§ Mr. WHEATLEY
I beg to move, in page 7, line 35, after the word "shall," to insert the words "as from the appointed day."
The object of the Amendment is to postpone the payment of contributions until the appointed day. As the Bill stands now the contributions will become due in January, 1926, and I want them to be postponed until January, 1928. We are opposed on principle to contributions, 3014 but the House has already decided on that principle, and it has agreed to contributions, and, therefore, it would neither be orderly nor relevant for me to discuss that principle, but I am putting this Amendment in consideration of the extraordinarily depressed and difficult period in industry through which we are now passing, and the crisis which, unfortunately, would seem to be approaching. I think it would be well if industry and the workers were relieved 3015 during this critical period of the financial obligations that will be put upon them by the Bill as it now stands. The Minister of Health may argue that it is not reasonable for us to expect pensions to be paid in January, 1926, while contributions in respect of these pensions should be postponed till January, 1928, and he may ask where the money is to come from. I would just remind him that in January, 1926, he will have no money, and he will have obligations to meet, and I am only asking him to extend the period in which he will be meeting the obligations under the Bill, otherwise than out of the contributions, from January, 1926, until January, 1928. The necessary money, of course, would be provided by the Government, and I think, speaking without any statistical knowledge or actuarial support on the subject, that the contributions—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up!"]—which they have already undertaken to give for the first year would meet the obligations which they would come under with regard to pensions for that period of two years.
This Amendment puts me in mind of a piece of philosophy that I once heard attributed to a countryman of the right hon. Member, who said, "Be aisy, and if ye can't be aisy, be as aisy as ye can." Unfortunately, the easy manner suggested by the right hon. Gentleman will not help us out of the difficulty. To postpone the contributions for two years would involve us in an additional liability of £45,000,000, and instead of an annual contribution of £4,000,000, as is provided in the Clause, we should have to increase the contribution to £9,000,000 per year, so that it is impossible to accept the Amendment.
There is one point that has not been mentioned. We have got to Clause 9, which deals with contributions, and now we are right up against the difficulty which some of us have foreseen all along, namely, that we do not know what the total burden on employers and employed is going to be. We know that the rate of contribution is fixed in this Bill for the orphans' and widows' pensions, but we do not know what the rate of contribution is going to be in respect of unemployment. I know what the right hon. Gentleman says. He always deals with 3016 these two things as if they were separate, but he will remember that on the Budget, when the (benefits were first described, somewhat strangely, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was not providing any money for them, the main burden of argument against the Bill was that the burden laid upon industry was too heavy. No one put it with greater force than the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home). It was his main charge against the Budget. We are deciding in this Clause what the rate of contribution is to be, and we are doing it without knowing in the least what the rate of contribution is to be in regard to unemployment insurance.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I cannot say that the hon. and gallant Member is out of order, but would not his argument be more apposite on the Amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond), which is about to come on?
I was going to ask leave to report Progress. I am conscious this is not the best Amendment on which to raise this particular issue, although it is a general Amendment. But I am going to put to you, that until we have the particulars of the contribution under the unemployment insurance, it is really impossible for the Committee to decide whether the contributions for orphans' and widows' pensions are justifiable or not. There is, of course, a considerable difficulty of Parliamentary procedure here, because unless the two Bills specifically referred to are committed together, the Committee cannot consider them together. Nothing of the kind has been done in reference to these two Bills. The right hon. Gentleman may say that he has issued the Unemployment Bill, and, therefore, the Government have given the House all the necessary information in reference to that matter. But that is not so. Yesterday, when the Leader of the Opposition asked the Acting Leader of the House, the Foreign Secretary, whether we were going to get the actuarial report in reference to the Unemployment Insurance Bill, the Foreign Secretary said:I have not been personally informed, but I understand from my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour that an actuarial report will be published before the debate."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1925; col. 2817, Vol. 185.]3017 I suggest, that although this point has been put forward very often before, looking ahead as we did to the difficulties that would occur here, we are right up against the difficulty, and I suggest until we have this actuarial information as to the unemployment insurance fund it is quite impossible to proceed with the Debate. Therefore, I would ask leave to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
The Motion yesterday was made on another Clause altogether, and not a Clause dealing with the contribution at all. This Clause deals with the contribution, and it has already been mentioned more than once that it was on this Clause that the difficulty arose. I want, therefore, respectfully to ask you to reconsider your decision on this matter.
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
I was rather surprised that the Minister of Health dealt with this matter so lightly in reply to the ex-Minister of Health. If the Minister had seriously considered this Amendment, he would at once have realised that the intention is to give an opportunity for the depressed trades in our country to recover. I have figures here of the returns published by the Board of Trade for the month of May. In the shipbuilding industry, the unemployment returns are 31 per cent.; in the coal industry, 15.8 per cent; in the iron and steel industry, 23 per cent.; and in the tinplate industry, 22.7 per cent. I want to call attention to the two latter especially. I can assure the Minister I never remember the tinplate and steel trades in South Wales, in Sheffield, the North of England and Scotland in such a deplorable state as it is to-day, and the proposal made by the ex-Minister of Health is that the Government should take the responsibility from 1926 to 1928 to pay the contributions of the contributors under this scheme. In South Wales to-day, in the tinplate trade, the steel trade and the mining trade, especially in Monmouth-shire and Glamorganshire—and we represent half the population of Wales—there are some districts that are totally idle. 3018 If you take Blaenavon in my constituency, where they rely on the mining and steel trade, there is not a single steelworker working in the town to-day. If you take Ebbw Vale, they are practically idle in some of the pits and in the steel works, and you have simply to look at the shares in the market to realise that. If you take the Abertillery district, all the men are practically idle.
If the Minister wants the fund of this scheme to be solvent, the only way in which it can become solvent is by the Government making the contribution, because you cannot expect the contribution from men already out of work. It appears to me the policy of the Government is going to be to throttle the industries of the country. They have been breeding unemployed men and unemployed women by the thousand week after week, and now they are going to place another burden upon industry by these contributions upon men and employers. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that in the tinplate trade to-day they are not covering the cost of production. In some instances, the standing charges are 7½ per cent. to 10 per cent. They cannot even cover standing charges, but, in order to keep the men together, they work at a loss in some of the tinplate and steel works. At this time, the Minister is going to impose an extra burden on these industries. In Sheffield, in the North of England, in Scotland in the steel trade you have 26 per cent. of these people idle. If the Minister is sincere in wanting to help industry to recover, the only method he can adopt is to accept this Amendment and let the Government take this responsibility and relieve industry for the next two years. Then, I am sure, he will have done a good thing in allowing the industries of the country to recover.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
The speech which has just been made by the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Griffiths) it seems to me is a very formidable case on behalf of the Amendment. I recognise, however, the very great difficulty that the Government have in adopting the suggestion which has been made. Before I sit down I hope to make another proposal, which is not new I know, but which is of great importance to the Government, and which perhaps they will think over before the Report stage of this Bill. I do not 3019 wish to detain the Committee at length —[HON. MEMBERS: "Go on!"]—because I recognise the arrangement that has been made to get the Bill through Committee. I should like, however, for a moment to emphasise some of the considerations which have been mentioned, and to make a proposal which, it occurs to me, the Government might now adopt.
On the Second Reading Debate of this Bill I ventured to indicate the very great difficulty in which industry is at the present time in this country, and to express the hope that the Government would find some way of mitigating the burdens which to-day industry has to bear. Everything that has happened since I made that speech, all communications which have reached me, all that investigation has been able to reveal in a closer way than I had previously been myself able to attempt in regard to the stale of trade has only emphasised the position I then put before the House. It is not necessary for me to dilate upon the condition of trade at the present time. The speech of the Prime Minister in the House upon the unemployment question was a sufficient vindication of everything which has been said by any of us who have ventured to speak in regard to the difficulties in which trade at the present time languishes. Every Member of this House, I am sure, must have felt it somewhat incongruous that at the very moment when suggestions were being made is to very extreme and unusual proposals for the relief of industry, we should be adding, by this Bill, £11,000,000 to the employers' establishment charges in the conduct of their business. It is perfectly true that not all industries are in the same position. But the black spots to which the Prime Minister referred are the industries which are hardest hit by this Bill, because they are the industries which proportionately employ a much larger number of the workers; accordingly although the contributions individually are small, they are cumulative, and become appreciable in connection with the conduct of the industry.
Take, for example, the case of coal— I only mention that because I do not wish to deal with too many illustrations, —and it is a case with which everybody is familiar. The chairman of a coal company the other day, which passed its 3020 dividend, stated that the Bill would add £20,000 a year to the company's charges. In fact, one knows that very many of the firms burdened by this Bill will have any profits they are now making completely wiped out, and very many others will have an addition to their losses. I am sure that the situation is so serious that the Committee will forgive me for a moment in raising it again. Perhaps it has been forgotten what has happened in recent years in the course of the legislation in this country—the contributions which this country is making at the present time to social services. These, roughly, I should describe as the local rates, health insurance, unemployment insurance, workmen's compensation and old age pensions. These have risen from a figure which in 1911—only 14 years ago—was £30,000,000, to the figure to-day of £169,000,000.
If you compare what we are doing with what other countries are doing, the situation is even more startling. We are providing per head of the population 78s. Germany is providing 32s. per head of her population—much less than half what we are providing. France, 16s.—upon the same basis—Italy, 3s., and Belgium, 4s. These are the countries which to-day are our most formidable competitors in the markets of the world, and the reason we are suffering from so much unemployment is that we cannot bring our costs down so as to regain the position in the markets which we used to hold and which these others now enjoy. If you take an even more remarkable figure, that which is directly imposed upon the employers and the workmen, you will find that, whereas they contributed to Health and Unemployment Insurance in 1911 the sum of £6,000,000, to-day that figure is £76,000,000; an amazing addition to what is to be borne by industry for these two particular social services.
It is not, however, merely these services. There are the rates. I think that sometimes it is not very clearly understood that relief in the matter of rates might be a far greater help to industry than relief in the Income Tax. The rates have grown enormously in recent times—due largely to the amount which has to be paid by the local guardians for the sustenance of the people. I find, for example, that if you 3021 take 11 firms in Glasgow—shipbuilding and engineering firms, some of the most important on the Clyde—their local rates have increased since the War by a figure of £44,000 a year. That is a new charge upon industry. There is a steel firm in England whose rates have increased since the War by the sum of £23,000. We know what that is likely to represent in the price at which they can sell their commodities. We know the lessened market they have and the lessened demand for their goods. In the result the local rates, which represented 1s. 8d. upon a ton of finished steel in 1914, to-day represent 17s. 6d. Anybody who is acquainted with the business of getting orders knows what difference that makes. It has got to be remembered, too, that these rates are not charges upon profits. They are establishment charges which have to be paid before you make any profit.
It is in these conditions that we are asked to pass this Bill. I venture to think the situation is so serious as to justify our attempting to find any possible means of mitigating those charges. I hope nobody will consider me a captious critic of the Government, but I felt this to be a question of such considerable importance that I could not remain silent, and my right hon. Friend, at least, will give me credit for trying to be helpful in this matter rather than obstructive. My view is that what the Government is proposing to-day in mitigation of the charges under unemployment insurance is not sufficient. It would appear, for the moment at least, that at best the remission is going to be 2d. in the case of the employer in respect of each man employed and 2d. in the case of each employé; but the employer does not get the benefit of the full remission of 2d., and in many cases the workman does not get the full remission of 2d. The reason for that is that the Government is going to shoulder the burden which is thus taken off the employer and the workman, but, the Government can only shoulder it by imposing it upon the taxpayer, and as the industry of the country is the largest taxpayer it is perfectly obvious that, though it to some extent mitigates the burden, on the other hand it still leaves industry bearing the larger part of the 2d.—not the whole 2d. but the 3022 larger part. In my view, in the present condition of distress, that is not enough.
I want now to put my positive proposal before the Government. I am not taking them unawares. It is a suggestion which is familiar to them, and which has been discussed, and I hope they will take it into further serious consideration between now and the Report stage of this Bill. While the Unemployment Insurance Fund has become insolvent, the Health Insurance Fund is bursting with affluence. One would not be considering this at this moment if our distress were not so great; but let me describe for a moment what has happened. Originally the Health Insurance contributions were 3d. from the employer, 4d. from the workman, and 2d. from the State. They were raised in recent times, I think three years ago, to 5d. from the employer, 5d. from the workman and 2d. from the State. The result has been that surpluses have been piled up in the Health Insurance Fund. The last quinquennial investigation showed a surplus of £17,000,000, and the investigation which is now taking place will reveal a figure which I should not be exaggerating if I put at £40,000,000, and that after a provision of, I think, something over £50,000,000 for all the contingencies which the actuaries have asked the State to meet. It seems absurd, on the face of it, to go on exacting larger contributions than you require, to be taking from distressed industries sums which they very much need—taking their depleted cash resources to put the money into the unfruitful surplus of the Health Insurance Fund. That is an entirely unjustifiable state of things in our present condition.
There is this additional consideration which, I think, ought to lead us to disbelieve in piling up those surpluses, that when the surpluses come to be distributed the State has got to make a proportionate contribution. The health insurance legislation provides that the State pays two-ninths of the benefits which are distributed. Accordingly, when the surplus comes to be distributed the State has to provide two-ninths of whatever sum has been built up, and is going to be put into the hands of the approved societies for distribution. I say it is unjustifiable now to exact in these contributions more than is actually required for the immediate necessities of the National Health Insurance scheme. I 3023 will go further and say that my minor proposal should at least relieve the employer and workman of one penny of their contribution. Under this Bill you are giving to people insured under the National Health Insurance scheme benefits at once, although they have not made any contribution towards those benefits. In 1926 everybody insured under the National Health Insurance scheme immediately begins to enjoy the benefits of the Act, and it seems to me not unfair to say that you are entitled to take this surplus in order to lessen the necessary contribution which the participants have now got to make.
It is specially provided in the Act that any surplus which may accrue may be used to reduce the contribution. I venture in all seriousness to put to the Government, looking to the conditions after the War and the exactions made from industry, that they should at least not make the burdens heavier in the immediate future than they are at the present time, and that they have a practical means of doing so by reducing the amount of the contribution required to keep the National Health Insurance scheme in existence. The Actuaries could give us readily a statement as to what could be done in that direction. I say in conclusion that industry is looking with great anxiety to the action of the Government in these matters. There are many people to-day who are at the edge of the precipice, and whom the pressure of this new contribution and this new burden will have the effect of pushing into the abyss. I am sure this deserves our most earnest consideration, and I urge with all my strength upon the Government that they should adopt the way out which I have suggested.
§ Mr. R. DAVIES
The Committee has just listened to a most extraordinary statement from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), and I should be very much surprised if the Minister of Health agrees to his suggestion. The sum total of the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion is that the sums that have been accumulated on account of National Health Insurance shall be devoted to certain purposes which were never intended by the National Health Insurance Act. I am sure that all the approved societies of this country will 3024 be prepared to join issue with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead upon this point. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about surpluses amounting to millions. May I point out that the last valuation of five years' experience of the National Health Insurance Act showed that the surpluses amounted to £17,000,000. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that a good proportion of that money has already been expended upon additional benefits in cash and in kind. The present valuation has not been calculated, but it has been estimated by those in authority that the surplus on the second valuation will not be £40,000,000, but about £30,000,000. I want to point out that this £30,000,000 has to be distributed amongst about 14,000,000 people, and £30,000,000 amongst 14,000,000 people is not a very large amount. It sounds a lot if it is distributed among two or three people, but £30,000,000 distributed amongst 14,000,000 insured people only amounts to about £2 or £2 2s. each, or thereabouts. I say very definitely that the Government ought not to entertain for one moment the suggestion that any of these surpluses created within the last 12 years by the poorest of the people in the land should now be raided in order to excuse the Government from the necessity of contributing to this new scheme. The National Health Insurance Act, after all, is only at the very beginning of its operations. It is true that it has 12 years' experience behind it, but, as a matter of fact, the total sickness benefit payable, even when the second valuation is completed, will not be more than £l per week, and I have always wondered why the community should expect a man who, when well, gets £3 a week in wages to live on £l per week when he is ill, and when, in fact, the cost of his family and of himself is very much greater than when he is at work. There is another point which I want to make. There is a schedule of approximately 19 additional benefits included within the National Health Insurance Act, and, until all those benefits are paid from the surpluses of the approved societies, not a single penny piece of those surpluses ought to be used for any other purpose.
§ Sir A. MOND
I do not propose to enter into the larger discussion of this question now, but I would like just to say that the proposal which the right hon. Gentleman 3025 the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) makes is quite impossible. Anyone who has had anything to do with the practical administration of the National Health Insurance Act knows that these surpluses do not constitute one large fund—
§ Sir R. HORNE
The right hon. Gentleman must recognise that my first proposal was that you should not create any more surplus, but having realised that your present contributions are more than necessary, you should reduce them. It was only my second proposition which went further, and the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for West Loughton (Mr. R. Davies) must not think that they meet my argument when they say, "We must not raid the surplus."
§ Sir A. MOND
I was dealing with the right hon. Gentleman's second proposition first. I believe the right hon. Gentleman himself expressed some doubt about proceeding with the second proposition.
§ Sir A. MOND
The second proposition for the moment is the most important part, and I want to point out two things. First, the people who contribute to the National Health Insurance scheme are not the same people who contribute to the Unemployment Insurance scheme.
§ Sir A. MOND
Not necessarily. Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman would find, if he went into details, that, although the total of the surpluses of the societies is very large, there are a number of societies who have no surplus at all; in fact, some of them have with difficulty escaped insolvency. Therefore, you have not a fund to distribute in the sense that you would have if you had one great fund; and I do not think that anyone who, like myself, has had to administer the National Health Insurance Act and who has occupied the position which the Minister of Health now occupies, would ever consent to that course. Of course, the question of the contributions is one which might be examined. That is a matter of actuarial calculation which could be made, but whether or not it would be at all possible I am a little doubtful, for the simple 3026 reason that should you begin to reduce the contributions, many of the societies would be brought back to that state of financial difficulty from which they have only just emerged. Then there is another point. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies) has pointed out that, as I know from my own tenure of the office of Minister of Health, the approved societies have been looking forward for years to increasing their benefits and going in for dental clinics and dental benefits, which, in turn, would improve the health of the community, and, again in turn, improve their own financial position. When the Government propose a scheme which is perfectly worthy of being financed by the Government, why do they begin interfering with the benefits' and contributions of an entirely different class of people, and disturbing a system which has been a great success, the financial stability of which is assured, and which is working well? I look with some apprehension at the way in which this Bill is interlocked with the National Health Insurance Act. National Health Insurance is working, its administration is now running on pretty good lines, its finance is solvent, and everyone appreciates its advantages; and, as one who has had something to do with it at different stages, I am alarmed that people now want to begin to alter it, calling it by some other name, and interlocking it with another scheme which does not really belong to it. Therefore, the suggestion which I shall elaborate at the right moment is one which I hope my right hon. Friend will support, because I think we have both the same object in view. I think he will find that my proposal is a more practical way than creating new difficulty and controversy by interfering with our National Health Insurance system.
The Committee will see that to some extent the arguments of the two right hon. Gentlemen cancel one another out. I only rise to ask my right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) to believe that, if I do not reply to him in detail now, it is not out of any discourtesy, or that I do not attach due weight to what he has said, but because it is obvious that, if his proposal were accepted, it could not be embodied in this Bill. It would 3027 require an amendment of the National Health Insurance Act, and would, therefore, have to be the subject of further legislation.
Yes. It will be open to my right hon. Friend to raise the same point again on the Third Reading, when there might be an opportunity for me to reply in some detail and comment upon the suggestions he has made. I only want to say now, by way of caveat, that there are some considerations which I think, perhaps, have not been completely in the possession of my right hon. Friend, or, certainly, have not been present to his mind, which place very serious difficulties in the way, and I should be sorry not to have an opportunity of pointing those out.
§ Mr. J. BAKER
I should like to point out that the National Health Insurance funds are not spendable money. When the National Health Insurance Act was first brought into existence, the Government had to provide paper money that had to be redeemed out of the contributions. In the first year, some £60,000,000 of such paper money was created, namely, book debts, and, at a later date, that was increased to £66,500,000, which, according to the Actuary's report, was redeemable in 22½ years as long as those contributions were maintained. To realise that that money is not spendable money for other purposes, one has only to remember that that £66,500,000, after 13 years' working of the National Insurance Act, has been reduced to £30,000,000, and during the next nine years that £30,000,000 will in all probability have been absorbed in paying contractual benefits.
This is a very important discussion upon which we have just found ourselves launched, but it is not a discussion that arises out of the present Amendment or out of the Clause. The Amendment that we have moved is very much narrower than that. If there were any danger to the accumulations under the National Health Insurance Fund, there would certainly be a very strong fight put up on this side of the House, but it appears to me that those accumulations are in no danger, 3028 and until we get to the proposal I think we can very well leave that matter where it is. Our proposal is that, whilst the Act should go on, whilst benefits should be paid, the Government, in view of the specially depressed condition of industry, should find the money. That, in a sentence, is our position. I think we have had that discussed now, and we might come to a decision and allow the further Amendments to be moved to the Clause.
§ Mr. SPENCER
I wish to point out how very serious indeed this is. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that out of the areas working under the coal mining agreement, where we are likely to have extreme difficulty, five, one at least having 120,000 workmen, have a debit balance. There is Northumberland showing a debit balance of 3.78d. per cent., South Wales a debit balance of 6.28d. per cent., North Wales showing a debit balance of 11.84d. per cent., Cumberland a debit balance of 1s. 3d. a ton, and Kent a debit balance of 2s. 4d. a ton. It is just at this time when the Government is coming forward with new proposals to impose further burdens upon an industry that is nearly breaking down. In an area which is showing a profit of 2s. a ton there are many collieries which are at their wits end to carry on. One of my colleagues was called into a colliery office, and I have been called into the same office, with regard to two of their pits, and they showed us the books. One of the pits employs nearly 3,000 men. On the credit side they had a bank balance of £100,000 and on the debit side it was £156,000. If that is the condition in the best area what must it be in the very worst areas? We are showing a profit right away throughout the area of over 2s. per ton, and on the other hand you have Kent showing a debit balance throughout the area of 2s. 4d. a ton. If the Government will not listen to the advice given them, not from this side of the House, not from men who speak with any authority with regard to these things, but if they will not listen to their own side and those who have been armed with all the evidence to make a definite statement, what is going to become of the industry of the country? I think the right hon. Gentleman should lend a sympathetic ear to the proposals that have been put before him so that those pits and iron 3029 works and other great undertakings which are in the very balance of closing down should not have the last straw imposed upon them which will make it almost impossible for them to carry on.
§ Mr. BATEY
I hope the Committee is not going to get into a discussion as to the wisdom or otherwise of raiding the surplus of the National Health Insurance Fund. Apart from that, I agree with all the rest of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne). We are certainly in agreement with him—
Do you rule, Sir, that on this Bill no Amendment of the National Health Insurance Act can be discussed, because, if so, may I direct your attention to the fact that the Bill itself amends the National Health Insurance Act at various points, and the Amendment is one of a most general character.
No, I should not rule that no Amendment of the National Health Insurance Act could be proposed on this Bill, but the matter cannot be discussed on this particular Amendment.
§ Mr. BATEY
This is a most important Amendment. We come from industries which are very much depressed and, therefore, we are anxious that this Amendment should be adopted. I am sorry if hon. Members want to get on to other matters that we should detain them, but we are bound, as far as we possibly can, to raise matters which affect our trade. I was in agreement with the right hon. Member for Hillhead when he said there ought not to have been this year a reduction of Income Tax. In the whole of his speech he pleaded more for the employer. I want to plead for the workman, and to put the position from his point of view. The contributions under this Bill will add to the coal industry in this country a charge of not less than £2,000,000 a year. In my own County of Durham it means an additional burden of something like £260,000 a year, fully one half of which will be paid by the workmen who, at the present time, are receiving too low a wage. In 3030 the County of Durham, the miners are going to be called upon to pay £130,000 a year at a time when they can ill afford it. Whilst the miners will have to pay fully one-half of this great burden which is to be put on the coal industry, they will, in normal conditions, have to pay 87 per cent. of the employers' part of the burden. At the present time, when the coal trade is so depressed, the employers have to pay a larger share than they will to pay in normal conditions. In normal conditions, the workman will pay one-half of this new burden and 87 per cent. of the employers' part of the burden. We insist strongly that, instead of the miner, who is so badly paid at the present time, being called upon to pay such a burden, and instead of the employer, who can ill afford it, being asked to pay part of this burden, the royalty-owner, who is drawing from the coal industry—
§ Mr. BATEY
I bow to your ruling. We think that is the chap who ought to pay. I hope that another opportunity will be given for dealing with that point. To a large extent this Bill means relief to the local ratepayers. The doctor, the tradesmen, the squire will pay nothing towards this social service, although they are in a better position to pay than is the miner. They ought to be called upon to pay, and not the miner. Instead of the workman being called upon to pay, the wealthy ought to pay, because wealth is in a position to pay. One read the other day of a tennis match at Wimbledon—
I am afraid the hon. Member will be out of order in discussing tennis on this Amendment.
§ Mr. BATEY
I bow to your ruling, but I try to get in these points because anybody who can pay £15 for a seat at a tennis match should contribute to this. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that we should get) some relief through decreased contributions under the Unemployment Insurance Bill. We do not know yet what we shall get and we have no right to reckon upon that. All we have got before us now is the additional burden under this Bill. I hope that the Committee will reject these contributions.
§ Major CRAWFURD
The stage which the discussion has reached makes it all the more important that we should again say what was said earlier in the Debate by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith (Captain Benn)—that the whole of this discussion, especially since the intervention of the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), revolves about this single point: how much is to be the contribution now and for the next few years to be drawn from industry, from the employer and the employed, to provide the social services which this House and the country think necessary? By common consent of all parties in this House the all-important matter is, what can industry bear to-day? By industry I mean not only the interests which the right hon. Gentleman opposite has mostly in mind, but also the workers in every industry, specially those most affected by the prevailing depression. When I went to the Table a few moments ago, I was informed that an Amendment which raises the position of another very large and important class of the community was going to be moved. I have since been told that it is not going to be moved. Therefore I am compelled to draw attention to the position of the agricultural workers. Many hon. Members opposite have the interest of the agricultural workers at heart. The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Mr. B. Peto) at an early hour the other morning indicated his view that the contribution to be asked from the agricultural worker were out of proportion to the benefit which he is to receive.
§ Mr. BASIL PETO
No; out of proportion to the wages which he receives. I am sure that the hon. Member does not wish to misrepresent what I said, namely, that the contributions are out of all proportion to the very low wages from which the agricultural labourer has to pay these contributions.
§ Major CRAWFURD
The last thing which I would wish to do is to misrepresent the hon. Member, but he and the Committee will agree with me that the correction which he has made does not lessen the weight of my argument that the wages which the agricultural labourer receives in many parts of the country, in Dorsetshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and many parts of the West, make it impossible for him to bear this additional 3032 burden. Here we are. We have these various—[Interruption.] This is a very serious question. It is the most serious question raised by this Bill.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
On a point of Order. I understand that we are discussing an Amendment moved by the right hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley). A subsequent Amendment relating to the agricultural labour, I understand, is out of order. How are we in order now in discussing the question of the agricultural labourer?
I understand that the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Member for Shettleston would have the effect of delaying the contributions of the workers and of the employers. I imagine that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is trying to show that the agricultural industry is not in a position to make the contributions now, and that the contributions should be delayed.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Would not the delay affect equally all these industries, and is it in order to discuss the special interests of one class?
An hon. Member has discussed the position of the coal industry, and equally we ought to have discussion of other industries.
§ Major CRAWFURD
I am grateful to you, Sir, and to the right hon. Gentleman, for having convinced me that I knew what I was talking about. I understood the Amendment was directed to postponing the day when contributions shall be paid. We have had a speech from an hon. Member who represents closely the mining industry. If I had known that any hon. Member opposite representing an agricultural community would develop that case, I would not say a word about it. Very little has been said about the position of the agricultural industry, and I thought it was incumbent on someone to put forward the view that there is another industry, like mining and engineering and shipbuilding, that cannot at this moment afford to pay these contributions. In view of the obvious gravity of this question, I wish to remind the Committee of a promise which was made from the Treasury Bench, I believe yesterday at Question Time, that before this Debate closed we should be in possession of the 3033 figures which can be made available and which alone would enable the Committee to discuss this point with authority and knowledge of the decision at which we are to arrive.
No such under taking was given from the Treasury Bench, according to my recollection.
§ Major CRAWFURD
I happen to have a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT in my hand. We are now discussing the question of contributions—
§ Major CRAWFURD
What is the difference? We are discussing at this moment an Amendment which deals with the ability of the industries to pay these contributions now or next year. The Amendment seeks to postpone the payment and therefore the whole point of the Amendment is whether or not during the next few years industry can pay. I quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs who, in the absence of the Prime Minister, said:I have not been personally informed but I understand from my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour that an actuarial report will be published before the Debate."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1925; col. 2817, Vol. 185.]
§ Major CRAWFURD
I know that debate is to take place on Tuesday, but may I point out that the Debate on this Amendment and any Debate on the Unemployment Bill are closely inter-related and connected. We may be deficient on this side. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] Then I can only say that being deficient we are in greater need of this information than hon. Members opposite who are not so deficient. We are dealing with the number of pence to be extracted weekly from the pockets of the workers for this purpose, and we cannot discuss that question adequately unless we know the number of pence to be extracted from the same pockets for other purposes.
§ Mr. KELLY
There is some information which might well be known in this Committee, and which I think is well 3034 known to the industry with which the Minister of Health is closely connected —the industry that told us within the last two years it cannot even find enough money to pay adequate wages to the people engaged in it; and yet at the same time, when the Minister of Health through his Federation—
§ Mr. KELLY
Those of us who are associated with that trade at Birmingham know something of the connections of the metal and engineering trades in that district. While these industries tell us they cannot find adequate wages we are now told that they must be prepared to bear the added contributions—the amount from the employers and the amount from the workers—and that contribution is being asked for out of a wage of 35s. a week which is the wage paid in some parts of this country to those employed in engineering. If the contribution asked from agriculture is out of all proportion to agricultural wages then I hope the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Basil Peto) and those associated with him will join us in the Division Lobby. What is said of engineering can be said of shipbuilding—shipbuilding, which tells us that it cannot find enough money to give us adequate wages, and yet you are asking that a further burden of many thousands of pounds a year should be placed upon that industry. Even the railway world to-day, as is noted in the Press, tell us that they cannot find the wherewithal to pay the wages current in that industry at this time, and they are asking, 3035 because of their financial condition, for reductions of wages at the same time that the Minister of Health is placing upon them a burden of many thousands of pounds a year. For all these reasons, I hope the Committee will vote for the Amendment, and save the imposition of
§ these contributions on the pockets of those who are already too lowly paid in the industries dealt with under this Bill.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 114; Noes, 218.3037
|Division No. 256.]||AYES.||[3.52 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Groves, T.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Grundy, T. W.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Potts, John S.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ritson, J.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hardie, George D.||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Baker, Walter||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayday, Arthur||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Barr, J.||Hayes, John Henry||Scurr, John|
|Batey, Joseph||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Broad, F. A.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Buchanan, G.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Cape, Thomas||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snell, Harry|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Connolly, M.||Kelly, W. T.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Cove, W. G.||Kennedy, T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Kirkwood, D.||Thurtle, E.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lansbury, George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lawson, John James||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lee, F.||Viant, S. P.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Livingstone, A. M.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Dennison, R.||Lowth, T.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Duncan, C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mackinder, W.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||March, S.||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer)||Maxton, James||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Forrest, W.||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Whiteley, W.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Gillett, George M.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Windsor, Walter|
|Gosling, Harry||Murnin, H.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Oliver, George Harold||TELLERS FOR THE AYES: —|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Palin, John Henry||Mr. Barnes and Mr. Parkinson.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Briggs, J. Harold||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)|
|Albery, Irving James||Briscoe, Richard George||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I||Dalziel, Sir Davison|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Bullock, Captain M.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Burton, Colonel H. W.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Drewe, C.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Campbell, E. T.||Eden, Captain Anthony|
|Balniel, Lord||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester. City)||Elliot, Captain Walter E.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Fairfax, Captain J. G.|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Chamberlain. Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Fermoy, Lord|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Chilcott, Sir Warden||Fielden, E. B.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Fleming, D. P.|
|Berry, Sir George||Clayton, G. C.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Cooper, A. Duff||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Couper, J. B.||Gates, Percy|
|Brass, Captain W.||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Gee, Captain R.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Macintyre, Ian||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)|
|Goff, Sir Park||McLean, Major A.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl.(Renfrew, W.)|
|Grace, John||Macmillan, Captain H.||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Malone, Major P. B.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Smithers, Waldron|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Margesson, Captain D.||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Meller, R. J.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Meyer, Sir Frank||Storry Deans, R.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Styles, Captain H. Walter|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)||Nuttall, Ellis||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Holt, Capt. H. P.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Penny, Frederick George||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Howard, Capt. Hon. D. (Cumb., N.)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Wells, S. R.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Pilcher, G.||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dalrymple|
|Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Pownail, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Jacob, A. E.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Remnant, Sir James||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Rentoul, G. S.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W. R., Ripon)|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Rice, Sir Frederick||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Wood, Sir s. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Looker, Herbert William||Salmon, Major I.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Lumley, L. R.||Sandeman, A. Stewart||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Captain Hacking and Major Cope.|
|Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Savery, S. S.|
§ It being Four of the Clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.3038
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No.3.
§ Adjourned at Two Minutes after Four o'Clock, until Monday next (6th July).