fullest benefit possible. If the Chancellor wants, as I understand he does, to discourage persons of 70 from working he must bear the full implications of his theory, and make the old age pension a sum of money which can keep the man of 70. There is no good in saying that the man of 70 should not work, if you are not going to make it possible for him to remain idle. I do not want to force any old age pensioner to work, but what this definition does is definitely to forbid him to work even if he should so desire, which is going to have a very sinister moral effect on the whole community. I would like to support the suggestion of my hon. Friend opposite, and wish that he would move it as an Amendment or an Amendment to an Amendment. It would have the effect of excluding casual earnings such as might be obtained by sweeping roads and so on.
If you are going to discourage these old people from earning as the Chancellor wants to do what is to become of the oldest inhabitant of a village who by exhibiting himself in a top hat frequently gets sums of money from charitable persons. Are such sums as the oldest inhabitant of the village obtains by the mere fact of being the oldest inhabitant, and therefore interesting to visitors to the place in which he lives, to be considered as earnings? There is no question of the oldest inhabitant being replaced by a younger man. He is therefore not keeping a younger man out of a job. One has to face the full significance of an Amendment of this kind. Not only does it now penalise the oldest inhabitant, but it would have made the Premiership of Gladstone almost a penal offence; it would have excluded Sarah 1478 Bernhardt from the stage in her later years as doing something which was positively obscene and immoral, and it would have caused Ellen Terry to retire many years earlier than she did. According to this principle, Methuselah would have been expurgated from the Bible as an undesirable character, and Homer's works would have been destroyed. A large number of other examples could be given, including Lord Parmoor, who is the worst blackleg of the lot. He certainly should never be employed by a Chancellor who does not believe in persons of over seventy years earning money. This proposal sins against every category of morality and of Socialist doctrine, because it definitely places the capitalist in a better position than the industrious person. Anyone who is so misguided as to work is to be penalised; anyone who is so villainous as to save money and put it into institutions which maintain an undesirable capitalist system is to have a benefit of 5s. a week. These are the implications of the Amendment. To take another case—supposing an old man desired to enrich posterity by sitting for a portrait. He would not be depriving anybody else of a job; yet under this proposal he would be deprived of the Old Age Pension if he earned more than 15s. a week as a model.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer reproached the Liberal party with having introduced the means limit in the first instance. Although we introduced the means limit it roust not be forgotten that the Socialist Government is not abolishing it, but is making the inquiry and the inquisition ten thousand times worse. Under the old system you merely had to discover and decide the income of a person. Now you have to discover whether that income is earned or unearned or whether it is in respect of work "presently performed by" these unfortunate persons, and the inquisition becomes far more iniquitous and far more severe than it has ever been under any Government before. The whole tendency of modern legislation has been to tax the man who does not earn his income; to give the man who earns his income an advantage ever the man who derives his income from investment. That principle was introduced in the Liberal Budget of 1908, and I thought it was a principle which met with commendation from the Socialist party, because it definitely 1479 penalised the idle capitalist and put him at a disadvantage in comparison with the man who works. This proposal is a reversal of that principle; it puts a penalty on the persons who are earning their incomes and exempts the persons who are not earning their incomes. One thing the Chancellor of the Exchequer must do, if he believes in discouraging earnings in this way, is to give old age pensions which shall provide complete maintenance for old people in the declining years of their lives.
On a point of Order. I wanted to move as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "or money's worth." and I submit certain grounds on which, I suggest, such an Amendment would be in order. The original Money Resolution simply said "earnings," and my submission is that by this definition the Chancellor of the Exchequer has restricted expenditure. Therefore, I ask you, Sir, whether an Amendment to leave out the words "or money's worth" would not be within the terms of the Money Resolution.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I submit that if you were to leave out the words "or money's worth," you would be going outside the scope of the Financial Resolution. Money's worth, for instance, might include what is derived from an allotment which might produce sufficient to maintain a man and his wife.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Dealing with the point of Order, I am not concerned on the Report stage with the Money Resolution. I am concerned to see that on the Report stage no extra charge is put on the Exchequer, which is another matter. Clearly, if certain kinds of earnings are not to be earnings, it would increase the charge. For that reason, I informed the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. E. Harvey) that his Amendment could not be accepted.
My submission is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is attempting to reduce the charge on Report, and that the Amendment we desire to move would merely leave the charge where it was.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not think that is so. It is not for me to say what is the effect of the Chancellor's Amendment, 1480 except that I have to satisfy myself that it would not increase the charge. That was my duty. It is clear that the Amendment suggested by the hon. Member for Dewsbury would increase the charge as compared with leaving the Bill as it came from Committee. That is the point with which I have to deal.
§ Major BARNETT
I desire to support the appeal made by Members from below the Gangway opposite, I am quite sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer desires to extend the benefits to these old people, but I am sure that, in its working, it would mean an extension of the inquisitorial system. We want to reduce that sort of thing and not to increase it. From my correspondence of this morning I am able to reinforce the case of the hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Major Hore-Belisha). It is the case of an old man of 70, whose wife is a cook 60 years of age. She gets £1 a week and lodging, but not board. The old man, who is allowed to live with her, has a small pension that conies to an end when he is 70. The pensions officer this week has declined to recommend him for a pension on the ground that he is too well off, as his wife has £1 a week and he has the benefit of living with her. I submit that the effect of this Amendment will be an enormous increase in the inquisitorial examination into the means of these old people. Every little trifling benefit they will get will be looked into. I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to withdraw this definition of earnings.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I think the Bill would be better without the proposed alteration, because the change involves stricter definitions, more inquiry and more investigation, and indeed to give effect to it may necessitate an increased staff. One of the principal objections I have to the proposal is that it will discourage these people from taking on little jobs. It will be bad for both their health and their happiness. These are better secured by constant occupation of mind and body. It is a false conception to look on the old age pension as a substitute for earnings. It should only be an addition to casual earnings and should stimulate occupation rather than be a substitute for it. But the effect of this proposal would be to compel the old age pensioner to stop all work—casual and otherwise—lest by taking on any occupation he might 1481 prejudice his pension rights. That will be a very serious thing indeed for, if he drops all occupation, he will become miserable and even unhealthy. There is nothing better for old age and declining years than constant occupation of mind and body, of course in proportion to physical capacity. Without it the health and happiness of these people disappear. The Bill is much better without this definition, and I think the right hon. Gentleman will be well advised to adandon this proposal altogether.
§ 12 M.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
If I may be permitted I should like to remind the House that this Amendment is not brought forward by me on my own initiative, but has been proposed in response to a suggestion by the hon. and gallant Member far Leith Burghs (Captain W. Benn). I have provided a definition which will, I believe, not prove a hardship to any old age pensioner. As a matter of fact, if this Amendment is withdrawn, it will not alter the administration of the Old Age Pensions Act in the slightest degree, and the inquiries that have had to be made hitherto will continue to be made. I should like to remind the House that the object of this Bill is to deal with the thrift disqualification. Yet all the speeches that had been made from below the Gangway have been in the direction of trying to extend the character and scope of the allowances for thrift proposed under the Bill. Therefore, they have been quite outside what is the purpose and intention of this Bill. I have no doubt, when the party now below the Gangway come into power, they will have a very generous Old Age Pensions Bill. I have no doubt they will not wait, as they did when they came into power in 1906, for three years before they make an attempt to deal with this matter, but that one of their first legislative proposals will be to sweep away every one of the limitations on a full old-age pension to-day, and I have no doubt they will also increase the amount of the pension. But I have at the present time no such ambitious proposal as that to offer to the House of Commons.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I wish the hon. Member for Devonport (Major Hore-Belisha) would pay a little more respect 1482 to veracity, not only in the statements he makes in his speeches, but in his interjections. I gave no such promise.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I said, when I began to speak, that it was not at my desire that this Amendment was put down on the Paper. If this Amendment be withdrawn, it certainly will not be to the advantage of the old age pensioner. It may not be to his disadvantage. I really do not think it will make very much difference. If the House is not prepared to accept it, I will not press it. But I hope that, if the Amendment be withdrawn, hon. Members below the Gangway will not be under the mistaken impression that they have done some good to the old age pensioner by preventing this definition of earnings from being in the Bill. If it be the wish of the House that the Amendment should be withdrawn, I will withdraw it.
It is perfectly true, as the Chancellor says, that this Amendment was put down in response to a suggestion from these benches by myself. Our intention in asking for such an Amendment was to give him an opportunity to extend the limit of this definition. We did not want a narrow definition of earnings which would exclude, as this does, every possible source of revenue coming front effort on the part of the old age pensioner. The purpose we had in mind was to get this definition loosened a little—we knew that we could not do it, on account of the Financial Resolution—in the interest of the old age pensioner. I am quite sure that many of my hon. Friends think with me that this Amendment is not worth having. If the Chancellor cares to withdraw it, or if it is negatived, it makes no difference. But I want to say a Word about some of the taunts the right hon. Gentleman has been pleased to fling at us. I want to remind him of the position of some hon. Members on these benches, of whom I am one. I was asked at the General Election whether I was in favour of the abolition of the means limit, not the thrift disqualification. Basing myself on the statement of all parties, I said "Yes"; and I said more than that. I said, "This will cost £13,000,000, and this is the only promise involving expenditure I will make at this 1483 Election, because it is a very heavy strain." Not no the representative of the right hon. Gentleman and his party. He promised everything.
I am speaking of the representative of the right hon. Gentleman's party in my constituency, and in many others. He promised everything, and the result was that people said to me "Other people are prepared to do far more than you." I said: "I cannot help it. I do not think the Exchequer can stand it." That is the crime that we lay at the door of the Government, that they made reckless promises, and that they lowered the standard of political morality in doing so.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not think this Amendment is peculiarly appropriate to such remarks as the hon. and gallant Member is making.
I am confining myself to the point of the means limit. Three times in Parliament have responsible representatives of the Government moved Resolutions on this subject, which I have supported on every occasion, and every time—once it was the Home Secretary, another time it was Mr. Myers, and the third time it was the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton)—they have said: "The production of the birth certificate, that is what we want."
§ Mr. SPEAKER
We are simply dealing now with the question of whether or not we should put in a definition, and we must confine ourselves to that question.
I submit, with respect, that in dealing with earnings we axe dealing with means, and I am anxious not to go beyond what is proper on this occasion. As far as we are concerned, we would desire the definition of earnings to be so narrow that it would be come almost imperceptible, in order that the means limit might altogether disappear.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is the very thing that I have said would be out of order. The only question before us is whether we shall define the word "earnings", or leave it undefined.
I submit that, while an Amendment moved by me might be out of order, remarks suggesting an Amend- 1484 meat which I may not move might conceivably be in order. I recognise very fully that this Bill is an advance, and a great advance. I only wish it had gone further, and let me say, in conclusion, that I wish it had fulfilled the following Labour pledge, officially issued by the Labour party for the purpose of securing the return of their candidates. This was issued from Eceleston Square, and it reads:A Labour Govern Wilt would increase the old ago pensions and sweep away all the penalties—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This would be more appropriate for the Third Reading of the Bill. It is impossible to have a Third Reading Debate on this small Amendment.
§ Mr. CLIMIE
On a point of Order. May I ask how many times you will call a Member to order before asking him to resume his seat?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is a matter for me to decide. If the hon. Member himself would give me a little more assistance, I should be obliged.
This is the only thing I wish to add, which seems to be entirely hostile to the spirit of this Amendment. This circular says:A Labour Government would increase the old age pensions and sweep away all the penalties on thrift, the mean, miserly reductions imposed by the Liberals, and maintained by the Tories.
§ Major HORE-BELISHA
Perhaps you will allow me to make a personal explanation. In the course of the discussion I quoted a statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which he denied. I have since refreshed my memory, and I find that the statement is this:I do not think it right to encourage earnings by individuals over 70 years of age.If I have attributed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer anything beyond that statement, I withdraw it.
§ Sir ROBERT KAY
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 2, to leave out the word "person" and to insert instead thereof 1485 the word "pensioner." We are dealing with the question of earnings, and if the substitution I suggest is made it will do away with some of the hardships mentioned in this Debate. I have an illustration which I received only a few days ago. An old man of 70 married a much younger wife, and as she is earning something the pension of the old man is reduced. If we can have "pensioner" substituted for "person" the old man will not be prejudiced by any slight earnings that his wife may make.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is quite clear that if the Amendment would have that effect, it would be out of order. It would be amending the principal Act in such a way as to bring persons within the Act who are now excluded, and it involves a new charge on the Exchequer. Therefore, it is out of order. It remains for the House to decide whether it will insert this new Sub-section (2) in Clause 1.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I really do not take the least interest in it. I do not want to press it on the House. If it be the wish of the House that the Amendment should be withdrawn, I withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.